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I got my tank used and there was a lot of stuff with it. One of the things is this plaster statue of a cherub. The guy had put holes in it for a hose to go in. So I put in an air hose and had the air coming up out of the statue's head. The statue developed these soft white balls coming out of the armpits and any place maybe air was getting through. I could easily rub the stuff off and it was kind of like salt or talc or something. I took the statue out because I was afraid it was hurting my fish. Can you tell me what this likely is? Much obliged if you smart people can tell me this.
 

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Not being able to see it, I'm going to take a wild guess and say that your statue might be made of plaster or perhaps ceramic, and might be leaching calcium or other minerals. This could make your water harder or raise your pH.

It's best to use decorations that are guaranteed to be safe for the aquarium. Chances are that this one is (otherwise, why would the previous owner have bought it) but since you don't really know the origin of the ornament or what it's made of, and it's been altered, anyway, it might be a good idea to leave it out of your tank.

That's my best guess, unless the statue has some sort of fibrous stuffing.
 

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If the statue is plaster (Plaster of Paris) , it is calcium sulphate. It will soften and slowly dissolve in tank water. If it is , it isn't poisonous to the fish , but it will raise the total hardness of the water.. It could also release other minerals to the water, depending on it's composition, that could be toxic. I would take it out and keep it out of your tanks. If an item's not glass, plastic, fired ceramic or otherwise marked aquarium safe , I wouldn't use it in tanks .
 
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