Situation: Oct 2016
Creator: James W. Fatherree
In the case of reef aquariums, the constructing of a rockwork construction is the precursor to how the entire aquarium will look sooner or later. Because it serves as the bottom upon which corals develop, it’s actually the inspiration for the tank’s total look.
How rockwork is laid out and organized impacts rather more than the place the corals might be positioned as a result of these decisions can restrict how massive coral colonies will develop. Rockwork can even present hiding areas and houses for numerous fish and motile invertebrates, it will probably strongly have an effect on water move all through the aquarium, and its placement could make cleansing a few of the glass panes both comparatively straightforward or practically not possible. Let’s go over a number of issues to consider earlier than constructing the rockwork basis.
Forms of Rock
There are a number of choices on the subject of the rocks themselves. You should utilize dwell rock, base rock, and faux rock in any means you see match. Nevertheless, every kind has its execs and cons.
Waves—particularly throughout storms—can break free bits and items of a reef’s rock framework, in addition to the branches of stony corals. These limestone chunks can then be additional damaged up, abraded by sand, labored on by numerous burrowing organisms, and colonized by different numerous residing issues. Such items will also be affected by water chemistry earlier than and after being freed, and all this exercise can dramatically change their appearances. Consequently, we find yourself with chunks of what’s bought as dwell rock.
Any piece of decent-quality dwell rock can have a major number of microorganisms residing on or in it, and most all can have a minimum of some protection by coralline algae, sometimes giving it a patchy purple, pink, or crimson look. However that’s about it for a big a part of what you’ll see on the market nowadays. Nevertheless, top-quality aquacultured dwell rock typically has a powerful number of life on it, typically together with numerous kinds of macroalgae, sponges, tunicates, bryozoans, worms, clams, barnacles, brittle stars, urchins, anemones, and even corals. So dwell rock can clearly range tremendously in high quality and what’s included whenever you purchase it.
The professionals of utilizing dwell rock are that it has helpful micro organism on and in it, that it’s typically lined with different organisms that enhance its look, and that it merely seems pure in type. The cons are that it may be terribly costly, and it’s bought by the pound, which may add as much as a heck of rather a lot for rocks going into an aquarium.
However, there’s base rock, which is principally the identical factor as dwell rock besides that there’s sometimes nothing in any respect residing on or in it when it’s bought. The truth is, it’s most frequently bought dry. The professionals are that it nonetheless seems pure in type and that it’s less expensive by the pound. After all, the con is that there’s nothing on it.
Then there’s pretend rock, which is usually fabricated from ceramic materials or a mix of aragonite sand and cement, and it may be made in no matter form the creator chooses. Among the stuff I’ve seen has excellent type and appears a lot like actual rock that it’s laborious to inform the distinction. Moreover, some accessible items are produced particularly to cowl overflow/nook packing containers.
Nevertheless, numerous it seems fairly unnatural, with odd kinds and oftentimes with thick branches topped with pedestals. After all, magnificence is within the eye of the beholder. Regardless, the professionals are that it may be made into pure or particular kinds to swimsuit private preferences, and the con is (as soon as once more) value. It may be fairly costly, though it will probably range tremendously in value.
Whereas I’ve used some pretend rock and been pleased with it, it was pricey. Due to this, I’ve arrange most aquariums primarily with base rock and some items of dwell rock combined in so as to add some life to the general look. Usually, numerous the rockwork in a reef aquarium can’t be seen effectively, and issues normally unfold comparatively shortly from items of dwell rock to base rock anyway. If I needed to guess, I’d say a lot of the aquariums that I’ve arrange had been one thing like two-thirds base rock and one-third high-quality dwell rock, though I’ve arrange a pair with nothing however base rock in the previous couple of years. It will get higher and higher wanting over time, however this methodology does take some persistence.
Forms of Preparations
In the case of arranging rocks, there are a number of primary kinds. For many years, the commonest one has been what’s finest referred to as the rock wall. That is created by packing rocks in all the best way throughout the aquarium from finish pane to finish pane, after which sloping from close to the entrance pane on the backside of the tank up towards the again pane. It’s the best method to stack up rocks so long as you have got loads of items, and it additionally supplies numerous space on which to put corals. Nevertheless, making a wall can require numerous rock, relying on the dimensions of the tank.
As a modification of the wall, rocks can nonetheless be stacked in a sloping or vertical method however not from finish to finish. On this case, the rockwork additionally usually slopes towards the ends fairly than simply the entrance. This opens up the ends of the tank and permits for higher viewing from there. Although this association requires rather a lot much less rocks than constructing a wall, it additionally reduces the quantity of accessible house the place corals might be positioned.
Not like these two kinds, rockwork buildings will also be constructed up at reverse ends of a tank, with the center space left naked or occupied by a smaller pile of rocks. This opens up an aquarium aesthetically and requires a lot much less rock. Nevertheless, it additionally additional limits the quantity of house the place corals might be positioned. If achieved proper, massive corals (or corals that may develop to massive sizes) might be positioned in a way that permits them to develop towards and into the open house, which may fill it to a point for fairly a pleasant look.
