Aquascaping Tips And Tricks - Page 3

Jocelyn Adelman

Culprit That's the canister! That wave maker is too high...525gph will send even you plants flying! I use a nano one...
similar to this...tried this one first but it was too much current for my marsilea.

This is the one I use


Low current, but better for my marsilea until it's better established... will likely go back to the first one once more grown in....
 

Culprit

Oh Ok thanks! Like I said I may wait and see how much flow I get. Do you use the spray bar on the canister filter? I checked out violet pipes... I'm not shelling out $30 just so it looks pretty! That's more then the filter!
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Oh Ok thanks! Like I said I may wait and see how much flow I get. Do you use the spray bar on the canister filter? I checked out violet pipes... I'm not shelling out $30 just so it looks pretty! That's more then the filter!

Just edited post with other info

Of interest...the standard output is hard to fit on a rimmed 20long, but it does fit, just not around the corners.
I got glass.... cheap ones, broke two of them plus they are a nightmare to keep clean... will likely switch to the stainless that sil has soon, but for now just using the standard tubes...
 

Culprit

Of interest...the standard output is hard to fit on a rimmed 20long, but it does fit, just not around the corners.
I got glass.... cheap ones, broke two of them plus they are a nightmare to keep clean... will likely switch to the stainless that sil has soon, but for now just using the standard tubes...

Standard output? Are you talking about the regular violet tubes or the spray bar? Stainless steel violet output pipes? Standard tubes = the spray bar and input you get with the filter?
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Standard Spray "bar" (not a bar) on this canister is a u shape, tough to fit on 20l over rim, but does fit with some wiggling.
Violet pipes I broke two.
Sil got a stainless set, looks good in a tank, easier to maintain then glass, not sure about violet shape for output.
Leaving the standard ones for now...will eventually change.
 

Culprit

Could you post a pic of your input/output setup when you get a chance please?

Isn't this what comes with the filter??
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Yes, that's it".. I don't use the bar, just the "nozzle" piece... no flow with bar.
The intake "bend" fits easily over the tank, however for the output it's a really tight fit... it fits best mid way on the side and about 1/3 of the way along the back.
Got the glass tubes for a better fit... pain to keep clean... had to disconnect from hoses to do so, broke two doing this.
I will get a picture later today.
 

Culprit

Ohh that makes sense! I igured using the spray bar would not have much flow because it would just diesperse coming out of so many holes. I'll just use the nozzle like you.

Is there any way to possibly modify it to fit easier?

I could see where it would be really easy to break. I get really nervous when I have to take on and take off my diffuser.
 

Silister Trench

Hey Sil, would you recommend building a canister filter? Get a pump for $10 to $20 d0llars, get a container with a lid, drill a input hole at the bottom and an output hole at the top, silicone the pump into the top and run the hose out. Would it work as well as a regular canister filter? What GPH would you recommend?

Also, slightly off topic since its saltwater instead of freshwater but I'm planning on getting a 20 gallon reef tank setup. Could I derI'm it? Or just be safe and keep the rim? What if I euro braced it? I can get glass cheap here.

Absolutely no way should you build a canister pump. There's no reason to. Filters are DIY made out of necessity in design, or just desire to do it that way. All the parts $ + your labor + a DIY canister filter pump 100 GPH in balance of inexperience = a game of Russian Roulette. It takes less than a few minutes to make a mess your whole neighborhood doesn't have enough towels to borrow if the sealing wasn't correct and began leaking even on 20G. I use SunSun. You can get a one for $35 on eBay. Any DIY filter is going to cost more.

I had a 175GPH filter that had the smallest of leaks. 14 hours later and I was toweling 5-7 Gallon of water from the carpet. Let a professional company make a filter. If something goes wrong, at least you have someone to blame out of yourself. If the leak had been any larger it would have dumped all the water to the lowest point of the intake, which would have meant all the fish would have died, and any plant exposed to the air long enough.

As far as de-**** I posted quite some time ago in the thread about going rimless.
 

Culprit

Ok thanks.

I think Jocelyn convinced me to go with the sunsun from ebay.

I'll check back through.
 

Culprit

Would a used for saltwater Penn Plax Cascade 1000 canister filter be better then the sunsun HW mini? I found it on craigslist and its only $15.
 

Silister Trench

Would a used for saltwater Penn Plax Cascade 1000 canister filter be better then the sunsun HW mini? I found it on craigslist and its only $15.

I'd look to see if the cascade works and comes with everything. If the cascade is the one I'm thinking of it's hands down better than the SunSun 602B, if that's also correct. I own both, and the 602B has no primer pump button, and has much lower GPH flow than advertised. This is the canister I have on my 5G tank.
 

Culprit

I will definitely contact him. He's close, I can just go pick it up, and its cheaper and a better quality manufactorer then the sunsun.

This might be a really good deal. It comes with 3 media trays, tubing input with a surface skimmer, and directional output.
 

Silister Trench

I will definitely contact him. He's close, I can just go pick it up, and its cheaper and a better quality manufactorer then the sunsun.

This might be a really good deal. It comes with 3 media trays, tubing input with a surface skimmer, and directional output.

I wouldn't say it's "better quality" or that the manufacturer has any higher standards. Haha! SunSun makes great canister filters for an ideal price range - the 602B model is just not designed well. My beef with the 602B is as follows:

1.) There's no primer button on it, meaning unless you are starting with water in the intake tube you literally have to siphon the outflow hose with your mouth to get the flow going - the instructions even tell you to do this!

//would love to see whoever designed this put their mouth around a filthy hose (don't care what you clean it with!) and start the siphon by sucking on the outflow hose, which once started is going to blast filter water in your mouth...

2.) There's no water shut off valve on the outflow hose, and if you take the hose off the placement of the pump is going to jettison water out , even if it is mostly empty, meaning every time you need to clean it you virtually need to disconnect the whole system.

3.) Very small filter material container.

4.) You're expected to use a set of 3 sponges as a biological bed, which is fine - great! Totally can be done - but on a 20G tank which it claims to be designed for the amount of waste is quickly going to clog this, and the constant hassle of 2.) is going to anger you in a hurry.

5.) BB is essential for a healthy planted tank. On almost all of my filters I run 2 of the 3 trays filled with biological media, with only the first tray using mechanical filtration. It works very well for me, and I just don't like not having easily changed and interchangeable trays.

------ Dont worry because I have an equally long list of what I dislike about the Cascade filter, but between the Cascade and the SunSun 602B go for the Cascade.

My girl bought a SunSun 303B (I think) on eBay for $35, with the only draw back being it came with no filter media. It's pretty close to being the same canister filter as my huge 304B on my 32.1 Gallon Landon tank, except no UV sterilizer which I've never turned on once.
 

Culprit

I'll definitely get the Cascade then! I figured the higher gph would be nice as well, as well as more media space. If I was going to get the SunSun it would've been with a nano powerhead for extra flow.

Will I use the built in surface skimmer? Or will it offgas too much Co2?
 

Silister Trench

I'll definitely get the Cascade then! I figured the higher gph would be nice as well, as well as more media space. If I was going to get the SunSun it would've been with a nano powerhead for extra flow.

Will I use the built in surface skimmer? Or will it offgas too much Co2?

Co2 & a surface skimmer is likely something you'll have to figure out yourself, especially if this is your 20G long. Because the geography of each tank is different and our own habits differ greatly from one person to the next, such as intake + outflow, Co2 distribution method, water chemistry, circulation, and many other factors, the only thing I can tell you with any real certainty is that Co2 was extremely hard to keep constant, while still maintaining good circulation using a Co2 diffuser in a 20G long. Because the tank is so long, yet short, there's a very short travel time for Co2 bubbles to be circulated before it breaks the surface and gases off. If I increased circulation to attempt to circulate the Co2 better the surface (aiming down the long way) was disturbed so much it gassed Co2 off at about the same rate. Like I said, the geography of each tank is different, but while using a Co2 diffuser I couldn't run my surface skimmer.

It wasn't until I used a spray bar directed mostly downward at an angle in combination with a inline Co2 reactor was I able to keep good levels of Co2. Only because of the non-existent surface agitation and excess protein film with this combo did I feel like I was able to use a surface skimmer.


The hands down best system I used on my 20G was two SunSun 602B canister filters (one on either side - with their flow reduced) and an inline Co2 reactor and surface skimmed installed on the 2nd filter which was primarily mechanical filtration.

Edit: Long story short - you can definitely use a surface slimmer so long as your method Co2 injection is effective, and the level is high enough.
 

Culprit

I'm getting an inline co2 diffuser.

I think I will use the powerhead output if the surface skimmer wastes too much Co2.
 

Josudami

Part 3 of 3 ~ A Touch of Technique



[Unfixable now] Mistake #2: Anchoring Difficult hardscape

So long as I'm not trying to fit my hands and scissors around the background trees the hardscape which is just positioned in place with larger substrate at the base and eco-complete at the top doesn't move, but having to move around all those sticks means I hit them and then have to try and adjust them again.

I realized the most simple solution to this almost immediately when I noticed the problem! I could have made them unmovable by taking 1" styrofoam and placing it on the glass bottom, laying out the trees, and then fitting their bases through the styrofoam and using silicone to glue them in place - THEN poured the larger, lava rock layer, then my finale layer there'd be no adjustment later. That would have worked on %99 of all the trees. All except for the biggest tree, which has become unstable, but just a little. That one I used other pieces of would to support, which also make up the shape itself, as well as setting on two large rocks.


- I trimmed some of the moss on the upper trees - mostly with my straight scissors and spring scissors - then used a hose to siphon all the stray moss I could -25% water. I trim the background Rotola because even with the filter off the moss gets caught in all the plants. Wherever moss ends up, it grows.

I was wondering how you got the trees to stand up, the styrofoam seems like a great idea. Thank you
 

NightShade

This is great, please keep this going Sil... throughout reading this thread, I had plenty of things to comment/agree on, (tired at the moment - I'll get back to that later) but you have provided so much valuable information, that was concise, to the point, & very well written (which nowadays, is unfortunately very unusual) that I had to comment. You gave me a few good laughs.. love the dry humor, but maybe that's just me being me? Haha! Anyways, please keep it coming!! It's also good to have a reminder of those certain points, such as it's good to take it slow, and constructive criticism - is always good.. (plus many more points), they serve as good reminders - which are necessary! So, thank you!

