This setup is the same as a Fish Only with the addition of live rock and better lighting. The use of live rock has really taken off in the past decade because it really is the best form of natural biological filtration for the saltwater aquarium. It is called "live rock" because of the creatures and organisms living on the inside and on the surface of the rock. It can be very interesting to the look at the organisms and algae growing on the rock.
Getting good rock, such as Fiji rock, can be expensive and may even be the most expensive part of setting up a live rock tank. A rule of thumb for setting up a tank with live rock is 1 to 2 pounds per aquarium gallon. Currently, live rock is going for about $7 per pound, so a 55 gallon tank would need approximately 82.5 lbs (using 1.5 pounds/gallon) or around $578 to get started. This price is just an estimate and the price may be much higher or lower in your particular area.
What makes live rock so good? The porous nature of live rock means that it comes packed with all types of tiny creatures and biological organisms that aid in the nitrogen cycle. The dense, porous material inside the live rock helps rid your aquarium of nitrates. You will still need to monitor your water parameters regularly and perform water changes as needed. You will also need to add supplements such as iodine, calcium, strontium, magnesium and others, to the water periodically. live rock helps maintain stability in a saltwater aquarium and it can become a food source for your invertebrates and your fish.
Available from companies on our saltwater fish dealers page.