Cleaning natural rocks? + New 55 gallon owner, help?
I just got my first aquarium, a 55 gallon. It's still empty. I'm planning for a natural look - rocks, driftwood, realistic fake plants.
---I want to put rocks I've found in nature into the tank. I've searched the internet for a few days and I haven't found definitive answers to my personal questions. I've collected some Pillow Lava and some Sandstone. Are these 2 rocks safe?
I've been soaking them in water, scrubbing them with potato brush (thinking about getting a brittle brass brush and some sandpaper), rinsing, soaking in 1/50 bleach water and repeating the process etc. To the point the water is no longer stained.
The Sandstone is from a riverside, it's all rounded which I read is good because it's not cemented with Limstone or another substance. How do I know for sure that it is safe? I did the white vinegar test and there were no bubbles.
The Pillow Lava is from an outcrop on a mountain top. I read that Lava is safe, although I have found no mention of Pillow Lava and Aquariums on the entire internet. (The pieces I got are a beautiful blue when wet, and I think it's a very fitting rock for the aquarium, as it is created when hot lava cools in water, from flow or underwater volcano). Is it safe generally? It's not 100% blue, there are a minimal amount of thin brown rusty lines or thin patches in the grooves or the faces of some of the rocks. I wonder if that is a different stone, or if it is discoloration from some effect? What does that mean? Can I still use it? Obviously, I really want to use this rock, I think it's gorgeous. I don't know if it would help if I posted pics, or I could email high resolution pics to you if you could help me.
I'm also thinking about buying some Slate slabs, (like the kind people make sidewalks out of in their yards, laid with sand or concrete between the slabs, you know what I am talking about right?), the completely irregular ones where each one is different length, width, but relatively same height, and possibly cutting them into shapes or breaking them into smaller pieces and filing them. How about Slate? Is that generally safe? I'd prefer Shale, but it's hard to find around here. I would use the slabs as a base for the other rock piles so the rock formations I would build could reach higher in the tank. I'd like to the peaks to be at least 14" in an 18" high tank.
I know little to nothing about rocks, and I am an aquarium Beginner, so if there are any Geologists out there, or people with knowledge about aquarium rocks personally gathered from nature, I would love you forever if you could help me out a little bit.
---As for the fish, I am going to start out with peaceful. I figure that would be the easist for a newbie. 2 Plecos. I like Black or Black and White Mollies. I was thinking several species of Gouramis. Peaceful Cichlids, and some Loaches, probably Clown Loaches. Then maybe some exspensive Danios. Maybe eventually a ghost fish or something.
---Water treatment? Do I Need to put chemicals in the water? I'm thinking on putting some Chlorine remover stuff. I also read 95% of freshwater fish can live in 95% of water, and that many chemicals are unnecessary.
Sorry for all this blabbering, I am just a new and excited aquascaper, thank you for reading, I'm desperate for as much information I can get. cheers!
thanks for helping