View Full Version : Bricks in an aquarium?

fish addict
03-22-2005, 12:42 PM
I have seen many random things used to decorate aquariums and was wondering if bricks would be harmful for a tank? It seems that they would offer good caves for small fish. I have an african cichilid tank, and was wondering if bricks would be OK in it. Anybody know about brick makeup?

03-22-2005, 12:54 PM
Bricks are highly variable in regards to contents. A multitude of dyes and other things are used to create different colors, textures, and shapes. Clay and silica sand are components most of them have and should be safe. If the bricks have some coloring or chalky surface I'd be careful.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

03-22-2005, 1:17 PM
Ooooo I would be very careful with bricks. You speak of caves, so I am assuming you mean those kinds of bricks with the little holes in them. Some kinds of bricks are very porous and will absorb anything they come in contact with. That's why you see some old houses with old red terra cotta brick that age & elements has caused to flake off big chunks of themselves like shale. The moisture in them freezing and thawing has caused them to crumble over the years.

So unless the bricks are brand new, you won't know what has been on them or soaked into them. Or what they might have been cleaned with, or treated/sealed with, or cemented with. You wouldn't want to have portland cement in your tank, as it would raise heck with your PH and hardness, if not be completley toxic. And even if the bricks are brand new, you don't know whats on them, or been splashed on them at the store/warehouse (like herbicides or other nasties from the garden department), nor what ingredients or residues might be left over from the manufacturing processes that would be harmful - like lead, which I think is still used in architectural cermaics.

HOWEVER....we aquarium nuts being the creative persistent obsessive types that we are :D...you might be able to wash the brick(s) somehow. I would only do this with some new ones, however. Perhaps soak them in a bucket of fresh RO water. Or maybe boil them...not sure really. Or use vinegar or something natural like that. You obviously can't use soap and water. I'm not sure what would be appropriate and safe.

After they have been cleaned, soak them in a bucket of fresh water. Test the water for PH, GH, and KH before and after and see how they come out. Then if they test out ok, leave them in for a while and put in a couple quinea pigs like some goldfish to see how they fare. Then maybe a neon tetra or two - those would be a good test because they are so fussy. I wouldn't leave them in till they get sick, though, so I would keep an eye on them.

Oh, and here is another thought I just had. My father has a lake-front house on Lake Erie near Buffalo, and I grew up walking and playing on the beach. I can tell you there are always bricks washing up on the beach, or popping out of the sand after a storm, or being deposited by ice bergs after the winter. There are all different kinds of shapes and sizes, right up to complete cinder blocks. I would feel MUCH safer putting one of these bricks in my tank because they have been tossed, washed, ground, and scrubbed by sand, surf, and sun for who knows how many years in natural clean water. So if you live near any of the Great Lakes, or an ocean, go to the beach and look for some bricks there instead of buying them. Not only are they free, but you'll have a nice day at the beach too... :cool:

fish addict
03-22-2005, 1:30 PM
Thanks for your suggestions and insight. Don't think that I will pursue my brick concept, but I do live at the beach and will keep my eyes open for any wash ups!

03-22-2005, 1:31 PM
i would say that using new bricks would have the same risk as using new clay pots as decorations. very little risk but i would boil them just in case

03-22-2005, 1:33 PM
My tanks caves are all built with bricks in my big tank. Then the outside was covered with cement to make rock walls.

03-23-2005, 7:41 PM
wow that sound like major gill damage

03-23-2005, 7:48 PM
wow that sound like major gill damage

What sounds like major gill damage?

03-23-2005, 7:50 PM
bricks,,,the have chemicals and stuff ..also the let a little sediment beleive me u dont want brick in your tank

03-23-2005, 7:56 PM
bricks,,,the have chemicals and stuff ..also the let a little sediment beleive me u dont want brick in your tank

LOL! Ok, I'll remove the hundreds of pounds of brick that has been in my 270 gallon tank for SEVERAL years... that same tank that I bred cichlids in for years... the same tank that now has discus happily swimming around... the same tank that I have had only a few sick fish in EVER.
Any other important info you can pass along regarding those poisonous, nasty bricks? :rolleyes:

03-23-2005, 7:59 PM
ok ok i guss its just time i guess but really ,,,tink about it ,,,its dA new century here and brick can got additives i mean am not saying that i wont use it but still il just TRY to avoid cus it look all industrial looking

03-23-2005, 8:40 PM
Bricks are made of clay or slate and are baked at 1200 degrees so I will take my chances with them over cement blocks. I promise you they're far cleaner than any natural stone or driftwood. As long as they pass the acid test they are good to go.

03-23-2005, 9:06 PM
Is there a way to seal the bricks, just to be on the safe side? Like an aquarium-safe epoxy or something?

03-23-2005, 9:09 PM
Also a lot of bricks are made like concrete and will raise your ph A LOT!!

Edit: I'm thinkin cynder blocks not house bricks.

But some vinegar on them and if it bubbles I wouldnt use it.

03-23-2005, 9:12 PM
That's why I said to use the acid test! ;)

03-23-2005, 9:45 PM
Bricks are made from natural materials, fired at high heat. Here's a link on how bricks are made (http://www.claybrick.com.au/talent.html) if you want to check it out :)
I see no problem using bricks in an aquarium. You can use cinder blocks and cement in a tank as well, providing they're soaked and go through multiple water changes until the pH settles down. Many people create cave-like backgrounds in their tanks for cichlids using polystyrene covered with cement - as long as you do things correctly, it's not at all dangerous to fish.

03-24-2005, 12:39 AM
Hmmm I just had a thought concerning terra cotta bricks. Ever notice what color they are...? Like red....specifically "rust red"....and in IRON oxide red... :-) Does anyone know if they use iron oxide to color red bricks? I wonder if they would add any iron to the water...?

03-24-2005, 5:19 AM
It's clay.

03-24-2005, 6:11 AM
Here's some good info on bricks:

click here (http://www.ratbehavior.org/petbrickfaq.htm)

03-25-2005, 12:39 AM
LOL. cute.

03-25-2005, 12:45 AM
Here's some good info on bricks:

click here (http://www.ratbehavior.org/petbrickfaq.htm)

OT - Racingjason, do you have any pics to share of your 270g tank? Sounds cool.

03-25-2005, 11:38 AM
OT - Racingjason, do you have any pics to share of your 270g tank? Sounds cool.

Yes I do. I posted them on here a few times before, it is hard to get a good picture showing the caves though. The caves are rarely used now, the tank was built for Malawi cichlids.

Let me look and see if I can find some good pics on my PC.

03-25-2005, 12:53 PM
cool can't wait to see the 270

I have clay pots in my tank. I've had clay bricks, concrete blocks/bricks( these do raise the ph), in tanks. I plan on having a DIY concrete background. All fish hae survived and thrived. Also if you want to be safe and have extra $ you can get a clear epoxy as long as its fish safe to seal the bricks.