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Old 06-11-2012, 11:42 PM   #31
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How did you get that back glass frosted?
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:32 AM   #32
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How did you get that back glass frosted?
Etched Glass Film
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:42 AM   #33
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I've been thinking about the hardscape - specifically the substrate design. With the regular and powder Aquasoil and Powersand I'm thinking it might be tough to rescape the million times it will take to finally come up with something I'm satisfied with so...

I dug out one of the other 12 longs I have on hand and I set up a "sandbox" to play in. I used Arogonite left over from a reef build and some rocks on hand (still waiting for the ADA shipment) to begin practicing - getting a feel for the scale and how to handle the elevation changes. Nothing I'm ready to share photos of yet, but at least I'm getting a bit of "scaping" experience before I have to do it for real.
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:02 PM   #34
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I completed a mock-up that I think I like. Keep in mind, that nothing except the petrified wood are the actual items that will be used in the tank. I just used some misc rocks, Aragonite and a random piece of Manzanita to create the mock-up. I also believe I'll be able to create steeper gradients with the Aquasoil then shown in the mock-up.



I tried to emulate a wind or current sweeping right to left that would result in the tree being so contorted. This includes trying to guesstimate where sand would be eroded away and where eddy currents might pile the sand higher (windward side of stones.)





I'm struggling with the petrified wood - I can't decide if they should be more random, as if a natural deposit - or as shown, placed in a way emulating a wall. The individual pieces will be less evident as the Aquasoil will be deeper with a steeper cliff (I ran out of Aragonite.) The smaller pieces will likely be hidden entirely by plants.




I toyed with creating a sand pathway separating the 2 environs, but I think less may be more.

This is my first attempt at a planted tank - any and all feedback is really appreciated
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:57 PM   #35
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That manzanita looks awesome! Cover it up with moss and it will develop into a tree!
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Old 06-12-2012, 07:18 PM   #36
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That manzanita looks awesome! Cover it up with moss and it will develop into a tree!
That's the plan, although I'm not sure if I'm going to use that specific piece. I've got a bunch coming from Tom Barr that might be better

If I end up using the one shown in the photos, I'll do some reshaping and add a few more branches.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:18 PM   #37
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I am loving your attention to detail. Nice to know the Mr. Aqua stands need some work, I have be contemplating one of their tanks and though I am sure I can build a stand, it's hard for me to actually transport material to do so. I will just paint mine.

That light is very slick, and the numbers look good. I think you may want to dim it however, not because they are too much, it just will be easier for your first try with planted tanks. A around 40 at the substrate would be fine, not that I have ever used a part meter or measured my tanks but from research, that seems about where my lights were on my easiest tanks (with co2). Then up it if things are going well.

Love your other touches like the background as well.

Look foreward to this one. Hardscape looks pretty good, incredibly good for your first time with a planted tank. I know the "dark side" takes scaping to but this has potential you may not even be aware of. One word of advice though, don't get too caught up with your first scape, just let it be and tweek as needed. I still do this, it's more relaxing and I end up with a better result. IMO, it's ready to go hardscape wise.

Good luck and welcome to the planted world.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:36 PM   #38
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Thanks Matt - I really appreciate the feedback!

Installing the docking feet on the lights raised it 1 1/2" and slightly lowered the PAR to 69 in the center and ~60 on the edges. I have a dimmer for it as well and I think I'll take your advice and dim it back to ~40 on the substrate (especially considering the elevated ends would get blaster with PAR.) It seems many struggle with algae and I'm trying to avoid whatever mistakes I can. As there will be only plants in this tank for some time, I'm also hoping a freshly-filled 5lb CO2 canister will aid is "gassing" any algae into oblivion

As for the Mr. Aqua stand - I have another in a box but I'd be tempted to just build a stand if another is needed and avoid the hassles.

Thanks again for your comments.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:50 PM   #39
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Thanks Matt - I really appreciate the feedback!

Installing the docking feet on the lights raised it 1 1/2" and slightly lowered the PAR to 69 in the center and ~60 on the edges. I have a dimmer for it as well and I think I'll take your advice and dim it back to ~40 on the substrate (especially considering the elevated ends would get blaster with PAR.) It seems many struggle with algae and I'm trying to avoid whatever mistakes I can. As there will be only plants in this tank for some time, I'm also hoping a freshly-filled 5lb CO2 canister will aid is "gassing" any algae into oblivion

As for the Mr. Aqua stand - I have another in a box but I'd be tempted to just build a stand if another is needed and avoid the hassles.

Thanks again for your comments.
Trust me, the levels you are getting right now are perfectly fine (well, I haven't had a tank that shallow but should be fine), I just recommend going on the low side of medium light at when you first start. Then raise it up as you go. Lower light is easier to deal with in general but it's extremely easier on a new tank when your plants are still adapting, be it from shipping or emmersed growth, or differences in lighting/co2 conditions. When you are content that you have good balance (no algae issues), up the lights a bit, then again.

You may want to go higher off the bat if you have colorful plants but if they are growing well enough in lower light and just are not colorful enough, that color will come back. I have yet to find many plants that absolutely require high light to grow, though more than a few will do better, and have better coloration, once you get into the higher light spectrum.

Other's may say 40 is too low with CO2, or you don't need to go that low, I just am going off my personal experiences.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:17 PM   #40
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I'm really liking my "Sandbox" It lets me play (learn) without worrying about mixing substrates or being in a rush to get things planted. I think I'm getting closer. I shortened the petrified wall and moved the individual pieces closer together. Some of the bases (hidden) still need to be shaped a bit to allow them to "key" closer together. I think this is looking more natural and will look much better when mostly buried in Aquasoil and a larger drop-off...





