Travis Shears

negative space aquascape

22.05.2021 -- #

Before update you on my reef tank I’d like to go over the aquascape.


Reefing is part science, part animal husbandry, and part art. The art side begins with the Aquascape, aka the organisation of rocks to create a canvas that will be filled in with coral, invertebrates, and fish. A simple pile in the centre of the tank would technically work, but for this tank I wanted something more creative.

framing out the base

framing out the base

In my pervious freshwater tanks I followed the Japanese / Iwagumi style. One combines substrate, rocks, and freshwater plants, ex java moss, into a miniature landscape, gving the ecosystem a Japanese Zen vibe. This style does not translate into the reef aquariums.

ex of iwagumi, not my tank

ex of iwagumi, not my tank

Reefs dirty unruly places. Demands of the animals are greater. The rock structure must support flow and light needs of coral and provide hiding sports for inverts and fish. Many small polyp corals for example will need high light and flow needs with placement near the surface. Some large polyp corals are better placed further down in shaded spots. Even parts of the sand bed should be left open for coral placement. So it was clear that a different approach would be needed.

starting to take shape

starting to take shape

NSA

Negative Space Aquascape. Instead of a pile of rocks, we built an organic branching rock system. It simulates the complexity of rock structure laid down by stoney coral skeletons. Ascetically the sculpture aspect keeps it interesting from a verity of angles. Ecologically the many crevices and branches provide plenty of hiding spots and coral placement opportunities. Flow is more challenging and will take multiple powerheads to manage but I think its worth it.

mortared joints

mortared joints

How to

I’ll leave the explanation to the BRS guys and this great video. There also is a good thread on reeef2reef. We used this super glue and this reef mortar. The rock was Arka Biotech’s My Reef Rock.

At first dealers tried to sell us “RealReef Rock” which is a painted synthetic rock ceramic with special bacteria coat. I personally don’t trust it. After a lot of challenging German communication we finally got them to order the My Reef Rock. This is a dry rock meaning it is minded from the ancient long dead coral reefs underground. No pests / surprises but you’re starting from zero in terms of bacteria.

We purchased two boxes of mixed size stones. After poping rocks with a hammer to get reasonable size pieces we set out glueing. For this I mush give full credit to my girlfriend as she summoned her inner sculptor and made something spectacular. After two nights of gluing and reworking it several times we let it dry then mortared it.

finished product

finished product

I’m happy with the result and look forward to placing some corals.

Update – 5 months

One small incident where I bumped one of the horns while working in the tank and it broke off. It proved hard to reattach so leaving it as base for now.

\- [ reeftank ]