Black lava rock - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Black lava rock

Hello all!

I wanted to get some opinions and maybe some shared experiences from people here. Iím planning out the scape for a 75 gallon, my idea is to have part of it dirted for plants (with a sand cap of course) and a big open swimming area with sand. I wanted to make a retaining wall or barrier of sorts out of black lava rock, however Iím unable to source decent sized rocks (2Ē or larger) for a decent price.

Would it be viable to use the bagged rocks that the big box places sell for landscaping/fire pits to build up that barrier?

Also, would it cause potential issues to use a thin layer of it under the dirt to build up that section to create an elevated contrast?


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 07:47 PM
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Hello all!

I wanted to get some opinions and maybe some shared experiences from people here. Iím planning out the scape for a 75 gallon, my idea is to have part of it dirted for plants (with a sand cap of course) and a big open swimming area with sand. I wanted to make a retaining wall or barrier of sorts out of black lava rock, however Iím unable to source decent sized rocks (2Ē or larger) for a decent price.

Would it be viable to use the bagged rocks that the big box places sell for landscaping/fire pits to build up that barrier?

Also, would it cause potential issues to use a thin layer of it under the dirt to build up that section to create an elevated contrast?


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So I had the exact same thread started a while ago. What I learned from hopelessly trying to track down some cheap and relatively large pieces of black lava rock was that where I am located, a big box store was the only option. That or a ridiculous amount of money from an aquascaping online store. So, my advice to you is to really really look for a rock yard/landscaping company around you and check if they have the stones in bulk (I found one that carried enormous pieces of Red Lava rock...damn) but you may have better luck, I know you will most likely have more available on that side of the country. Otherwise, the option to buy 10lb bags online of the XXL fire pit black lava rock is fine, this is what I got and have had no issues.

Yes you could use the rock to build up a hill, but in my honest opinion this should only be done if you aren't paying a premium price for the rock. Maybe back up some smaller pieces in a stocking or something? There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to create slopes, many on here as well.

Good luck in your searches!!!
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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So I had the exact same thread started a while ago. What I learned from hopelessly trying to track down some cheap and relatively large pieces of black lava rock was that where I am located, a big box store was the only option. That or a ridiculous amount of money from an aquascaping online store. So, my advice to you is to really really look for a rock yard/landscaping company around you and check if they have the stones in bulk (I found one that carried enormous pieces of Red Lava rock...damn) but you may have better luck, I know you will most likely have more available on that side of the country. Otherwise, the option to buy 10lb bags online of the XXL fire pit black lava rock is fine, this is what I got and have had no issues.

Yes you could use the rock to build up a hill, but in my honest opinion this should only be done if you aren't paying a premium price for the rock. Maybe back up some smaller pieces in a stocking or something? There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to create slopes, many on here as well.

Good luck in your searches!!!
Thank you for the feedback! Purchasing the XL/XXL rock won't be within my budget. Here's a picture of what I want to do. The part with the plants won't be a slope, just a higher elevation, if that makes any sense.

The black part is where I'd like the plants to be, and the curved border is where the barrier of lava rock will exist to hold in the soil.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 10:23 PM
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Most of what you want is available from landscaping or fire pit co, problem is you have to buy probably a 10lb bag of it, so you can figure $25+- to get what you want, maybe more than likely for size your doing will probably take 2 bags. Iíd buy the 1/4Ē for filling in around big stones to do buildup, itís a bit cheaper than large stones.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Most of what you want is available from landscaping or fire pit co, problem is you have to buy probably a 10lb bag of it, so you can figure $25+- to get what you want, maybe more than likely for size your doing will probably take 2 bags. Iíd buy the 1/4Ē for filling in around big stones to do buildup, itís a bit cheaper than large stones.

