The term cure is a slang word that is applied to the process of conditioning or cycling live rock (LR) for use in a saltwater aquarium. Cured means that it is live rock that has already been conditioned and is stable to use right away in an aquarium with minimal concern under certain guidelines. Another term often used in reference to cured live rock is seeded, as well as precured, fully cured or cycled.
When you see live rock labeled as fresh, uncured or unseeded this means it is NOT cured and it shouldn't be placed directly into a main aquarium until you cure it, otherwise, you will have a huge ammonia spike in your tank in a matter of a few hours. When it comes to transhipped labeling this usually means it is not cured, but in some cases a supplier may ship it in and precure it first, or may offer both types of transhipped rock for sale.
Richard Londeree of Tampa Bay Saltwater was one of the first pioneers to fight for the federal lease laws to allow the seeding and propagation of live rock in Florida/Gulf open waters. We consulted with Richard who has been dealing in live rock, both harvested and aquacultured for many years, and asked his opinion about curing live rock. This is what he had to say:
"Curing live rock is a term that came about because of the stress that rock is subjected to during the collection process.
Some collectors get it off the reef, sit it on the beach all day in the sun, hold it another day or two out of the water, box it up, send it to it's destination with multiple airline stops along the way, and finally it arrives to the buyer on the other end. So you have rock that may have been out of the water for up to 3-5 days.
At that point most all the life that was on the rocks is dead and smelly, thus you have to tank the rock and cure it, which really means you hold it a couple of weeks to let it stop smelling so much so it can be sold. A better term would be, bringing the dead back to life, which is what has to be done with rock from some suppliers. Rock harvested and held correctly does not need to be cured, as it is alive and not smelly."
At TBS, when they collect their rock it comes up in bags, is immediately submerged in water in 5 gallon buckets, transported to shore underwater, on their truck, underwater, 30 minutes to the shop where it is then held underwater. Because of the collecting process they use, Richard says that, "This way there is minimal die off, the rock smells good, is alive and happy. If left to sit on the floor for five days, imagine how it would smell!"
The bottom line is: If you want to determine if the live rock is cured, smell it. If it stinks, it isn't cured.
Now that you have a better understanding of what curing means, why it may be necessary to cure live rock and how to identify different types by the names given it. Before going into the process of how to cure live rock there are some very important Guidelines that one should follow when working with any type of live rock.
These Guidelines can help to make your venture into keeping live rock a more successful and productive one, and should be read before jumping in.
More Articles About Live Rock:
What Is Live Rock? Why Is It Used In Saltwater Aquariums?
Curing Live Rock
Guidelines For Working With Live Rock
How To Cure Live Rock
Tips For Buying Live Rock Locally or Online
Rock Grades and Making Your Own Live Rock
Curing live rock isn't difficult. It just takes a little time to do it properly.