Trying to compile a master list of aquarium-safe DIY materials

waterlilykari
Member
I had the idea last night since I see so many posts on if this or that wood or rock is fish safe or "how would I do ____ without killing everything in the tank by using the wrong things?" We should compile a master list of any and all materials people have found to be tried and true as aquarium safe and if we are successful in getting a pretty good sized list going, I may reorganize it at the end by category (with credit given where due, of course) but this way someone looking only for rocks could scroll through to a section simply on inert rock or someone who wanted to create their own background could find a separate area of recipes for making a background and which brands are non-toxic to get materials for it. The idea here would be if it works, I am going to ask if it could be stickied so that future users can refer to it as a recourse.

Any and all suggestions are welcome, the only proviso here is that they are aquarium safe. It would be extremely helpful if you can let me know what you used it for, how it worked best to do so, any warning label type of information you think might be good to include, etc. but not necessary if you don't want to. Thanks!
 
Flowingfins
Member
GE silicon
Slate
Granite

I've used all these in my tanks before with no ill effects on fish.
Hope this helps


 
Plecomaker
Member
Il add coconuts shells and crabapple wood. Ive hoolowed out and boiled the cocnuts to make cichlid caves, plecos gnaw on the tops.
 
CliCliW
Member
PVC piping for making tunnels and hides and that kind of thing, I've never used it but It is recommended for use.

Terracotta pots are also something I've seen recommended on the forum before.

I would just add for the coconut shell that boiling it would be a help for removing tannins if people don't want them...
 
Plecomaker
Member
CliCliW said:
PVC piping for making tunnels and hides and that kind of thing, I've never used it but It is recommended for use.

Terracotta pots are also something I've seen recommended on the forum before.

I would just add for the coconut shell that boiling it would be a help for removing tannins if people don't want them...
I be
Believe I did mention boiling it, lol
 
Plecomaker
Member
Volcano rock

marbles

I suppose glass, if there's no lead in it. Depends on how rough your fish is.
 
CliCliW
Member
Plecomaker said:
I be
Believe I did mention boiling it, lol
Cool, just being sure

I'm not sure if blasting sand is the same as coal slag, but I've also read that that's OK to use too.
 
Flowingfins
Member
Cypress

Oak

Just about any hardwood is good for driftwood as long as you boil/soak it to get any tannins out and to kill nasties.
 
CliCliW
Member
And make sure it's not a fresh piece of wood! I think smelly wood or wood that has sap are both bad decisions to put in your tank. Store bought driftwood is perfect though just to boil.
 
Flowingfins
Member
Your right. Also make sure it is pesticide free.

Shale(rock)
Limestone(will raise PH/GH)
 
Jsigmo
Member
I've always read that you should make sure the GE Silicone is Silicone I, not Silicone II. And also make sure it doesn't have the anti-fungal ingredients. But I haven't personally tested the Silicone II to see if it's really a problem. Once it's cured, the ammonia should stop being produced (it's a product of the curing process). But to be safe, I'd stick with Silicone I.

I would think Polycarbonate, polypropylene, acrylic, polyethylene, PVC, PET, PTFE, Nylon, and many other plastics would be fine.

Acrylic coatings also seem fine. And you can coat some items that, by themselves would NOT be aquarium-safe, with acrylic (and other coatings) to make them aquarium safe.

I also suspect most hot-melt glues would be just fine in an aquarium as well.
 
EricV
Member
I hope you don't mind a climbing ph if you're using limestone. It's definitely not inert.
 
Flowingfins
Member
Forgot to add that Eric.
Peat moss is good for adding tannins.
 
kathryn740616
Member
Pure quartz and siltstone are perfectly compatible with fishie tanks
 
Jsigmo
Member
Diamonds, rubys, emeralds, sapphire - that kind of stuff is also pretty darned inert as well
 
Plecomaker
Member
Jsigmo said:
Diamonds, rubys, emeralds, sapphire - that kind of stuff is also pretty darned inert as well
True, though they could be very sharp! ....and well out of my pricerange for fish.

