By Jeremy Richards on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 in Design
A custom reef tank build can help you liven up your Chandler tank and make it feel more special and exciting. A key part of creating a Chandler custom tank is aquascaping — the art of adding rockwork, subtrate and other decor to the tank to make it look nice. Think of it like landscaping, only underwater.
You’ll need to take several factors into account when designing your aquascape, including how the elements look together, the type of fish you have, the size of the tank, your reef fish tank maintenance, and your budget.
Here are a few tips that will make it easier on you to decide how to put together your aquascape:
Many aquascapes become jumbled with too many plants, rocks and other items. Too many items and a lack of focus detract from the look of the tank.
You can create a better design by creating a focal point and working from there. Maybe your focal point is a really nice or rare coral, or maybe it is an interesting sculpture surrounded by beautiful plants.
The focal point doesn’t have to be in the middle of the tank. Once you have the focal point established, you can determine how to fill in the rest of the tank based on where it’s located.
A lot of greens, browns and yellows are common for tank decor, but they can also make for a rather uninspiring aquascape. You need to choose a variety of colors to add more visual interest. The tank doesn’t need to look like your fish just had a rave, but you can add a few pops of color here and there to create a nice balance.
Also try to choose a variety of textures. You are going to have a lot of rough surfaces and jagged edges thanks to the rocks and coral, so why not add a few smooth rocks that are both round and flat? Or maybe you can add a few sculptures that are triangular or square-shaped.
Explore the different options and play around with combinations to find some interesting looks.
The needs of your fish should play a key role in the placement of the items that make up your aquascaping. Some fish need plenty of room to explore, so you will need to leave plenty of channels between the rocks and plants. Other fish need a lot of structure to explore, so you need to offer them plenty of nooks and crannies.
The needs of your fish will also determine the type and depth of substrate you should use. Some fish like to burrow, so they will need plenty of depth. Some burrowers like sand and others like rock. Having a deep substrate of sand can also promote the growth of bacteria that will clean the tank, which can reduce your reef fish tank maintenance.
Research the needs of your fish and other tank creatures well before you determine what materials to use and where to place them. Research this every time you are considering adding new inhabitants to your tank or making changes to your aquascaping.
Plastic rocks may be cheaper, but they look tacky and they don’t offer the same benefits to your tank and its residents as live rock. Live rock can help clean your tank, reduce nitrates, help coral to attach, provide a natural food source, and give fish a place to hide and explore.
Live rock also creates a more natural look for your tank and offers more interesting options for your aquascaping.
If cost is a concern, you can cover rock with a layer of live rock to reduce the amount you have to buy. You can also put dry rock in your tank along with a smaller amount of live rock. The algae and bacteria from the live rock will eventually spread to the dry rock and colonize there, as well, making it live rock eventually.
The easiest way to place rocks is to just stack them up. Unfortunately, fish can knock into them while they are swimming, or climbers or burrowers can cause them to fall over.
You need to make your tank safe while you are decorating it, which means making the rocks and any other elements stable. You can anchor your rocks by partially burying the bottom layer in the substrate. The higher rocks can be secured together with plastic wraps or aquarium-safe epoxy, or they can be anchored with a rod running through a hole drilled in their centers.
No matter how great a job you do with the interior aquascaping, you’re always going to run into the problem of seeing a blank wall or the rest of the room on the other side through the glass. That can really detract from the scene you set up in the tank.
You can avoid this problem by painting the back of the tank (on the outside of the glass, of course!) or hanging a picture behind it. Choose the design or the poster with the other decor in mind. You might picture a huge, underwater temple or maybe a lost city. Or maybe you can go with something funny, like a huge shark staring right into the tank.
The key to creating a great custom reef tank build is to think outside the box and have fun with it. If you aren’t sure how to put together your design, The Happy Fish in Chandler, Arizona can help. We perform custom reef tank builds, or we can consult on the design. We can help if you are installing a new aquarium or if you just want to overhaul your current design. We also provide ongoing reef fish tank maintenance. Call us today to learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation.