15.8G Rimless Bowfront Iwagumi - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-11-2017, 06:44 AM Thread Starter
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15.8G Rimless Bowfront Iwagumi

I have always been a huge fan of the Iwagumi style tanks and I think that is what drew me into the hobby to begin with was seeing those. I am finally ready to play with this style but I was not about to pay for stone until I know this is for me. Luckily I made a mental note of a rock vein I found one day on a walk, I think it is Goshen stone...I am in Massachusetts.




Took me forever to find stones I can work with, I brought hundreds of pounds home and played with it for several hours...this was the best I can come up with. I tried to use the 2/3rds guideline and my supporting stones pointing toward the largest center stone. This photo is just EcoComplete as a base layer which I later regretted doing (keep reading).




I then topped the EcoComplete with ADA Aquasoil which in theory is a good idea...that is if you are not playing with inclines. It is so light that my red cherry shrimp just pick them up and when they drop them it all slowly rolls down against the glass. It began to expose my substrate supports as it all rolled over them; it shed the top layer.





What I decided to try in the front and left side was to cover the Aquasoil with more Eco-Complete...which is kind of opposite what I started as my plan. Now it goes from top to base layer Eco-Complete>AquaSoil>Eco-Complete>Black Gravel. You can see the right side does not have an Eco-Complete cap, if this works I will do the right side of the tank too.




I made sure to leave a dip at the end of the incline by the glass as a buffer to allow tumble, I think as the RCS pick out the balls of Aquasoil they will tumble down the incline and end up in the buffer dip. As this piles against the glass (including possibly tiny pieces of Eco-Complete) I will use my vac during water changes to clear the buffer zone...eventually this process should stop. I decided to do something with the rear-left corner to hide the heater and filter tube with some sort of a Moneywort maybe? It grows very small leaves. I also put a thin stranded species of Jungle Val in the same area. I planted Pygmy Chain Sword mixed along the Hair Grass in the rear-center as well as the left side of the tank, I will use the rock as a barrier for it...so the left side of the tank may get grassy I hope these choices do not spoil the sense of scale/Iwagumi effect.




Finally I planted my last plant last week, Dwarf Baby Tears! I started this tank 3 months ago and procrastinated the carpeting plant, unsure if I was going to run CO2 which currently I am not...just very bright lighting. I am still trying to get this tank dialed in, I am developing a BBA problem in some areas. I have Red Cherry Shrimp but they do not eat BBA, and either do my Nerite snails. I have 3 Nerite snails 2 of which are a dwarf species but all 3 eat most types of algae and keep the glass clean. I have 18 Ember Tetra that stay very close to one another in this type of setup because they have nowhere to hide, I am still contemplating the humane factor in an Iwagumi style aquarium...I am not sure Tetra act this way in nature with cover. Rather you force them to act like a larger true schooling fish to give the aquascape a sense of scale.




Last edited by Teebo; 05-03-2018 at 05:07 PM. Reason: Title Change
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-11-2017, 10:33 AM
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Some smaller accent rock going down the right side would make it alot better imo.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-12-2017, 05:33 AM Thread Starter
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Some smaller accent rock going down the right side would make it alot better imo.

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I tried that combination a few ways and could not settle on a placement or rock for the right. First Iwagumi Attempt: Last Stone & Plant Choices?

I have a minimalist concept for the right but I am curious how many more people in general agree with a complimenting rock on the right. I decided to plant the left side heavier than intended as a result of moving forward without a solution for the right side.


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-06-2017, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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Here is an update, I replaced the dwarf sag on the left with more dwarf baby tears. I dropped my number of Tetra from 18 to 7 in preparation to switch over to Lambchop Rasbora. I added the dwarf sag I removed to the grass in the back of the tank along with another grass species I forget what it was....possibly Stargrass. Regarding the accent rock on the right, it kept bothering me until I decided to try some Micro Swords along the right side and it went away for me personally. I am only going to keep this tank going for another 6 weeks because the grade is too steep and it keeps falling toward the glass I am totally done fighting it, I have tried supports and everything plus I am moving anyway. On a positive note the dwarf baby tears have all doubled in size without any CO2 and I had to trim them down already!




