The 120-P Reader - Pictures Included (56KWarning)
A little background, first. Iíve been a member for a while, but out of the loop for about a year.
I have been a planted tank hobbyist for around 4-5 years. I have made some truly horrific planted monstrosities. I didnít keep the pictures of all the bad ones for, well, obvious reasons, but I kept some. Remember that I said these are the ones I didnít toss out, hahaÖ
I had always been fascinated with the iwagumi style. I particularly value the wabi-sabi aesthetic it demonstrates Ė and really thatís what draws me to Mr. Amanoís work and Japanese style gardens in general. My own work as a theatre director follows this same transient, imperfect ideal, and I have always been drawn to art and expression that reveals frailty, character, uniqueness, organic origin and development, etc, particularly as it represents isolation and flawed beauty.
While I am only a doe-eyed novice yet, I always strive toward this sense of wabi-sabi Ė with little success, I admit Ė in my layouts. The areas I need the most experience and practice in are plant selection and trimming techniques.
Iíve spent a lot of time lately on the ADA View YouTube channel, and really it couldnít have happened at a better time. These videos have been invaluable to me. Seeing these scapes planted for seminars, and then trimmed and grown in - seeing their development over time - awesome.
We donít have an active club in my area, and the members around Portland are not terribly active as a community, so we have little opportunity to share plants, techniques, and tips with one another. This has been a good substitute so far.
A quick retrospective of my previous work. I do this for context. Go ahead and skip, if you want the build begins later. But, If you like a good, old-fashioned house of horrors, or a nice freak show, perhaps the type you'd rather not admit you love to see, then please by all means share in my past failures!
An early attempt:
Things I got right: CO2 and Light
Things I didnít: Ferts, substrate, layout, trimming, and plant choice
I wanted to represent an area much like my home. High desert. Tonina sp. ďLago GrandeĒ was a poor choice, here. The other plants grew ok, though.
Things I got right: Layout, substrate, CO2, Light
Things I didnít: Ferts, trimming and layout material
UghÖ why am I sharing this? Well, I think itís important to remember where Iíve been, so that I can see how far Iíve come. Plus, itís kind of cathartic to relive some of these horrors, hahaÖ
My first collectoritis tank:
Things I got right: light, ferts, heavily planted
Things I didnít: CO2 (neither stable nor well distributed), substrate, layout, gassed my fish ☹
This was my first 90-gallon scape. Perfect footprint, but the height was a LOT to deal with. I couldnít get the proportions to look right. I couldnít tolerate the complete chaos, either. I enjoy engineered chaos. My job is a lot like that.
My first (sort-of) success:
Things I got right: Light, CO2, diffusion, ferts, heavily planted, substrate, layout
Things I didnít: trimming
That was my 90-gallon from a few years back. I had a chance to practice some trimming techniques and grew a pretty awesome HC carpet. I never trimmed the carpet though, so it eventually uprooted when it reached about 2Ē thick. The plants grew so quickly that I couldnít keep up with them. 6xT5HO plus reactor diffusion and PPS classic dosing was a very high-growth combination!
The next version of the 90-gallon:
Lace rock and Manzanita. Kind of a tough scape to maintain with the sand. Eventually, my routine broke down, and I ceased to be productive scape-wise. I still really wanted an iwagumi scape. So, I built a few nanos to try my hand at stone layouts.
And then, back to the 90 for some wacky stone scapes:
That one was more like an aquarium clown-car: How much hardscape can I cram into a 90-gallon glass box?
You get the point. My last big tank was my 130 gallon. 60”x18”x26”
I was inspired by the 2010 IAPLC 4th place winner (beautiful tank), but ultimately this one failed – big time. Not enough plant matter, ill-conceived lighting scheme, trouble with CO2 from the start, changed my fert regime and destroyed it, maintenance became a huge hassle with the depth and it generally went poorly. Around December, I nearly decided to call it quits - totally.
I took a break. I rethought that decision. Why did I go that route? Why did I “go big?” Admittedly, the discus lured me in. Gorgeous fish. Fun to raise. Temps not friendly to the kind of layouts I like, though, so I was stuck with plants I wasn’t passionate about, in a tank I was constantly rescaping because it never felt the way I wanted it to. So, I asked myself: What DO I want? What kind of scape do I want to have in my life – as a long-term layout? After all, isn’t it worth it to do it EXACTLY the way I want to?
I started searching again. Viewing images, videos, IAPLC contest winners, random hobbyist tanks. I decided to sell the 130. I sold the 90. I sold the discus. I rebooted my aesthetic. I cleansed my palate of all the distracting crap that had been bogging me down and decided to start fresh. What did I want? What did I keep returning to, but only consistently half-a$$ed?
Iwagumi. I still got that sad, peaceful, longing feeling every time I saw one that was well done. I got very excited when I saw interesting rocks. I have an addiction to beautiful stone, I think. My wife couldn’t count the number of times I’ve interrupted her concentration with and excited “Hey, honey – check out this rock!” I had to tie myself down to keep from buying every gorgeous rock that passed my sight. I trolled the S&S like it was Internet p*rn, searching for rocks that satisfied my perverse need.
