Aquascaping reef tank columns in a saltwater tank


Aquascaping for marine aquariums is the act of arranging your live rock into a presentable display which is appealing to look at but still providing a healthy rock arrangement for your livestock. Of the several different types of Aquascaping for reef tank I prefer the column appearance. It provides several different heights for different corals to grow on while also limiting the space that the rock takes up.  This allows the fish plenty of room to swim freely.

My approach to creating reef tank columns is fairly simple. Drill holes through the rock and run a piece of PVC pipe through the holes for stability. As far as how to choose the rock, I just pick one large piece of base rock and the remainder, I just use whatever I have available. I realize that many people would recommend too use some type of epoxy or pond foam to further seal the rocks together to make sure nothing will come apart or fall over, however, I personally am in and out of my tanks so much that sealing the rocks together is just not an option.

Rocks chosen for column

I use a one inch diameter piece of PVC pipe as the stabilizer so I purchased a 1 and ¼ inch drill bit. I use a Lenox drill bit which was designed to drill through course surfaces such as rocks. It was about ten bucks and so far a very good purchase. It cuts through the rock very well.

Drill bit used

Since live rock is so porous I don’t clamp it down due to the fact that it doesn’t give much resistance. I hold the rock with one hand against the ground and drill with the other. The drill bit makes a nice even hole through the rock.

find a place to drill

It’s not an exact science on where you choose to drill your hole but I try to go from heaviest to lightest rock and I try to keep in mind good places to glue frags down where they will still get direct light.

Drilling through live rock has little resistance

Rocks drilled for column

Begining to build the column

Once the column is formed I glue the frags onto the rock. On this particular structure I glued some Montipora frags near the bottom and some different Birdsnest and Digitata frags in the middle. Then to finish the column off I placed different Acro species near the top.

Frags placed so they will all get light

Once the column is placed in the water I twisted the rock around just a little bit to make sure all the frags get light.

Rock column placed in tank

Frags getting direct light

A straight column alone is not enough hiding places for different species of fish or shrimp to hide so I also created a second column to place near this column and pushed some smaller rocks against the base for livestock to get shelter under it if needed.  My final result with aquascaping was an attractive column structure which will provide good light to frags, places for livestock to take shelter, and still leaving ample area of free swimming room for the fish.


Normally the PVC would be cut for a display tank. I leave the PVC sticking from the top because i hold onto it while fragging.

Aquascaping reef tank

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