The right way to Aquascape with Reef Cement | Reef Builders


Day-after-day is reef tank day for me, however on Sundays, I take the break day from writing and have the chance to execute a few of my greater plans. The 200-liter shallow soft coral lagoon is doing nice. So nice the truth is that’s there no room left for any new corals. The softies are beginning to actually overgrow, shade off and kill off among the much less aggressive LPS in there like Blastomussa, and as anybody may predict, the Inexperienced Star Polyp and Pulsing Xenia that I added deliberately to fill areas have utterly overgrown. I run a excessive pH, as excessive as 8.6, and it’s not simply arduous corals that placed on additional development, the softies go mad for it too, however with not an inch of room left and nonetheless loads of corals I need to buy, its time for an even bigger tank. 

A yr within the making, I took the chance to maneuver into what was my previous kitchen, taking my laptop computer, and a few empty fish tanks, and making it my new workplace. Realizing I needed to go greater I strengthened the floorboards and ran pipework by means of a gap within the wall to exterior. The biggest tank I may get by means of a diminutive porch door was 22” huge, so I managed to purchase a freshwater 60x22x21” excessive freshwater tank and set about drilling it, sumping it, and changing it to marine. The clean canvas that may be a naked tank is at all times probably the most thrilling time for me, as in each tank I arrange I goal to run higher than the final, and my solely conundrum now’s if I go for self-harm and go Acropora solely, a fleshy, neon LPS-only crowd pleaser, or one other combined reef. They at all times find yourself combined reefs as I like all corals however by no means have sufficient tanks, however no matter coral sort I at all times take time to plan the aquascape. 

The ideas of this Stylophora are touching the floor of the shallow tank.

Elevate it up

With regards to scaping I at all times prefer to carry the scape off the tank base, making it simpler to wash whereas additionally providing locations out of the brilliant mild for fish to cover beneath. They are saying to scape low today to permit for coral development and so they’re proper. Take a look at Jake’s three-year-old peninsula tanks within the Reef Builders Studio the corals are so huge they don’t even want rockwork to face on, however three years is a very long time, I’m impatient, and the old-school reefer in me really enjoys corals and even rockwork touching the water floor. And after producing a number of yr’s value of damaging house aquascapes I needed this one a bit extra rocky, with tons extra hideaways, extra locations to connect corals, and a colourful, transferring, chaotic look. I like my fish to have the ability to get away from me, it lowers their stress ranges, and among the finest shows I’ve seen have included sneak peeks and fly-bys from fish that seem from behind a rock, do a little bit of foraging, after which disappear once more. It’s my little tackle nature. 

I selected dry, man-made rock for this newest scape, and with no rush to take down the 200-liter lagoon, I obtained to scape it dry and take my time. I’m but to strive the assorted superglue strategies of bonding small rocks collectively however am effectively seasoned in utilizing acrylic rods, epoxy, reef cement, cable ties, and even a sizzling glue gun (which proved to be reef secure,) however opted for reef cement once more this time. Should you haven’t used it earlier than, quick-drying reef-safe cement shouldn’t be for the faint-hearted. It’s in all probability the messiest course of you’ll ever undertake in reefkeeping and it’s very easy to get it mistaken. Because the identify suggests it’s cement powder, and also you combine it with water to create moist concrete that units arduous. However not like customary, common-all-garden development cement that can dry over a day or two, reefing cement goes off in seconds because of a chemical response the second the water penetrates the powder. And there lies the issue. 

Use cement to gravity-defying overhangs.

I used two widespread manufacturers of reef cement on the primary construction and wasted fairly a bit within the course of. Ideally, it’s essential combine it up like moist mortar, the sort, and construction that you’d lay bricks with, however two dry and it gained’t stick the rocks collectively and is just too moist, and the liquid gained’t fill the gaps between the contact factors. I’ve in all probability used cement 5 instances now however each time I get the primary few mixes mistaken and the rocks don’t bond. Initially, I made the combo too moist, and within the minutes I used up fidgeting with the aquascape, the combo within the bucket was then too dry and beginning to set. If it units earlier than you push it between the rocks it gained’t stick then both. I spoke to a fellow reefer who had used it just some days earlier than and he used a small trowel and moist the rockwork first with a twig gun.

Once I use epoxy I just like the rock surfaces to be bone dry, however this brought on me points this time utilizing cement. I revisited it, this time wetting the floor, and managed to get sufficient cement with the proper consistency to bond some rocks collectively. Although it “ought to” dry in seconds, once more for those who combine it mistaken it gained’t and I’ve been responsible of accidentally breaking unset joints apart hours afterward by means of not being affected person. This time I selected a heat Sunday, bonded the rocks collectively on a bench exterior and left it in a single day to provide it the longest curing time. I used a number of it, as of now the cement isn’t trying too interesting in comparison with the purple rocks, however I’m glad to say it’s set strong, and the construction can now be picked up by the joints and lifted as one, single, strong construction. The gray cement will after all shortly cowl in biofilm and algae, disappearing, however on an aquascape I labored on not too long ago I smeared some purple epoxy over the gray cement and it blended in very well. 

Reef cement is tremendous messy so do it exterior.

Making shapes

To construct an excellent aquascape today you want a imaginative and prescient. All the time pull the scape in, away from all 4 sides of the tank as a way to get a 2” diameter gravel vac, and an algae scraper down there, but additionally use the rule of two-thirds. Prefer it or not your major point of interest might be two-thirds alongside the size of the tank and two-thirds up, so construct a construction with a plate or a department that can situate your prized, most eye-catching coral precisely there.

There are some very nice formed rocks obtainable now however mine have been primarily flat plates this time, so I’ve to get inventive to construct a tall construction and achieve some top. I put two massive, flat plates on the bench after which an arching plate on prime of them, spanning them. I then took one other arch however this time turned it on its head, making the toes attain up and naturally kind locations to stay corals on the prime of the tank. This is able to naturally swimsuit SPS, excessive mild, and excessive circulation. I then gave it 24 hours of remedy time earlier than taking some small rock chunks and including them as spurs and mini plates on the facet of the construction so as to add much more coral websites and create much more shade beneath. I’ve made one thus far however goal to make three of those as the premise for the construction within the five-foot tank. I’ll then apply extra plates and branches, becoming a member of the three collectively and finishing the scape. I’m positive corals will develop too tall and I’ll want much more room however it’s a pleasant drawback to have. And it makes the case for a fair greater tank sooner or later.  

Get it proper and Reef Cement will set rock strong.

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