Btw, I am the way you are, if I play in the sandbox too long, it looks terrible!! Why?!?ead: It's so frustrating! Haha (like writing this post.. I swear it read better before I proof-read and edited this before posting... and now after I used to be better at writing! ...rolling my eyes..)
 

Silister Trench

This is great, please keep this going Sil... throughout reading this thread, I had plenty of things to comment/agree on, (tired at the moment - I'll get back to that later) but you have provided so much valuable information, that was concise, to the point, & very well written (which nowadays, is unfortunately very unusual) that I had to comment. You gave me a few good laughs.. love the dry humor, but maybe that's just me being me? Haha! Anyways, please keep it coming!! It's also good to have a reminder of those certain points, such as it's good to take it slow, and constructive criticism - is always good.. (plus many more points), they serve as good reminders - which are necessary! So, thank you!

Btw, I am the way you are, if I play in the sandbox too long, it looks terrible!! Why?!?ead: It's so frustrating! Haha (like writing this post.. I swear it read better before I proof-read and edited this before posting... and now after I used to be better at writing! ...rolling my eyes..)

Thanks so much, NightShade! I doubt you [as well as others] have any idea how much it means to me to receive a comment like this. Most of the time I'm not writing for other people, and I use to jot ideas down in what's become my Aquascape notebook (anything from doodles, to plant ideas, to calculations of gallons to actual gallons in a tank) because when I'm working through an issue I have there's few people I know in real life who I could talk about projects or concerns who could do little more than just nod along and agree, and even fewer I would take advice from. I'm pig-headed like that, and well, I'm using to starting fires and finding a means to snuff the flames all too well on my own.

From my illegible notes in a notebook, I kind of began to just type it out, since it was faster, and that led to me searching fishlore here and seeing many of the same problems/issues/concerns/questions repeated again and again. This thread really came about because writing information down is a way that I grasp the concept better. I don't mean rewriting an answer, or someone else's opinion like in school, but working through a subject I was dealing with or a thought I had and writing it here was a means to help me through what I was dealing with, and less of a means to help others.

Don't get me wrong! Glad it helps those it does, and replies like yours really make it worth while.

And yes, I will continue to add to this thread as I can.
 

Silister Trench

High-Light/High-Tech vs Low-Tech comparisons:

I remember researching plant needs, and I think like a lot of us do I inevitably came across a foreign concept known as "Co2 Injection" or sometimes "Co2 supplementation". When you come to the hobby without ever having found your green thumb as I did, then find a metric ton of data, articles, best-guesses, and DIY ideas concerning light requirements & requirements of Co2 in the planted tank it often becomes a matter of trying to understand the needs of plants (with little experience) and filtering the outdated and sometimes often wrong or confusing information you can find skimming over one forum topic to another where there's rarely an exact answer - more often, the best guess is the answer we're left with and these guesses often leave a feeling of unfulfilled longing after hours of research and finding we're barely any closer to a definitive answer then when we began a cup of coffee and three Advil's ago. While I can't possibly cover enough of these misconceptions, I can go over a few.

Question: Does the addition of Co2 mean I won't be scrubbing hardscape/decorations and my glass as often?

Answer: Nope, and you won't get out of maintenance duty this way either, slacker. A mostly algae-free tank can be achieved with or without added Co2, and at the same time a completely mucked up tank you have to spend 30 minutes scraping glass just to see a fish can also be achieved with or without Co2. What determines algae is the balance of nutrients, lighting, and Co2. There are other factors such as the flow of water, placement of plants and hardscape, your cleaning habits and frequency of water changes and filter maintenance. Long story short, additional Co2 will not provide you with a crystal clear tank, lush plant growth, and zero algae without some level of care - more importantly, an understanding of cause and effect in a planted tank when it comes to algae and deficiency.

Question: Do High-Light Co2 injected tanks have less algae than other tanks considered Low-Tech?

Answer: Um... absolutely not! The exact opposite is most often true as a matter of fact, and the reasoning is actually pretty simple. The rate of growth seen in a High-Tech tank is often referred to as being 10 times faster than a Low-Tech tank. Plants and algae are photosynthesizing at a much faster rate to achieve a rate of growth that is said to be 10 times faster than other tanks. When something is happening that much faster the margin where error is allowed is narrower. If you neglect a water changes on a High-Tech tank bing E.I. Dosed for two weeks you can rest assured algae will begin to grow at a rate 10 (or more) times faster than a Low-Tech tank, often having much more algae in a shorter span of time.

Let me put it another way. If I want completely algae free glass on a low-tech tank every day of the week it's normally a matter of a quick scrubbing during a water change to prevent the algae from latching onto the glass long enough to grow and become visible. It takes as long as a water change, and doesn't normally become visible until 2 weeks. Sometimes less, sometimes more time depending.

In a High-tech tank the glass needs to be scraped weekly, or sooner, to achieve the same clear perfection. Unlike the brown algae we usually see covering the glass in a tank with less light, often much easier to clean, a tank with stronger lighting grows more resilient algae that are harder to clean from the glass. Once that glass is sparkling you can often see bits of algae trying to grow over hardscape, still keeping in mind the growth rate is 10 times faster.

Algae is a nuisance that all tanks see. It's inevitable. However, a tank with stronger lighting grows plants AND also algae much faster. While you may not have a higher load of algae when comparing the two set ups, it becomes easier to spot than the slowed growth of low-light.

Question: if Co2 is so beneficial to overall health, then most people would have a pressurized system of injection, wouldn't they?

Answer: I walked into a Petco a few weeks ago and was looking at some fish gear and saw they now has a section oriented to lighting + small Co2 injection systems using disposable Co2 cartridges. These items have been sold in this particular store for quite some time, but the Co2 systems have always been shelved with miscellaneous junk items like airstones, suction cup betta leaves, and cheesy backgrounds. I took note of this placement because it told me two things

More people are aware of the relationship between injection and strong lighting, and cheaper systems that do the same as an expensive system are being marketed toward beginners as not only a way to cash grab, but because there's enough free marketing found on all the forums that the curiosity of the consumer has been peaked, but only if the price is affordable.

Everyone doesn't use a system because in the most blunt way I can think of, it's just not needed. Not needed, that is, unless you want to grow a tank towards the marketed ideal of modern Aquascapes with lush carpets and brilliantly colored plants. I've read pressurized systems used to cost a small fortune of hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and for those of us who still have sanity in this hobby that much money isn't practical to sink into a tank. More people than we realize have pressurized systems because the cost has dropped from three to even five hundred dollars to a disposable cartridge system for less than a hundred.

When I incorporated an injection system into a tank I'm searched for the best deals. Too much time wasted and more reading than I cared for, I finally came up with an affordable system and can piece together a complete Co2 system for about $130, which is ran on a timer with solenoid, precise and accurate BPS and pressure, dependable with cheap refills. It's a set up for tanks 40 gallons or under and cost the same whether you're running a 10 gallon or 4 gallon if you exclude frequency of refills.

I think more people don't go buy a system because it's a nightmare trying to find a unit that works and is affordable. If you look into a regulator you can spend $60-$300 just like that. It's because the price of a system is either cheap or expensive that people tend to not want to sink their hard-earned cash into a system they have little knowledge about, where the market is either a very Chinese cheap side to several hundreds of dollars for just one part, and there's little way you can tell the quality and ease of function when it compares to price.

Question: Co2 injection systems have lush, beautiful growth, so do I need Co2 if I want to imitate that growth?

Answer: Yes - well... kinda?

Co2 and high light is the easiest and fastest way to achieve dense plant growth, good health, and virtually all common styles of aquascaping. It becomes a possibility if you manage the tank well that you can recreate a professional styled look with great health and few problems.

On the flip side of the coin, with a bit of research, time, understanding and maybe a few questions directed towards the right person you'll realize that if you want to recreate most modern Aquascapes and their plants you likely will need to invest in a Co2 system, but you have to think of it in a different way. Lush, densely planted aquariums have been around before a method of Co2 injection was conceived.

Don't believe me? Well... the densely planted style of tank known as a "Dutch Aquascape" is one of the oldest styles of planted tank in the hobby, finding it's roots in the Hobby some time around a century ago. Yes, I wrote that correct. I think we can all sleep easy knowing if TakashI Amano is to be credited for bringing Co2 systems to the hobby decades ago then there is no way "Dutch Aquascapers" had access to pressurized systems.

So how? The answer is simple - plant selection, understanding of growth habits and care, and time. When aquascaping in low-light and no Co2 in these three keystones that will bring your vision to reality.

As for example: Low-Tech/Low-Light, No fertilization dosing, siesta period, or liquid excel dosing of any kind. Just time... plant selection, a bit of luck, and patience. It's certainly no Dutch tank, but a low-tech nature design, which is also a concept credited to the father of Co2 injection, TakashI Amano, but lacking in all ways that very same contribution of bubbly gasses ran into a fish tank. R.I.P. Mr. Amano.


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NightShade

Just to agree with your last point (I loved reading and definitely agree with all of your other points! And a very entertaining read for sure! I have looked forward to an update to this thread for awhile!) I have a low tech tank, I don't even dose excel.. although, definitely ferts (eI ~ Thrive plus extras depending on specific plant needs). It grows faster than, or as fast as the weeds in my garden. It is most certainly obtainable if you carefully select your plants! maybe not quite as fast as high tech, but I absolutely have to trim every other week/3 weeks, otherwise, at the 3 week mark, some of the plants totally block out the light, and the plants below really suffer (some of that trimming schedule is laziness.. I should trim way more frequently Lol). But I also like jungles and with the species of fish I keep, they do too.

