What are you using for caves???

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Magnum Man

Fish Gatherer
Jun 21, 2023
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Southern MN
I see the PVC pipe caves in lots of breeding tanks, & I understand that... but at this point, pretty much all my tanks are display tanks, & I wanted a more natural looking cave... I used to use rocks ( limestone slabs, back in my Rift Lake Cichlid days ) but most I'm doing lately have been for soft water tanks... I have used slate before, but those take up so much room in the tank, & slate is not locally available, the way the limestone was...

so I have been buying these... which I've been really happy with... they are cast resin, & look realistic enough, that on several, I have real driftwood, right next to these, & in one tank in particular, it just looks like the bark, fell off of the real driftwood next to it...

anyone else using a natural looking cave for display tanks... if so, what are you using???
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BTW... I did not write the bottom line in my above post, & have linked Amazon items before & never seen that... is that something new from the forum???
Put silicon on the pvc and roll it in substrate.

I also use ceramic/ clay flower pots and cut them in half (from top to bottom). Then lie the halves on their side to make a nice curved brown cave. You can also cover them in silicon and sprinkle gravel over them, or tie Java Fern, Bolbitis or Java Moss to the flower pot and once it attaches and grows a bit, you don't see the pot.

If you use limestone in hardwater tanks, you can drill or bore a hole through blocks of limestone. And if you have access to acids, you can drop acid on limestone and over time it eats through the limestone and produces a nice hole or cave in the rock.
My caves are for dwarf cichlids and some territorial killies.
I buy coconuts. I poke a couple of holes in them, and let that useless white stuff in them dry out. It contracts away from the walls. I then saw the nut in half, and remove the the edible parts. If you do it too soon, it's hard to get off the walls. So I waste food.

I cut a small door, and then give the 2 caves a boil so they sink. I cool them and weave a little java moss through the fibres on the shell. It grows and harbours food for the first meal when the larvae start swimming.

Slate is easy to come by here. I make Loracarid caves with it, but I only have a few Loracarids.

I have 3/4 of a clay pot ( cut it nicely with my cut off wheel on my angle grinder ) in my Tilapia breeding tank...

I've also seen Cocoa Nut shell caves... I've never tried one... assume they would last about like smaller pieces of drift wood ???
see my post above... a metal cut off wheel, or a tile saw cuts clay pots pretty easily

also if your substrate is deep enough, with the correct size pot, you don't really need to cut them
@gwand ... with the caves I listed above, I angle them, with the hole facing the front, so I can see who, or what is going on in the caves... the bigger one I listed, I actually stood up 2 of them to cover up my riser tubes from the under gravel filter... they are big enough, one also hides my tank heater...

which time for a little rant... speaking of heaters, I'm partial to one, with how the controller works, & it's reliability, but the actual heater guard, is black & neon orange... I don't need anything neon orange in a tank trying to look "natural"... so the bigger cave is open on the bottom ( actually both I listed are ) so I can hide the orange part of the heater with the log...
I like it when it's completely natural.

Coconut shells are one of my favorite for small caves.

For larger caves, Cork Bark does very nice, it is perfectly safe won't leach anything and resist rot and fungus. The rough texture an crevasses makes excellent hiding places and gives a lot of purchase to attach plants and mosses. They look awesome and can be found in many size forms and colors.

I would only not suggest it, if you have powerful plecos in the tank... They could munch off the more tender part inside. but for most setup it gives many options to create pretty cool arrangement.
I make a new batch of cococaves about every ten years. This morning, I moved a 15 year old one and my finger went through it. It now anchors a java fern. It's very hard wood, and some nuts are nuttier than others. I have one that will last 20 years, from a randomly picked super thick walled coconut.
My Parananochromis, Pelvicachromis and Apistogramma (no longer here, but) like small entrances, and females wall themselves in with the larvae.
How do you cut a clay flower pot longitudinally without it cracking into jagged pieces?
I was researching this very subject. I found one idea where you take a piece of twine and soak it in rubbing alcohol. You tie the twine around the clay pot where you want your cut to be. You take a lighter to it, let it burn 30 seconds then submerse it in a bucket of ice cold water. The result is supposed to be a nice clean break! I would think there might do some sanding to do on the edge afterword. I’ll let you know if I try it.!
I just got one of these off of Amazon. It looks pretty neat. I like it because with the suction cup, you can place it up higher in your plantings. It has an entrance in an exit one larger than the other. You can actually silicone some moss to the top of it, and it would be almost invisible, or it has holes in it so plants below could grow through it 🌱


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