Aquascaping The Fluval Spec 3 - Progress

Discussion in 'Aquarium Aquascaping' started by -Mak-, Apr 8, 2017.

  1. -Mak-

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    So I forked over the 60$ that this 2.6 gallon tank costs. Yeah, I know. But space and appearance is a huge issue for me, and apparently the light is suitable for plants.

    So far, I'm pretty happy with it. The box lists the following for the light:

    Watts: 6.4
    Lumens: 738
    Color temp: 7000K
    LEDs: 32

    It doesn't list the PAR and neither does Fluval's website, and people who have contacted Fluval to ask haven't ever gotten a definitive answer. I'm going to assume that it's low light, at the very most medium light. The pictures make it look more blue than it is, though in person I can still visibly see how much bluer it is than my 6400K light.

    The footprint of the tank space not including the filter in the back is about an 8.7 x 8.7 inch square.


    For now what I really need help with is the hardscape! I guess I kind of lack a vision with where it's going. I'd love to have a typical nature style with some nice plant density but also open space at the front. It's going to be stocked with shrimp.

    These are the pieces of manzanita I have to work with, left over from scaping my 3 gallon. I think the two larger pieces at the top are most interesting.


    I don't have any rocks yet. I can either collect some from outside as I did for the 3 gallon, or I could buy some.

    I've done a few arrangements with what I have, but I'm just not feeling it.


    I'm going to take my own advice and say I need more vertical height or bigger pieces than what I currently have.

    Most likely next week we'll be driving through another city that has a bigger LFS than here, last time I was there they had some nice spiderwood. Can't remember if they had rocks, if they don't I'm eyeing dragonstone from online.

    As for plants, I'm going to be trying a carpet of magic seeds and wild collected hydrocotyle, the rest is still undecided. I'd love a red plant but I don't think the red will really come through in this type of low tech tank. Vals are off the table since I will be using excel. I will say I'm not a huge fan of the most common easy plants. The LFS we might be going to carries tropica 1-2-grow in vitro plants, so I'll have a look there.

    I'd love any ideas or suggestions for how to proceed!
  2. scarface

    scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

    I just got mine yesterday! I would definitely focus on a verticle presentation. My LFS did an aquascape on the spec iii and they used vertical hardscape. It might have been dragonstone. Don't recall the plants though. Have you thought about monte carlo for carpeting and perhaps staurogyne repens further back and cyprus helferi as a background? I'm new at this aquacaping as well, but that was what I was thinking. I was also thinking of tying some jubwassartang on some hardscape.
  3. KeeperOfASilentWorld

    KeeperOfASilentWorldWell Known MemberMember

  4. Esimm03

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

  5. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    I definitely thought about monte carlo since I have it in the 3 gallon, but I'm hesitant to try it because it barely grew and attracted algae until I got DIY CO2 set up. Now it's growing very well and I think I'll have a nice carpet if only I can get my algae under control. If the magic seeds don't work out I might move some over. S. repens seems like a good option, I've seen it recommended as a carpet for larger tanks, but haven't thought about it as mid-background for nanos. I'm not a huge fan of cyperus helferi or subwassartang (they kind of remind me of river plants haha), I really appreciate all the suggestions though!

    Thanks for the info! I do hope it's enough for any plants I end up getting.
    Eleocharis mini looks great, though tropica and the green machine say it's harder than dwarf hairgrass? And I'd always thought dwarf hairgrass needed CO2 to truly carpet.

    Thanks, I've actually seen your thread! I'm going for more nature style here, but artificial marine looks awesome, if I ever get an african cichlid tank I'll try it out.
  6. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

  7. Silister Trench

    Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

    These tanks are a pain. haha! Their extremely small footprint with their height makes them a tough one. I'd centralize an idea around a nature-styled Aquascape. Your #1 and #4 pictured layouts are the best with #4 being a the better of the two, so I'd chose between those two and pick a corner on which to start.

