Aquascaping is one of the more artistic aspects of reefkeeping with many subjective guidelines to consider for creating the most appealing arrangements of rocks and corals. Some reefers really aim to have an impressive aquascape from just the rocks alone, others really try and build a platform for the corals the rock will support and we fall firmly in this latter camp (so don’t judge us for the simple appearance of our scape).
One of the biggest questions reefers have these days is which kind of rock they should use to build their reef aquascape since the hobby is now dominated by man-made dry artificial reef rock. The question of which brand of rock to use is a new development in the reef aquarium hobby as for decades we were offered a wide range of rocks, and we cherry picked from a wide variety to create the most appealing aquascape.
We recently experienced this epiphany while aquascaping our 400 gallon Hardline Acropora reef tank and since we had piles of LifeRock, Cornerstone and Morroca we just let the individual shapes speak to us like the live rock bins of olden days. At first we were simply aiming to build up our reef scape with the most convenient rock on hand but once we finished we were really struck by how ‘natural’ this scape looks due to the convergence of colors, textures and dimension of each rock type.
Real natural reefs are rarely built up by one type of coral which all eventually die to become what we call live rock so the clashing of shapes and textures is something we expect to see while diving. Those reefers who were fortunate enough to enjoy the early years of reefing will recall the wide variety of rocks available on the market with vendors advertising base rock, slab rock, branch rock, and from many different regions such as Fiji, Tonga, Marshall Islands etc.
These days it is completely natural to gravitate towards purchasing one type of rock since the more you buy, the more you’ll save but you’ll also miss out on having a truly eclectic reef structure. While our selection of artificial rock will always have some consistency within a brand the best way to replicate the diversity we used to enjoy is to mix and match from all the rock brands and while you’re at it, keep an eye out for some ‘legacy’ pieces of live rock which might be kicking around in the live rock bins of your LFS.