ocean beach rocks -- safe? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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ocean beach rocks -- safe?

I'm sure this question has been asked 100 times but for some reason, when I searched for it I couldn't find any threads. I saw a lot of threads about rocks found in your backyard but I am asking specifically about rocks found on the ocean beach.

These are smooth rocks that look sort of like river stones and they are from a rocky beach on the Atlantic. Ok or not ok to use in a planted tank?

If they are not ok to use, where can one find smooth river stones of varying sizes that are safe to use? Thanks!
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 09:27 PM
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They are OK. The ones that MIGHT not be would the porous ones that might be hiding a nasty hitchhiker, but the hitchhiker likely wouldn't last long in freshwater so you're probably good either way. Just remember, do NOT boil ocean rocks. If there is any semblance of a paly on it it can vaporize the toxins in it and make you very ill or kill you. A guy tried boiling a live rock to sterilize it and almost died due to vaporized toxins.

All you need is at most a good bleach dip and a rinse and it'll be clean to use in your aquarium.


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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 10:15 PM
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It depends more on the type of rock then whether it's located in someone's yard or in the ocean.

the main thing most people are concerned about is carbonates, which will raise the pH and hardness. There are a handful of other rocks that shouldn't go in a tank, like heavy metal ores and evaporites and such, but those are fairly rare to come across.

This is a really general statement, but most rocks that are volcanic or metamorphic in nature are probably safe. If you can't scratch the rock with a nail, it's probably safe (although, there are a lot of safe rocks that can be scratched, so that doesn't mean it's necessarily unsafe).

If you can take a look at a geologic map for the area, you can find out where different rocks layers surface, and make a bit of a guess (rocks do travel though).

thelub> do you know any more details about that? I'm assuming it was a lot of rock and he was right over the pot or something. I'm sorta curious, because I thought heat was a common treatment for stings by ocean critters, and that most of the toxins would break down from heat.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 11:07 PM
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Use some muratic acid to test. If it fizzes, no go. If not then its generally OK pH wise. Then u just have to worry about metals and parasites in the rock/stone. I would soak it for extend time in a light bleach solution/water. Then resoak in reg water and change water every day for a few weeks , then let it sitt with no water changes for a couple days and test water to see if pH changes. If it doesn't then u might be OK.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 11:39 PM
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Rocks are always a common question but no harm in asking again. The rock itself is bad only rarely. Whether it will change your water over the long haul will depend on your water and where it comes from as well as where it has been. If your water is soft and tends to be acidic, rocks like limestone are likely to add hardness and raise the PH. If your water is hard and alkaline from running through limestone much of it's life, you are not likely to see any change. Like adding black paint to black ink? Can't see much change.
There is a general fear among many when using bleach soaks are mentioned but it is the method preferred to clean water for us to drink. You are quite likely dealing with tap water that has had chlorine added to make it safe to drink. Putting the rocks in a container and adding 1/2 cup of really cheap bleach to soak overnight is the really easy way to make sure the rocks are clean. Rinse them to remove excess bleach and let them dry. While drying, the chlorine will gas off and blow away. Proof of this is the smell you get when you go around a pool or spa. What you smell is the chlorine blowing away.
If you are unsure of the type rocks, try using them and monitor the PH, GH and KH for any major changes that you don't want. Whether it is a problem really depends on what type water you want to have in the tank. Some folks need the added hardness. Any change won't be an overnight sudden crisis. Rock is hard stuff to dissolve!
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone.

I have weird water. It's a well so no chlorine. It is soft out of the tap. pH 6.0 But if you leave it in a bucket for several days it goes up to 7.6 Except right now it's only going up to 7.2.

I'm thinking about going to RO water. I'm just getting tired of the inconsistancy of my water, the fact that I seem to grow algae better than I do plants, and the difficulty in keeping fish healthy.

