What type of wood and rock are these? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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What type of wood and rock are these?

I got the driftwood from someone I know. It's actually pretty light and soft. I have it boiling in some water right now but it floats and the wood itself is pretty pliable. Is this ok to put in an aquarium?





It's a cool piece so I hope I can make it work. Any idea on what type of wood it is?

This rock, I got from my mother's yard. I chiseled off a piece of it and it's pretty flaky like charcoal or something but I have no idea what type of rock it is.





Underside is flat, this is where the break came from.



Side of rock.



Close up of the side of the rock.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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I put them both in a bucket and poured 10qts of boiling water into it. I let it sit for a while and the wood was pretty soft. I actually snapped a few ends off just cleaning it. Curious if that means it's no good or the extreme temperatures made it incredibly brittle.

Got a rag and brushed off the algea and doing a second dipping of boiling water. Still got my hopes up. Waiting on feedback still.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 05:37 PM
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Not a Forest Ranger or a Geologist but my first guesses are pine or cedar and some type of granite or quartz blend. Finally likely not the best options for tanks for IMO.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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I'm under the impression both granite and quartz are ok for Aquarium use?
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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The wood is too soft and not useable. My google efforts have left me clueless on what type of rock I have.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 07:34 PM
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This is a frequent question that I almost always give the same answer. What type of wood is not really very important but with a big IF. If the wood is toally dry as far as sap and tannin, it is likely safe to use. In your case, it is nearly impossible to say what type without seeing the grain and often the bark and leaves. So moving on? Has it been used in their tank without coloring the water? That would leave it down to a question of how long it might last. If it is soft and may start shedding little chunks, how do you feel about that? A simple matter of catching the bits and if it gets really bad, fishing the wood out and getting other? It won't hurt the fish or plants but it may be more work than you want. Personal choice there.
There would seem to be two choices for my thinking on the rock. the worst would be it is a piece of blacktop that has broken loose and been knocked around. Any signs of oil, etc. if you soak it? Any strong smell like asphalt? Definitely not good to use if so.
But then the flaky layers may just be due to it being sedimentary rock. Sandstone that is laid down over millions of years of dust and sand being put down in layers can be flaky layers. Taking any metal tool like a chisel to tap on a corner to flake off a part might give you a look at fresh new rock rather than the outside which is weathered.
Bares further study?
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Definitely not asphalt. The "underside" picture is what this rock looks like on the inside. It's has a shiny look to it. I chiseled this chunk from a larger rock. If I rub/apply force to the edges it will crumble off. If you look in the pictures all the black specs around the rock on the counter are from the rock itself.

I would describe it as Black in color, shiny, and flaky.

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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
This is a frequent question that I almost always give the same answer. What type of wood is not really very important but with a big IF. If the wood is toally dry as far as sap and tannin, it is likely safe to use. In your case, it is nearly impossible to say what type without seeing the grain and often the bark and leaves. So moving on? Has it been used in their tank without coloring the water? That would leave it down to a question of how long it might last. If it is soft and may start shedding little chunks, how do you feel about that? A simple matter of catching the bits and if it gets really bad, fishing the wood out and getting other? It won't hurt the fish or plants but it may be more work than you want. Personal choice there.
There would seem to be two choices for my thinking on the rock. the worst would be it is a piece of blacktop that has broken loose and been knocked around. Any signs of oil, etc. if you soak it? Any strong smell like asphalt? Definitely not good to use if so.
But then the flaky layers may just be due to it being sedimentary rock. Sandstone that is laid down over millions of years of dust and sand being put down in layers can be flaky layers. Taking any metal tool like a chisel to tap on a corner to flake off a part might give you a look at fresh new rock rather than the outside which is weathered.
Bares further study?
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 10:18 PM
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I pretty much agree with what PlantedRich said about the wood. Most wood is just cellulose (sugars/starches chained together in a way that's hard for most critters to digest/break down) and lignin (I'm not as certain about this, but it's a hydrocarbon polymer). Both of those are pretty much inert/harmless. It's the sap, resins, and stuff in the bark/leaves that can be problematic.

