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How Long Do Rocks Live! (Aquarium Live Rock Guide)

As the number of people trying their hand at fish keeping increases, the number of people trying more advanced things with their tanks such as keeping live rock is also starting to increase.

As the number of people trying to integrate live rock into their tanks increases, the number of questions that we see from the community about maintaining live rock also increase with a wide range of questions being asked with each month that goes by.

One of the most frequently asked questions about live rock that we see is based on how long do rocks live once you have everything set up.

The answers that we see people presenting on social media when people reach out for advice are usually incorrect or based on people not actually understanding the question so we decided that we wanted to publish our own article to try and help as many of our readers as possible who are looking to add live rock to their tanks.

Due to so many people reaching out with questions about maintaining live rock correctly to ensure that it will live for as long as possible each month, we wanted to answer a number of the common questions in this article.

This should help as many people as possible by keeping the information in one place and our table of contents below should make it as easy as possible to quickly navigate the article too.

What Is Live Rock?

Live rock is a term used in the fish keeping hobby to describe a rock that has live plants and bacteria growing on it to give the rock a unique look and texture.

The rock itself is not alive but the various organisms on it are and offer a number of benefits to your aquarium as well as offering a unique looking feature for your tank.

Most people use live rock as a home for various filter feeders that will consume various impurities in your water helping to maintain steady and consistent water parameters.

When used in a reef tank, many fish keepers will also grow unique looking coral and other live plants on their live rock too to increase the benefits of the live rock to the tank as well as add a more unique look to it.

In addition to that, the popularity of using Coralline Algae on live rock is skyrocketing right now as the Coralline Algae will turn your live rock a red or purple color as the algae grows on it.

Due to so many photographs of live rock with Coralline Algae growing on it going viral on social media, we would guess that the unique look of Coralline Algae is one of the main reasons that the interest in live rock is spiking as much as it is right now.

“wha…? An aquarium rock?” by Eva Funderburgh is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

How Long Do Rocks Live!

Wild liverock can live for decades or even centuries if conditions are optimal as the various lifeforms on the rock just keep reproducing keeping the rock alive.

When kept in an aquarium, it can be easy to keep your live rock going for as long as required with many people having successfully kept their live rock for decades without issue.

Many people misunderstand that live rock is essentially its own mini ecosystem within the general ecosystem of your aquarium and provided the required parameters are kept within the required range of the organisms living on your live rock, it really can live for decades with minimal issue.

We would usually recommend that you opt for Coralline Algae and unique looking coral for your live rock base organisms due to them living for so long while being relatively low maintenance.

Some people will add additional organisms to their live rock in addition to their algae and coral with emerald crabs, cherry shrimp, and neon yellow shrimp often being used to add additional lifeforms to live rock while keeping the general look of the rock bright and unique.

Just keep in mind that you will have to factor in if you want your live rock in a fresh or saltwater tank before deciding on what you want to live on it and the various life forms you let live on the rock will come into play for how long it will be “alive”.

Do Live Rocks Grow?

Although the actual base rock used for your live rock does not grow, the Coralline Algae and corals growing on the live rock do grow and in some situations, the Coralline Algae in particular can grow at a rapid pace.

Other types of live plants can be kept on live rock too and add to the growing effect too by adding mass to the base rock making it look larger than it originally was.

Depending on exactly what you are doing, there can be some problems with live rock that may cause issues with it such as sponge infections.

Our article on how to deal with white sponge on live rock should be able to help you with this though but sponge can rapidly add mass to live rock.

More and more fish keepers are also starting to add Coralline Algae Accelerators to their tanks with live rock too and this really does ramp up the growth rate of the Coralline Algae on the rock and make it gain a large amount of mass quickly.

These accelerators are just optimized nutrient packs designed to encourage rapid, healthy growth from the Coralline Algae while encouraging its color to be as bright as possible but they can be worth using in many situations and drastically improve the results of your live rock.

Can Dead Live Rock Become Live Again?

Dead live rock can be turned into live rock again but you will often have to identify the issue that caused problems with the live rock in the first place and remove them from your tank.

Depending on the condition of the base rock, you may also have to deep clean the rock to remove any Coralline Algae husks from it to make it easier to encourage the growth of new Coralline Algae and corals too.

We have a dedicated article going over how you can deep clean and dry live rock to remove husks and have the rock ready to use again which should be helpful if you are in this situation.

Once the base rock has been cleaned and the issues with your tank that cause the problems with your base rock originally have been corrected you are usually good to go.

Simply add some Coralline Algae and unique looking coral to the rock and consider using a Coralline Algae Accelerators to speed up the growth of your algae on the rock to get it back to looking live a thriving piece of live rock as fast as possible.

The majority of people learn a large number of lessons on their first run through with live rock though so their second live rock project usually goes much smoother.


That brings our article going over how long do rocks live in an aquarium to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand that there are a number of variables to factor on with live rock that will determine how long the live rock will live. It is not the actual rock that is alive but the organisms that live on it with some of the micro ecosystems on live rock being able to live for centuries in the wild in optimal conditions and fish keepers being able to keep live rock for decades with ease with proper care.