Lava rock or coarse gravel? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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Lava rock or coarse gravel?

I need to build up the base of the rear half of my tank and lava rock sounds like a popular option. However, I'm wondering why plain old aquarium gravel wouldn't be a good option as well. Does it come down to weight and cost? I would put the lava rock or gravel in mesh bags for easier handing/positioning. It seems to me that gravel would give me more flexibility since it is much finer, but I'm not sure how much this actually matters since I'll be filling any voids with aquasoil anyhow. I like that the lava rock is light weight, but don't like that it's red in case things shift around and it starts to show (although I'll be using black mesh bags). On the other hand, I like that the gravel is black and more maneuverable, but it will add significant weight to an already heavy tank (I'll be using a bunch of elephant stone). Perhaps I could use a combination of both--lava rock to build up the higher areas and gravel for the lower areas. Thoughts?

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 01:41 PM
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I use larva rock to build height in the back of the tank for planting. Larva rock is light and the rough surfaces interlock tightly to make stable hill while providing habitats for cave dwelling fish beneath. I prefer carved rock that displace less volume and provide bigger caves. The porous surfaces provide firm rooting for epiphytes which can be used to hide potted plants placed up high to reach brighter light. Gravel hill is less stable with a tendency to slide back over time, and the volume it displaced is a net loss of habitat. Larva rock hill is stable, more versatile and maneurverable than gravel hill. A good alternative to larva rock is Lace Rock, which is light, rough and curved to make height and caves.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-16-2020, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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I would be placing the lava rock and gravel in mesh bags, so they shouldn't move at all. I'll be using aquasoil on top.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2020, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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I've decided to do lava rock (in mesh bags) to build height with aquasoil on top, then plant heavily, then cap with an inch of pebbles to keep the geos away, aquasoil in place, and plants anchored until they root.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2020, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mossman77 View Post
I've decided to do lava rock (in mesh bags) to build height with aquasoil on top, then plant heavily, then cap with an inch of pebbles to keep the geos away, aquasoil in place, and plants anchored until they root.
I like this idea and am thinking about doing the same thing to build height to support larger stones in my scape. Where did you get the mesh bags from?
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2020, 08:55 AM
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I like this idea and am thinking about doing the same thing to build height to support larger stones in my scape. Where did you get the mesh bags from?
Just get some fiberglass window screen and some epoxy and build your own. Nylon/polyester bags will breakdown. Fiberglass screen is good for decades. Just get cheap stuff with no UV coatings. Itís just a fiberglass mesh with a pvc coating. Make bags any shape you want, stack them and glue them together, even glue rocks on face to make terraces.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Phifer-4...-100391412-_-N

One of most useful products Iíve ever bought. Input strainers, media bags etc etc. you can make whatever you want.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2020, 10:38 PM
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Just get some fiberglass window screen and some epoxy and build your own. Nylon/polyester bags will breakdown. Fiberglass screen is good for decades. Just get cheap stuff with no UV coatings. Itís just a fiberglass mesh with a pvc coating. Make bags any shape you want, stack them and glue them together, even glue rocks on face to make terraces.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Phifer-4...-100391412-_-N

One of most useful products Iíve ever bought. Input strainers, media bags etc etc. you can make whatever you want.
What a great idea, thanks!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2020, 06:28 AM
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These are the mesh bags I use and lava rock.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Also the fine ones in the options are perfect for Purigen which I also use.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2020, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mossman77 View Post
I've decided to do lava rock (in mesh bags) to build height with aquasoil on top, then plant heavily, then cap with an inch of pebbles to keep the geos away, aquasoil in place, and plants anchored until they root.
A number of aquascapers used this approach to create forested or carpeted plateau, and I've seen magnificent scapes out of it. It's easier to maintain high carpet than carpet at the substrate level as it is closer to the light.

I am not a pure aquascaper but a cichlid keeper with plantscape. I leave my lava rock piles open for my cave dwelling cichlid to make home inside. The high ground allows me to attach epiphytes and hide potted plants on the rock.
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