Scaping and placement of corals

Discussion in 'Aquascaping' started by Jaco Schoeman, 14 Jan 2010.

  1. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman MASA Contributor

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    A lot aquariums I have seen, and even the one I had previously seemed to have looked unnatural to me. I could never really find the answer why, and then one day it dawned on me.

    1) We are not looking at the bigger picture
    and
    2) Our coral placement are right, but SO wrong.

    I hope this thread might put some light on what to look at when planning scaping, and how to place your corals.

    1) Not looking at the bigger picture

    When we plan our scaping, we often think inside the box, and not out of it. THis leads to us trying to build bonsai reefs, which really does not look natural. What I suggest you do, is think of the bigger picture, and imagine that your tank, is like a screen shot of a huge reef, then scape accordingly. Imagine that there is a reef beyond your tank, an ultimately look at the bigger picture.

    Here is what I mean:

    [​IMG]

    The area inside the blue frame, will represent your tank. So basically do your scaping around this. This gives it a more natural look. Yes, this picture lacks a substrate etc. but this will all follow. This is just to get an idea.

    If you think about drop offs, caves, arches etc. looking at the bigger picture is what is going to make or break your scaping.

    If you are, for example, planning the "island" look, you need to remember that in the ocean, you are basically building a part where a piece of rock fell off a cliff, onto the sand. Do not think that you are building a huge reef, as this is the out of scale, like adding those plastic shipwrecks. :p

    Once you have mastered this "big picture" you can start thinking about where you will place corals, what fish will look nice on this reef "frame" of yours etc.

    2) Our coral placement are right, but SO wrong.

    Long before finding a spot to put that nice Acropora on your reef, you must have already done lots and lots of research of what the needs are of this coral. This is often a huge mistake we make, as we neglect to do our homework. The very first thing we must remember when we think about placement, is what does the coral want, and where does one find this coral in the ocean. Again, to have it look natural, one must know where to find it in the ocean.

    An example of this, is you will not find, unless it broke off, a sun coral on the bare sand on a reef. They are found in caves and drop-offs etc. so find a spot for it in your tank.

    This last point shows the importance of knowing what you want to keep even long before you started scaping, as you need to cater for the needs of the coral.

    Now that you have found a nice spot for it, you start adding those corals. After a year, you look back and think to yourself, it looks nice, but still unnatural. Why?

    The answer is simple; we think too lateral.

    Because of the price of coral, and the fact that we want to see everything, we tend to place them in a military parade style, just like the placement in the LFS. Nothing is placed in front of or behind soemthing else. Corals doesn't touch, or lean over others. Everything is made like a stickman drawing. This is where we miss the point.

    Truth is, the reef is quite untidy, where it really is survival of the fittest. Everything growing wildly, and using the space it has to flourish. I am not saying keep a firecoral next to a soft coral, as there is the little matter of sweeper tentacles, chemical warfare and stinging, but with a little care, zoa's can be place nice and comfy under a torch coral colony. Let mushrooms grow inbetween cracks and crevises, let star polyps grow onto other adjacent rocks, and under kenya trees, acropora etc.

    Another thing we do "wrong" when placing, is to put everything facing to the front, and mostly at an 45deg angle. I can understand this, as we want to view most of our expensive new addition, but reality is, this does not always look natural if everything sits at a 45deg angle.

    Dont be afraid put larger corals at the front of the tank, like acro's, and then have a zoa colony behind it. This will make viewing the zoa's a bit more difficult yes, but this gives a great "depth" feel to the tank, and gives you an alomst mystical fairy type of feel, as there are some "hidden" things that the viewer must look for. Sounds weird, but try it, and see what great results you get from it.

    I really hope this might help some of the nuubs who struggles to find placement and scaping a challenge. And just remember, that even maybe with our best attempts, we might still never get it right, but we can sure try...

    Enjoy
     
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  3. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Here's a wonderfully built drop-off design!!!! AMAZING!!! Thinking out of the box works some times huh? And also note the corals placement... Brilliant and natural 5*.


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Nsteyn

    Nsteyn

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    urm ... where is here Jaco?
     
  5. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Cant you see it?
     
  6. Nsteyn

    Nsteyn

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    OOh that is one awesome tank.. I bet thats not the first tank that guy build, and maintained...
     
  7. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Here it is again...

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Dewald@Dorry

    Dewald@Dorry

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    That is a very out of the box thinking type of tank.:thumbup:

    Great, thanks for the effort, and very well put.. It surly got me thinking about my scaping as I mentioned that i'm thinking of re-doing mine...
     