It's not necessarily "aquascaped", (going to rescape soon, as I finally have an aquascape picture in my head - was adding plants, trying new plants, so it's gone without a planned scape to this point) but it's definitely heavily planted, I can show a pic of it, if you'd like! Lol.. actually, maybe I should rescape before showing you! Haha
 

Silister Trench

It's not necessarily "aquascaped", (going to rescape soon, as I finally have an aquascape picture in my head - was adding plants, trying new plants, so it's gone without a planned scape to this point) but it's definitely heavily planted, I can show a pic of it, if you'd like! Lol.. actually, maybe I should rescape before showing you! Haha

Thanks for the kind words! Also, I have yet to meet, read, or hear of anyone who has taken a liking to the art of Aquascaping, then gone ahead with a careful selection of plants and equipment, then somehow turned out anything close to a contest winner. I'll go ahead and say we all start out with a tank we've added a mismatch of plants to before envisioning something remarkable only to miss the mark by a few kilometers, finding ourselves with a tank trying to be an Aquascape, but with little success. Often the transition is riddled with detours, mistakes, finally feeling success only to realize it's covered in more flaws than we care to admit.

It all starts with that single scene in our heads you mentioned. The one we've envisioned for weeks, sometimes months (longer?) and finally taking the time to give the imagined the push it needs towards reality.

If you're already noting plant selection as a priority and having success even in a tank you don't see as aquascaped you're miles ahead of some people who give it a try, especially me when I tried. Plant care is always priority one, which can be more easily learned in a planted tank, as you wait for "that piece"... you know... that one piece that has strong character and draws the eye. That focal point that transitions a planted tank with mismatched stone or word to a real eye-catcher.

And yeah, definitely! I'm always up for checking out pics and throwing out some input if wanted. There's quite a few people with artistic eyes and some creative ideas that scan the aquarium aquascaping section if you decide to start a thread there. There's usually a good deal of feedback that can be found from people lurking around there.

Cheers
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Great info sil.... only 4 of my 15 have pressurized, I would only consider 3 not heavily planted....(but by others standards likely they are). Biggest difference for me with co2 is for carpeting selections and reds... I find the reds need more lighting, and the co2 helps to balance it... though the more frequent trimmings drive me nuts lol
 

Silister Trench

Great info sil.... only 4 of my 15 have pressurized, I would only consider 3 not heavily planted....(but by others standards likely they are). Biggest difference for me with co2 is for carpeting selections and reds... I find the reds need more lighting, and the co2 helps to balance it... though the more frequent trimmings drive me nuts lol

Thanks! And that's a very good comparison and difference you pointed out, something I didn't think of at the time. I've never achieved what I'd call a true carpet in low-light/low-tech, and by that I mean one that is densely planted, in good health, and free of algae. Of course, the definition of a carpet will vary from one person to the next, but I think of it in a pretty simple way. If you look at a carpeted rug right inside the front door of a house before it's shaken out, there's probably dirt and other filth ground into it, but unless it's a pile of dirt with carpet fabric scraps piled on top, we'll still always call it a carpet [rug/mat - yeah, forget the other terms] so long as there's more carpet than filth. When looking at a tank from above, at how dense the growth of a carpet is, if there's more visible plant mass than there is substrate it falls into a true carpet. This true carpet is a habit of densely packed growth that almost always necessitates additional Co2 and has a tendency to look nice if it's given enough time without issue and ideal conditions, but when compared to a tank that's grown the same plant under a high-tech setting it's obvious by health, color, density how poorly a low-tech tank achieves a true carpet.

The same obvious difference can also be seen with plants that are more warm-colored than greens, such as yellow, orange, red, crimson, and even the handful of plants that have purple hues.

Yellow and orange is probably the easiest colors that can be grown in low-tech, but it's that extra bump in light intensity that's needed to bring out red, crimson and purples that almost always becomes bolder and easier to bring out. The problem I've often had is by the time a plant - say rotolia rotundifolia - has grown tall enough to find strong enough light where the pinks and reds become visible, it's usually already bent horizontal with the surface water and in need of being hacked back down.


Realizing a plants most brilliant colors is much easier (sometimes as close to as impossible without) additional Co2.

While there's a lot of good and brilliant styles we can achieve in a less-expensive low-tech setting, these are two habits of growth that aren't common this route.
 

Culprit

I have experienced this so first hand. I have a dirted 5 gallon shrimp tank, that I dirted, put some flame moss, some crypts, some water sprite, and rotala in. I did water changes every week for the first month, and now I just top off water and do a small water change every other week. It has a LED floodlight on it. I can tell from experience its a lot of light. My 20 high tech with EI dosing has a HC cuba carpet, high tech plants, ect. I get far faster growth in the high tech, but the low tech is waaayyyy less maintence and honestly far healthier. I skipped a water change last week because I've been incredibly busy, and my tank has broken out in gsa, gha, and bba. Its crazy. Sure, everything grows fast, and healthy, and I get better colors, but the 5 is so much easier. When I was trimming my HC cuba carpet about a month ago, I took some of the clippings, and, for fun, planted them in the 5. Today, they have spread, filled in the area I planted them in, are putting out runners. Sure, they don't grow as fast, but honestly, they look healthier then the ones in my high tech.

When I first flooded the 5, I had some hair algae issues for a week or two, and then everything settled in. I am absolutely shocked just how much healthy growth I've had from this tank. I haven't had any algae at all since that first outbreak (and all I did was do a extra water change 2 or 3 times and black the tank out for 1 day out of the week), the plants grow like weeds, and everything is healthy, colorful and thriving. I love it.

If you're already noting plant selection as a priority and having success even in a tank you don't see as aquascaped you're miles ahead of some people who give it a try, especially me when I tried. Plant care is always priority one, which can be more easily learned in a planted tank, as you wait for "that piece"... you know... that one piece that has strong character and draws the eye. That focal point that transitions a planted tank with mismatched stone or word to a real eye-catcher.
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Not going to point any fingers... but so many of the people on here will make posts about "need to improve my aquascape" and, "check out my aquascape" and all it is is mabye a piece of driftwood and some stones that don't go together in any way, and a few plants. It irritates me because that isn't aquascaping. Aquascaping is when you take hardscape and plants, and put them together in a way that mirrors nature, and looks realistic. Like Sil said just realizing what you have isn't an aquascape means you are so much further along then everyone else. I had to come to that realization. When I first started keeping plants, I got some rocks, did some research, put them in my tank with plants in a way I thought looked good. I finally came to the realization that I didn't really like what I did, and I searched for some other help. I got help, built a mock tank, and actually built an aquascape. After that things come in leaps and bounds.
 

NightShade

Culprit ~ I agree.. I can recognize what a true aquascape is, the way you were talking about. (Sadly, I agree that most here don't understand this concept ~ I mean, look at aquascaping forums! Or planted tank forums people! Anyways... I digress LOL! ).

Wanted to show y'all the beginnings of my 40B... I finally found my rocks (we just moved, so it was hard to find my boxes of rocks!) so, I will have rocks in the final scape with the wood... but I'm not sure I like the red-toned rocks I have, and there's not enough of the others (swore I had more.. oh well). May have to go for a walk in the woods and find some grey tones granite. Our granite around here is probably most similar to seiryu (sp?) stones. Will show a pic of the rocks too, see what y'all think, ( Silister Trench, Jocelyn Adelman & Culprit) but my driftwood is floating now LOL... so y'all don't get the two together


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Have the 24/7 (original one, ordered by mistake, (knew the 24/7 SE was better), but realize that I'll need a second light fixture being a 40B, so I kept it) that's why "9 am" is written on the glass (dry erase marker)... wanted to see the colors of the rocks at each point LOL

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Edit: first rock pic was the "Max" setting (basically 3pm and similar color to 12pm)
 

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Silister Trench

My 20 high tech with EI dosing has a HC cuba carpet, high tech plants, ect. I get far faster growth in the high tech, but the low tech is waaayyyy less maintence and honestly far healthier.

^^ This. Right here. Haha!

I used to run many higher lit tanks with Co2, and everything was usually fine, until... you're lazy, tired, busy, or just don't feel like spending a Saturday messing in tanks. Look away too long, and when you finally come back to it it's likely you no longer recognize with all that's happened. Haha!

[This next part is probably going to be read in a jerk way, but there's no better way to type it, because if it's not a concept we've read about or been told about before it's so... DUH! Haha!]

There's an ancient, and highly-guarded, super-big and super-secret secret that TakashI Amano probably paid handsomely for and then passed it down very carefully, and to only those he trusted in is brand ADA. What price he had to pay to uncover this ancient secret, we may never know... some say he paid for it in kittens, while other claim he paid for it with the fry of his very first guppy birthing.

The secret is: Once you have achieved the desired density and growth, becoming satisfied with a mostly complete result you would like to admire without that occasional algae outbreaks, or the demands of trimming weekly, you can step down the intensity of light weekly, and with it the demand for nutrients and as long as there is always the right level of Co2 and algae hardly appears, sometimes even Co2. By slow adjustment over a period of time, a high-light tank can be walked down the Par ladder somewhere around 40 -50 PAR, effectively making a high-light tank into a medium, or medium-high tank that is much easier to admire without needing weekly trimmings, and lessening the chance of a algae outbreak if you are ready to admire it and not trying to juggle the higher demand of attention.

What TakashI Amano learned was that low-light tanks are easier to maintain than high-light, and somewhere in the middle you can grow higher demanding plants that are healthy and less demanding.



I had to come to that realization. When I first started keeping plants, I got some rocks, did some research, put them in my tank with plants in a way I thought looked good. I finally came to the realization that I didn't really like what I did, and I searched for some other help. I got help, built a mock tank, and actually built an aquascape. After that things come in leaps and bounds.

Best thing about the internet is posting that first picture that we think is so good, only to rip it apart because it really wasn't good at all, and always being able to find it in Google s even after we've deleted it and forgotten it existed.
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Last bit is hysterical.... gotta love google!!!!

NightShade run the light on sunny only... not on cycle ever now the 9am won't ruin the "scape"!
 

Silister Trench

Culprit ~ I agree.. I can recognize what a true aquascape is, the way you were talking about. (Sadly, I agree that most here don't understand this concept ~ I mean, look at aquascaping forums! Or planted tank forums people! Anyways... I digress LOL! ).

