Aquascaping

I’m out for a week to go see my folks back home, so Brown will be in charge of the tanks during my absence.  He also has my full permission (and passwords) to do a “My Woman Is Stone Whack-nuts Crazy” post over here, so if a stranger comes and begins yammering on about how he doesn’t like the ocean or anything in it at all and he has no idea where his life took such a sudden turn that he now has to hand-feed a stupid three-inch-long fish, that’d be him.

The 65g, with dog and dollar bill for scale.  I was a bit worried when I couldn't find a dollar until I realized all of my money is already in the tank.  And I need smaller dogs.

The 65g, with dog and dollar bill for scale. I was a bit worried when I couldn't find a dollar until I realized all of my money is already in the tank. And I need smaller dogs.

While I’m always bummed to leave Brown and Da Boyz, I am really glad to be leaving the pull of the tank.  The nitrogen cycle can sometimes take only a couple of days but typically takes ten days or more, and while I’m a very patient person this is the part of the setup that kills me.  It’s not just a glass box of water… it’s a glass box of potential! I can put a clam on that ledge, and there’s where the ricordea will go, and I can cultivate the zoo garden down along those rocks…

Right, let’s distract me by going over aquascaping.  Remember a previous post when I went over the basics of lighting (– Cliff Notes version: if you want to keep coral and other invertebrates, you have to recognize that each species has unique photosynthetic requirements and you have to meet these requirements or they will (1) not look their best or (2) starve and die. — )?  Aquascaping is when you take your rock (live or dead, doesn’t matter) and arrange it so that you maximize the surface area that is exposed to light while still providing nooks and crannies for the fish.

I’m generally disgusted by most of the aquascaping in reef tanks, which almost always have a half-assed precarious Jenga look to to them.  Or maybe comparing them to Legos is more appropriate, as these reefs appear to be assembled using rocks that are roughly the same size and shape.  Personally, I prefer aquascaping that resembles natural reef formations where chunky meets smooth meets twisty, with plenty of caves and overhangs to provide hiding places for the fish and mobile invertebrates.  These caves are not optional.   Under the sea, man, it’s not all dancing and crab-orchestrated musical numbers!  No, fish need places to use when they have to flee for their lives, and it’s probably worse in an aquarium — hell, you try and live in the same 3 cubic yards with the same person for the rest of your life without giving in to the urge to cold stab him dead.

Very happy with the left-hand side, but Mister Righty might run afoul of Captain Hammer and Sergeant Rock Chisel.  Mmmmmm, Captain Hammer...

Very happy with the left-hand side, but Mister Righty might run afoul of Captain Hammer and Sergeant Rock Chisel. Mmmmmmmmmm, Captain Hammer...

When aquascaping, you also have to train that third eye towards the future and envision how the tank should three years from now.  While your imaginary fantasy livestock and the livestock that will actually be in there in three years’ time won’t resemble each other in the slightest, you can at least prepare locations on the rockwork for species that have high, medium, and low light preferences.

(Oh, and once you do that, then you have to dick around with the water flow, but that’s a separate post.  It never ends, don’t it?)

The 65g has been aquascaped to a point where I’m happy with… most of it.  The tank will be an SPS-dominant tank, so there is a minimum of six inches from the top of the rockwork to the waterline for branching coral to grow up (that disgusting flat plate rock at the top is there for this purpose, but I don’t know if I can live with it since it stands out as artificial).

Beneath that, there are plenty of the necessary nooks, crannies, and swim-throughs.  With the exception of where the rock touches the plastic overflow, there is a minimum of three inches of clearance between the rock and the glass walls to allow for cleaning and scraping the glass, as well as other basic maintenance.  And we don’t want to combine “rock” with “glass” in any case, right?

I’ve also left a minimum of six inches of clearance between the walls and the rockwork at the front of the tank, which will encourage the fish to swim in the open where they can be seen.  Same with the sand bed.  I want to keep clams and a mandarin goby, and these both seem to have a preference for open sand.  Some species of coral also seem to do better when they are placed low in the tank on or near a sand bed, so I’ve kept space open for them.

In three years’ time all of this will be overgrown with coral and critters.  However, it’s very, very difficult for me to resist putting stuff in there now, today, even though I’m fully aware the tank is in the sewage refinery phase of the cycle.  I’m quite glad to be leaving town to resist temptation.

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~ by KBSpangler on April 9, 2009.

One Response to “Aquascaping”

  1. I had wondered why tanks were always so centered instead of having rocks on the periphery. Thanks for explaining.

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