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What kind of rocks can I out in my tank??

Discussion in 'Aquascaping' started by rs18alpha, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. rs18alpha

    rs18alpha Subscriber

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    Is it possible to put rocks that are in bags from a local nursery? You know, the type that are used for landscaping.
    If they are boiled would they be ok?
    It would be a lot cheaper than buying them from a fish place.
     
  2. Jason King

    Jason King barrreport.com
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    A lot of pebbles, slate and stones will be fine but you can test the rocks by placing them in vinegar and waiting a while, If they fizz don't use them. For example limestone and sandstone are going to leak calcium or toxins etc into your tank. Some rocks also raise the pH of your aquarium, this is fine if your keeping for example cichlids..that require higher pH values.
     
  3. Johnk

    Johnk Lifetime Members
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    Some of the landscaping pebbles out of china are polished with paraffin based chemicals. If they look glossy when they are dry they are probably not safe to use. The paraffin embeds into the surface to give a long shiny appearance on your garden path, and as such is difficult to remove.
     
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  4. Jason King

    Jason King barrreport.com
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    Thanks for that tip John :) have to say i never realized.
     
  5. rs18alpha

    rs18alpha Subscriber

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    Thanks jason, the small rocks I have in mind don't have any coating on them. I'll try the vinegar. I think the bags of rocks at Home Depot might work? Maybe they might have the type of rock listed on the bag??
     
  6. Dale Hazey

    Dale Hazey Junior Poster

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    Check a local builder supply yard, they'll have a truck load of every type of rock, sand, and pebble you could imagine. I hauled about 20 pounds of rock to the desk and they said it was free no worries. Tons of different stuff, cheaper than Home Depot.
     
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  7. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Plus one for this, I got to hand-pick a large bucket of blocky grey feldspar from a landscaping supply yard for free.
     
  8. ForTheHalibut

    ForTheHalibut Member

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    Smooth, rounded "river stones" are pretty much always okay, keeping the above concern regarding glossy coating in mind. Rough, brittle stones should be examined with more scrutiny for metal leaching, ph effects, etc.

    In my experience, limestone hardscape doesn't have a very great impact on ph. Limestone gravel certainly does, because of the larger surface area, but a single lump of rock doesn't really do much.
     
  9. Tim Harrison

    Tim Harrison Member

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    Many of the rocks we use in our aquariums are inert and do not react chemically with our tank water, for instance those that are mainly composed of silica, like smooth river bed pebbles.

    But quite a lot of rocks that are great to scape with are not totally inert and will have some effect on water parameters. For example, a lot of the rocks sold by ADA like Seiryu, Manten, and Ryuoh are actually all types of limestone, but at various stages along the metamorphic spectrum, and so of varying hardness. They all will, over time, leach carbonates which will have an affect on TDS and pH; but nothing any more sinister than that so they are OK. Jason's vinegar test is a good way to find out if a rock is composed of carbonates and likely to react with our tank water.

    That said, regular and substantial water changes typically necessary with eutrophic fertz dosing methods means that these reactions will have a minimal impact on water chemistry.

    Other rocks like sandstone will usually be okay, but in the case of sandstone it's the cement that has the potential to change water parameters. It usually contains some carbonates, and a lot of iron, the latter of which gives sandstone it's orange/red colouration.

    A good rule of thumb is - if the rock is friable, and easily falls apart, or leaves a residue on your hands, then it'll probably have an impact on water chemistry.

    I suppose the point is - it's not just what the rock is made from that will determine whether it's suitable for scaping it's also how hard it is as well, and how often you change your water, and also to a degree on local water chemistry. For instance, if the water out of the faucet is acidic then it will be more likely to react with any rocks that contain carbonates.

    Anyway, builders yards and garden centres are great places to go hunting for cheap hardscape so don't be put off by water chemistry worries. By the very nature of their intended use, landscaping, they will usually be hard and therefore often safe to use for aquascaping, but at a fraction of the price of Gucci rock sold in aquascaping shops.

    If you have doubts about a rocks suitability for use in an aquarium you can soak it in a bucket and test the water over time for any changes in chemistry.

    I bought the slate below from a garden centre, a while back, for £1.00 a chuck; a well known UK aquascaping shop at the time was selling the same for for £££ more....

    upload_2017-10-13_16-23-4.png
     
    #9 Tim Harrison, Oct 13, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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