Mr. Saltwater Tank TV Friday Am Quick Tip #92: You Look JUST Like The Photo!

When setting up your saltwater tank, the arrangement of the rocks (called “aquascaping”) is a partly personal taste and partly how the rocks fit together. Some reef junkies spend days aquascaping their tanks and here’s how to speed the aquascaping process along.


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Comments for this article (37)

  • Josh from downunder says:

    Hey Mark

    Funny this is your quick tip this week as I just pulled down my tank to start over and properly! I’ve been looking at aqua scaping allllllll week and have decided with the two island look! Do u know if there are any benefits from different aqua scapes?

    I guess being more open the more flow can get around the rocks and lift detritus?!

    Love your work,

  • Jonathan says:

    Can you make a video on the best way to clean a salt water fish tank without taking out so much water from the tank

  • One of the best way to make your aquascape leave least detritus and maximize water circulation is to use PVC pipes below rocks and create rack like structure to lift the rock arrangement 1 to 1.5 inches above the sand bed. This ensures a passage between rock and sand to circulate water as well as creating less dead spots in the tank..

    The PVC rack has to be sturdy enough to hold the huge load of rocks and you also have to make the design such that u can hide the elevation with rocks and corals.. u can also use powerheads/wave makers to blow away detritus through there..

    Hope that helps.. Happy reef keeping..

  • Matt says:

    Good idea… Knowing my luck the kids would move the rock around when I go and fetch the camera 😛

    Eggcrate ziptied to small bits of marine safe pipework… Although with my engineer gobies I’ve just got mine on egg crate direct to the glass… they make the space clear for flow just by making there pad tidy… 😀

  • John M says:

    Nice As Mithun said pvc is good to hold the rocks. The next time I have to do my tank I will use 1/2 pvc pipe. The way I saw was to as Mark said put rock how you like it out of tank. Now make a rack with the 1/2 pvc going from bottom up to the height of the rocks. And but here the trick drill holes in the rocks to slide them on the 1/2 pvc. The top rocks do not drill all the way through so it sits on the end of the 1/2 pvc pipe end.
    Other way I saw is to glue them all together as one piece and set it in the tank.

  • Mark H. says:

    Thanks Mark for the good tip, the tank is looking sweet in the background… 🙂

  • Mad Hatter's Reef says:

    Like the new intro… Great Tip.

  • stel1os72 says:

    …PLUS 1 with Mad Hatter! 🙂

  • jon says:

    nice new into mark!

  • Darren says:

    Thanks Mark, great tip. You’re a week late though!! I spent ages last week aquascaping for the first time setting up my new 300l tank, it was so stressful. Will be much easier next time with this tip though.

  • Dave says:

    with darren’s comment, this is supposed to be a relaxing hobby ……….not stressful. LOL I find that the whole aquascape seems to change ( in minor ways ) as the tank ages, due to corals getting to big for one area or dying, so start with a game plan and let Ma Nature do her thing. Just remember, It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.Now I got a taste for some toast with butter and coffee …………..later

  • Mike says:

    Thanks Mark,

    Great tip, I get my dead rock on Monday to start the set up. For me it was perfect timing. 🙂

  • Reggie says:

    Mark, you forgot to mention to secure the rocks with some type of frag epoxy or glue (e.g. EcoTech’s Coral Glue).

  • Vince says:

    Good tip. I made mine a little different. I made a cardboard cutout of my tank footprint and put it on the kitchen table. Then I created and clued together a beautiful arch that would be the center piece of the tank rock work. Then I put it in the tank and build the rest around it. Works great, looks great.

  • Reggie…I use glue just to provide an extra layer of protection against a tumbling event. Usually I can make my rock work very secure with no glue or epoxy. A little insurance can’t hurt though.

  • Vince…post a picture of the arch!

  • edward says:

    I Like the new graphics! well done

  • Matt says:

    I second Mark’s vote… Vince… lets see some pix on the facebook page ;0)

  • Jason Reynolds says:

    I REALLY like the new video intro!!!

  • Joe Oh says:

    Mark, what type of glue can I use to hold the rock work together?

  • Joe…super glue with cyanoacrylate will work fine. These are usually the gel types of superglue. As reggie mentioned, you can also use the EcoTech Marine Coral Glue which is what I use and it works great

  • Byron says:

    Great idea!

  • Darren says:

    i also use the pvc as a base. But i drill several holes for circulation, a path for little creatures and it makes zip tying them together easier.

    I tend to get bored every fee months with my layouts. Are there any drawbacks to changing layouts every few stirring up toxic elements. Also, any tips on aquascaping with rock still in the tank. Im guessing a couple of spare buckets with sw to hold them.

  • Darren…you hit the nail on the head about re-aquascaping your tank and stirring up junk. I crashed my first 75g tank back in the 80’s a couple of times that way. Granted the filtration now is much better, I would still leave your ‘scape alone. If you absolutely can’t keep your hands out of your…tank…then leave the base rocks be and re-arrange the top. Do a large water change a day or two after and monitor your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. Absolutely don’t go re-aquascaping if you have a DSB

  • Alexander says:

    Get a new AC unit yet mark? Landlords right?

  • Mike says:

    Love the show Mark keep up the great info.
    Have a question for you. I recently set up a 300 gallon salt water mixed reef/fish tank. I have an external blue line 70HD pump. The pump is great however it is very noise. My bulkheads are 1 inch and 1.5 inches on both sides. The tank has excellent water flow however it is very noisy for being in my living room. Is there anything I can do decrease the noise level? Do I need to switch to another pump?

  • Joe Oh says:

    Mike, reducing the flow is one way to decrease the noise level.

  • Alexander…no ways this landlord would ever replace the AC unit. I crawled under the house as I could feel air gushing out of the crawl space vents and the duct work looks like a quilt. No 2 pieces of duct work look like they were installed at the same time. I honestly think the landlord went around and picked up scrap pieces of duct work and pieced the hole thing together!

  • stephen davila says:

    You should do a video about setting up an Quarantine Tank, just an idea.

  • Tyler says:

    Hey mark, I have the same kinda landlord, which is why im buying my moms house lol. I love using the camera method and have ever since I set up my rockwork from the beginning (was a sculpture major so I was on top of the rough draft lol).

    One thing I did when setting up my Refugium for my Frag tank was made an egg crate shelf with pvc legs. This allowed me to suspend the rockwork above the sand for full contact. This also gives a large cave since the fuge is on 16hr lighting, im sure some critters do not like the lenght of day.

  • eduardo says:

    Hi Mark I tell that I really liked the book but want to send me some instructions for a 30 gallon fish tank picotope and how to keep well I have two clowns and a damsel fish and eight polyps and how I can do to lower the levels of nitrites and nitrates and thanks folsfatos

  • Stephen…working on it!

  • Eric says:

    For the air and suction noise you can reduce the noise by cutting a “t” fitting behind your bulkhead and piping a vent 6″ above the highest point of water that will allow the air to flow in as the water flows down.

  • keith says:

    great tip thanks im rebuilding/upgrading to the 21st centry so thanks and as usual impeccable timing

  • Bjorn says:

    Thanks for the tip

  • Thanks forr this post, I am a big fan of this internet site would lile to keep updated.

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