Project: Ukiyo, 30gallon Journal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Project: Ukiyo, 30gallon Journal


I had recently set up a Malawi Tank, my first fore ray back into Aquatics since I was in high school years ago (jeez does time fly). In which I essentially had a single Angelfish that a neighbor gave me and 3 red-eye tetras that lived for nearly 8 years in a 20 gallon long tank, through haphazard and novice water conditions, the Angel even lived through a cross country move in a fish bowl with an air pump attached to it!

Anyway! that's neither here nor there, the Malawi tank I currently have setup as a show piece in the living room area in my apartment, 55 gallons with a good rock network that will probably be the next major money pit for revamping. Shortly after establishing this tank, I acquired 3 Figure 8 Puffers from a friend who could no longer keep them and was going to toss them. I quickly became fascinated with these creatures, and soon began plans to establish a 30 gallon tank for them with heavy planting and following the Iwagumi style of aquascaping. While the Malawi is a nice show piece and great topic of conversation for the plethora of visitors in my apartment at any given time, this Iwagumi tank would be my personal tank, for my room, for my own sense of serenity.

The Iwagumi Expedition:

So, still recovering from the expenditures of the previous tank setup, I accelerated plans for the new tank, since these puffers were housed in a 10 gallon, albeit juveniles, obviously this wasn't a good place to keep them for long. I avidly researched the Iwagumi setup, CO2 systems, Iwagumi philosophies and model tanks to look at.

The first roadblock quickly became apparent: Seiryu stone. I became obsessed with this rock, and even managed to order some from an ADA store online, and thought the issue solved (albeit expensively for 20 lbs of rock). However, three days later I got a message from the store manager apologizing saying they didn't have these stones in stock and was quite baffled at how I managed to order them, he thought they had been removed from the website.

So, dismayed, I had a 30 gallon long tank, a stand and a hood, and nothing else yet. I avidly researched and poured over the limited information on these rare stones for days on a possible outlet to obtain them. Apparently they had been banned from being harvested in the region of Japan they came from, at least a year before I set out on this endeavor. But finally! I was able to find a single provider from a source in England. So, way too much money paid for rocks and days later, I was able to finally get 44lbs of Seiryu stone. I still don't know what compels me about these stones - perhaps it reminds me of my time living in Japan and the mountainous terrain present there. But I got what I wanted, and am pleased with them.

The rest of the items, the light kit from AHSupply to retrofit my perfecto hood light, the CO2 system, the ADA soil, and the canister filter, all were simple and easy, albeit again, pricey for my budget, to obtain. But, once all was set and done, and the initial aquascaping was done, I found that I could no longer call my tank an Iwagumi tank (with the only deviation being the Puffer fish instead of tetras), an Iwagumi tank. My aquascape had taken on it's own personality, far and away from the principles of the three sets of stones, one center piece and two bowing towards it. While I no longer had the pufferfish (I gave the remaining two away after one died), and couldn't convince myself to only stick to one carpeting plant, one animal type, and one background plant. So, my tank had lost it's purpose as originally intended.
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post #2 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 03:55 AM
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A tank with a story, I love it.

So what are you planning to do with it now? Go with the flow?
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post #3 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:02 AM
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Nice story. I cant wait to see the tank.

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post #4 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:12 AM
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Will be following along as well. Always nice when there's a story behind a tank.
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post #5 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:12 AM Thread Starter
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Identity Crisis:

So, my tank no longer had it's original goal in mind. I don't even think it could be called an "ADA" tank, as the only correlation it has to it is the type of rock and soil used. Clearly it wouldn't be a dutch tank either, as I'm a fan of extensive use of rocks, and not as much a fan as the huge plant base typical there. I wanted a natural look as well, not just an artificial garden setup.

It was then that I read a thread here by Ugly Genius.

While his tank wasn't a direct inspiration to either the aquascape I have in mind nor the inhabitants that may one day be placed in the tank, or even particularly the plants I'd use, it did provide me with a simple epiphany: This project needed a name. Crazy, right?

