I devised my own crab climbable ornament by simply braiding three nylon ropes together and embedding them with Moss, thus stealing the least amount of light from my other plants while still providing an esthetically pleasing solution. I can alway remove the rock and increase planting space, I just have it there for now until the Moss fills in more densely.
a Month Later
this moss ladder idea is not just good for helping my crabs up above the waterline. vertically it can be used to help hide tank plumbing, hide ugly seals in tank corners, diagonally it makes a great growing surface for moss and Anubias. you can even go nuts and make a whole fishing net motif where a left behind net gets overgrown with plants and makes a nice home for fish to swim through and hide under. this "fishing net" hardscape idea is something I may attempt once I get a much larger tank.
this is also a quick way to see what moss you might like for a Wall project. using the rope ladder you can first see how your moss will grow in your tank, before committing yourself to the more ambitious project of doing an entire wall of the stuff. keep in mind the moss ladder you see in that picture is only a few weeks old and should fill out considerably over the next Month or so. virtually any plant that can grow floating or shallow roots (the assumption being that they get their nutrients from the water column), may thrive on this rope ladder with few exceptions such as Baby Tears aka Pearlweed, which for some strange reason will melt when in contact with nylon.
here's some information that helped me;
this company will sell you any width, type, length of marine waterproof rope imaginable. you can even buy one foot as there is no minimum order. they cut the rope with a high power torch that fuses the strands together at both ends. they might also sell you already braided nets by the square foot, but I did not inquire on that.
I just happened to have handy a few yards of soft 1/4" black nylon rope that I laid out ready to braid like this;
I following instructions on braiding from this sight. men who rarely braid hair should really practice this with the rope before putting the moss in
. just keep it a bit loose while you are practicing.
when you practice whatever braid technique you like you will notice the total length of the finished rope ladder is at least 33% shorter then the loose ropes you started with, so if you want an 18" ladder you must start with a 24" set of ropes.
as you braid simply insert tufts of moss across the center as your braids naturally fold in and hold the moss in place. I prefer using Xmas moss as it's the least adhesive of mosses, is strong, and makes nice even patterns as it grows and fills out. I figure if any bald spots occur I can always undo the braid and shift the moss around. if you prefer using a thick rope and not braiding, and simply warp the moss around and tie it on with fishing line, then I suggest you use a more adhesive moss such as Taiwan.
I used a plastic coated fishing tackle weight on the bottom, and the top a large suction cup loop that's used for holding filter return lift tubes, but you can improvise and use anything including suction cupping the bottom to the glass under your gravel. you can use fishing wire or stainless steel picture hanging wire to attach the rope to the suction cups, or simply weave them right into your rope ladder depending on how skilled you are at lanyards knots and that type of artwork. you can suction cup to your tank glass, but in my case, I cup it to the light fixture lens only since mine stays cool to touch even after being on a few hours. I guess you can always suspend some fishing line across the top of your tank and attach the top of your moss ladder to that instead.
well, there you have it. if anyone has any ideas to further enhance this concept, or it's various applications, I hope you will share it with us here.