Decorating your tank

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Decorating your tank

Post by Star on Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:12 pm

There are hundreds of different sorts of aquarium decor to choose from, with natural woods such as bogwood and mopani wood. Rocks such as slate, quarry stone pebbles and cobbles. Hopefully this guide will help you choose and avoid some of the pitfalls with aquarium decor.

Shop bought ornaments:

Most shops have a huge variety of ornaments made from many different materials. However although “aquarium safe” many do have pitfalls. Take care when buying brightly painted ornaments, although the paints used are non-toxic to fish, over time the paint can flake off and unsuspecting fish may pick up the paint and eat it, which could cause blockages in their digestive system, leading to bacterial infections and in worse cases bloat or dropsy. When doing your water changes, make sure at least once a month you remove all these sort of decorations and give them a good check over for any signs of deterioration, give them a scrape with your fingernail make sure no paint comes off, if it does remove it from the tank.

Tree root ornaments:


Ornaments like this are very popular and do look very nice in the tank. However take care with choosing one as most are hollow inside and small fish can go inside and get stuck. The picture above is one I had, which my black collared catfish got stuck inside. Again with these they are painted and the paint can deteriorate.

Bogwood, sumatran & Mopani wood.

The 3 most popular available from shops, when buying a new piece of wood, it is best to soak it in boiling water to kill off any bacteria or pests that may be hidden inside. New woods will leech tannins into the tank making it the colour of weak tea. This is not harmful to the fish but it does naturally lower the ph of the water, extra water changes maybe needed and check your ph levels are not falling too far. Alternatively soak all new wood in a large bucket changing the water daily until you have clear water, it can take a number of weeks.

Alternatively, those wanting to lower their Ph, for example, to keep South American cichlids, untreated bogwood and the tannins they leech are a natural and inexpensive way to achieve water conditions favourable to these fish.
It is recommended that you remove carbon filtration if you want to benefit from these tannins.

Other wood can be used, oak, beech, alder good hardwoods, avoid pine and softwoods as these will rot and foul your tank.

Rock

Rock is safe isnt it?? some yes, slate, cobble and most garden centre rockery stone is safe to use in the aquarium. However test the rock with vinegar if it fizzes the rock is a type that will reduce ph, in aquatic shops this sort of rock can be found, usually white with lots of little holes in, known as ocean rock or tufa rock, certain types of fish do thrive with this sort of rock but in small quantities it is not a problem. With any rock for your aquarium give it a good scrub in very hot water before adding it to your aquarium. Do not use concrete products in your aquarium there maybe toxins within the concrete and it will deteriorate.

Aquarium gravel

You are better off choosing a natural gravel such as dorset pea gravel, natural sand. As with ornaments the brightly coloured gravel, blue, green, orange, yellow is painted. Although the paint is none toxic, as with painted ornaments there is that slight possibility of paint flaking off over time with gravel vaccing a danger to bottom feeding fish.

Live Plants

Research your live plants first and ensure you only buy true aquatic plants for your aquarium, unfortunately there are semi aquatic plants sold in shops that will eventually die and start to rot in your aquarium which can cause bacterial problems. With any plants cut off dead/drying leaves and remove any dead plants.

AVOID THIS PLANT!!!

Most aquatic shops still sell this as an aquatic plant, although it will survive underwater for a long time, it is not a true aquatic plant and it will rot and foul your water, research I have done on this plant claims it to be toxic.

Plastic/Silk Plants:

There are many very realistic plastic and silk plants available on the market and look very nice. With the larger plastic and silk plants the stems and under the leaves can be plastic coated wire, check these have not got ripped or torn a part of your maintenance routine so your fish do not get injured; most important if you keep larger cichlids and pleco’s that are rough on decor. Check your silk type plants regularly for freying, fish can pick at the material and swallow it, which can cause digestive problems.

If a silk plant starts to look like this remove it from the tank.



You can always have a go at making your own decor for your tank, check out this DIY background by Alasse Smile

http://www.thefishforum.net/t51-diy-background

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