    I've done a Mountain-Styled one and a Nature/Island styled one of the Fluval Chi, which is similar in size. Rocks were the tough part because I wasn't able to find small enough stones to buy, so I found my own. With whichever Layout you chose I'd build the substrate higher in the back corner, lay some stones down, then lay your driftwood and then lay more stones to weight it before filling in with substrate.

    Before thinking too much on what other plants to add I'd select a focal-point plant. Something that's going to do well in the lower light of the back corners and fill in nicely with strong leaf structure, or a bushing feature. The Immediate plants that come to mind are:


    Cryoptocoryne Wendtii 'Green'
    Anubias Barteri var. Nana
    Some Variations of Bucephalandra
    Microsorum Pteropus 'Needle'
    Microsorum Pteropus 'Narrow'

    Then I'd pick some support plants:

    Anubias var. Nana 'Petite
    Cryptocoryine Parva
    Weeping Moss
    Christmas Moss
    Java Moss

    If you leave yourself some room you could hope to fit some reds in there:

    Rotola Rotundifolia

    It should still get some red coloration towards the tips of the plant as they near the light, but what I've had work may not work for you.
  8. Silister Trench

    Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

  9. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    Thanks so much! I completely agree, this is going to be a real challenge. A fun one though! Do you have any suggestions for what kind of substrate supports I can use for the slope?

    For the mains, I do like crypts, though my concern is them getting too big. I think I'd like mostly epiphyte plants for the back left "pile" such as buces and anubias petite. The rotala seems like a good red option. I've also been looking at ludwigia palustris- apparently an easier red plant- and also ludwigia grandulosa. Hygrophila araguaia might be an option for lower growing reds, as might those weedy magic seeds.

    I also really love the look of weeping moss. If I can get some that'll be going on the wood.

    The in vitro tropica plants at the LFS will be my best bet for some of these, I wish my nearby LFS carried tropica. If not, online is always a (sometimes expensive) option.
  10. Silister Trench

    Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

    #1 problem you're going to run into with the majority of any ludwigia that I can think of is their size vs your tank size. I don't mean you can't use them, but you'd have to select a plant that visually works with the larger size of ludwigia leafs. Bruce could do this well I think. Any true red plants I've tried in low-tech/low-light turns a rusted color. I've also seen people get reds under low-light out of the more common version Alternanthera.

    You're probably right about the crypt being too big for the tank. I don't mind plants that outgrow a tank under low light. It's not growing fast enough that it needs to be pruned so often it's a chore, but they fill in areas very thick. All just depends on how much trimming you want to do. Haha!

    EDIT: Substrate supports - I've cut up old Glad containers, used rims I've taken of other tanks, and most recently found a company that deals with acrylic where I could by 1/16 or 1/8 inch colored acrylic that matches the substrate for ridiculously cheap. When it's that thin all I do is use a straight edge and a utility knife and cut pieces to fit areas where they should go.
  11. Jocelyn Adelman

    Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember is having a tissue culture sale right now :)

    Second the needle Java ferns, or trident as well. While Java is common, these cultivars are not and they can make stunning centerpieces.
    As for the moss I love my weeping, after that my flame, but more then both I love love my fissidens...
    Drawing is nice, agree w Sil I like photos 1&4, but I prefer 1. More height though for sure :)
    Pogostemon helferi is amazing as an accent.
    Marsilea or hydrocotyle triparta Japan could make nice excel "carpets"
    Hygrophilia araguaia didn't move me much, did ok but was too... spindly?? for me. Alternanthera reineckii roseafolia might work for a red accent, mine are just fine in excel tanks (mini needs co2 and better lighting).
  12. Silister Trench

    Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

    I got excited about the sale, then they let me down. :(

    No Utrcularia Graminifolia... Trying to start a carnivorous plant tank to eat things.

    Might still get their Riccia Fluitans or Crypt Spirals.
  13. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    Ah, old plastic containers sound good.

    What you say about the ludwigia makes sense - I'd like smaller plants in the tank to give a better sense of scale (which is why I dislike large plants in small tanks).

