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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been making these terra-cotta clay structures for years. I make them as additions to tanks with lots of nooks and crannies for plants and animals. I always have some cup-like structure near the top, suddenly it dawned on me this is perfect for wabi-kusa and could even be swapped out.
Here is (admittedly poor) photos of the set-up.



Each cup has a wabi-kusa that I made, they have lileaopsis, DHG, Bacopa several mosses and more.



Close up of one cup
 

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I like this a lot. I don't quite get wabi-kusa (I thought that had something to do with emersed growth,) but your clay sculpture there with the plants looks great
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well the I think the idea with Wabi-Kusa is that it is a little assemblage of plants for either submersed or emersed growth. If you research Amano you will see that he uses W-S to plant masses of plants in his tanks.
I honestly love the emersed W-S plantings, you can grow plants that are happy in both worlds
for example


Variegated hydrocotyle and moss
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Clay Tower November 5

Early November, 3 weeks after planting.
Filtration is a tiny HOB filter.
Inhabitants include, copepods (2 species I think), 10 Malawa shrimp and 10 Rilli shrimp, Snails and a few flatworms. I love the varied invertebrate population, I know some people don't like anything but shrimp but the tank seems really healthy and balanced. It's like a freshwater invertebrate refugium!
The Lilieaopsis is sending out runners everywhere!
View attachment 56550
The "floating moss" island with a few Salvinia.
View attachment 56552
One of the Wabi-kusa's planted in the top after 3 weeks submerged.
View attachment 56553
All three "towers" have Wabi-kusa that I made and are now growing submerged!
View attachment 56551
My only complaint is I almost never see the shrimp. I know they're there because when I feed them they all and babies appear!
 

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DUDE! THESE ARE SWEET!

I do this too! All those ceramic and sculpting classes in college really paid off!

I'm currently working on a sand volcano. I have it put together, and I'm going to begin etching the details and attaching boulders when it gets a bit harder! I have some orange sand from Petco that I'm going to put inside once I do the glaze firing and connect the airline to the sealed path I built. Sand is going to be pushed out of the top and down the side into the basin for a repeat by the air pump!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
DUDE! THESE ARE SWEET!

I do this too! All those ceramic and sculpting classes in college really paid off!

I'm currently working on a sand volcano. I have it put together, and I'm going to begin etching the details and attaching boulders when it gets a bit harder! I have some orange sand from Petco that I'm going to put inside once I do the glaze firing and connect the airline to the sealed path I built. Sand is going to be pushed out of the top and down the side into the basin for a repeat by the air pump!
Thanks! That sounds pretty cool. I hope you'll post pics with set-up etc...

I only bisque/terra cotta fired mine with no glaze. My theory is that the porous clay acts as a microfauna refugium facilitating cycling and blancing some parameters of the tank. I try to make lots of different size holes in the clay as well for plants but also shrimp and if I wanted to fish...
 

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I'll definitely post up pictures once it gets further along, right now it's mainly structural work and it looks like a smooth clay pyramid, gonna take some effort to make it look torn up and give it a violent look.

I think the increased surface area for microfauna is a great idea! I never even considered using it for that purpose, usually I go to lava rocks to accomplish that!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't bisque clay be structurally weaker than glaze fired clay? I'm sure the second firing is a lot hotter and that causes the clay to melt and become stone. Would it ever break down or leach anything into the water if you kept it bisqueware?

One of the main reasons I commit to the second firing is that I don't want my bisque to get waterlogged and then crumble, I only use 100% porcelain clay, have worked with Terra Cotta (making pots and vases) but I've never actually used Terra Cotta in aquatic conditions!
 

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My advice is to go for it! But don't let the class limit what you do! Get a bag of clay and start making things with it!

The classes are for improving your efficiency with the clay, not to teach you creativity! I remember when I first started out in high school, it took me 2 hours to make a pinch pot, or to roll out slabs and make a box.

Nowadays (6 years later) I can hand toss a 4 sq. ft. slab of clay without it tearing and crank out pinch pots at 5 minutes per! I had a professor who could throw 3ft tall vases one after another all class period long, it's amazing how great you can get at this craft if you work at it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Bisqued clay is definately not as strong as high-fired stoneware, but I've been playing with them for years with no issues. The only problem I can see is because they're porous if they freeze while water-soaked it will destroy them. But I've moved them around, picked them up in many different ways.
The bisque looks like pumice rock (almost).
As for making your own ,definately go for it, I buy premixed clay online, probably $25.00 shipped. Roll out with rolling pin, newspaper inside for support, cover with plastic to slow drying to prevent cracking.
In theory one could fire piece in a bonfire or something like that, that's a little unpredictable but if you get the piece to glow its definately fired enough!
The whole process is a lot of fun!
I'll post some other pieces when I get time...
 

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Ouch man! $25 shipped sucks. I get my 100% porcelain clay from my old high school teacher for $8 a 20lb bag. He buys thousands of pounds at a time and saves a massive amount because he gets a teacher discount, I take advantage of that.

I would love to see some of your other pieces, I actually think my next project will be replicating what you've done here, I want to try it myself.

I don't think I'll ever take one of these out and freeze them, so as long as they maintain their integrity underwater that's good enough for me.

As for different firing methods, I've actually done bonfire firings, it's not good, at least for aquarium use. The ash gets fused with the clay and then leaches into the water, not good at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Current status of my Clay Tower aquarium. Everything is going great guns. With only a small hair algae issue everything seems quite balanced.




The floating moss island, bobbing around with Salvinia and Duckweed


Baby Rilli or Malawa shrimp


The wabi-kusa balls are still going strong submerged, although you cant even recognize them anymore!



Copepod on the glass, there are hundreds if not thousands are living in this tank!
My theory is that if the copepods are happy the shrimp are happy! I'm not sure what experience others have had.
 

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I love it!!

Working w/ clay is neat. I haven't done it for YEARS and don't have the room now.

So I want to see lot's of pics:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
So I discovered a way to clean up plants and feed my shrimp. I put plant or moss from my other tanks and let them clean each plant.
The shrimp mob the plants in all sizes. The next day I switch in a new plant
One of my best Rillis
View attachment 58297
 

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that is SO funny... i just did that with my frogbits today... now for the planted ones... i'm thinking mr betta will have to 'vacation' for a day or two while the shrimp move in and clean.
 

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I love it!
Now I want to try something like this :)
 
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