How to use driftwood to fake depth in a 55 gallon? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-03-2019, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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How to use driftwood to fake depth in a 55 gallon?

So I have a 55 gallon tank (largest tank I could fit in an area....I also want fish so I went as big as I could, not what was most convenient for aquascaping haha) and I'm trying to plan out my hardscape right now.


I'm trying to think about how to fake depth, which is the hardest and most necessary thing to make a 55 gallon look good I think. Things like short but broad leafed plants (within a carpet) in the front, and taller but smaller leafed plants in the back. I was thinking floaters would help minimize the height of the tank (due to floater roots coming down so it will help "bridge the gap").


I've been doing some reading on how to incorporate a hardscape with stones and driftwood into the scape. One of the things people talk about is "layering with driftwood" to create depth. I've seen this mentioned a bunch of times now while reading but I never was given an example. Anyone know what effect I'm trying to achieve here.




So.....I'm trying to think how a hardscape could help me with depth. Have driftwood angled instead of parallel with the tank? Maybe a big piece of driftwood in the foreground with the smaller pieces going towards the back?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 12:40 AM
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Sense of depth is created by using negative space with very few plants and/or lower plants and hardscape to create a open area that reaches further back into tank than taller plants and driftwood surrounding it. Donít make a wall of tall plants/decor that goes from left to right across back of tank.

Even take some taller plants that you naturally might try to cram in back left corner to get them away from front glass and make a crescent shaped planting of them around left end bringing a few sprigs of that taller plant or wood much closer to front glass than you think. Here note that big wood and plants on ends are actually closer to front glass than most planted tanks would be.

Yours doesnít have to be this perfect but note that wood and plants placement actually make your eyes want look to see whatís beyond them in that negative space.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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Yea I get that concept, but the 55gallon is so tall and thin.....makes things harder

Trying to go for a natural style, but I just can't picture it without looking flat.
Like there isn't enough space to have a proper foreground to background transition and to fill in the vertical height.

I'll keep the tip you gave in mind about bringing things closer to the foreground and using negative space. I like the idea of having some negative space just off center like in your picture.

Last edited by lettuceman44; 06-04-2019 at 02:53 AM. Reason: added new info
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 03:04 AM
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This is what I did in my 55 gal. The pic is kinda dark, but I made a spiderwood tree as a focal point, then built up with hardscape toward the rear. Attaching some plants to the taller hardscape helped with depth and height. Growing something high to cover the glass in the back helps. I used Japanese hydrocotyle tripartita. It's easy to grow, and it spreads. It'll wrap around tubes/pipes, and you can weight it down as necessary.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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Looks like both pictures posted used thinner more "brancy" driftwood.

Usually I liked more "solid" pieces in my tanks, kind of like Malaysian driftwood. Given how thin a 55g is though, would a more thin, branchy driftwood work better?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 04:05 AM
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Big stand of jungle Val at one end, pretty much front to back, big long strap like vertical leaves that go all way to water surface and drape across surface, framing in whole end of tank. Your tank is perfect height for that plant.

Go to other end of tank, put a nice big piece wood(s), angle it’s end/tip pointing towards middle of tank. Fill in behind wood with some Nymphoides sp Taiwan (2-3).

You’ve now framed in that big long flat tall picture frame of a tank. Its up to you now not to destroy what depth you do have by cramming that center area full and definitely not lining whole back wall with bunches of tall stem plants. Use a wispier plant like crinum calamistratum along back wall.
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Last edited by DaveKS; 06-04-2019 at 06:09 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 04:10 AM
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Trying to use driftwood in a 55 to get the appearance of depth is difficult, at least for me. I tried, but once you set the driftwood in place, there's not much room in front and back. Mine's more of the natural/garden style, but it really doesn't look flat. Photos can be seen in my journal.

Highly recommend you start a tank journal, there's lots of helpful folks here on TPT, and a journal will generate a lot of great help and recommendations.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the tips. It gives me enough to start thinking about what I want to do.


@Ken Keating1, I'll probably take your advice and start a tank journal. It definitely should help out.
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