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Wood and rocks before substrate?

8307 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Sparklescale
Hello all,
I am very new to freshwater planted tanks. I currently have a 180rr that I used for 8 years with salt water. I have been using this tank for freshwater cichlids with a trickle filter sense then.
I will be taking this setup and converting to a planted system in about a month or so and will have a lot of questions as I get closer to setup time.
So, here's my first question: When I get ready to put the substrate and driftwood in should I put the large wood and larger rocks in first and then the eco complete? Just wondering if that would look more natural than just sitting on top of the substrate?

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Rocks always seem to look better if not just sitting on top. But just look up a few of the "Rate my scape" type threads and look at the way the rocks are in those.
I would think it better if the rocks have any size to them, to put down a piece of something on the bottom of the tank first to keep it from scratching the bottom of the tank. Egg crate comesto mind. But so does builders styrafoam sheets 3/8" thick.
Likely can scrounge either. With anything that has a thick sub like a hill you need some of the sub under the rock first though.
I have seen some tie driftwood to egg crate/w tie wraps and then cover the part that is tie wrapped. Not fool proof. A large piece of driftwood can't be held down by a
small piece of egg crate.
I would place everything first, and if you like your design and don't want it to every move on you, strap it all together with egg crate and zip ties. Here is an example of what I mean:

Before substrate (11 different pieces of wood):

After substrate:

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Very good idea's. Thanks.
I would have never thought of using light diffuser to anchor the wood. If I decide to use different elevations in the substrate like in the picture above can I use regular sand as a fill in the back and then top off with two to three inch's of eco complete?
a piece of slate and a stainless steel screw/nail is all you need to hold down a large piece of driftwood.

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I like putting in the hardscape before the substrate.

If you're the sort that likes to continually rearrange the tank, it probably won't work for you, but if you are good at figuring out a placement before setting everything up, I think it looks better when hardscape is set in the substrate, instead of just on top of it.

I'm also a big fan of bolting driftwood onto slate. Aside from keeping it submerged, it also lets you position the driftwood in orientations that wouldn't be stable otherwise.

Another advantage to setting stuff on the bottom is that critters that dig won't ever undermine them, and you don't have to worry about 'dead spots' underneath hardscape.
yea, I do seem to be satisfied with my initial setups in the past. So I think after a little arranging a more permanent placement would work better. Thanks again everyone for the great idea's. I am sure there will be a lot more questions when I get to start my aquascape. Glad I joined The Planted Tank.
I will be sure to include lots of pics as my build progresses.
There is a problem with fish that dig and eggcrate. It looks terrible when it shows. Garish white is not what I like on my tank bottom so I go for slate floor tile that semi- matches the other stuff.
I plan on just setting the wood and rock directly on the glass and then adding the substrate.
I am not sure if there is more of a chance of hydrogen sulfide build up with the egg crate trapping the sand and no way to really keep it stirred up properly. If that makes any sense. Maybe over thinking.
There is a problem with fish that dig and eggcrate. It looks terrible when it shows. Garish white is not what I like on my tank bottom so I go for slate floor tile that semi- matches the other stuff.
It's a lot harder to find, but on occasion, I've run across black egg crate.

Once in a while I'll see a piece in the scrap bin at the local TAP plastics store.
Eggcrate comes in different colors, white, silver-grey, black and clear...that I've seen locally. You can buy black eggcrate pieces at bulkreefsupply if you can't get it locally. Another option if you can't get the black is to paint it. Krylon Fusion paint bonds with plastics and is perfectly safe to use in aquariums after it dries. I've used it on past projects for my former reef tank and had no issues with it.
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