Large Aquascaping Stones - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Large Aquascaping Stones

Good morning!

I am helping an LFS in south Florida to set up a 120g planted tank. I know I would like to use some really large stones for this monster but they are pretty much impossible to find at any aquarium shops here. I was thinking I will need to go to a landscape place (we have a ton of those around here) and pick out some stones.

I am trying to figure out what the best stone "types" would be as I really don't know about landscaping stone types that would work in an aquarium. I don't want to use slate as it just doesn't have the 3 dimensional shapes I need. Does anyone know of any places in South Florida I can check out or what stone types I can search for at a landscaping place?

Thanks in advance for the help!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 05:14 PM
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Just a thought: I would recommend the LFS start a relationship with Feller Stone and kinda surprised if their wholesalers don't offer them already. Back in the day I used to manage the "fish dept" at my local pet shop and Feller stone was a great seller. Large lace rock (not Tufa or Holey rock for plant tanks) and lava rock make easy mountains, and they had/have a lot of other cool hardscape AND landscape choices. Plus when a LFS sets up a tank, it's important to offer the same products used in that tank. Get folks Ooohing and Aaahing over the tank then say, "you could have one just like it with our products". I wouldn't want customers to get excited about something in my tank and have to say I bought it elsewhere. I'd rather say, It's on Aisle 5 for $X per pound...

Sorry, I realize this doesn't answer where to go in S. Florida! Just thinking from a former LFS guy point of view

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 06:12 PM
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You want a non-calcareous stone. That obviously rules out limestone, marble, or coral, but it also rules out some forms of sandstone and metamorphic rock. You also want to avoid anything likely to have heavy metals. This pretty much means a silicic stone, probably volcanic or metamorphic.


This is where I'm not sure how much I can help. Stone sellers have their own terminology for stone varieties that doesn't really map to scientific geology.


However, "lava rock" will usually mean a silicic volcanic rock that should be okay, so long as it isn't calicified (has not had lime deposited in it by groundwater.) If the "lava rock" doesn't have any kind of white rind or white infilling in its pores, it's probably a safe choice.



Slate is usually safe, too, which is why it is popular. I understand that aesthetics matter.


Anything described as a "granite" is probably safe as well.


If you have any particular varieties you've come across, post here and I'll see if I can figure out what it actually is.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 07:37 PM
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There can be some other issues with lava rock also. I just bought 90 pounds from a landscape yard. It's a lot of rock for $30. Half of them floated. Plus they're so sharp I'm afraid to use them. I cut my hands up if I handle them without gloves.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kgbudge View Post
If you have any particular varieties you've come across, post here and I'll see if I can figure out what it actually is.
Thank you I will see what I find.

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Originally Posted by KayakJimW View Post
Just a thought: I would recommend the LFS start a relationship with Feller Stone and kinda surprised if their wholesalers don't offer them already. Back in the day I used to manage the "fish dept" at my local pet shop and Feller stone was a great seller. Large lace rock (not Tufa or Holey rock for plant tanks) and lava rock make easy mountains, and they had/have a lot of other cool hardscape AND landscape choices. Plus when a LFS sets up a tank, it's important to offer the same products used in that tank. Get folks Ooohing and Aaahing over the tank then say, "you could have one just like it with our products". I wouldn't want customers to get excited about something in my tank and have to say I bought it elsewhere. I'd rather say, It's on Aisle 5 for $X per pound...

Sorry, I realize this doesn't answer where to go in S. Florida! Just thinking from a former LFS guy point of view
Thank you and I totally understand what you mean. 99% of what is going into this tank is stuff that that the owner can get readily and most of it is on the shelves but I would like to use some larger stones as main accent pieces for the scape. In any case this will be the largest tank I have ever scaped so it will take some work to really figure out the aesthetics and how it will all come together.
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Last edited by jmontee; 05-31-2019 at 04:04 AM. Reason: spelling
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 03:22 PM
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There can be some other issues with lava rock also. I just bought 90 pounds from a landscape yard. It's a lot of rock for $30. Half of them floated. Plus they're so sharp I'm afraid to use them. I cut my hands up if I handle them without gloves.

Yes, lava rock can have sharp edges. Floating is sometimes only a temporary problem, as water gradually saturates the rock and displaces the air in it, but it can take a while.


Both are less of a problem for well-weathered lava rock.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-31-2019, 06:58 PM
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As a rule of thumb pickling vinegar will usually fizz wen it is in contact with calcium bearing stone.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 12:33 PM
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As a rule of thumb pickling vinegar will usually fizz wen it is in contact with calcium bearing stone.
Using muriatic acid does a better job (ace hardware)- one drop and you can see if the foam bubbles clear OR white OR green. I harvest naturally- so I carry a glass dropper with me to test.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-02-2019, 10:20 PM
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Kubla, if you still want to use the floating lava rock, bake it in the oven at 200F until hot and then immerse in water to cover completely. I've used this method without any rock exploding and it works great though the smell of baking rocks is a bit unusual.

Be sure to wear oven mitts or heavy gloves to handle the hot rocks and be careful when putting them in water as they may splash or steam a bit. Once they sink, they'll stay sunk until dried out again.

Another method is to 'boil' them in a turkey fryer type setup outdoors using water.

Sorry to the OP for the derail but check out landscaping supply places, quarries or cut stone type places as many also sell large to enormous rocks.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-02-2019, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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So a little update here. The owner ordered some large pieces of spider wood and they are absolutely gigantic and awesome. Those will now be the center pieces of this concave aquascape with ohko stone being used to separate the cosmetic sand in the front from the scaped areas.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-02-2019, 10:39 PM
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Oooh S FL! My neighborhood! Please do tell where u guys are setting up shop. Would love an LFS with planted stuff to visit! Theres been many aborted startups in the past and theres only one shop near me that's semi serious about freshwater.


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