Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Mating Slinkys 09-05-2007 11:49 AM

Cannon Ball!
Many years ago, i was walking on the beach with my grandfather. We lived on the south coast of Devon in the South Hams, an area renowned for it's many shipwrecks, both recent and more ancient. We were discussing this, and generally chatting about smugglers, wreckers and other assorted stories of the stormy seas, when we came across a cannon ball in one of the more dangerous bays, At least that's what i have always assumed it is, it's about the right size and has a flattened part that has clearly hit something at great speed.

I have had it for years, in fact it may well be my oldest posession, and i have never really managed to find a use for it more interesting than paperweight, and occasional blunt instrument.

Anyway, i digress, I was wondering if it would be possible to put it in the fish tank without it killing all my fish. I'm not sure what metal it is made of, an if it would affect my fish with leaching heavy metal salts.

It is very heavy, but definately not made of lead, and it has clearly corroded with a layer of what appears to be rust on the surface, that you can pick off with a fingernil, however this is not rust red as i would expect from iron, but a metallic black colour. I'm assuming it is iron, as i would have thought that that would be the most common material for cannon balls to be made from, ad it seems to be about the right weight and hardness.

I'd have thougt that it would not be clever to put it in as is, but i was wondering if there is some sort of clear varnish or lacquer that i could coat it with, sealing in any nasties safely, but not being itself poisonous to the fish...

I appreciate this is an odd question, but i'm quite fond of my cannonball, and i'd like to find a use for it!

Cheers folks!

GregV 09-05-2007 12:17 PM

hmm thats a cool question, first off how heavy is it? most aquaium glass doesnt actually touch the surface it is sitting on so if its to heavy you may spilt the glass on the bottom of your tank.

the only think I can think of to make it safe for the aquarium, would be some kind of acid wash to remove the top few layers of rust, junk and w.e but that would be hard to do im guessing.

any kinda of chemical coating i would be afraid to eventually leak into the water.

maybe try finding a bucket and leaving it in there for a while and testing the water to see if it changes the water parameters.

if worst comes to worst, ( and this is cruel sugesstion.. but) you could try putting feeder goldfish in the bucket with it and seeing if anything has leeched from the ball into the water.

beetlebz 09-05-2007 12:19 PM

lets start from square 1. do you own a cannon? :bluelaugh:

when I was a kid I got some musket balls from a tour through some fort of some sort. for some reason I specifically remember using clear nail polish to coat the balls so they would not give off lead and whatever else went into them.

Im sure one of the guru's here can suggest a coating that will not hurt your feesh!

jsm11482 09-05-2007 01:02 PM

If you have a plastic shop near by it would be cool to get it encased in lucite or w/e. What I mean by this is to create a mold slightly larger than the ball and pour moulten lucite (w/e) into the mold, creating a thin shell around the ball.

Mating Slinkys 09-05-2007 02:58 PM

Sadly I do not own a cannon, merely a cannonball. I suppose i could throw it at someone, but as far as it being used as a projectile, those days are long gone!

I don't really want to scrub too much of the corrosion off, with acid or anything, as the antique look is one of the things i like about it. And i have a bit of a confession, I was describing it from memory in my previous post, and having dug it out and having had a closer inspection it is rust coloured, so is most probably Iron. (well, the core is, the surface will be mostly Iron Oxide by now!

It's not too heavy, and certainly not as heavy as some of the rocks i've put in aquariums, and it does have a flat impact site on it so it won't roll and will spread the weight across a wider area.

I have a suspicion that a few of you have an image of something the size of a bowling ball in your heads, whereas most cannon shot were considerably smaller than this, especially the earlier ones, so i have posted a couple of pics to clarify the size of it. Thus:

It's light enough to hold in one hand with no problems, but i wouldn't want to drop it on my toes!

This is a close up of the surface, with flash. I find that taking a close up flash photo of something often gives and indication of the colour it'll look under the tank lights, though in this case i think i'll be a bit darker.

So, for putting it in the tank... Clear nail polish would be the easiest option, but would this dissolve over time into the tank, killing my fish?

I like the idea of the plastic coat, but i have no idea where i would get that done (although i'll have a look on google and my local business directories) Any idea how much that sort of treatment would cost, i imagine it's not something that the plastic shop has to deal with on a daily basis so would be a once off special (and therefore expensive?) job.

I had thought about some sort of liquid plastic coating, that could be painted on, although i have no idea if any such thing exists. I have a suspicion i may be onto a bit of a mission here!

jsm11482 09-05-2007 03:28 PM

A non-toxic liquid epoxy might also be an option, check your [Home Depot or w/e building supply stores you have over there]. Also hobby shops might be a good place to check.

Falina 09-05-2007 05:16 PM

I second the suggestion for non-toxic epoxy paint. This seems to be something readily available in the States however I had great difficulty finding any. Maybe you will have mroe luck.

caferacermike 09-05-2007 05:44 PM

I think it'd look great on a stand next to the tank.

jim21 09-05-2007 10:27 PM

I can certainly understand your situation - that thing would look great sitting in a tank covered with a little Christmas moss.

I think GregV's suggestion of putting it in a bucket and testing is the safest approach, although you may have to get some specialty metal test kits.

One thing that stood out to me - you mentioned getting this on a beach. If it was sitting in saltwater (or even damp sand) for any significant period of time you may want to treat it like coral or shells at first to be safe.

Keep us updated!


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