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Tech is fine, but where's the esthetic help?

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Macbeth417

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Oct 18, 2003
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So here's the deal.

I can read and find tech articles till the cowfish come home, but when it comes to aquascaping I always wish I could find a little more info, pictures or suggestions. I have been looking over Reef Central's tank of the month archive, but other than that its hard to find a good source of attractive tanks.

Anyone know of any good aquascaping sites?

After all what good is all our work if they darned thing doesn't look good?

-Erik
 

OnTheReef

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Oct 1, 2003
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Location
Santa Cruz, CA
Re: aquascaping

"The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" has some really nice sketches which I found helpful. Also, one of the techs at my LFS suggested the following: Lay down a large sheet of plastic and layout sheets of newspaper on the plastic in the dimensions of the tank bottom. Moisten the newspaper with saltwater. Fill a water mister bottle with with saltwater and start experimenting with your live rock, keeping it wet with the mister. Put on some music, grab a beer and aquascape to your heart's content. I did this, but about halfway through a design came together and I just built right into my tank.

Another really important thing is choosing the live rock in the first place. I want live rock that's full of pockets and holes, giving me a wide selection of placement for animals and plenty of places for my fish to dart in and out of. Next, you want some pieces that are T and L shaped, and others which have a flat bottom. Now you can make caves and grottos by setting a T shaped piece between and resting on two flatbottomed pieces of the right height, or resting an L shaped piece with the short end of the L on the bottom and the long end of the L sidedways on a flatbottomed piece of the right height. Note that to pull this off it's necessary to buy more live rock than you actually need for your main reef -- I bought 120 lbs of live rock and put about 75 lbs in my 55 gallon reef tank. I have put the remaining pieces into other tanks I have set up since then.

If you have a look at my reef in the ID Research Gallery (EricsReef55) the tallest rock in the middle and the tall one to the left of it are both squat T-shaped rocks with supporting rocks on either side. Any place that looks black is either a cave or a hole through a rock. My shrimp, keyhole angel and dottyback *love* this tank; they are constantly sliding in and out of the reef.

Hope this helps,

Eric
 

Macbeth417

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With my Africans I am very used to spending hours working on out of tank cave arranging (Lace Rock usually), was just worried about keeping LR when out too long. I have looked at the sketches in Conscientious Marine Aquarist and they help somewhat.

I don't just mean rock layouts though.
I?m talking invert placement and color pattern as well.
All sorts of stuff to consider.

Thanks for your input

-Erik
 

mojoreef

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Jul 5, 2003
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Sumner
Erik thats a tough question because its all on you as the end user. When I was doing my tank I looked at a ton of tanks from all sorts of countries and styles , but also make sure you look at plenty of wild shots to. You could try to recreate natural settings, such as a trench look or an atoll, lagoon if your into sand. I have try to get a tank shot thing going on the review post but we havent had much reply yet.
Go to RC and do a search on german tanks and on japanese tanks to, it will give you some good looks.


mike
 

Macbeth417

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Thanks Mojo I had not yet looked at many wild pics outside of my books.
Can you suggest any good sites that have some pics I could look over?


-Erik
 

Macbeth417

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Been doing so research on "Japanese" style tanks and man there are some amazing looks. Not as natural as many I see over here but startlingly well orginaized in regard to esthetic color patterns and shapes.

Here is a post Im reading over if anyone is interested in these:
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=de14e0914c821dcfef180c278c75a7a6&threadid=53585&perpage=25&highlight=japanese%20style&pagenumber=1

-Erik
 

mojoreef

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Yea I am not a big fan of them but it gives you some real neat looks at structuring your rock. German tanks are neat to. Thier are a bunch of good german reef sites that show some amasing tanks. As per natural reefs you should be able to find them on the internet. You have to look at them differently because of thier scale