Wanted to show y'all the beginnings of my 40B... I finally found my rocks (we just moved, so it was hard to find my boxes of rocks!) so, I will have rocks in the final scape with the wood... but I'm not sure I like the red-toned rocks I have, and there's not enough of the others (swore I had more.. oh well). May have to go for a walk in the woods and find some grey tones granite. Our granite around here is probably most similar to seiryu (sp?) stones. Will show a pic of the rocks too, see what y'all think, ( Silister Trench, Jocelyn Adelman & Culprit) but my driftwood is floating now LOL... so y'all don't get the two together


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Have the 24/7 (original one, ordered by mistake, (knew the 24/7 SE was better), but realize that I'll need a second light fixture being a 40B, so I kept it) that's why "9 am" is written on the glass (dry erase marker)... wanted to see the colors of the rocks at each point LOL

IMG_8116.PNG

Edit: first rock pic was the "Max" setting (basically 3pm and similar color to 12pm)

Love the pieces of driftwood. Spiderwood is probably my favorite, but only after I quit trying to tie moss and other plants to it. It's so great, in my opinion, because of it's very smooth surface, which can make trying to get plants to cover it and grow long-term a real pain. That smooth surface also makes it easy to clean and looking like you've taken more time than you actually have keeping it it's natural color and free of detritus and algae.

Maybe an idea for the future, but there's few types of driftwood I soak beforehand, but spiderwood is one that I prefer to because it usually explodes with that white fungal growth about a week or two after being submerged. When you use large pieces or a lot the fungal growth can pretty effortlessly clog filters, and even if it doesn't there's always been a noticeable smell in the water from it. I'm talking, quite a bit for wood to water volume than you have at the moment. New pieces have always become covered very thick with that growth, for me.

I think I see three pieces of spiderwood in your picture? The two closest look just fine, but the one in the back seems to be upside down with side that has been hacked off upward. Once it submerges I'd play with it a bit more and build some height, as well as using more of the length of the tank. Aquascapes are illusions. Unless you have unlimited recourses or a huge selection of different pieces to pick through, the majority of the time we never find "that one perfect piece" so we have to trick the eyes of the viewer into thinking we found that awesome stone, that it's a giant boulder instead of 2-3 medium sized ones, and the same applies with driftwood. Make it look like you have a much larger and more impressive piece than 3 or so smaller ones, which is a matter of finding how they feet together the best, then build from there by hiding the seams of the illusion you're creating with other hardscape, substrate, plants.

This isn't supposed to sound like i's ripping anything you've started apart, just some thoughts.

One mistake we tend to make in our first attempts is not being able to find, buy, or secure enough of any one hardscape that meshes well together at one time and because of the limited resources at our disposal we put it all in a small area, paying special attention to it and neglecting that there's some much tank left over that we made what little we have look even smaller. If we take a few larger stones and driftwood and spread it out more and then fill the empty space between with plants that are good at filling space, i't hopefully completes the illusion. There's definitely styles that need to be dominated by hardscape, but just as many that don't.

Substrate. When it comes to substrate if you heard about anaerobic pockets in deep substrate, just let it slip from your mind at the moment. Deep rooting plants, high-tech tanks, or the right substrate all kind of negate these pockets - not to mention most people who set up an Aquascape normally don't have it running with the same layout long enough to form these pockets, so more substrate.

I don't mind your stones, I like them. If you go in search of more, just keep in mind that over the next few months stones any smaller than a golf ball usually become buried or grown over in a short amount of time, so bigger is sometimes better. Even if stones don't match perfectly once plants grow in or a bit of algae has covered their surface little differences can go unnoticed.

Can't wait to see more! ️
 

NightShade

No, doesn't sound like you're ripping anything apart! I truly love constructive criticism!! I'll definitely play with it more! Will need your eye too!

LOL... yep. Should've soaked it.. there's even bits of that "growth" floating around the tank today - fell off the wood aaannnnddd.... I tasted the water to prime my Eheim classic. It tasted lovely :yuck:

Yea, I'll definitely play with it more when submerged. Wasn't completely happy with it, but it was the best I could do without a combination of water, and sunken wood. I'll definitely need your advice when that time comes... can't remember how many pieces it is... just checked. 5... one has already sunk!! Yay! Lol

I also plan on hiding the "seams" with plants and rocks (couldn't find the rocks when I took that pic... not until after I filled the tank... of course. XD)

And yea!! The spiderwood in there TOTALLY makes itself look small in that tank!! Didn't expect that with the number of pieces I have! I may order more actually. LOL! But, I'll definitely play with it, with stones (and plants), spread it out more, before buying more spider wood... I could picture it all spaced out in my head, (with plants and rocks to cover up the fact it is multiple pieces) but I couldn't find my rocks, and wanted it to look good to me for that brief amount of time. Thanks for making me realize I'm not completely insane

Thanks, I've learned that those anaerobic pockets completely go away with the amount of rooting plants that I plant (you've seen my 20H! Lol).. may poke it a little before the plants root, only if I have inhabitants, but won't have any until spring (unless I start a shrimp colony to feed those lovely wild-type Bettas, and watch them hunt )

I have smaller stones to complete the natural look ~ just didn't put them in yet. (I see the same size difference outside! But, I agree - after seeing my 20 fill in (you saw how it conceals most the larger rocks in there), it may be useless.. you made me rethink that. May not bother with the small stones.. depends if I keep those "river" stones, or if I find some in the woods that I like. I'll definitely keep you updated. Love the ideas, and your eye! I left them out because it's a pain to pick them up and move them when rescaping... like I'll have to do after the wood gets saturated

Tagged you in my 40B build thread. Check it out! Gone waaay off topic, but that's my fault!
 

Culprit

There's an ancient, and highly-guarded, super-big and super-secret secret that TakashI Amano probably paid handsomely for and then passed it down very carefully, and to only those he trusted in is brand ADA. What price he had to pay to uncover this ancient secret, we may never know... some say he paid for it in kittens, while other claim he paid for it with the fry of his very first guppy birthing.

The secret is: Once you have achieved the desired density and growth, becoming satisfied with a mostly complete result you would like to admire without that occasional algae outbreaks, or the demands of trimming weekly, you can step down the intensity of light weekly, and with it the demand for nutrients and as long as there is always the right level of Co2 and algae hardly appears, sometimes even Co2. By slow adjustment over a period of time, a high-light tank can be walked down the Par ladder somewhere around 40 -50 PAR, effectively making a high-light tank into a medium, or medium-high tank that is much easier to admire without needing weekly trimmings, and lessening the chance of a algae outbreak if you are ready to admire it and not trying to juggle the higher demand of attention.

What TakashI Amano learned was that low-light tanks are easier to maintain than high-light, and somewhere in the middle you can grow higher demanding plants that are healthy and less demanding.

I am freaking mindblown. I think, as I'm a very busy student with lots of extra curricular activities (juggling three different sports!), I'm going to start stepping my tank down. I'm good with slower growth as long as it is just as healthy, and I don't have to worry about always being right on top of everything or my tank transforms into an algae tank. I have the finnex 24/7 planted plus, so I can control light intensity really easy. I have it on max right now, but I'll take it down by 10%. I'm assuming its super slow, like reduce by a bit every month? It will also make it easier to keep CO2 higher without using as much.
 

Silister Trench

Last bit is hysterical.... gotta love google!!!!

NightShade run the light on sunny only... not on cycle ever now the 9am won't ruin the "scape"!

After owning this light for close to two years(?) I finally did manage to run it on full 24/7 mode as advertised without wrecking every plant and piece of hardscape in the tank. You can see the tank on the left with a suspended light, and that’s the Finnex planted + 24/7.


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I looked for Finnex planted 24/7 success results for a loooooong time, and if there were any at that time I never found even one... that said, to successfully keep it in 24/7 mode (for 2-3 months now?) I followed one bit of semi-success stories I did find - none of which I ever saw updated, by the way - and raised the light like... um ... 22 inches above the substrate, so the lower-lit parts of the day pretty much have no PAR value in the tank and when it runs through and reaches 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. When it's most intense it's actually just getting strong low-light in the tank.


(Seriously grown with the Finnex 24/7 With 24/7 setting. You can also see bits of driftwood at the surface, shading some areas. )


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Okay... so I've still never been able to run this light how it was marketed without destroying a tank, but I think I came closer than a lot of people.
 

Silister Trench

I am freaking mindblown. I think, as I'm a very busy student with lots of extra curricular activities (juggling three different sports!), I'm going to start stepping my tank down. I'm good with slower growth as long as it is just as healthy, and I don't have to worry about always being right on top of everything or my tank transforms into an algae tank. I have the finnex 24/7 planted plus, so I can control light intensity really easy. I have it on max right now, but I'll take it down by 10%. I'm assuming its super slow, like reduce by a bit every month? It will also make it easier to keep CO2 higher without using as much.

Every month? Just walk it down week by week. Use the remote and create a custom setting and just keep lower the W after weekly water change. I finally had mine down to 6 W to A.R. Mine still had a nice tone of red - not ideal.

Don’t change Co2 or ferts with it, unless you notice fish at the surface, then Co2. If you E.i. Dose I wouldnt change your ferts at all ever.



I had to give a witch doctor 10 years of my life and the spare change in my pockets for that info, so don’t expect that kind of enlightenment for free next time.

Actually, thinking back, the witch doctor might have just been a homeless man on the street with pidgins feet around his neck. I have to... think about some thing...
 

Ulu

Thank you Sil.
(and subscribed)
 

Heather L

Thanks! I plan on adding to it as I can. Decided to do something like this because of all the new aquascapers out there. Lots of talent, but I tend to notice the same mistakes, which I know I've done in the past too many times.

Hope it helps some folks!

This newbie really appreciates you sharing your knowledge! Thank you
 

Pescado_Verde

Not going to point any fingers... but so many of the people on here will make posts about "need to improve my aquascape" and, "check out my aquascape" and all it is is mabye a piece of driftwood and some stones that don't go together in any way, and a few plants. It irritates me because that isn't aquascaping. Aquascaping is when you take hardscape and plants, and put them together in a way that mirrors nature, and looks realistic. Like Sil said just realizing what you have isn't an aquascape means you are so much further along then everyone else. I had to come to that realization. When I first started keeping plants, I got some rocks, did some research, put them in my tank with plants in a way I thought looked good. I finally came to the realization that I didn't really like what I did, and I searched for some other help. I got help, built a mock tank, and actually built an aquascape. After that things come in leaps and bounds.

