This Journal is dedicated to Khoa Pham. The first person I ever taught Nature Aquarium to - and the first real customer I ever had. May the teachings in this Journal bring the same joy to others as it did to him.
Cryptkeeper54 converted the first half of the thread into an eBook available for download here
, the eBook contains the final photo of the Mini M layout which the first half of the thread covers - which has not yet been published anywhere else, so be sure to check out he gorgeous HD photograph!
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Table of Contents:
Opening ACT 1 - New Layout Mayhem!
- Page 1
2. Getting Started - Step 1
- Page 2, Post 19
3. Setting the Substrate - Step 2
- Page 2, Post 25
4. Penac Pearling
- Page 5, Post 64
5. Laying out a hardscape - Stone Arrangement: Step 3
- Page 5, Post 73
6. Basic Maintenance
- Page 5, Post 74
7. Philosophy - Enjoying the Process
- Page 6, Post 83
8. Planting and Planning for a Mixed Carpet: Step 4
- Page 7, Post 91
9. First Month Filter Setup & Day 5 maintenance: Step 5
- Page 8, Post 111
10. Aquarium Data - Equipment Used
- Page 10, Post 143
11. How Co2 is distributed by water with a diffuser
- Page 11, Post 160
12. Trimming Carpet Plants
- Page 13, Post 191
13. End of Week 1
- Page 13, Post 195
14. Modifying the Layout - Removing an unnecessary element
- Page 16, Post 231
15. Trimming Riccia
- Page 18, Post 269
16. Size: Large vs. Small Aquaria, thoughts
- Page 19, Post 280
17. A word on the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest
- Page 19, Post 284
18. End of Week 2
- Page 20, Post 286
19. Introduction to A New Way of Thinking: Why what you may have learned could be wrong
- Page 21, Post 312
20. A New Way of Thinking: There is No Such Thing as Multiple Methods
- Page 22, Post 325
21. A New Way of Thinking: Invalidating the Theory of "High Tech"
- Page 22, Post 328
22. The NO B.S. Introduction to "The Method"
- Page 23, Post 334
23. NO B.S. Method - The Most Important Post I've Ever Written
- Page 23, Post 345
24. Removing Diatom Algae and Week 3 Tank Update
- Page 24, Post 359
25. End of Week 3 - Week 1, 2, 3 Comparison Overview
- Page 25, Post 371
26. The Method - Principle One: Malthusian Organisms
- Page 25, Post 374
27. THE CHALLENGE!
- Page 26, Post 382
28. ADA's 20th Anniversary (Takashi Amano Story) & Making a Small Layout Adjustment
- Page 29, Post 431
29. The Method - Principle Two: The Law of Minimums
- Page 31, Post 456
30. The Method - Principle Three: The Cyclical Nature of the Aquarium
- Page 32, Post 471
31. Week 4/5 Celebration Video Coverage! The Beauty of Riccia Fluitans!
- Page 33, Post 486
32. The final published shot of the aquarium before contest entry
- Page 35, Post 514
BEGIN INTERMISSION! Fun Stuff in Between Works!
33. Trimming Riccia Video
- Page 36, Post 538
34. Removing BBA manually
- Page 39, Post 571
35. Aquatic Poetry?! And 720p video of the Layout
- Page 39, Post 579
36. Frank Wazeter on Blog Talk Radio! Aquascaping Discussion.
- Page 40, Post 588
ACT TWO: Enter LED Lighting Technology and a brand new layout!
