How to make create your own Negative Space Aquascape (NSA). Step-by-Step guide to NSA using Marco Reef Saver Rock!

joe berkman

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I think clay sculpting tools could be helpful with packing in the morter and a tooth brush or cut down acid brush for stipling and adding some texture before adding sand. Id like to use the rock from my current tank for my next build. Maybe pull a little out of a holding tank work on it for a couple houres and put it back. Does anyone know how long live rock can be out of the water?
 

Sublime Corals

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The problem with both is that one (dry) will impact the live live rock. It is great to seed the dry rock for sure but if there is more dry rock than live, well, it still takes a year or more for the dry to age. It is a lot like a young cab (wine). Buy three bottles and drink one today, the same bottle in 18 months and the last one in five years and you will notice a night and day difference in the wine. Dry rock, well, is similar.

I used 170 lbs of dry Pukani. Great rock. Affordable. Lots of nooks and crannies for the biological filter to take hold. At year one I could take a rock that was covered with visible corrilian algae and other things, lift it, turn it 180 degrees, and it would look just as if I put it in on day one. Two year mark take that same rock out, split it in half, and guess what? Again it looks brand new. Sure some nooks and crannies are nice but overall it is new. Live rock you won't see that. So when people say dry rock takes time to mature cycle, post cycle, etc - this is what they mean. It does take time to cover the surface area(s).
It is the best of both worlds imo and yeah its not ideal as far is it being "live" but better than just dry rock on its own.

When I decide to replace my rock at some point I will be going this route to some degree. I will either be doing a dry scape up top with live florida rock below or both in the display but with the live rock in some type of mesh bags. That florida stuff is great for all the bacteria and little critters but seems to be infested with pests as well. There's just no way I'd ever start with just dry rock ever again unless it was not a reef tank.
 

Katrina71

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I really like the scape. I think a traditional scape with hiding spaces and negative space rock on the outer edges would be beautiful.
 

Bill Bolton

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I do like the look of the open space but if your considering the health of the fish, is it the right way to go? I have over 40 fish in a 225 and I have yet to see any of them at night when the lights are off. I think lots of secluded hiding spaces are a necessity for a healthy ecosystem. It also gives the native fauna a place to grow and hide. I can't imagine having any brittle stars, pods or sponges in an open environment like the one pictured above.
It sounds like you have common sense and a wish to recreate a bit of nature in your home!!!
This is neat, but it looks fake as Tammy Faye Baker..... or any Kardashian girl. That rock is some super dense junk. There are so many ads online with people selling their reefs that there are literally tons of good, real live rock from Fiji, Tonga, Marshall Islands all over the country. Plus, real rock can still be bought online.
Always go for natural look!!
 

mindme

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So natural looking rock from the ocean is a little hard to come by these days. Have you considered using Reef Saver dry rock to bridge the gap??

Stop stacking rocks and try your own NSA! The results are pretty amazing!



I did this on my 180g. I'm pretty happy with it and would probably never go back to stacking rocks.
 

ScottB

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I think clay sculpting tools could be helpful with packing in the morter and a tooth brush or cut down acid brush for stipling and adding some texture before adding sand. Id like to use the rock from my current tank for my next build. Maybe pull a little out of a holding tank work on it for a couple houres and put it back. Does anyone know how long live rock can be out of the water?

Just keep a spray bottle of salt water on hand to keep things moist. You could work for hours that way. Keep an eye out for some little cabs etc as they will eventually let go and make a break for it.
 

rawhideshaba

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Trying my hand at this now. They really under sold the pure amount of glue you would run through doing this lol. 7 tubes of glue so far and only 1/2 of 1 single island built.
rockwork.jpg

rockwork 2.jpg
 

ScottB

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Trying my hand at this now. They really under sold the pure amount of glue you would run through doing this lol. 7 tubes of glue so far and only 1/2 of 1 single island built.
rockwork.jpg

rockwork 2.jpg
Yeah, I bought a 16oz bottle of Starbond glue and a pump spray accelerator. The accelerator is a must but does require some ventilation.
 

Stang67

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i read somewhere that you can make the accelerator with baking soda and water. gonna give that a go on mine.
 

ScottB

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i read somewhere that you can make the accelerator with baking soda and water. gonna give that a go on mine.
If that works I really like that idea -- especially if I were trying to glue live rock. The accelerator smells like it is loaded with VOCs.
 

Stang67

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I will let you know how it goes for me. I know it says woodworking but looks like people use this method with anything CA glue related.
 

mindme

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Trying my hand at this now. They really under sold the pure amount of glue you would run through doing this lol. 7 tubes of glue so far and only 1/2 of 1 single island built.

I bought the big tube for $30 off BRS and had a little left after doing about 100lbs worth of rock.

The accelerator I didn't order enough of. Had to go down to the hobby shop and pick some up multiple times.
 

slowleak

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I found a method that used crushed rock into a fine powder that acted as the accelerator.

Sprinkle the powder into the joint then add thin super glue. The bond is hard in a few seconds (gets hot and will burn you...so wear gloves). Do a couple layers and it’s harder than the rock itself. Plus it covers the joint so you can’t tell where one rock starts and the other stops.

1605637747160.jpeg
 

DonnyV

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I've read that you should cure your dry rock before placing in the tank. How would you go about curing your dry rock aquascaping if it was on a larger scale ? Is it ok to let it cure in your tank ?
 

mindme

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I've read that you should cure your dry rock before placing in the tank. How would you go about curing your dry rock aquascaping if it was on a larger scale ? Is it ok to let it cure in your tank ?

I'm not sure "should" is the right way to say it. It's more like you can speed up things if you cure them ahead of time.

I personally never do and just cycle them in tank. I'm sure most people do.
 

mindme

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On the note of larger rocks. 1 thing I came to understand after doing the aquascape like in the OP is that those things get pretty heavy pretty fast. They can get to be quite a bit to move around. I was lucky and got mine in, but if I had made them any bigger...don't think I would have.
 

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