Thanks for the comments! I'm pretty excited about this update - it's time to reveal the centerpiece that this whole setup was planned around.
Several years ago I acquired an awesomely huge and dramatic driftwood stump. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it, even though it was way to large for any of my aquariums. I've been lugging it around as we've moved from apartment to apartment across various states, waiting to set up a tank for it.
The slightly unusual dimensions of this tank were selected to showcase this epic piece of driftwood.
Here's the driftwood as I was testing out some possible layouts on a piece of plywood. It measures roughly 50" from one end to the other, about 30" from front to back and stands about 24" high in the current orientation.
I collected a bunch of river rocks from a riverbed in Virgina. The rocks look to be some sort of metamorphic schist and are predominantly grey with some flecks of mica. Not quite seiyru stone but quite nice looking nonetheless.
I wanted to wait till I had the light set up so I could better photograph the assembly of the the hardscape but I got impatient so you'll have to make do with these dark pictures.
Here's the stump in the tank supported by a "tripod" of rocks. I used long zipties to attach the stump to these rocks to prevent it from floating.
More rocks added
I'm using a simple sand substrate. I tried to find pool filter sand but none of the stores around me had any so I settle for this paver sand. It took quite a bit of washing to get it clean but I think it worked out quite well. There's a mixture of grain sizes, which looks quite natural, and it's a nice tan color, which I supplemented with a little bit of light brown, dark brown and black colorquatrz sand to get a very natural looking blend.
and a quick shot with just the cool white LED string fired up