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Old 06-22-2012, 08:05 PM   #31
theblondskeleton
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While I await the arrival of my plants and Amanos (they will go into a holding tank until the tank cycles), I thought I’d share a bit more about process. We spend a lot of time here shooting pics of equipment, substrate additives, gadgets and doo-dads, but we rarely ever get a glimpse of good procedures for preparing plants for insertion into the scape. I have developed a few techniques over the years that I find very effective in doing a large-scale planting such as what I’ll be doing later today.

With 2 square feet of HC to prepare, it will be essential to the quality of my personal health that I make it easy for myself. I do not want to walk around like Montgomery Burns for the rest of the week, and Quasimodo already has the market cornered on famous singing hunchbacks.

Here is an overview of how I prep my planting area. Some may just hack at it with a devil-may-care sense of whimsy - limbs akimbo and roots flying about like a swarm of Africanized bees - but I find that being able to locate my spring scissors whenever I need them leaves me much more time and head space to focus on creatively composing my layout. Your results may vary. Here’s what I do.

Surfaces

I need a long flat one where I can sit, and a high flat one where I can access things while planting. Today, I have a sheet of melamine about 5’x2’ stretched across two cubical ottomans. Works just fine unless the cat gets spooked and rockets across the room taking my entire batch of veggies with her. I’ll hope this doesn’t happen.

The taller one doesn’t need to be as big, but it needs to be able to hold at least a few things, some of which are pictured below.

Scaping Tools



From left to right: Large SS pinsettes, needle-nosed SS pinsettes, SS spring scissors, (all courtesy of Rumford Aquatics) Fiskars spring scissors, Cheap-o Chinese-made chrome-plated pot metal pinsettes, pro scissors, curved pro scissors, angled pinsettes, sand scraper, and shrimp net.

I use each of these tools while scaping or trimming, remarkably. My newest set is the SS tools from Rumford Aquatics. These are pretty awesome and the quality is far superior to the cheap-o Chinese ones (though these have lasted me 5 years with an initial investment of $30 for the set).

The large pinsettes will be for planting stems and heavier-rooted plants like crypts. The needle-nosed are specifically for smaller rooted plants like HC. I knew this would be a trial of endurance. I have planted large plots of HC before, and it is exceedingly fatiguing, so I wanted something that would keep it enjoyable. These are incredibly low-strain, and the fine points will create little disturbance of the AS Powder.

The spring scissors are for trimming, like all the others. The Fiskars can be very helpful in trimming large stands of stems and hairgrass. They are still extremely sharp and shiny, even though they have been used for many years.

The net is for catching shrimp. And stray HC during trims.

Plant Storage and Prep

Here is where I took notes from Amano’s videos online.

Step One: Hire a dozen Japanese college kids to frantically run about and prep your plants for you. Make sure they hand you the right plants exactly when you need them.

There you go.

Just kidding.

However, I can take some tips from what they show in the Sumida Aquarium videos. My long table is for plant prep. So are these:



10 for 10 bucks (puppy not included). Plastic shoe bins with lids. The bins can hold plants in water for temporary storage until I get to them, and the lids can be used to stage the prepared plants. I’ll photograph this when I get there, so it makes more sense. I’ll trim the HC into 1cm plugs and lay them out on the lids so I can access them easily while planting them. I’ll do the same with my other plants, the hairgrass, stems, and riccia.

Sundries

Sundries.



Fishing line fro the riccia, hoses, zip ties. Things I find I need at random.

The Sprayer

So, Amano uses hoses with garden sprayers to keep plants moist during a long planting, but I won’t have the water pressure to make this possible (I age my water in a barrel upstairs. Gravity feeds it to my tank.) Oliver Knott uses a different approach for his seminars. He uses a pump sprayer. I thought this was genius. I’ve used regular sprayers in the past, but they are fatiguing after a lot of planting, and they are low-capacity. They are always falling apart and breaking/dripping all over the place. Also, my wife keeps abducting them to use as window cleaners. Not very healthy for plants or fish.

She won’t get this one.



Intended for herbicide and other unpleasant nastiness, it’s really well-built, pump-pressurized, high-capacity and very easy to use with an adjustable stream. Best of all it was only $6 at the Big Orange Box. There are more expensive ones, but this one is good quality and the right price/size for my needs.

So, there are the prep materials. I’ll post more about how I use them when the stinkin’ plants arrive. I need to call to find out what’s up…
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:45 PM   #32
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It appears that the company I ordered my plants from neglected to send them to me. This makes me quite angry. To be continued when I receive a reply...
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:06 PM   #33
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Well... hopefully that doesn't happen often. Nice little setup. I'm the kinda guy who just gets the ball rolling, and looses my tweezer three minutes into the planting session. And then finds them a week later in the the back pocket of the jeans I was wearing. My gf asks why I always work in my tank now wearing only boxers.

That way I have nowhere to hide tools from myself.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:33 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcgd View Post
Well... hopefully that doesn't happen often. Nice little setup. I'm the kinda guy who just gets the ball rolling, and looses my tweezer three minutes into the planting session. And then finds them a week later in the the back pocket of the jeans I was wearing. My gf asks why I always work in my tank now wearing only boxers.

