Putting other rocks in the tank with live rock?


Blue Ring
Feb 21, 2013
Wausau, WI
Hey guys, this is probably a really stupid question, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I am going to have 50 lbs of live rock, but I recently went to the beach and picked up a bunch of cool coral formations and shells. After I boil them, will they work in the tank or do I need to do something else to them after boiling? I also had some shells from before that have been drying in a cabinet in my house for 6-7 years, do I need to boil these too or are they good enough? thanks!


Sep 1, 2012
old coral formations and shells should be ok but i would definetly boil everything at a minimum but i might even go as for as an acid bath to fully clean them
stay away from normal rocks like granite,slate ect... they can have metalic mineral deposits that will cause problems.
when i first switched from fresh to salt i had a bunch of rocks i colected from my yard that wer in my freshwater tanks for years without ishue but when i switched to salt i could not keep anything alive untill i got rid of them all


Certified Ceph Head For Life
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Gainesville, GA
Don't boil live rock in doors! This can be very poisonous. Open shells (like clam shells) that are not porous may be less of a concern if done outside but you still run risks of getting poison in the air (and into your lungs). To properly kill rock, you can let it dry and then soak it in bleach and then in freshwater. The process is a long one to eliminate the bleach and it has been years since I have used any dead rock so do a bit of research on the amount of time needed to fully remove the chlorine. Alternately, you can cure it in a bucket of saltwater with a pump for a few weeks (watch for an ammonia spike -> nitrites -> neither) just like you would if you bought it but there is risk of pollution and undesirable critters (aiptasia in particular). Be aware that "cooking" live rock is a different process than boiling it. The term refers to placing it in saltwater, raising the temp with an aquarium heater and eliminating light. I have not tried this method and looking for a few knowledgeable references on safely converting rock is recommended.

Your dry rock should be quite dead but I would still put it in saltwater for a couple of weeks to be sure all the dead tissue has fully decomposed and is removed. If you have a pressure washer, cleaning the dead rock with that first is a good idea (no soaps).

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