I have to disagree here. I hesitate to call anyone a 'scape snob but you're veering off of a road that is 16 lanes wide.

Aquascaping is aquatic gardening, landscaping for the aquarium if you will. While an aquatic recreation of the Jardins du château de Versailles would no doubt be impressive to even someone not familiar with the source material, a submerged volcano spewing air bubbles ala "Nemo" would be instantly more recognizable by a large majority. Some gardeners like topiary, some like gnomes and hot pink gazing balls in their garden.

Call it "tank art" if you need a term that makes you feel elite but leave aquascaping to the masses, where it belongs - with a big ol' bubble bar right smack dab in the middle next to the treasure chest.

The tl;dr - Lighten up, Francis - You're playing in a fish tank after all.
 

Pescado_Verde

This is my most recent work of art, I call it "Steaming Pile of Voodoo".


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-Mak-

Not exactly tips and tricks, but....

Has anyone noticed the big brands veering towards aquascaping more? I guess in light of the comments above, I will clarify that I mean Amano/ADA style aquascaping. I think for a year now every time I go to a Petco or Petsmart I notice some nicer looking tanks. Topfin has a shiny new logo and a very Fluval-esque line of new tanks. I think Aqueon did some redesigning too, but I can't remember exactly now.

They've ignored aquascaping and the related market for years, but I think they finally noticed that specialty stores and online shops like buceplant, glass aqua, aqua lab aquaria, aqua forest aquarium, and ADA distributers are very popular. It's no secret most chain stores are nearly useless for aquascaping supplies. They still have a long way to go, but the other day I saw some actual spiderwood at Petsmart! I was shocked until I picked it up and realized it was fake (silly me :rolleyes, but it was unmistakably supposed to be a spiderwood design, which shows they're paying attention.

Some of the new shinies:


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I have no words for that 0.5 and 0.25 gallon(!), I can only hope if people buy them it's for temporary displays. Terrible stocking s on the boxes like Fluval's spec tanks. Overall aesthetically, not bad at all.

And! I was in a different city last weekend and was able to visit a LFS there that I drop by whenever I'm close, they were selling mountain stone and dragonstone in a box from.... Caribsea. Eco-complete, natural sand maker Caribsea, kind of surprising because they don't have any other prominent plant products, and now they're diving into the most plant heavy aspect of the hobby.


IMG_1170.JPG
IMG_1171.JPG <--- Some saltwater rocks found its way into that box
$3.99 a pound, which is basically the same as the online shops.

Personally I'm excited about this direction, it may be many years before I can walk into a LFS near me or a chain and find some hardscape, but it's progress for sure. Maybe I can convince my LFS to sell UNS tanks next.

Also, Marina made an attempt here? Though I can't imagine this contraption being better than just hands:

IMG_5435.jpg

In other news, The Green Machine is closing their shop, and James Findley say videos will be more frequent, which is a good that comes out of it I suppose. Never been to their shop because it's in the UK but it seems like a loss for hobbyists over there. Of course, he wants to spend more time with family, which is most important.
 

Silister Trench

I have to disagree here. I hesitate to call anyone a 'scape snob but you're veering off of a road that is 16 lanes wide.

Aquascaping is aquatic gardening, landscaping for the aquarium if you will. While an aquatic recreation of the Jardins du château de Versailles would no doubt be impressive to even someone not familiar with the source material, a submerged volcano spewing air bubbles ala "Nemo" would be instantly more recognizable by a large majority. Some gardeners like topiary, some like gnomes and hot pink gazing balls in their garden.

Call it "tank art" if you need a term that makes you feel elite but leave aquascaping to the masses, where it belongs - with a big ol' bubble bar right smack dab in the middle next to the treasure chest.

The tl;dr - Lighten up, Francis - You're playing in a fish tank after all.

Let me just start by saying that you've have some very interesting points and marketed them with a clever approach worded appropriately. I'll also say I'm not defending what Culprit wrote, just pointing out what I believe he was trying to get at, and maybe even a bit of unspoken conversation I took front his post that maybe should have been spoken.

When I read his post, which was quite a while ago, I think there was maybe a bit of unspoken agreement passed between us, or at least understanding, meaning I understood something he never really needed to say. I can see where you're coming from - or anyone, actually - coming in and reading this at a later date. If I think back to the first photo of an Aquascape remember seeing, and I think he'd be the first to say, but it was maybe a bit lackluster meaning this: while it had all the necessary ingredients that may make up an Aquascape it lacked "heart" we'll say, for lack of better words, or "experience" I'll add if we want something a bit more logical. That's not saying it was bad starting point, just that it didn't have the necessary components to awe every single person, or even the hardest critique of all - yourself. It was what it was, a starting point. Point me in the direction of any one person who only has artistic gold flow forth from their hands on any attempt they make at Aquascaping, enlightening all who behold it, and I'l make you all a promise. I will (in a kind, yet fair) tone tell them the truth in it's most base form, regardless of who said person may be, which is this: If everything you've ever done was so dang flawless in execution - every photo we can find across the whole internet - it's because the reason is more simple than we could make it out to be. You didn't wake up brilliant.You just didn't take enough photos of your first attempts.

That's probably the greatest evil of the Aquascaping Hobby. You're more likely to find 2 dozen flawless photos of tanks, then you are of that time 6 months before one of those 2 dozen flawless photos was captured, you know, when it was a complete wreck because someone didn't notice their Co2 tank went dry.

The unspoken conversation I took from culprits post was him sharing his experience, recognizing despite his zealous approach to it's subjective arts, it took realizing that that slapping stones on some fluorite and forcing plants to grow in unnatural ways he reached a more appreciative state recognizing that his attempts were missing the mark. I'm using Culprit since it was his post that sparked the following thoughts, but hey, I could just as easily put Silister in his place. Once we gain experience, we see the flaws, it's then very hard to look passed the obvious flaws we see in other's tanks, but that's not a bad thing. If I stick a stick dead-center in a 40G, straight vertical, toss some stones, it's on a base level art and therefore subject to a person's observations, but it's hard to see that same attempt as art when we gorge ourself on google searches of Aquascape and what we can deem as the hobby "meta-aquascape".

Culprit was more detailing his own trial and error with his attempts, noting his observations of what he considered to be an aquascape at this point. I think I just immediately related to his writings because I've let known my interests in the hobby to people I know in real life only to be flooded by a lengthy photo-showing of their tanks which has some times been cringe worthy.

It's realizing that even though what you've done is not necessarily what you're capable of, just a single stepping stone in a lengthy hike (sometimes one only walked incline) and improving yourself that matters.

Not sure I've said this on here, but I've said it to people that I know: "The difference between a Begginner's Aquascape and one that is awed by many and accepted by most is a lengthy credit card bill if you're going for the 'meta'. It's about %80 how much you can spend and what's available when you want to spend it which can dictate a visual aquascape and it's cohesion to what is artful. Sit someone down with money to blow, and someone with none, then make them both make an art from what someone with little has and it's highly unlikely that the someone with money to blow will even make a fairly 'good' attempt, never having to work with what they have and not one thing more is a debilitating handicap for one person and just a small hurdle for another."

Meaning this: do what you what're with what you have and eventually you'll have enough to make something great no matter what anyone else deems as 'good'.
 

Pescado_Verde

I've re-read what I quoted and I MAY be missing some context (the unspoken dialogue that you mention) that's not readily apparent and I can live with that. All we have in this medium are words and they have meanings.

In conclusion let me say this: It is entirely possible that the vast majority of us who simply decorate our aquariums have co-opted the term "aquascaping" from the more serious practitioners. If that is the case then I apologize and will henceforth refer to my activities as making mud pies or something less offensive.

Now if you'll excuse me I have some garden gnomes that need my undivided attention.

 

Silister Trench

Not exactly tips and tricks, but....

Has anyone noticed the big brands veering towards aquascaping more? I guess in light of the comments above, I will clarify that I mean Amano/ADA style aquascaping. I think for a year now every time I go to a Petco or Petsmart I notice some nicer looking tanks. Topfin has a shiny new logo and a very Fluval-esque line of new tanks. I think Aqueon did some redesigning too, but I can't remember exactly now.

They've ignored aquascaping and the related market for years, but I think they finally noticed that specialty stores and online shops like buceplant, glass aqua, aqua lab aquaria, aqua forest aquarium, and ADA distributers are very popular. It's no secret most chain stores are nearly useless for aquascaping supplies. They still have a long way to go, but the other day I saw some actual spiderwood at Petsmart! I was shocked until I picked it up and realized it was fake (silly me :rolleyes, but it was unmistakably supposed to be a spiderwood design, which shows they're paying attention.

Some of the new shinies:


IMG_5432.jpg
IMG_5427.jpg
IMG_5429.jpg
IMG_5431.jpg
IMG_5434.jpg

I have no words for that 0.5 and 0.25 gallon(!), I can only hope if people buy them it's for temporary displays. Terrible stocking s on the boxes like Fluval's spec tanks. Overall aesthetically, not bad at all.

And! I was in a different city last weekend and was able to visit a LFS there that I drop by whenever I'm close, they were selling mountain stone and dragonstone in a box from.... Caribsea. Eco-complete, natural sand maker Caribsea, kind of surprising because they don't have any other prominent plant products, and now they're diving into the most plant heavy aspect of the hobby.


IMG_1170.JPG
IMG_1171.JPG <--- Some saltwater rocks found its way into that box
$3.99 a pound, which is basically the same as the online shops.

Personally I'm excited about this direction, it may be many years before I can walk into a LFS near me or a chain and find some hardscape, but it's progress for sure. Maybe I can convince my LFS to sell UNS tanks next.

