DIY Friday is here again! Here are some great ideas for some Cichlid caves using different materials.
Making your own pottery caves or using terracotta flower pots that have been cured for this purpose are plausible options. Terracotta must be untreated and new, or chemicals can leech from them into your aquarium and wreck havoc on your water parameters. Pottery that you make yourself must be made of clays that are suitable for aquarium use and pH neutral. Natural clays without additives are safe.
Plastic, such as PVC pipe, is widely used in homemade cichlid caves. Sheets of plastic can be purchased and used to create arches that back up to the aquarium wall, making an instant cave. PVC pipe can be cut into an appropriate size for the aquarium and turned upward or half buried in the substrate to create a suitable cave for your cichlids. If the PVC pipe is untreated, rinsing it in clean water will be all that is required.
Wood that has been cleared for aquarium use or otherwise treated to be used in aquariums via a boil and soak procedure can be used to create your cichlid caves. Wood must be free from any splinters and must not warp under long term exposure to water. Wood may be whittled, sanded, sawed or cut into any desired shape for a cichlid cave. (Most widely used is the coconut shells)
Stone is another leader in cichlid caves. Many caves in the wild are stone, and wild-caught cichlids will likely find a homemade stone cave very attractive. The biggest risk here is a cave in. Fish may not be able to survive or escape if a stone cave collapses. Therefore, stone caves require an aquarium silicone paste to hold them together. The silicone will say on the tube when it is safe for submersion.