Lave rocks - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-13-2012, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
Egrant's Avatar
Lave rocks

Hey guys, yes another rock question (well 2)
I read the post it about not boiling rocks and I am not going to try. I did get tired of reading everyone try to argue the fact so onto my questions. I bought some smooth river rocks from the landscaper. RINSED thoroughly with a hose and have them soaking in water, and I plan on re-rinsing tomorrow. Once scrubbed with hot water they should be good to go right?
Also, they had a bunch of lava rock that would be cool because of the misc shapes and itís lite. Can I use this? It looked a little dirty so I stayed away but might add some if itís ok.
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-14-2012, 06:36 AM
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I would think so. Ive heard of lava rock that wasnt aquarium safe, but ive never seen it. I would just make sure that its clean, I like to pour boiling water over anything I put in my tanks, but even thats probably silly.

the other rocks I would think will be fine, as long as they are clean and arent going to alter the ph (vinegar test).

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post #3 of 7 Old 03-14-2012, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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Does the vinegar test just simply fuzz or not once pored on rock??????

Fuzz = no good
No Fuzz - Good
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-14-2012, 09:11 AM
willow's Avatar
no fuzz is good.

when you set up a new tank,hide an extra
sponge or two behind some decor,that way you have
something seeded for you next filter.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-14-2012, 10:48 AM
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I just posted in response to your [Egrant] similar question in the other thread, but will repeat and expand a bit here, since you've also raised some other issues.

First on lava rock, I have read that this is calcareous. Calcareous means the rock is composed of minerals like calcium and magnesium which will slowly enter the water, raising the mineral content and thus making the water harder. This may or may not be what you want, depending upon the fish species. The issue with rock is basically the hardness factor with fish.

Some fish need medium hard or harder water; livebearers, rift lake cichlids, and a few others fall into this group. For tanks with these fish, calcareous rock would not normally be a problem, and depending upon the hardness of the source water, may be an advantage. Using gravel or sand made from calcareous rock is usually an advantage.

Many fish are soft water in origin, and while it varies from species to species as to how much hardness they can tolerate, the aim in all aquaria with soft water fish is to keep the water soft, so using rock that is calcareous is not normally advisable. However, if the water is very soft (near-zero hardness), having some calcareous rock is not necessarily a problem as it may help. This is very general, but sufficient for this discussion at this point.

So back to the lava rock, if this is the brownish/reddish porous rock, I believe it is calcareous. The vinegar test may show this if it fizzes; vinegar is a fairly weak acid so if it does not fizz, I would go to a stronger acid. The Regent #2 in the API nitrate test kit works for this, a couple drops on the rock.

River rock is usually inert (= does not affect water chemistry). I have several pebbles of varying sizes of this in some of my tanks, and I bought it from a local landscape/rock supply. The acid test can still be used to make sure.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-15-2012, 12:11 AM
1077's Avatar
Agree with all of the above ,and would only add that lava rock is rough on skin of some fishes such as loaches,plecos, some catfishes that like to work over the rocks while searching for food and tiny aquatic creatures.
They can scrape their bellies,barbels, on the lava rock, and secondary infections can occur.
I would have no problems using it with cichlids but not perhaps with loaches,plecos,catfishes.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-15-2012, 09:22 AM
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I would think that natural lava rock can and will (this is only theory) have different compositions. I have to believe that the effect on ph or dgh, would be almost completely dependent on what it was made of. Especially the odd colored stuff.

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