125g caldera inspired, high tech (56k) - The Planted Tank Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Milford, MA
Posts: 2
125g caldera inspired, high tech (56k)

I’ve never set out to set up a tank with a theme before now. I’ve always found tropical calderas awe inspiring. These ancient volcanic rings, broken apart and flooded with crystal blue water that over millennia have ground the walls of the fiery mountain into black sand, provide a wonderful palette of colors and serene randomness that only nature can provide.

6’ long 125 gallon aquarium (All-glass)
Felt background (sky color)

Substrate and Harsdscape
ADA Amazonia and Africana
Various lava rocks from New Mexico
Black Diamond coal slag (decorative sand)
Used pea-gravel to build up the base

4 Kessil A650WE Amazon Sun
Kessil light controller

Filtration and Heat
2 Eheim 2217 canister filters
2 Hydor 200 in-line heaters
JBJ temperature controller

CO2 delivery
Custom dual-stage Praxair regulator, Swagelok valve, Burkert solenoid
Rio+ 800 PT (needle wheel) with Eheim spray bar

Water and Fertilization
Tap water - water softened (KCl) to strip Ca+ and MG+
EI regimen
epsom salts

Week 1 water parameters
KH = 1.5 deg
GH = 17 deg (due to CaSO4, MgSO4 supplement)
pH (am) = 6.4
pH (pm) <= 6.0

NO3 = 10-15 ppm (uncalibrated API kit)
NH4 = .25 ppm (uncalibrated API kit)

TBD - Possible lemon or pristella tetras, flame gourami, pygmy corys, Daisy’s rice fish

Anubias nana ‘petite’
Bacopa australis (~2 week dry start)
Bucephelandra “catherinae”
Elatine triandra (~2 week dry start)
Eleocharis belem (2.5 month dry start)
Hydrocotyle tripartita (> 3 month dry start)
Hygrophila pinnatifida
Limnophila ‘mini Vietnam’ (~2 week dry start)
Micranthemum tweediei (> 3 month dry start)
Pogostemon helferi (> 3 month dry start)
Rotala mexicana ‘Goias’
Staurogyne repens (~2 week dry start)

Layout Discussion
I have several goals with this layout. I am going for good presentation from two sides, so I attempted to heed the rule-of-thirds from the short side (18” wide) as well as the front. I am also interested in executing what I call ‘painting with plants’. By borrowing from classical landscape painting concepts, I intend to achieve depth by laying out the plants with higher color and texture contrast at the front of the tank, and ‘blurring’ the detail towards the back of the tank by the use of relatively pale ground cover plants. As I am working with elevation, it is relatively easy to push the carpet plants to the background and bring taller foreground and smaller mid ground plants to the front. This is a tricky balance in order to preserve a sense of height scale as well. Taller plants toward the back of the scene will undoubtedly make the illusion harder to sell to the viewer.

As seen above in the full view, something is missing on the middle beach and the right grass. I’m thinking a half-round of small Lobelia cardinalis will help the middle interest, and give me a street of S. repens wrapping around behind it into the E. triandra. Some Syngonanthus madeira among the front third of the hairgrass would make for some interesting balance, provided I keep them pruned to 4 or 5 inches or so.

Right front view

Currently the weakest view in execution. The idea here is for the Bacopa australis in the back to become a sloping mound towards the Hydrocotyle (temporary) on the back mid tier. The Rotala ‘Goias’ should be carpeting behind the downoi and into the Bacopa mound. My original concept called for the H. pinnatifida to drape its leaves over the Rotala. Having never grown this before, I hadn’t realized just how tall this plant gets. It is a scale buster. Here I have a lone young stem. I’d wanted 3 of these for this spot, but now I need a plan ‘B’. The DHG didn’t spread as quickly as I’d hoped, either. I need this to spread up the front towards the downoi. I need the Rotala to spread down towards the DHG. I need to not get gypsum on the black sand...

Center view

Can you pick out the Hygrophila polysperma among the S. repens? Maybe I’ll leave it, like a rogue eyebrow hair that is always sticking out. Need to move the Limnophila near the downoi up and against the rocks, and spread the downoi left and up a little for a smoother transition (same texture, lesser detail).

Left side view (3/4 overhead)

Here you can see the Anubias, intended to be enjoyed from the left side view.

Left side view

Once the growth gets established I’ll thin out the Hydrocotyle and chop it an inch or two.

Lessons already learned
Using a typical 125 gallon aquarium, I discovered quickly that the trademark bowl of the caldera rim would be difficult to pull off with only 18 inches of depth (front to back). Lava rock is ‘lighter’ in water than it is in air, and should be stacked with the aid of epoxy. Buce should be secured to the rocks as well, as the current does work them out of the crevices in time, at least until the roots take hold. M. tweediei dry starts better in dry dirt than it does in saturated dirt. Aqua-soil is light, and blows all over the place.

Week 1 problems
S. repens appears to have melting leaves on the bottom, yet it is continuing healthy growth upwards. I’d suspected a NO3 deficiency, but (uncalibrated) measurements show 10-15 ppm. Some E. triandra is showing this, too, yet to a lesser extent.
whiteysmalls is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 11:35 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: ohio
Posts: 833

my 8 gallon journal:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

my 35 gallon journal:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
andrewss is offline  
post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 11:48 PM
Wannabe Guru
du3ce's Avatar
PTrader: (11/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: colorado
Posts: 1,054
nice scape cant wait to see it filled in
du3ce is offline  
post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-20-2015, 05:45 AM
Algae Grower
oldpunk78's Avatar
PTrader: (111/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Anderson, CA
Posts: 6,404
That's going to be stunning when it grows in.
oldpunk78 is offline  


Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome