Sand/stone only hardscapes - no soil

Jayefc1

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The filter was already mature it is very over filtered with 2 JBL 1500 with in line co2 the sand is JBL zanzibar the sand barely moves to be honest now and again I get bare patches in corners but that again is from the filters I think the key to just sand and stone is really well filtered water and like ady says low light the light is a twinstar 600e on 60% and hung higher over the tank but still get reasonable growth from the plants and not to many alge issues
 

Andrew Butler

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@Ady34 @Tim Harrison @alto @Jayefc1
I'll try and remember everyone now.........
(I know I've missed some comments previously then I apologise and feel free to prod me which on which ones maybe important in particular)
I didn't realise I could have got someone to simply do a scape for me and send me that stone so I ordered a load buying blind, some will be up for sale when I work out a few things, not as it's 'rubbish' I just have far too much and don't plan on certain things going forward or have the storage space. Unfortunately there's not too many pieces that are as thin as the ones in the example I added as I'd quite happily settle for that layout and be done with it.

I'll try and reply to everything so might be quite lengthy!

This is to go in the all in one I have which gives the display dimensions of an AS900 with the filtration 'added on' to the right hand side, it's viewed from the front and left only.

I have Andys page open in another tab Tim, so that will be on the to do list.

If I'm to start this afresh then I wonder if adding the kind of plants mentioned alone would be the best idea? - a clump of Hygrophila or something alike might help things along I guess and can be took out once things seem a little more settled. (Tropica's guide for idiots is just for me)

I've never been the biggest fan of moss but some of the Frodo has quite square edges and moss may just be the thing to take the edge off. The stone is very nice to look at and I really enjoy the sight of the nooks and crannies etc, I imagine Algae will too. That brings me onto lighting etc that's been mentioned; I've a Twinstar 900S suspended over the top which I can control the intensity of and also the height which maybe advantageous.
I most definitely want plants in there, exactly what and how is a big question and I imagine the final layout would help make that decision easier..
The biggest fear I have over circulation is sand just getting blown round everywhere!
I think a triangular type layout lends itself best, sloping towards the back right but I'm always willing to listen to other views and suggestions.
A layer of sand and going upwards is the plan and think having certain 'key' stones maybe even secured in place could be a good idea; there's loads of products aimed towards the salty side of things and it will always clean off stone if I ever wanted to in the future.
Wood is something I got put off a little after seeing the degradation it had on somebody's thread in the past months. I'm not against wood and actually really liked the piece I made a while back but it doesn't fit with the stone. I did have some Beech drying out but not been back to have a look for a while at its progress - maybe I should! I know a lot of it was just too straight and without character, unsure how I'd fit it in either.

On the livestock front I've got some really nice Blue Neocardinia shrimp from @Steve Buce that look great, I also went just before all of this started and 'got what I could' and ended up with some Neon Green Rasbora which just flash under the light and some Ember Tetra. Whether they will stay together or not is a question. I really like how a couple of different species look in a big shoal or two and these are proving quite characterful. I'm unsure the Ember Tetra will be as adventurous as the Green Rasbora but they do sometimes 'come out to play'
I'm not so keen on the blackwater look but that's not to say some of the fish are excluded.
I did enjoy some hockeystick pencilfish (nannostomus eques) and the way they acted before but think that colour could be more important with this kind of layout.
I do really like the Chilli Rasboa (boraras brigittae) but I understand them to be a bit iffy with shrimp and would rather they not eat the young of the shrimp I got from @Steve Buce.

Open to suggestions on everything.

There's a few layouts I like and could take inspiration from but it's the execution I struggle with. Hopefully I can just have a play around outside and see where it gets me - straight lines and angles are my thing, not natural lines and curves.

You've probably seen it before but here's the picture of what I made before from a few pieces of Manzinita and with the stone being the size it is just won't balance out in my opinion. Photo just to give you an idea.
20181101_142323.jpg
20191120_144603.jpg
 

Jayefc1

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I like the simplistic rock and wood scape you have done when there is detailing finished off in the tank maybe some diffrent gradients of smaller stone to gravel to sand it would completely change the way you see it bit I can really imagine it already I watched a video recently from green aqua I think where the ADA guy used yoga Matt inside the tank to rest the rocks and wood on so they didnt slip and slide and to protect the bottom glass maybe worth thinking about
 

Andrew Butler

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The filter was already mature it is very over filtered with 2 JBL 1500 with in line co2 the sand is JBL zanzibar the sand barely moves to be honest now and again I get bare patches in corners but that again is from the filters I think the key to just sand and stone is really well filtered water and like ady says low light the light is a twinstar 600e on 60% and hung higher over the tank but still get reasonable growth from the plants and not to many alge issues
I like the simplistic rock and wood scape you have done when there is detailing finished off in the tank maybe some diffrent gradients of smaller stone to gravel to sand it would completely change the way you see it bit I can really imagine it already I watched a video recently from green aqua I think where the ADA guy used yoga Matt inside the tank to rest the rocks and wood on so they didnt slip and slide and to protect the bottom glass maybe worth thinking about
Is Zanzibar about the same size/weight as La Plata?

