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Old 11-21-2003, 01:01 PM   #1
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Lava Rock

I'm planning a 20 gallon planted tank, and wanted to use some lava rock as kind of a hillside, with java moss on it. My question is - can I use the lava rock that is sold in garden centers, or not? None of the pet retailers (even my LFS) have real lava rock, although they all have the resin look-a-likes.

If I can use the garden center lava rock, would I just treat it the same way I do any other hardscape - scrubbing under warm water before placing in the tank?
Another question - do I place the lava rock on the bare glass, without substrate under it, to avoid dead spots and development of anaerobic bacteria, or is that an issue in a planted tank?
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Old 11-21-2003, 01:19 PM   #2
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As far as I know you can use the garden center lava rock, which often has to be drilled with a masonry bit to get the holes that are desirable, but it is a lot cheaper. Just rinse it very, very well prior to using it. Make sure it is not calciferous in any way, so it does not buffer your water and raise your pH (unless that is what you are going for).

I would go ahead and put it down on the glass, not necessarily because of anaerobic spots but because as you plant and replant the rocks will be less likely to topple. I think it will look very nice!
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Old 11-21-2003, 09:33 PM   #3
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Anything I get from a garden center I usually soak in a tub with some bleach added to kill anything that might come along with it (I do the same with standard driftwood), then I give it a good, warm rinse, and soak it some more with LOTS of dechlorinator (repeating the last rinse/soak step if it's wood)...

Following these simple precautions, I've never (knock on driftwood) introduced anything harmful to my tank...
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Old 11-24-2003, 04:42 PM   #4
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Hahah

I about 100 lbs of lava rock from a landscaping place to set up my tank. I had to swirl them in a big pot of hot water to get off the dirt, and then bake them in the oven to dry/sterilize them. If you are trying to shape it, you can drill through most peices with a masonry bit, but once in a while you'll hit a spot that is just too dense. A hammer and screwdriver can be used if you need to chisel pieces to fit your plan. If you want a good solid base, that won't put pressure on a sharp point on the glass, you can cut bigger rocks in half with a saw (the kind you use to prune tree branches, just have plenty of extra blades).

Hope this helps!

-J
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Old 11-25-2003, 12:08 AM   #5
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Thanks a lot for the info - just what I was looking for.
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Old 11-25-2003, 03:21 PM   #6
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Oh- just one more thing to note-

When I first filled up my tank, some of the red color leached into the water- It never changed the color of the rocks, and after a week or two of normal water changes during cycling, it was pretty much gone. It didn't seem to have any detrimental effect on the danios I had in there to cycle the tank.

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Old 11-25-2003, 03:28 PM   #7
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I use the dishwasher a lot for rocks and stuff like that (no soap)

I use the heated water option cycle, WOO HOO it gets hot

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