Branch shaped live rocks have long been the most popular aquascaping material for use in our beloved reef aquariums and it’s always been the hardest to find. The wild stuff is made by ginormous large colonies of branching staghorn Acropora corals and manmade creations have struggled to match the range of sizes, shapes and diversity of the natural rock that we first fell in love with.
Cornerstone is a new reef rock company which we first came across this weekend while doing some aquarium tours in Houston, Texas and we were immediately drawn to the beautiful shapes and convincingly natural appearance of the surface colors and textures. If the shapes of Cornerstone Reef Rock look very agreeable it’s because they are literally molded from casts of natural live rock and it’s easy to see the way this artificial rock mimics the real thing.
Besides the natural shape and very heterogeneously colored surface made up of many different pink, grey and purple hues, the real draw to Cornerstone Reef Rock is actually its strength and surprisingly light weight. The special method in which Cornerstone is made creates a realistic looking reef rock which is about half the weight of typical cement and aggregate aquarium rock and you can immediately tell the instant you hold a piece in your hands.
It’s natural to conclude that more weight equals more strength but if you’ve worked with some of the earliest types of very dense reef aquarium rock, the dense nature also tends to make them more brittle, not unlike dense ceramics. Since other rocks are more brittle it makes shipping them without damage much more challenging, and it limits the production of larger pieces of rocks since a single large two foot long branch shaped rock might become too heavy to support itself and other rocks with confidence.
By being both strong and lightweight Cornerstone has cracked the code to offering some of the largest, most impressive branch rock for creating dramatic displays like the one we spied at Galactic Coral pictured in the images above. Not only are the branch rock much larger than we’re used to seeing in the reef aquarium market but they are also significantly thicker and much more similar to the wild stuff which is not practical to get your hands on in any significant quantity.
While it’s easy to focus on the Cornerstone branch rock, their entire catalog of rock shapes and pieces shares the same strength, lightweight and very appealing surface texture which is attractive even before it’s placed in aquarium water. We can’t overstate how much lighter this rock is compared to what we’re used to which means that you get a lot more rock for the price, essentially increasing the value of how much it’ll cost to scape your new reef aquariums.
For three hundred bucks you can either get a 32 pound of Cornerstone branch rock or a 40 pound box of mixed shapes which your store can purchase from DFW Aquarium or you can purchase directly from Coral Vault. You won’t fully appreciate what we’re trying to communicate about the appearance and light weight of Cornerstone Reef Rock until you see and hold some in your hands but if supply can keep up with demand, it will quickly become one of the most popular man made aquarium rocks in the reef aquarium hobby.