Oliver Knott built this amazing planted piece using readily available materials. We would like to thank him for the time to photograph and explain the process and show off some of his amazing talent and techniques.
The first step is to install a mount to the bottom of the glass to anchor the planted floating ball securely. In this case it is a special Teflon suction cup (it is very strong at over 50kg of strength). A doubled length of strong fishing line is mounted to the suction cup. At the end of the fishing line is a swivel. It is important to have 360° of rotation easily.
Cover the suction cup with substrate and any other decorations or hardware. You can mount your rockwork and other hardscape now. Keep the area immediately around the suction cup mount free from decorations to prevent it from tangling or in the event that you want to remove the ball.
You will need 2 halves of a 30cm styrofoam ball. Styrofoam balls are available at many craft and sewing stores. Bind or glue the two halves together and insert a plastic tube through the ball. The tube is important to install the suspension to the mount on the bottom of the tank. The plastic tube will orient from top to bottom. Don’t lose track of where the tube is oriented as you dont want to build your design off of the proper direction.
Next you will make a small hole in the ball to fill it with expanding foam. In the United States Great Stuff is available readily. Use the less expanding foam, it is less likely to expand too much.
To cover the ball you need about 70 pieces of normal size Cladophora balls. Open the balls to flatten them out and increase their surface area. Begin to cover the ball with the Cladophora and secure it with fine fishing line. Use a 4 or 6 pound test line to secure the fishing line to the ball and begin wrapping it over the Cladophora. Cover the entire ball and tie the line off. It will take about 350 meters of fishing line to properly secure everything.
Find the plastic tube that runs through the ball and orient this from top to bottom. You will attach line to this later and it will float topside up inline with the plastic tube. Make sure you orient your design to float right side up.
Fix the decorations like this red moorwood with steel needles (stainless steel would be the best choice). If you cannot source stainless staples like these you could use fishing line to wrap it on tightly and securely.
The rest of the plants are attached much the same way as the driftwood or other decorations. This is where an eye for detail and balance comes in.
Once you have all your plants and decorations securely where you need it you are almost done. Run a doubled fishing line through the tube from top to bottom and snap it to the suction cup on the bottom on the tank. This is the most difficult, as the ball has a very strong boost (like a buoy).
by: Oliver Knott
Photographs courtesy of Oliver Knott
You can find more about Oliver Knott and his talented scapes at http://www.oliver-knott.com/