Where to get materials to make Aquarium Caves?

  • #1
How does one find materials for caves (rocks,shale,etc) I have found just a few in my town..Also if one was to use rocks that were found...What kind of preparation would be necessary to add to Tanks.

Chipster...Steelerfan (sad one today)
  • #2
HI Chipster,

Just recently, another Fish Lore member has asked similar questions to yours. I think the answers in this thread should help you:
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thank-you very much Isabella.......
  • #4
I bought flat rocks from one of those places that supplies rock to construction companys when they build a house. He let us pick out the ones we wanted and only charges us .20 per pound. this is what I did for my 55G. I think there is a picture of it in my gallery. this is what it looks like now.
Left side and right side
  • #5
That is very nice looking. That is a great idea to go to a rock supplier to get teh rocks to make teh cave. Did you use tank aproved silicone to glue them together.
  • #6
It looks beautiful Carol. This is a great idea for getting rocks too Is it slate?

P.S. I think "petrified wood" also looks nice in a tank - it's a very cheap rock (not wood) that can be found at many local fish stores. Well, actually, it's a fossilized wood - or so I've heard on Plant Geek. Anyways, whatever it is, it looks nice to me. Mostly because it's a rock yet it has nice coloration similar to driftwood. Very practical piece of decoration.
  • #7
Isabella not slate but not sure what it is(didn't fizz with acid test).
Tumbleweed- yes aquarium safe silicone was used.
  • #8
Thanks Carol.
  • #9
I bought flat rocks from one of those places that supplies rock to construction companys when they build a house. He let us pick out the ones we wanted and only charges us .20 per pound. this is what I did for my 55G. I think there is a picture of it in my gallery. this is what it looks like now.
Left side and right side
Your aquarium is like..like..awesome!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Those rocks look great...Thanks for suggestion..
fish dude1
  • #11
Hi,I want to add another cave into my tank but don't want to spend a fortune.
Has any-one out there any ideas diy or cheap ready made ones as my lfs charges a fortune,I would prefer natrual substance but would consider all options.
  • #12
I've used branches from real trees, driftwood, stacked rocks (gotta be careful with those and I use flat rocks), terra cotta pots.
  • #13
Yeah just find you some slate rock. They are easily found on strip sites or things like that. I dry stack mine and I have a ton that I am not using just from picking them up here and there. I try to have all natural items in my tank. But slate is good to stack and smaller fat ones make for your cave supports. You can just make it your own canvas really and have fun with it. If you have any bodies of water near you IE lakes, creeks, ponds, ocean... a short walk around those type places will yield lots of goodies for your tank.

Lynda this is worth a rp up so come on lol....
fish dude1
  • #14
So thinking about it pretty much any-thimg you find in nature you can add to your tank?
Do you steralize in any way?
  • #15
Possibly the worst advice ever given reefdweller. You don't mention which items you'd have to avoid on a beach for a Freshwater tank, how to check items found near bodies of water for contamination, etc. Sorry, no rep up for you today.

My branches come from my backyard so I "know where they've been".

fishdude, you'd have to sterilize, definitely. Here's an article on how to make rocks aquarium safe and which ones to avoid:

As for wood, you don't want to use any wood that contains sap. They say not to use soft wood, but you can, you just need to replace it more often as it disintegrates. Hard woods are best. You must use dry wood. In other words, don't cut a branch off a tree and place it in your tank. Brush off any goobers and soak the piece. I use a large outside storage container to do this. I literally leave the wood there for weeks. It leaches out any tannins and any bugs that might be inside the wood.
  • #16
For natural caves, you can't beat coconut shells. Cut em in two, scrape out the meat, boil em to remove the tannins, and cut whatever sort of opening you want. My shrimp love grooming the husk for food.

To go even further, a lot of easy plants will readily root on the husk, like mosses and Java ferns. I think Anubias would do it too, just haven't tried it. In no time you'll have a completely natural cave that looks like a grassy hillock in your tank.
fish dude1
  • #17
Thanks it's clear now
fish dude1
  • #18
Do you scrape the hairs off the outside aswell ?

Boy this coconut hard to scrape out !!!
  • #19
Flathead screwdriver worked best for me. The meat has a skin which will separate cleanly from the husk.
fish dude1
  • #20
Great tip !! thank- you, here it is

coconut 004.jpg
I went straight to asda and got two!!
How long do you boil for?
  • #21
Hey, nice work! I think 2x 20 min worked for me on the boil.
fish dude1
  • #22
Thanks just got to get some growth on them now
  • #23
All I can think of is Spongebob Squarepants now..... thanks a lot! I know he lives in a pineapple, but still.....
  • #24
I think it's funny no one mentioned PVC pipe lol! Glad to see the coconut shells are working. They look great!
fish dude1
  • #25
Pipe sounds good but the colour's are abit naf in this country!
  • #26
I feel like I should know what "naf" means... lol! You can always paint the pipes and seal with silicone If you need more caves in the future.
  • #27
If you spread silicone on it you could roll it in whatever substrate you use and it would blend in.
  • #28
So ive got my tank relatively set up, still no fish because my pickyness is epic...

