I'm going to be undertaking a diy project with lava rocks. The mortar will more than likely be silicon. And I have numerous tanks at my disposal. The inhabitants will be the world famous Hawaii opae ula! And for these micro lobsters I plan to make it a really beautiful scape. With caves and plateaus and even a cascading sand fall.
I know most lava rocks used in aqua design are usually red but I'm going to aim for a all black setting with some red involved. I know of a cheap blasting sand but I'm afraid the grains are just to big for these critters to pick up and feed off of. So I might just have to go with a commercially available aquarium brand of finer substrate. And I have no idea what red sand might trigger in a tank as far as leeching? I don't even know if there's a such thing as natural red sand? I am aiming for vibrant red the closer to lava the better for the sand fall. I'm going to be using black sand as the medium for substrate along with some aragonite
I am a plant fanatic when it comes to my tanks. So I will more than likely be going for the very nutrient hungry grasses such as Manitee grass and mangrove. And there's a special very thin haired algae indigenous to the tidal pools where opae ula are found. But obtaining that stuff will be harder to do.... I want to do a soil base of about an inch and then cover that with 3-5 inches of nutrient dead black sand. But as I'm very inexperienced with using soil in a salt water setup I'd appreciate some input on that subject. Especially cause it might bloom algae in the new setup. It'd be interesting to see how it turns out. I'll more than likely devote the 5 gallon I have to this setup as a indicator.
That said I'm going to be visiting home Depot for some supplies. Which should be fairly cheap just silicon, lava rocks and maybe even some sand and soil. I have 5000 lumens on a fluval led system so I should be in the gravy for a while. It should be enough to support the 5 gallon and my 20 long or a 20 tall and 10 g that I have. I also have a 100 gallon that's reef ready drilled for a future project. Hopefully for a growing and happy opae ula colony. The videos of 100's of these guys crowded in tanks upsets me as its very unnatural and inhumane
but I'm also just obsessed lololol
The 5 gal will probably resemble a couple "tidal pools" to give the authentic look for displaying in a close to natural setting. I'm going to be doing this by mounting lava rocks as a backdrop and building craters protruding from the wall. As I'm very limited in space I can't see much else doing for this tank. Probably just some networking in the rock work to attach a air powered medium to aid in the nitrogen cycle. As the lava rock should provide plenty of room for the beneficial bacteria to grow on. And this should serve well in creating some caves for them to bunker down into
This is going to be my bigger design pieces. Ver much a work in progress as I'm playing with ideas to do. I like the novelty of a cubby hole hotel design but it might be an eyesore and a lot of mounting rocks on rocks. But on the plus side these "low maintenance" animals are beloved as desk top companions and it might make for a wonderful addition to the work area. One of the main reasons I got into the hobby is due to the therapeutic effect that aquatic life provides. And it would serve as a great escape. I might do a half and half or even just a side wall with the cubby holes. Throughout the project I'll be making random stand alone pieces for this tank if I don't do devote it to the shrimp hotel
I'm picturing a slow moving cascade where mounds of sand collect in successive pools. I'll achieve this by positioning a pipe at an angle and then gluing lava rocks together. I've never seen this done but I'm determined to really make a over the top piece for these guys. My main concern is using a substrate that is a vibrant lava like color that is safe and won't leech any unwanted "baddies" into the envoronment. I have no idea what to get for this.. but the idea is to trickle the pools so that they deposit in a crevice at the bottom. I'm going to try and keep the ground substrate seperated from the "lava"
Well feel free to give me input. My 1st priority is getting the designs into motion so I can get them inside the water and seeded! We'll see just how fast that silicon dries! Will definitely be uploading pics and updating regularly. Till next time!