The Planted Tank Forum

The Planted Tank Forum (
-   Tank Journals (
-   -   Ranbaral: 12g long, Iwagumi on a budget (

Ranbaral 05-16-2010 10:28 PM

Ranbaral: 12g long, Iwagumi on a budget
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?


New scapes:





Final scape:

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:

The substrate/methodology:

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.

msnikkistar 05-16-2010 10:37 PM

I like B

chase127 05-16-2010 10:39 PM

Dude, NICE rocks! This will make a fine moss tank :) You might want to replace the pink bulb on the T5NO with a white one, its up to your visual tastes. Canisters are king, but you can make do with HOB's. And skip the tetras, go for some boraras :)

April Lynn 05-16-2010 10:41 PM

I like B also.

CL 05-16-2010 10:44 PM

Very nice! Those rocks are excellent.
I like scape A. It just looks better, IMO. Like something from an ADA catalog :)

chase127 05-16-2010 10:55 PM

Ditto on the A... not everything is pointing towards the center so your eye is less drawn to it.

nemosreef 05-17-2010 03:37 AM

Love the rocks.

demosthenes 05-17-2010 03:42 AM

the rocks are cool. i like B though, in A something seems a little bit unnatural. rocks 1 and 3 look.... off a little.

Dara 05-17-2010 04:34 AM

For some reason, B reminds me of those marine iguanas sun bathing.

I like A most.

Ranbaral 05-18-2010 01:28 AM

Some great feedback. I made changes tonight, and I think this design looks the most natural and has the most depth out of all of them. It's more difficult than I thought to scape with huge rocks and a tank with an 8'' width. I will make a few more tweaks, but this is probably what I'm sticking with. Might extra substrate be a good idea? Maybe to build up the back more.

EDIT: (See Picture D first post)

Anyhow, I went on a buying binge last night and got an Eheim canister and a stand. My wallet was wet with tears of shame as I pulled Mr. Credit Card out. The "Iwagumi on a budget" is starting to become a joke. I'm pretty sure that this kind of excessive budget negligence is what caused the Great Recession.

As for the comments, I am certainly replacing the pink bulb on the Coralife with a 6700K....after I've used up the pink bulb. I've never heard of boraras, but after some research, they are now #2 on my list. Might be difficult to get a hold of though, as they don't seem to be as available as tetras. We'll see.

At this point, just waiting for the stand to get here, as well as the living stuff. Will update when everything is a bit more setup.

bikeny 05-18-2010 03:05 PM

Looks great!
I just found this thread and just want to say you are off to a great start! I am pursuing and similar 'Iwagumi on a medium sized budget', and this has given me some inspiration. I have the same tank and light and am working on getting my substrate. I will be starting a journal in the next few weeks. I will be using Aquasoil and some HC and Crypts. It's good to see more people working with this tank, as I think it can make a stunning setup.

Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing updates! Oh, and one comment: I think sloping the gravel more from front to back would look better.


shane3fan 05-18-2010 03:18 PM

No comment about the tank ( it looks good in all arrangements--just not what Im gonna comment on-lol ) I love the texture on your table. I cant tell if it is a faux texture or if the table is actually made from a giant hunk of a tree--either way it is cool looking.

Ranbaral 05-19-2010 03:12 AM


Originally Posted by shane3fan (Post 1071451)
No comment about the tank ( it looks good in all arrangements--just not what Im gonna comment on-lol ) I love the texture on your table. I cant tell if it is a faux texture or if the table is actually made from a giant hunk of a tree--either way it is cool looking.

It's definately faux, wish it was a real hunk of tree. My goal in the future is to own/make one of those really cool drift wood tables, with the trunks going everywhere.

Anyhow, I did a final rescape after some advice to switch the largest two rocks. This looks the least awkward out of all the designs I've made so far.

EDIT: See picture E first post.

Playing with these rocks is addictive, I got back from work at 6 and just played with rocks until 9. Forgot to eat dinner :o.

Light was just canceled (by the store), and I'm scrambling to find another one. Ridiculous how many sketchy aquarium sites there are on the web. Seems like 10 of them are owned by the same guy. Also this light must be discontinued, since all the legitimate sites don't seem to carry them. Gotta search more. Found out cabinet is coming on Friday. Too excited for my own good.

bikeny 05-19-2010 01:53 PM

If you are looking for the Coralife 36" T5NO dual bulb fixture, here are a couple of options:

I bought mine on Ebay from the seller 'big-edge'. He does not have any listed right now, but you could try to contact him.

Good luck!

Amazonfish 05-19-2010 02:09 PM

I like the hardscape a lot. I can't wait to see how all these 12 longs come together! Subscribed :)

Edit: I started an official thread for the 12 long. You should join in on the fun :-)

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:25 AM.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.