Is basalt too ugly to use to scape a show tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 06:01 AM Thread Starter
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Is basalt too ugly to use to scape a show tank?

I am a technical person with not much of an eye for design or composition. My daughter and I are upgrading our 35g tank to a 180g acrylic tank. It will have a potting soil bottom capped with gravel. We want it to be nicely scaped and pleasing to look at.

We live in Central Oregon... volcanic country... we literally have tons (more like hundreds if not thousands of tons) of basalt on our property. I have researched basalt and it is inert and aquarium safe. Basalt is porus but much denser than water... all those little nooks and pockets should be ideal for microbial colonization. Why isn't basalt used in tanks more often? Is it just too ugly and offensive to the eye?

I also have easy access to obsidian and red porus lava rock (scoria is the proper name I believe). Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on dragon stone or other ornamental rock it seems like I should use the local natural resources? Obsidian doesn't seem like it would be very pleasing for scaping a tank. I can't picture red lava rock either but basalt seems like it would be less offensive than the others. Does anyone use basalt in their tanks? Does anyone have any pictures? We are planning a low tech tank without CO2 injection. I would like to try to grow moss on the rocks and wood. I figure if the rock is going to be covered the look of the rock isn't going to make much difference? I also thought that moss might attach to porus basalt easier than a smooth rock like obsidian, granite or the like?

Our stocking will be relatively small fish. Guppies, dwarf gouramis, hearty tetras, maybe angle fish and the like. With small fish and a big tank I don't think I need to worry about the fish injuring themselves on sharp edges?

We have a trip to the Oregon coast planned this summer and hope to find some nice manzanita wood for scaping. I am not opposed to ordering wood or rocks if it gives us the look we would like... but it seems like I could spend a good amount of money and not really have any idea how it will look in the tank until after it arrives.

Last edited by Oughtsix; 06-07-2018 at 06:14 AM. Reason: sp
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 07:03 AM
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I've seen it used in aquariums. Obviously depends on the specific rocks but in general looks fine to me. Use whatever you like. Not everything has to look the same. If you have tons to choose from you'll probably be able to come up with some more interesting rocks than just ordering random stuff online somewhere or picking through the few in most stores.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 02:41 PM
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Hey Iím over on the east end of the Colombia river basalt flows in Idaho and Iíve got a tank full of basalt and I really like the way it looks. Iíd do it for sure. I think there is something special about using local hard scape material too. Also I bet youíve got sage brush out there, around here a bunch of us use dead sage brush branches for our drift wood. Looks great in tanks, who needs manzanita?? Here is a picture of my sage brush basalt tank (though both a pretty grown over at this point)

Also people use scoria to build up backgrounds in their tanks fairly often and cover it with rocks or substrate. Something to think about.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by max.r.lawrence View Post
Hey I’m over on the east end of the Colombia river basalt flows in Idaho and I’ve got a tank full of basalt and I really like the way it looks. I’d do it for sure. I think there is something special about using local hard scape material too. Also I bet you’ve got sage brush out there, around here a bunch of us use dead sage brush branches for our drift wood. Looks great in tanks, who needs manzanita?? Here is a picture of my sage brush basalt tank (though both a pretty grown over at this point)

Also people use scoria to build up backgrounds in their tanks fairly often and cover it with rocks or substrate. Something to think about.
Excellent! Thank you for the picture, you have a very nice tank!

Yep, I have plenty of sage... as well as Juniper. I had ruled out the Juniper and being not good for the water and prone to rotting... but I hadn't considered sage. I will have to do some looking around in the back yard as our property is covered in sage.

Did you do anything special to the basalt before putting it in your tank? I was thinking of just blasting it with a pressure washer and putting it in the new tank.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-07-2018, 05:15 PM
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ADA's koke stone has always looked very basalt like to me. If it's good enough for ADA....

https://www.bubbashrimp.be/us/ada-koke-stone.html
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 11:50 PM
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I'd say that the pressure wash treatment would be good enough for me to put the stones in my tanks. Keep us updated as to how your scape works out!

I think of aquarium keeping as 'meanness insurance.'
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 11:54 PM
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From the picture above, basalt substrate looks to be dark grey or black. I always thought a dark or black substrate really looks nice and brings the color out of fish, plants, and whatever else you may have in there. I also have a nano tank with white substrate and it really washes the color out of things, I'm considering rescaping it, but haven't done anything to prepare for that.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 01:12 AM
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I'm not sure what you mean by basalt being porous. I've always thought of basalt as being very dense with nice sharp angles (they remind me of the ridges on the peaks of the Alps).

I particularly like the very dark basalt with the very white veins running through:


Bump: I just read wikipedia and it seems there are many types of basalt. I like the looks of the type in the image above, but other types might look great, too.

I think the only thing that really matters is if it looks good to you!


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 01:44 AM
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Hi @Oughtsix,

Basalt is very, very dense and is inert. What I like about it is that it comes in many shapes and colors....like columnar basalt from eastern Washington state.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 02:05 PM
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Lots of basalt out here on the east coast and yes, it looks good in tanks!

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