With live rock becoming more and more popular in all types of aquariums, we have seen a spike in the number of people reaching out to ask how to maintain live rock as well as how they are able to take better care of it.
One of the questions that we have seen people consistently asking about is for ways of correctly drying live rock though.
Although this may sound like it will defeature the purpose of having live rock as the plant and animal life on the rock will dry if you dry it, it can be considered essential tank maintenance in some cases.
For example, you may have to clear off the white, dead coralline algae husks to let fresh coralline algae grow easier.
Sometimes there can be issues with contaminants on live rock too so drying it out, clearing everything off the rock and then re-adding it back to your aquarium can be the best option.
No matter the reason for you wanting to dry your live rock, we often see people going about it in ways that are very inefficient and take considerably longer than they have to.
Drying live rock can be a very quick, simple, and cheap process so we are going to be focusing on these methods of drying live rock in our article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
Can You Let Live Rock Dry?
You can let live rock dry and it is a very common method of cleaning dead coralline algae husks off your rocks to make it easier for new coralline algae to grow on your live rock.
There are also a number of other situations such as the rock having a contaminant on it where you will have to let the rock dry out for cleaning.
If there are no issues with your live rock we would not recommend that you let your live rock dry though as the algae, corals, and any other living animals or plants on the rock may die.
The main reason that people let their live rock dry out is due to them needing to do maintenance on the rock.
Due to coralline algae taking a long time to grow onto live rock in some water conditions, letting your live rock dry out can end up setting your tank back months in some cases.
This is why we only recommend that you let your live rock dry out if you know for a fact that it has a contaminant or parasitic infection on it or if there are so many white, dead coralline algae husks on it that new coralline algae is having a hard time growing on it.
How Do You Dry Live Rock?
The standard method of drying live rock is to soak it in bleach for one day to rid the rock of any parasites or contaminants as well as making it easy to get dead coralline algae husks off it.
You then soak the rock in tap water for a week while changing the water daily before letting it sit in a dry area of your home for another week before rinsing it in tap water and adding it back to your tank.
Although most people use the exact method above, we actually recommend that instead of simply rinsing the live rock after drying it and putting it back in your tank, you let the live rock sit in some tap water for a few days.
Once the live rock has been left to site in the water, you then use a water testing kit on the water that the live rock has been sitting in to make sure there are no issues with the water quality.
We know that it is rare but there is still a chance that there will be some bleach left on the live rock at this stage after the drying process.
Adding this quick and easy little quarantining step to the live rock drying process prior to adding the rock back to your aquarium can help to prevent various issues.
How Long Does Live Rock Take To Dry?
If you are drying your live rock to remove dead coralline algae husks then you can usually dry it and have the husks cleaned off within two to three days.
If you are drying your live rock due to it having a contaminant or parasites on it then it can take a week or so to dry the rock and clean it and then another week to prep it to be re-added to your aquarium.
There are a large number of different methods that you are able to use to your advantage when drying live rock though.
The one we covered above is the most commonly used method but depending on what you specifically need to dry your live rock for will dictate the amount of time it takes to dry your live rock out.
If your live rock has been in your aquarium for many years and has a large amount of coralline algae growth on it with various other plants, they may retain water and extend the drying process timeline for your dry rock too.
There are simply too many variables at play to say that drying your live rock will take you a set amount of days as it will change for most situations.
Can I Put Dry Live Rock In My Tank?
You can put dry live rock in your tank but we would highly recommend that you wash it thoroughly prior to placing it in your tank to make sure there are no contaminants or parasites on it.
It will usually take four to eight weeks before you see coralline algae growing on your new live rock with your calcium carbonate levels of your tank playing a large role in how long it will take to grow.
Due to cleaning live rock by drying it out then cleaning it with chemicals being very common for a number of reasons, a large number of people will put dry live rock in their tanks on a regular basis after cleaning.
After a certain amount of dead coralline algae husks build up on your live rock it will actually become essential to clean the rock as new coralline algae will struggle to grow.
Just be sure that your dry live rock is clean and safe to put in your tank prior to adding it.
We have lost count of the number of reports that we see from people who have made the mistake of putting dry live rock in a sensitive reef tank or other type of aquarium only to discover they have accently added a pollutant.
Can You Leave Live Rock Out Of Water?
You can leave live rock out of water for a short period of time without having issues. It doesnt take long for the coralline algae and other algaes and corals to start to dry out resulting in their cells damaging though.
Usually, if you do need to take your live rock out of your tank for an hour or so then you should be fine.
If you will be taking your live rock out of your water for a tank water change or to do other tank maintenance that will take more than an hour then we would recommend that you put your live rock in a constant with suitable water.
Depending on the reason that you have had to remove the live rock from the tank, you may be able to just put water from your aquarium directly in with your rock to preserve the life forms living on it.
If you do have to take your live rock out of your tank, even for a short period of time, try not to leave it in direct sunlight. It is surprising how quickly coralline algae and other types of algae can start to have issues when out of water when in direct sunlight.
Their cells can become damaged causing the algae to die resulting in their husks forming on your live rock meaning you will have to deep clean it sooner.
That brings our article on drying live rock to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you understand how you are able to easily dry your living rock but as we touched on earlier, depending on why you have to dry your live rock, you may have to go through a process that can potential take weeks if you need to deep clean it due to parasites or contaminants.