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Old 09-18-2006, 06:33 PM   #1
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Rock Stability

I'm in the process of aquascaping my new 125- right now I have 100lbs of live rock that has been in there for about 3 weeks- have had an amonia spike and now all levels are reading at 0...so, trying to get all the rock arranged in there so I can add live sand and fish- here's the question...are there any secrets to making the rock structure stable?? Currently it is free standing because I wanted to be able to clean glass on all 4 sides but, now i'm thinking of leaning on the back wall for added stability- I want to live with the arrangement for a while before using any epoxy - don't want to get it all glued together and then hate the way it looks or find it to be disfunctional. Drilling and using rods is probably not something I could tackle either.

Also, I have an additional 60lbs of rock in my 46gal tank that I will be adding as soon as all is ready to move those fish over- so, I guess I'm having some timing questions as well- don't want to add the sand before adding all the rock because I have a diamond gobie who would love to cause an earthquake- can't add that additional rock until ready to move those fish along with it...can I???

Any ideas???
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Old 09-18-2006, 06:51 PM   #2
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I would add the sand, test your water, I have a feeling the LS might have some die-off, it would be interesting to see if that is true or not. I would make sure the LR is on the glass bottom so your sand sifters don't topple anything. Other than that, you can probably just stack the rock so it fits and doesn't move. Once you add the sand, you will get a cloud. I would let that settle and then add the rest of the rock, test your water and add your fish.
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Old 09-18-2006, 08:39 PM   #3
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I have about 90lbs of lr in my 46gal tank. I stacked it about 2" away from the back glass so that fish could hide and my rear mounted ph could blow water right through there preventing stagnant water.

I do, however, have a piece of rock (or 2) that does lean against the back glass. Most of the rock formation seems quite stable.
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Old 09-18-2006, 08:52 PM   #4
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I just got done aquascaping 62 lbs in my 46 gallon so I feel your pain! Personally, I'd try to get it the way you want it before adding fish. What I found in arranging and rearranging this weekend was that you really can't move "just one piece" once you start monkeying around with things. I can't imagine doing the stuff I was doing this weekend with fish in there - I'd want to move them into a holding tank or something.

I didn't find any secrets myself. I tried to find the magic interlocking stable positions for the rocks on the floor before putting it in the tank. (Hard to do with blocky pieces, but I had some cool shapes to work with.) Y'know... those positions were you kind of have to twist and turn the rocks together so they're cammed in place and can't move too much in one direction or another. Once I found those "sweet spots" I recreated the whole thing in the tank and supplemented it with epoxy here and there to tighten things up. After you're done (or during) run your cleaning magnet, or whatever you might have to clean, around to make sure you can access everything you want to get to.

One thing to watch out for about leaning the rock mass against the back wall of the tank... I was surprised how little force it took to slide the rocks across the bare tank bottom. More than once while applying some epoxy, I spooked myself by skootching a large rock mass just a hair across the bare bottom. Depending on your setup, if you get too much of an angle against that back wall, I'd be worried about slowly creeping the rock across the bottom of the tank. It's probably not an issue once you get the sand in there to provide some support, but it *might* be something to watch for until you do.
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:11 PM   #5
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build a frame out of PVC piping, and use it as the "skeleton" for your rock structure. it doesnt have to be anything complicated... just a wide base and a rigid structure going up.

use black zip-ties (wire-ties, or whatever people call them where your from) to attach the rock to the structure. i would only attach rock to the visible sides of the structure and leave the rear open to promote water flow around the rocks. you can use underwater epoxy to attach rocks that are too small to zip tie, or are just inconvenient to zip tie.

you can use a rock chisel to break the rocks down if they are too big (remember to wear your safety glasses... rock chips hurt).

also, use some PVC couplings burried in the sand to build a platform to rest the bottom rocks on. or, build a pvc strucutre just below the sand. either approach will allows you to keep your rocks at the top of the sand, instead of resting them on the bottom glass. plus, if you have any burrowing creatures, the couplings will hold up the rock once the burrowing removes the sand below the rocks.

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Old 09-20-2006, 02:20 PM   #6
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Nothing wrong with leaning against the back wall IMO. Fish will still be able to find hiding spaces. I've got maybe 200 lbs in mine and I just rotate it while placing until I get a semi-snug fit. Take a finger and try to push it to imagine the strength of a fish of invert and them not being able to do what you did with your finger.

As far as the gobies or other diggers, put the bottom layer of rock in first and then dump the sand over it or if the sand is in first push the rock all the way down to the bottom glass so no toppling will happen.

Stay away from the glue IMO. There is a play dough type putty that can help secure but not permmanently lock it in place. You'll likely change it again a bit as the months go by even after you have fish in it.
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Old 09-21-2006, 12:00 AM   #7
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When I did my aquascaping for my FOWLR I just treated it like a gigantic puzzle. I looked for pieces that looked like they could fit snuggly on top of each other without the risk of toppling over.

After I got the layout the way I liked it I just pushed on various parts of the rock to see how it could hold up. Like austinsdad said if the rock doesn't move when the pressure you are applying...a fish or invert certainly isn't going to be able to move it.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinsdad
Nothing wrong with leaning against the back wall IMO. Fish will still be able to find hiding spaces. I've got maybe 200 lbs in mine and I just rotate it while placing until I get a semi-snug fit. Take a finger and try to push it to imagine the strength of a fish of invert and them not being able to do what you did with your finger.
This is what I did also. I have 200 lbs in my 125. It`s almost like a jig saw puzzle.
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