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Old 09-18-2010, 04:51 AM   #1
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Are really old bricks safe to use?

Long story short...I have some really old bricks, and would like to use them in my 75 gallon goldfish-only tank when I re-decorate it this winter.

They were dug up when new gas lines were installed in my neighborhood about 2 years ago. They were found 10 to 15 feet deep. I like the "hand-made" look they all have, and grabbed as many as I could. They are all slightly different in size, and not nearly as square edged and uniform as modern bricks. None show any sign of mortar, so I wonder if they were "rejects", or something. They have been stacked in a corner of my yard since then, getting rained and snowed on.

It would be just my luck to find out too late that bricks from the 1920's (or earlier maybe) were made with arsenic, or something.

Any thoughts or experience with old bricks in a tank?
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:18 AM   #2
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I'd be leary personally. No telling what exactly they're made of or have become contaminated with.
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Old 09-18-2010, 12:35 PM   #3
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Might be wise to avoid that, especially since you metioned the origin of those bricks. Boiling the bricks might be an option but that probably wont have an affect on the ph in the event bricks might influence ph levels.
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Old 09-21-2010, 02:04 AM   #4
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I did use 4 of them in a fishless pond over the summer. I had set it up as part of an outside basking area for a box turtle. The turtle spent maybe a total of 10 hours out there, in and out of the water. That is probably not enough "exposure" to give any serious indication of possible problems (and no, I did not intend to use the turtle as an indicator of possible problems with the bricks...I just did not consider the potential issues when I set up the pond). The pond itself seems remarkably healthy, some unknown plantlife started up by itself, some algea, water is clear (has a filter on it) and smells good.

Does any of this hint that the bricks might be ok? I could use just the 4 that have been in the pond for three months.

Edit: I should add that it is a fairly small volume of water, maybe 20 gallons max. And I never changed the water, just added for evaporation. Rainwater took care of most of that, really.

Bricks might affect pH? I do add crushed coral to my filter, otherwise my pH drifts down. With the coral, it stays a steady 7.2-7.6.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:50 AM   #5
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Bricks are used as fill. That's why they were down in the ground by the gas lines. I found several bricks when I dug up my foundation to fix a crack.

I wouldn't trust bricks dug out of the ground. If you like the look, you can get similar bricks at Home Depot or Menards for $1-$3 a piece. I'd still hose new bricks down with hydrogen peroxide.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:36 AM   #6
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Old bricks are hand thrown clay. I would be worried about and crap they might have picked up over the years in the ground.
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Old 09-23-2010, 01:28 AM   #7
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OK, sounds like the old bricks are not going to work. Oh, well!

But new bricks might be ok?
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:13 AM   #8
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New bricks will probably be fine. Scrub them good with water and vinegar, maybe douse them with hydrogen peroxide. I suppose it's possible that bricks may leach iron or some other mineral into the water. Iron won't hurt the fish, but it may cause an algae outbreak.
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