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FAQs About Goldfish Systems: Decor

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You want to keep the decor in goldfish systems simple... no sharp items, or ornaments, plastic plants they can get stuck in. Leave space all around the inside perimeter for their sauntering...

Safe gardens for Goldies   3/26/10
Thank you in advance for your help. Hopefully! I just finished reading the page on DIY decorations.
I need help badly. I have been researching but getting mixed messages.
Very confusing out there!
I want to start a small business doing freshwater gardens mainly for goldfish.
I was a landscape designer in my past life
<And I a waterscape contractor>
and as I was searching for plants I thought of this idea. To put a full garden together so people just have to place that one piece in the aquarium. It would have a mixture of plants in it already. I will be using aquarium safe silk plants. ( I had originally spent $80.00 on silk plants from Michael's but could not get definitive information if they were aquarium safe so I am not using them.
<As far as I'm aware they are safe. There may be some brand/makes that are not... Particularly I'd be leery of any that have encased metal stems>
I stared out using Terra Cotta coasters as my base. I ordered silk plants and cut the original base off of the silk plants. When trying to attach the thin silk plant stem to the Terra Cotta base with silicon it took too long for the silicone to set so the plant flopped over.
<Try a "hot glue gun" here>
Then I tried cutting up plastic tubing, attaching, the tubing to the Terra Cotta base and then filling the tubing with silicon and then putting the stem of the plastic plant inside. Too time consuming and restricted the aesthetic look. So then I tried attaching the stem of the plant with a glue gun
first and putting the silicon over the "glue gun" glue after it dried. That worked well, however, I read where that was not a good idea because it could leach toxins into the water.
<I think you are very safe here>
I called the manufactures of glue sticks and they told me to use a 236-110 glue stick and it would work in an aquarium situation. I just need a dab to secure the plant quickly to the Terra Cotta.
Is that a safe application?
Would I still need to cover the "glue-stick"
glue with silicon?
<Likely not... unnecessary and takes a day to cure>
Will that application be secure enough so the plant does not detach?
The other idea was sculpting the base with Sculpey instead of the Terra Cotta coaster???
<Mmm... is safe to use>
That way I could make the holes deeper, have more shapes to use other than the round coaster. I could sculpt a kidney shape base and so one. Maybe I could poke the holes into the Sculpey form prior to baking and then insert the silk plant stems in them once it was dry. and secure with silicon or ?????
<The glue gun>
What would be the best Sculpting clay to use?
<Sculpey, or other similar polymer clay>
I have been trying all kinds of applications but have not come up with something easy and fast that I can still get creative with. I also tried drilling holes in the Terra Cotta and using silicon to secure.
<I would not use Silicone/Silastic... too messy, takes to long to set up and cure>
Still this is problematic because the stem of the silk plant does not stay secure and in place while the silicon dries and I have to drill.
Any ideas, would be soooooo appreciated. I am frustrated but determined to make this work!!!!! Gardens for Goldies' trudges on!
Laura Tierney
<Congratulations on your new enterprise! Bob Fenner>
Re: Safe gardens for Goldies   3/27/10
Thank you Bob. Wow that was fast!!! I am so wanting to get started doing this. Can I ask you if any hot glue will do or should I get the industrial strength glue as the company suggested?
<I would get the industrial strength. Our olde company was amongst the first to sell "painted wooden fish", from Indonesia and the Philippines...
We bought broken coral pieces from a friend's business and mounted these and a nice tasseled descriptive tag... With hot glue...>
Also just to clarify, the silk plants I got from Michaels should be okay?
<I do think so. I have seen such employed in freshwater systems on several occasions>
They are just greenery and I took all metal and traces of glue out of them. I have a fern like plant that did turn
the water a little green when I soaked it in alcohol. I don't know why I did that but I had a moment and thought it may bring something bad out of the plant. Good thing I am not a frustrated doctor.
Thank you again for all your help. Very much appreciated. I can sleep now until my next dilemma. Take care
Laura Tierney
<And you my creative friend. BobF>

