Saltwater Aquarium/White residue


Hi there! We just started a 29 gallon saltwater tank two weeks ago. So nothing but live rock. Put in our clean-up team friday night which consists of turbo snails, hermits etc.....all of a sudden a huge blowup of white substance on some of our liverock. Even one of our turbos....(photos available). More like a dried icing texture...not a powdery....hard. Keep trying to do calcium tests. Says count drops until it turns purple (around 20)...Got to 43 drops no change in color so stopped. Can you help? Thanks :(

Hi Tina:

Happy Holidays!

What you are experiencing with your live rock in regards to this white film, is perfectly normal.

Some even say that the live rock is puking or vomiting.

In conclusion, live rock needs to undergo a full curing process... during this time live rock can often times release a white film or dead material, these being the remnants of microorganisms that previously inhabited the live rock. However with time the live rock will once again, be teeming with life.

Keep aggressively filtering your water, and monitoring water parameters before introducing anymore marine life to your aquarium. You should not have to adjust any parameters as the aquarium will eventually start to balance itself out, this time frame would depend on if you used synthetic saltwater or filtered ocean water.

I wish you luck with all your future saltwater aquarium endeavors.


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David Ocreef


Technical saltwater coral reef related aquarium questions are welcome. Coral, invertebrate, and peaceful species of saltwater fish questions are welcome. Questions asked on Saturday and Sunday will be answered the following Monday. REMINDER: Please check the answers pool to see if your question has already been asked and answered. Questions typically are answered within a 48 hour period, however sometimes it may take longer.


I possess over twenty-five years of hands-on experience and knowledge in the ecology of aquariums. Beyond the traditional, I have successfully tested and sustained environments that have been uncharted territories for hobbyists, for decades. I am the first to admit I don't know it all because there will always be something new, amazing, and exciting to learn about, as discoveries are made. It's a hobby one can never outgrow, or grow tired of.

MASNA - Marine Aquarium Society of North America. Director of Orange County Reef Aquatics -

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After High School, my experience and love of marine animals influenced me to take up studies in Marine Biology. Throughout college, I studied Microbiology with an emphasis on Marine Life, as well as numerous other sciences. I continued to advance in this hobby, by building a dozen or more saltwater ecosystems all utilizing Microbes as the major source of my filtration method.

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