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A Full Breakdown On If Live Rock Can Die!

The popularity of keeping live rock in aquariums is sky rocketing right now as more and more people try to grow corraline algae, corals, and anemones on their live rock to make a great looking centre piece for their tanks.

Keeping a marine tank does tend to be more difficult than a fresh water tank and live rock and be particularly difficult if you are new to keeping it so its easy to see why we see so many people asking if live rock can diet or not.

The organisms that live on your live rock can diet with most causes of death usually being due to problems with water parameters, water temperature, and nutritional levels.

When it comes to problems with live rock, you can usually see the early signs such as your corraline algaes color fading giving you plenty of early notice to find and fix the problem.

As we covered in our article going over how long live rock can live, it does tend to be easy to to correct the nutritional problems for the organisms living on live rock by using either corraline accelerator or reef roids to top up the nutritional levels in your tank.

If your live rock does die then you are able to dry the rock out to start the live rock over from scratch.

Can Live Rock Die?

The actual base rock of live rock can’t diet due to simply being rock but the organisms that grow on the base rock can die depending on the conditions of your tank.

Most people will usually struggle to maintain steady water parameters, water temperatures, and nutrients levels but once you build up some experience with keeping live rock, this does tend to be easy and you shouldn’t have any problems with your live rock.

We covered how to maintain your nuterient levels for your live rock using corraline accelerator or reef roids for your corraline algae and corals but many people make mistakes with their water parameters leading to problems with their live rock dying.

This is almost always due to people using an entry-level five dollar water test kit that doesn’t test for everything and it can be inaccurate for what it does test for.

We would highly recommend that you get yourself a decent water test kit that has been designed for reef use and will accurately test all water parameters to give you a better idea of the conditions in your tank.

Although you can upgrade your thermometer in your tank if needed to track your water thermometer but most of the modern thermometers that come with entry level tanks should be accurate and be able to track your water temperature.

If you are sure that your water parameters and water nutrient levels in your tank are suitable to support live rock then suspecting problems with your thermometer and its temperature readings would be the next logical step to prevent problems with your live rock.

What Are The Signs Of Live Rock Dying?

The most common signs of live rock dying is the corraline algae turning white or the corals growing on the live rock starting to shrink or melt.

In some situations, the corals and anemones may start to turn black or regress in their growth with this usually indicating a problem with nutrient levels in your tank.

If your fish are eating your corals then you will usually see bite marks in your corals as well as your corals refusing to open too.

Although it is not technically sign of your live rock dying but a wider problem in your tank, you may see white fungus on your live rock or sponge on your live rock that can result in problems with the nutrients getting to your coraline algae due to the fungus and sponge consuming it.

This can then result in nutritional problems for the organisms that you are intentionally trying to grow on your live rock resulting in them dying.

In some rare situations, the water flow in your tank may be too high for live rock and you will usually be able to tell this from the warped growth directions of all of the organisms that you are trying to grow.

This is very rare though and is not usually worth checking for unless you know for a fact you have a high water flow in your aquarium.

How Can You Prevent Live Rock From Dying?

You are able to prevent your live rock from dying by correcting any problems with your water parameters, water temperature or water nutrition levels.

These are generally very simple problems to correct in most marine tanks but you do have to factor in the requirements of the other tank mates living in your tank to make sure you don’t overcorrect and cause problems for your fish, shrimp or snails.

When it comes to problems with water parameters, there really are a range of things that can go wrong ranging from amonia and nitrate levels to problems with magnesium, phosphate or copper in your water too.

This is why it is important to get yourself a decent water test kit as soon as possible when keeping a reef tank so you can monitor as many of the important water parameters as possible.

Problems with temperature and nutrient levels are usuallly very easy to fix and generally pose the lowest risk to the other tank mates in your aquarium too.

One potential problem is accidently adding a non-reef safe fish, shrimp or snail to your tank that will eat the organisms growing on your live rock.

This can cause a potentially tough descision for you as some of the non-reef safe fish will constantly eat the organisms on your live rock preventing anything from growing.


That brings our article going over if live rock can die or not to an end. Once you get the hang of keeping live rock in your tank, it does tend to be easy to maintain and should not have any problems with the organisms on your live rock dying. That said though, there is somewhat of a steep learning curve for keeping live rock that many beginners make mistakes with but keep in mind, this is all part of the learning process.