    Thanks! I like the look of needle java fern. I also considered p. helferi since I love the look, but from what I've read I don't think I'll be able to keep it alive haha.

    If the magic seeds fail, marsilea crenata is what I'm thinking about for foreground. Hydrocotyle I can collect from my yard actually, not triparta, I have no idea species it is or if it'll grow underwater, but if it works that'd be pretty cool.

    If I get all tissue cultured plants, could I dry start everything at once? I feel like dry start wouldn't work so well for stem plants.
  14. Silister Trench

    Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

    Marsilea Minuta is an even smaller variation than Marsilea Crenata. They're both supposed to be able to 'carpet' under low light, but I'd imagine you'd have better luck with Crenata. Smaller plant = farther from the light = less drive for growth and a weaker demand for Co2, which in turn could mean it's easily outcompeted and doesn't do much.

    I think tissue culture plants have leafs closer to the immersed leafs, so what may happen is they have to acclimate to emersed growth for a DSM, then once you submerge the tank they'd be acclimating back to the immersed form. May take longer - I don't know 100%. Might be better off getting a pot of immersed grown plants in this case.

    Stem plants are probably the easiest to DSM - I have these growing emerged in all sorts of various spots on my tank where they just happened to end up, get caught, and then decided to grow out of the tank - where rhizome plants and mosses are likely the hardest. Mosses being next to impossible unless grown on the substrate.

    PatrickShrimp's DSM with A. Reinekii sp. Mini and S. Repens -

    Dsm - Dry Start Method

    EDIT: I'd ask him form of plants he got because (at least to me) his A. Reinekii and S. Repens both look emersed grown previously which in a DSM would be beneficial in terms of acclimations and speed of growth.

    Again, I don't know %100, just a concern that came to mind.;)
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  15. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    Update! Went by the LFS. They didn't really have any tropica in vitro plants that I wanted besides Fontinalis antipyretica, which in the cup looked half dead. I got it anyways because one of the shopkeepers told me he put some in a display tank in worse condition and it's doing great. I'm hoping after I put it in my CO2 injected tank it'll grow out a bit and then I can transfer it.

    I did get an interesting piece of spider wood:


    Not too satisfied with the rocks I collected outdoors, so I'll be getting some off buceplant. It'll go under the wood.

    Thanks for the info on DSM, Sil. I think I might actually skip it, just depending on what plants I finally go with. Still considering different things.
  16. Jocelyn Adelman

    Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    How's it going?
  17. Jocelyn Adelman

    Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    @Silister Trench
    Amazingly enough petco by me has utrcularia graminifolia tc... just saw it today... go figure!!!!! It's in the bags, not the tubes.
  18. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    It's going well! I ordered 6 lbs of dragonstone and two buces from buceplant, which will arrive sometime this coming week. They had great customer service when I asked how much I'd need. One thing I noticed is that their UNS Plant food is completely identical to Nilocg Thrive. They gave a sort of vague answer about it when I asked about it, so I'm not sure what's up with that.
    I also bought some bacopa colorata, pearlweed, and ludwigia red hybrid off Han Aquatics. They got here today and I'm very satisfied, the plants are all in good condition. I do like Han Aquatics, they have a good selection of less common plants and newer plants.
    I planted the pearlweed in my 3 gallon CO2 injected tank temporarily, but have absolutely no room for the other two.
    Would floating them in there work until I can get the hardscape in the Spec set up? A little worried about algae if they're so close to the light, as my 3 gallon is rather prone to it since the light is a bit too much. Currently they are still in their bags under the spec light.

    Still looking for some marsilea crenata. I did consider, but their shipping to me is much too high for just one or two plants.

    I'm constantly reminded that this hobby is not cheap lol
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
  19. scarface

    scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

    Good luck and take your time! Mine didn't turn out so well. I was impatient lol. I'll just call it a jungle scape and be done with it.
  20. OP

    -Mak-Fishlore VIPMember

    Thanks! I have a little experience after scaping the 3 gallon, but this will be a new challenge because of the unconventional dimensions. I'll try to go slow but it's hard :D