Today’s Aquascaping Techniques: 10 Questions That Guarantee a Healthy, Beautiful Aquarium Aquascape
How Do I Add More Rock to My Tank?
Branch rock is a great way to easily add more real estate to your aquarium without having to tear things apart. Building small islands is also another approach that works great and is not incredibly intrusive on your existing aquascape. Be mindful of the color too, stark white dry rock will often stick out like a sore thumb in your established reef tank. Using dyed/painted rock like Real Reef or Caribsea LifeRock might blend in better.
How Long Should It Take To Set Up My Aquascape?
Before your tank is fully grown and covered in mature coral, the aquascape is really the most predominant structure in your reef tank. Therefore, something that looks nice is often desirable simply because it's going to take 2+ years for the tank to mature. While stacking a pile of rocks in your tank will certainly work and only takes a few minutes, taking the time to build an "aquascape" by adhering rocks together will result in a nicer-looking structure.
The act of building an aquascape often takes a few days in order to construct various test structures before finalizing and adhering the rocks together. You should then allow the adhesive to cure for at least 24 hours before submerging it in water.
What if I Can't Build an Aquascape?
If you are not confident in your ability to build a pleasant and functional aquascape by adhering rocks together yourself, there are plenty of prefabricated aquascapes available. The Caribsea LifeRock line is a great start and the various arches and shapes can easily be assembled to create something nice without too much effort. Better yet, some local fish stores or service companies will offer this as a service and build a custom structure for you.
Should I Stack My Rock or Use an Adhesive?
Using glue and epoxy is always the best choice when it comes to building rock structures. It's best to use a substantial amount of adhesive to create 1-2 large aquascape pieces that can be removed in one piece. This will prove to be much easier should you find the need to move it down the road.
Should the Aquascape Touch the Back Wall?
It is best to allow a few inches of space between the rocks and back wall for a few reasons. It looks better, it gives the fish more areas to swim, and allows for ample water flow around the rocks which keeps detritus and debris from collecting and causing nutrient problems.
What Adhesive Should I Use?
This kind of depends depending on the particular application. We have done some extensive testing and research around which adhesives work best and here is the short of it. For building an aquascape with dry rock, epoxy and mortar is the best choice. If the rock is wet, super glue is the only choice to create a reliable bond.
What Color Rock Should I Use?
This is solely a personal preference but the dyed or colored rock does have some benefits. The purple rock looks more natural right out of the gate and tends to hide algae better so you won't be stuck staring at the white rock with bright green and brown algae for the first 6 months.
Should I Cure My Rock First?
It is best to build the aquascape first, then cure the entire aquascape after it has been glued together right inside your tank. Trying to cure the rock first then building an aquascape with wet rock is far more difficult and results in weaker bonds.
Curing rock in a separate container was really only applicable in the days of using live rock from the ocean because it allowed for some of the dead organic matter to decay outside of your aquarium and helped reduce the transfer of some hitchhikers. If your getting live rock from a friend's tank or live rock from a store, you run the risk of introducing pests and won't be able to build an aquascape as easily as you could with dry rock. The only benefit to wet rock is if you are in an incredible hurry and don't have time to let the rock cycle for some reason or another; most applicable to temporary tanks where the aesthetic is not always a priority anyway.
Now that most of us are starting with dry rock and prefer to build an intricate aquascape, the best approach is to build the structure using dry rock, then simply let the rock cycle right inside your display.
How Do I Keep the Rock From Falling Over?
The simple answer is to always use foundation rock. These rocks are cut flat on one side, which allows you to create a perfectly flat foundation on the bottom of your aquascape so all the rocks that touch the bottom are flat. Start with a couple large pieces of foundation rock and build your aquascape on top of them and you won't ever have to worry about the structure toppling over.