• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Low Level Octo Lighting Robbing New Live Rock of Potential?

O. Eye

Nov 22, 2002
The subject pretty much says it all. I have yet to buy more than a tank, but I see one of the more exciting things about starting any saltwater tank up is gettin uncured live rock to start the cycle out and then seeing what 'extras' have tagged along inside of the rock - even if they may get eaten later!

If I buy fancy live rock (looking at Harboraquatics because I can drive there from Easter Iowa) but put it under ultra-standard [read that as 'inexpensive and dim'] lighting, am I going to miss out on all of the cool things that would normally grow - or will I see worms and such things popping up, crawling out, and growing?

If it will be some blah-blah :| rock eventually without the expensive lights that wouldn't be octopus friendly anyway, I'll just stick with the local featureless liverock at my lfs. I care more about the octopus that his rocks. But to have the best of both worlds would be great (even though the light needs to be moderate)!

Please let me know what you think and what you've experienced. I don't want to waste a drive to IN or the money if, in the end, it will all die off to look the same as the stuff I can get one block from my house.


Hi Kip,

This is my experience. I bought 50 pounds of live rock (source: Fiji Islands/Marshall Islands) that was sold as partially cured, but which turned out to have been almost completly cured.

I use just one fluorescent light for 6 hours/day. I have lots of strange creatures, some there from the beginning and some which I am only now seeing after 2 1/2 months. Also, coralline algae, macro algae, sponges, featherduster worms of various colors, and even a small hardy coral have grown on the live rock. (Yes, some do get eaten) So the rock doesn't have to be totally uncured to have interesting inhabitants!

It would be interesting to hear from others about their live rock experiences!


Thanks for replying, Nancy. That's pretty much what I wanted to hear - that you have great stuff happening on your rock in spite of not having it under some light that emulates being two inches from the surface of 7 suns. That's great news for me.

Yeah! I'd love to hear what others have experienced with this as well - esp. some of you who may have jumped into the marine tank experience 'octopus first'.

Look forward to reading more so please post!

Thanks Again,

I confess that my lighting is the sort that you say you would rather avoid...in a 55-gal tank, 220 watts of PC fluorescent with good reflectors and electronic ballasts. I wanted cheap lighting, but I caved when I realized that I did want some pretty corals and that the cheap lighting fixtures I was trying to use (some very buzzy shoplights) just plain weren't going to work. Not only were they annoying, there were problems with fitting them properly on the tank...so custom homebuilt lights it was.

THat said, I think you'll be happy with lower light, as the elevated light I have encourages algae growth and so I have to pluck pretty regularly. I bought Harbor Aquatics rock and am very pleased with it. I'm pretty sure they only will offer you cured rock (properly, FULLY cured rock is their specialty) but it's crawling with critters and algae, and the longer you have it the more you'll see. Indeed, some things have moved from my rock to the sand. Sponges of some sort have invaded my Bak-Pak's biobale!

Some octos prefer less light...mine is so incredibly timid he prefers pitch black, so in that sense I don't think it matters how bright my lights are for him! :P

If you don't mind a bit of clumsiness and a bit of noise, a fluorescent shoplite such as I tried might be the way to go...a 4 foot one with tubes for a total of 80 watts can easily be under $10. There might be risks of the salt air messing up the light, however, as it wasn't designed for this environment.


Thanks for the quick reply. I'll definately stick to lower lighting. Based on what I've read, bright lights might be cruel to have hoovering over an octo. I was just wondering if I would pay in the live rock area.

Do you have any pics of your tank? Live rock? It would be great to see them.

Hmm...only fully cured from Harbor aquatics? I think I gathered that from what I read on their site. I may rethink this. There is, of course, an ongoing debate about which is better for starting a tank.

Thanks again for helping me out with the info here. I'll be building a tank stand and the hood myself. I'll probably throw some kind of inexpensive but salty-safe rig into it for light.

Hi Kip

i have had live rock in low light tanks and the stuff i have right now is not all that brightly lit either. By low light i mean a 40gal tank with just one 30watt bulb.

This is too weak for anemones and corals, i have frags of a cabbage coral and a couple of disc anemones in there and they havnt grown much in 3 or 4 months. However, the rock has grown stuff that doesnt like the bright lights of a reef tank... It has good corraline algae (doesnt need bright light) and a few sponges. Okay, not as impresive as corals but at least I thought I'd mention the other stuff too LOL

Some corals can be kept under only two tubes if the tank isnt too deep. The corals i had in this pic were bubble corals, leather corals and even a Favia species with only 2 35 watt 10,000k Coralife bulbs and a 35 watt actinic. The cephs never seemed to mind that at all....

I think that as long as Metal Halide bulbs are avoided that fluro tubes arnt going to be too bad unless as you say.... have seven of them all at once LOL
Colin - Your tank is absolutely beautiful!! Was your cuttle touching your finger? If so, I didn't think they could reach that far!!!

I'm really not familiar with the potential benefits of uncured rock...to be honest, I'd kept hearing that you wanted only properly cured live rock because curing your own could be a pain, and required a new tank to cure it in (such as you have.) All I know is I'm very satisfied with all the critters and algae on my rock, including sponges, feather worms like crazy, several other polychaetes, copepods, and I believe even a chiton. Uncured rock may be a better option for you if you want to save a bit of money and see what else may be in there...and if it's close enough to pick up. Since HA cures their own rock, presumably they do have some uncured at various times...perhaps you can ask to buy some.

I do have a decent photo somewhere around here that I can dig up, but I'm not sure it would show you what you'd like to see in my live rock...right now I'm limited to a low-quality digicam and digital prints off my film-cam...and "GollumCam", the webcam I'm tinkering with for my octo (Gollum.)

hi Carol


yeah that was the feeding tentacles grabbing food from my fingers.

LOL at 'I didn't think they could reach that far!!! ' me neither! Especially when they started spitting water too.

Shop Amazon

Shop Amazon
Shop Amazon; support TONMO!
Shop Amazon
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.