5 Gallon Tank Nature style low-tech 4,5 gallon aquascape

ruud


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Hi all,

I'm setting up a new nature style aquascape. For those of you with an interest in aquascaping, you might want to follow progress of my scape.

I place the practice of aquascaping on a continuum with on one end "biotope reconstructions" and on the other hand, "nature constructions". Although I really fancy biotope reconstructions, and it still is on my bucketlist to create a biotope one day, so far I've been scaping nothing but nature style tanks and this one will be no exception.

The challenge of scaping small tanks is balancing proportions. A lot of ingredients for scaping (substrate, plants, wood, rocks) are suited for 20-40 gallon tanks.

Tank
Shallow 4.5 gallon / 17,5 liters ADA tank.
Footprint: 45 cm/17,7 inch x 24 cm/9,5 inch.
Height: 16cm/16.3 inch.
Foggy window screen on the back.

Substrate
ADA Amazonia, both normal and powder, mixed with a very low volume of lava split. This scape will not have complementary sandy substrate. It's active soil only.

Light
Daytime Eco, 5K light with a blue peak. A controller for creating a light regime of 12 hours, with a very long fade-in and very long fade-out effect. Visible algae will not stand a chance in my tanks.

Plants
Cyperus helferi, partly emersed
Bolbitis heteroclita "difformis", partly emersed
Hydrocotyle Tripartita, partly emersed
Weeping moss, Vesicularia ferriei, partly emersed
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Buces....lots of buces
Im sure a few others will follow.

The title mentions low tech; I'm trying to carpet with Marsilea crenata without CO2 injection. The tank is shallow and the water flow will be high to create optimal gas exchange.

Rocks
"Grey mountain stone".

Wood
The tank will be dominated by a wood structure. So the next update should have more substrate and the beginnings of a wood structure.
 

WRWAquarium

Look forward to seeing the end result :)
 

Fishstery

Just some advice, I'm not sure if this is also true for dry start but in my experience marselia crenata is very slow to carpet, I've been working on getting it to spread in my medium light co2 injected tank and while it's starting to spread out it is very very slow growing for me. I've had it in the tank for about 1-2 months and it's no where near carpeting although I have some good patches of runners going. However it is in half inert sand and half in contrasoil, so having an active substrate may speed that up for you. My tank is also shallow (12 gal long) with tons of surface agitation in conjunction with co2 injection.
 

ruud

Just some advice, I'm not sure if this is also true for dry start but in my experience marselia crenata is very slow to carpet, I've been working on getting it to spread in my medium light co2 injected tank and while it's starting to spread out it is very very slow growing for me. I've had it in the tank for about 1-2 months and it's no where near carpeting although I have some good patches of runners going. However it is in half inert sand and half in contrasoil, so having an active substrate may speed that up for you. My tank is also shallow (12 gal long) with tons of surface agitation in conjunction with co2 injection.
The slow growth is not what I fear so much, because it is kind of my way of working for years; but lack of horizontal growth is what worries me. I might use a few other carpenting plants and see what works best, although some, such as HC, I'm not even going to try. Monte carlo is a likely candidate.
 

Fishstery

The slow growth is not what I fear so much, because it is kind of my way or working for years; but lack of horizontal growth is what worries me. I might use a few other carpenting plants and see what works best, although some, such as HC, I'm not even going to try. Monte carlo is a likely candidate.
Monte carlo was super easy for me in low tech but does tend to get leggy without higher light. With monte carlo you can keep it trimmed down to the substrate to train it to go horizontally in low light. As for the crenata in submerged form it only grows as single stems with one single round leaf and will not grow as a clover. Because of this I don't think it actually can grow vertically, past the point of its natural form. I don't think it can grow upwards from the single stem so that shouldn't be an issue for you. It will never grow more than one node and spreads through runners so it should be fine for your setup
 

ruud

Same for me; love monte carlo, but had it in stronger lighting conditions. I currently have it growing emersed in a flat vase.
 

ruud


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Hi all,

Short update of my new aquascape. I think I'm gonna use these two branches, temporarily supported by 2 Seiryu stones. I will leave it as it currently is and observe the scape in the coming days with a fresh view.

The three guidelines of aquascaping I work with are entry/exit points, lines and proportions.

The entry point refers to the part of the aquascape that catches your attention first, whereas the exit point is where your eyes leave the scape. Or better expressed; give the scape and exit point to allow the eyes to escape; this is typically a part in the back of a tank.

The second is lines. The different parts of the scape must follow similar lines or angles, diverging ones or contrasting ones, as long as the structure follows a few lines and these lines must support the entry and exit points. If these are tuned, then a scape is judged natural and aesthetically pleasing.

I believe, but not sure yet, that the entry point of this scape will be the bottom left, then the eyes follow the main diagonal line to the top right, after which the eyes will leave the scape at the top left. If I further scape and this route becomes more apparent, then with the help of plants, I can strengthen this path.

The third is proportions. More on this later.

