SLATE, AQUARIUM SAFE NATURAL STONE.

These wonderful images of Angelfish with fry testify to the safety of slate in an aquarium. I especially enjoy the parts where the fry can be seen nibbling on the rough edges of the slate. I suspect that tiny algae plants, too small for us to see, are their target.

THIS IS PAGE TWO     Is all slate safe for aquariums?

PAGE ONE          Where to find slate for an aquarium.

PAGE THREE      Tools needed to make slotted slate aquarium decoration.

PAGE FOUR       The Methods, making a slate aquarium decor by slotting slate.

PAGE FIVE      The Designs. Some basic structures for building with slate in an aquarium.


Is all slate safe to use in aquariums?


"Slate killed my fish"....." Slate made my fish sick"..... Neither of those internet searches turned up a result to question the prevailing wisdom that slate is a safe stone to use in aquariums. That said, my experience in working with slate and other types of natural stone tells me some caution and a close inspection of the stone is a good idea. Some slate, especially slate that has been quarried from a deep quarry and quickly packaged for sale, will leach minerals into water. This leaching can be very obvious with pigments colouring the water, or it can be invisible. 


Stone that you find on a beach will have long since leached out it's soluble minerals. Stone that is freshly quarried or has been kept mainly dry since it was quarried should be soaked for several days. The water should be changed occasionally over the soaking period. This simple procedure will make most slate safe for fish. Another precaution is to check for some visible features of the slate that might indicate potential problems.


Avoid using slate that has a soft dusty surface. Scraping your fingernail across the stone should not leave a mark, unless it's some fingernail residue. There should not be any accumulation of stone dust under your nail.

Don't use slate with cavities or areas where the hard stone flakes away to expose dusty or crystal like surfaces. Cavities (most easily seen on sawn edges) are more likely to contain mineral concentrations. In particular, do not use slate that has sparkly gold or silver crystals. These may look pretty but are probably pyrites or galena. Minerals that contain lead which will harm fish.

Slate occurs in a whole range of colors, including some extravagantly multicoured versions. I have used some multicoloured slate in my aquariums without any sign of problems. I have also read suggestions that only solid one colour slate be used in a fish tank. This caution is probably unnecessary but is understandable since nobody wants to risk poisoning their fish.  Surface discoloration can be a result of minerals leaching from the stone and could be the cause of fear of colours. Multicoloured slate can contain more cavities than solid colour slate and is somewhat more risky from that point of view. I believe that colours that are truly in the stone do not present a problem while colours on the surface only are a warning sign.

Aquarium supply retailers can usually guarantee the fish safety of their stone. There are also on line suppliers who deliver guaranteed fish safe stone.


The other danger that is sometimes mentioned with regard to slate in an aquarium is the risk of fish being harmed by sharp edges. Certainly freshly broken slate can have very sharp edges. It can break sharp enough to easily cut a hand, so no doubt could also cut a fish. Fortunately the sharp edges on slate can be very easily dulled. Simply drag an old knife or similar metal tool along the sharp edges and they will very quickly become blunt.


PAGE ONE          Where to find slate for an aquarium.

THIS IS PAGE TWO     Is all slate safe for aquariums?

PAGE THREE      Tools needed to make slotted slate aquarium decoration.

PAGE FOUR       The Methods, making a slate aquarium decor by slotting slate.

PAGE FIVE      The Designs. Some basic structures for building with slate in an aquarium.

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