Though aso not inert, some leaves, like oak and almond have fish healng properties, dependswhat you're keeping.


any ppinions on stainless steel? Seems like it would take forever to do something.

and lets not forget our friend airline tubing!
 
Danjamesdixon
Member
Let's spice this debate up.

Krylon Fusion
 
Plecomaker
Member
Wasnt much of a debate til now, lol
 
Danjamesdixon
Member
It's got a very strange reputation. According to Krylon, the makers of the product - it shouldn't be used anywhere near aquariums. According to EVERYONE else, it's the best product to use with aquariums.
 
Anders247
Member
I know you saw this post earlier in the day, but I'll include it for the benefit of everyone else.
Anders247 said:
Rocks that don't change the water quality are: lava rocks, coal, slate, shale, flint, basalt, granite, sandstone, and quartz. Rocks that change the pH are: chalk, limestone, marble and tufa.
Sandstone may or may not change the water chemistry-it is so soluble that anything can get into it. Check it with the vinegar test first.
 
Jsigmo
Member
Plecomaker said:
Though aso not inert, some leaves, like oak and almond have fish healng properties, dependswhat you're keeping.


any ppinions on stainless steel? Seems like it would take forever to do something.

and lets not forget our friend airline tubing!
You have to be fairly careful with stainless steel. There are many different types. Saying "stainless steel" is a lot like saying "sausage".

And different types hold up to different things better or worse, or leach different things into the water.

I guess you'd have to research the particular type of stainless versus the particular type of aquarium setup.

Titanium is generally considered to be safe for aquarium use, though.

Danjamesdixon said:
Let's spice this debate up.

Krylon Fusion
I don't know about that stuff, but the old Krylon Clear Kote (acrylic spray) was fantastic for this kind of thing. We even used it to protect printed circuit boards where I worked years ago. It did a fantastic job of keeping things reliable even in a hydrogen sulfide environment.

Danjamesdixon said:
It's got a very strange reputation. According to Krylon, the makers of the product - it shouldn't be used anywhere near aquariums. According to EVERYONE else, it's the best product to use with aquariums.
Sounds typical!

There are some excellent epoxy coatings available now that are NSF and AWWA approved for drinking water contact that might be fantastic, too.
 
Danjamesdixon
Member
The thing with Krylon is it's cheap, and it's a defined name that people know. I've seen a lot of suggestions or "epoxy resin" or "epoxy coat", and it's just like .....so which one? There are a lot of variations to it, and it's a of a lot more expensive.
 
Flowingfins
Member
plastic craft mesh(needle pointing)
yarn
sewing thread
 
Jsigmo
Member
Danjamesdixon said:
The thing with Krylon is it's cheap, and it's a defined name that people know. I've seen a lot of suggestions or "epoxy resin" or "epoxy coat", and it's just like .....so which one? There are a lot of variations to it, and it's a of a lot more expensive.
Exactly. One would think that the NSF and AWWA approved epoxy coatings should all be fine for fish tank use, but I suppose that's not 100% certain, either! Just because something is safe for people doesn't mean it will be for fish. Take low levels of chlorine, for example.

If one could be sure that a certain type of Krylon (or some other brand) of paint was aquarium-safe, it'd be extremely useful to know that!

It would also be good to have information on how some of these products hold up over time.

One thing that's always annoying is that even if you find the GE Silicone that's really recommended for aquarium use by aquarium people, if you read the fine print on the tube, it'll probably say something to the effect of "Not for use under the waterline"!!!! I suspect what they're really saying is: "Don't blame us when your fishing boat sinks after you sealed it up with our product!!!" The manufacturer's lawyers might instruct them to state that even though the product is excellent for that kind of usage. But you just can't be sure!

Flowingfins said:
plastic craft mesh(needle pointing)
yarn
sewing thread
That plastic craft mesh is great for a LOT of aquarium projects!
 
Flowingfins
Member
It is! I've used it countless times.