Well, think about it. A name for something becomes it's identifier. It's a focal point for what the thing is, it describes and creates and adds life to it. An apple without a name is simply another fruit, lost amongst the huge variety of fruits, while an odd person here or there could recognize it for it's potential and characteristics, if it's just another "fruit" it becomes lost, it exists, but is unrecognizable. It's potential is vastly downplayed. But with the simple addition of a name, you can now say apple and know what i'm talking about, and instantly correlate it with ideas (like: Newton, red fruit, johnny appleseed, etc). Thus, the second roadblock (more of a philosophical one, blah blah blaahhh), was soon overcome.

Project Ukiyo: The beginning.

Thanks to a run away history class, a professor of mine brought up Ukiyo-e paintings from the Tokugawa era of Japan. I was only haphazardly paying attention, but heard the words Ukiyo-e, and "floating world," and wrote it down to look into later. After some brief research on the buddhist philosophy behind the concept of "ukiyo" I found that it fit in perfectly with what I wanted. Nothing is permanent, and in fact, if you take it to it's existential extreme, pretty meaningless. But! this idea of a fluid and changing world really appealed to my idea of this tank, I could combine Serenity and turmoil, while creating a balance in this tiny ecosystem according to my own rules and philosophy. It is thus with the simple epiphany of creating a name I've come to write this long drawn out mini-novel, and come to what would seem as simple views towards approaching this construction. The tank, it's aquascape and future flora and fauna were now my artistic vision and creation, not a mimicry of anything else. And really, isn't that how true art is created? Something bigger (or just something that became an obsession) ends up guiding the artist. The painter becomes guided by the brush, not the brush guided by the painter.

The Rules I'll follow so far:

1.) The fauna will have to bring out the best in the aquascape and create a brilliant contrast to the flora and hardscape, while using it to it's utmost utility.

2.) The flora has to pleasantly contrast within itself as well as blend in naturally and in a pleasing sense, to bring a focal view in on certain points.

3.) Algae cannot be controlled through non-natural means. No rock or glass scrubbing, algae is part of the eco-system balance and will have to be controlled through something like snails or fish. (I'm leary about herbivore fish, since I've seen them decimate plants quickly)

4.) There should be one schooling fish species and one predatory fish species to exemplify the predator/prey relation. While I'm not going to go out of my way to try and kill a fish, as that would be cruel, I would like something that does hunt (like a cichlid) to coexist with something more peaceful (like tetras). It's more the idea of predator prey relation and less the actual execution.

5.) These fish/other fauna cannot be typical, they can't be something that's found in any old fish tank seen over a dozen times by any typical person. This would take away from it's immediate appeal, they need to be captivating.

6.) While this is a personal project for self-satisfaction mainly, I want to draw upon the creative minds of fellow aquarists as much as possible and really see this project take on new and interesting turns. Maybe it'll one day be bigger than what it is now, who knows!

7.) More rules could/should be added at any time via criticisms and input of anyone willing to help out.
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post #6 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:21 AM Thread Starter
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The nitty gritty:

30 gallon long standard aquarium and stand.

Perfecto hood light retrofitted with AHSupply 55 watt light kit, if the reflector (which really makes that light quite bright, I shined it in my eye, owe!) works as advertised (162% output of normal), I should have a little over 2-2.5 watts per gallon (i'm lazy with math).

6,700k 55 watt fluorescent light.

ADA Power Sand Special

Ada Amazonia II Aquasoil

44 lbs of Seiryu Stone

Eheim 2213 Canister Filter

CO2 system with PH reader / solenoid, etc etc etc, and glass diffuser.

I have Glosso and 2 Red Tiger Lotus that're being delivered to my area as I write this.



Base layer:



This hit me square in the eye when I plugged it in:

Eheim 2213 Filter:

Old Aquascape:

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post #7 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:24 AM Thread Starter
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I'm glad people have already developed an interest! I was hoping I wasn't being tooooo longwinded

My immediate questions! Does anyone have any suggestions for good background plants? As well as possible tank inhabitants? I was thinking something along the lines of Rams and a school of tetras, but Rams I think might be borderline typical, so the vote is still out on that one. I loved the curiosity of the Figure 8's, and a fish that could show similar usage of the terrain would be a most welcome suggestion.

I also have a sister thread on Fishless Cycling going.
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post #8 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:51 AM
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Didnt read all the details but I did notice one flaw. Your Filter is too small. Just a heads up. Get a 2215 asayc. Otherwise keep up the good work.

