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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone know of any tanks that use feather rock as a hardscape? I saw a big pallet full of the stuff at a local rock yard, and it really looked promising... but I'm guessing there's a reason why it's not used very often in planted tanks...

Here's a pic I found on the web that looks almost exactly like the rocks I saw:

 

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don't you wonder why its called Feather Rock...

its full of air pockets that make it light as a Feather.... will it sink?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
At first I laughed at the thought of rocks floating, but apparently there *are* a few mentions across the web about people who couldn't get it to sink. How surprising to me, because they weren't "light as a feather" to me. Maybe because it is so porous, it traps that much air and makes it buoyant?

Anyway, people say that if you boil it, then dunk it in cold water before putting in the tank, it sinks that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I kind of figured I'd have to be careful about what livestock goes in a tank with feather rock, so I'll cross that bridge when I come to it... I'm just wondering if anyone has seen nicely scaped tanks with the stuff? I've found a handful of pics of Cichlid tanks, but those aren't hardscapes so much as rocks being dumped in a huge pile and then submerged in water.

I've also found quite a few pics of bonsai trees and waterfalls that use feather rock, and it really has a lovely natural kind of look, so I'm thinking it would look good in a planted tank.
 

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I use feather rocks. They are great, they give you a dramatic rockwork look without the massive weight. YOu have to silicone a heavy flat rock to the botton of the rock as it will float. Once the air pockets fill with water and some biomass fills in they become dense enought to stay down. They are rough in texture. Fish that root around on rocks and have soft barbles may be injured(I havent seen this). YOu can also carve and drill this stuff allowing you to customize the shape.
 

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I have a DIY Feather Rock background & lots of rock piles. I boiled the rocks in a turkey fryer pot (in water) then put them in a trash can full of cool water and they sunk. Here is a crappy pic of my tank -
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I really need to get a better camera. It looks so much better in person. The rock has lost its gray color & is now brown & algae covered. I love this stuff.

This is a 220G tank with Mbuna cichlids, 1 Pleco & 2 Spotted Pimolodeus (with their long barbels) . No real problems with injuries in over 4 years.

Feather rock is sharp though. I used gloves when handling it. Carbide drill bits & reciprocating saw blades worked extremely well to carve & shape what I wanted.
 

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Cool tank. I dont have that much rock in my tank. Imagine how much that would weigh with regular rock. Being able to shape it is a huge plus. I imagine it acts like liverock in a reef system. eventually it will colonies with nitrifying bacteria. The biggest PITA is the initial "will it float" issue. Id like to send this stuff to Letterman
 

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Thank you for the kind words. It was fun to build. We made it in 3 separate pieces in order to get it in the tank.
 

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feather rock tank

I used feather rock in my 600 gallon Malawan Cichlid tank. I didnt boil the rocks. I weighted them down with river rock and glued them together with silicone. The fish do not scratch the rocks and there are no abrasions on fish. There is alot of algae growth on the rocks (this may help smooth the surface). You may want to use gloves when installing in tank. If you wish to see pics, email me and I will give you my web address that shows my tank set-up.
 

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Old thread - ran across and adding comment for future... re soapstone:

We used to collect pumice stone in Oregon (another volcanic rock) which after floating for a while would often sink (absorb water in the air pockets).

Any rock from volcanic activity is general safe (ie inert due to high temps ie melted lava) but not so sure about soap stone (which I used to carve sculptures out of).

It is extremely soft and porous (so can leach out any one of the several heavy metals???) and is often different in composition depending on vein.

Here is info from quick search:

Note the difference in rocks that are of volcanic origin (melted, or with pumice - feather stone - liquid rock ie lava meeting cold water/air) verses info on non melted soapstone.


Soapstone (also known as steatite or soaprock) is a metamorphic rock, a talc-schist. It is largely composed of the mineral talc and is thus rich in magnesium.

It is produced by dynamothermal metamorphism and metasomatism, which occurs in the areas where tectonic plates are subducted, changing rocks by heat and pressure, with influx of fluids, but without melting. It has been a medium for carving for thousands of years.

http://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/betta-fish/48361-soap-stone-sculpture.html

Soap stone is a tricky thing. I am a sculptor and have to be REALLY careful about where I acquire my stones as they might have any number of contaminates in them. With almost all stones I have carved there are deposits of heavy metals like iron or magnesium. This can leach out of the stone and into the water, so for this alone I wouldn't put any soap stones in my tank. You can never be sure by looking at the surface and soapstone can be porus.

Second and I am not sure of the reactivity of the chemical, but part of soapstones composition is a mineral called chlorite. This is what lends the nice greenish color to the stone. Most aquatic fish hate all forms of chlorine so if this component were to complex with any chemicals or biological agents in the tank it could produce some nasty chlorine by products that could wipe out the whole tank.

My opinion is a NO on the soapstone in the tank.

Soapstone is primarily composed of talc, which is a very soft, powdery-thready type of mineral. This is why it's so easy to carve, the same is true of gypsum. It will be prone to decomposition if left in water, ie it will literally come apart with time. The chemical makeup and crystal structure are related to asbestos, as is chlorite (no, neither of them pose a health risk to humans). This similarity means that it is very 'friable', that is as said above it is prone to disintegration. 'Soapstone' I believe contains many more minerals besides talc (which is why your sculpture is likely NOT disintegrating lol), but I definitely wouldn't put anything containing talc in my fish tank.
 
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