When rearranging rocks in your aquarium or just fine tuning your aquascape, it is easy to release detritus into the water which has been trapped in low-flow spots between rocks or in the sand bed. Before disturbing the sand bed (if you have one) or redistributing rocks, we recommend turning off all wavemaker pumps in the aquarium as well as the return pump. Stirring up detritus into the water column will instantly and negatively impact the water quality in your tank and cause stress to fish, corals and invertebrates. Stirring up settled detritus will also cause a spike in ammonia, thereby disrupting an otherwise stable nitrogen cycle. Many corals and fish will start to feel the impact of the very harmful ammonia almost instantly.
When moving rocks try to gently and slowly lift one rock off at a time and then gently suck any detritus from the top side of underlying rock before moving to the next rock. For detritus removal we like to use a Python No-Spill Clean and Spill. Taking it slow and easy will prove to be less stressful to your aquarium inhabitants and reduce the likelihood of an ammonia spike, algae bloom and/or cyanobacteria outbreak. If you notice a spike in ammonia then it’s wise to continue doing small daily water changes until low ammonia levels are detected.