Rocks - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Can I use any rocks? Are there kinds I should not use?
I live a hop, skip amd about 6 blocks from the Missouri
river,could I just grab them from there and wash them
and use them?
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post #2 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 08:18 AM
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Not sure about all rocks, but we get limestone from creeks and rivers. Scrub it with a wire brush, soak in a 5 gal bucket with about a cup of bleach for a few days, then scrub with wire brush again and soak in a bucket with de-chlor for a few days. I usually let them sit in the sun for a few days after that and air dry, rinse off again and into the tank. We have had a few large pieces that would not fit in a bucket so I just scrubbed them good for several days while they dried outside. They have been in our tanks for about a month now with no ill effects.

We have also used large river rock from Indiana and did not bleach it because it had been out of the water for a long time. Just scrubbed it and put it in the tank. No problems.
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 10:42 AM
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Sorry for advance for the vivid image. Let's say that you are walking down the street with a baby and see a passifier on the ground whiich you then pick up and put it in the baby's mouth. Throwing river rocks straight in your tank is about the same. They can have bacteria or diseases on them which could make all the fish sick. They can also contain calcium or some other minderal that can make you tank pH spike and kill your fish!

After cleaning the rocks and rinsing them like your life depended on it, put them in a bucket of treated water for about a week and then test the water. If everything is normal, they should be okay. If not, you just prevented a tank disaster. Best of luck hun
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 11:19 AM
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Bluewind, we have 735 gallons of tanks running with several thousands of dollars of fish in them. I would never carelessly put something contaminated in our tanks, or suggest that anyone else do so. Most of our tanks are large (1 220g, 1 125g, 1 120g, etc.) and my husband wanted to use large pieces of limestone to increase the ph for our African Cichlids. These rocks would not fit in a pot to be boiled. I researched and asked more experienced fish keepers and took the best knowledge I could find to determine what to do with these rocks that we wanted to use for decoration and ph boosting. Our Lake Tanganyika fish thrive best in ph of 8.0 and higher. I did not want to use chemicals to boost the ph. The abundant amount of limestone rock in that tank, along with the crushed coral that I hand sifted to remove the sharp shells since they are sand sifters, the aragonite that was added to the substrate and the larger shells that were removed from the substrate and placed in bags in the Eheim canisters keep the ph at 8.1 consistently. I would think someone would do the research to find out what type of rock would work best for the ph requirements for their fish, like I did. As far as the baby pacifier, there is really no comparison here because I would not pick up a dirty pacifier from the ground anywhere and give it to my baby. Please do your own research before you decide to bash someone else for passing on what works for them to someone else asking for help and advice. And if you don't mind telling me... what exactly do you test your rocks in the water for? Like I said, the process I described takes several days and depending on how much dirt leeches out of the rock, up to several weeks. Just makes sense to me if someone does this themselves and sees the water is still dirty in the bucket, keep rinsing and scrubbing and bleaching until the water is clear, then soak in fresh water again with de-chlor which I have also done numerous times to be sure all of the chlorine is out of the rock. The last thing in the world I would want to do is make my fish sick or kill them. I guess it all depends on how much work someone wants to put into this task, or how bad they really want the rock in their tank because it looks nice and their fish would enjoy swimming around and through their new decorations (which my fish love). If someone does not put enough effort into the process to make sure it is safe for their fish, that is not my fault.

Also the large pieces I was referring to that have been in our tank for about a month now does not include the other pieces that we have cleaned and treated the same way which have been in our tanks for about a year. I would never pass on advice that is a month old and a shot in the dark.

Last edited by lakemalawifish; 11-26-2012 at 11:23 AM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 11:21 AM
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Also, to test for calcium or any other pH rasing componients, put a drop of vinager on the rock. If it bubbles, it will raise your pH.

And, many fish diseases are killed by aquarium salt. You can soak them in water with aquarium salt and rinse them well before throwing them in the treated bucket for their week of quarentene. It all depends on how careful you want to be.
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 11:35 AM
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Oh hun! I am so sorry that you thought I was dogging you! I promise I wasn't You had explained the importance of cleaning and how to do it so well, I didn't think I needed to repeat it. And I made the visual image for the OP to understand the importance of cleaning any natural rocks he or she finds before adding it to the tank. And I know you are an experenced fishkeeper. Anyone could see that from your first post! I knew you could handle the pH change that happens with limestone and knew the correct ammount to add.

From the OP's question, he or she is still learning (as am I), so I was trying to show the importance of cleaning the rocks as well as how to find out if the rocks will alter pH. People like us are still learning and have trouble with anything that alters our tanks. I want the OP to have a positive experence with fishkeeping and become as adicted to the little guys as I am.

Anyway, I want to appologize again for things getting lost in translation between us and I hope your not upset.

Last edited by Bluewind; 11-26-2012 at 11:41 AM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 11:55 AM
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Most of us use wood and/or rock in our tanks. And with the understanding that there is always some risk...even with store-bought wood and rock. After all, if it is real, it had to come from somewhere in nature, and may have taken up (absorbed) various substances along the way. Back in the late 1990's I killed off a tank of fish with something toxic that began leeching from a huge piece of wood purchased in a fish store. But I still use wood, although now I just use certain types only.

I have some rock purchased from a local quarry supply. The calcareous aspect is important. In tanks with hard water fish you want such rock, and limestone, marble, dolomite, aragonite based rock and sand is ideal. But in soft water setups you have to be careful. The acid test someone mentioned works, though vinegar is a fairly mild acid and a better would be the regent #2 from the API nitrate test kit; but if vinegar fizzes, it is calcareous. Beyond this, I monitor the pH sporadically [such as just prior to each weekly water change] for a few months after adding the cleaned rocks to the tank, just in case.

If you collect it yourself, avoid any areas where it may have been exposed to chemicals, oils, fertilizers, pesticides, etc., such as along roads or in farm fields.
Roick from streams is usually safe. I have a lot of river rock (the rounded pebbles and stones of varying sizes from being tumbled by rivers) in one tank, and some basalt slabs in another.


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 you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 11-26-2012 at 11:58 AM.
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 12:22 PM
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Bluewind thank you for explaining this to me. I apologize for any of my rude statements to you or towards you. I am like you, still learning and sometimes the hard way and if I can help someone else to not make mistakes I have made in the past I will try. Thanks again, hope there's no harm done.
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by lakemalawifish View Post
Bluewind thank you for explaining this to me. I apologize for any of my rude statements to you or towards you. I am like you, still learning and sometimes the hard way and if I can help someone else to not make mistakes I have made in the past I will try. Thanks again, hope there's no harm done.
No harm, no foul hun. It means a lot to me to know you understand what I was trying to say though. As an Aspy, a big staple of my diet is my own foot , so I'm use to things getting lost in translation

Tank 1: 25gal tank RIP
Tank 2: Snake habitat. Home to Albino Sand Boa Lily
Other Pets: minpin (Sugar) and rat terrier (Missy)

Is a fishkeeper still a fishkeeper when they no longer have fish to keep?
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post #10 of 10 Old 11-26-2012, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the info. I Have had tanks before but they all have had fake plants and caves.
I just want to set up a tank that looks more real.
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