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Old 01-11-2008, 12:31 AM   #1
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new aquarium

ok guys, I was curious about the whole "egg-crate" deal. I am looking to stack lots of rocks in my aquarium and would like live plants to accompany them. I have heard that egg crates would help to stablize the rocks and prevent them from cracking the tank. Are they 100% necessary? I just don't want the plants' roots to wrap around the egg crates and make it difficult for me to remove them from the tank for a thorough cleaning or transfer. What should I do/use to keep the wall of rocks supported without cracking the bottom?
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Old 01-11-2008, 01:17 AM   #2
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I can't help with the plant aspect, but I can help with the cracking issue.

IMO they are not necessary but are used by many cichlid keepers to prevent them from digging to the bottom of the tank. Removal of the substrate can cause the structure to topple if enough substrate is moved. African Cichlids are notorious for digging. We have it in our 150T due to a substantial amount of rocks in a smaller surface acrea. The Africans dig like crazy and it usually only takes a day or so before the egg crate is showing after doing a water change and rearranging the substrate.

Structures toppling and causing the tank to crack is a rarity. It can happen, but it is extremely rare. I use it only in my 150T as a precautionary step since a lot of rock weight is sitting in the center of the tank and my Africans like to rearrange the decor on an hourly basis. The glass is thick enough that it shouldn't break, but I like to take that extra precaution.

The plant rooting issue would be my biggest concern. One of our guru's will be able to answer that for you though.
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Old 01-11-2008, 02:05 AM   #3
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Your plants will most certainly put the roots around anything in the substrate. I don't see this as a big problem as rooted plants are hard enough to pull out in just plain substrate. I frequently snap a few roots when rearranging the plants in my tank. As long as it's not all the roots you're losing, it shouldn't be too much of a concern.
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Old 01-11-2008, 09:50 PM   #4
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I have egg crate in my heavily planted discus tank and have had no problems. I also use it in my 135 gal planted tank. I do also use it in my cichlid tank which has lots of rocks and no plants. I use it to prevent any pressure points and have had no problems and the tanks have been set up for over 3 years now.
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Old 01-12-2008, 01:06 AM   #5
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Eggcrate simply distributes the weight of the rocks across a larger surface. It also protects the tank from a pressure fracture caused by a heavy pointed rock striking the glass. (You know those little hammers they sell to break your auto windows in an emergency? - same idea.)

A thin piece of slate under the rock wall would serve the same purpose. Nearly all of my rockwork 'floats' on a generous layer of substrate, but one or two of my largest pieces have some slate beneath them. I think that slate would look more natural than eggcrate should it become uncovered.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:56 AM   #6
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That is a good point, for the most part my cichlids don't uncover the eggcrate, but in one corner. In the planted tanks, the egg crate isn't uncovered. Cichlids are diggers and depending on the depth of your substrate, it is possible to uncover it.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:41 PM   #7
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so if I go to a hardware store, I just ask for "eggcrate"? if anyone has a picture of it or a link to it, could you please post or send?
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:34 PM   #8
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It looks like this:

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Old 01-13-2008, 08:35 PM   #9
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If you go to a hardware store like Home Depot or the like, you can go into the lighting section, where they have strip fluorescent bulbs, the kind you see in schools, office buildings, etc. You will see a grating made of plastic there. That's what you're looking for to displace your rock weight.

Although not an actual image, this is the stuff here. Any big hardware store should have it.
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