So caves? Most of the fish I'm deciding between like hidey holes. So id like to build my own. I don't want driftwood, or pvc (unless I can hide it). My tank is only a 20 because I am and idiot and didn't go for the 30. Ive been googling s of already set up tanks for ideas, but I'm still a bit lost.

What do you have? I see slate is popular but I did see someone who did roundish rocks piled up. I want something natural looking, but I also don't want to spend an arm and a leg. So suggestions?
  • #29
Get some pvc and hot glue/superglue some of your aquarium gravel to the outside of it. It will help weigh it down, and hide the plain pvc. I used some leftover needlepoint plastic to form a cave for one of my bettas.
  • #30
Needlepoint plastic? So if I used that, could I grow moss on it? That would be really neat looking I think...
  • #31
Yeah, you could thread the moss through it or use fishline to tie it on. It's a bit tough to work with when making a cave, because of how flexible it is, but if you find a way to hold it still, it will hold the shape once your done. It's fairly cheap to pick up a pack of 6 sheets of plastic at walmart. I think I paid maybe three bucks.
  • #32
Check out the information in the link above concerning caves.

  • #33
Get some pvc and hot glue/superglue some of your aquarium gravel to the outside of it. It will help weigh it down, and hide the plain pvc. I used some leftover needlepoint plastic to form a cave for one of my bettas.

wont the hot glue/superglue leach chemicals into the tank and possibly hurt the fish? I Have done the tunnels with the pvc before but used aquarium safe silicone (will see if I still have a picture of it.), just recently got some 2 inch tumbled marble tile that I wanted to make minI caves for babies to hide out, I got Holdfast Gray Epoxy Reef Aquarium Rock/Coral Adhesive to put them together. have not done it yet still cleaning the glue stuff off of the pieces.
  • #34
I have added caves into 3d backgrounds using greatstuff spray foam coated with drylok and colored with quickcrete concrete dye. You could make a piece of PVC look like a rock and set it where ever you want it. You might have to weight it down somehow. Not sure if it would float. I guess if you buried it half way into the substrate it would be OK.


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  • #35
My boyfriend made a cave for his crayfish just by piling some rocks (takes from a local river) but next time, he is going to seal it with a hot glue gun (I don't know if you call it that) basically melted plastic which releases no chemicals as far as I know. just piling rocks up gives a really natural look and lots of big and small hiding places for them, I'm not particularly keen on wooden of plastic ones because of how unnatural is but it's up to you

Heres the cave, it's a rubbish picture but it's what he took:

theos cave.jpg

theos cave.jpg

  • #36
The great stuff foam is that like pond foam? That might be cool. I know its used to build up rocks in ponds so I assume it would work for an aqaurium as well. Hmmmm... I love crafts so this should be fun. :-D

I was given a bubbler "water fall" yesterday by my friend, he said the tank was boring. Stupid thing is huge. I'm going to use it for a while then swap it out after hes lost interest in the tank. (Hes spacey lol) maybe it will break....

Ok. Now I'm out of research mode I can move into design mode lol. To the hardware store!!!
  • #37
They make a pond foam that is black. I just use the regular stuff. Once its dried and coated its fine. I have had it in tanks for yrs. With no ill effects.
  • #38
Why don't you use oceon rocks and pile them up? That's what ive done for my african tank as they love caves and hiding spots, beware though as oceon rock naturally raises your water hardness, ph level, but the rock is amazing, check it out
  • #39
Actually that wouldn't be too bad, I have soft, low ph water lol. But of course, I ordered some things before reading that post. Sigh. Well I got some black polished river rock, and some bright blue as well ( I'm thinking mostly black with a hint of blue here and there. Maybe also in the back of the cave, make it easier to see inside. Then I also had another idea... I'm a bit crafty so my imagination does run away from me... I'm wondering if anyone knows if this would work...

So I was going to do 2 ground caves in the corner of the tank, build the rocks up the side a bit, and make an arch against the glass. If I put needlepoint mesh against the back of the arch (across the open spots) would I be able to grow moss on it??
  • #40
Has anyone tried attaching mesh to diy rock caves? See I was thinking (never good) what if when I make the rock caves, if I add small sections of mesh in the crevices. Will moss grow on them? Or will it just end up looking like a homemade rock cave with badly placed mesh?

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