Hyper-saline Baths ~ We Don't Recommend Them
First just to refresh, used as a prefix, hyper- means more,
and hypo- means less. Hyper-saline is super salty, hypo-saline
is reduced salinity, for the sake of this article, are in relation
to normal seawater.
While there are some websites out there promoting
hyper-saline baths as a required element upon receiving
live rock (supposedly to rid it of unwanted hitchhikers),
we do not recommend it. I can't help but wonder how
the hyper-saline water can tell the unwanted hitchhikers
from the wanted ones! Most suggest putting the rock in
something that is about or almost nearly twice as salty
as the ocean for a short period of time. The alleged payoff
is that you will chase out the dreaded evil mantis shrimp
or bristle worm with it.
The first flaw in a widespread, blanket recommendation of
this sort of drastic prophylactic treatment is that lots of
live rock doesn't have these ("evil") things and therefore
doesn't need it. You will just be stressing everything,
and very possibly killing some things, needlessly.
What we're talking about is a chemical or solution poisoning.
An overdose. Something that would kill most fish pretty quickly.
If you do something that makes a mantis shrimp or bristle
worm cringe, what do you think is happening to microscopic
spores of things that you WANT to live and grow out of your
live rock after it cures? Stunning, if not killing them,
are very real possibilities. I think hyper-saline treatments
are like the old saying of "throwing the baby out with
the bath water." You will do more harm than good to a
million spores or microscopic organisims than the good
you think you are doing over getting rid of one item.
The second issue is that much live rock from the Pacific is
transported by boat now (our live rock is ONLY air-freighted in).
Why would such rock ("boat rock") need a super-saline bath?
It would seem that a month or more out of the water would
have been sufficient. To recommend a treatment for
all rock without considering (actually knowing) the source
and care (or lack thereof) of the rock on the journey is not a
responsible recommendation. The websites promoting
this usually do not specify if it is just their rock that needs
this ... and as a result, some hobbyists take this as it
being for all rock all the time. This is not the case.
I think much of this started with Florida rock, because it is
shipped in water, and these "pests" are often in it, alive
and well. It is shipped in water because it has corals and
stuff on it, legally, because it is aquacultured.
And, because you are only paying domestic air freight costs.
So if you buy Florida live rock it might be good advice.
It usually ends there.
NO Pacific Ocean rock is shipped in water because the
international air freight costs are too high. And, because
as a rule, there are not live corals and such on it (by law).
And please don't ask for water, they don't care how much
money you have, it will not ever be packed in water.
We are lucky to get them to put the rocks in a box for us!
Nature of the beast. You can't change it.
I would estimate, based on years of thorough examination
and reports from customers, 99%+ of our rock does not have
these unwanted worms or shrimp. The overwhelming majority
of any that might have been there, die or leave in the
cleaning and packing process at the islands, or during
the 48-72 hours transit time from the islands to you.
They generally leave the rock looking for water at some
point on the way. We very rarely hear of one dead in the
bottom of the box. Once in a blue moon someone gets one
live. The last one I know of got us a thank you
note from the lucky happy recipient, and I am not kidding!
They loved their little red mantis shrimp.
It is however quite the exception.
Remember, during the curing process you will have
weeks to spot anything unwanted long before you get
your tank going. You should check your rock at night
(both early and late) when the tank/room is dark, with a
flashlight as part of your inspection process while
curing is ongoing.
If you think you have an unwanted shrimp or worm
in a piece of rock and really can't sleep over it, try
catching it by baiting it with food after dark.
Move the rocks to one side, put the food on the other so
you have a shot at it with a net before it can bolt.
Neither should be grabbed bare-handed, unless you like
the pain and agony of defeat, and late night trips
to the ER.
There is another method that can work. After the rock
has mostly cured and things have recovered from
shipping try putting the suspect rock on a piece of plastic
eggcrate over a bucket half full of saltwater with an
airstone in it. The popping air bubbles should be just
below the rock. Usually within a day or two the animals
will leave the rock diving into the water to get wet,
and of course will be unable to get back to the rock.
This is far less risky than hyper-salinity treatments for
the majority of desired life forms on your rock, and just
as efficient a method of getting an unwanted shrimp or
worm out, without the risk of damage to the other precious,
valuable life forms on the rock. You can mist the live rock
with saltwater lightly while waiting for ejection
if it gets too dry.
So anyway, our rock does not need a hyper-saline
bath treatment and we do not recommend them.
We consider it a waste of your time, effort, energy,
and money to do it with live rock from us. It may be
possible that others' live rock does need it, but it's
not our place to say that. Always follow the seller's
instructions for their rock. There are ways to get
rid of potential pests without chemical overdosing.