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Old 10-12-2012, 02:50 AM   #1
theshadybird
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Bones as decoration?


Try as I might, I cannot find any information on using bones (turtle shells, skulls, antlers, etc.) in an aquarium. I can imagine that with overly soft water it might be a problem, or if it hasn't been properly cleaned and there is still dead flesh on the bone (ew), but what about a cleaned, preserved bone?

I personally have several sets of antlers that I have a feeling could look AWESOME in a tank, especially if I could get some moss growing from it. My home is in the middle of nowhere, so I tend to find a lot of them 'round spring time ^^. Also, theoretically, might be something good for my poor apple snails to chew on, since their shells have been looking kind of rough.
And just imagine a turtle shell cave! Moss that baby up, and you have a mossy hill even a hobbit would envy.

So guys, whatcha think? Worth the risk, or too much trouble? Anyone do anything of the sort before?
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:01 AM   #2
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I'd be afraid that bones & antlers would rot, flake, fracture, raise the pH of the water and just generally not work out very well. Mind you, I've never tried it.

I work at a public aquarium on weekends, and they've used skulls and bones in tank decor - but they're pretty much always casts.

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Old 10-12-2012, 03:15 AM   #3
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Bones would contain calcium correct ? I dont see it being a problem , but to be safe i would clean them up and place them in a bucket and leave it for a week and then test the params.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:34 AM   #4
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I've read of people using antlers and skull bones in tank without issue.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:39 AM   #5
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If your that worried make molds of them!

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Old 10-12-2012, 03:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWA-Planted View Post
If your that worried make molds of them!

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Or coat them in silicone.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:53 AM   #7
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If the bone is aged you the organic component should be gone. You will be left with mostly hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2).

It will leech both PO4 and Calcium in water. This will be sped up significantly in acidic water. I can not speak to how significant these amounts would be with reasonably timed water changes.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Bones would contain calcium correct ?
Yep- calcium and phosphate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxylapatite
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:22 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies!

Quote:
I'd be afraid that bones & antlers would rot, flake, fracture, raise the pH of the water and just generally not work out very well. Mind you, I've never tried it.
A good point Bruce_S, and one of the things that concern me, but I've found horse/cow ribs and vertebrae in the creek behind my home, some of them over a year old, and they'd held together rather well, though the creek is dry for a large portion of the year.
I guess we'll see?

Quote:
If the bone is aged you the organic component should be gone. You will be left with mostly hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2).

It will leech both PO4 and Calcium in water. This will be sped up significantly in acidic water. I can not speak to how significant these amounts would be with reasonably timed water changes.
Thanks for the science approach Sotty :] This is certainly along the lines of what I was hypothesizing, and with the aged, fully dried bones, they ought to be completely "dead" and ought to hold together. That's how fossils are made, right?

Quote:
Or coat them in silicone.
A cool idea, psalm18.2. I wonder if there is a thinner silicone sealant out there you could do this with? Or maybe a way to thin down the silicone yourself? I'd just be sad that moss couldn't be attached, but then again, stark white antlers (or even a small ribcage) stabbing out into the water, as semi-carnivorous fish frolic among them is a rather enticing idea all its own >:}

Quote:
[...] to be safe i would clean them up and place them in a bucket and leave it for a week and then test the params.
Definitely a good idea for anything 'experimental' a practical Aquarist is wanting to add to their aquarium :] Thanks for the advice stevenjohn21!
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:25 AM   #10
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If you could use them though i think you could scape it really nice ! Would love to see pics if you do decide to go the bone route !
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:58 AM   #11
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I'm surprised more people don't go in that direction, to be honest! But maybe the simple lack of information, along with possibly a lack of access to the bones in the first place could be to blame?
Not sure, but I do know that the cogs are a-turnin' in my head for sure, haha :]
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Last edited by theshadybird; 10-12-2012 at 04:59 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:54 PM   #12
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Bones that are thick (femurs, pelvis, vertebrae) would probably hold up well for a long time. Skulls, for instance, have lots of thin intricate spots that will likely weaken quickly and start to fall apart (months to year time frame that is).

I really like the silicone idea, but would be tough for a skull. What about a couple dips in a good clear polyurethane
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotty View Post
Bones that are thick (femurs, pelvis, vertebrae) would probably hold up well for a long time. Skulls, for instance, have lots of thin intricate spots that will likely weaken quickly and start to fall apart (months to year time frame that is).

I really like the silicone idea, but would be tough for a skull. What about a couple dips in a good clear polyurethane
I was just about to say some kind of epoxy / urethane coating of sorts. Do they make rhino liner in white? Haha

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Old 10-12-2012, 02:20 PM   #14
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Im no chemist but i would think if you found some aquarium safe clear coat of some sort and sprayed that on the thing youd be good to go. It would stop any leeching or anything..
Or, coat it in silicone or somethin like that. Paint it on :P
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:44 PM   #15
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Took your ideas and did some hunting, and found some sealant terrarium/vivarium and salt water enthusiasts swear by, called Krylon Fusion and Krylon Clear Polyurethane :} They're supposed to work very well on plastics and wood (and much more!). Luckily, there is actually an auto parts store down the road that sells it for only $8.

If it turns out the antlers I have in mind will work in the tank I am building (a 5gal D.Dario tank), I will definitely let you guys know, though it will be sometime around the beginning/middle of November that I would have pictures of it IN the tank set-up. Might also make a DIY thread for them, if there is interest. Fortunately, the antlers I have are only 3-6 pointers, and ought to be small enough to fit :]
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