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DIY "Live" Rock
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Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Location: Woodstock, GA

PostPosted: 2005.07.06(Wed)7:29    Post subject: DIY "Live" Rock Reply with quote

I've been doing some snooping and reading around the internet, and I found a pretty neat, cheap recipe for making your own rock, I thought I'd share it with you...

This rock has three basic applications (that I can see), saltwater, possibly brackish, and cichlids that like high pH levels... other than that, it's pretty useless as the oystershells and cement are very alkaline, but we'll get to that later...

one of the neat things about this rock, is that the ones I have made, you can pour water right through them, it soaks up water like a sponge, this is great for bacteria population...


1 bag portland cement (type I/II) @ homedepot, lowes, etc...
6 bags play sand @ homedepot, lowes, etc...
2 bags oyster shell chicken feed @ local farm supply store
1 container muriatic acid @ lowes, local swimming pool store, etc...
1 pair of paint stripping gloves @ homedepot, lowes, etc...

you'll also need water, a trowel, a place to mix cement, a place to soak your rock, and a place to shape them...

here are some pictures of the essential materials...

quickrete portland type I/II

playsand (mine is by pavestone, it's silica based)

oyster shell (my basement now smells like the beach)


sorry, I didn't take a picture of the gloves!
65g Future Anemone Home

Last edited by MattTVI on 2005.07.06(Wed)7:38; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Location: Woodstock, GA

PostPosted: 2005.07.06(Wed)7:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

once you have all the materials, you can start building...

for my molding pit, I used a 50 gallon rubbermaid tub and filled it with 5 of the 6 bags of playsand...

shape the sand into the design you want, make sure to pack it down and then pour your cement mix in to the mold (in the picture you can see the molds I made, I had just pulled the rocks out)...

anway, this is the basic mixture I use...

1 part cement
1 part sand
3-4 parts oyster shell

the rocks that come out will look very, very grey, but I intended to grow algae and critters all over them, so that doesn't bother me...

here are a few shots of the rocks...

you can see some sand still stuck to the surface...

I intended to use these rocks as a base...

more shots of the rocks...

NOTE: It is very important to "cure" these rocks, that's when the acid comes in, even using the acid, it may take months for the rocks to cure...

I have a 33 gallon rubbermaid, I fill this w/ a 1-60 mix of acid and water (WEAR YOUR GLOVES) and soak the rocks in it for 24-48hrs, change out the water and add just water back, let soak... rinse, lather, repeat... after a week, do a pH test, the cement and oyster shell will sky rocket your alkalinity putting your pH up around 9, keep changeing water, soaking, etc until the pH is no longer effect by the rocks... again it could take as little as two weeks or well over a month or two... you'll know you're done when the pH is down to reasonable levels...
65g Future Anemone Home

Last edited by MattTVI on 2005.07.15(Fri)8:00; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 08 Jul 2005
Location: Santo Andr

PostPosted: 2005.07.12(Tue)13:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liked very much this recipe! Very Happy Great to create a personal aquascaping!

Just have some doubt: For marine and rift lakes african cichlids aquariuns, the rocks should be cured too? I ask this because raising the pH (and GH, KH) is one of the targets for an rift lake aquarium.

Good luck with your new stonehenge Laughing

CMCA - Rocks for choice
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Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Location: Woodstock, GA

PostPosted: 2005.07.12(Tue)13:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

absolutely the rocks should be cured! I recommend no less than a month. A great website to check on for an alternative (but more expensive) recipe is , under the how to section they have a number of articles on what they have trademarked as aragocrete, they also encourage people to use their recipe, so no worries about infringement... they have a lot of tips there on curing w/ vinegar and rock salt, as well as tips on building the rocks... I need to get some batteries for the digi, but I've built some pretty cool rocks sense the ones I put up earlier!

as to pH level, you can look to other sources besides these rocks to help maintian a desired pH, an individual also in the process of building his own rocks is looking to get his pH down to around 8 (that is, in the curing vat w/ fresh water), so I hope that answers your question!

oh, and thanks for the compliment! it is quite easy and fun to do, but again you have to be patient during the curing process... it's a good trait to have as a hobbyist... Smile
65g Future Anemone Home
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