So I've jumped head first into this new hobby of mine with a 12 gallon long Mr. Aqua tank. Without going into my life story, I stumbled onto some fascinating Iwagumi tanks a few weeks ago. So fascinating, in fact, that it was almost like a spiritual awakening. What is this, contemporary looking fish tanks with real plants instead of plastic pirate ships? My mind was blown.
After doing a ton of research, I realized that maintaining an ideal Iwagumi is not only expensive, but insane. I mean seriously, pressurized CO2 and 200 watt lamps? Is this nuclear science? I decided to go as far as my budget and laziness would allow, and the internets tells me that a moss tank would do.
So I ended purchasing the following equipment:
1. Mr. Aqua 12 gallon long - $67
2. Some nice Seiryu/Ryou rocks - $65
3. Coralight 36'', 21 watt NO light - $53
4. 12 pounds Flora max midnight black substrate - $20 + Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Mix
5. Water conditioner - $7
6. Eheim 2232 - $75
7. Cabinet - Aquatic Fundamentals 30g stand - $106, aiming to paint this in "ADA grey".
1. Java or christmas moss (maybe HC/fissidens/riccia)
2. When the tank is cycled, some cherry shrimp
3. If I decide to get adventurous, some fish (White cloud minnows)
4. Clear tubing + lily pipes
Here are my tank designs so far, with rocks conveniently numbered. Not sure what I should go for at this point. If you have any good criticism, lay it on me.
There's no way I can screw this up, right?
Waiting for HC to arrive. Bought a huge batch. If it all dies, falling onto backup moss/fissiden plan. Also now looking for some clear tubing/lily pipes. Really wished Eheim made some clear replacements, the green color truly looks horrible when everything else is grey/black. This is starting to get expensive, too bad I can't remove the budget from the thread title. I do plan on eventually doing a real low budget Iwagumi in the future, with rocks I collect locally (for free this time!).
EDIT: 5/25 Update:
So I've been doing some reading on how to make HC survive in a low tech setting. The consensus seems to be that it can be done, it just won't grow that fast. I'm fine with that, because I plan on having the full carpet before I flood the tank. So here is what I plan to do:
1. Per Diane Walstad's method, add a one inch layer of Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Mix below the Floramax. I believe the Floramax is inert, but is a good source of iron. The Miracle-Gro will provide macro/micro nutrients. This appears to be a poor man's aquasoil, and because of this the need to add additional fertilizers isn't required in a low light setting. I'll throw in some fish after the tank is cycled so that the fish poo can act as a continued source of ferts.
2. Per Tom Barr's method, plant HC heavily (I have ten pots coming in) emersed for a few weeks. After the roots have developed, I'll flood the tank and throw in some fast growing floating plants like Wisteria to hold off the algae.
3. Add Flourish excel initially to smooth the transition from emersed to submersed, then try to gradually wean the plant off it.
This sounds like the best chance I have. Excited to get this started.