This was my thought as well. Bagged prices donít seem to differ from the orange place vs others. Loose prices are way cheaper per pound but Iíd be required to purchase by the scoop...donít need that much, or anywhere near. lol




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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 04:30 PM
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This was my thought as well. Bagged prices donít seem to differ from the orange place vs others. Loose prices are way cheaper per pound but Iíd be required to purchase by the scoop...donít need that much, or anywhere near. lol
"the orange place" lol

I've been shopping black lava rock as well! HD has the XXL for about $29 but Amazon currently has the same for $18, going to try my luck with that. I have a 72 gallon bow front build in the works and am using drainage crate (flo-cells) to raise up my hardscape instead of filled media bags (I'm concerned about the bags eventually breaking open.)
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 05:13 PM
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Would it be viable to use the bagged rocks that the big box places sell for landscaping/fire pits to build up that barrier?
That should be viable. IN fact some plants may root directly onto the fabric. Or you could glue a number of smaller stones together.

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Quote:
Would it be viable to use the bagged rocks that the big box places sell for landscaping/fire pits to build up that barrier?
That should be viable. IN fact some plants may root directly onto the fabric. Or you could glue a number of smaller stones together.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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"the orange place" lol



I've been shopping black lava rock as well! HD has the XXL for about $29 but Amazon currently has the same for $18, going to try my luck with that. I have a 72 gallon bow front build in the works and am using drainage crate (flo-cells) to raise up my hardscape instead of filled media bags (I'm concerned about the bags eventually breaking open.)


Awesome! Iíd love to see how they turn out!


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 05:11 AM
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"the orange place" lol

I've been shopping black lava rock as well! HD has the XXL for about $29 but Amazon currently has the same for $18, going to try my luck with that. I have a 72 gallon bow front build in the works and am using drainage crate (flo-cells) to raise up my hardscape instead of filled media bags (I'm concerned about the bags eventually breaking open.)
Where did you find flo-cells? I have been looking everywhere and not been able to source them. I'm in Las Vegas.

10 G / 20 G long, low-tech planted / 125 G, working on the aquascape and collecting hardware
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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Small update, I went with a similar but different design, however even the smaller sized lava rock has been great at acting as a barrier for the soil.




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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2019, 09:10 PM
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Where did you find flo-cells? I have been looking everywhere and not been able to source them. I'm in Las Vegas.

I had to contact the manufacturer (Contact Us - Atlantis America) and they emailed me information for the nearest supplier, Exeter Supply Co, in Reading, PA (I'm in St. Louis.) Luckily the company has sold the drainage cells to others for this exact purpose, so they were great to deal with for even this small quantity.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 09:03 PM
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I had to contact the manufacturer (Contact Us - Atlantis America) and they emailed me information for the nearest supplier, Exeter Supply Co, in Reading, PA (I'm in St. Louis.) Luckily the company has sold the drainage cells to others for this exact purpose, so they were great to deal with for even this small quantity.
Thank you for your reply. Will email them now.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 09:14 PM
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Just came across this thread. The Mojave high desert has lots of cinder cones that are basically low mountains of lava rock. There are some along the 247 near Landers, Pipes Canyon, etc. Likely there are some closer to you up in Apple Valley as well. I've seen black lava rocks & boulders just bulldozed along the side of the road, so if you can find the right area, they'd be there for the picking....

I've gotten scavenged small lava rocks for attaching java fern & moss to. They make good pumice stones too . And while you're poking around the desert, you'll likely come across lots of cholla like they sell at fancy LFS & aquascaping sites.

Happy hunting!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Just came across this thread. The Mojave high desert has lots of cinder cones that are basically low mountains of lava rock. There are some along the 247 near Landers, Pipes Canyon, etc. Likely there are some closer to you up in Apple Valley as well. I've seen black lava rocks & boulders just bulldozed along the side of the road, so if you can find the right area, they'd be there for the picking....

I've gotten scavenged small lava rocks for attaching java fern & moss to. They make good pumice stones too . And while you're poking around the desert, you'll likely come across lots of cholla like they sell at fancy LFS & aquascaping sites.

Happy hunting!
That's not a half bad idea. Thanks!

I also have a manzanita bush growing in my yard that I've been thinking about ripping out. I wonder if that could be dried out and treated for a tank...my neighbor protested, though. But she's a retired senior, doesn't like change. lol


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