Live rock is an awesome gift

Live Rock Gift Giving Guide for Family Members

Saltwater Aquarium Blog Guide to Holiday Gift Giving for Aquarium Nerds

Happy Holidays! Thanks for taking a moment to read this Guide to Holiday Gift Giving. If you’re receiving this guide, it must mean that a loved one or dear friend of yours wants you to know what’s on their wish list. You should know that your friend is an aquarium nerd and what would really spike their eggnog this year would be the gift of live rock.

Chances are good that YOU are not an aquarium nerd—so you probably have a lot of questions about this wish list item. The goal of this guide is to explain it, so you can give your loved one the gift they’re hoping for.

What is live rock?

Live rock is an awesome gift
Adapted from an image by Nat Tarbox

It’s a special type of rock found in and around coral reefs. It’s the stuff the corals actually grow on. Live rock tends to be lightweight (as far as rocks go…) and porous (which means it has lots of holes and pores in it).

Is this the same thing as a pet rock?


How can a rock be alive?


The rock itself isn’t alive, but hopefully there is lots of cool stuff growing in, on and around it. Some stuff (bacteria) so tiny you can’t see it, and some stuff (hopefully) large enough for you to see (coralline algae).

How much does it cost?

The cheapest I’ve personally ever seen live rock has been about $1.50/lb. It’s more commonly in the $5-7/lb range and can even be more expensive. Live rock with lots of stuff growing on it or in desirable (unique or attractive) shapes may cost more money than standard pieces. The problem is that even though live rock is considered a lightweight rock….rocks are still heavy things by nature, so a single rock can cost you $25, $50 or more depending on the weight. Which leads me to the next question….why would anyone want to pay $50 for a rock?

Why live rock?

Your loved one probably knows all about the geeky things live rock does, but here I’ll focus on the benefits of live rock. It serves as a home for corals, fish and other invertebrates like crabs or shrimp. It also works a bit like a water-treatment plant and filters the water—no kidding. It’s cool stuff. Also, since the live rock helps keep the water clean, the more rock in the tank, the more livestock they can have in their tank—so it’s a lot like laying a strong foundation within the tank itself.

What can I do to make this gift more exciting?

First of all, you should know that your loved one probably IS excited to receive this gift. You may be worried that a box of rocks is going to suck…but it won’t. However, there are a few things you can do to spice things up a bit.

  1. Go shopping with your loved one and let them pick out the rock themselves. You’ll see on their face how excited they are for these rocks.
  2. Pick a rare or premium type of rock. Believe it or not, not all live rock is the same—so ask the crew at the local fish store about the different types and pick something special
  3. Look for coralline algae (purple patches on the rock) or other stuff growing on it.
  4. Help them aquascape their tank. It’s like manscaping….only…um…it doesn’t involve a razor.

Some final words of encouragement

First of all, you’re awesome for  being interested enough to buy someone live rock. I know this gift may sound like it makes no sense, but it’s one of the most important things your loved one can do to create a happy, healthy environment for their fish and corals. Kudos to you. Resist the urge to buy the big flashy fish at the front of the store and stick with the even flashier live rock.

Check out the other holiday guide articles here:

LED light fixture
A Fish (when they found out it was in my basement in quarantine)

Or return to the Saltwater Aquarium Blog Holiday Gift Giving Guide original post







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