I’ve recently developed a rock obsession, which is why it has it’s own section.  I am now willing to drive hours to peruse rock piles for treasure.  It’s kind of weird.  I found that I’m not alone.

You can spend loads of cash on lights and filtration, but don’t neglect rock and substrate.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on imported rock from Japan, but make sure you concentrate some effort on picking and placing them, since they will be the second (and sometimes the first) thing people will see when they see your tank- the first being your livestock.  I go to a landscaping/rock shop that has lots of selection and find rock that’s really dynamic and have a lot of character (crevices, holes, dips, ding and imprints of fossils) and when I get home I smash it to size.

Even though petrified wood is cheap, it’s versatile- this won ADA’s 2008 Contest:

Another great use of petrified wood:

I spend a lot of time aquascaping when I get the rocks.  I set them up on a table, then in the tank, then I pour in the sand.  Planning your hardscape without water really does save time and spares you a lot of frustration.

I like the concept of iwagumi and suiseki.  I don’t follow them strictly but I learned a lot from them.  I don’t know why but this piece really strikes a chord with me:

Rock can get expensive, but if you fall in love with it, it’s completely worth it!  Like substrate, good rock won’t die on you, break after warranty and is in your tank 24/7.

Here are some other examples of how hardscape can really make or break a tank:

defiant‘s awesome tree stump:

Andre Silvestre’s live rock hardscape:

I think it’s also important to make use of empty space.   Reef tanks tend to always be overstocked with rocks and coral, so a tank like this is a breath of fresh air:

And some tank owners have mastered using a diverse array of media (ignore the cloudiness):

And last but not least, the amazing effect wood can have on an aquarium.  There is a lot of conflict and tension in these aquariums, yet they’ll be tranquil.

jeromeit‘s awesome piece of driftwood.  I believe it’s manzia from Tom Barr.

And here is an awesome progression of speedie408‘s ADA 120P:


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