Mike
 

tankgirl

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Aug 5, 2003
Messages
143
I gotta throw in my 2 cents on this, cause it's something I'm very interested in!
One good principle is to avoid creating equal shapes (size, height, mass, etc.) And along with that goes avoiding splitting shapes visually in the center (either vertically and horizontally). And, avoid anything that grabs your attention that's dead in the center of the tank. It's more interesting to favor one side (of the tank) a bit.
Maybe a big mass of rock that's shorter and a narrower but taller rock mass. Some people like to use the seesaw principal; if you imagine the rock masses sitting on a seesaw, a bigger mass closer to center will balance a smaller mass that's farther from center.
Contrast come into it - horizontal vs. vertical, tall vs. short, big vs. small, color contrast, etc. On color contrast; if you put a purple acro next to a green one, both will look more vividly colorful because they're complimentary colors - across from each other on a color wheel. Another color scheme might be putting cooler colors at the back and warmer colors at the front.
Anything that "points", like a oblong rock, will pull your eye towards the direction it's pointing. You want the viewers eye to be continuously pulled, never coming to a stop. If your eye hits a rock wall, it will slide down it towards the bottom of the tank (or sometimes up if the rock is leaning differently), so (if your eyes go down) you want another rock mass (even a small spur will do it) or coral near the bottom that leads the eye back into another part of the tank again. Course, all this depends on what you want from your tank; some people want harmony and some others want a kind of colorful chaos? But, this "pointing" shape stuff is really helpful for achieving either one. If you notice what pulls your eyes around an aquascape, and start getting tuned in to that, you won't believe what a difference it will make.
Also, one really hard thing to do in most tanks is create depth, but you can do it with even a small spur coming forward from the main rock mass. Or, another really effective way to create depth is to put something narrow, like a gorgonian, behind an opening in the rock masses - anything to create layers of depth.
If you think of an aquascape as music; you probably don't want a monotonous beat, you want a little syncopation, some visual jazz. Some surprises.
As for avoiding even spacing - not easy to do since you want your corals to have room to grow and room so they don't touch other corals, but you can do it by just varying the distances between them a little, maybe putting a smaller acro a tad closer to a bigger one. Or slightly in front of another.
You don't want anything (rocks or corals) to be equal sizes or heights, and especially not a row of them.
But, you also want simplicity, and a way you can achieve that is by grouping. If you look at good aquascapes you'll almost always see things grouped into a few groups. If you look for that, I bet you'll see it right away.
Anyway, hope that's useful to you.
Not that I'm ever satisfied with my own aquascapes, of course! :)
 

Macbeth417

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Oct 18, 2003
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tankgirl:

Wow, was suprised to see my old thread reactivated, but I'm glad it was. You had some great stuff to say. I played jazz (trumpet) for a great deal of my life and never thought of likening it to aquascape, but it is perfect. I could liken it to improve. Once you spend enough time you just know what feels natural to keep that specific song alive and moving (but never static in in a improve section). You can feel the right keys, not just see them, and know that you can be sparatic yet within a form. The idea of weighted balances in 3d space is also great. I love your post and really appreciate it; gives me some great stuff to consider.


Thanks for the input
-Erik
 

tankgirl

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Aug 5, 2003
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143
Chuck, your tank is awesome!!! A real feast for the eyes! I just got a Korallin 1502, haven't set it up yet. Now I know who to ask if I have any questions!! nya ha ha.

Hi Erik, that's so cool that you play jazz trumpet!!! I'll be very excited to see your aquascape. Bet it'll be superb! It's a great thread - and kinda inspired me to get back to work on my own aquascape. I just moved everything to a bigger (260) tank and was so worried about stressing out the critters, plus so exhausted from the sheer hard work, that I put the scape on the back burner, to mull over for awhile. Smaller tanks were so much easier to work in!!! Anyway, nice to meet you!!
 

Macbeth417

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Seattle, WA
Agreed, Chuck has nice tank.
Check out his more recent pics though: That tank of the month pic is almost a year ago. Look at this one:
http://www.reeffrontiers.com/mtndewman/75gallonreef/images/03-26-03_full_tank_view.jpg

Sorry, for braging on your behalf MTNDEWMAN.

-Erik
 

Macbeth417

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http://reefcentral.com/forums/attachment.php?postid=359315&s=dac837d5e91a9d19db2e2adea39a3f7b

Extreme Japanese style! Check out all that supplemental colored lighting. It is definitely a sterile gardening approach, but still an amazing display.
 

Macbeth417

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Oct 18, 2003
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Seattle, WA
http://reefcentral.com/forums/attachment.php?postid=359315&s=dac837d5e91a9d19db2e2adea39a3f7b

Extreme Japanese style! Check out all that supplemental colored lighting. It is definitely a sterile gardening approach, but still an amazing display.
 

tankgirl

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Aug 5, 2003
Messages
143
Hi Erik,
Nice pics! Nice to see a more recent pic of Chucks tank. The Japanese tanks are really interesting, aren't they? I never can make up my mind whether I'd want the colored lights in my tank, but I always enjoy looking at them in other people's tanks. I forgot to mention a trick when you're aquascaping; if you squint hard, you can see the shapes better (cause you don't get lost in details that way).
What's the style you like best?
 

MtnDewMan

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Jun 27, 2003
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Mukilteo, WA
Thanks guys, I had thought though that you had followed some of the things I had gone through this year. My tank doesn't even look like that any more unfortunately ... It went through some issues and had some severe problems. I eventually pulled my DSB after a big tank crash basically ... I am pretty much starting over as of the last couple of months. Here is what my tank looks like now :)



Didn't want you to think it still looks like that when it doesn't :)
 

tankgirl

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Aug 5, 2003
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What a loss, Chuck. It still looks better than a lot of tanks, but nowhere near it's former glory. Dang. I'll bet, though, that in a year it'll be more glorious than ever. It takes a lotta guts to pick up the pieces and start over. Kudos to you! And a big hug!!
 

tankgirl

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Aug 5, 2003
Messages
143
Chuck, I was looking at your reef again before the crash, and since we're on the aquascaping topic, had to admire how you scaped the corals - warm in front, to cool colors then to warm at the back!
[/http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-10/totm/images/9-02-02_field_of_sps_1.jpg]
Well, that didn't work. Don't know what I'm doing wrong?
 
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