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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-06-2017, 03:24 PM
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That looks good, but the HC should be spreading horizontally, not growing upward to trim.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-07-2017, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry I meant to post the photo you asked for in the Excel thread but its getting a little uncomprehending for me so I'm waiting to post there again.

HC grows in both directions but you have to trim it down to promote lateral growth, it is not a vine but can be promoted to grow more horizontally if trimmed. That is what I have gathered from my research at least.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-08-2017, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Woa there was a rainbow in my tank today, I have never seen this before. I think its a heavy oil slick and I believe it is linked to one of the foods I feed my shrimp.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2017, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
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I am bringing closure to this thread, I am moving so I have to end this tank. It has been a solid 6 months since it was started, I had waited a while before posting it. I have gotten the feel for Iwagumi and while I think they look really nice it did get old kind of fast for me. While I did everything I could to keep the maintenance low it still outweighed the enjoyment of the tank to me so I did find my limit and sweet spot in the aquarium hobby. I have had the chance to observe my fish over the last 6 months, they are healthy but my conclusion is that this layout keeps them in constant stress without any cover being blinded by bright light. They are only shoaling together because they do not feel safe, naturally they do not behave this way so I am forcing them to act like a larger schooling fish for my benefit. Whenever I walk by the tank they scramble, they are constantly on edge. This same group of fish in another tank with stem plants would not dart around so much. Aside from the fish my Baby Tears did grow without CO2, but I only noticed them growing when I recently started regularly dosing Excel. I was able to find the sweet spot and cutoff point for Baby Tears without CO2, the Excel is a huge factor in success the results are immediate. Without the Excel they were growing but just thicker and taller very slowly, I did trim them down after a few months...but after a week of regular Excel use they started growing horizontally and trimming became more regularly necessary. My lights are stronger in the front of the tank, and they are centralized so there is a lot of light fade as you move back. You can see the point where the Baby Tears even with Excel decided it was not getting enough light, along the back it still looks almost as the day I planted it. Now I know the minimum requirements it will take in the future and I will set my lighting up accordingly. I was running the tank off a SunSun canister filter with floss and Purigen. The lights were on a cheap digital timer and I had the canister on a flip switch for feeding. The only thing is the switching caused a tiny surge whenever I fed the fish and it would trip out the timer and reset the clock, so I had to put a little mini surge protector at the bottom of this stack of connections and then everything was fine.









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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2017, 02:52 PM
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As you say it was a good exercise for educational purposes. After 6 months very little growth on the HC. With co2 and good light the entire foreground would have been filled twice over. Looks like the excel kept things clean.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2017, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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As you say it was a good exercise for educational purposes. After 6 months very little growth on the HC. With co2 and good light the entire foreground would have been filled twice over. Looks like the excel kept things clean.
If I had been using Excel from the start (regularly) the HC would have had MUCH more coverage at this point. I plan on using the HC in another tank with high lighting and much more consistent Excel use.

Excel has not been the playing factor in keeping this tank clean, I believe it was the shrimp, the only thing I battled was BBA since the RCS do not eat it. When I want the HC to grow I dose when lights come on, if I need BBA control I dose when the lights go out but I loose out on HC growth when I need it for BBA control.

I am still a strong believer in HC without CO2 if setup correctly. I have a whole CO2 system but never used it. If I was to use it I would only fill the tank out with it then remove it to keep maintenance lower on trimming.


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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2017, 07:33 PM
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If your worried about growth rate just use a slower bubble count. You don't need to put it in overdrive. BBA is very typical when your growing out carpets at a slow rate with little plant mass. When you have a full carpet in your next tank with just excel definitely share some pics.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-03-2018, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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BBA is very typical when your growing out carpets at a slow rate with little plant mass. When you have a full carpet in your next tank with just excel definitely share some pics.
Okay so this got interesting, I'm back! I moved from MA to FL with 1-2" of water in this tank. I had it shrink wrapped and surrounded in bubbled wrap inside a box in the back of a U-Haul trailer, 1,400 miles and the shrimp were with me the whole time in the cab...inside a cooler. They all made it! The canister filter was transported full of water with the hoses elevated so I had startup bacteria. I tried to fill the tank several times when I arrived but the little water sloshing during drive completely hammered the ADA substrate and HC to the point it was not going to settle so I resorted to removing 80% of it and just capping it with FloraMax, then buying new HC plugs.