I also added more emphasis to wind and erosion premised elevation changes. I'm excited to see what this will look like once carpeted. The balance on the left stones still isn't right, but it probably makes more sense to wait until the Ryuo stones arrive...



It's just as well the ADA shipment is running late - I bet many hours will be spent on adding-to and shaping the moss tree.
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:53 PM   #41
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After much deliberation I decided to remove the Manzanita tree and petrified wood. Although I like both very much and will use them in a future build, I felt (and so did others) that trying to include both concepts in such a small tank ended up with each detracting form the other. So back to the drawing board...

I've looked at so many tanks, trying to get a feel for the balance and what defines a "good scape" Because these tanks are so long, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for elevation changes. Here's my concept...











Again, the rocks and Aragonite substrate are just place-holders until the Ryuoh stones and Amazonian arrive. I like this concept as the elevation changes provide natural environs for different plants (i.e varying carpets.)

The ratios still aren't quite right as the Aragonite doesn't stack well and I think the second rise needs to be "Softened" a bit. While I "think" I like it, I'd really appreciate any and all comments - especially in thinking through how it might impact the planting plan. Specifically, I'm wondering,
  • How the rises and valleys will impact flow and CO2 dispersal.
  • Selecting plants to accentuate the front and back sides of the slopes (i.e. HC and UG?) I'd like to keep the number of plant species very limited, and provide subtle variations in carpet.
  • Is there an opportunity using both Amazonian Regular and Powder to provide contrast or varying scale/distance (or simply use the powder as a 100% top coat to improve the scale?)
  • Creating these elevations will seemingly require a lot of substrate in a small water-volume tank. I'm curious to see what it does to the water parameters, and as a result which shrimp species will be able to be kept in this tank.
Thanks all!
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:34 AM   #42
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I was going to say better rocks will give a much better appearance but then read you have that taken care of. If it's rock based, I would just wait until you get the rocks because you should let their shape/texture dictate placement.

I personally like the way you did the substrate. However, with the majority of foreground plants, you may loose that from trimming, or have trouble trimming without ruining it over time. Honestly, with many foreground plants, it would be easier to achieve that look by trimming techniques on a flat substrate compared to an actual slope. Not saying it's a good or bad idea, and I do like the look but it will be a pain with HC (yet to try UG).

Not trying to be negative, I just think you should wait for your rocks. Then choose if you want a lot of negative space or not. The rocks will tell you where to go in many ways.

Good luck and I am looking forward to this one.
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:39 AM   #43
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That's a great point Matt - I hadn't considered the increased difficulty in trimming or that it could mostly be replicated by just managing growth. I also agree that everything will likely change when I finally get the stones and see how they impact the design.

Thanks very much for your comments
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:23 PM   #44
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In looking at the ridges created in the substrate, I'm concerned about the flow in thank quickly eroding them away (especially since I have no experience with the ADA Powersand and Aquasoil being used.) I've used acrylic stays and open-box footings on prior reef builds to stabilize elevation changes - but I think these are so acute, that the acrylic alone might not suffice.

I just ordered some 8X8 316 SS mesh that I'm hoping will help stabilize the peaks of the ridges and allow for more dramatic elevation changes.

Time will tell if the idea will be viable.
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:16 PM   #45
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I'm still waiting on my ADA shipment containing 30lbs of Ryuoh stones to cherry pick. It's hard for me to get a sense of what's possible elevation-change wise until I actually get my hands on the ADA substrates (it's also possible/probable I might change my mind entirely...again, based on the stones.)

I've been giving a lot of thought to trying the DSM. I'm still researching but It seems this tank might be a perfect candidate allowing the carpet to take hold and hopefully help stabilize the Aquasoil Powder. I think I've made a decision on the water - Initially, I was hoping that for the sake of simplicity, I could use my tap water. As I thought through it further, here's why I'm leaning toward remineralizing RO/DI...,

As strange as it seems, over time my well water varies quite a bit. I test is several times a year and find that TDS ranges from ~250 to as high as ~400. I'm at a loss to explain why (aquifer changes, water-softener variations...), but it does pose another variable that might be harder to manage than simply using the known quantity that is 0TDS RO/DI.

Maintaining reefs has my routines pretty regimented. I test a lot and leverage technology (Apex, probes, reactors...) to monitor and allow me to create a stable environment. I find this especially valuable as I travel extensively and Internet access and alerting provides an additional level of comfort. Because I'm so conditioned to having known values and clear targets, strangely I think I might find it more stressful not knowing what's going into the tank (via tap water) vs the comparatively simple process of adjusting RO/DI. This coupled with the fact I already have a RO/Di system in place and can easily incorporate an automated top-off system, I think makes RO/DI a better choice for me.

Hi-tech vs low-tech, lights and CO2 - I designed this so I could go either way, or perhaps more accurately - both ways. I had the CO2 equipment already on hand including a AP Carbon Doser regulator that coupled with the Apex and pH monitoring should make managing CO2 virtually plug-and-play. I chose the LEDs so I could easily vary the amount of PAR (i.e. lots for DSM, than less as needed once submerged.)

I went this way as I'm just smart enough to know I don't know what I'm doing and it affords me the most flexibility along the way for when I hopefully reach the point that I do know what I'm doing.
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