Also, Marina made an attempt here? Though I can't imagine this contraption being better than just hands:

IMG_5435.jpg

In other news, The Green Machine is closing their shop, and James Findley say videos will be more frequent, which is a good that comes out of it I suppose. Never been to their shop because it's in the UK but it seems like a loss for hobbyists over there. Of course, he wants to spend more time with family, which is most important.

I'd consider this a tip for sure, and I'm glad you mentioned it!

It was two years ago when I noticed greater selection in the stores around me. Not so much hardscape, which has primarily been junk (overpriced lava rock, zebra stone, and a pretty pathetic bin of MopanI scraps), but in planted tank related merchandise.

There's been a much wider selection of plants, catering to beginners with a normal variety of anubias [from large variations to nana petite and most java fern variety, except var. 'trident' & 'needle' with a true var. needle being pretty hard to come by anyways. It's intermediate plants that have surprised me, namely carpeting plants and red plants like Alternanthera ReinekiI var. 'mini'. What's really neat is they aren't just selling plants which would be difficult to grow well in a tank owned by someone just getting into plants, namely more difficult varieties, but there's an aisle dedicated to those nano tank co2 systems made by (I think) Fluval, as well as good planting tweezers - pincette, if you'd have it - with fine points good for carpet planting, as well as some very nice wavy-curved and straight scissors. The planting tools and scissors always seemed hard to come by if you were after a nicer set with their cheap counterparts a dime a dozen thanks to China.

I've also found a few [complete] tank setups with the light/filter included, marketed for a all-in-one set up for beginners. I know it's not new by any means, but I bought my Fluval ChI on sale about two years ago. I scrapped everything but the low-iron rimless tank it came with since then, which was the only decent item and priced correctly when it was on sale. These [complete] planted tank setups aren't necessarily some of the worst sets I can think of, but some of them are close to it. I think a 5G Fluval ChI is $70 at one of the stores, including the tank I mentioned a pretty terrible filter/light combo. But for that $70 you could get a low-iron 5G and a Chihiros light (which is probably 1,000x stronger and nicer than the stock light) online and shipped right to your house. I have an Aquamaxx 9.6G tank [low-iron/rimless], A401 Chihiros LED, and a SunSun Canister for my Dutch Aquascape which cost about $130 roughly. Yeah, it's almost double the price of the Fluval Chi, but the difference is twice the tank and the ability to grow anything you desire with Co2 and nutrients. A low-iron 5G with a similiar set up would be about $100-110. The difference in price being the cost of the tank.

So yeah, while cool to see these planted tank items and sets the equipment I've seen looks pretty neat, but I'd really caution people on any of the planted tank kits. While easier, and more convenient you aren't getting anything close to quality or functionality buying a kit, and I think a lot of people might be disappointed in the long-run if they decided to continue planted tanks. As far as these kits and Aquascaping? Nope. Notta. Google Fluval ChI Aquascape, Fluval Edge Aquascape or whatever kit you can name and I doubt very many of them have an aquascape with that kit which hasn't had at least a light or filter exchanged for the stock one it came with.

Then again, this is only what I've seen at my own local stores. Maybe some of you have better shops because I know mine are lacking to say the least. Well, at least they lack in what I think I need. Haha!
 

Silister Trench

I've re-read what I quoted and I MAY be missing some context (the unspoken dialogue that you mention) that's not readily apparent and I can live with that. All we have in this medium are words and they have meanings.

In conclusion let me say this: It is entirely possible that the vast majority of us who simply decorate our aquariums have co-opted the term "aquascaping" from the more serious practitioners. If that is the case then I apologize and will henceforth refer to my activities as making mud pies or something less offensive.

Now if you'll excuse me I have some garden gnomes that need my undivided attention.

Haha!

Don't take me the wrong way. You made points concrete in a foundation of truth. Your stand, your opinion, is far more correct. My intention was only to say that what was said, was less an elitist slamming people new to the hobby then it might have appeared. It's just art. Living art at that, but art just the same. A serious enthusiast of this style of art is no better than someone who dabbles here and there since it's left to interpretation by whoever wants. It doesn't matter if it's a black and white still of spongebob's pineapple hut with a single dead leaf or a 200G Dutch skillfully planted and trimmed. At the end of the day, it's only really matters if the owner is satisfied.

If it's mud pies, count me in. If we want a 30 day unstoppable algae farm, I can do that too. I'm probably good at one of those. New, adventurous ideas of a underwater volcano? I can totally see myself flipping through Google s in the near future and finding someone who ran with it.

Most of the people surfing the Aquascaping thread are looking for advice or inspiration, and just as art is left to interpretation, so are the opinions of our peers we sometimes come to for help or a second opinion.

It's either the first or second post of mine in this thread where I give my opinion on what Aquascaping is, and if I remember right, I give my view on what is Aquascaping and what is other. I'll be the first to say it doesn't matter what I wrote. What matters is what the person who created their tank thinks, regardless of what people have come to expect when thinking of their tank.

There's no formula of what an aquascape is, but I'm pretty sure I have a few photos to show of my own tanks which I considered Aquascaped that a very slI'm margin of other's would consider 'an aquascape'.
 

Pescado_Verde

^^ You're absolutely right you know, at the end of the day beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. I went out to play in my 23K gallon tank after my last post in this thread...


ukKBt8p.jpg

And after some reflection I decided that I was out of line here. I jumped into the middle of a conversation that I wasn't previously a part of, which is just rude on my part and then took a snippet of that conversation and wailed on it.

Carry on Sil. You and others who are creating these advanced works and sharing them with us are doing a good thing; you're showing others what can be done and presenting it in a way that is educational and informative.

If Clutch or anyone else gets a little self indulgent in describing their efforts so be it. Who among us hasn't been a bit hyperbolic when talking about our passions? Lord knows at one time I thought myself the next Willie MosconI and would scoff at those less talented.

Thanks for your measured responses to my meddling. There's plenty of mud here for all of us. Some will craft Venus de Milo and others, like me, will simply make pies.
 

Silister Trench

[Part 1 of 2]
Inherent Predisposition to Destruction / Circumventing Failure

If anyone asked who my favorite Aquascaper was I doubt it would take me long to spit out James Findley. There are a good handful of videos on YouTube to watch featuring James Findley from TheGreenMachine, all of which are worth checking out. So go ahead and ask it, "What makes James Findley so brilliant in my eyes? Elaborate hardscape design? Intricate attention to detail? Why is he my favorite?"

Jame's Findley does many aspects of the nature aquarium right, but I really think he does at least one thing better than almost everyone else, which is placing the correct scene in the correct tank. I think the vast majority of us can agree that some of our first attempts may have failed to yield the best results, almost as if we were hard wired to underwhelm, or inherently predisposed to destruction. A nature aquarium, or aquascape, is about creating - scratch that, recreating a natural environment in the home aquarium. The reason why we cannot create nature, only recreate it, is because our species just isn't that good at it so we leave it to Mother Nature to paint tapestries of wonderful design and entertain ourselves to drool and awe at her works. Few aspects of a nature aquarium are indeed natural, but it's only because the canvas we're allotted to work on is very limited. While Mother Nature's canvas is a whole world, a whole universe, we limit our area of design to such a microscopic degree it really has no observable space when we compare size. Even the largest tanks are small platforms to work with, but that's okay, because we work well with the proportions, or at least we strive to.

Next time you're in the woods, on the mountainside, at the beach, wandering the dessert, force yourself to abruptly stop and really look at everything around you. Look to the highest leaf in the forest, let your eyes take in every detail in a 120 degree area until they fall to your feet. If you're far enough from human interference you should be able to note that nature has used every available inch in her artwork. While what she has done may appear chaotic at first glance, every inch/centimeter/millimeter is detailed. With your eyes still trained on your feet look back to the tallest leaf again, then back down, trying to find something new that you didn't allow yourself to see before. See how plants grow, how they are placed, how they combine with the scene, how it just works, how it flows with the hardscape, how everything is placed just as it should be. Every inch of the canvas is used with purpose and as far as you can see nature used the correct scene in the correct setting. James Findley, in my opinion, is one of the best Aquascapers because he chooses the correct Aquascape in the correct aquarium according to the proportions it has. Looking back at your feet now, there's only one small detail that should be out of place in the scene you're observing. It stands where you stand, a shadow moves with your movement, if you begin to walk it walks. The only thing out of place is you. While James Findley strives to give every available inch meaning in his works, he also lets his plant selections find their natural balance with the space provided without forcing these plants to his will. When the Aquascape is allowed to behave naturally we should find that if we were to stand inside it and look down to our feet we shouldn't be able to see ourselves, effectively removing the only thing out of place. This is recreating nature.

This is what it means to remove our inherent predisposition to destruction from our own works. The sooner we remove our wants and desires and let nature take over, the sooner we are able to see that nature will work her artistic magic even when we confine her to a glass cage.

-Sil

[Continued ---->]
 

Silister Trench

[ continuation of post #160 -----> ]

Example:
I think these photos are excellent for example in case you don't live in an area far enough away from cities. I took this shot in Arkansas, trudging through a shallow river. The river blew my mind because the bottom isn't made of sand, silt, dirt or anything I was used to seeing in Minnesota, just rocks. A billion fist-sized stones covered in 10 billion pond snails with a million little fish darting between stones. When I finally looked up we saw a pretty scene. I had been too focused on not touching anything gross prior to seeing this.

Note: I've seen a half dozen or so Aquascape that resemble this formation. The bank slid into the river, leaving us a attractive formation of limestone with plants growing between stones. Near-perfect IwagumI in photo #1 in a non-traditional aspect.

Iwagumi-Style

IMG_5109.JPG

Nature Aquarium-Style

IMG_5111.JPG

The scenes are a product of high/low water levels tearing the banks down, but I think they're spectacular. I've seen many nature aquariums trying to recreate this exact scene. Every single stone is exactly where it should be. Every tree, every plant is grown in it's most advantageous spot - exactly where it needed to grow. Nothing is out of place and nature... well, she's deliberately excluded my presence from her work, removing my own inherent predisposition to destruction as a safe-measure to circumvent failure.

