There are two different looks and ways to set up your aquarium. The current trend is to setup new saltwater aquariums using Live Rock (LR). The other option is to decorate with dead corals or man-made decorations which can be removed easily for cleaning. So you will need to decide if you prefer the pristine, colorful look of artificial plants and corals, or if you want the natural look of the ocean.
The natural look of Live Rock is the main reason people choose to use it. While it is aesthetically a great move, using natural rock also offers many healthful benefits for the fish. Whichever your budget can stand, both methods offer some of the same benefits. Though algae grows on Live Rock (as it does on artificial decorations) it is more natural-looking and aesthetically pleasing when growing on Live Rock as opposed to plastic, silk or resin decorations. Live Rock, unlike its artificial counterpart, does not need to be removed for cleaning. There are also fish and invertebrates that feed on algae, benefiting the fish and keeping algae under control. Live Rock is usually very porous, with plenty of surface area allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize and break down waste. The rock can also be stacked to provide hiding places for both fish and invertebrates.
One key to success with saltwater aquariums is to keep the inhabitants as relaxed as possible. Whether you choose dead corals and artificial decor to decorate or Live Rock, you can create a comfortable environment for your fish.
Initially, your aquarium will be pristine and beautiful. Then, as algae grow on the substrate and decor, the aquarium begins to appear dirty. In order to keep your aquarium looking beautiful, the decorations will need to be removed and cleaned. During this process, fish and invertebrates will be disturbed because they use the decorations to setup territories. When the decorations are put back in the aquarium the struggle for territories begins again.
As you can see, Live Rock has many advantages over artificial decor; but what exactly is Live Rock? As its name suggests, it is rock with living organisms (animals, plants, alga, bacteria, etc.) attached to and growing on and in it. Live Rock is collected from oceans in different parts of the world, from sites in tropical areas such as Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Bali, Indo-Pacific, etc. Most is named for the area in which it is collected.
Your New Saltwater Aquarium will give you confidence to create your own underwater masterpiece. Whether you choose artificial decorations or Live Rock, following this guide will help you create immediate success.