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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am setting up a new tank and will have a lot of rocks and also wood that is weighted by slate screwed to its underside. I want to have open sand in the front but aqua soil in the back for rooted plants.

Currently I have the slate pieces sitting on small microfiber wash cloths to avoid scratching the glass. I am ready to lock in the design now. I was going to use polyfil beneath the slate but it occurred to me that since the microfiber will not breakdown I could just leave it in place. Since the larger rocks and the slate pieces will be sitting on the glass I am wondering if this sounds workable?

The bottom line for me is not disturbing the scape since it took a lot of trial and error to lock it in...

Thoughts?
 

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Why bother? The bottom of the tank will support far more rocks and weight than you can get in the tank and scratches on that part are never seen, so really why?
I came into planted tanks after doing African cichlids who love lots of rocks as some of them were mbuna ( rock fish?) and it is true that cichlid tanks are often nearly full of rock from top to bottom and there is not a problem with it.
The bigger problem with rocks is getting it too close to the sides which tends to block cleaning and tends to form algae farms or the greater hazard of having not put the rock solidly down on the bottom as fish are able to get sand and gravel out from under the rock and if it is too close to the side when it slides, it does make really bad scratches.
So I do not bother about any potential scratches on the bottom and put the rock down solid to avoid the far greater worry of scratches which do show!
 

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I used eggcrate just to give me peace of mind - in case I dropped one of my heavy rocks. it also allowed me to tie the driftwood down. I used mesh media bags of lava rock to build up slopes.

https://www.amazon.ca/Homyl-Aquarium-Filter-Isolate-30x15cm/dp/B07P7C828F

Bump: I used eggcrate just to give me peace of mind - in case I dropped one of my heavy rocks. it also allowed me to tie the driftwood down. I used mesh media bags of lava rock to build up slopes.
 

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Perhaps my tanks are not as stable as some as I do often move and changeup the plants, etc. and that does bring out the problems I see with eggcrate as a base. Plants will root very well in and around the eggcrate so that when I want to move or rearrange it gives me two options, neither of which I like.
One is to cut the roots off that are wrapped in and around the eggcrate. That leaves me a mass of roots under the eggcrate which die and add tons of waste to my tank. I don't want that!
But the second is even less welcome as I have to remove all the plants, totally destroy most of the tank and get the eggcrate up to be cleaned off which is also a super ugly thing to have to do.
I look at it as risk/ reward questions and just do not find enough reward. I've never felt the eggcrate plastic was going to do much if I drop a real rock that is big enough that I can't handle it.
No doubt that the type of fish I keep has a definite effect on my thinking as well, as I do often keep fish who dig and that leaves a really bad scene when they expose the eggcrate so that there is no chance of a "natural " look.
 

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I am setting up a new tank and will have a lot of rocks and also wood that is weighted by slate screwed to its underside. I want to have open sand in the front but aqua soil in the back for rooted plants.

Currently I have the slate pieces sitting on small microfiber wash cloths to avoid scratching the glass. I am ready to lock in the design now. I was going to use polyfil beneath the slate but it occurred to me that since the microfiber will not breakdown I could just leave it in place. Since the larger rocks and the slate pieces will be sitting on the glass I am wondering if this sounds workable?

The bottom line for me is not disturbing the scape since it took a lot of trial and error to lock it in...

Thoughts?
You can leave it there if you want, but the look of your scape will change when you add 1+ inches of substrate in anyway so more then likely you will need to lift up rocks to sit them higher in the substrate anyway. There are lots of solutions for cushioning rocks including no cushion at all. For big rocks weighing more then 10 lbs I like to use filter foam cut to size under them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I decided to pull the microfiber cloth after my reading both here and a few other places. It just did not seem necessary.

My scape has the back side as a raised berm of aqua-soil and the front as sand for the "beach" or river bottom look. The rocks form a dam or ledge or bank to keep the soil in place. I used polyfil to patch holes between the rocks to keep the soil from seeping out of place. I am hesitant to place large rocks on top of aqua-soil as I am pretty sure they will settle as the soil moves or breaks down.

I hope to take some photos soon.

Thanks for your comments. They are appreciated.
 
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