But what would I do with them when I got them? Well, it was clear: I needed to take my earnings from selling off the big mess and invest in the system I should have bought in the first place. So, I asked myself:
"What do I think is the perfect tank?"
Remember the 90? 48”x18”x24” A little tall, but a perfect footprint. Enough depth that you could do some amazing stuff in there - but the proportions are skewed, too tall.
I worked hard to make the cabinet for the 130 nice and pretty. It was gorgeous in its own way: deep warm stain, well sculpted trim. Very traditional furniture style.
I’m not a traditional guy. My preferred interior design style is more contemporary. Clean lines. Pops of color. So… ADA?
The ADA 120-P. I’m pretty sure the P stands for “perfect”. Perfect footprint, proportionally appropriate height (say THAT 5 times fast) It’s the tank I have always wanted. Others may not agree that it’s perfect, but for me: this is my dream build.
Now, the 180-P is gorgeous and also well proportioned, but it’s more than I need. It would feel like too much to me. If I didn’t feel that way, you know I’d be farming mosses for the S&S and saving until I could afford it, haha! The 90-P is ok, but too short. I need length. So, there it was. Case made.
Big Stones. Gotta have the real deal. 77.5 pounds of seiryu stone. To be honest, I prefer ryouh stone. The color and texture more effectively communicates the wabi-sabi aesthetic in my opinion. I couldn’t afford it, unfortunately. I’m on a budget, here. A STRICT one. Ordered the stone – thank you, PC1 and another seller from the other forum ☺ - I got exactly what I wanted. Three HUGE seiryu stones with tons of character, and an assemblage of smaller stones to support them. Now, we’re talking.
But, first, I needed a stand. I need the stage upon which this little drama would play out.
So, I built one. Thanks jB for the tutorial online! I have used it twice, and modified your design to my taste, but your plans and how-to made it possible.
I’ll admit it’s not my best work. Frankly, I’m disappointed in my craftsmanship. There are details that could have been more gracefully handled. However, I was limited in time and space, as my wife would only let me use the living room as a cabinet shop for one weekend. So, here’s what I did.
Before paint and finish:
Blue? Yes. Blue. I wanted a lighter shade, but that’s what I ended up with. I plan on skinning the cabinet in laminate as soon as I can afford it – maybe next summer? For now, it’s sprayed and finished with satin finish polyurethane so it’s waterproof and sealed.
I used poplar plywood, and I should have gone with oak, but couldn’t afford the extra price (2x the cost!). I know poplar is soft for a hardwood (more of a dense weed than a wood – it grows very quickly) as I have done a lot of work with wood, but I doubled it up, glued and screwed it, and it is sturdy and solid. Should do just fine.
I put two 6” vertical portals in the side for filter intake and outlets. I have built one of these before for my Mini-L, and the problem I keep running into is that the portal for hoses is too narrow, and the hoses get pinched there, reducing flow and causing all sorts of trouble. So, I rotated them 90 degrees, and added another. Solved that issue. I also put a small 1” round portal on the other side for air and CO2.
I built a conduit light hanger to keep it off of the tank. I considered bending the pipe, but the length of the curve was too great for my taste. I used street elbows instead, and it’s not as clean, but it works. Painted with galvanized primer and gray Rust-Oleum. Still scratches off too easily. Any tips? Would coating it with polyurethane work? Anyway, final product:
Ok, here’s where the part you really came for starts. So, I have a process for design. Usually starts as research on what I want to achieve, moves to sketches, and then a color drawing, then a prototype model, then the final product. I mention this because I have read here that some people have posted all around the forum that they have trouble with the planning of a good scape.
My earliest scapes were pretty phenomenally lacking in planning – and it showed. I just grabbed what I thought I liked and threw it in, with little forethought. FX says to visualize your final scape. I agree. This is a visual as well as a tactile art form, so visualizing what your goal is remains important (degree in Fine Arts came in handy after all!).
I started with what I want to see from the front. Concave, convex, triangular? What is the feeling I want? I was ok with concave or triangular. I knew I wanted iwagumi with some stems in the background. I made my sketches. Here’s a doodle I did at work:
I also did a color version, but it seems to be missing. No worries, because things change as I get the actual materials I’ll be working with.
Planning is important, but remember: this is a largely organic process. Unless you know exactly what you are working with from the start, your end product will inevitably be different than you expected. I’m ok with this aspect. So I plan and doodle with the knowledge that I might throw it all away when my stone arrives.
My delicious stone. My magical stone. Yes, I love my stone.
Remember that this is without substrate (or a tank, for that matter), so it will appear different. Mr. Amano used this process to create the Tokyo SkyTree scapes. If it works for the father of Nature Aquarium Style, it should work for me! I laid out my stone on top of my stand, on a towel so it wouldn’t scratch the finish. It’s the same dimensions as the tank, so I have my footprint. I can use a tape measure to estimate the height.