[ to be continued in part 2 of 2 -----> ]
 

Silister Trench

Continuation post #160 & #161 ------>

Inherent Predisposition to Destruction / Circumventing Failure

Failure definition

2 ...
an unsuccessful person, enterprise, or thing.
plural noun: failures

Let's talk about what it is to fail for a moment. Although I 've never searched for failure, I can imagine if we did run a search we likely wouldn't be surprised at how few, or obvious results, of people who have (by definition) failed at Aquascaping -the hobby itself for that matter - because true failure means throwing in the towel, tearing down tanks, uprooting them from your life and pitching the whole works into a dumpster. Failure and the measure of success is interpretational. What one person sees as failure, I may see as a strong learning curve. A tool for teaching.

Every unsuccessful attempt brings us a step closer to success so long as we are able to take away more knowledge at the end of an attempt than we had at the beginning. In other words: If you were able to diagnose an issue that became apparent over the course of an Aquascape's life-span, make a mental note of the diagnosis for remedy in the future, thereby finding a better understanding of what works and maybe what does not, then it should be safe to say that regardless of how we feel about the final product it wasn't unsuccessful because we take away more than we put in. What exactly we are able to take away from it could take any number of different directions from experience to a better understanding and appreciation at how different aquatic plants can behave from terrestrial.

Learning the What-to's and identifying the What-not-to-do's is always an ever-evolving game of careful observations, logical hypothesis, deductive reasoning, trial, and then taking corrective measures. When issues occur they can often be categorized into the endless, yet vague, column of unbalanced levels of light/Co2/Nutrients. While finding balance can become an ongoing struggle, it's not always the definitive, underlying problem. Sometimes problems surface as the tank ages, sometimes they're not immediate concerns, but sometimes these problems were incorporated into the design layout (the Aquascape itself) from the very beginning.

In Part 1 of 2 I wrote on [our] inherent predisposition to destruction, and in brief summary destructive predisposition is forcing our presence, often our will, into our designs or on the growth and behavior of plant-life, sometimes the life of our pets, instead of providing an Aquascape with a good idea, strong footing, good balance, and then sitting back and letting nature decide what happens next. I've said this very phrase a dozen times, but it's one I think needs constant repeating: Nothing good ever comes from being elbow-deep in our tanks, stirring constant panic in our critters and harassing plants. Ever. Yes, as owners we are capable of good when we meddle, like when we remove waste/filth/decaying organic matter, water changes especially. Being capable of good however will never mean that every time we roll up our sleeves and dip into the depths that we are doing good by our pets and fish tanks. Constant planting, replanting, uprooting, re-rooting, hack-and-slash grooming, chasing fish that are zooming, can sometimes be more harmful even when our intentions are to help. All forms of aquatic life, both stocking and plants, can feel stress. If you've ever purchased a bag of Neon Tetras or other brightly colored critters and dumped them into a tank after acclimating then we can assume you may have been a little dismayed that the bright coloration that caught your eye has been lost during transport and relocation, a very visual indication of stress. Is it a surprise then that plants can, and often times do, go through similar stress when relocating? Sometimes their level of stress is obvious, other times not so much.

Much of the prior issues can be categorized as issues we cannot always address easily or immediately, if at all. Sometimes issues just are, and the process is much the same for almost everyone yet there are odd habits, debilitating handicaps we as individuals, are capable of identifying and rectifying. Problems and issues only we can resolve because we're regrettably the cause, yet also the solution. Let's take a moment, before I write on into a handful of predispositions to destruction, and go ahead and get the one and only real truth every single person can agree on when it comes to Aquascaping. That truth is the only way someone can get better at Aquascaping is by - wait for it...3...2...1...) Aquascaping. Not just throwing a few pieces of hardscape into a fish tank and then leaving it just long enough for the detritus to settle - no! You can practice seating rocks and driftwood in substrate all day by setting up a mock tank made out of a cardboard box, or make one from wood if we're fancy. You can even solidify your artistic eye by detailing a grid into the mock tank, or marking points of interest as dictated by the Golden Rule of 1/3rds. You'll find yourself better with every layout, or drive yourself all levels of insane trying to make the angle of a stone or an intersecting point too perfect, but it won't make you better at Aquascaping as a whole unless you follow through with it. Set it up in a tank, plant it, correct it, grow it out, finally stocking it when the time is right, and then letting it reach some measurable level of success as it matures, identify and correct algae outbreaks if they occur, and enjoy it when it's grown out to your liking before snapping a number of photos, then rip it apart and start over. Riding it the whole way, even if for most of it's life the only thing that inhabits it is mats of algae, is important. Even uninteresting layouts with little or no hardscape becomes unimportant as the plants fill in and the tank matures.

I think I've been Aquascaping for maybe 3 years in November, so while not necessarily a long time, I've done quite a bit, resolved a lot of nasty habits I developed in the beginning and corrected those along with developing better technique, which helps me circumvent the failure of future projects. I'm not even sure I can list all the terrible habits I've learned or taught myself only to have to force myself to unlearn them, but I still know the more detrimental bad-habits. Habits that maybe you or someone else share in common with me, or at the very least will be able to watch out for in your own process. Avoidance of most, if not all of these, circumvents failure in future works.

1.) What kind of fish to stock? ALL OF THEM!!!

Haha! Okay, I'll admit to never personally recognizing my stocking habits as being a free-for-all of community frenzy of every species on the first two rows of tanks at the pet store. In fact, I've always felt like i'm incredibly boring when it comes to stocking, but there's a reason why this is at the #1 bad-habit. Community tanks aren't bad, they're just distracting in Aquascaping. Stocking in general is what a lot of people will contemplate before ever forming an idea as to what the tank should look like, or what the heck would even be right for the design, water temp, water levels. I mean, do we even have a stand, what kind of substrate, dragon-stone or the garden variety commonly found outside places of business and are best left for purchase when its dark and no one is looking... etc... Was that over the top? I seriously disagree if you say, yes. Seriously. I'm not immune to the giddy feels when it comes to stocking a tank. I'm just more patient than some, and more deliberate in my decision when it comes down to what would look the best versus what will work the best. We all work for a good looking tank, but it's never wise to be the only one that works to keep it nice. Way, way, waaaay, far down the timeline after the tank is set up and everything is stable and growing I think of stocking, but not with schools or peacock-colored what's-their-names. Before anything else I've already allotted a fair chunk of the remaining water volume available for stocking (because the volume of a tank prior to aquascaping is very different to what it as after) to algae eating stocking. Ottos, cherry shrimp, Amano, other... almost %50 (more? Sure!) of the available volume that can be inhabited is already reserved for species that are going to work with me to keep everything clean and neat. Algae eaters are more important than any other stocking idea that may have caught our interest. If I don't have to. be the only one cleaning hardscape, scraping glass, getting rid of detritus, it saves me time and that's more precious than other species because now I have time to appreciate the ones I am able to stock in the remaking volume after the algae eaters have readily established themselves.

2.) Poor planning, usually resulting from inexperience

There are so many reasons why detailing a plan on paper, or even mentally detailing the plan, is important in the hobby because of the lengthy investment of time it takes to see an idea to completion. I'm great at planning, but very bad at times when it comes to planning for an aquascape. I've gotten better at mentally laying out a plan, but I'm also very prone to tossing it into the mental trash and just wingin' it when the time comes.

The closest I've ever came to a solid game plan is a doodle of a tank I wanted to try -

Exhibit A.)


IMG_2162.JPG
Which in over a year became -

Exhibit B.)


Image1530826180.802557.jpg
Hardscape: Malaysian & other driftwood, Locally sourced granite from river.

All things considered, such as not having any of the hardscape, most plants, fish, even the tank itself when the drawing was doodled down I'm okay with the results. 6 out of 11 on my own meter of success.

Prior to the drawing I made for this tank, I was exclusively a wingin' it type of person with mixed results overall. Sometimes it was bad from the start, sometimes it was better than bad, but every single time I was able to identify, reason, correct and fix ideas or techniques that weren't very good until each tank was able to be measured with some level of success.

Exhibit C.)


IMG_1574.JPG
Winged it so hard the original Wingin' it layout is almost 100% altered from what I decided on spur of the moment. It's unrecognizable when the original is compared to the last photo, which may look okay, I guess. The problem is it took countless hours of redo and fiddling to correct my mistakes because of no planning.

I've come to appreciate a solid plan, but at the same time I probably will always be prone to just doing it instead of thinking it through far enough to see if it's a good idea. There's a benefit to all the mistakes I could have, or did make, as a result of poorly planned layouts, and that's becoming pretty good at fixing and adapting everything as it feels or looks right. At the end of a long day, however, a good plan that's been carefully thought out, plotted, and then double-checked for accuracy, will always save money, and most important of all, time.

(Will be continued ----->)
 

Silister Trench

(Continuation of post #163----->)

3. Understand when it's okay to let the Do-It-Yourselfer inside you out to play, and when to stuff a sock in his/her mouth, tie them up with airline tubing and lock them in your aquarium cabinet, or just a closet.

I'm a fiddler of ideas, a meddler of products I own, especially when they're already broke so there's no need to reassemble whatever it was because I may have already forgotten how to. There's a DIY'er in me who wants to make things, a lot of things, things I shouldn't make, things I have no need to make. I used to let the DIY'er in me out more frequently, and I still do some times, but on a much shorter leash and only if my fail-proof DIY Algorithm spits out an answer we can agree with. What DIY algorithm do I speak of, you may wonder, and it's simple.

Total Cost of Similiar Product x .25 = Max Budget Spending

Ex: ADA (90P I think) Frameless Aquarium Cabinet

- Actual product material: laminated MDF w/ Full Overlay European Hinges

TCSP $1,210 x 0.25 = $302.50 Maximum DIY Budget allotted

[Notes: DIY project must save at least $100 when taking into account of TCSP versus the DIY Budget as a condition to move foreword and consider the project. I then must have confidence that what I DIY - an aquarium cabinet in this case - can be made at least equal to a level craftsmanship as the original product. A second stipulation is if the DIY project is an expensive one I have to improve on at least one design aspect.]

Ex: In this case the cost of material for the cabinet actually came to about $100. Just don't get me wrong, this is a very extreme DIY comparison of TCSP and budget allotment, but a very real one I've done half a dozen times now. The improvements I made to the original design was 3/4 plywood, better external canister filter hosing ports, under cabinet lighting.



