We transferred 75% of the rock design laid out on the floor of our shop to the actual aquarium on Fisherman’s Paradise, a luxury fishing boat anchored about 15 miles offshore of Clearwater Beach, FL. We made some adjustments to the top portion to allow better sight lines and give us flexibility for adding additional pieces of live rock and possibly corals down the road.
The aquarium was up and running to leak test and tune some equipment, so the first step was to drain & dry it completely. We used 4 large cement pre-fabricated rock formations (made for landscaping & swimming pool applications) as the base. This allowed us to get some size & height right from the start. We then attached dry mined rock out of South Florida up and around those base pieces to give us 4 taller pillars spread across the triangular footprint.
We used Dayton Superior Re-Crete 20 with Dayton Superior Strongbond acrylic based hardener to bond all the rock together. The material set very quickly, only about 20 minutes, so we had to work quickly with small batches. It did give us the ability to hold some rocks in uniques positions until set, which added some interesting shapes to the design. The Re-Crete actually cures stronger than the rock itself, so once its set, its set.
Next, we placed two huge shelf pieces, only about 3-4″ thick but were 3 1/2 ft long by 2 ft wide, which gave us the ability to span across the base structures and create large caves which were critical in the design. They then provided another base platform to build the remaining reef structure with. The final result gave us the rigid skeletal structure of the reef that we need to complete the rest of the design. The entire reef is bonded together so no matter how rough the seas, these rocks cannot be thrown around. The next step will be to add additional dry rock around the pre-fab formations and in other areas to soften edges and angles. We used 1000 lbs of dry mined florida rock & shelf, approximately 400 lbs of pre-fab rock formations, and 75 lbs of Re-Crete 20 in this step.
One of the difficulties with this step is helping the customer visualize what it will look like 4-5 months from now once coralline algae encrusts all the rock surfaces. It is tough for the customer to do, but we know what it will turn into in the long-run, and we are off to a great start on this project.