By some neat coincidence, this week witnessed the announcement of four new products which have a different approach to building a mini reef aquarium aquascape. Each of this week’s artificial reefscaping materials represent novel solutions to using an alternative to live rock. The various choices for building an artificial mini reef structure include man made rock, ceramic rock, and epoxy putty which all are used and applied differently but still achieve the effect on lowering dependance on the harvest of wild rock.
Not only are we seeing these live rock substitutes made available in a range of materials, they are also available in a range of shapes, or can be shaped in the case of the Smooth-On offering. We especially like the prospect of using a combination of these different materials to harness the best features of each so let’s run down each one with a little compare and contrast.
Smooth-On epoxy putty overflow cover kit Smooth-On’s new epoxy putty kit for building your own overflow cover is a very ingenious one. For as long as we’ve been using reef-ready aquariums, we’ve always lamented the eyesore of the internal overflow box. With Smooth-On’s new bundle you can create something that will not only cover that structural blemish, but perhaps even create something amazing in the process. The epoxy putty and working and combining it into something presentable will take time, but with some practice you could really turn the overflow box around, and you can totally build it out of the tank and place it in later.
Biotek Marine Ceramic Rock Shapes We’ve been a big fan of ceramic rocks for reef and coral aquarium for a really long time now and like everything else, the industry is getting better and better at making beautiful shapes. Furthermore we love that the strength of ceramic means you can use less material, meaning more water in the tank and fewer places for nutrients to build up.
The big hold up to ceramic rock’s wide adoption in the aquarium hobby has been largely due to a trickle of supply, and it’s not that easy to build an aquascape for a 200 gallon reef tank with what your LFS might have in stock. Hopefully BioTek Marine will succeed in getting wider distribution for this unique choice of reefscaping material.
Walt Smith ReefRock and ReefProject 2.0 If you want to go all out with wild shapes that harken back to the glory days of live rock diversity, you couldn’t do any better than going to the source of that historic period. Walt Smith was one of the first companies to produce man made rock, and their years of experience shows in the diversity of forms being offered in new ReefRock. The purple coating seems to look a little heavily applied, but those killer shapes look mighty promising. Best of all, Walt Smith ReefRock is the only product which is designed to support coastal island communities who formerly depended on harvesting live rock to make a living, and the ReefProject2.0 associated with ReefRock is also designed to actually support coral reef conservation.
4th Generation Real Reef Rock The entrenched player of the artificial live rock market is the deceptively named RealReef. The new fourth generation of man made rock from RealReef is a masterpiece of live rock mimicry, both in its appearance and its composition. If you’re a big fan of how wild live rock actually looks and functions to be the foundation of a coral reef ecosystem inside an aquarium, then RealReef’s newest formula for making artificial live rock is going to be at the top of your list.