Lastly, I’ve seen an increasing number of hobbyists utilizing well-spaced bommie-like rockwork buildings. These are sometimes fairly tall and have a comparatively small footprint, being bigger vertically than horizontally. Once more, this may look nice if achieved effectively and spaced in an aesthetically pleasing method, however it even additional diminishes the quantity of space that can be utilized for coral placement.
As talked about beforehand, wide selection and placement of corals that get huge on such buildings can look very engaging. This fashion would require the least quantity of rocks to construct, too. Cleverly organized rock slabs will also be integrated in these buildings to create some good overhangs for a distinct look. A number of items of branching rock (which is basically simply items of branching coral skeleton) can actually add to this association—or any of the aforementioned kinds.
Piecing It Collectively
When making a construction from a bunch of rocks, there are a number of vital issues to think about. These embody the dimensions of the person items, how a lot open house might be created, and the steadiness of the construction.
Typically, it’s finest to create a base fabricated from the most important items of rock that may work for the fashion you select after which construct upward from there. Relying on the scenario and the form of accessible rocks, it’s typically potential to make use of solely comparatively massive items for your complete construction, which usually seems finest. Nevertheless, it may be tough to get huge items to stack up effectively in a way that seems pure and is aesthetically pleasing. Typically, bigger items are positioned on the backside, after which smaller items are used to construct the construction upward.
That stated, constructing buildings utilizing a better amount of comparatively small items of rock sometimes seems much less interesting, might be tougher to construct, and in addition requires extra rocks. I feel it’s finest to spend a while wanting over as many items—and utilizing the best variety of huge items—as potential to get an thought of how they are often organized collectively.
In the case of stacking the items, it’s essential that the construction is steady and gained’t topple or endure from one thing like a rockwork avalanche. You’ll be able to roll every bit round and check out numerous angles and configurations for some time till the whole lot suits into place. Generally it’s truly fairly straightforward to get items to return collectively effectively, however remember that getting the whole lot good can even take fairly some time and could also be downright irritating at occasions.
Additionally be aware that, if wanted, a number of non-rock supplies can be utilized to assist safe buildings. Putty-like, aquarium-safe underwater epoxy units as laborious as rock and can be utilized to assist lock items in place once they simply don’t need to solidly keep put. Plastic screws of assorted kinds, and even acrylic rods or PVC pipe, can be utilized too.
Thankfully, limestone rock normally isn’t very laborious so far as rocks go, and a hand drill with common drill bits can sometimes be used to make holes for screwing items collectively. Some dwell rock and base rock might be fairly dense and laborious; for this, a masonry bit and a few further elbow grease could also be required.
Likewise, within the case of constructing bommie-like buildings, you’ll be able to preserve rocks stacked by drilling a gap during every bit and inserting a large-diameter acrylic rod or piece of heavy PVC pipe by way of them to carry them vertically in place. Doing so can clearly take important planning and a few further effort, however when achieved proper the outcomes are distinctive.
Rock on Glass
I’ll additionally add that I don’t like having rocks in direct contact with the underside pane of glass, particularly huge items. Many rocks have knobs and pointy edges, and these can create strain factors on the glass. In different phrases, a big rock with numerous different rock stacked on prime of it could solely make direct contact with the glass at a number of small factors on its underside. Consequently, all of that weight is targeting these few factors as a substitute of being unfold out, which might result in a disaster. Earlier than placing any rocks in a tank, it’s a good suggestion to first add sufficient sand to maintain them from truly touching the underlying glass, which helps evenly distribute their weight.
The Area Between
There are a number of extra points of reef development to think about, with the primary being areas. As I simply talked about, when rocks are stacked up, it’s good to create or go away numerous areas. For one, nearly all fish and plenty of different critters can be happier in an aquarium if there are many gaps, holes, and crevices within the rockwork during which they will hang around, disguise, and sleep. That is very true if there are any comparatively aggressive fish housed with much less aggressive ones.
Areas between rocks additionally go away extra room for water to maneuver by way of the rockwork, and that additionally helps to maintain down the buildup of detritus inside it. Likewise, having open house within the aquarium across the rockwork helps with total water move.
And at last, there’s the glass to consider. Constructing a rock wall or a pile of rocks at each ends of a tank signifies that you gained’t be capable to clear the glass there when it will get soiled. You both should get used to some unclean glass on the ends or chorus from stacking rocks so near the glass that you may’t get to it with a cleansing system of some kind. That’s why I attempt to go away simply sufficient room on the ends of the rockwork to slip a magnet cleaner in between the rocks and the glass.
A Reef of One’s Personal
Reef constructing isn’t practically as advanced because the look of a mature reef suggests; as soon as you identify the kind of rock and association fashion you need, the remainder is a matter of stacking, securing, and supporting the construction within the tank. Earlier than lengthy, you’ll have a thriving reef aquarium to inventory and revel in in your individual house.