Live rock purchasing recommendations


New member
Jan 4, 2020
Looking for some advice on potentially adding some live rock to a semi established tank.

I have a Red Sea Reefer 250 that I started about 12 months ago with artificial Caribsea Liferock. I also have 3 plates of marine pure in the sump. I initially cycled with Dr Tim’s. I run a refugium with chaeto with a good pod population. I use a 6 stage RODI unit and monitor parameters with an apex. I do an 8% weekly water change.

Temp: 78.5
pH: 8.0-8.1
Nitrate: 2
Phos: 0.04
Alk: 8.0
Ca: 420
Mg: 1400

Zoas, mushrooms, and torches have done well in the system. But any time I try to add even as much as a montipora it looks good for 2-3 weeks and then they slowly bleach even if I keep them in low light or move to a more shaded area. Similar story with the few acro frags and even a space invader pectinia which look good but then slowly lose tissue from the tips down.

I dose Red Sea Reef energy A and B and reef roids thinking it was a nutrient availability issue but this has not helped with the SPS problems.i have also let the Alk drift down to 7.2-7.4 in the past but this didn’t help either.

An ICP test I did several months back showed a slightly low iodine level and elevated aluminum level which I assume is from using marine pure. Chlorine and chloramine test strips have been negative. TDS meter reads zero.

Having scoured the internet for suggestions, I’ve come across others mentioning issues at this stage with dry or artificial rock systems. Some suggest waiting longer to the near 2 year mark before trying some SPS test frags. I wonder if it would be worth trying to add some live rock to make up for the lack of potential biodiversity after curing it in my vacant quarantine tank.

Curious to see of others have advice or similar experiences. At this point my other options are just to wait, redo ICP, check for voltage issues, par meter testing (i run a pretty conservative light scheme with AI hydras), and look for anything else leaching, etc. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.