after getting into this hobby with a 5 gallon Fluval Spec V, i decided to delve a bit further and attempt a larger tank for my second go. after seeing all the beautiful pictures of iwagumi setups online, i thought i'd give it a shot.
my starting list of equipment:
ADA Garden Mat
ADA Power Sand Special S
ADA Amazonia soil and powder types
ADA Substrate additives mix
Tropica powder type
Kessil A360WE Tuna Sun
Kessil lighting mount
Kessil Spectril Controller
Intense inline CO2 diffuser
2kg CO2 tank
CO2Art Pro-Elite series regulator
CO2Art drop checker
ADA lily inflow and outflow pipes
Jardli glass surface skimmer
ISTA 16/22 and ADA 12/16 hoses
Eheim 16/22 and 12/16 double tap connectors
Teco TK500 chiller
mix of grey and brown lava stones
my intention was to have an iwagumi setup and stock it with crystal red shrimp and some nano-fish. i know it is supposedly difficult to have CRS in a high tech planted tank. i just felt like taking on the challenge. initially, i bought bags of Tropica powder and soil, as i was not looking forward to the ammonia leech reported with Amazonia. however, after speaking to a shrimp keeper, he recommended i use Amazonia instead as he felt it provided a more "stable" environment for shrimp. not knowing any better, i followed his advice and purchased Amazonia as well.
i started this tank sometime early July 2018. the hardest part of the planning phase was looking for stones. i really wanted some grey stones as i liked how they looked in an iwagumi scape, but most of the grey stones available to me are seiryu and ruyoh stones. but since i wanted to keep shrimp in the tank, i made it a point to use only inert stones that would not affect the water parameters. i visited many shops, and each shop several times, looking for the stones i wanted.
after 2 weeks of searching, i settled on these several stones. i was not entirely happy with the selection given the colour, but i was impatient and decided just to make do with these.
laid down the ADA Power Sand Special S and brushed the sand away from the front and side edges, as i have seen on many ADA videos..
i also sprinkled an ADA subtrate base combo of Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, Penac P and Penac W.
the difference in colour.. lighter brown is Amazonia. darker soil is Tropica. decided to lay down a bit of Tropica soil to increase the volume of the slope. would be adding powder type on top of the normal soil. i felt my first attempt at the rock scape was quite disappointing..
after many attempts over a period of 3 to 4 days, i settled on this configuration of stones.