It was just a few stones I threw in to see how it looked against the wood last year but wasn't struck by it; although I was trying to include the big stone.
Unsure the piece of wood is quite what I think it is in way of structure/detail anyway - I was just happy I'd got 2 pieces secured together and made something that stood up and used pieces I had.
I think this system should do a reasonable job of filtration, it's around 40 litres.
The 900s can always be dialed down easily enough and as I missed in your first post as it's suspended can be adjusted in height also.
I've got some clear Perspex and also some polystyrene type material should I choose to use it but do think I could gain some from using some kind of glue or I used 'Nyos Reef Cement' with my marine and found it really good, can always cover it in ground stone/sand if needed but I remember it being quite dark anyway.
I did a no soil tank with the C02 coming up from underneath the plants.
Looks good but, that's almost a tease.........how did you make that happen?
 

Andrew Butler

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I need to be very clear that post #15 is not my work but one by Adam Paszczela, a man I would love to have the skills of and not actual stones I have
Check out ADA Polska/Poland on Facebook, his website http://www.aquadam.com.pl/ or look him up on YouTube (there's not loads) but I rate him as about the best out there right now.
 

Andrew Butler

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Sorry, I used a sump with C02 straight into the return pump, then down under a perforated plate.
Then I used gravel in some pots.
Just so I'm clear; you fed the CO2 just before the return pump (in sump) and the white pipe is the return from that pump in your sump and returning the flow (including CO2) to the aquarium under the gravel?
I'm unsure how that would work for me with the sand; but I sure do enjoy hearing about your 'interesting adventures' and things I've not seen before or would think of.
 

foxfish

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Yes that is right, it worked really well although that was quite a few years ago and before inline atomisers were really popular .
I could probably work out a better method nowadays but the idea of the C02 being evenly distributed up through the substrate seemed like a good one .
That picture shows a big powerhead but that was just put in to make a video of all the plants moving around, unfortunately the video along with many of my pictures is locked up in photobucket!
 

Andrew Butler

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Yes that is right, it worked really well although that was quite a few years ago and before inline atomisers were really popular .
I could probably work out a better method nowadays but the idea of the C02 being evenly distributed up through the substrate seemed like a good one .
That picture shows a big powerhead but that was just put in to make a video of all the plants moving around, unfortunately the video along with many of my pictures is locked up in photobucket!
I think you know I've got my CO2 feeding straight into my return pump from a bazooka diffuser, time will tell how that works for me.
No real idea about photobucket aside from I think it's no longer a free service?
When I get a chance il send you a pick of both sands side by side there isnt much difference
Great, I look forward to it.
 

Ray

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A layer of sand and going upwards is the plan and think having certain 'key' stones maybe even secured in place could be a good idea; there's loads of products aimed towards the salty side of things and it will always clean off stone if I ever wanted to in the future.

Yes, do that - if you are looking from the front left corner that corner will be the “beach” it will build up towards the back right in a natural sort of way.
 

Andrew Butler

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Still no real progress! The replacement acrylic as you can imagine in this climate is something in demand elsewhere but gives me some thinking time.

Wanting to have a cosmetic sand around/between the rocks leads me to think about maintenance a bit also; would it be easier if I can simply siphon it out and leave me the option to replace/wash it? To do this I would need something to stabilise the stone and have it as a standalone structure which I like the idea of, executing it on the other hand is a different matter. Wonder if by simply cutting the stone to the thickness I want and allowing it to interlock and sit in an interesting way would be worth considering. Making height up with something like expanding foam and seating the stones in it could be an option, maybe people have some others to put forward?

Maybe looking to use a shape like I have in the picture below where height is directed both ways and a little higher on the right than the left, whether I would include wood, whether this piece or another is something I'm thinking about more to give me additional planting options but it may spoil the look.