The ingredients you have at your disposal should determine the overall structure of the scape. Try doing it the other way around, and you find yourself in a challenging position. There are only so many ways I can play with these two wood structures. With the branches I use, a symmetrical scape, either centred, or from the sides pointing towards each other, is not really doable. Given this wood structure, I would be inclined to create a slope on the right, with emersed plants on top of the slope and on the wood.

If I still like the wood structure after a few days, I move on with rocks and substrate. Till next time.
 

ruud


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Hi all,

So yes, even after a few days of contemplation, I still like the wood structure; there is only so much you can do with these pieces. Scaping in small tanks is hard!

I added the rocks and substrate. Made the classic mistake of creating a nice rocky hill that looks good on its own, and forgot about the intended end result, which is lots of plants. So I redid the rocks, leaving much more room for plants.

On the first image, the big rock on the right really seems to pop-op annoyingly on the image, but it will be covered with a crypt that will be planted above it and shall partly hang over the rock. So bear with me...

It is a good example of aquascaping-practice though. Oftentimes, when you see the pros making a scape, it can look ugly while in progress; but they simply have some end-result in mind.

Ok, on to the third guideline in aquascaping; proportions. When scaping a small tank, I feel proportions must be small and detailed in order to make a small scape interesting. The top layer of the substrate for instance is active soil powder, which has a smaller grain size than the conventional active soils. Similar, both wood and rocks are characterized by small yet clearly visible details; "grey mountain stones", which I believe are sometimes also referred to as "elephant rock", as the texture resembles elephant skin, is great for use in small tanks.

Apart from the overall proportions, one can also play around with mixing different proportions; at least to make the scape look natural, but also to create depth (by placing, for instance, smaller branches in the back), and lastly, to support the entry and exit areas I mentioned earlier. The same can be done with color; which could be stated as a fourth guideline. For instance, placing a reddish plant with somewhat bigger leaves compared to other plants, surely will catch attention first. So it is best to place these in the area that is considered the entry point.

Enough for now. And enough with the silly photobooth I made for this scape. It is not working; I fail in photography big time. I'm going to move the scape to my windowsill in our living room and add a few plants for a dry start.

Till next time!
 

ruud


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I have the tank moved to my windowsill and decided it will stay there, so I won't be needing any artificial light; the one in the image is just temporary for the dry start.

I planted Marsilea crenata in the left back and Monte carlo in the left/mid front as carpets. Other plants currently include AR mini, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Cyperus helferi, Weeping moss, Hydrocotyle tripartita, and an Asplenium fern that will stay above the water line.

Still to be added: Cryptocoryne para, various buces, Bolbitis heteroclita "difformis".

So for now, radio silence during the dry start. In a few weeks time I will fill the tank with water, add a hob filter that is currently running in another tank, and share some pictures.
 

Jeezusjuiicee

That window view is a very nice background!
 

ruud

That window view is a very nice background!
Another one of my scapes...
Requires somewhat bigger tools for maintenance ;)
 

coldpines

Looking great so far!
 

Gudgie

Looks great so far! Any updates to report?
I just stumbled across a few of your tank threads, and must say that your aquascaping skills are truly amazing!
 

ruud

Well, I filled the tank last week with water already and mold is starting to show up on the wood. I figure it'll take at least a few weeks (I'm very optimistic) till it disappears, so this one is going to have to wait for a next update.

In the meantime, perhaps this weekend, I will show my "blackwater" tank, as there seems to be many blackwater enthusiasts on this forum.
 

ruud

So that tank can be seen here: Show off your fish tank! | Freshwater Fish and Tank Photos Forum | 255241
It actually used to be my blackwater tank; water parameters have become harder and a lot cooler. I added cardinal and neocaridina shrimp and a female Dario black tiger. She will be accompanied by a male around spring or perhaps I'll take her out and add Kubotai or something similar.

Anyways, the 4.5 gallon aquascape is doing fine; the molt is still present (gonna take a while till its gone) and I have minor hair algae which makes me wonder if some cycling has occurred or perhaps too bright lights for too long durations (I added a light unit without controller; not the smartest thing to do when starting a new, planted tank).

I think I will add new images this weekend and I might even start introducing a few shrimp to the tank; orange rili's will look great.
 

Gudgie

Any updates as to how this tank is doing? I'm still in awe of your aquascaping skills :)
 

ruud

Oh dear (cheeks turning red); I terminated this tank as I just could not get happy with it. Well, not completely terminated; I still have the tank, took the stones out and the plants are doing OK. But the plants are waiting for a new destination:

Another shallow tank, but this one is 8,5 gallon and the goal is a jungle style aquascape (sounds tropical, but refers to tanks with an unorganized woodscape and ditto plants). I will start a new thread next week; I need to buy some yoghurt first to paint the spiderwood for this tank with mosses.

I'm currently also scaping this tank: Nature style low-tech 17 gallon aquascape | Freshwater Aquarium Journals Forum | 515044 a nature style aquascape. Not finished yet, but well in progress.

Thx for your interest though!
 

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