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Re: Coal

Happy Easter Everyone,

> Date: Sun, 30 Mar 1997 00:30:42 GMT
> From: Sparrow <spug at intlog_demon.co.uk>
> Subject: Substrates (Coal?)
> Anyone experimented with coal as the primary substrate in a planted tank?
> problems might it cause? I like the idea of a black bottom ;-)
> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Spug (Sparrow) London, UK.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sparrow, I don't have a PhD in anything, but I DID grow up in a coal mining
town, and my dad worked underground for his entire working life, so I think
I can speak reasonably accurately to this question.

The answer is - it depends. A lot of coal is really oily, either from
actually containing oil within it (oil and coal both come from ancient
plants) or from being sprayed with oil during processing after mining. With
some forms of coal being rather porous, this applied oil could get absorbed
into the coal and be almost impossible for you to remove without resorting
to a lot of rather dangerous (to your fish anyway) chemicals. Anthracite
(hard coal) MIGHT be safe but I would advise against using any form of it
unless you went out and dug it up yourself. Anything that would be
available commercially which was intended as a fuel would most likely have
been sprayed with oil during processing. (The oil is intended to keep coal
dust, which is explosive in the presence of oxygen, to a minimum).
I agree that the glossy blackness of coal could be attractive, but you
could use black granite just as effectively and it has the BIG plus of
being inert under aquarium conditions.

James Purchase
jpp at inforamp_net