Frank's Planted Tank How-To Mini Novel - The Mini S Returns! New Layout - Page 5
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:47 AM   #61
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That entire thread is one of the gems of the forum.
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Old 03-17-2012, 02:12 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by pejerrey View Post
Where is the "ignore" button for all the spam? Lol! Joking!

Keep it up Frank! I decided I will try the ADA method as described in your thread to have the experience of it. I have other tanks with other methods but I want to try yours.

Where do I find detailed info about the additives and substrate components? I'm curious to know what exactly is in them and how they work.
While the purpose of this thread for me isn't to plug product, (rather, to I enjoy teaching technique and methodology, and if I knew of any alternative products I'd list them) I won't object to directing to http://adgshop.com as a direct source.

Onto other things:

I listed out a lot of these techniques i'll be using here in the thread Dantra linked.

For the record, it's totally okay for you to have objections or skepticism. I don't hold it against anybody for supporting what has worked for them. What I am showing is what has worked for me, time and time again and eliminated most of the problems I had before. A good example is I can't tell you how to grow plants in eco-complete, I have a good idea, but I haven't done it for myself so I cannot judge on those methodologies.

We all reach a point in our aquascaping skill set where we have to challenge what we thought we knew, re-evaluate and establish a skill set that will allow you to create the aquascape you -really- want to create.

If your aquascape isn't all that great, do not be afraid of that fact (look at my first post again! there were more blunders than successes on my path to really learn and master technique). Admit it to yourself! Say "hey, my aquascape kind of sucks, I want to be better," and sure enough you will open your mind to the very things that will enable your further advancement. If you're totally okay with how your aquascapes turn out already, that's great - and I envy you for it, since I am constantly of the mind set to improve it.

When you can fully embrace your current skill set and the desire to learn more, you will be unstoppable. I guarantee you that Amano himself continues to learn. All Masters in any field never stop learning, so don't ever stop! You should be a master. You deserve to have a planted tank in your home that looks like the ones in the pictures.

Most people who can make that basic admission to themselves (the only thing that really matters), will advance their skill by leaps and bounds.

What is the Point?

This isn't a sales thread, or even an ADA thread really (hard to believe that one, eh?), this is an informative thread from the aquarium in my home, not in a gallery. It will include techniques I use, both ADA and non, to achieve cool scapes. This thread only contains information which I use that works 100% of the time. I've got nothing to personally sell you or otherwise. All of the equipment used here I personally purchased before taking over ADA-USA at ADG (albeit, the Wood Cabinet Stand was a gift from Jeff Senske).

Why am I doing it in a how-to fashion for a journal of my personal aquarium at home?

Because I love you guys here at TPT and want to see a bunch of other badass scapes being produced! It's more inspirational to look at other's work in many regards than your own. So get cracking on those layouts and sling up those journals. Post them here even for feedback!

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!
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Old 03-17-2012, 02:23 PM   #63
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Exactly, as I said from the beginning Frank its just opinions. In the long run were here because we want to see you put together a scape and learn from it.

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Old 03-17-2012, 03:04 PM   #64
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Take this post as an interpretation of what-you-will, but these are effects that I've never experienced without the use of Penac P & Penac W in the substrate, and i'm always amazed when I see it at the start of a fresh tank.

This was 5 minutes after the tank was filled:



Now my timer is set for 7pm CST to 5am CST so I can see the tank, so when I woke up this morning at 9 AM, this is what the tank looked like:



Rapid Oxygenation (ignore the riccia stone on the rock, I had an extra I tied I don't know what to do with yet) :



Kind of beautiful, don't you think?

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!
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:06 PM   #65
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You can also see some of the beautiful hues in Manten in those pictures, which only appear when wet.

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!
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:07 PM   #66
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Looks great Frank, apologize about the little rant that took place between earlier.


Anyways, did this replace the NA you had started a little while back?

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Thanks Zach!

This is at my home, so it did not replace that Mini M at the gallery. However, that Mini M was torn down since Mike wanted to do something with it.

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!
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:35 PM   #67
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Thanks Zach!

This is at my home, so it did not replace that Mini M at the gallery. However, that Mini M was torn down since Mike wanted to do something with it.
Oh alright, you didn't happen to get my pm?

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Old 03-17-2012, 08:41 PM   #68
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I use the whole substrate system, power sand, additives, etc. I supplied like half a bottle of each and six spoons of the Penac powders.


