Negative Space Aquascape Methods

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Harold999

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I wonder how long rocks will hold with those 2 methods and no support. I've seen thick rocks break while large thick colonies are trimmed.
While making my aquascape (thin glue and crushed rock method), at one moment i wasn't happy with a piece i did and tried to remove it. Couldn't break it off by hand. Grabbed a big hammer and knocked it off. It came off but not at the glued joint, it broke somewhere else.
It's solid as a rock if done well.

I did exactly what the Asian guy from the video did. Drench the gaps with glue, fill the gap with crushed rock, drench glue again, then again some powder, and the gaps are invisible and superstrong.
Don't be afraid to use too much glue and finalize with dropping powder on it which makes it invisible.
 

lostinreef

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I used the first method to put my scape together. I really enjoyed the process and how easy it was to make changes.
 

hizbaby

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I too am in a conundrum ... I want to build NSA's for a 75 and a 144 half cylinder, already have Marcos, thick glue, accelerator, rubble, extra sand... BUT! Some of my rock will come from the 90 we will take down, some from a 46g tank we keep "extra" (cuz everyone does this, right?) rock circulating in, and some BEAUTIFUL prize pieces of very large coral, which are dry, and some from our garage "dry rock bin" - cuz i saw (to be honest, look 4! every time we go!) a cool piece at the lfs ("baby, we should get this now it's the only one").
I too, do not want to lose any of the "good stuff" that's in those seasoned rocks.
The only thing I can think of is to pick out the rocks I KNOW I want to use, let them dry out so I can work with them, make my NSA, and then when the water goes in and the tank is cycling, put a bunch of the "left over" biodiverse rock in and let it do it's thing, then take it out when it's time to start the stocking... i know it will look funky during the cycling, with the pretty NSA and the "odd rocks" everywhere else but I can't know what else to do...
Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated!
 
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Thaxxx

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Aren't you guys concerned that with most of these NSA it will stress fish since there is no place for fish to take cover and sleep?
They look great, but I haven't done one for that very reason.
 

millticket

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I did my first NSA (large rock on the right) and used nyos reef cement. There is a slight learning curve but it dries fairly fast and very solid. This piece weighs a good 15 lbs and I was holding it by some of the weaker areas with zero problems. The cement dries to a grayish color which I don’t bother trying to cover. Now that it’s been in my tank for a couple months it’s hardly visible. Can’t wait for my @WWC frags to grow and turn this into an epic NSA! 40 gallon breeder for reference. I kind of went through a renovation where I pulled out some existing live rock with ugly palys and curing it over the winter. Once I can upgrade my tank, I’ll use that those rocks as my next NSA project. Only advice I would say is take your time and be patient. There were several days I had to walk away to rethink my design and to kinda bust up some new pieces to see what it would look like.
 

hizbaby

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I did indeed think of that! The 144 is very deep, so lot's of room to go high & wide, my NSA's in both will have a LOT of caves, arcs, and shelves, they will just be elevated so the "base" is not taking up so much sand space, easier to clean my sand bed, and places for single "island rocks" for zoas, clams, and such.
 

DeniseAndy

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Love the way these scapes look. Does anyone have any experience doing this with wet rock? I have about 150 pounds of rock I've been curing for 5 months. I dont have my build started that ots all going into. But I dont want to start with dry rock.

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I did the second method with gluemasters thin and sand with dry and with my live rock from my reef tank. It set super fast and no issues. Put rock back in after couple minutes. All good.
I will stipulate that I did it with a few pieces of rock out of a lot in my 210g. I cannot see it being a problem with lots in smaller tank. Just maybe run carbon for a bit in case.
 

mehaffydr

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Still wondering best way to do this with wet rock.... anyone else have any ideas?
Marco 400 cures in water. Just pull the rock bond it with Marco let it sit a short time and then back in water. If it starts drying mist it with water to keep moist.
 
