How to build up layers of substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 04:07 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Denver Colorado
Posts: 53
How to build up layers of substrate?

How do folks build up different layers of substrate that do not collapse and flatten out within a few months? Or do they all just flatten out eventually?

For example.....I have a hard time believing this rock is really that tall and is just resting on the substrate 8" below MUST be sitting up on something.

What is the secret to making sustainable slopes and terraces?

I have searched the web for an answer but haven't found anything definitive. Are the good aquascapers keeping their secrets from me?

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 04:28 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Spokane Valley, WA
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believ it or not, that is a rock that IS that tall. This scape is a great example of a iwagumi layout using rocks to set the balance of the scape. The rock is the Oya-Ishi of the layout or the focal point of the rock formation. It may not always be the focal point of the tank as in this example where the "trees" pull the eye away from the IMO more beautiful and minimalist rock formations, but it is initially set up using the process of substrate->rocks->plants->water. There is an internet viedo of Takashi Amano setting up a tank, and it appears as if he uses styrofoam, but peat or extra substrate would probably be better for the tank.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-26-2010, 05:50 AM
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Location: Thomaston, Georgia
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ah, whatever. look at my new tank when i post's a teaser now, but i have rocks nearly out of the water.

The trick is simple-ish:
come up with the design in your mind.
place the base layer of substrate for cushion(i like this better than styrofoam as styrofoam is perfectly flat, thus, the rocks are very hard to situate...but if you want to sleep better at night, then put styrofoam first and then substrate second. NOTE: leave at least a 2 inch gap at the front so the styrofoam doesn't show from the front, even if it's shifted somehow.

Next, place a base foundation of rocks, these should be flat on top if possible to allow a second tier to be placed on top.

Next place the second tier on top creating the height desired, typically i chose tall rocks for my second tier, makes for less stacking.

After that, but before ANYTHING else add rocks in the front to keep the second tier from toppling, this can be tricky, and often you will need to add a thin front area of soil to act as a support for the "support" rocks.

Then, you begin to enjoy yourself. Add substrate to the front, i like sand recently, but you can use soil...this is a little more difficult as a planted foreground in this scenario tends to cover much of the "support" rocks which act as a good mid ground.

Then add rear stabilizing rocks, or you can simply add soil. I like to have both, tall thin rocks to support from the rear, and then just PILE the soil in. I think one could easily get 6-8 inches of soil behind, but you need to make a "retaining wall" of sorts flowing pretty much even with the "support rocks".

Many will say malarkey to what i've just told you, However, I received many compliments about illusion of depth in my 55 gallon tank, which was done with this method minimally.

My new tank was done this way to the extreme. Once i get pics up, take a look and let me know what you think.
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