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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking at some of the ADA competition entries, I noticed that many of them have tall "hills" that are planted. Like this:

http://www.cau-aqua.net/index.php?option=com_zoom&Itemid=29&page=view&catid=170&PageNo=1&key=0&hit=1

I have mounded substrate up into small hills before and it doesn't take much for it to level out over time (whether due to gravity or the fish digging or some combination.) I've also tried stacking rocks and wood together but rarely does it work out that substrate can fill in the gaps and stay in there, plus it isn't usually possible to insert plants into it.

I have also tried planting the plants at ground level and growing them up through the hardscape, but that doesn't seem to work either as the lower parts of the plant get little or no light and rot.

So how is it done? Anyone know? Any ideas?

Michael
 

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Usually, hills are formed from the substrate. Some hold slopes better than others. I've noticed that aquasoil and amazonia will hold it for a while but eventually will level out. 3m colorquartz holds hills like a champ. Rocks can also be used to hold slopes intact. Some dutch aquariums would use "fillers" or whatever you want to call them to form slopes for their "streets" of stems. Just make sure it doesn't rot or break down. I've actually used regular aquarium gravel to make slopes since their heavier and won't easily be moved. Then I would cap that with whatever substrate I want. The regular aquarium gravel is a lot cheaper than those that are made for planted tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
But if the plants are planted deeply between rocks and wood, the lower part of the plant gets no light and it doesn't last.

Michael
 

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I have seen a few like that before the plants are in. They start with the rocks, then the substrate, and then the plants. Plants tend to cover the rocks as they grow. Google rocks or slopes in the journal area and you should find some.

You could try make some terraces.
http://www.aquabotanic.com/dutchsecrets.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Terracing has potential... I'll have to explore some ideas in that direction.
 

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Here is a picture of slope started?

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Generally, yes. But like in my 150g tank rescape I heaped the substrate and laid the wood along it. The three ECHINODORUS PARVIFLORUS 'TROPICA' are planted on that slope. I don't have a picture of it today, but after a month or so, much of that substrate has flattened out and there is now a large gap between the substrate bed and the wood. I'm sure it's a combination of fish action and water movement (though not vacuuming as that area isn't really reachable for that.) This is a fairly short, shallow slope and uses a substrate that seems to hold the topology better than what I used to use, but in the end, it's still not holding its shape really.

I know that the photos we see are a moment in time, and some of those layouts don't last more than a few months, but if it's possible, I'd like to know what the trick is. The terracing idea is good because it uses thin material to hold the substrate at eat level so it doesn't interfere with planting like buying rocks does. I've had some success doing that, but it always results in spots I can't plant in because the rock is just below the surface and nothing I do keeps substrate piled on top of it to any reasonable depth.

Michael
 

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In this picture I have 2 terraces. Metal sheets are behind the rocks.
 

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If it were me I would attempt to manufacture some type of plastic mold. or styrofoam carved to fit and then coated with something. I have seen it done on APC before, but not huge hills.
 

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If it were me I would attempt to manufacture some type of plastic mold. or styrofoam carved to fit and then coated with something. I have seen it done on APC before, but not huge hills.
Sounds like what I have seen to make walls. "Great Stuff" foam is used.
 
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