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Can I make these sea shells safe?
Is there any way to make sea shells safe for freshwater aquarium? I have some really nice ones I got from oceans and they've just been sitting around in the house for years now.
This is for a malawi tank and with my kinda low ph tap and going to be adding dirt to the tank I heard of sea shells buffering abilities in the freshwater tank so I thought perhaps it couldn't hurt, and I've always wanted to add my sea shells to a tank.
Can I make them safe? They're completely dried out, nothing dead inside of them, nothing stuck to the outside of them. Would soaking them in fresh water make them safe? Or boiling them?
What bad effects could they have on the tank? I was just worried that maybe they would add sea salt or a disease to the tank is that possible? Or harm the plants?
Wash them good and you'd be fine - ultra conservative, drop in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes.
On the other hand, sea shells and coral really don't belong in a freshwater tank as they wouldn't be found in any freshwater rivers, streams, ponds and such. It's a matter of preference really. I quite like the natural look as though it was a window into the amazon river, a lake or a pond....natural gravel, stone, wood, plants. The setups with dayglo gravel, carnival rides, skulls, little castles and such.... just don't do it for me. Each to his/her own.
However, if you want shells, it is your tank...but when I stop by, I'll remind you that sea creatures don't live in freshwater ;-)
you can use the shells but keep in mind that shells twist and twirl and have many chambers where dead material may still be. boiling will kill bacterias but not remove anything dead inside.
you should be fine to add a few, but something to consider.
I normally would agree with AD on shells in freshwater but you did mention Lake Malawi as your aquascape, so shells would be more appropriate. I know they occur in Lake Tanganyika, can't remember about Malawi...still, with hard water fish, that is a bonus.
Your mention of soil bothers me though. Why would you want soil in a hard water tank of rift lake cichlids? Aside from the mess, soil will work counter biologically to what you are trying to achieve, raising hardness. A better substrate would be crushed coral with aragonite; CarribSea make a couple products that are superb for this, sand sized in a buff colour, and they will raise hardness and pH to around 8 which is ideal for the rift lakes.
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Not to mention Zebra and Quagga mussels that are taking over many waterways in N. America.
yep shells are quiet common in FW systems. I agree about adding the dirt to the tank, along with what byron mentioned its not like your going to be able to grow plants with african cichlids.
Shells are make of calcium carbonate and will have some effect on the water hardness, but your not likely to notice it unless you have a ton of them or a crushed coral substrate.
Ok thanks guys, I had read some conflicting information on it online. I understand it may look unnatural to some, I wouldn't want to add them to my other tanks for that reason, but as I knew lake tanganyika has shells (also not sure about malawi) I thought maybe they would look alright.
As for the dirt it was something that was suggested to me, I'll look into the crushed coral. I have built in a few small planters into the background I'm making for them, that's the only place where I was going to put the soil (which will also be pre-soaked if that makes any difference). Just a little on the bottom then cover it with whatever substrate I'll decide to use. I didn't think it would make all that big of an impact but I really don't know. As for plants with malawi cichlids I haven't had any problems so far so I'll hope they make it long-term. If they don't make it long term/they start picking at them then I'll just replace them with fake/silk plants that's not a problem.
Cichlids like to dig, and those from the rift lakes can be very good at it. I myself would not consider soil in a rift lake tank. The plants will be constantly uprooted anyway.
The aragonite/crushed coral sand substrate works very well as it provides the hardness necessary for these fish and they can easily sift through it. Good plants are Vallisneria; these are actually native to the lakes, and as they do best in hard water they will thrive. A clump here and there can be done, with heavier rocks around the base. The cichlids will graze algae from the leaves, but most species will not damage them.
Oh yes, they do love to dig. I've been keeping larger rocks around them and so far they've been alright, but I didn't even think about them uprooting a plant with soil under it, what a mess. I do like the sound of val since it's native, I wasn't sure of any plants native. I think I'll stick with that. Thank you for the help :)
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