Rock problems! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Rock problems!

So I really want to use flagstone in my setup but having trouble finding appropriate material. I happened to find some nice Ohio bluestone which the salesman assured me was not limestone. So I purchased it only to come home and find out from the Web that it is dolomitic limestone. It does not react to vinegar but I realize that does not rule out limestone.

My water is hard and pH in my tank is 8. How much of a problem would it be to use this rock? My other option was michigan sandstone but now I read that these are not great for aquariums either.

How much does the rock really change pH? I read many posters saying avoid limestone but cichlid users complaining that it does not raise their pH by much.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 03:46 PM
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This varies stone to stone. Calcitic stones will raise you pH by a small amount or large amount depending on the concentration of calcium. The vinegar test is great for highly alkaline stones, but in the case of limestone it can leach out over time and flux your pH of say 7 to a pH of 7.5 in a week or two. If you keep up with water changes and buffer it shouldn't be an issue.


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 03:48 PM
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I'm not sure if you can figure out an exact number that it'll raise ph. But it will raise it for sure; and the longer its in there I believe the higher the ph might go. I use holey rock in my african cichlid tank and while its been a while since I've actually checked ph I believe I've gotten it up a full point from around 7 out of the tap to around 8 in my tank. Depending on what fish you plan on keeping, this may not be a problem though.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 04:10 PM
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I had a malawi cichlid tank that I actually used limestone straight from a quarry. I mean large chunks, I built caves out of it. Our water has high ph (>8) to begin with and in my case the limestone held it right at 8.4 between water changes which is what I was looking for. I had rock stable ph, kh, and gh. If your ph is at 8 already I would be surprised if you see much upward movement at all.

Edit: I will add this as well. I really did not need the limestone in my tank. As often as I change water our tap has enough capacity to buffer for my needs.

Last edited by thedood; 11-02-2015 at 04:13 PM. Reason: Added info
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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I usually do low tech setups heavily planted with low fish load and usually only water changes every 3-4 weeks.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 04:24 PM
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Here's the thing. If the rock is at a ph below your water nothing will happen. If it is above your water you MAY get some leaching after a while. It depends on the spread. If your water is at a ph of 4 and the rock is at 8 well you'll get a reaction mighty quick. If the water is at 7 and the rock tests at 7.5 it will take a long time. Thing is it can never go above whatever has the highest value. Adding something that has a ph of 7 to water that is at 7.5 the water ph will prevail.

Scrape some of the rock. Mix with neutral water and let it sit for a while. Test the ph.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Will try pH check. Maybe I will soak one of the rocks for A week and see if it changes pH

Thanks for all the comments. Any suggestions from the rock experts on neutral flagstone with grey ish black color that I might consider instead

Last edited by Darkblade48; 11-03-2015 at 08:23 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 05:06 PM
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Your probably fine as long as the rock doesn't crumble into pieces.
Particularly with a starting ph of 8. From what I've read most Limestone tends to raise your ph to 8.3 but it is a really slow process in water that has little acidity already.

Limestone will react faster if the ph is acidic to start with as the acid eats away at bits of the limestone.

Limestone will also raise your KH. The added KH will stop the ph from swinging widely. Unless your KH is already high.

I'm also using Limestone in my tank, it came from a local Limestone mountain range, I made a cave out of several large chunks. My ph is 7.6 out of the tap and so far I have yet to see an effect from the limestone. (but my tank has only been filled for 5 days, longest test I did was 2 weeks)
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 08:05 PM
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Dolomite is much less reactive with acidic water than calcite and other common carbonates. While it will have some effect it will be much slower. Wash thoroughly to remove loose and powdery pieces and you'll further slow the rate at which it dissolves and the impact on Ph.

Alternatively, go find something else and don't worry about it. Find a big rock yard and for $10 you can lots of beautiful rock without carbonates.

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Last edited by Linwood; 11-02-2015 at 10:03 PM. Reason: typo
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 09:58 PM
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Scrub the rock clean and put it in some water. Test GH, KH, pH, TDS when you start, then a few hours later, the next day, and several days later.
If any of these show a great change then it will do the same in the aquarium.
If there are small changes, then weekly water changes will keep it under control.
If you cannot tell any changes in the 'several days soaking' test, then water changes 3-4 weeks apart should not be any problem.

If there is a part of the rock that you know you will be hiding, scratch it pretty well with a nail, leave the dust from the scratch there, and pour the vinegar right into the scratch and the dust. If the dust and the fresh scratch react, then you know this rock is probably not for a soft water tank with low GH, KH, pH, TDS.

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-02-2015, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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Will soak the rock, test water and report back. I got over eager abs now have 150 pounds of the flagstone. Problem is that everything is saw was either limestone or sandstone flagstone. And I want the flat rocks for the rescape.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 01:40 AM
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Sandstone is generally not a problem with respect to ph.

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 02:47 PM
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For many people, I feel there is way too much concern about using the "correct" rock.
If you have soft acidic water that has little to no buffering, you got to be careful but if you have normal run of the mill PH and hardness, I think of it this way. Say if the water is 7.0 PH, for giggles and has some fair amount of GH/KH to resist moving the PH (buffering?), adding an alkaline rock may tend to push things toward higher PH and add a bit of hardness. But then when we add something like plants or a great big old hunk of wood, those will tend to soften and move the water toward acidic.
We try to keep a steady, natural situation in our tanks, in many cases. So out in the real world there is a constant change going on in the water. In the piney woods during dry periods the pine needles will drive the water softer and more acidic compared to other times. In the middle of the country where the dominant rock is limestone, any spring fed lake will go higher PH and harder when the springs are running full and swing lower during dry times where the leaves and vegetation are stronger.
The fish don't die during a drought nor when it rains a lot! Nature has provided for these swings through genetics.
If you have normal water, add normal rocks and wood, etc., the normal fish will be fine with it. If you keep unusual fish, plants, or other stuff, then you have unusual problems. But for many of us, blaming rocks or wood is an excuse for poor care rather than the true cause of fish death.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 05:20 PM
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Personally I agree with @PlantedRich. Unelss you are keeping very sensitive livestock, it is n't much of a concern. I also agree with the various tests above....when in doubt, test it out.

I'd also think that you could potentially balance out the rock pH change with tannins....tea leaves or peat.

If it were me, I'd go for it. But then again, I take landscaping stones right out of my yard or the walkway and scrub them with a bit of hot water, and plunk them in...
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-03-2015, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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All great points actually. Just checked my shrimp tank and the pH there was 8 as well and they seem to do just fine. My pH from tap was 7.5 and from main tank was 8. Already soaking rock in water and will still report back. If nothing else, I'm curious now
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