37. The Arrival of Nature Aquarium's First Ever LED light: AQUASKY!
Page 45, Post 664
38. AQUASKY's Premiere - Solar Mini M retired, AQUASKY on a fresh canvas
- Page 45, Post 670
39. The Tear Down of "San Marcos River Summer," and the Creation of the New Layout
- Page 46, Post 683
40. Maintenance Regime on the Mini M!
- Page 47, Post 692
41. Grow out of the Mini M - Days 1-7 Comparisons between Old and New
- Page 47, Post 704
42. The 60-P Developing with it's semi-permanent Cameo Appearance!
- Page 47, Post 705
43. What has beautiful inlay designs and optimal functionality? ADA Anniversary Premium Goods!
- Page 48, Post 712
44. Getting rid of that bothersome algae on the glass - the easy way.
- Page 48, Post 715
45. Pencilfish Hunting in Riccia & the 60-P props back up again!
- Page 49, Post 726
46. Autumnal Hues with the Beautiful Rotala Colorata
- Page 49, Post 733
47. Sad News - The passing of my first student. Rest in Peace my friend.
- Page 50, Post 736
48. When stem plants become brilliant and add dynamism to the layout -60-P
- Page 50, Post 746
49. Time Elapse and Algae Killing in three days in the 60-P
- Page 51, Post 751
50. Taking down Khoa Pham's aquarium & Mini M update
- Page 51, Post 753
51. It's all in the Details - adjustments on the Mini M with Unzan Stone
- Page 52, Post 767
52. Coming up next - the beautiful Microrasbora Kubotai!
- Page 52, Post 776
53. Microrasbora Kubotai, subtle coloration adds an incredible dynamic to the layout.
- Page 53, Post 782
54. Nano Fish Acclimation Guide! How to get 100% survival rates with ease!
- Page 53, Post 789
55. Bringing the Layout to life with Fish - going from "cool" to "lost in the aquarium."
- Page 54, Post 797
56. Mystic Photograph of the Kubotai + eBook Remastering of Act 1
- Page 55, Post 819
57. Ranking #127 in the IAPLC (international aquatic plant layout contest) and personal critique by Mr. Amano - an epic end to a great layout.
- Page 58, Post 865
ACT I Finale Shot - #127 IAPLC 2012
ACT II Finale
"How do I create a beautiful mixed carpet in my planted tank?"
If you've ever wondered how to create a mixed carpet for your planted aquarium or amazed at how Amano does it, through the course of this thread you will learn how to grow just that.
Sometimes, the task can seem impossible or overwhelming. So before I really begin to share these secrets, allow me to bring you along my history and development with planted tanks. You will see how you can create a fantastic layout, even if you are starting from humble origins.
Sit back, relax and read every word carefully, because it all starts with a vision:
My Background History:
At this point, I've thoroughly mastered growing single carpets as can be illustrated here:
Of course, this would also include your foreground and background stuff (for example, HC and hair grass), as you can see a relatively old example here:
That one kind of brings me back. Dollface might hate that photograph.
An older (yet more recent example) of an aquarium I never quite did take a finished photograph of:
That one taught me quite a few lessons about riccia: you see those bald stones? that was from a few pieces of riccia that were "spoiled" when they arrived, Lesson:
always use the greenest and freshest riccia!
Something Important to Know:
I will always recommend that you master growing one species of plant at a time, for example: an iwagumi that's all hair grass or hc, or microsword etc.
because this will give you the greatest skill in manipulating, shaping the plants growth, while knowing at what speed it grows and what it's nutrient requirements are. Think of it like breaking down a math problem into easy, simple to digest and understand components in order to solve a very complex problem (in this case, the mixed carpet).
Along the way there have also been some mishaps and failures:
How about this blast from the past (2008? 2009? I think):
This was my first ever attempt at a mixed carpet. It went surprisingly well, but I never did try to that extent again. See a close up from Glosso and HC growing together:
Oh, and of course, there was the first iwagumi:
I didn't even remember that somehow I had managed to get Riccia to intertwine with HC in that layout (e.g. it was a Random A$$ Accident) :
Oh boy! Look at that algae! Honestly I think that accidental mixing has been my best attempt yet...3-4 years ago...
And finally, there was my very, very first planted tank:
Man, how embarrassing is that?
There have been some other successes and failures over the course, but honestly? The failures teach you the most. The successes just give you some extra confidence.
Which brings me to some other examples:
I probably should have spent some time polishing that one up a bit. Now that I look back on it, the sparser growth actually creates a nice effect for what I was trying to achieve.
This was the very first layout I had worked on at Aquarium Design Group: and also the first time I had done -anything- with driftwood. I wish I had taken a full shot of this tank then.
With that said, what's the next objective? Mastering the Mixed Carpet.
Before I delve more into How-To and the fun of keeping the journal going, let me preface:
There will be mistakes. There will be frustration. And my intent
is to teach you how to master these principles so that you can learn quicker than me.
This is why I've had a lot of fun going over some of my past layouts, success, failures, embarrassments and all.
So, without further ado, here is the newest layout I've set up at home:
I promise not to bore you with equipment details: I'll only share them when necessary and when it's valuable and worth your time
Before we go on further, I have a homework assignment for you:
your ultimate layout you want for your aquarium. Now, picture yourself successfully planting each individual plant, and then watch the plants grow. Imagine problems coming up and solving the problem. Watch as the aquascape evolves from freshly planted to completed, and imagine
how you feel when you've accomplished the task.
Now sit back, subscribe and continue to watch for updates to take the next step, and the next exercise. Make sure you catch me on my next major update where I'll teach you the fundamentals behind setting the substrate, and if you're lucky, the arrangement of the stones!
P.S. if you've found these techniques valuable, help share the information with new comers by linking back here in your own journals when you use my techniques!
Member Highlights! Check out these people and their awesome work:
Here are some of my students who are also members of TPT (message me if you aren't listed and should be, or if you are listed and feel you shouldn't or don't want to be!) :
These people all share a passion for planted aquariums and have had great success moving forward! Cheer them on as they work their way towards being masters of the planted tank universe.
Khoa N. Pham