Probably why we refer to it as driftwood (even though most of it (mopane, manzanita, bogwood, etc.) isn't), since wood that's been in water a long time has had all the bark beaten off, and all the resins and sap leached out. Some woods are perfectly safe off the tree, but if you don't know, it's better to get well weathered wood, or barring that, extensively soak (or boil) it yourself.

Scratch the wood, especially on the end grain, and see if you can smell anything ('woody' and 'earthy' smells are fine, you want to be wary of anything like pine, cedar, etc.). Soft wood is perfectly fine to use, it just won't last as long.

I recently tore down a tank that had been up for about a year, and had some pretty soft wood in it (I think it might have been some variety of palm, but not certain), and there was close to a 1/8" difference in the part below the substrate. Pretty much just from snails grazing and chewing on it for a year.

Anyways, I'm guessing the second piece is some sort of woody vine - ivy, wisteria, etc. not certain, but that's what it reminds me of with the shape, and most of those are fairly soft.

The rock looks really familiar, but I can't quite place it. At first I wanted to say some type of schist, but that stuff isn't flaky, it's really strong. Also wanted to say graphite, but I don't think that's right. Maybe I'll think of it later today or tomorrow. If I can remember what it's reminding me of, I'll post.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-22-2014, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
I pretty much agree with what PlantedRich said about the wood. Most wood is just cellulose (sugars/starches chained together in a way that's hard for most critters to digest/break down) and lignin (I'm not as certain about this, but it's a hydrocarbon polymer). Both of those are pretty much inert/harmless. It's the sap, resins, and stuff in the bark/leaves that can be problematic.

Probably why we refer to it as driftwood (even though most of it (mopane, manzanita, bogwood, etc.) isn't), since wood that's been in water a long time has had all the bark beaten off, and all the resins and sap leached out. Some woods are perfectly safe off the tree, but if you don't know, it's better to get well weathered wood, or barring that, extensively soak (or boil) it yourself.

Scratch the wood, especially on the end grain, and see if you can smell anything ('woody' and 'earthy' smells are fine, you want to be wary of anything like pine, cedar, etc.). Soft wood is perfectly fine to use, it just won't last as long.

I recently tore down a tank that had been up for about a year, and had some pretty soft wood in it (I think it might have been some variety of palm, but not certain), and there was close to a 1/8" difference in the part below the substrate. Pretty much just from snails grazing and chewing on it for a year.

Anyways, I'm guessing the second piece is some sort of woody vine - ivy, wisteria, etc. not certain, but that's what it reminds me of with the shape, and most of those are fairly soft.

The rock looks really familiar, but I can't quite place it. At first I wanted to say some type of schist, but that stuff isn't flaky, it's really strong. Also wanted to say graphite, but I don't think that's right. Maybe I'll think of it later today or tomorrow. If I can remember what it's reminding me of, I'll post.
You might be right about the vine. It does have some type of scent when I boiled it but that could have came from the algae or whatever was growing on it too ?? Anyway it was falling apart just handling it after boiling so I don't plan on using it. I might try looking for something myself or break down and buy something as I don't need a very large piece.

Some schist remind me of the rock. The bottom (fresh rock) looks like coal or graphite but it doesn't leave any type of marks.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2014, 12:53 AM
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That rock is really bugging me. The striations and what appears to be crystals have me fairly convinced it's metamorphic.

Possibly a predominantly biotite(dark mica) shcist?

What do the flaky things look like when you scrape them off? are they slightly transparent, are the more flake, needle, or grain shaped in appearance?

And how heavy does the rock feel compared to other rocks about the same size?

If you have a ceramic plate (or tile, coffee mug, etc.), try scraping it on an unglazed portion (usually the bottom ring is unglazed), and see what color streak it creates.