IMG_0134.JPG
*not an actual photo of the cabinet I'm talking about. Just a reference.

There. My DIY guidelines. Maybe I should explain why the DIY project needs to save at least $100 on top of costing only 25% of actual cost. It's because I don't always know all there is about a project, so the $100 is for the time I take to design, research, then build the project. Yes, there are exceptions on occasion. If I make something that doesn't work well, or with flaws incorporated by lack of knowledge, then it would have been cheaper (and easier) to buy the actual product. I've made Co2 regulators, inline heater/co2 diffuser combo, tank lids, and much more than I remember, and anything I made that may have saved a few bucks cost more because I occasionally ended up buying the product on top of the cost of the DIY project.

I hate to say it, but for many aquarium necessity it usually comes out to roughly the same price for the DIY material vs A product that's good to go right out of the box. Cabinets are a great money saver to DIY, and sometimes light stands as in this acrylic one.


IMG_0135.JPG

(To continue ---->)
 

Silister Trench

(Continuation on post #164----->)

4.) Elaborate, please, on elaborate designs.

There's definitely better people to answer this, but give me a chance. Some of the best Aquascapes you'll find are international or world-wide contest winners. Just... WOW! There are some intricately woven designs so masterfully crafted It's demoralizing to Google Search these works out, fall into a hypnotic, drooling trance and then come to a while later only to find a pretty sad school of hungry tetra begging for some flakes... or maybe what their searching eyes are trying to tell you at 10 P.M. Is to rip their home down to bare glass, because come on man, we totally want one of those underwater sand waterfalls, and it's not like it could be too hard and -

No... Definitely just hungry... I think... or are they?

All jokes aside, elaborate designs almost always share a few things in common from what I've seen in real life and what I've found out through actively seeking out specific details of works.

Often these works are a collage of pieces of wood, stone, different plants/mosses, ideas, insight and inspiration a hobbyist (or hobbyist's - plural) have put together over a period of time. Any hobbyist who has been into fish-keeping for some time will be able to tell you how aquarium stuff like equipment just gathers, sometimes until it spills from cram-packed closets. Over time your collection begins to look pretty impressive to someone who just set up their first or second tank. Aquascaping is no different, except that amongst your collection there are usually totes or shelves of rocks and driftwood, old substrate, humid containers in windows (or lit with that old light you upgraded from a while back and didn't have the courage to turn into dumpster-chow) that contain trimmings of plants, or plants you no longer have room in your tanks to house, so they're sidelined in emersed conditions and old planted tank substrate, sometimes potting soil, awaiting future plans that may incorporate their habits and appearance.


Personally, I can't completely rid myself of an aquarium plant I sought out and purchased at one point. I still have a mat of Giant Hairgrass stowed safely in an emersed setup I made from acrylic, which is still a portion of the very first portion of the very first aquatic plant I bought. Bought as in EVER bought, like 3 years ago. I've only ever washed my hands completely of one aquatic plant, ridding myself of every bit. For everything else I've developed a nasty bad habit that I keep very neat to avoid it being noticed and seen as a nasty and very gross habit. My process is as follows:
- Obtain a new plant I have no experience with, which I often split into at least 2 plantable portions.
- Portion #1 goes into a tank that the plant can grow well in.
- Portion #2 goes into one of my emersed containers, which pretty much guarantees that no matter what happens to any other portion, I have a starting point to cultivate more.
- Portion #3 (if applicable) is placed into a different tank than #1 to see what happens, how it differs under different conditions.

I treat emersed setups like a collection, so as to avoid my own OCD to look at it as hoarding. It's less clutter than it is a display of emersed plantings.

Placing plants into an emersed setup is a great way to have them available if you desire later without having 30 different species in an overcrowded tank, which they can get lost in or out competed and disappear. Labeling individual containers with their respective species included is a far easier way to keep a plants around than the former. While keeping a collection of plants begins by setting aside plants for later ideas, collecting hardscape such as stone and driftwood is often costlier and more time-consuming, requiring you to always be on the lookout for interesting pieces.

In my experience it's far cheaper to start a stockpile of stone than it is driftwood. Unless you are attempting to aquascape an IwagumI or another style where the stone is a visual stimulI to the creation as a whole, then rocks don't matter. While Seiryu or Dragon Stone are impressive with their minute detail they're expensive to buy because people who want these stone are looking for a particular visual that they couldn't achieve with another, less detailed, stone. I have some Seiryu, and I paid far too much for a style I didn't even care for. The problem with paying eighty-plus dollars for 12 lbs of IwagumI stone is that most of the rocks you'll receive are too small to be seen when plants mature. Any stone smaller than roughly half the size of your closed fist can easily be grown right over and lost under carpeting plants, and taller species. In my personal 12lbs purchase only about 4 of 18 rocks were visible without the need of excessive trimming once the tank was carpeted. It didn't make sense to buy expensive rocks that looked great, but were easily hidden.

I've found tons of stone hiking, swimming, kayaking, camping. Anything from black granite with white quarts lines, to my own kind of uniquely featured stones -


IMG_0307.JPG

- I've been playing with for a new aquascape. While they may be similiar to some aquascape stones, they're my unique stone from an area only I know. Maybe they'll become a sort of signature for a few upcoming designs. The best part is they can't be bought and the picture is discolored intentionally, overexposed intentionally, blurred intentionally, because for the moment I want to be selfish and not show anyone. They're mine. While you can't have any I'll offer the golden rule of rock collecting.

When you find a stone you like you can't aquascape with just 1. You want as many as you can backpack away with safely. Usually if there's 1 there's more nearby. Usually, but not always. Whether you need to dig down, swim over to, climb up depends on where you are and what it's defining features tell you. Stones that are weathered with rough faces, such as crack and dimples, look mountainous and give Aquascapes a look that is aged. Stones that have this appearance are usually found in mountainous ares. Stones that have a smother appearance are abundant and found everywhere. Round stones are a
Are near water sources, often rivers.


Anyone can find stones anywhere. Round rocks, tall rocks, small rocks, and in all different colors. Finding time to look is more challenging than finding stone you could haul home, test to make sure it's composition is ideal aquarium use (please research testing stones before aquarium use, or look at early pages in this thread), disinfect them, clean them and spend very little for size-friendly additions and your own unique touches.

As far as driftwood, I've posted in length about seeking out driftwood in earlier posts. It's often more confident, easier, less time consuming and better in my book to check out places to buy driftwood, but I'm not geographically located where Aquarium hardwoods are abundant.

2. Elaborate designs are very detail oriented, which relies heavily on the size of a tank you are working with. While you can definitely aquascape a nano tank with detail it's more challenging to find hardscape and plants that add to the overall design without taking away from it. Larger tanks require a much bigger stockpile of hardscape sized from XL all the way to Small, but because there's more volume to occupy it means detail is easier to add without overcrowding it visually. It's possible and very often successfully executed to aquascape in a 20 gallon long (30 x 12 x 12 inches) you are immediately confined to hardscape and plants that fill those dimensions proportionately and not overwhelm them. While I don't consider it a disadvantage if used well, it can be an immediate handicap you'll discover every week when you're hacking plants down to nubs.

3. The ability to see the Aquascape in it's complete, mature, fully stocked, fully grown form before finalizing the aquascape and submerging it. This is like being able to see into the future, knowing what should work well, where plants will do best and what plants they might be. You finalize what the idea looks like 6 months to 1 year before actually setting the beginning of it in motion. Studying information on plants is a must to understand demands, having experience with them is ideal. As you grow new plants, or develop experience with aquatic plants in general, you eventually need to quit seeing that one red plant as "stunning and I have to buy it now" and and start looking at what you intend to achieve with planting, what not only looks the best, but where and how it will be planted to achieve their best quality to show of why it looks the best.

These 3 items are key to more elaborate designs. I really think so, at least.

(To continue --->)
 

Culprit

To elaborate on what you say about finding rocks, rocks are everywhere. Lots of them are just fine to use in fish tanks. But, I've found what really helps create a good aquascape, is take a good look at where you found the rocks. Is it a rounded streambed? Mabye some granite wedged on the side of a mountain. Either way, take a picture. Its already the perfect aquascape because its nature. Then, try and emulate, at least to some degree, that setting. You don't have to follow it to a T. You don't even have to follow the big picture. Just try and follow the setting of it. Don't try and take rounded river rocks, and create a mountainous, craggy steep scape with it. It won't work. Same way, don't take those jagged, weathered mountain rocks you found, and try and make a stream aquascape. Also, definitely don't mix those different types. It looks fake, and put together. Anyways, this is just what I've found in the time I've been aquascaping.

Sil, I love your rocks. They're gorgeous! I've got a question though, about how you've created height. Looks like you've just used foam and eggcrate. But, how do you get that angle when its resting on a hard surface? What if you don't like the way its sitting, and in substrate, you can just dig it a bit deeper and get the angle you want. Is it just a matter of experimentation with different rocks? I've tried using that method before, but it never works for me. What I usually end up doing is getting a mesh bag and filling it with lava rock, as I can still manipulate that enough, and it won't bother plants.

Genius idea on the emersed. I've been thinking of setting one up ever since I dry started my 20. But i've never got around to it. Can I just stick it in a window with no light and just mist it like a dry start? Will heat affect them? This will be the perfect thing to pull that Monte Carlo and Dwarf Baby Tears that are stuck in my 20 right now.

I have two gorgeous pieces of MopanI I got for free. I've never worked with DW but now I'll try. I'm thinking probably a nature scape.

I have a love-hate relationship with the 20 long. For one thing, it has tons of footprint, so great for CO2 and plants, and not too tall, which also makes it easy to scape, even though somtimes it can flatten a scape. But, I hate hate hate the depth. It has next to none, which really makes it a struggle. I really want like a tank that's about 30 inches long, 15 inches high, and 18 inches deep. The sense of depth you could get with such a tank. Oh its my dream tank. Will you do a series on picking the right tank? Not sure if there's enough for a post, but mabye a side?
 

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