Ferny wood is no more. The ferns were taking over the tank and no room for ground covering plants so new plan. Wood is now the backdrop and is covered with ferns and Anubias and maybe moss if I get around to it. The epiphyte branch is still in operation but needs a lot of work.
Edited the title to reflect the main elements of the tank. Congo tetras, Anubias and Bolbitis are all from the Congo/West Africa and one of the main languages of the area is French. Racine Dans la Riviere is french for root in river.
Idea is a twisted tree root reaching down from an eroded bank with large rocks tumbled from the bank and plants growing in the protected crevices between rocks.
I went ADA AquaSoil this time. The Eleocharis Belem looks really sad until it is a good sod in the lighter and bigger mix of clay and gravel Ferny Wood had as a substrate. To reduce the amount of AS used I sewed up pouches of window screen and filled with the old dirty substrate. These were placed on the tank floor. I left as much mulm in the tank as I could as well. AS is about 1/2" thick at the left and front of tank, 2" on top of the pouches which are about 2" deep, hoping the moderate 3-4" slope holds. Rocks are the same as in Ferny Wood.
Tank on June 23, 2015
Then worked the larger of the old wood I had plus a box of manzanita from Tom Barr into a branch to run along the back of the tank. Tried to make it as narrow as possible. Also made up a root for the right side of the tank.
Tank on June 24, 2015
The planted tank. It took me about a week to get the plants back into the tank after removing them so while the tank looks okay here there was serious melting in the future! I made up 'bolos' from pebbles and rags to hold the wood down and those worked really well, you can just see one in the photo.
Tank on or just after planting on June 27, 2015
The tank this week. Blyxa really likes AS a lot and is growing better than it ever has before. The rocks had been baked in the sun for a week and the moss came right back, I have been very lazy and haven't done any work in reestablishing it on the rocks and it looks great. I would like it on all the rocks in time.
I did have to polish the tank panes this week and the pennywort does get diatoms on the oldest leaves and there has been a little BBA on rocks and sad Anubias leaves but increasing light very gradually, removing those dying leaves and applying metricide during water changes seems to have contained the problem. Haven't seen any GDA or GSA at all so far.
All equipment is the same as the previous incarnation.
LEDzeal 5' programmable light on for 14.5 hours a day, mostly at less than 30% full power
40 gallon DIY sump equipped with
-5" of vertical sheets of Poret foam as filter media
-20" Cerges reactor powered with Rio2500 pump
-Laguna max-flo 1500-1300gph pump, both have a foam prefilter on
-200 watt stainless steel heater in sump
-cheap digital thermometer.
20 pound CO2 tank with a huge regulator [Matheson?] equipped with a solenoid. Gas is on from lights on to about 6pm with pH going from 7.6 down to 6.2 or so when light is at about 20% of maximum power
50% water changes once a week with a python dumping water into garden - severe drought here, no wasting water!
Fertilized with estimative index daily and lots of GH booster at water changes
The fish were in a 29 gallon tank outside in shade from June 19 to July 10 when the ammonia and nitrite zeroed out in the tank. I stored a lot of Anubias with them and there was never any ammonia or nitrite detected in the small tank. I made daily 50% water changes in the display tank to reduce ammonia levels the first week, every other day the second week and then tank was ready for the fish. This was in spite of the filter sponges getting a good rinse out in tap water and left dry for a week.
By chance my son decided he wanted a planted tank! I sent him all my leftover plants including some weed Crypts, old substrate I rinsed out and sifted to get rid of the large gravel, wood and rocks that didn't make it into this scape and even found a filter for his new 20 gallon long. His family is enjoying seeing guppies and shrimp in their new digs.