Randy and the BRStv Investigates team pick up the aquascaping adhesives again and this time, we are giving the sample aquascapes a full 7 days to cure before performing our stress tests. We feel this might be a more realistic scenario compared to our previous test considering a majority of new tank builds have the freedom to allow this extended curing time when creating a custom-built aquascape. 

Find Out Which Adhesive Held Up The Best After Only 24 Hours Of Curing: 7 Popular Aquarium Adhesives - Which One Holds Up The Best?

Just to recap, here is a brief summary of the experiment we used in both episodes.  Randy and the BRStv team constructed 9 arch-shaped aquascapes with MarcoRocks Reefsaver Dry Rock using 9 unique adhesive solutions. After curing for 7 days, the aquascapes are put through a progressively more aggressive series of stress tests to see how each of the adhesives holds up.

We hope to learn a bit more about the unique properties of each of the various adhesives and find out which aquascaping adhesive ultimately reigns supreme in terms of bonding strength. 

Aquascaping Adhesive Solutions

Stress Tests

The team planned to perform the following stress tests in the order shown. Each test gets progressively more aggressive in terms of putting pressure on the bonds. An aquascape only moves onto the next stress test if it survives.

  • Stress Test #1 - Double Rock Lift
  • Stress Test #2 - Single Rock Lift
  • Stress Test #3 - 1ft Vertical Drop
  • Stress Test #4 - 5ft Vertical Drop

Stress Test Results

While we were excited to drop these aquascapes and watch them crumble, none of them made it to the 4th stress test. Every single one of them succumbed to some sort of damage or breakage to the rock bonds when dropped from a distance of 12" off the table. 

Ultimately, the lessons learned during this experiment were less about the strength and rather more about the ease of use and where each particular adhesive shines. So here are some great takeaways for each of the different types and our BRS Recommended Method of securing live rock together.

Adhesive Pros Cons
MarcoRocks Emarco Mortar Easy to work with as long as you get the right consistency. Difficult to adhere and mold to the underside of joints; not tacky.
BRS Extra Thick Super Glue Gel + Insta-Set Tacky and makes a strong bond. Dries quickly with Insta-set Looks terrible in the tank. Can be messy to work with and drips.
Aquaforst Stonefix Easy to mix and reach suitable consistency. Dries too quickly so you have to work fast.
Two Little Fishies Aquastick Epoxy Creates a strong bond, easy to mold on the underside of joints. Looks terrible in the tank.
BRS General Bonding Super Glue + Sand Dust Thin viscosity makes it easy to cover ugly epoxy or super glue gel joints. The final product looks great.  Overwhelming fumes. 

BRS Recommended Method Of Gluing Rocks Together For An Aquascape

After working extensively with the various methods and adhesives to build aquascapes and glue rocks together, the team found the following layered approach to be the most effective and produce the best-looking result. Ryan used this method or gluing approach when building the HNSA-Habitat Negative Space Aquascape

  1. Superglue gel to initially attach the rocks together with a spray of Insta-set and let it cure completely.
  2. Cover the joints with a hefty layer of epoxy. Pay careful attention to the underside of the joints which is where the epoxy shines. It can mold and stick into the crevices and reinforce the joint from the bottom. Let it cure completely.
  3. Cover any remaining crevices in the joint with another layer of thick super glue gel. Filling in tiny cracks or remaining openings in your joints. Let it cure.
  4. Cover each joint with a layer of watery style general bonding super glue and cover using fine sand dust to camoflauge all of your adhesive joints.