I have never had fish in this particular three monthh old tank, only healthy plants.

Still, there is a white nematode infestation. Every time I dose excel, Nematodes come out and swim around. They are living in the substrate.

Other than this, everything is fine. I don't know what is wrong withy substrate system to allow the Nematodes to exist there. Someone is off. I don't know what they are eating either since I have never added any fish or shrimp or food to the tank.

Maybe you have some ideas, Frank? What's up with my substrate system?
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Old 03-17-2012, 08:49 PM   #69
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I have the same issue, although I consider it free fish food. And as I stated earlier in the thread, I don't use the additives, just the substrate.
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Old 03-17-2012, 08:55 PM   #70
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Hey Clint and coues,

Nematodes are completely random, sometimes they hitch hike on plants or the like and get in the water. They are totally harmless, and best way to remove is to add fish. When you do, do a full filter cleaning to remove any excess and periodically use airline tubing to remove dead matter from the substrate and plants during a water change.

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!
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:03 PM   #71
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Thanks for the advice. I'm not complaining, actually I prefer them being there. Its free fish food. Also works well on vacation or when I'm busy and forget to feed.

In retrospect, we all know that ADA Aquasoil is by far the best option for our planted tanks. In fact, I wish I could find some New Aquasoil powder to buy right now.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:21 PM   #72
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Awesome, I figured it indicated that my substrate wasnt healthy. Since excel pisses them off, is that indicative that I shouldn't be using excel at all?


Also, what is the secret to making hair grass grow! I am trying to mix it with glossy and it's been like two months! It is painfully slow and was planted at the same time as your 60-P.

Are there any do's and dont's you an suggest when trying to make a mixed carpet? Guidelines for what species look good (or bad) when mixing? Trimming tips for plants that grow at different rates that you want to mix together, maybe?

I tried mixing riccia with glossy but riccia was such a PITA for me.... Messy trimming, the bottom died and contributed to algae, etc. which is unfortunate since it looks so good when mixed with glosso.
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Old 03-18-2012, 01:36 AM   #73
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Secrets to Successful Stone Arrangement

Most people see the beautiful works of renown aquascapers and wonder: "how do I do that?" Before they know it, they attempt it and in frustration can't figure out how to make their layout look like the pictures.

I'm going to give you the number one secret to stone arrangement, and it's not about having the fanciest looking stone (although that certainly helps), for perspective, the stones I used in this layout contain nothing but "left-over" material that no customers wanted (after 6 months of sitting on the shelf!), and so it found it's way into my personal collection.

You've probably spent hours fiddling around with stones in your aquarium, in what started out as exuberant enthusiasm ended in frustration and headache. You then probably posted pictures of your hardscape to other people on the internet in hopes of feedback and tweaks, and in the end you have three or four copies of a layout that's based on what someone else thinks and no matter what you do it just doesn't feel "right." It seems "forced," when it grows in and you then said something like "eh, Iwagumi just isn't for me," or "man, if I just had better stones like the pro's, I could do this too."

Don't worry, I was just like you and did exactly the same pattern I see repeatedly done over and over again on TPT and other forums. Just laugh and go "yeah, yeah we do do that a lot don't we?"

I'm not saying that getting other's feedback is a bad thing: it can be incredibly valuable. Priceless even. But don't let that make your entire scape or change your gut feelings.

Jesus! What is this secret already then?

Frank's Iwagumi method:

The first secret is simple, remember my first exercise? VISUALIZE! Don't visualize mountains or landscapes or any of that. But, visualize your aquarium layout, how you want it, regardless of what you have now, and you will succeed invariably with it. Focus on how the plants will grow in.

In other words BEGIN your layout with the END in mind. The number one reason why most layouts fail is because they begin at the beginning, and not at the end. If that doesn't make sense, imagine yourself shooting free throws in basketball. If there was no basket to shoot at - you wouldn't have a goal to aim for and score. You would be just throwing a basketball aimlessly in a random direction: how can you hope to succeed like that?

State of mind is extremely important to scaping in general: it should take you no longer than 15-20 minutes to lay down an aquarium, and in a nano tank i'd even say about 5 minutes. You need to be relaxed: not stressed or frustrated or your layout will show it.

