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If you're using Manzanita, you can get away with only plastic zip ties (black works very well). The trick however is to make an arrangement that when tied together is stable enough to remain upright. Of course you can push the whole arrangement into the substrate to stabilize it some, and if you have any rocks then they can also be extremely useful in stablizing your hardscape. You can check out the manzanita hardscape I was able to achieve in my 10gallon tank here:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/aquascaping/53868-my-first-planted-tank-10-gallon.html

I used only black zip ties for the arrangement. As for some general tips on using zip ties, what I would suggest is that you first come up with a rough idea regarding what are your main pieces (the base/stumpy pieces) around which you wish to build your hardscape. I took my soaking wet driftwood pieces and laid them out on the floor. You probably have 15-30mins to get your arrangement together before the pieces start drying up. I started putting the manzanita branches together, trying to see what combinations looked nice and when I found something that seemed to look good I would tie a zip tie around that piece and the base piece. I'd make sure to tie it very loose (so the piece is still flopping around) so that I have the option of sticking in other manzanita branches into the same ziptie loop.

I continue in this manner till I have some loose arrangement that I like, I then put it into the tank (only quarter/half filled with water) and play around with the arrangement some more and then start to tighten certain zip tie loops that I am dead sure about. The quarter/half filled tank bit helps a lot in stabilizing your structure and in arranging the pieces the way you want. If it is totally empty, gravity tries really hard to mess your driftwood arrangment up =).

Thats pretty much it, it is tonnes of fun to hardscape with manzanita...so many possibilities! Also make sure to keep atleast an inch or two of clearance between your hardscape and the sides of your tank walls so that maintenance isn't too much trouble.

I hope this post makes sense and is helpful. Good luck with the scaping!
 
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