The plan was honestly to run this tank only to keep the shrimp alive while I completed my new pico riparium tank, and I was going to covert this tank to marine...and I still do plan to but in the meantime I was trying to grow out the plants I needed for my new pico riparium project. Since the tank is in a corner now I had to run out and luckily found a 3 head goose neck floor lamp at Walmart for $20. I will eventually mount an adjustable light to the stand itself, I am using the same bulbs, and ferts. Well the hair grass and HC completely took off to the point it motivated me to buy fish, the fish stores on the coast of FL are amazing! I found espei Rasboras on the cheap and I have been curious on their behavior so I bought a dozen. To my surprise they were fearless and stayed high in the tank unlike the Embers, and they seem to shoal very well too. However over time I had most of them jump to their death, once again confirming my first thoughts about this style of tank putting fish in stress/fear. I did extended research after witnessing this suicidal behavior and turns out micro Rasboras are known to be jumpy. Most of the shrimp slowly died off a few months after relocation, unsure of the cause but they were very large and old so it is possible they died of age. I have 2 of my original shrimp left that I plan to breed before I loose the genetics I worked so hard for before relocating, the 2 shrimp left are still able to efficiently keep this tank clean, with the addition of 2 dwarf Nerite snails I bought when I arrived.






About 5-6 weeks passed after the photo above, and I was ecstatic to see the HC progress! I attribute all my success this time to the balance of carbon (Excel) and nitrates using all the exact same hardware. Before relocating I was dosing Excel in high amounts once a week after a water change, and keeping my nitrates super low around 3ppm (sometimes all but bottoming out). This time not only do I dose Excel daily within 1 hour of the light turning on, but I also maintain a nitrate of 5-10ppm. I find that 5ppm with daily Excel works just fine, but many suggest I maintain 10ppm...however I find 10ppm substantially increases algae on the glass that the snails can not keep up with. I have it perfectly balanced where the fish food maintains 5ppm and if I choose to dose 5ppm of nitrogen to bring it to 10ppm it will stay at 10ppm until I decide to do a water change (which I rarely do anymore due to its balance). The other reason I rarely do water changes is I have officially got my tank to pearl without CO2, and sometimes quite excessively. I find if I do a water change it takes too long for the oxygen saturation to rise enough to start pearling again, and between the nutrient consumption and Purigen in my canister filter there is really not much of a need to change water...its a Walstad hybrid! (I keep adding nutrients without removing water...I only remove plant mass!). This photo also clearly shows my fish transition, when I got down to just 4 espi Rasbora I decided to go back to Tetra. I have long avoided Neons because I like being different so I never kept them before plus the Embers were slightly smaller, but I caved in I wanted to compare the behavior of Neons to Embers so I bought 8 of them to get back to 12 small fish (sweet spot/balanced for this tank). I do not use the 1" per gallon rule religiously or anything but I do fall within this range, the fish are slightly over 1" and this is 16 gallons so if I had no plants I think I could get away with bi-weekly or so water changes. Fish always impress me most when they are first introduced to a new tank, it was amazing to watch the Neons shoal so closely which caused my 4 remaining espi Rasbora to stay closer together in their own separate group. Meanwhile the two groups stayed on separate levels which was extremely attractive to me, the Neons all stayed low just like the Embers did (must be a Tetra thing) and the Rasbora occupied the top near the surface...which was a challenge to feed the Neons until they understood when the pump shutoff to go to the surface for food. They are all relaxed and acclimated to their new environment so they no longer shoal as tightly on separate levels which is a bummer but I was already expecting this to happen from previous experiences with new fish. Long term sustained shoaling requires a much larger tank I believe, with potentially centerpiece fish to introduce a false sense of fear found in nature. Do fish get too relaxed and lazy in an aquarium to have natural defense behavior or do we induce an un-natural fear based shoaling behavior? Glass half empty or half full?



