Here are the pictures of past hardscapes that I could find. Documenting hardscaping wasn't the fashion back when I took the earlier ones so you'll need to use your imagination. You'll see a trend/theme to a lot of them. I grew up in Washington state surrounded by trees/logs covered in mosses and tons of ferns in the understory. That's had a profound effect on my personal aesthetic. I've spent nearly all of my non-biotope aquascaping life trying to recreate different images of that landscape. Mossed wood and epiphytes are especially important to me when it comes to feeling an aquascape is complete.
2002 "West Africa biotope" - back then we didn't have nearly the resources we do now as far as making biotopes goes. This was just two pieces of Mopani wood and a few rocks.
2003 Discus tank - Moss was left out to avoid algae issues due to the high protein discus food. The wood came from an online vendor that's since shut down. I think they were collecting from a swamp somewhere.
2008 75g Nature Aquarium. Not sure what kind of wood this is or where I got it.
2008 90g Nature Aquarium
2008 20g Nature Aquarium
You can see from these three tanks compared to the more recent ones how much having access to quality hardscape materials makes. The technique is still the same as the current 80g, but the materials make a HUGE difference.
2008 Rio Atrato biotope - I was really hoping the swords would grow out of the top rather than stay in submergent form.
The wood came from the 75 and 90 when I rescaped them.
2010 Aquatic plant project, aka Soul Eater, aka Master's research; my largest scale plant growing project to date. Started out with 1287 plants/cuttings/tubers and ended up with 396. We started with three replicates per bucket to make sure at least one of them survived then removed two after three weeks. I have to laugh when fish folks complain about having to run airline. I think I ran somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 mile to 396 buckets, each one separately controlled by its own needle valve, for this project.
2013 Reef rockwork - This was one of the few rock-only aquascapes I've done. I'm not a huge fan of iwagumi style 'scapes. It was 90% of the way there until my boss called and asked for the protein skimmer I was going to use.
How to dry start a 300g Dutch tank. This one was unfortunately halted when the company moved to a different state and had to be torn down before it could be filled. The idea was to let everything grow as much as it could before cutting all the stems down to about an inch before filling.
2015 60g that was once the to-be reef. This is when I was finally able to start making my previous vision(s) a reality. These are the four original pieces that have made the foundation for most of my scapes since. It's probably my second favorite wood arrangement and I may try to do something similar again in the future. From 2013 until the move it had been a plant only tank. No hardscape, no showie.
2016 80g original hardscape - I was pretty happy with this until I bumped a piece while hanging the lights and knocked the whole right side down. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I got a couple of smaller pieces of spiderwood from the store I used to work at, which made a huge difference. I love, love, love the look of lots of branches interwoven around each other.
Post knockdown rearrangement testing. Not so great.
Final rearrangement and what I think is the best hardscape I've ever done. This one fit the image I've had in my head for years perfectly while still leaving room for good circular flow around the tank. I really wish I'd had the patience to sit on my hands with this one. The planting was great but issues with CO2 and the usual algae breakout with a new tank frustrated me so much that I tinkered it to death and ended up tearing it all down.
You can see in this last picture the old T5 fixture I had. Wish I'd kept this too instead of selling it to get the Radeons. It really was the perfect plant fixture; 6 bulbs on two independent circuits. The front two, one middle, and one at the far rear were on one with the two others spaced between them. Great light with great bulb arrangement.
Pictures of the wood when trying to sell the plants. I may have been so pissed off that I was trying to sell the "planted wood" too. Can't remember.
2016 5 rock, 30 minute iwagumi challenge. As I said above, I'm not a fan of iwagumi, but I had an empty tank, extra plants, soil, and rocks so I figured I'd challenge myself to using just those materials to do a scape in under 30 minutes. I'm the kind of person who can easily fall into the trap of doing only one or two things until I've "mastered" it, so to speak. In the interest of being more well rounded I figured I should do a rockscape.
Here it is planted doing a dry start. I really didn't need another wet tank to care for so this was the simple choice.
Another terrarium/dry start tank using extra rock and plants. This one was more carefully thought out with the theme of an ancient cobblestone/rock road that's had generations of plants growing up through the spaces. Think an old Roman road going through an English forest. This one also stayed unfilled.
Finally, a big chunk of wood I grabbed at work. I'll probably end up using it in the 80g once the spiderwood has rotted away.
Thanks for watching,