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Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

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Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by alexmtl on Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:53 pm

Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Interesting question for those who would love to put that shiny rock into the aquarium. In the past I have, however I took a few precautions and made sure the collection site was far away from soot, oil and pollution. I was also concerned about introducing some freshwater pest or, worse case, a parasite that I would regret later. Dipping in a 10% bleach dilution settled my worries on external parasites. Boiling in hot water and then letting sit in a large bucket for at least a week gave me some peace of mind.

Sand tends to get gritty so I was concerned about fine particles. I used a beach toy sifter to filter out to the particle size that I wanted and then I boiled and soaked. So my answer is, yes if you know if the rock, gravel or sand is from a pristine location.

One last caveat, collecting from a protected site, such as a National Park or local sanctuary may have legal implications, so it is up to you to find out about local collection regulations. Transmission of disease is a huge concern and you may be restricted. Check out the laws first, just in case.

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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by guppyguy on Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:19 pm

Great write up Alex. I have used rocks mostly granite in my tanks that has been collected.

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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by GaryE on Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:00 pm

I'm a lot less cautious. If I am away from roads and industry and see a rock I like, it goes straight in. I just added three from an NB beach last week - I swished them in water first.
I figure if I go to still waters and net mosquito larvae for my fish, picking up rocks is nothing. The only problem I ever encountered doing this was some easily netted out dragon fly larvae I accidentally collected one year.
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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by Fores41 on Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:24 am

I have just gone to my local cement haulers and they sort by size and wash the gravel etc. and asked for a 5 gallon bucket full and they gave it to me. Took it home and washed and boiled to be on safe side then used in my tank. Just watch out you do not end up with mine tailings that may have copper or other mineral deposits harmful to fish. Most gravel places are safe depending on where you live.
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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by alexmtl on Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:16 pm

If you have a favourite travel spot, you may have taken a momento back to remind you of the trip, and put it as a centrepiece in the aquarium. When in Newfoundland I had brought back rocks from the farthest point in North America, sounds kinda cool. Those rocks are now sitting in the farthest point closest to the north facing front glass. I love the idea of bringing home some cool colored and textured nature (legally of course).

There is a backmine just north of Ottawa that my cave diving team had surveyed as we were told that it was over 500 feet deep. It turns out that the silt starts at 170 ft and nowhere even approaches 200 ft. We were using mixed gas and argon suits so cold and decompression were not issues. I would have loved to bring back the quartz and fools gold that can be seen in the veins of the cavern. That would have been quite a novelty but I would have to do a bit more research into the leachables.
 
When I was diving many years ago in Lake Erie, I saw so many plants on the sandy bottom that I thought would be ideal for the aquarium. Plants that looked like valisneria with runners, and of course types of anachris. I never was brave enough to bring them back. I think the game warden may have issues with me if I were caught bringing them out.

I have surveyed several archeologic sites in Florida sumps. It would have been cool to bring back momentos. It would not be cool to remove and publicly display these artifacts. Jail and the hefty fines certainly were not a cool idea for me.

Rocks, OK. Sand, OK. Dead wood, OK. Living plants and living fish, not OK. Historical artifacts, protected sites, nature preserves, invasive species and endangered, not OK.
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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by Sbenson11 on Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:09 pm

I have been blessed with the ability to do a fair bit of traveling over the years(nothing close to Biulu) but a good amount just the same. Rocks seem to me to be the best and probably the least disturbing thing to collect. On the kitchen window ledge is a rock from the battlefield in Gettysburg. We pick up a rock from ground Zero in New York. We have a rock we picked up next to JFK's grave in Arlington. Some are a little creepy and a tad risky, but harmless just the same.

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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by GaryE on Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:12 pm

I have picked up Canadian aquatic plants in the wash along lakeshore, uprooted. In tanks, they dutifully died in October. They timed out - conditions were good. I had a nice Vallisneria.

My work pond has Sagittaria latifolia, from the river I grew up on the banks of. Its leaves change colour at the same time as the trees above it - and it has come back in Spring so far.

I have a few rocks that matter - a pebble from the Newfoundland beach my ancestors lived along, from beside the ghost of the foundations of their home, a rock from a beach in County Antrim, Ireland, past home of another line in my DNA, and a bunch of rocks from beaches I love in New Brunswick.

An aquarium is a little uprooted piece of nature. as is a pebble from a faraway beach. I think they go together better than purple epoxy coated gravel and plastic plants (let's not mention my Spongebob tank).

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Re: Can outdoor rocks gravel, or sand be used in an aquarium?

Post by alexmtl on Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:29 pm

Well what rocks should not be used in the aquarium? This is a relative question. Is there a simple rule to know ?

Picking up coral and using it in the small 5 gallon with guppies is probably alright. Coral with some south american fish and killifish would probably invite disaster.

Someone has mentioned the "vinegar" trick for rocks. I have never believed that this works 100% on calcium content.

What about iron content ? How do you know if the rock is inert or the invisible culprit that changes your water chemistry.
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