Scaping much longer than 30 minutes in an aquarium leads to the scape feeling 'forced,' and you lose the ability to 'see,' whats right and wrong naturally. So if you're experiencing scapers block after 30 minutes, leave it and move on and come back the next day: or at least in a few hours.

The second secret is a little unintuitive: the most important factor to an iwagumi is selecting a main stone of appropriate size, not character, for the aquarium it's placed in. Your first focus is size: it needs to fit to scale, the second focus is character and detail.

In most mini's this means that the objective is to select a rock you think is over sized. You want to place this stone first. Always place the main stone first, the rest should follow.Here's some picture references:

Placing the main stone *tip, keep the slope fairly high, this gives you greater manipulation of seemingly flat pieces and smaller pieces to look larger*:



In a nano it's okay to be a little centered due to the small canvas size. Place the stone at a pleasing angle. A brief description of angles: straight = stable, flat = stable, 45 degree angle = drama, angles closer to straight = stable, slightly dramatic, angles closer to 45 degrees = dramatic, closer to stable.

With ALL of your supporting stones it's very important to make sure texture and color matches, not just stone type, so select stones that 'feel,' like they are part of the same group.

Place the secondary stone (your second largest) :



In this example you can see that this stone (which is flat by the way by itself), forms an opposite angle to the main stone, which is situation straight up (stable), this adds a "dramatic" feel to the layout, by redistributing the "energy," or "flow," of the aquascape. (Dollface, maybe you can draw some angles on these pictures with diagrams, hint hint)

An important note: in an iwagumi, usually the SECOND stone is the most important in the whole layout, as it dictates how the scape will flow and how you plant accordingly to that.

Think of the main stone as the star actor in the movie, and the supporting stone as the director, the star actor has the spotlight on him/her, but the director 'directs,' the whole picture.

Next up, we place some supporting small stones:



This stone mostly acts off of the power of the supporting stone, matching it's angle and softening the overall angle of that side of the tank, it will be largely invisible when plants grow in. It's a "hidden" trick, but very important. Even stones that will eventually be covered up by growth are essential for the layout.

Finishing the scape, fourth and fifth stone:



These stones largely dictate one thing: they go in motion with the main stone and distribute the "flow" of the aquarium cleanly down into the corner where it pleasantly ends. This completes the layout so that the eye has no place to wander unnaturally, and when placed together like this, form a single "cluster" or grouping of stones that look as if they might appear together.

*Important note* some of the placement here might look odd at first even, and the reason is, is that the END picture of the scape is for the majority of the secondary and tertiary stones to be completely covered by plants. Here's a great lesson for the necessity of stones, even if you plan on them being covered later on and the necessity for visualizing.

Fun exercise: Go back to the first page, read the end of the first post, and perform the visualization exercise once more (or for the first time).

P.S. Use a sand flattener (or other straight edged tool) to flatten out the substrate line in front. This is extremely important:



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!
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Old 03-18-2012, 01:48 AM   #74
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Let's fast forward to the present day so I can cover day one maintenance of the tank, i'll keep this short and brief with mostly pictures (for the first week, there will be a water change EVERY DAY, this is huge for preventing algae) :

Frank's water change & maintenance methods:

Drain water into a bucket with eheim tubing (obviously, you should consider turning off the filter first) :



Drain to about half full (make sure to leave enough water to fill back up with ease without disturbing substrate):



Trim any yellow or brown leaves (these suck out the plant's energy / nutrients so get rid of them asap for best growth) (using Trimming scissors curve type) :



Use a small cup to fill over, gently pouring water on the big main stone (this distributes water flow over the tank and doesn't disturb substrate:



Turn filter on when the water level is about halfway level with the outflow, this helps to super oxygenate the water at fill up:



At this stage in the game, I am only dosing Green Bacter, will start adding Brighty K + Green Bacter on the third day, add about 3-5 drops:



Use a net to remove any old or dead leaves at the top (doing this for a few minutes each day keeps the tank clean and makes it so you don't have to spend major time doing it later) :



Maintenance Complete (approximately 10 minutes)



One last tip: of course, if you're using tap water add dechlorinater first. I use pure RO/DI water as the water in Texas is very hard. I recommend it for anyone who has the means.

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!
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Old 03-18-2012, 02:05 AM   #75
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(Dollface, maybe you can draw some angles on these pictures with diagrams, hint hint)


Hey man, don't be hatin' on my angles.
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