 
Plecomaker
Member
Huh, never thought of using that. Ive used for bigvart projects, but never fish.
it would be great for a dirted tank, iwold think as a cap with some other top, huh?
 
jwilson48
Member
Tagged.
 
Plecomaker
Member
Tagged? Lol
 
jwilson48
Member
Plecomaker said:
Tagged? Lol
Basically means I am marking this thread for access later. Every time someone responds to it I will now receive an update.
 
  • Moderator
ryanr
Moderator
Member
Anything suitable for potable water is generally suitable for use in/around aquariums.

On the stainless side: As long as the steel is completely coated, with no scratches exposing the steel, it should be ok.

Krylon: I've heard the same things as above. One of the big things I've read is getting it to stay on long term when submerged. When used on the outside of down pipes etc, it's brilliant apparently.
 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
ryanr said:
Anything suitable for potable water is generally suitable for use in/around aquariums.

On the stainless side: As long as the steel is completely coated, with no scratches exposing the steel, it should be ok.

Krylon: I've heard the same things as above. One of the big things I've read is getting it to stay on long term when submerged. When used on the outside of down pipes etc, it's brilliant apparently.
Does that mean Krylon has only a limited lifetime within the tank before needing to be scrubbed off of something again and reapplied? Or it should not be used within a tank, period?

Anything that is 100% silicone - that means absolutely ZERO additives for quick dry, anti-microbial, mold resistant or anything else commonly added, should be safe to use. So far I have stuck with the tried and true "Aquarium Silicone" that I believe is by Aqueon, although they are by no means the only ones to make such a product. Actually, I use it around the house as well because I find since it has less added chemicals to it (all those things left out that are in others that would make it no longer fish-safe if included) it is less harsh a smell and fumes when working with it, and therefor better tolerated by my head (strong smells or fumes often trigger my chronic migraines), my son and dogs don't seem bothered by it the way they all would be if I was using a regular one for household repairs.

For the record - Yes, I do work with plenty of ventilation and other necessary precautions in case of off-gassing. It's more that my son is just overly sensitive to certain sensory information and strong smells are one of them.
 
  • Moderator
ryanr
Moderator
Member
For Krylon (having never used it), my understanding is that, when submerged, it can start to peel/flake off, and need to be re-applied. Particularly in Saltwater setups.

Probably has to do with flow and minerals in the water, combined with heat, that eventually wear away the paint.
 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
ryanr said:
For Krylon (having never used it), my understanding is that, when submerged, it can start to peel/flake off, and need to be re-applied. Particularly in Saltwater setups.

Probably has to do with flow and minerals in the water, combined with heat, that eventually wear away the paint.
Does this apply to Krylon Clear Kote too? Can anyone chime in on this? I have seen a number of posts along the lines of "what can I dip my decor in, or spray it with to make it aquarium safe?" in reference to something they aren't sure if it will be (myself included in this early on) It seems to me that if the Krylon Clear Kote is able to stay put, even if the colors eventually chip or peel, that would fit the bill perfectly. If not, can someone recommend some other materials that can be used in that capacity?
 
Danjamesdixon
Member
You got a debate now Plecomaker

It's a shame Krylon won't put in the time and resources to find out whether Krylon is actually safe for aquariums themselves, but I guess it's just not in their best interests.
 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
Danjamesdixon said:
You got a debate now Plecomaker

It's a shame Krylon won't put in the time and resources to find out whether Krylon is actually safe for aquariums themselves, but I guess it's just not in their best interests.
I would think it would be since they seem to have a corner on the market. I would happily buy an equivalent clear coats that was specifically made for aquariums if they or others put one out. I would use it to coat something I wasn't 100% sure of or even a few of our decor pieces are a little rough around the edges because of the manufacturers attempts at texturing. It seems like a clear coat that could either be sprayed on or painted on would give everything a smooth finish while still keeping the look of the texturing without risking tearing fins of more delicate fish. In theory, if it was also strong enough once hardened to slow the process of colors fading or chipping off existing decor (like all those stereotypical pirate ships, fake reef pieces and treasure chest bubblers my son keeps asking to put in his tanks and I keep refusing because they perpetually chip or fade then would need to be replaced) then a can of that paint would be like the Holy Grail of DIY product to aquarists like me.
 