I live in NH and this was a NH beach. I don't know if that is helpful. The LFS told me I should under no circumstances use the rocks because it would make my water harder. I guess I will put some in water and test the water over time to see if the water changes. They're really quite pretty.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 02:51 PM
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Do you have some fish in mind that drives the need to have soft or hard water? Many fish adapt well to what water they find if it does not vary often.
Not having chlorine is usually looked at an asset as you don't need to use Prime, etc, to remove it. Other than that, I would recommend seeing what the water is as it comes out of the ground. Ground water is often hard as it is already full of minerals from running through the ground before being pumped up in your well. If it is hard and full of minerals already it will not make it hold more minerals by adding the rocks you have. But until tested, you really can't say if it is hard or soft as water from wells can vary even from wells side by side. Heads up- don't always take the LFS as reliable info!
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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I just don't seem to have good luck with fish. I have some ocelot danios and they have been doing ok. But I have killed off 15 brass tetra and pretty much everything else in my tank. The only thing I have are the danios and the japonica shrimp. My plants look pretty sad, too.

I also have a betta. I have only had him about a month. I'm setting up a riparium for him and that is where I want to use the rocks. I had a betta many years ago, a crown tail and his fins rotted off despite all my best efforts.

Anyway, my parents had the well tested about 2 years ago and the test said it was soft water with a pH of 5.9. I've also brought some of my tap water and tank water to a few different LFS stores and had them test both the carbonate hardness and general hardness and they all said it was soft.

The LFS I went to yesterday said they only use RO water in their tanks and they also are an aquariumm service company where they set up and maintain aquariums for people and they said they only use RO water for those.

I have been wanting to fertilize my plants because I think they are lacking but I am unsure of what to use because on the one hand the tests say the water is soft and the pH is 5.9 - 6.0 out of the tap but on the other hand my mom insists the water is hard because it doesn't lather easily when you wash your hands and then the pH is 7.6 if you let it sit in a bucket for a few days and it's 7.6 in my tank.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
thelub> do you know any more details about that? I'm assuming it was a lot of rock and he was right over the pot or something. I'm sorta curious, because I thought heat was a common treatment for stings by ocean critters, and that most of the toxins would break down from heat.
It affected the entire household. It vaporized and filled his whole apartment.
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh....php?t=2253493


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 09:35 PM
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Do you get scale in your tea kettle?

It's rare, but I think it's possible to have hard water(GH) and a low pH, but you would have to have little to no carbonates (KH)

I don't think there is much reason to use RO water unless you are doing a marine set up, trying to get really soft water, or have something wrong with your water. I think in most cases that if your water is safe to drink, it will probably work for most aquarium setups.

I'd also take advice from fish stores with a grain (or pound) of salt. Some of them really know what they are talking about and want to spread knowledge, some want to make money and influence your choices, and then there are some that are either confused or just plain dumb.

If you have some rocks you want to use, you can try posting pics. It's not terribly reliable, but sometimes a rock has enough distinctive features that some people can make pretty decent guesses.

thelub> huh. thanks for the link. Admittedly, I was initially skeptical, but the first hand account, and the explanation seems to make sense. weird though.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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So are there "safe" river stone type rocks I could use instead? Is it a bad idea to use the beach rocks at all?
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 02:30 AM
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There are "SAFE" river rocks out there, after reading that story of the guy and boiling his rocks I would try to stay away from that stuff just in case.

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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 03:20 AM
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If you're worried about hitch hikers you can soak them in a bucket with normal tap water and lemon juice or vingar for 24 hours. Dump it, rinse them and them put them back in with normal tap water for a couple days changing the water every couple days for a week. Whatever is in there will be dead after that. You will just need to rise them good once you're done with the treatment.

There is this other stuff and I can't remember the name of it at the moment. I have used it before with LR and the hitch hikers come shooting out instantly.


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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 04:22 AM Thread Starter
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I'm mostly worried about the water chemistry. I know how to kill stuff with bleach LOL.

I don't think the kind of rocks I have are the liverocks the guy was talking about? I will take some pictures for you guys tomorrow. They are pretty rocks. But it would be better to be safe.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ponyo View Post
I'm mostly worried about the water chemistry. I know how to kill stuff with bleach LOL.

I don't think the kind of rocks I have are the liverocks the guy was talking about? I will take some pictures for you guys tomorrow. They are pretty rocks. But it would be better to be safe.
It really doesn't have to be live rock. If it is porous rock like mentioned there could be hitch hikers hiding in there.

I don't think it will act as much of a buffer but, like you said can't be sure until you test it. Best way is like you said put it in a buck for a couple days but, I would do to buckets filled at the same time. One with the rocks and one without the rocks.


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