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Let's Talk Rockscaping

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superman1981 View Drop Down
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    Posted: February 24 2015 at 11:00am
Up to this point in my reef hobby, I haven't really spent much time thinking about rock work. All of my past tanks had a haphazard pile of rocks that weren't too tall for fear of them falling over. To "spice things up", I'd pick out a few of my best pieces and add them last to make sure they were prominently featured in the pile.

This time around, I want to make my rocks look AWESOME! Instead of just a pile of rocks that either reminisce a wall or a pyramid, I want to give them actually shape and style.

I have read several methods of doing this. For example:
-Methodical stacking (treating the rocks like they're puzzle pieces)
-Puttying the rocks together to create unique shapes
-Drilling holes and using acrylic rods or PVC for stability

So, what is your favorite method for rockscaping? Particularly, what is your favorite method for reaching great heights without building pyramids?

Pictures are welcome and encouraged   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adam Blundell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 11:45am
Pile of rocks along the back wall.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote proskier101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 1:15pm
I have 2 separate piles of rocks in my tank.
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277.photobucket.com/user/catchoftheday80/media/imagejpg5_zps6e554fe5.jpg.html][/URL]
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote superman1981 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 2:57pm
Catchoftheday, that's the kind of rock work I'm talking about. What did you use to hold everything together?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote millsu2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 3:30pm
I always try to fit the rocks together like puzzle pieces to make it look interesting. They always move a little either from the current or the inhabitants, become unstable, and fall down. I am also very clumsy with my hands in the water and always smash into them and knock them down. After trying to rebuild a few times I give up and leave it as just a pile of rocks.

One day I will use some epoxy to keep things stable, but I always forget to pick some up when at the store. I am too lazy to drill holes and use rods to hold things together.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pete Moss Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 3:32pm
I usually just stack rock.

I stack it dry, so I know if it is stable or not before water is added.



Without any epoxy, or acrylic rods I was able to build arches.

You can't see it in the image very well, but there are tons of arches front to back, and lots of caves and hiding places.

This is a heavier rock design, but I like it :)

Edited by Pete Moss - February 24 2015 at 3:34pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote catchoftheday Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 3:54pm
Originally posted by superman1981 superman1981 wrote:

Catchoftheday, that's the kind of rock work I'm talking about. What did you use to hold everything together?

I used plastic hangers cut up drilled some holes and use gorilla glue and Epoxy along with clamps to hold is in its spot killed the blue and Apoxsee is cured just like everything in this hobby you have to be patient and don't rush I'm not sure how you far you are but if you need help just let me know
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Molli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 4:00pm
Catchoftheday...really like your design. I like my rock sectioned out that way as well. I also think that you get much better flow in the tank by creating spaces like you have done between the rock towers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote catchoftheday Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 4:08pm
Originally posted by Molli Molli wrote:

Catchoftheday...really like your design. I like my rock sectioned out that way as well. I also think that you get much better flow in the tank by creating spaces like you have done between the rock towers.
yes you are right I get great flow and not a lot of dead spots I really like it a lot
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote superman1981 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 6:06pm
Catchoftheday, do you have any pictures of those rocks in your tank? I love the plastic hanger idea. I'm sure I could find a few around the house to work with.

Edited by superman1981 - February 24 2015 at 6:06pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote superman1981 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 6:08pm
Pete Moss, very cool design. How tall is your tank? I've never been successful at stacking my rock very high.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PDoug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 6:34pm
So I tried to drill 3/4 inch holes with a masonry bit but like usual Dion was right he told me years back that you practically need a drill press. So after going through three drill batteries I simply stacked in my usual fashion of stability first looks second. I am watching this thread with interest
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote superman1981 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2015 at 7:00pm
Originally posted by PDoug PDoug wrote:

So I tried to drill 3/4 inch holes with a masonry bit but like usual Dion was right he told me years back that you practically need a drill press. So after going through three drill batteries I simply stacked in my usual fashion of stability first looks second. I am watching this thread with interest


Dion recommends a drill press, huh. Just as a rule of thumb, I don't listen to anything Dion says

I actually have a drill press and a hammer drill. I was planning on using the drill because I don't want to scratch up the drill press table, but I'm sure I could cover it and use it if needed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote faviasteve Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2015 at 11:42am
I think fiberglass rods are better than acrylic or pvc rods if you want to go that route.  They are much stronger than acrylic and can be smaller than pvc.  I think I used 1/4" rods.  They are cheap (bought them at Cal-Ranch... I think in the animal fence area) and easy to cut with a hacksaw/friction grinder.  I glued them into concrete/masonry pavers with epoxy after drilling a hole 1/2 into the top of the paver (Sanjay Joshi's idea from a few years ago).  It worked great and they are super stable for rock towers but you need a sandbed to cover up the pavers.  I put a sheet of acrylic below the pavers (on the bottom of the tank) for safety in case of pressure points but it probably wasn't necessary.  You can make crazy top-heavy looking structures this way but it can look unnatural if don't have an artistic eye.  My wife is my artistic eye.

A large piece of live rock can make a good base for a tower/arch/overhang but it needs to be fairly flat on the bottom.  Live rock is soft and you can cut a flat on the bottom of the base rock with any type of friction saw/grinder/tile saw.  Then drill a hole in the base rock (on the top or angled to one side) and one in the bottom of the the upper piece of rock.  Cut the rod to the correct length and fit the two together.  This is a good way to get big overhangs or put two overhangs together for a big arch.

Right side, middle and left side of a 180 gallon with rock towers from a few years ago.  The huge piece of fused tonga branch in the center photo is going to be my base to anchor the overhanging pieces in my new tank.

The last 2 pics are of my current build, a 135 gallon cube.  It's a few months away from being finished, but I have most of the dry rock from the 180.  Because the rock already has the drill holes, I've been experimenting with different overhangs, arches, etc without using the paver bases.  The round lower bunch of rock has a Pyrex bowl in the center.  I was thinking of filling it with sand for a wrasse sleeping area... but it doesn't look as nice as the rest of the rock.  I think the overhang looks nice and it's very solid with the weight of the big base rock.








Edited by faviasteve - February 25 2015 at 7:35pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote superman1981 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2015 at 12:08pm
Great tutorial, Steve! Those rock structures look great.

I actually spent a bunch of time last night looking at different ways to stack my rocks... of course this is all preemptive since I'm probably a month or more away from putting water in my tank... Oh well, planning is fun
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2015 at 5:25pm
One of my favorite designs was this suspended reef, partly because of the way it looked like it was floating and partly because of Mr. Ray and Mr. Batfish.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote superman1981 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2015 at 5:36pm
Mark,

I remember seeing pictures of this tank before. Didn't you do a writeup somewhere on how you built your suspended reef?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2015 at 6:07pm
It may be mentioned in the link about it in the Reefkeeping Tips, below.

Below is a unique thing Donna and I did for a MWRF Aquascaping Contest a few years ago. It got a fair amount of attention because it was patterned after a certain movie that was popular at the time. That's the judge standing next to the tank. He was a freshwater hobbyist that had never had a reef tank but he did say that he had "never seen anything like it." We didn't win because he saw it as being too cluttered with rock, which I had to agree. We kind of went wild with so many good pieces of Utah Rock, Southern Utah Rock and Vida Rock. The judge also had not seen the movie. LOL

Don't know if this will spark any ideas, but thought I might as well add it as food for thought.


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