Here we go, exactly one month after adding the Neons and I am happy to say none of the 4 espi have attempted to jump to their death, and either have the Neons. The next phase all started with deciding to hide the in/out flow hardware and heater. I am kind of against stem plants in an "Iwagumi" but done right I think I can still maintain the scale. I specifically wanted a stem plant that was capable of pearling so I went with Rotala Macrandra, which will turn red...and I may put Rotala "green" behind it to make the Macrandra pop out with contrast. As I said I seriously did not plan on running this tank this long but it has drawn me in to the point I felt the need to add some hardscape (a bit late now huh?). I fought the temptation until I was in one of my local fish stores when a piece of mountain stone caught my eye, it was small (the rock to the left) so I bought it and it looked perfect in the left corner. Well a few days passed and now the temptations were full blown, I had to find a father stone to match this rock, I am doing everything backwards haha. I returned to the same store and could not find a matching rock to please me, so the hunt was now on I started hopping store to store until I found the father stone which was not cheap after factoring in the gas for traveling. I was happy....for a while haha. I felt the need to add another stone to the right now to balance out that father stone and wasted more time and gas, I had up to 4 rocks in this tank before I realized it was too much. You can see where I destroyed the HC in 2 spots to the right with the additional rocks...it will grow back by the next time I update this thread. Not only were the rocks taking away from the minimalism of this tanks design but I also had to rollback the dwarf hairgrass in the right corner to keep it more open/infinite over there. I would like to add that I have not had any BBA in this tank what so ever, string algae here and there but all I have to do is dose Excel after the lights go out and its typically gone within 12 hours.





I used the flash on my camera to get this detailed image of the 2 stones I left in the tank. Not only did I feel there was too much rock in the tank @ 4 pieces but the grain of the last 2 is what really drove me to pull them. These 2 stones came from different stores, I found it extremely hard to match anything to these. The two major attributes for me are the beautiful rapid/fine white marbling and the pointy edges. I did not take a photo with the other stones but they were slightly off in color, lacked the fine/small white marbling, and had more rounded edges so it threw the scale of the entire thing off to me. I keep talking about scale, and to those who do not understand my point of view try imagining the fish as tiny birds...this is why stem and leaf plants can be challenging to work into an Iwagumi.


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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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This may be the last update, things took a sudden turn for the worse. First it was my hairgrass which lasted several months it never fully died off but just stayed brownish while the HC continued to spread. I do not use root tabs or good substrate so I rely 100% on the water column dosing, and I assume the HC gets nutrients from the water column much easier than hairgrass. I swapped my hardware out for all glass including a surface skimmer, then attempted to hide it with Rotala and a little Macrandra mixed in. I decided to unplug the heater and run the tank a few degrees lower around 74-76 rather than a stable 78F since its more natural and the tank is in a climate controlled environment now anyways.



About ten days later the HC is still dyeing off, I have lost the tank at this point...I think the Iwagumi was once again a fun experiment but may be over.



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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 10:21 PM
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Hi Teebo - Iím curious why do you think the HC died after the changes? Water temp as mentioned? Did the light change position? Any dosing changes? Cheers


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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-12-2018, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Teebo - Iím curious why do you think the HC died after the changes? Water temp as mentioned? Did the light change position? Any dosing changes? Cheers
Water was stable 78F I only recently unplugged the heater. The room stays between 72-76F its more of a natural gradual fluctuation. I read 78F is really the maximum for my fish, shrimp, and snails.

No changes in lighting, or dosing but I probably should have increased my potassium. The base dose directions on the bottles I was following were probably based on a beginner planted tank.

I just gave the fish away, and I am going to start bringing this tank to a closure then convert to marine. I will get a few more shrimp and increase the ferts to see what happens but I am not going to put as much attention into this tank anymore.


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