  9. Fishy Steve

    Fishy Steve Hiden super user

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    That tank is absolutely amazing. Coolest fresh idea i've ever seen. Cutting that glass must have been a b!tch
     
  10. LuckyFish

    LuckyFish MASA Contributor

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    That tank is a real masterpiece. Very good find!
    I agree, the 45 degree reef slope is very unnatural. And putting taller or faster growing soft corals in front, will give the tank more depth. Depth is the most limited dimension we have. I noticed, many, many tanks in SA are much higher than wider. 700 high, but only 500 wide as an example. In Germany, we usually go only 10 cm higher than the width. If possible, we target 10 cm more width than height, because saltwater reduced the width even more than freshwater. Quinton´s new pot will be the new masterpiece. 700 high, but 1000 wide. I think, the tank in the picture is almost unbeatable. The idea itself, the shape of the tank, is already a masterpiece.
    I have to focus just on the glass. The cabinet underneath makes the whole thing look cheap. A better choice of other materials for the cabinet, would improve the whole picture. I think, a cabinet should be out of a darker material and the glass should be framed in black. It will catch the view on the brighter things inside the frame.
    My opinion.
     
  11. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Thank you Lucky. I agree with this. IMO (personally) I like things to be tidy (so does the wife - hehehehe) as it just makes people focus on what is important - YOUR TANK. Even the cabinet has to look good, otherwise it makes a "stunning" tank, seem to just "look good"

    I also agree on width. The wider you can go, the more depth you'd have, and the more natural it would look. I had a standard 3ft, and being only 30cm wide, scaping and coral placement was a nightmare. To get it looking natural, without having the rear panel as an eyesore is just impossible.

    If I may, take Hannesco's tank for example. A classic cube. Well built and nice and wide. See the depth, almost like staring into the deep blue of the ocean - that is what we must aim for.

    Here's what I mean:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Jaco, awesome thread mate! I could not agree more on the unnatural placement of corals. When my tank was still up it used to bug me on a daily basis. That drop off tank must be the best scaping i've ever seen. Do you have any other pictures of that tank, from different angles, etc?
     
  13. Dewald@Dorry

    Dewald@Dorry

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    I especially love the water movement on the survice... Really looks natural. Well done Hannes!;)
     
  14. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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  15. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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  16. Jaco Schoeman

    Jaco Schoeman Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    And how's this for an SPS tank? Looks nice and colorfl, but as per my post at the top of this thread, a bit unnatutal to me. Looks like an LFS retail tank... But hats off to him though...

    Andrzej Niewiarowski Takes Zeovit’s First 2010 Dream Tank of the Quarter

    Got colored sticks? Andrzej Niewiarowski does. His striking SPS dominated reef display took top honors with ZEOvit.com’s Dream Tank of the Quarter. The pastel colors may not be to everyones tasted, but there is no denying that Andrezej has some serious reefing talent.
    If it were not for the vibrant colors, the tank would be classified [...]


    [​IMG]
    Got colored sticks? Andrzej Niewiarowski does. His striking SPS dominated reef display took top honors with ZEOvit.com’s Dream Tank of the Quarter. The pastel colors may not be to everyones tasted, but there is no denying that Andrezej has some serious reefing talent.
    [​IMG]
    If it were not for the vibrant colors, the tank would be classified as a drab rock well–in this case the yellows and blues and reds provide visual depth on an otherwise flat aquascape. Andrzej achieves this coloration using T5s, ZEOvit and the Balling Method.
     
  17. LuckyFish

    LuckyFish MASA Contributor

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    As you can see, this tank got depth. No wonder on the right hand side, it was 1,8 m wide. But even then, when the tank was empty, I thought it is to wide on the right hand side. When I did a leak check with freshwater, I thought wow, the backwall looks much closer. And with salt water it will be even closer. Nobody ever took the right guess regarding the real depth of the right hand side. The closest guess was 1.2 m.
    2/3 from the reality. [​IMG]
     
  18. knut-ove

    knut-ove

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    Great tread :thumbup: tagging along.
     
  19. riyadhessa

    riyadhessa

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    Must agree...Awesome thread...:thumbup:
     
  20. nemo_jhb

    nemo_jhb

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    Jaco, thanks for the awesum thread, great advice!
    That tank has really got me thinking about the design of my ultimate tank! (Though i'm at least 10 years away from it).
    Probably the best & most natural scaping I've seen...
     
  21. clinton stanford

    clinton stanford

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    awesome thread:thumbup: i totaly agree with you Jaco;) wow! those are some really awesome tanks:)
     
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