Here’s a cheap and (sorta) easy DIY rock wall

Discussion in 'Aquascape Discussion' started by Gregg @ ADP, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Gregg @ ADP

    Gregg @ ADP Well-Known Member

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    As part of a rehab/reboot of a large reef tank, I had to find a way to cover up what is essentially a tall 3-sided overflow box.

    For years, in order to hide it (it definitely had to be hidden), I had stacked rocks up to the top. Now, physics being physics, it was difficult to go straight up without angling outward going to the base. That took up a lot of space. And physics being physics again, inevitably, the rocks would start to fall or slide. Here’s the reboot thread if you’re interested in following the project: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/waking-up-from-the-nightmare-build-the-reboot.538918/

    I finally came up with an idea to build a wall upon which I could mount rock shelves. If you have some live (or dry) rock lying around, this is a sub-$50 job.

    Materials:
    - plastic louvre (egg crate)
    - hydraulic cement
    - 1/8” acrylic sheet
    - 1/2” (or so) acrylic rods
    - Weldon 4 and plastic epoxy
    - live/dry rock (sm-med pieces, shelf pieces, rubble pieces)
    - drill and mortar bit sized for the acrylic rods

    Pretty simple construction:
    - cut some acrylic sheet pieces and use epoxy to attach them to the louvre where you want to build a shelf
    - cut acrylic rods into 3-6” pieces, depending on size of the shelf pieces and weld them onto the acrylic pieces where you want shelves
    - once cured, mix a small amount of hydraulic cement and pack it around the base of the rods (as extra reinforcement)
    - organize the small to medium rock pieces to construct the wall
    - mix roughly a large handful of cement at a time, at a viscosity of very thick pudding
    - begin packing the cement onto the louvre, and pack rock pieces on at the same time. The cement begins to harden fairly quickly, so it helps to work fast
    - as you go, use rubble and pulverized rock to cover exposed cement, as it is difficult to get algae/coralline growing on the cement
    - work your way up the wall. Use small or very flat pieces where the shelves will be mounted.
    - let it cure for ~24hrs

    The walls end up being incredibly sturdy. The will stand freely if you construct a base, but they really should be bonded to the aquarium. I had the aquarium drained and dry, and I simply lathered the back of the wall with epoxy, stuck the walls on, and held them in place with PVC wedged between the wall and the aquarium panel.

    I was really, really worried about the stability of the structure, but it is beyond solid. The acrylic rods are able to hold up shelf pieces over 10lbs with no problem at all.

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  2. Gregg @ ADP

    Gregg @ ADP Well-Known Member

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    Additional info:

    I used acrylic rods because they are really, really strong. Also, if you get a good weld of the rod onto the acrylic sheet, it’s not going anywhere, ever.

    To get a good weld, you really need to have a good straight cut on the rod with no/very little angle on it. If you don’t have a good saw, vice, etc on hand (I didn’t), you can get a very nice cut with PVC cutters. Took me a few cuts to get a good 90deg cut, but if you play with it, you’ll figure out how to angle and kinda pull on the rod as you cut through it with the cutters to get a nice 90 and perfectly smooth cut. Makes the weld so much easier.

    Big shelves, obviously use multiple rods. I had one piece that was more that 15 lbs on 2 rods, and it didn’t wiggle a bit or even droop a millimeter. Very sturdy. Line up the shelf piece to the rods, mark the rock, and drill.

    Put the wall in and cement it on before adding your shelf pieces. If you want to reinforce the shelf onto the acrylic rods, add the shelf after wall is installed and add some 2-part aquarium epoxy. I actually did not do this, because I wanted to be able to remove shelves.
     
  3. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Thanks for the write up!
     
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  4. SPR1968

    SPR1968 Fish & Coral Addict! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Reef Tank 365 R2R Secret Santa UK Reef Club Member Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor

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    That’s a really great idea and it’s very effective in the tank.
     
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