Tazalyn Silvercat Roberts
Member
*following*
 
Flowingfins
Member
Sea shells from the beach( will raise PH and GH over time, also be sure to clean very well)
Pillow stuffing to use as filter media.


 
EricV
Member
Same as with limestone earlier. Seashells aren't inert and will raise ph/GH over time.
 
Plecomaker
Member
Inert doesn't mean unsafe necesarily though.
 
EricV
Member
No it doesn't but if we're going to go through the trouble of listing things that can be used in an aquarium there should be some mention as to what using them will actually do.
 
Plecomaker
Member
EricV said:
No it doesn't but if we're going to go through the trouble of listing things that can be used in an aquarium there should be some mention as to what using them will actually do.
Agree. Maybe we need a list with a few words after special items, like shells and leaves

Though with shells we should also mention cleaning is extra important as parasites or parts of the fomer resident could still be attatched.
 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
Flowingfins said:
Sea shells from the beach
Pillow stuffing to use as filter media.
EricV said:
Same as with limestone earlier. Seashells aren't inert and will raise ph/GH over time.
Plecomaker said:
Inert doesn't mean unsafe necesarily though.
EricV said:
No it doesn't but if we're going to go through the trouble of listing things that can be used in an aquarium there should be some mention as to what using them will actually do.
Plecomaker said:
Agree. Maybe we need a list with a few words after special items, like shells and leaves
Plecomaker said:
Though with shells we should also mention cleaning is extra important as parasites or parts of the fomer resident could still be attatched.
I had intended when setting out to do this to include something to the affect of any special treatment certain materials require such as requiring extra thorough cleaning before using, what effects they will have for materials that are not inert, etc. when I type the whole thing up at the end of this. Obviously, that write up will also include giving credit where credit is due to everyone contributing here.
 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
Can anyone relate the method they use to make the custom backgrounds? Specifically: what styrofoam can be used safely? What materials to coat it with? What can be used to paint it?
 
CliCliW
Member
Check out the king of diy on YouTube, he discusses custom 3d backgrounds

Link:

 
Flowingfins
Member
EricV said:
Same as with limestone earlier. Seashells aren't inert and will raise ph/GH over time.
I'm editing my previous posts now to include this. Sorry I forgot.


 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
I know it's been quite awhile, and I'm sorry. I had some things come up that require 110% of my attention and then some, so to speak.

So we've been over concrete mixes and similar for DIY backgrounds, wood, stone, paint, epoxy, resin...

What about clays? Does anyone know of any types/brands of terra cotta or other types of clay that are aquarium safe if someone wanted to model their own items? Any FYI or even warning labels you feel should go along with use of these in a tank?
 
Plecomaker
Member
Alot of people use pottery clay as part of the soil for dirted tanks. The sealant on ceramics is the most dangerous part.
 
  • Thread Starter
waterlilykari
Member
Plecomaker said:
Alot of people use pottery clay as part of the soil for dirted tanks. The sealant on ceramics is the most dangerous part.
Pottery clay as in the type that would have to be baked/fired in a kiln or the type that just has to be allowed to air-dry? When you refer to sealant, do you also mean the glazes/paints usually used on certain types? If so, I will include a warning not to paint, glaze, or seal it.

How is that done with the clay for dirted tank? Just mix it into the soil and add, then (carefully so as not to churn it up!) fill the tank?

I have heard both Terra Cotta clay and Fimo can be used for people who want to make their own decor. Does anyone else know if this is true? I know terra cotta pots are said to be aquarium safe so logically, I would expect the clay to be safe as well. Can anyone chime in with experience?
 
Plecomaker
Member
Clay is often added as wet balls in the soil to provide plant minerals, firing wouldnt make much difference.
The paint and other sealants sometimes contain lead. That's why itCAN be dangerous, butdepends on thhe individual piece.
 
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