I was horrible at mineralogy when I actually was studying it, and that was decades ago...

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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2014, 12:54 AM
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Looking at the wood again. Does it seem like part of the mangroves that grow so many places in Florida? Been there, seen that but can't really remember what I saw.
For the rock, it does look like something that was working on being coal but just not quite there yet. Unless there is a real need, I might pass it up. Have you considered looking around at local rock supply that might sell for landscape items? They often have really wide variety and sell way cheap compared to LFS. Oil is one item I am really careful with around the tanks.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2014, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
That rock is really bugging me. The striations and what appears to be crystals have me fairly convinced it's metamorphic.

Possibly a predominantly biotite(dark mica) shcist?

What do the flaky things look like when you scrape them off? are they slightly transparent, are the more flake, needle, or grain shaped in appearance?

And how heavy does the rock feel compared to other rocks about the same size?

If you have a ceramic plate (or tile, coffee mug, etc.), try scraping it on an unglazed portion (usually the bottom ring is unglazed), and see what color streak it creates.

I was horrible at mineralogy when I actually was studying it, and that was decades ago...

I have it outside sitting in a bucket in my patio. I was going to experiment with it and see if it makes any changes to the pH. The rock itself is quite hefty and I actually used the claw of framing hammer to break that piece off. It didn't give much trouble but it was still pretty resilient against some heavy whacks. A direct impact will send tiny flakes flying, and the flatter edges can be broken off just by applying force with your hands.

The flakes that do come off are black (like the underside of the rock) and solid in color. http://www.rajasthanminerals.com/dolomite.asp I'm wondering, because it looks really similar to this rock and the "quartz" looking part could actually be Dolomite but still no idea what the main part of the rock is.

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Looking at the wood again. Does it seem like part of the mangroves that grow so many places in Florida? Been there, seen that but can't really remember what I saw.
For the rock, it does look like something that was working on being coal but just not quite there yet. Unless there is a real need, I might pass it up. Have you considered looking around at local rock supply that might sell for landscape items? They often have really wide variety and sell way cheap compared to LFS. Oil is one item I am really careful with around the tanks.
There is a local place nearby. I might just see if they have some good size chunks of slate for a good price, and I might just order a small piece of http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005D4X90G/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3O88P8V9WW2SX from Amazon for a few bucks. I was hoping I could find some cool pieces myself but we'll see.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2014, 03:31 PM
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There are so many rocks out there that are good without question that I just pass on any that give me reason to question them. I have never bought either rocks or wood as I find it easily when hiking. Sometimes when I drag a too large piece back to the car, I do wonder if it wouldn't be smarter to buy it but then the fun would be lost!
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2014, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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There are so many rocks out there that are good without question that I just pass on any that give me reason to question them. I have never bought either rocks or wood as I find it easily when hiking. Sometimes when I drag a too large piece back to the car, I do wonder if it wouldn't be smarter to buy it but then the fun would be lost!
I bought a piece of small Malaysian driftwood from Amazon, though no idea what I'm going to get. I also went to that local rock place and got a 20lb section of Emerald Grey slate for $6 (.30 a lb) that I'm going to try to make some cool hiding places for the fish.
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-23-2014, 06:50 PM
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Sounds like you are moving along in good order. I might throw out a suggestion that may/may not help. I see lots of pictures of rocks stacked that really miss the point on what fish like. When they want to hide that means hide from you as well as fish. So a stack of rocks as tall as you want still will not give them comfort if it is open to the front so you can see them. It seems backwards but the more true hiding spots you give them, the more you will see them. If there is only one spot to hide, they may stay there all day, scared silly but if there is a hidey hole everywhere, they may feel much more like coming out and acting normal.
For me this gets down to making a "jumble" of rock rather than a stack. Think natural messy rather than human neat? They can slide into all kinds of small spots that we don't think of as good hiding. Just my view.
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