The stone arrived, and I immediately set to work:
Started poorly. Rigid. Artificial. I like the height, but that’s about it. I think I was just too excited, or maybe I just didn’t have the feel of the stone yet. I went back to the little I know about Japanese gardening, and remembered the Crane and Turtle motif. With a few additions, here is my attempt:
I like this one, but there is something about it that doesn’t sit right. Maybe the “crane” stone should be at more of an angle?
I shook it off, and let it sit for a day. Decided to re-approach it later. About this time we had a transit of Venus.
I realized I tend to place my focal point just left of center. Let’s mix it up.
Single spire, right of center, vertical alignment. Hmm. Ok. Let’s try concave.
Could work with substrate in there, but right now - a little weird. Let’s go back to the spire.
Closer. Better. Still lacking balance and I didn’t like how the secondary stone sat. Take another break, buy one more stone. A big one. The Big One.
It arrives. Now, we play:
Not working. That new stone… rotate? Take a break. Come back later, refreshed.
So close… What’s wrong? Take a break.
This is the final version of this spire concept. I may use this if I still like it in a few days. I may also go back to something resembling the Crane and Turtle concept with this new stone.
Meanwhile, I wait for the tank and substrate system to arrive and hope it hurries along!
Cool story man, you can really see how your knowledge is growing and you're getting better and better. I like a couple of the stone layouts. The crane one was neat. The last could be really good, you just need to adjust it. It looks like the two rocks pointing left need different angles.
Nice work taking your time and going through it over and over. Keep in mind though, that the scape looks rather different with soil and you aren't using slope to your advantage in the earlier scapes. I do see you have a few books or something to create some height in the new layouts. You may want to get some dry AS in there and play with slops and such before you decide which particular layout to move forward with. The crane layout could be more dramatic with a mound, as well as the last layout there. The concave would look completely different with a valley, or a mound.
Try it out.
Wait a minute............wait wait wait wait..
Those are alll your tankss?????????????????????????WOWWWWWWWWWW
I love them, and thanks for sharing what you've gone through. Amazing stuff you got here, so how many total tanks you've had????
I have enjoyed a few of your tanks here. I don't know how many journals and pics you posted here but I didn't have any idea you had done that many scapes. I remember one in particular that you didn't put up in this thread. It may actually be the last one in your first post, looking back at them.
I have to be honest, I don't particularly like the criss cross in Iwagumi (though I do think Jermaine Dupri was a genius for putting his faith in Kriss Kross however). I actually like your first layouts better than your last ones. I don't say this to be critical, it's a difference in taste. I like rock scapes that have height as they tend to give more power through a grander sense of scale. I also don't like the main stones facing opposite sides of the glass. Again, a difference in taste. I am on my first rock scape I actually like, second one ever, so I am no expert here either.
That said, I really like what you are doing across the board. I personally like seiryu over ryouh stone so I am glad you couldn't afford what you wanted :red_mouth It looks like a lot of the large stone cliffs that poke over the ocean on the coast in my area (well, the coast that is closest to my area I should say). The stand looks great IMO, I personally wouldn't choose the color but I actually really like it.
I can't wait to see where this goes.
Yeah, i understand what you do. That happens.
The criss cross (will make you jump, jump) creates tension which may be what you don't like about it. I'm not sure how I feel about it, myself. It does kind of counter the serenity of an iwagumi scape. Serenity is a VERY difficult effect to achieve.
I like the height in the earlier versions as well. I'll likely attempt to vary that with my main stone. I also want to try rotating it in different ways. I'll try more tomorrow. I keep the pics as a reference so I can always go back if I want.
Thanks for the comment on the stand - I wouldn't choose that color again myself, haha... WAY too saturate. At least the lines came out nice and clean.
What kind of stone is that!?
Hey I remember seeing this on APC, this is the tank that made me try high tec :P I love it still..
Wow, thanks! Glad it could be an inspiration.
I toyed a bit with the stone arrangements today, but succeeded in only one original layout. I'll throw up the pictures later. I have narrowed it down to two possibilities, but I think I'll hold off the decision until I get the tank. I chose my plants today as well.
I've used all of these before except the hydrocotyle. This will allow me to feel confident with the plants in such an ambitious layout (well, ambitious to me, anyway). I have some mini pellia in another tank that I might use to contrast the riccia and hc. There is an awful lot of light green in there, haha...
I have some Amanos on order, and I'll likely pickup some otos locally. I have 30 glow line tetras I'll put in with maybe a few Celebes rainbows for variety. I have to be careful or this will turn into a zoo, haha... I tend to do that.
The pattern here is restraint. I haven't limited myself much before, so I'm implementing that now. I don't want to go too crazy with this just yet. Keep it simple. Clean. Maybe opt for one of the simpler less cluttered layouts I tested...
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