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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had some bad luck with my recent setup, and need to redo. I want to get some input so I don't screw up again.

75 gallon tank
I like the look of a stacked tank (goes up in back) but this takes a ton of material, anyone have experience with this? What did you use? I tried rocks, but the substrate eventually settles or gets knocked downhill, and I was left with bare rocks, they don't make a great planting soil... kind of hard to root into a rock. So my thought was I could make a retaining wall by cutting the rock to look like its full size, stack the soil in behind it and Ill keep the soil in place and won't have concerns about hitting the rock when I plant. But now I will need to fill the voids with expensive substrate. Is there any other options? One idea was clay, but I could imagine it getting messy, and murky. I also have no idea on how to build the retaining wall, wanted to use slate and some how attach the pieces together, but what could I use? Will mortar leach into the water? I am thinking about using soil master select, charcoal color any other recommendations, it seems the easiest, and possibly the cheapest? I have herd it drops the pH, can you avoid this, or is it even an issue. Is there a similar product that won’t mess with pH?

Help me out please!
Jim
 

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plastic shim

You can get this flexible plastic at some hardware stores that you can bend with some difficulty and it will hold the shape. My LFS uses it to do terraced scapes with sand. I've tried it and found that the sand leaks out the corners if it is just butted to the glass, but I believe it would work better if the shim went all the way around, like a moat or a vase. You can put rocks in front of the terrace plastic but they tend to slide away eventually. I think if the rocks were glued together or to the plastic it could really work. I have fantasized about doing this but never done it. I have also thought of using unglazed pots and glueing rocks over them to accomplish the same thing. The plastic stuff is nice because you can make any shape you want.

Would love to see pics of what you do!
 

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Terraces

Peter Champus wrote an article about how to do terraces on the Aquabotanic website:

Terraces
by Peter Champus

http://www.aquabotanic.com/dutchsecrets.htm

In making a terrace, banks of sand are built up and kept in place with barriers of some more stable material, Many different materials may be used for these barriers, but most natural effect is achieved by using pieces of bogwood, natural rock or lava stone.

Bogwood is the name given to pieces of trunk or root which have been preserved by organic acids in peat bogs: this makes bogwood very different from drift wood, or dead wood found in a forest. Bogwood can be bought in aquarium shops or sometimes obtained from people who have found it themselves in its natural environment. Before any piece of bogwood is used in a tank it should be thoroughly soaked so that it becomes completely waterlogged: this prevents its rising or floating in the aquarium. The soft parts of the wood should be removed and the hard core thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned before being put in the aquarium. If terraces are made of cork bark, the cork should be treated as it is suggested cork be treated when used for walls. Stones are usually used for the walls and terraces of a species tank for Cichlids (a species tank, as opposed to a community tank is one specially designed for a particular spices or group of species which for one reason or another should not be kept with other kinds of fish in the conventional community tank.) Walls and terraces of stones should be built with extra care and on the floor of the tank and not on sand, otherwise they may be undermined by the fish and collapse.

The accompanying illustration shows how it is possible to build high terraces and create the hiding places or retreats so beloved by many species. You must decide for yourself the position and height of the terraces but should always remember that terraces which run parallel to the front of the tank give no illusion of depth. That can be achieve far more effective by placing them at an angle, of say 45 degrees. In addition, the terraces should be at different levels and built up in steps, beginning at the bottom and working up, starting at the front of the tank and working backwards. A symmetrical arrangement should be avoided: terraces on the left and right of the tank should not be of the same height and shape. There should also be a clear view through to the back of the tank somewhere, through not in dead center at that point the terraces should be kept very low.

Below:

Cross section of a raised bogwood terrace. Strips of glass about 2 cm thick are placed at an angle, following the shape of the bogwood and covered with a sheet of plastic to prevent the sand from running away. The strips of glass are hidden from view by a layer of peat which is held in place between the bed and the glass bogwood structure. This provided the sort of hiding places that many fish require. HTH :)
 

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