Hardscaping- Rock Work

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The time has come where I'm starting to think about a re-scape.

I'm looking at moving towards a stone heavy scape. With a difference, and massively more labour intensive than anything I have ever, I'm expecting the rock work alone to take a couple of months.

I'm looking at spending a whole lot of time with a hammer, and an angle grinder with diamond grinding disc, and some stinky glue to try and create some cliffs and arches..

I'm wondering about shapes like this with multiple arches, I want a more natural look than some of the arches I have seen glued together from pebbles (No offence intended)

I'm currently playing in photoshop and still a long way from anything I'm happy with, but thought I would get some feedback on rock carving..
upload_2019-10-31_9-44-26.png



I spotted a shot of an award-winning stone heavy tank, Has anyone done anything similar? Was this created in a similar way to the green depot cliffs below?

upload_2019-10-31_9-35-26.png


What I'm trying to avoid is something like below.
upload_2019-10-31_9-43-4.png


The other tank that's similar is, I just want smoother transitions between the rocks glued together, that hopefully, I can get with the addition of an angle grinder. (trying not to cut any visible faces)


upload_2019-10-31_9-56-24.png


Choice of stone?

The stone that jumps out for a project like this is Pagoda stone, I suspect it's going to be too expensive, I'm guessing at £4/kg and I'm looking for around 400kg .. I don't want to spend £1600 on the stone. (Closer to £500 would be nice)

Also having never done this before I could easily end up with a mess that will never make it out of the scaping box.

I keep hearing that you can't use limestone as it will dissolve really quickly, has anyone actually experienced this on a first-hand basis? Could I just change the water twice a week to reduce the impact on the water parameters?

Any recommendations on rock types or suppliers?
pagoda-stone-11874719334481.jpg

Has anyone tried glueing in stainless steel support rods?
 
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Did someone say rock?

I'll definitely be watching this with interest.
400kg is a pretty big order, so I would approach a wholesale company like https://www.jnk-aquatics.co.uk/.
If you have a business of some sort, you can open a trade account. Or you can speak to your LFS to see if they use them and try to strike a deal, which is something I've done in the past and managed to get 25kg of seriyu stone for £42.50. The downside is you don't know what you're buying, but buying at less than £2 per kilo is worth the risk IMO. Maybe get the bulk of it this way and buy a couple of choice pieces from one of the aquascaping stores?

Whatever you do, make sure you play with the rocks for months before setting it in stone..pardon the pun!
 

SRP3006

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400kg is a pretty big order, so I would approach a wholesale company like https://www.jnk-aquatics.co.uk/.
These are my LFS and they are very approachable when it comes to bulk orders, whether it's fish, shrimp or hard scape. They have done a few deals for me with shrimp and other items. They have a large selection of rock, not sure on the price to be honest though.

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Andrew Butler

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I cannot believe this @Barbara Turner I was just about to post a very similar thread, saw your title and thought I should read it first and hey-presto.
I hope you don't mind if I piggyback your thread? :)

I'm looking to create a sand/stone only hardscape and as much as I'm forever reading not to cut stone I know that certain 'big name' aquascapers do so why, if it's done in a clever way is it so wrong? This is the main question I had.
What I'm trying to avoid is something like below
Completely with you here, I know there will be a fine line between things looking right and wrong but this is way past the line.
Choice of stone?
I think a lot of that comes down in part at least to what you like the look of and also which look you are trying to achieve. Unsure which one ticks the most boxes for you?
Have you considered slate? - Comes in lots of different shades, it will split along the seams naturally so would make joining and cutting easier, it will also have some interesting shapes to it and is cheap. I'm almost wishing I had chose it now I have written that and may still just do so and sell my £140kg of Frodo stone! :banghead:
 
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Have you considered Lava Rock?
I must confess I always considered lava rock as mat black colour, I imagine it would be a lot easier to work with, in a similar way to dragon stone. The thing that puts me off is I don't think I will be able to hide the joints

I came across Cotswold stone earlier, it looked like a hard sandstone and probably great too shape, Whatever I do it will always look like rocks glued/screwed together...


NewCotsRock1-650x455.jpg




Completely with you here, I know there will be a fine line between things looking right and wrong but this is way past the line.
For me, it has to look natural. Even if in reality it's a long way from it. The plan is to avoid cutting any of the visible faces, just trim them so they fit together ideally like a jig saw.. so you can't tell it's not a massive rock / Cliff.

Saying that I do have an avatar type picture that somehow made it onto my mood board
upload_2019-10-31_17-54-36.png


Have you considered slate? - Comes in lots of different shades, it will split along the seams naturally so would make joining and cutting easier, it will also have some interesting shapes to it and is cheap. I'
The flat faces might make it alot easier to join together. When I'm a bit further on with my photoshop picture I might buy 20kg and spend an afternoon seeing what it looks like..

Does anyone know where pagoda stone is from? Does it have a geological name?

I'm guessing Frodo stone is from Poland, I would guess somewhere near the Tatras mountain range.
 

Andrew Butler

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When I'm a bit further on with my photoshop picture I might buy 20kg and spend an afternoon seeing what it looks like.
I'm intrigued to see the photoshop picture now.
I've a feeling having something in your head and stone in front of you will mean things just develop naturally and think if you try to copy an idea it will make it harder. That said, the general idea, rough layout and whether you're looking for sharp, interesting lines or the soft, curvy cliff type look in your first photo will make a difference. If you've access to some different stone to have a play I would and see how you get on with things, find out what you can achieve.
 

