Fish Heads Inc. Real Reef Review

Fish Heads Inc. Real Reef live rock is not taken from wild reefs.

Real Reef is a “live rock” manufactured by Fish Heads Inc. Using Real Reef does no harm to the environment.

Real Reef

The Claims
Fish Heads Inc. claims that Real Reef works the same as live rock taken from the wild. It is free of any unwanted hitchhikers in the way of Aiptasia, worms, etc. They also claim that Real Reef has excellent buffering capacity and that it is seeded on its outside with purple coralline algae and inside with bacteria for the nitrogen cycle.

The Test
I set up a new 50-gallon marine reef aquarium and a new 65-gallon FOWLR (fish only with live rock) aquarium. Both aquariums had some sand from an existing marine aquarium, some old rock pieces that had been in a freshwater aquarium and Fish Heads Inc.’s Real Reef. I ran both aquariums for about three months, which I figured gave the Real Reef a fair amount of time to establish itself.

The Results
In both aquariums, the nitrogen cycle became established within a few weeks. The 50 gallon never had any ammonia, but I had a new filter that I was also testing on that aquarium and an excellent skimmer. The 65 gallon had some ammonia for a couple of days. Within 10 days, there was no ammonia or nitrates in either aquarium, and nitrates were acceptable. For the duration of the test, there was never any ammonia or nitrite, and nitrates were within an acceptable range.

The 65 gallon has a fluorescent light with two 54-watt T5s, and it took about six weeks before purple coralline got started. There was a brief outbreak of cyanobacteria, but I think that was due to the fact that there was no protein skimming on the 65 gallon (I wanted to see what would happen, and now I know). All of the saltwater fish were fine, and things settled down in another couple of weeks.

The 50 gallon has a 90-watt LED that I’m also testing, and in less than a month, there was purple coralline algae growing on all of the Real Reef, with none growing on the old pieces of regular live rock. I never had any nuisance algae, and the saltwater fish and corals were thriving.
In my opinion, Fish Heads Inc.’s Real Reef is a major contribution to the growth of the marine hobby. My opinion is that there will never be a completely sustainable harvest of marine life, including live rock, so everything that we can do to make the marine hobby thrive without taking anything from the wild is important. Real Reef is an exciting contribution to eliminating our hobby’s dependence on taking most of what it needs from the wild.

Fish Heads Inc.
Real Reef


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