Are Minerals on lava rock safe? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-14-2018, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Are Minerals on lava rock safe?

I just received some additional Black lava rock for the 120 gal Iím setting up and I noticed itís got some small purplish-green metallic spots (for reference the color is similar to the metallic rainbow colors that you can see from gasoline or oil in water). Iíve seen these on other lava rock, but in such small amounts that I never gave it any thought. These rocks, which came from a reputable source, are decent size (all between 8-10lbs and about 5% of the natural face of the rock (one side only) shows the metallic hues. Other than that it looks like any other Black lava rock.

Considering the type of rock it is and the crystalline structure of the greenish-purple minerals, I assume the color is coming from nickel, magnesium, and/or possibly some olivine. Iím not all that worried about it, but thought Iíd check with you guys to see if youíve ever noticed this on Black lava rock and if you think I need to scrape it off. Itís very pretty rock and Iíd hate to mess with it, but I also donít want to mess with the tank so Iíll remove all visible mineral deposits from the rock if need be.


Iíll try to get some pics up tomorrow.


Thanks

Experience: worked in fishroom of Eddies Aquarium in Albany all through college, 20 years of keeping reef tanks, planted tanks, and dart frog vivariums.

Current/in-progress tanks: 20 gallon hi tech tank in office, 120 gallon nature/tetra aquarium at home.


Philosophy: work with what youíve got, and make choices based on the conditions that easiest for you to maintain over time.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 12:18 AM
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Some things that might make a difference are the unknowns in this case. Colors that we think of as green such as copper, are far from the only chemicals which cause certain colors like green. Also the chemical makeup of lava rock will depend on where and what type of rock, etc. were melted when the lava was forced up to the surface. So, while we may be familiar with some color associated with a specific chemical, we really are only guessing at that due to that is what we have seen before. What is really in lava rock? The old earth is really an active place and most anything may be mixed into any specific chunk.
I would want to proceed with some testing and a bit of caution as it is sometimes the unknown which jumps up to bite us.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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It wasnít easy getting the metallic colors to show in the photos but you should be able to see it in the above. My guess is that this rock came from the western us (maybe Utah or Montana?). Iíve used rock from this supplier in other tanks without issue, but this is def the most colorful lava rock Iíve seen from them.

Experience: worked in fishroom of Eddies Aquarium in Albany all through college, 20 years of keeping reef tanks, planted tanks, and dart frog vivariums.

Current/in-progress tanks: 20 gallon hi tech tank in office, 120 gallon nature/tetra aquarium at home.


Philosophy: work with what youíve got, and make choices based on the conditions that easiest for you to maintain over time.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 01:43 PM
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I wouldn't worry. Lava is the only stone I use for all my tanks. The structure is never uniform. There are parts of the same piece with different density and different colour tones. Never had a problem.

From what I see in your pics everything seems fine.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 02:07 PM
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Lava is often used and often safe but looking/thinking about how it is formed will show why there are so many unknowns. Lava is melted rock which has hardened so what is in that rock will depend on what it melted, either while way deep or on the way up and after it reached the surface. Then once on the surface it is exposed to all kinds of differing environments as it cools and lays there for possibly thousands or millions of years. I recently stopped by Sunset crater, North of Flagstaff, where the lava is only about 900 years old, so what we get is very much prone to having lots of unknowns.
How the unknowns change our decision is more how we each like to deal with things. Some take far more risks than I like as I like to deal more with things that I DO know about and not throw in the "wildcards"! Like the dishes I eat from? I want to know they are clean, while some are more than willing to eat off the plate from a couple days ago.

Last edited by PlantedRich; 07-15-2018 at 02:09 PM. Reason: remove unexpected bump
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-15-2018, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
I assume the color is coming from nickel, magnesium, and/or possibly some olivine.
My guess would be olivine. Some people living close to eh lava vent in hawaii recently found Olivine crystals in their yards.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-16-2018, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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I asked around to see if I could figure out where the rock came from (a lot harder than it probably should have been to determine the source), and it appears to have come from Arizona but that was all the detail I could get.

I pulled a bunch of rock from other tanks and cleaned it to see if I could find similar formations/coloration and sure enough, many other pieces of black lava rock from several sources showed the same coloration. Since I havenít had any issues with the other rock, Iím not too worried about it but just to be safe I am going to bath this rock in a mild vinegar solution for a few days to see if it has any effect.

Once thatís done, Ill soak the rock in distilled water for a few more days. If Iíve still got any doubts at that point Iíll send a sample of the water to triton for a full work up.

If nothing else, it will be interesting to see what, if any, minerals are leeched from the lava rock. If anything did leech, My guess would be mostly sulfur, silicates, iron, and magnesium with possible trace amounts of all kinds of metals like aluminum, nickel, gold, lead, etc.

Iíve used black lava rock in everything from reef tanks to discus tanks and never noticed any ill effects from it, but then again I donít know that I ever would have made the connection if there had been issues. Still, a few days in a mild acid solution just to be safe canít hurt.

Experience: worked in fishroom of Eddies Aquarium in Albany all through college, 20 years of keeping reef tanks, planted tanks, and dart frog vivariums.

Current/in-progress tanks: 20 gallon hi tech tank in office, 120 gallon nature/tetra aquarium at home.


Philosophy: work with what youíve got, and make choices based on the conditions that easiest for you to maintain over time.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-17-2018, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamRT View Post
I asked around to see if I could figure out where the rock came from (a lot harder than it probably should have been to determine the source), and it appears to have come from Arizona but that was all the detail I could get.

I pulled a bunch of rock from other tanks and cleaned it to see if I could find similar formations/coloration and sure enough, many other pieces of black lava rock from several sources showed the same coloration. Since I havenít had any issues with the other rock, Iím not too worried about it but just to be safe I am going to bath this rock in a mild vinegar solution for a few days to see if it has any effect.

Once thatís done, Ill soak the rock in distilled water for a few more days. If Iíve still got any doubts at that point Iíll send a sample of the water to triton for a full work up.

If nothing else, it will be interesting to see what, if any, minerals are leeched from the lava rock. If anything did leech, My guess would be mostly sulfur, silicates, iron, and magnesium with possible trace amounts of all kinds of metals like aluminum, nickel, gold, lead, etc.

Iíve used black lava rock in everything from reef tanks to discus tanks and never noticed any ill effects from it, but then again I donít know that I ever would have made the connection if there had been issues. Still, a few days in a mild acid solution just to be safe canít hurt.
This sounds like a reasonable way to go. We are never going to be totally risk free and in many cases we do need to make a judgement as to what level of risk/ safety we want. There are tons of lava rock used in tanks of all sorts and the odds say it is safe but then it is always worth thinking things through.
I play quite a lot of chess and if there is anything that upsets me more than losing, it is losing because I did not look the situation over before jumping in!
Good luck to you and I would not lose a terrible amount of sleep. But I did not want to say, "Go for it." because there are risks involved and I can't say how much!
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