One of the most important things that you need when you are growing tank raised Aquaculture rock is a source of invertebrates, coralline algae, and beneficial macro algae. In 1994 when we were setting up the original GARF grow out tanks we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase Florida live rock. Unlike the stripped and washed version of live rock that comes from many Pacific nations Florida live rock is full of life.

When we first visited the rock farmers in Florida in 1994 we were able to visit Dale Barger as he was starting to stock his aquaculture rock farm with premium honeycomb limestone from the Bahamas. We visited several of the live rock collectors who were harvesting Florida rock at that time and we were most impressed with Dale Barger's rock because of the heavy growth of sponges and other invertebrates. Dale was planting his rock farm at the same time our friend Tom Frakes was planting his farm in Florida. Much of this aquaculture rock is now over five years old and it is beautiful.

Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 21:14:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: Nagy Nick

Dear Leroy,
I just wanted to thank Leonel for telling me to purchase live rock from Dale Barger at Gulf-View. It is the livest rock I have ever seen at only three dollars a pound. Most local pet shops around here in NY charge seven dollars a pound and the live rock is of very poor quality. Dale's liverock had lots of feather dusters,purple and red coralline algae,clams, and tons of other great stuff. Plus he gives you alot. I ordered the thirty pound special for 130.00 dollars and got 13 pieces. My tank is just beautiful, no better yet stunning with Dale's great live rock in it. I can't wait to add some of GARF's corals to the rock. Then I will surely have a showpiece tank.

Thanks So much,
Nick Nagy


When we are stocking Aragocrete Glue Reefs we want to introduce hardy, fast growing, brightly colored invertebrates. The coralline algae and invertebrates from the West Coast of Florida are able to thrive in many different water temperatures. We have been growing this batch of aquaculture rock for about two months in a 30 gallon tank with 1 - 18 in. fluorescent light bulb and two power heads. There is no skimmer on this tank and as you can see from these pictures, the rocks are covered with brilliantly colored interesting invertebrates.

Several years ago when Tom Frakes was in Florida harvesting some of his rock we were able to get several batches and many of the corals and invertebrates are still alive on this rock. Our experiments have shown us that this is the very best type of rock to use to start a captive reef especially when you can purchase the rock directly from the collector.

It is very easy to understand why rock that was grown by Dale Barger, collected by Dale Barger, and shipped by Dale Barger will arrive in much better shape than rock that has been sitting in a cardboard box for about a week :)



Florida Aquaculture Rock always has many surprisingly beautiful macro algae and sponges growing on it. The most interesting macro algae on this piece of rock is a beautiful red Proto-Caulerpa that is proving to be very hardy in captivity.

Live rocks from this part of the Gulf of Mexico often have many species of Coralline algae growing on the same rock. On this piece of rock you can see many types of branching Coralline algae that would have surely been scrubbed off of any rock imported from the Pacific.

To the left of the Red macro algae there is a nice colony of live coral that is very hardy in captivity. These corals often live for years.

One of the best things about Florida Aquaculture rock is all the beautiful types of feather duster worms that grow so well in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these feather duster worms reproduce in captivity.

In the years since we started testing Florida aquaculture rock we have noticed many different types of feather duster worms and interesting sponges growing on our Aragocrete live rock. It is very exciting to sit down with a magnifying glass and study the Florida Aquaculture rock when it comes in because it often has barnacles and small live corals.

One of the other benefits to using Florida aquaculture rock to seed your live reef is the fact that this rock started out as road fill. By carefully choosing the right area to plant this rock Dale Barger has created a great ecologically sound way for you have beautiful live rock.



This is another picture of the same rock and you can see how many different feather dusters grow on one small rock. Each rock is totally unique and Dale packs his rock to be shipped in 30 pound boxes that include a variety of types and sizes.

During the next two semesters you will be able to follow the progress of our six new aquacultured bulletproof reefs. Each of these reefs will have three AragocreteTM reef tables sitting on an Eco-Sand Plenum that is covered with CaribSea aragonite Gravel.

We use a mixture of two types of CaribSea gravel in our reefs. The mixture of CaribSea Aruba Shell and Seaflor special grade make a perfect nitrogen-removing filter.


The Eco-Sand Plenum consists of the light grid plate with a Geofabric nylon mesh above it. This nylon mesh allows part of the gravel to fall down between the course plastic threads. Because the Eco-Sand Plenum comes as one complete filter plate there is no way to set it up wrong. You just pour the gravel on to the plate and the proper amount falls down between the nylon threads.
Each of these aquariums will be set up identically so that we can test commercially available equipment that may be useful in setting up tanks for raising brood stock. After we have added the Eco-Sand Plenum and the CaribSea gravel we will start building the reef using 3 AragocreteTM reef tables. These lightweight, porous Aragocrete reef tables each have three legs that support the main part of the reef above the gravel. When the entire reef has been added only nine points will touch down so that the gravel will be able to have as much open water flowing over it as possible.
On top of these three reef tables we will add two large Aragocrete Cave Arches that will reach almost to the water surface. The final piece of Aragocrete sculpture will be a large Aragocrete cave. These six pieces of Aragocrete will weigh approximately 50 lbs. and they will make up the majority of the finished reef. We will then finished the rest of the reef structure by adding 30 lbs. of Dale Barger's Florida Aquaculture Rock. When we have used this combination in tanks before we have noticed that the animals from the aquaculture live rock soon to migrate to the AragocreteTM, and it is always fun to watch the Aragocrete Sculptures take on the purple and pink colors of coralline algae.

Each of the Eco-Sand Plenums come with two three quarter inch uplift pipes. We will start bringing the Aragocrete and CaribSea gravel to life by using the Eco-Sand Plenum as an under gravel filter for several months. As soon as we have brought the specific gravity and temperature of the Ocean Pure to 1.024 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit we will add the GARF Grunge and Reef Janitors.


Each of these brood stock reefs will be equipped with three maxi jet 1200 power heads. Only one of them will be used to power the Eco-Sand Plenum. Powering the plenum for a several months will speed up the conditioning of the new systems with bacteria and other microorganisms. During the first 20 years of my marine aquarium keeping experiences we set up literally hundreds and hundreds of under gravel filters. These filters often worked very well for several years and then they would clog up and they no longer acted as an efficient bacteria filter. By capping the uplift tube while the water is flowing we make a plenum that lasts for years. The other power heads are placed so that they create a rotating water flow.

After the first two months when we have seen indications that the gravel bed is becoming populated with worms and chitons we will remove the Maxi Jet power head from the intake to cap it with a three-quarter inch PVC cap.

These systems will then be stocked with 30 pounds of Florida Aquacultured rock. We will light these systems with 3- 40 watt bulbs consisting of 2- Actinic whites and 1- Actinic blue. For the first few weeks after the tanks are set up we will use only the actinic bulbs. after we have started to see an increase in the amount of coralline we will add the two Actinic White bulbs. During the next two semesters we will be reporting on these tanks progress.

Sally Jo has several of the systems that are over five years old and it is amazing how many types of corals thrive in this system. The aquaculture rock we have tested in the past varied quite a bit in quality. We have not seen rock with this many live animals since we tested the rock from Tom Frakes.