I think I'm starting to see a mountain gully type feel with sand between the stones if I can make the height up and I like the look.
20181108_150521.jpg
 

Andrew Butler

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There's an update to all of this, but if anything are maybe backwards steps :banghead:
After being messed around by various people throughout the whole project beyond belief I decided I just wanted to opt for something smaller, more manageable and hopefully simple. :)

I'm now likely opting for an ADA 60-P sized aquarium running on an external filter (600 x 300 x 360mm LxWxH) - something I've always been dead set against but broadening the mind is hopefully going to be a good move here.

My current thinking is to consider making height up in expanding foam, then set some smaller pieces of Frodo stone into the foam, which I have cut from the larger pieces.
I'm unsure if this is a good idea for starters, so welcome opinion and reasoning.
I might make this as a lift in / lift out type structure on a piece of acrylic depending on weight and how trials go.
The plan is to just add some sand between and in front of the stonework, adding wood is something that I would decide along the journey but if it goes wrong then I can just start again.

I look forward to constructive input.
Andrew
 

Andrew Butler

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I definitely think this will give you more scope - aquascapes and livestock - than the 45P
:)
Now the bigger one is gone I have room for the 60P, I hadn't expected it to fly from a marine forum in 30 minutes!
I also still have around 200kg if Frodo that I'm not going to need a fraction of though!

Any opinion on the expanding foam idea?
 

oscar

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Expanded foam for height in theory sounds a great idea..In practice i would think there would be other ways of achieving the look needed, as there is not much room for error with this idea/if goes wrong would take perhaps more than a little work to put right.

Have you a certain look you are after?! As there is as you will already know, many ways of achieving height within aquariums.

All the best though, and that is a nice aquarium :thumbup:
 

Andrew Butler

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Hi @oscar
that is a nice aquarium
Which is no longer mine. :(
60P size is now the focus, so please read on............

I've a lot of Frodo stone, which in general are larger, thicker pieces and I like the detail as you can see in the picture below.

I've struggled for ideas of how to keep this look and the only way I've come up with so far is to cut some of the larger pieces down in both thickness and size if needed, I say if needed as the stone is quite fragile and will likely just fall apart naturally.

Putting these smaller pieces back to resemble 'something interesting' is what I would like to do.
Holding the smaller pieces in place, so they don't start moving around all of the time I see as a positive, in my opinion at least.
Adding sand in and around the pieces is intended to make things look more natural and soften any sharp edges.

Defining 'something interesting' I know is very much open to interpretation, I'm picturing something with the texture of the Frodo with sand running between, almost in a mountainous gully kind of way, something I know again is not very focussed.

I think part will depend on the method I use and how things end up looking as I go - I'm sure people will say I need a clear plan before I start, which I don't really.

I have no clear plan of planting right now but am quite focused on minimal effort, maximum enjoyment at the same time as it intending to last.

I'm open to suggestions but please bare in mind I'd like to avoid soil and try sticking with the sand/stone only hardscape - the option to just siphon the cosmetic sand out and replace as needed is also a huge positive for me, I hope.

I've not ruled wood out but would like to try and create a solid base first then add the wood it if it's needed, which I imagine it will be.

80759981_581101942435735_1750064697693962240_n (2).jpg
 

oscar

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Hi @oscar

Which is no longer mine. :(
60P size is now the focus, so please read on............

I've a lot of Frodo stone, which in general are larger, thicker pieces and I like the detail as you can see in the picture below.

I've struggled for ideas of how to keep this look and the only way I've come up with so far is to cut some of the larger pieces down in both thickness and size if needed, I say if needed as the stone is quite fragile and will likely just fall apart naturally.

Putting these smaller pieces back to resemble 'something interesting' is what I would like to do.
Holding the smaller pieces in place, so they don't start moving around all of the time I see as a positive, in my opinion at least.
Adding sand in and around the pieces is intended to make things look more natural and soften any sharp edges.

Defining 'something interesting' I know is very much open to interpretation, I'm picturing something with the texture of the Frodo with sand running between, almost in a mountainous gully kind of way, something I know again is not very focussed.

I think part will depend on the method I use and how things end up looking as I go - I'm sure people will say I need a clear plan before I start, which I don't really.

I have no clear plan of planting right now but am quite focused on minimal effort, maximum enjoyment at the same time as it intending to last.

I'm open to suggestions but please bare in mind I'd like to avoid soil and try sticking with the sand/stone only hardscape - the option to just siphon the cosmetic sand out and replace as needed is also a huge positive for me, I hope.

I've not ruled wood out but would like to try and create a solid base first then add the wood it if it's needed, which I imagine it will be.

View attachment 154517
Very nice stone :) It’s just trial and error creating the hardscape, and is the enjoyable part. But you are on a winner with that stone. I would use larger pieces to begin with as your focal point.
All the best ;)
 

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