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Driftwood placement

13160 Views 42 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  hubbahubbahehe
Please describe what ever logic there is for driftwood location and placement. I have 3 pieces I am getting reading to put in a new 55 planted tank. One large triangle shaped that I am thinking maybe a center piece and the other two are more like limbs. They are Malaysian wood pieces. No doubt the location I pick will be wrong so I seek the wisdom of the group. The limb pieces do not have any slate to hold them in an upright position. I have plenty of sheet plastic at my disposal so I may position them as coming out of the substrate.
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Maybe you could take some pictures and we could critique each placement?
You want to place them so that they look natural. I had a piece of driftwood that I forced upright to get the aquascape that I wanted. It never looked natural, so I gave up on it and stuck it in a hospital tank. The way it rested in the hospital tank when I just dropped it in looked really neat so I put it back in the tank.
Driftwood placement is a big area of interest for me, since my last three layouts all have very dramatic wood arrangements. I use mostly thin, branchy pieces of wood.

Some tips I can offer:

1) Practice. Each arrangement you make gets better and better. Plan an idea for your arrangement, draw it out. Know what plants you will use. It will save a lot of time, trust me. It took me 30 minutes to redo a design for my 20g when I knew what direction I would take. A cube I was working on took me a couple hours, since I had no idea what direction to take. No, it's not the cube I have in the journal. That layout is history. :)

2) Always use odd numbers. Never use four branches, especially.

3) Position each branch so that it complements the others somehow --something you learn with a little practice, experience, and visualization. Never add a piece of driftwood just because it looks nice. Add it because it performs some function (balances the layout, adds interest, etc).

Other than that, it's hard to give any hard set guidelines. Be creative and see what you get. IME, it's hard forcing a wood arrangement in an already established/laid out tank with plants. I would personally start from scratch.

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Sir_BlackhOle said:
Maybe you could take some pictures and we could critique each placement?
Good Idea here they are. The tank is dry and I just placed them in a center focal point. My thought are to place a lot of tall in the background but I can decide whether to spread out the wood. It really did not look good but I do think plants will help.
Interesting pieces of wood.

They are too centered, and too symmetrical as they stand right now. The wood also seem too similar in size for my eye.

It would take some time and some study to come up with a detailed idea on how I would place those pieces.

First inclination, fast response, right off the bat would be to take the center piece of wood, turn it clockwise, and move it off center to the right a bit. I think I would then try to accent the large piece of wood with a couple of different, smaller pieces of wood. I think smaller accent pieces will give the aquarium an illusion of greater size when juxtaposed to the large piece of wood.

Just my quick opinion.

Thanks Mike. When you say turn it clockwise are you referring from the straight on front view just as the camera took the picture correct? Are you thinking like 90º? All opinions welcome so if you think of anything please let me know.
Here is a view with one piece removed and the larger piece rotated.
Much nicer although a bit to symetrical to me. At lesat as far as the location of each piece is concerned. Have you decided on any plants or an overall "shape" for hte tank. By shape I mean triangular, mound, concave, etc.

The problem I see with the wood as it is now is the you have n some ways 2 seperate focal points. I would try to set it up so that the eye is drawn to one spot in the aquarium but alo lead away from it by other pieces of the scape. Amano's tanks are like that. You will notice that he uses alot of smaller "accent" branches in his layouts. These act as kind of visual highways. You look at one area of the tank and you eye automaticly starts to follow a branch back to the focal point of the whole aquarium, where it then picks up on another branch and is lead away to another part. The is a good write up of this somewhere, i think on the Amano website although I could be wrong.

It seems to me that a good aquascape will be harmonious (relaxing and not to busy) and have a good flow(the visual highways wich do not have to be branches. They can be rocks, a plant or grouping, shadow lines and even the lines created where the plant meet the substrate or othe plants). Everything will look in it's place and nothing will be distracting while at the same time there will be a subtle starting point (the focal point).
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dennis said:
Much nicer although a bit to symetrical to me. At lesat as far as the location of each piece is concerned. Have you decided on any plants or an overall "shape" for hte tank. By shape I mean triangular, mound, concave, etc.
As you can see layout is not one of my talents. As far as plants I was thinking some watersprite, red tiger lotus, rotala marcandra, anubias barteri, some swords ludwiga repaens and maybe some pigmy chain swords.
As far as "shape" to me it's a little difficult because that it is a 55 gallon. Only 13" to work with front to back. I was mostly thinking planting around the wood with accents. I guess concave then with a little open front swimming and viewing area.
Give yourself a bit of credit:) You are just starting out. As for hte shape check out this thread by Tsunami I found it to be very helpful. Also check out the AGA (aquatic gardners association) nad AB (aqua botanic) web sites. They both have galleries of past years contest entrants. These can be very inspiring nad really help to get the creative juices going. Just practice, practice practice. It does bot need to be woiht an actual tank. It can all be in your head, or on paper. It may be difficult at first but eventually you will realize that it has gotten easy. To me design is sort of like drawing. Get a basic idea and then produce something fast. When your mind is in a good place to come up wiht ideas, run wiht it. Make fast skeches to get your ideas down then go vack and work with them. Refine them. ANd one thing I am finally starting to learn, don't forget to stand back. You must look at what you are doing. I find I have a tendency to sort of do things willy milly and then look at hte results withh dissapointment. But, if I do them slowly, force myself to really "see" and take my time, then I am much happier:)

Just some more ramblings:)
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dennis said:
Give yourself a bit of credit:) You are just starting out. As for hte shape check out this thread by Tsunami I found it to be very helpful.
Thanks I had missed that post. Tonight I will try a layout where the center is open more by rotating the large piece as you mentioned and moving it to the far left or right and try the other/others on the opposite end.
Or maybe keep them as they are but shift them right or left and see how that looks.
Let me bug you you once more. I tried a shift as Sir_BlackhOle mentioned.
I dunno....looks like somethings missing or something....maybe swap the left and center piece?
The actual "visual" centerpoint of the layout should be ~5/8 from one side. In your case that is 30" It should also be aroung 1/3 the the height of the tank (from the bottom at the gravel's surface). As far as the wood goes I think I would loose one of the smaller peices. Also, I would try flipping everything 90 degrees, so the large piece was on the left side with the high side of it on the left and the angle it forms pointing down to the right. This may be just me but I think all of the triangle layouts I have seen look best with the high side on the right. They seem to have less tension.

The ~30" piont would be at about 2/3 the length of the piece of wood. That would be your focal point. At that point I would do something a bit more dramatic, like completely negative space or some smaller branches behind that create "flow" (remember those visual highways:) through out the composition. You might also use a more dramatic plant at that point. That, of course, is based on you and your plant choices.

Hope I don't sound like I know it all. I am really not trying to tell you what to do. I am thinking out loud more thn anything. Ultimately, this is your tank and what matters is that your are happy (or as happy as we can ever be right? :)
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OK thanks I will try that tonight.

Is the big piece too big? What do you feel about using the smaller two pieces?
I feel that you will have to use the big piece and one smaller piece. If you use each of the two smaller pieces, then the hardscaping will be too balanced on either side.

The second to last photo looks the most promising of the lot. Just move both pieces, keeping them in the same general angle, a little to one side.

Fifty-five gallons are hard to work with because they are narrow. However, they are not impossible. My best layout right now is a 55g.

what do you think about 3 small pieces(small then a bit bigger than one a bit bigger than the other one) for scaping a 30 gallon tall ? im thinking putting the two bigger ones as mountains and the other one laying down or something i havent seen anything like what i want to do out there yet...
Always use odd numbers. Nature is never looks even and balanced.
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