Aquascaping with big rocks--is weight an issue? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-15-2006, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Aquascaping with big rocks--is weight an issue?

Would it be risky to use a bunch of rocks in a glass aquarium? Is it a good idea to lay out some eggcrate stuff first to spread out the load? Am I being excessively paranoid?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-15-2006, 07:25 PM
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I don't think you are being excessively paranoid. I think you are taking everything into consideration.

While the substrate will help to distribute the weight of the rocks, the weight is still going to be pretty concentrated on a small spot. I think the egg crate is a great idea to help distribute the weight of the stones much better than substrate alone. Egg crate is cheap enough as well. If I were setting something similar up, I would do the same.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-15-2006, 07:28 PM
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The African Cichlid people use egg crate when they put a lot of big rocks in tanks.

-Craig
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-15-2006, 08:14 PM
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Besides the obvious weight (which isn't THAT great under water) the other issue is while setting up the tank, you might just accidently smash a boulder into the front glass pane, and...

Here is what I have done to prevent that... I use styrofoam sheets, maybe 1/2 in thickness. I figure out how to place the rock. Then heat it over a gas stove, and push it gently into the styrofoam. Not too hot of course, just enough to get a good shape. The styrofoam bonds slightly to the rock.

This way, the rocks are stable, can't fall into the glass sides, and the bottom glass is protected too. All of this of course before any substrate is added, and only for bigger rocks.


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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-15-2006, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. The styrofoam trick intrigues me...I was planning on gluing some rocks together in a fabulous formation before sticking them in, which, now that you mention it, seems like a good way to hurt something/someone. I don't want to rent a crane.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 05:26 PM
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Eggcrate is great. I have 130 lbs of rocks in my 125 g SA cichlid tank. If you lay down the rocks directly on the eggcrate and then put in the substrate, you don't have to worry about undermining by fish or gravel vacuuming. I didn't do that, and ended up having to scoop the gravel aside before putting the rocks on.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 06:51 PM
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what is this eggcrate material of which you speak?

Jason
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 08:02 PM
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It's actually the fluorescent light diffuser that you find at hardward stores. It's a grid of plastic laths.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh
what is this eggcrate material of which you speak?
It is the square grid that you often see used with fluorescent lighting to diffuse the light.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 08:42 PM
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I have somewhere in the area of 200lbs of rock in my 90 gallon tall Mbuna tank. Before I put any substrate in, I put down a sheet of styrofoam about 3/4"-1" thick on the bottom. Then I layed down the substrate. Then I started to arrange the base rock structures. Once I had a solid first layer of rock work, I put river rocks (dark blue; get in bags from lowes) on the substrate all around the bottom rocks (so the fish couldn't dig out underneath and commit xenocide). Then I built more caves on top of the supporting rocks, all the way up to the top.

Here's a picture from before I learned to put rock around the bases to keep them from digging out the caves. There was about 140lbs of rock in the tank at this time, and the structure was initially about 4" higher before they started digging. I'll get some pics of the new and improved cave structure in the near future.

Rock Work
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 08:52 PM
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You can also put a sheet of acrylic on the bottom of your tank prior to putting rocks in.

The idea is to prevent a rock from sitting directly on one or two pebbled from the substrate, and putting a lot of pressure on a small part of the glass, thus breaking it.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, all. I'll probably go with egg crate as it's easy to find and easy to handle. But, the foam has advantages...could I use slate flooring on styrofoam to tile the bottom of the tank? This will be a low-tech, lightly planted tank, and I'm thinking about going almost substrateless and trying to grow epiphytes (what do you call plants like java fern that grow on stuff instead of in a substrate?) because my fish are bad. It seems that styrofoam would be better than egg crate for a solid stone floor since less crud would get underneath.

I bet I'm forgetting something...what?
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 10:49 PM
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The white styrofoam or the pink? Wouldn't it degrade over time?

I want a lot of rockwork in my 125, and I really don't want 125gal of water on the floor...

Jason
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 10:58 PM
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I am using the white styrofoam which is commonly used for packaging, heat insulation, etc. I don't think it degrades or dissolves under water.

The nice thing is that you can easily shape it to your needs, and lock rocks or slate into it by heating them as described above.

The bad thing is that if it isn't fully covered it is very visible.


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 11:18 PM
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Reinforcing the stand might be another measure worth exploring...I know I should have before adding all that slate, doh!
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