Re: Safe gardens for Goldies  3/28/10
Many, many thanks to you. I have finally reached a level of serenity. For the time being. LOL Have a great day.
Laura Tierney
<And you. BobF>

Freshwater Decor ? Goldfish sys.   3/12/08 Hello... Would a product made of alabastrite (not painted) be safe for a goldfish tank? And would a concrete type statue be safe with enough water circulation and oxygen? Lisa <No, none of these things is acceptable. Unless an ornament or material is explicitly sold as aquarium safe, don't assume that they are. Concrete for example contains lime, and that can raise the pH of the aquarium very quickly. You can get coatings that prevent this, allowing its use in ponds for example, but why bother? The variety of aquarium-safe rocks and ornaments is huge and wide ranging in price as well, so there's really no reason not to use them. Granite and slate can be bought from garden centres and used to create all manner of "terrain" inside the tank, and there's also bogwood, ceramic ornaments, terracotta, etc. Anything pond-safe should be aquarium safe. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Freshwater Decor ?  3/12/08 Thanks again Neale...... I asked about ceramics before and see that you mentioned that they would be safe as well but I'm getting so much different feedback from others. Some say ceramics are not safe unless they are marked "dinnerware" safe. <Ah, you misunderstand. When I say "ceramic ornaments" I mean the stuff sold in pet stores for fish tanks. Ceramic mangrove roots, castles, and the like.> Well, no statues or things of that nature would be marked dinnerware safe. Someone suggested buying "bisque" ceramics and then painting it ......but where would I find the right type of paint for inside the aquarium. <Wouldn't bother. Running an aquarium is difficult enough sometimes without adding unknown variables.> And some have said that ceramic can be glazed but needs to be fired a certain temp to make it "safe". I know I'm being anal here but I have yet to find one single aquarium decoration that I really like. <Hmm... I tend to go with what I know -- granite, slate and other stones sold as pond safe. Cheap, easy to obtain, safe. I don't really care much for ceramic castles and temples and shipwrecks, but I know some people like them. To be honest, Goldfish couldn't care less about ornaments save plastic plants, which they like for the shade. So why not go for a "jungle" style with thickets of plastic plants surrounding an open area for swimming? Bamboo is another great material, especially the super-thick stuff, for creating "oriental" scenes. The downside to bamboo is it rots and needs replacing every couple of years. But it is so cheap, who cares?> I'd be willing to buy someone from another country even if it was what I was looking for....don't mind shipping it in for the right product. Lisa <Some books on aquarium decor out there... 'The Inspired Aquarium', 'Aquarium Design', 'Aquarium Displays Inspired by Nature ', 'The Complete Aquarium' and others. Track down, consult. I happen to like 'The Complete Aquarium' a lot, and on Amazon.com it goes for about a buck second hand. Do also visit a garden centre and see what they have for decorating ponds and rockeries. Factor in the use of submersible lights and airstones -- these make dramatic additions, and will turn something humdrum into sheer magic if used right. Cheers, Neale.>

Fancy Goldfish and empty shells or corals Dear Bob, <Jean> I am going to set up a freshwater tank (80-gallon size). I want to have Fancy Goldfish in it. Some people say that it is not good to put empty shells or corals in the tank for Goldfish, for it is difficult to keep the water balanced for the fish. <In general, yes... the shells may make the water too hard and alkaline (though Goldfish do like water that is moderately so), and that the shells/decor are too sharp, likely to cut the clumsy goldfish> I have a real pretty coral (only the bone, not a live one) and three pretty empty shells. Will they really going to do harm to the water for my fish? <Possibly> I will appreciated if you would answer this e-mail. Thank you very much. Best Regards,  Jean McGowan <I would not use these on general principle... but if you'd like, place them and see... you can test for water quality or just "bio-assay" (watch your livestock) to see if they're mal-affecting your water quality, or the fish are getting snagged on them. Bob Fenner, who does have seashells in with his African Cichlids> 

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