Zoanthids

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Here is my go of it with wet rock (cured in saltwater for 6 months). I used fine sand and thin super glue. Took a few tries to get it to this point. The joints are stronger than the rocks. This is the first of 3 I plan on building for my shallow lagoon.
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Bleigh

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I used the brs method. Much smaller scape at the time. I’ll be making a bigger one here soon. my video is below.

the super glue dries under water. So I’d think you could probably do the building in a giant Tupperware filled with water. The Marcos mortar is able to go under water pretty quickly. So I would drain the water out of the Tupperware, mortar and place wet news paper over the rocks to try and prevent as much dry off as possible. Then when it’s hit the time to be able to get wet, you can fill it back up with the same water (or new) and wait for it to fully cure. That way you’re not moving the scape until it’s cured. May actually be easier to aquascape this way cause I’d imagine the rocks would be a bit more bouyant in the water so there wouldn’t be as much stress on the seams. I may be totally wrong though.

 
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Bridgerdean

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So I loved doing my NSA aquascape. I used BRS ultra thick super-glue and then Marco.

I really enjoyed doing this project. I built it outside the tank then put it in the tank and let it cycle for 3 months. I did not cover any joints with sand. I hope coraline or coral will eventually cover it all up. I have added a few rocks as time has gone on to build more fish hide holes. the application underwater is more challenging, but doable. I have also glued wet rocks together without difficulty. my structure on the left does have a bit of a wobble and I wish I would have used lager base rocks. Happy scaping!

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Hooz

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Aren't you guys concerned that with most of these NSA it will stress fish since there is no place for fish to take cover and sleep?
They look great, but I haven't done one for that very reason.

If you do it right, you can have your cake and eat it too. I sculpted in some caves and there are some pretty cool tunnels through my rock work. My fish all seem pretty happy with it.

I used the #2 method with the thin glue and powder. It went a lot faster than I anticipated. I had all my rock pieces laid out and grouped by size, my cardboard tank template ready to go and my wife on hand to give me some artistic input. The whole thing only took me a few hours to do. I did four different structures for my IM 30L

It's the only way I'll ever do an aquascape from here on out. It was SO fast and easy to get good results.
 

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Oberst Hajj

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I used method #2 (thin superglue and crushed rock powder) for the 270g FOWLR build I'm working on. I tried building in as many hiding places as I could. I may go back and add some more in the future if needed.



I have step by step photos of how I did it as well as a video of the finished layout in my build thread.
 

burningmime

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I just tried my hand at some for my 180. I used marco mortar (the stuff that comes with the cement) and glue masters. In addition to the regular NSA stuff, I also want to do a few caves and crevasses that are designed for fish (and maybe a few sponges/NPS corals), so completely covered. Here are my impressions so far...

1) Breaking rock with a hammer and chisel takes a bit of time and calories, but there's not really much science or technique to it. Only issue I ran into is I used a brand new chisel and the chisel chipped paint onto the rocks, which I'm guessing is bad news for a tank. No biggie, it can be scraped off. Don't know how to avoid this besides removing the paint before starting.
2) They're not kidding about WELL VENTILATED. When the glue hits the mortar, some chemical reaction happens where it heats up and literally sends out fumes. My throat hurts from breathing it in.
3) This rock is HEAVY, and adding a few pieces together makes it even heavier. A big finished piece can be over 60 lbs.
4) It's not as strong as everyone says, at least until you build it out. It was holding well, so I flipped it over to reinforce, and my 2 big joins came right off. Give it time to set and add extra little pieces of rubble. Just take some of the mini pieces from breaking rocks, or break one big one into lots and lots of small ones. You'll find pebbles for most gaps.
5) Wear heavy heavy nitrile gloves, and have multiple pairs. I glued up 3 pairs making one structure.
6) Resist the temptation to angle every piece up (unless you want to make a pillar). Angle a few slightly down so there's more directional variation.
7) It's quite satisfying when all is said and done. But maybe that's just the feeling from sniffing all that glue.

I'll post pics in a few days when it's in better shape.
 

MamaLovesHerReefTank

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Still wondering best way to do this with wet rock.... anyone else have any ideas?
You can do it with wet rock as long as you keep it wet during the process. Don't leave it out of water for more than 20-30 minutes. Keep a spray bottle filled with the water in that tub and have a couple of towels wet with the same water.
 
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