The aquascaping world has been thrown topsy turvey with all sorts of new designs these past few years. We’ve seen the pinnacles, the islands, the arches, the feng shui, the focal points, the atolls, low profile, and everything else. But none of these new designs compares to the old tried and true rock wall. Bring back the Wall!
To give you some background on this article let me start by saying that I’m dedicating this to Scott Fellman. Scott is widely known as the king of aquascaping (well maybe shirtless hunk John Ciotti can now claim the title but that’s beside the point). Scott has given numerous presentations on aquascaping and has hammered the point home “no more rock walls.” Well listen up my friends, the reason Scott is so against the rock wall just may be because it is his Achilles’ heal. He knows it can’t be topped. He knows it allows for the best viewing, the best water motions, accurately replicates a natural reef, and above all is the most beautiful to the eyes.
If everyone were to build rock walls then Scott would be left telling people about inferior designs. He be stuck watching others create layouts that he couldn’t match. His secret has been to keep the ultimate weapon out of the hands of his enemies. But that is going to change right now.
Rock On! On the back wall that is. A rock face along the back wall of the tank is the ultimate in reef design. The back wall is a huge area of space that is just waiting to be used. Not putting rock along the back wall is as absurd as not having sand on the bottom (that’s for you Jake). That space on the back is just perfect for high surface area (bacteria growth) and coral placement. Rock walls are so useful that Facebook is considering a name change of “Wall” for personal updates to “Rock Wall” for personal postings (disclaimer- previous claim not verified). Still not sold? Well then you water flow loving Jake Adams groupies listen up- a rock wall is also ideal for creating waves in tanks and even laminar flow!
Having a tank with a solid wall allows you to kick your Vortechs into wave mode, and to actually get a standing wave that isn’t disrupted by the rockwork. If you prefer solid laminar flow there is no better way to set up the aquarium than to use the circular motion of water moving behind the wall on one side, and returning it on the other. In other words, dividing your tank in half with the rock wall running left to right.
Alright time to get down to action. How do you build one of these super reefscape structures? A few ways come to mind: 1- Stack rock into a wall formation (not as pretty, difficult to create, not suggested). This certainly sounds like the 1980’s version of reef keeping. 2- Build a rock wall out of a man made clay product (very cool looking, can be expensive). These “aragocrete” and now “aragoclay” products are created by mixing components that will dry into any desired shape. 3- Glue rocks to the back wall of the aquarium (very cool looking, easy to do). This has been around for a few years but still hasn’t caught on. Yet these tanks still take the cake in my book for best looking systems.
Shown here are top secret photos of artificial rock structures being made from clay. These structures are made on a countertop to get a flat side. They are then molded by hand and cooked in a kiln. Once hardened they will make very strong yet porous structures.
Shown here are examples of a hobbyists fixing rock and sand to a back wall. This is usually done by spreading out polyurethane glue onto the glass then adding rock and sand. This is all done with the tank lying on the back side.
My thanks to Jon Finch, Scott Fellman and John Ciotti. You are much appreciated.
Adam Blundell- [email protected]