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Follow my Oceanic 144g half circle reef tanks progress.
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Aquascaping: Part 2

Posted 10/30/2011 at 02:57 PM by Aaarrrggg

I'd read about using rods, or "pegging" for aquascapes, but never actually braved it before. I ordered a 10lb bucket of [URL="http://www.marcorocks.com/bondingmortar.aspx"]E-Marco-400 aquascaping mortar[/URL] and picked up some yellow fiberglass "driveway markers" from Lowes (as recommended by numerous [URL="http://www.tcmas.org/article_aquascaping_part2.php"]aquascaping guides[/URL].)

My (wonderful!) husband then got to work drilling holes in some of the larger rocks:

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/drill.jpg[/IMG]

As scary as this was, it actually went better than expected! Some little bits broke off here and there, but none of the rocks actually shattered and tbh it just made them look more interesting! (Drilling Tip: Apparently the trick is to let gravity do the work for you. Hold the drill steady and just let it go down through the rock at it's own pace.)

Once I had some drilled pieces to work with I built them up into 2 towers, using the mortar to stick them together:

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/rock-tower1.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/rock-tower2.jpg[/IMG]

Here they are being tested in the tank (we added 1/2 of the live sand and some water to help cushion them.)

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/rock-towers.jpg[/IMG]

Once I had my main 2 structures, it was time to build them out and make them look less like "rock kebabs!"

Although we had ordered 30lbs of shelf rock from MarcoRocks, only 2 out of the 4 shelves we received were much use (the other 2 were much denser than the rest of the rock, so they looked a bit rubbish and were far too heavy to use at the top of towers.) We also decided wanted a lot more shelves... so here comes my brave Husband to the rescue again...!

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/saw.jpg[/IMG]

Once they'd been cut, I washed them to remove the excess dust and then started "worrying" at them with a screwdriver. This basically involved repeatedly stabbing them; chipping bits off and digging out holes. Some sections of the rock are weaker than others, so you just attack the parts that feel like they'll give. The result was a more natural looking shelf. Here's the before and after...

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/shelf.jpg[/IMG]

I took a few more days to play with various layouts and this one came out the winner...

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/aquascape-rough.jpg[/IMG]

Things will change a little bit as we stick the rocks together and move them over to the tank, but I'm going to aim for this general layout, (plus even more shelves!)

The mortar needs to be left overnight to cure so we've been doing a little bit every day for the past week. The large rock towers actually turned out to be the easiest bits! It's the small rocks that are the real nightmare. We've had to get creative to get these mini structures to stay together long enough for the mortar to set...

[IMG]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r161/TheAaarrrggg/mini-tower.jpg[/IMG]

The finish line is in sight, but it will still probably be a few more days. Urgh...
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