Fish tanks and presence of rocks inside themEvery aquarium is a unique ecosystem and you will probably spend long months until you find two relatively similar fish tanks. No matter that there are too many hobbyists who keep fish as their pets, no matter that they use same water-pipe, no matter that they buy same products for improving water chemistry. Generally speaking, there are probably differences between two tanks which could be even located in same room. This difference sits in used decorations, which are of natural origin. This fact means that plastic decorations don't affect tank chemistry at all. The only case when we could speak about potential effect is presence of poison in such decoration. However, this article isn't about dangerous products.
When we eliminate plastic decorations, we will get following items which affect water conditions: plants, gravel, filter, lighting system, shells, and rocks. Going through previously mentioned items one-by-one, we can eliminate plants because they heavily depend on final water quality and their effect can't harm fish. Moreover, they produce oxygen, so that there's no dispute about plants. More plants equal more happiness. Gravel and filter are items which can't be changed very easily. Since gravel lies at the bottom of every tank, you should decide for proper solution before you buy fish. Filters are required in almost every tank and better quality they offer, more money they cost. Both, filters and gravel help water to be stable. Lighting is important for plants the most. It is not required by all fish species, however you shouldn't underrate this equipment. Light is necessary for fish as well as for humans and other living beings. Next item on our list are shells. Shells could be great source of minerals and salt I must say! Because there is no source of minerals in the fish tank, you must add it there somehow. And sea shells are usable in freshwater aquariums as well as salt-water tanks. Reader could ask me if it's wise to use shells from sea in freshwater environment, but I wouldn't discuss on this subject right now. It's proven fact that minerals are important for fish and plants. All in all, fish are not immune against diseases without minerals. Discus and cichlids usually have the hole-in-head disease, all species suffer from skelet diseases. Additionally, minerals cause higher values of water hardness and diseases reproduce with difficulties in hard water.
The last item in our list are rocks and let's focus on their advantages and disadvantages. Let's start with potential problems because you should get accurate information. Any “normal” rock is larger than small rock which can be found in gravel. Let's say we are talking about rocks with dimensions 5x5x5 cm at least. As you may feel, such rock might be relatively heavy and it might break the aquarium glass if it's not placed properly. Because of this reason, avoid standalone rocks. Every aquarium rock must be situated in way they will not fall down. Be careful when keeping large cichlids especially; They may throw rocks in any direction any time! Second potential danger is presence of harmful minerals. Let's take Calcium for instance. Rocks with too much calcium are not suitable for betta, discus, gourami tanks, but they are suitable for tanks with African cichlids.
In my experience there is no other possible danger, so let's talk about advantages. Benefits of rocks include: great source of minerals, irrecoverable hiding places for fry especially, natural temperature control, and terrific-looking decoration as well. As mentioned above, rocks contain minerals as well as shells do. However, sea shells may decompose as time goes by because of acidic elements influence. This does not apply to rocks which are larger and stronger than shells. In addition, newly born fish can hide inside scenery made of rocks. This is very important since home-kept fish are known to eat their children. Usually, there is a lot of small algae growing on the aquarium rocks, so fry will have unlimited source of food as well.
Rocks are genuine natural decoration and no plastic rock or cave will offer you such effect. And the last benefit is natural temperature controller. Man could forget about this aspect, but it is very important during months when the outside temperature varies too much. Rocks are characterized by long temperature persistence which guarantees minimal differences during temperatures changes.
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About The Author: Jan Hvizdak, the author of this article published many fish related articles on his web site. You're welcomed to read about aquarium lighting and aquarium background as well.