Kezzab

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If i were you, given where you live, i'd be taking a trip into the Peak District and have a good rummage around for "wild rock". It's mainly carboniferous limestone, like i have near me, and it works a treat in tanks. And its free. Look for abandoned quarries on a OS Map or any hillside where there's scarring/rocky outcrops. It's not like you would be industrial level pilfering, just a bit of hardscape foraging. Spending £500 on rocks just bends my brain ;)
 
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Tagged as I am interested to follow the development of this idea. I am also toying with the idea of a rock-heavy scape next so I am hoping to pick up some tips and inspiration.

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given where you live, i'd be taking a trip into the Peak District and have a good rummage around for "wild rock". It's mainly carboniferous limestone, like i have near me
I'm guessing the grit stone on the dark peak would be better than the Limestone further down south. One of the first tanks I scaped with wild rocks but you don't get the textures that your seiyu stone has.

I'm intrigued to see the photoshop picture now.
I'm not happy with it yet, it was great while in my head but didn't work so well on the computer screen. It's an amazingly powerful tool even if it's taken a while to learn. I'm not looking for something photo realistic just something where I can get a feeling for the balance.
Probably not as much fun as a scape box but I don't need to buy anything.
 

Andrew Butler

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Probably not as much fun as a scape box but I don't need to buy anything
I'd say regardless of using photoshop or not (which I still think is a nice idea) to get the general layout a scape box is something quite worthwhile practically, especially for what you're doing. Stones will be in/out quite a lot and it's asking for trouble in my opinion.
I'm unsure quite how big your aquarium is but you can buy the wood cut to size for most 1200mm or less aquariums for sub £30 - loads of places like B&Q offer it as a free service or charge a small amount for each cut on the big panel saws they have. Then you just need a drill with some bits, a pencil and a few screws - et voila!
One of the first tanks I scaped with wild rocks but you don't get the textures that your seiyu stone has.
What kind of texture are you after? If you are looking to recreate something along the lines
some stinky glue
There are other glues around, lookup reef putty, reef cement or just a superglue if the joints are all tight. Colour of the reef putty and cement can be a problem but all depends on the stone you choose and look around as there are different coloured ones.

I had a look through that video and to be honest I'm not all that impressed with the rockwork as a stand alone structure, even just looking at the aquarium when finished I'm not a huge fan but the competition photo I do think looks dramatic and very different - I think this shows how this is a competition tank and not one intended for longevity in the home which I guess is what you are looking to achieve? The great voids behind the stonework etc just aren't practical in my opinion.
 

Kezzab

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I'm guessing the grit stone on the dark peak would be better than the Limestone further down south. One of the first tanks I scaped with wild rocks but you don't get the textures that your seiyu stone has.
I'm not sure thats true about the texture, especially with the limestone (whixh isnt the kind that dissolves fast). Pics of past scape of mine and my "stash" below. I think its plenty textured but not quite seiyru level. But it was £0.
20190209_222716.jpg
20191031_204145.jpg
 

david boden

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HI Barbara , I'm no aquascaper myself, just a simple shrimper using bogwood and some dragon stone.
However, I do have some construction background, and couldn't help feeling the need to tell you something you already know, I'm pretty sure.

-------That tank is gonna be bloomin' heavy !......be very careful how you support its weight.

That's it-----bye
 

Kalum

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HI Barbara , I'm no aquascaper myself, just a simple shrimper using bogwood and some dragon stone.
However, I do have some construction background, and couldn't help feeling the need to tell you something you already know, I'm pretty sure.

-------That tank is gonna be bloomin' heavy !......be very careful how you support its weight.

That's it-----bye
Yes, I was thinking that as well. Also if you’re “building” a scape from lots of pieces what happens if a big bit falls off?!

Good luck with the project, looking forward to seeing some pictures when it’s finished.
 

Andrew Butler

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I brought a layout from them before too when I was having problems finding any large stone in the UK, as @Kalum says you sure do pay for the pleasure or not as was in my case. The photos they sent were very misleading so I sent the lot back. The moss is there in large to hide the joints which is a shame as I think it highlights them instead in some places. More recently they seem to be more focused on gluing lots of smaller pieces together and selling them kind of ready assembled which is good in some ways.

if you’re “building” a scape from lots of pieces what happens if a big bit falls off?!
You can do things like add rods/dowels and use them to reinforce the joints, if you clean and prepare the joints properly they should be at least as strong as the stone itself.

Are the pictures above from Aquaman the kind of thing you're looking towards @Barbara Turner ?
 
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re the pictures above from Aquaman the kind of thing you're looking towards @Barbara Turner ?
Yes and No.. I Love the shape and texture Aquaman gets, Just a shame the stone is so expensive. Hopefully, I can get a similar appearance with a cheaper rock.
I'm going for more of a stone jungle using a whole range of plants to get a range of colours and textures.

I'm still working out a plan.
 
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I brought a layout from them before too when I was having problems finding any large stone in the UK, as @Kalum says you sure do pay for the pleasure or not as was in my case. The photos they sent were very misleading so I sent the lot back. The moss is there in large to hide the joints which is a shame as I think it highlights them instead in some places. More recently they seem to be more focused on gluing lots of smaller pieces together and selling them kind of ready assembled which is good in some ways.
Looking at the stone closely, do you think they grind the faces before they glue them? How thick are some of the glue joints, I'm guessing the glue is a similar colour to the rock?
 

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