Also, I really would like to see you keep GSA off the sides of the tank with natural means. I promise if you are going to break any of your rules bet on that one.
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post #9 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:55 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that was a flaw in my prep stage, I didn't fully research it and now my wallet will have to suffer for it. I'm a fan of overfiltration whenever possible (I have two HOB filters designed for "up" to 70 gallons on my 55 gallon Malawi tank), I'm just unsure if a 2215 or one size higher would be best.

And yeah, I'm mentally preparing for that battle with the algae by only natural means. BTW - reading some of your thread now has me interested in purple bamboo as an option.

Also, this is my first adventure with planted tanks - aside from a few live plants my mom once gave me that promptly got devoured by 13 mollies...didn't have to feed them for a couple days at least. So I may be biting off more than I can chew. But "Screw it! Why Not" is my motto, just usually with a more vulgar word than "screw."
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post #10 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 06:21 AM
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Have you gotten your fertz yet, If so which route did you take? The 2215 would be adequite but a 2217 if in the budget would be even better. Purple bamboo is cool, it gives a great effect.
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post #11 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 06:30 AM Thread Starter
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I think I'll go with the Eheim 2217. Hopefully the petsmart here will prove useful for once and have one in stock, otherwise it's back to the marvel of the internet.

For ferts I decided to go with Brighty K and Green Brighty Step 1 to start with and see how that works out.

Out of curiosity - is purple bamboo alright fully aquatic?
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post #12 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Bored with insomnia so I decided to hook up the CO2 system. Here's to hoping for no catastrophic explosions involving pressurized gases.

The Diffuser (tell me if that's a bad spot!) :

The system:

I'm not sure what the point of the check valve is, but I installed it anyway.
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post #13 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 02:01 PM
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Looking good! You said you wanted a predator/prey relationship and here is my 2 cents worth. I think you would really be pleased with either Cardinal tetras or rummynose tetras and then either a bala shark (can get big) or my favorite a rainbow shark. I am interested in how this turns out for you. You are off to a good start. Love the stone!

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post #14 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 02:20 PM
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I really like the stones. I wish there was more readily available stones out there.
As per check valve, its a good thing to have to keep water creeping down your co2 line.
Your CO2 System looks very nice by the way

Regards, Orlando
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post #15 of 64 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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New Toys arrived in the mail! On a whim I picked up an ADA knock off Lily pipe from Aquatic Magic on eBay while getting some tools for plant care. Now that I'm going to install an eheim 2217, I can actually use the Lily pipe on the 2213 and not worry about spray bar vs. lily pipe efficiency, and just run both the 2213 and 2217 on the tank at the same time (holy mother of filtration power batman! Oddly enough on my 55 Malawi, I get almost as many complements on the filtration system as I do on the fish (as they're still juveniles)).

Thanks for the info and the compliment Orlando, not seen in the photo is the ph reader, as I've yet to really find a good place to put it other than the carpet in front of the stand.

Thanks Dewalltheway! I once had a bala shark when I was younger, he was cool and I liked him at the time because it was called a "shark," but as of right now I'm really trying to figure a way to fit some uncommon cichlids or the like in there. But I suppose the first issue is the algae clean up crew, I was contemplating maybe 1 or 2 otos (know little to nothing about them) and probably 3 or 4 snails, maybe nerites if I can get a hold of them. In retrospect maybe I should've tried to figure out a way to put a 55 gallon in here so I could go with some discus, but real-estate in my humble abode is at a high premium these days.


Some random shots of the 55 Gallon Malawi, "Gibraltor" Where as Ukiyo will be in constant change and flux, Gibraltor is quite literally a giant rock of persistence. Though scheduled for a revamp sometime after Ukiyo is done.

Despite me stacking the odds against these Giant Danios and Zebra Danios, first with the task of cycling, and now to survive as long as they can against the cichlids...they've still lived without a single casualty.

You know that Cichlid is totally thinking "oh god, I'm being chased by a spazzy minnow, who happens to be huge."

BTW, I so had nightmares about Pleco's last night...I think this thinking about algae thing is getting to me...
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