That way I have nowhere to hide tools from myself.
Haha, I've done this a few times myself. Once I found them in the trash. Not even sure how that happened.

As for the plants, I'm more annoyed at this point. I've had issues with these folks in the past, but they are pretty good about making good on mistakes. Nevertheless, it throws my schedule off quite a bit. I'll be out of town next weekend, so it will make water changes difficult at best. That is, if they arrive before then. As it is, I won't get a reply for a few days do I'm a bit stuck. In the meantime, I have a damp and empty tank. I just hope everything will be ok until I get to plant.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:58 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
Tank looks sick. I think that scape combines the best elements of your trial scapes (IMO) while presenting great texture in the stone (some of your scapes had stones turned around that looked like the other side had less texture).

Love it.

Side note...I wish I thought about the lava rock on my last scape.
Thanks, I'm glad you think so I'm very happy with it. The picture is pretty dark, but you can see the cave in the main stone, and all of the great lines in it. I think this is very balanced without being symmetrical. Can't wait for plants!!
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:00 AM   #36
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A couple of things I keep forgetting:

First, a huge thanks to Frank at ADG for his patience and service. This guy is great at relating with and taking care of his customers, while maintaining a great presence here on the forum and contributing to our growth as aquarium hobbyists. Your threads are always informative and I look forward to more of them! You are the man! It has inspired me to use this thread as a means of sharing my tricks that it might help others find more enjoyment in the hobby as well.

Second, the prize for the best poorly translated line I've read in a while.

"ADA is not responsible for the crack problem of the Aquarium."

Apparently they are taking a very hands-off approach to substance abuse in their aquariums.

This was in the instruction booklet for the 120P.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:24 PM   #37
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Plants are due to arrive tomorrow morning! By sunset tomorrow, I'll have this bad boy 90% planted. Then, I just need some DHG Belem to finish it off. I've added mini pellia to my plant list just to get a darker color in there, and I have a ton of it in another tank. Should make things fairly nice tomorrow. I have planted what little DHG I had already, but it looks very lonely in there.it has, however, made me very excited to get some more!

I think I'll start prepping things today just to save energy tomorrow. It's going to be a very long planting session with all that HC.
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:28 AM   #38
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Plants arrived at 9:30 AM, and I immediately tore into it like an 8-year-old at an unsupervised Christmas tree. Pulled out the Amano shrimp to acclimate – 10 DOA’s. Nearly half of my order! The water was so foul I nearly vomited. I cannot believe anyone who cares about their animals would keep them in conditions like that. It smelled like a latrine.

Aside from that, the plants looked good. No Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides, however. This made me sad. I’ll have to track some down. Anyone who wants some Hydrocotyle verticillata can peek into the S&S next week – it’ll be there, along with (unless I get a huge die-off) about a 4x9” mat of HC. It’s gorgeous ☺

So, I got to work. Always plant your low-growing plants first, so I got to work on the HC – 2 full square feet of it. This took many, many hours. The rest was a single hour altogether, but it is now 7:00 PM PST, and I just sat down. Here is my work area.



I found my old sushi platters and used them instead of my plastic lids. They are a little heavier, but only enough to make it more stable in my clumsy hands. Peeling the HC from the coir fiber, dividing it into little plugs, and planting in shifts, it took me an hour to do this:



More peeling, dividing, plugging. I really have to personally thank Rumford Aquatics for these needle-nose pincettes. They are freaking amazing. I would not have made this without them. Best purchase ever.



After a couple of hours, things were taking shape. I had a nice rhythm going, and I had only had one massive cramp in my neck!



Deep into the second square foot of HC…



Ok. Enough torture. Here’s what you came for. Hell, here’s what I came for! I am very proud of this scape. Others may not approve, or it may not be their style, but that’s fine. This is exactly the picture I had in my mind when I set out to achieve five years ago when I started in this hobby.

My wife said, “Holy crap – it’s beautiful!” She’s usually much more patronizing than that, so I think I did ok.

Water isn’t totally clear yet, and there are some floaters yet, but as things root and adjust, it will straighten itself out. I decided against mini pellia, and went with a few rocks with weeping moss on them. I had a bunch in another tank. It anchors an otherwise very light foreground and provides transition between the rocks and HC. The hairgrass has been trimmed, and I need more DHG “belem” in front of the cave. Ta-daaa!

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Old 06-29-2012, 02:34 AM   #39
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Great looking scape
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Old 06-29-2012, 06:20 AM   #40
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Great looking scape
Thanks
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:01 AM   #41
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truly amazing. How do you like the HC on the mat vs in the pots?
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:56 AM   #42
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I love it I love it I love it. nice Nice Nice...............well done.
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Old 06-29-2012, 04:20 PM   #43
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Wow, that's really nice looking. I can't wait for the ?rotala? to fill out and get trimmed into bushes. Too bad about those Amanos. I've never has issues with shipped fish. Was the water used to ship just not clean to start?
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:13 PM   #44
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AWESOME POST! Thank you for posting in detail about how you setup for a long planting sessions as well as the other info you provided! I will be looking forward to seeing this tank fill in!

Thanks Again!
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:01 AM   #45
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Beautiful everything! Setup, scape and planting is just top notch, well done. This should grow into am amazing aquascape
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