The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Try as I might, I cannot find any information on using bones (turtle shells, skulls, antlers, etc.) in an aquarium. I can imagine that with overly soft water it might be a problem, or if it hasn't been properly cleaned and there is still dead flesh on the bone (ew), but what about a cleaned, preserved bone?

I personally have several sets of antlers that I have a feeling could look AWESOME in a tank, especially if I could get some moss growing from it. My home is in the middle of nowhere, so I tend to find a lot of them 'round spring time ^^. Also, theoretically, might be something good for my poor apple snails to chew on, since their shells have been looking kind of rough.
And just imagine a turtle shell cave! Moss that baby up, and you have a mossy hill even a hobbit would envy.

So guys, whatcha think? Worth the risk, or too much trouble? Anyone do anything of the sort before?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
152 Posts
I'd be afraid that bones & antlers would rot, flake, fracture, raise the pH of the water and just generally not work out very well. Mind you, I've never tried it.

I work at a public aquarium on weekends, and they've used skulls and bones in tank decor - but they're pretty much always casts.

~Bruce
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,113 Posts
Bones would contain calcium correct ? I dont see it being a problem , but to be safe i would clean them up and place them in a bucket and leave it for a week and then test the params.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
If the bone is aged you the organic component should be gone. You will be left with mostly hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2).

It will leech both PO4 and Calcium in water. This will be sped up significantly in acidic water. I can not speak to how significant these amounts would be with reasonably timed water changes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies!

I'd be afraid that bones & antlers would rot, flake, fracture, raise the pH of the water and just generally not work out very well. Mind you, I've never tried it.
A good point Bruce_S, and one of the things that concern me, but I've found horse/cow ribs and vertebrae in the creek behind my home, some of them over a year old, and they'd held together rather well, though the creek is dry for a large portion of the year.
I guess we'll see?

If the bone is aged you the organic component should be gone. You will be left with mostly hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2).

It will leech both PO4 and Calcium in water. This will be sped up significantly in acidic water. I can not speak to how significant these amounts would be with reasonably timed water changes.
Thanks for the science approach Sotty :] This is certainly along the lines of what I was hypothesizing, and with the aged, fully dried bones, they ought to be completely "dead" and ought to hold together. That's how fossils are made, right?

Or coat them in silicone.
A cool idea, psalm18.2. I wonder if there is a thinner silicone sealant out there you could do this with? Or maybe a way to thin down the silicone yourself? I'd just be sad that moss couldn't be attached, but then again, stark white antlers (or even a small ribcage) stabbing out into the water, as semi-carnivorous fish frolic among them is a rather enticing idea all its own >:}

[...] to be safe i would clean them up and place them in a bucket and leave it for a week and then test the params.
Definitely a good idea for anything 'experimental' a practical Aquarist is wanting to add to their aquarium :] Thanks for the advice stevenjohn21!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,113 Posts
If you could use them though i think you could scape it really nice ! Would love to see pics if you do decide to go the bone route !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I'm surprised more people don't go in that direction, to be honest! But maybe the simple lack of information, along with possibly a lack of access to the bones in the first place could be to blame?
Not sure, but I do know that the cogs are a-turnin' in my head for sure, haha :]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
Bones that are thick (femurs, pelvis, vertebrae) would probably hold up well for a long time. Skulls, for instance, have lots of thin intricate spots that will likely weaken quickly and start to fall apart (months to year time frame that is).

I really like the silicone idea, but would be tough for a skull. What about a couple dips in a good clear polyurethane
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,399 Posts
Bones that are thick (femurs, pelvis, vertebrae) would probably hold up well for a long time. Skulls, for instance, have lots of thin intricate spots that will likely weaken quickly and start to fall apart (months to year time frame that is).

I really like the silicone idea, but would be tough for a skull. What about a couple dips in a good clear polyurethane
I was just about to say some kind of epoxy / urethane coating of sorts. Do they make rhino liner in white? Haha

Sent from a dark corner in my happy place
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Took your ideas and did some hunting, and found some sealant terrarium/vivarium and salt water enthusiasts swear by, called Krylon Fusion and Krylon Clear Polyurethane :} They're supposed to work very well on plastics and wood (and much more!). Luckily, there is actually an auto parts store down the road that sells it for only $8.

If it turns out the antlers I have in mind will work in the tank I am building (a 5gal D.Dario tank), I will definitely let you guys know, though it will be sometime around the beginning/middle of November that I would have pictures of it IN the tank set-up. Might also make a DIY thread for them, if there is interest. Fortunately, the antlers I have are only 3-6 pointers, and ought to be small enough to fit :]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,317 Posts
I think any skulls cat/racoon sized would last a while, possibly years, depending on what chews on them. When I've found them in streams, they have been pretty thoroughly covered with moss/algae. I imagine it will get covered with algae pretty quickly in the aquarium, but maybe not.

Smaller, like rabbit/ squirrell and stuff would probably get chewed up/fall apart a lot quicker.

I've coated/filled skulls with epoxy resin before (but not used in aquariums). It's better if you have a mix with a long cure time, so that it can soak into the bone.

I don't know about silicone, I think it would start to fray and peel off in sheets after a while.

If you put a turtle shell in, I think it would be a really good idea to coat it with resin - they tend to fall apart after a little while
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,945 Posts
Bones as a Tank Decoration

Try as I might, I cannot find any information on using bones (turtle shells, skulls, antlers, etc.) in an aquarium. I can imagine that with overly soft water it might be a problem, or if it hasn't been properly cleaned and there is still dead flesh on the bone (ew), but what about a cleaned, preserved bone?


I personally have several sets of antlers that I have a feeling could look AWESOME in a tank, especially if I could get some moss growing from it. My home is in the middle of nowhere, so I tend to find a lot of them 'round spring time ^^. Also, theoretically, might be something good for my poor apple snails to chew on, since their shells have been looking kind of rough.
And just imagine a turtle shell cave! Moss that baby up, and you have a mossy hill even a hobbit would envy.

So guys, whatcha think? Worth the risk, or too much trouble? Anyone do anything of the sort before?
Hello the...


I wouldn't recommend putting the real thing in your aquarium. Water dissolves everything and could create some water chemistry problems. If you like the look of these kinds of things, I'm sure your could find similar items on the internet made of a material that would be safe for our tank.


B
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey guys!
Just in case you're interested, I now have a small antler tree in my tank :]

Went home, found one of our smaller, less impressive racks and sawed this sucker off. After some thinking, I ended up throwing caution to the wind and putting it in there au natural, partucularly since this particular piece is a good three or four years old now and has sat next to the wood burning stove every winter, pretty much ensuring it was as dry and inert as it possibly could be.
Tied to it is a bit of flame moss and one other mystery moss. Since putting it in about 2 weeks ago, it's went through a very driftwood-like phase of thick, clear fuzzies, but those disappeared almost overnight in the past two days, coincidentally right after I put in a single apple snail. Otherwise, all my params are stable, and the fish pretty much ignore it :]
FTS:

I'll keep you updated!
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top