Rock Wool

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Isn’t it a pain picking this stuff out from the roots of plants! I just received a couple of Anubias and it’s taken me 20 minutes to pick all the bits out with tweezers. :(
 
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I’ve got a fairly stiff open brush about the size of a toothbrush I use with running water for the final cleaning. I just wish they could use something else in the pots! :)
 

jaypeecee

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Hi Folks,

I presume it poses a risk to the tank inhabitants if small bits of Rock Wool are left in the tank? Or, is there another reason for thoroughly removing even the tiniest pieces of this stuff? It's not something I ever even thought about. Looks like I've overlooked this one. I'm pleased that this topic has been highlighted.

JPC :)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I presume it poses a risk to the tank inhabitants if small bits of Rock Wool are left in the tank?
I think it is mainly just to do with aesthetics. The rock wool itself is just basalt that has been <"melted and then spun like candy-floss">, so it is pretty inert.

That is why growers like it, it has good air and water holding characteristics and just acts as a physical support. You can think of it a bit like RO water, a blank slate to do what you like with.

The dust from the fibres pose a health risk when its dry, but that is because of their size, rather than any intrinsic toxicity.

cheers Darrel
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @dw1305
I think it is mainly just to do with aesthetics. The rock wool itself is just basalt that has been <"melted and then spun like candy-floss">, so it is pretty inert.
I'm just curious. And I would not want to cause any unnecessary concern. Rock wool may be chemically inert but what happens if tiny strands are ingested by fish? Does it get expelled from their digestive system? It's a rhetorical question here and now. But, I do know someone who is an ichthyologist so I'll put the question to her.

JPC
 

zozo

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Hi @dw1305


I'm just curious. And I would not want to cause any unnecessary concern. Rock wool may be chemically inert but what happens if tiny strands are ingested by fish? Does it get expelled from their digestive system? It's a rhetorical question here and now. But, I do know someone who is an ichthyologist so I'll put the question to her.

JPC
I guess yes it does, it can not be digested it's rock... There are even quite some reports of fish caught with rocks in their stomach. For example Trout, then you would think why would a carnivorous predator have this in its stomach? It is either Gastrolith, helping with digestion as we know from some animals doing this, such as lot of birds or in case of fisch it's simply gluttony while foraging on insect larvae that attach to rocks and then swallow all at once. :)

As Darrel - @dw1305 stated if dry it can pose a health risk if you breathe in the fibres and they can cause throat or long infection. If it lands on your skin, it can dig in (as a microscopic tiny splinter) and scratch and itch and cause irritation and a rash. But for healthy people, this is only short term, such a tiny foreign body is quickly rejected by our immune system. I guess for a healthy fish goes the same, their immune system can deal with it.

As Paulo - @LondonDragon says, you can easily rinse it off under the tap and flush it all off.
 

sparkyweasel

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but what happens if tiny strands are ingested by fish?
I've also heard it said that the fibres can get into their gills and cause irritation. Haven't seen any actual evidence for that, or ingestion, causing problems, just the suggestion that it might. Perhaps you could ask your friend about the gills too.
 

alto

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I've also heard it said that the fibres can get into their gills and cause irritation. Haven't seen any actual evidence for that, or ingestion, causing problems, just the suggestion that it might. Perhaps you could ask your friend about the gills too.
I heard as well but wasn’t really too bothered until I lost an altum angel to rock wool fibres well entrenched into gill tissue (this was likely the same stoopid altum that tried to swallow a large (fat) Otocinclus which then got stuck around the raised dorsal fin ... fortunately the altum was still able to breathe and after a couple days swimming about looking the fool, the Otocinclus “softened” enough to release) ... there wasn’t a lot of rock wool in the tank so it took some effort or (bad) luck
 

Simon Cole

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Wow - those altums look sick. What a pity you lost one.
It's good to see though that the majority of companies are moving away from the idea of potted plants and all that plastic rubbish. I think that they need to have a long hard chat with the heroes down at Greenpeace about the ethical consequences of using plastic and high-energy packings. I boycott them,
 

jaypeecee

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Hi Folks,

The feedback that I got from my friend was useful. She agreed that there was a potential risk of fish being harmed by rock wool - both to the gills and from ingestion through the mouth. She pointed out that if the fibres have sharp edges, they could cause haemorrhaging particularly from the gut.

This extract from Wikipedia is interesting:

"Stone wool is a furnace product of molten rock at a temperature of about 1600 °C through which a stream of air or steam is blown. More advanced production techniques are based on spinning molten rock in high-speed spinning heads somewhat like the process used to produce cotton candy. The final product is a mass of fine, intertwined fibres with a typical diameter of 2 to 6 micrometers."

With fibres being a minuscule 2 to 6 micrometres in diameter, I doubt that we'd be able to even see them anywhere in an aquarium at that size. These dimensions are not dissimilar to those of the bacteria we may find in our tanks. And, it's anybody's guess as to whether or not the rock wool particles/strands would be removed by the filtration media.

I think the post above by @alto says it all.

I guess one alternative to rock wool might be to purchase plants grown in gel?

JPC
 

sparkyweasel

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I heard as well but wasn’t really too bothered until I lost an altum angel to rock wool fibres well entrenched into gill tissue (this was likely the same stoopid altum that tried to swallow a large (fat) Otocinclus which then got stuck around the raised dorsal fin ... fortunately the altum was still able to breathe and after a couple days swimming about looking the fool, the Otocinclus “softened” enough to release) ... there wasn’t a lot of rock wool in the tank so it took some effort or (bad) luck
Thanks for sharing that. Now we know it definitely can happen and isn't just scaremongering.
 

alto

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Thanks for sharing that. Now we know it definitely can happen and isn't just scaremongering.
Thanks
A lot of self blame went into that death

(you hear about bizarre stuff but think What are the chances :rolleyes: ...
I also experienced the “deadly gases released from substrate and KILL all your fish (very quickly)” instance, and the “Deadly Tap Water” TWICE in my fishkeeping career (different countries so maybe then it doesn’t count as a “lightening striking twice, same place” scenario))

PS I do NOT buy lottery tickets
 
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It’s good to know that I haven’t been wasting my time trying to remove as much of the stuff as possible from my plant roots!
 

sparkyweasel

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A lot of self blame went into that death
That's human nature, but you couldn't have forseen it.
Your altum/oto incident reminds me of a bichir I had, that tried to eat an Apollo Shark, that was actually bigger than the stupid bichir. It managed to open its jaws wide enough to get the shark's pointed snout in, then got stuck. Must have sneaked up on it in the dark. Both were dead when I found them in the morning. :(
 
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