Aquascaping is creating interesting aquarium structures with live rock, the next most impressive attribute of the tank is positioning of the specimens, which is second to their requirements of lighting and current.
Before I place any live coral in the reef aquarium permanently with marine epoxy, I first experimented with the live coral attempting to locate a position in the aquarium where it could flourish.
The process of locating this live coral in the aquarium may take months; understanding the current needs and the potential for color under a multitude of light intensities and temperature. Since the aquariums in my system were all in close proximity, I would have an overflow of light from one reef tank to the next, so it seems the science was not consistent. After identifying the needs for each live coral in its particular aquarium, you will still have many choices throughout the reef tank. I have seen countless aquariums with an incredible collection of live coral and live rock that had tremendous unrealized potential by lack of design.
Nothing stands out more with live coral specimens that a dramatic contrast in color. Placing a mauve or brown pigmented coral behind a yellow or pink makes the coral really stand out in the aquarium.
On the same contrast point attempt to mix textures, for example, put a small polyped live coral with tight branches, next to something with long branches or flat with great polyp extension provides a nice look in the aquarium.
Don’t lump all of your encrusting specimens together. In this aquarium, I actually did, but that was a dedicated section, called a back reef. Still I attempted to break them up by shape, and you can do this in a single system much easier. Most likely you won’t have as many to start with in your aquarium.
Try and spread out a color so it appears unique against the close company in the aquarium. For example if you have 3 or 4 pink corals, choose places on the reef where they will do well but not all lumped together. A bright green Montipora looks great against a Pink Stylophora, but does not appear too striking against a dark purple Montipora.
In my reef aquarium I tried to group the majority of the branching SPS along the reef tank crest (reef front) the SPS transitioned over to LPS along my upper coral reef slope, and had a transition to encrusting and plating SPS within the back aquarium reef. The lower reef tank zone consisted of Leathers, Gorgonian, Palythoa, and Zoanthus. Many of those species entered the upper reef aquarium section as well.
The lagoon tank consisted of grasses and such along with some mangrove trees. For all intensive purposes my lower reef zone tank was technically, near bottom of the upper reef slope as far as live coral & inhabitants went. The back reef zone aquarium was a collection of many of the thrashed section of the reef zones. On some occasions I did have a species out of place all together and that was in the circumstance that I had witnessed some favor in coloration under a specific combination of lighting in a between zone or a aquarium other than the starting reef tank.