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Old 09-29-2005, 09:53 PM   #1
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Do it yourself rocks

Part of my hobby is making freshwater "liverock". I have been using all sorts of materials for different effects. I use spagnum moss, peat moss, perlite, some sand, used charcoal and other things added to portland cement.
I have been using this pseudo live rock in all of my tanks now for quite sometime. My 36 gallon fw community tank is doing quite well and the parameters are ph=7.2 kh=80ppm Gh=140ppm. So, even thought the parameters are where I want it for the fish I have, I think it would be benificial to KNOW how my cement conglomeration affects the water quality. With fish, plants, subtrate, etc., it is difficult to judge how much the homemade rock affects things right in the aquarium.
Tonight I measured the displacement of my sample cured rock at 680 ml...and added it to a beta vase containing 2.5 liters of distilled water. The distilled water has 0 kh and 0 gh with a ph of 6.8 - 7. I will keep the water topped off with distilled for the duration of the test and check the values after a week or so. At the end of the test I'll also check for Nitrites, Nitrates, and Phosphates. Any ideas what else I should do to make this a valuable and more accurate test?
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Old 09-30-2005, 09:46 AM   #2
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It will be very interesting to see your results.

One thing I can think to ask first is; you said this rock is "fully cured" please define what that means as many people cure DIY rock in different ways for different amounts of time. As far as finding out whats in the water... any colleges nearby with a biology/chemistry department? You might be able to make a contact there and tell them you're experimenting with the effects of man made rock and aquscaping on the home aquarium and you'd like to know if they could help you analyze the water chemistry through the process. If they aren't willing to help directly, they at least might be able to give you some direction with what to test for and how.


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Old 09-30-2005, 10:05 AM   #3
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The sample rocks have been cured for 6 months to a year. The samples are taken from all of my tanks and so have some algae (the good type, I dont mind regular green algae in fact I encourage some of it) and also a fair bit of Java moss growing on it, which also looks great. The samples contain diiferent proportions of each of the materials I mentioned before. I believe that the ph, gh and kh will raise, but not enough to make a significant effect in a tank. It is my theory that once FULLY cured and aged, the release of anything will be so minute that with proper water changes and monitoring you could put this stuff in a discus tank with little effect, or at least can modify the water with little effort. I may be SOOOO wrong., but thats why the experiment. With the distilled water at 0 for hardness at least that part will be measurable and I will post the results. The biological results such as nitrite, nitrates etc. may be skewed because of the java moss and algae, but will nontheless be interesting.
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Old 09-30-2005, 11:20 AM   #4
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No experiment is complete without a control subject.

Do you have any natural rock in your tanks that you could pull a similar sized and "cured" piece out and test similarly? It will lend a lot of weight to your conclusions.
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Old 09-30-2005, 12:01 PM   #5
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I was thinking that the parameters of the distilled water would be the control. What type of natural rock would you suggest? Limestone, slate or lacerock?It would have to be a rock that I can 100% identify.
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Old 09-30-2005, 05:15 PM   #6
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1st days result... gh=40ppm, kh=20ppm, ph=right off the scale,,,,, guess my theory sucks. I was so sure that because my community tank reads 7.4 that the results would show very little change..WRONG..
I think that even though my test bombed missarably from the results I wanted, it was very worthwhile.
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Old 10-01-2005, 06:30 AM   #7
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ahh.. it could be worthwhile to keep testing.. just to see the results.. this could be usefull for ARLC tanks if the idea is to use them as bio-filtration even if the numbers do get high.. Good luck.
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Old 10-01-2005, 08:44 AM   #8
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Thanks greenmagi. Yes, the idea is biofiltration as well as astetics. They just look so darned good. I was shocked and disappointed in my results. So over-confident that my result would have been favorable.
I suspect that there may have been a fair bit of uncured pieces in my sample. Even though I have been making this stuff for a year, I have skimped on testing before putting new batches in my tanks. When first making these things I always tested before putting them into my chiclid tank, as I was making larger batches and complete backgrounds. After my background, I have been making small batches to try different methods and mixes. I guess looking back now, I havn't tested the batches since then, making one or 2 small pieces at a time and slipping them into a kenyi tank after a very short time. transferring these uncured rocks to other tanks when I ASSUMED they had cured, and not really keeping track of the batches. I do weekly water changes (25-30%) and the parameters in my tanks are always great for the fish I keep. I have been keeping track of them in spreadsheet form. I got over confident and careless, not worrying about one or 2 little pieces of uncured rock.
Now that I have a sample already segregated, I will try my test again, when I am certain all of these pieces have cured. I still think could be a worthwhile test, using distilled water to check any suspect rocks. (never believed in the vinegar test, table vinegar is just too weak an acid to get bubbling on rocks that you KNOW are limestone)
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Old 10-02-2005, 06:55 AM   #9
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How are the NO3 readings in your curing tank (the kenyi tank) doing with the rocks?..
I would be tempted to shoot for zero.. I would try doing suffecent water changes to keep the levels low enough to force whatever nuterents that might be in the rocks out.. (building a automatic water changing system, like tom's for instance could help alot with this, heck you could put it on timers even.. ) This is my understanding of "curing" actually "cooking" rock.. It is suppose to make the rock much more viable as a filtration medium.. from what I understand (mostly reading SW data and methods).. HTH

I wouldnt think it would take near as long for you to see results with this method of curing IMO..
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Old 10-02-2005, 07:58 AM   #10
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try doing suffecent water changes to keep the levels low enough to force whatever nuterents that might be in the rocks out.. (building a automatic water changing system
I only do water changes once a week, and an automatic sysyem is more expence than I need. However, for small batches such as this, the tank on the toilet will give lots of changes and achive faster results than my weekly changes. I don't expect my java moss to survive in the darkness though, so perhaps Ill remove those pieces from the sample.
Nitrates is one of the biological propertys I am interested in of course, but at this point, I would like to get more reasonable readings on the physical characteristics (ph,kh and gh) I will test for everything once I get a reliable ph reading.
The results I got after the first day was similar to what happens to the sw guys and thier garf. They cure in fw to get stable readings, then when they transfer the rock to sw they get a spike, which doesnt take as long to go down. With me partialy curing in higher ph water, then transfering to lower ph, I suspect that the more acid water was able to get more stuff in the rock to leach out than would normaly as in my tank. Whatever the results will be, I still have had good luck with the rock in all of my tanks and it looks great.
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