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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
01/10 update- jump to last post for updated pics

Hey everyone! I am new here and looking for any and all feedback.

I have been in the hobby for a while, but have never achieved the level of health and beauty in my plants that I would like. So, I have mostly broken down my mish-mash 75g tank and will be rescaping it as an African tank (with a little bit of cheating).

Here is where it stands today: scavenged Anubias left over from the old set up, repurposed driftwood ("The Beast" on the left hand side was even bigger before I cut it down to size), and a few crypto and Val stragglers.


I thought it looked bare, so I added this rock work in the middle:


Here is a close up of The Beast:


These are ceramic spawning caves for Pelvacachromis taeniatus I will be adding in January:


Here is how it all looks together:


Currently it is stocked with Congo tetras, Botia sidthimunki (substitute syndodontis) and rhombo (or snakeskin, or orange buffalo) barbs (substitute Barbus fasciatus):


For now I am picturing Aponogeton longiplumulosus in the back left corner (behind the Beast) and Aponogeton ulvaceus right-of-center, just behind that edge of the rock work. The rest of the back right side will be jungle Val. In the mid areas, between the driftwood pieces (spaces are hard to see in the pictures) I will have ambulia, Nesaea crassicaulis, and Nesaea pedicellata 'Golden'. For the foreground I am thinking of either 10-12 sprigs of dwarf Sagittarius (still leaving the center "path" to the rocks open) or plant some star grass and keep it trimmed down low. I will also fill in the crypt parva I have in the front, right corner.

If I can find some nice moss, I will add some to my driftwood and get some growing on the tops of the rock pile.

Also, I trimmed back my Anubias considerably, and I expect them to fill in over time.

I will be re-doing my CO2 set up, with a new diffuser that looks to be much more effective than my last set up, and an internal pH probe, rather than my old hang-in-the-tank sensor that never seemed to read accurately.

CO2 and 4 x 54w T5 lights will be set up by next weekend, then plants the week following (hopefully).

What does everyone think? Open to feedback/suggestions.

Thanks so much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Bump- any feedback/suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Jimmy, thanks for the feedback- I know my tank does not fit the beauty ideal of the Amano/Iwagumi style, but I am hoping to still be able to create something lush and growing that fits the African theme. I considered changing the substrate, but I like the reddish/multi-color look- I guess that is just me.

I listed several of the stem plants I will be using- are yo saying I should use even more? Or in place of the Aponogenton species?
 

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I actually reallly like it... Those driftwood pieces are fantastic, I love them! I think I'd prefer less rocks in the centre - more open space. But I still like them being there and think they add some ncie contrast to the tank so it's not only driftwood and plants.

I also like the substrate - again it adds a little depth, some difference and contrast. But I've never really liked monochrome substrates even though I have something darker in my own tank.

I think it looks good! Can't wait to see how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, Perchance! I will be re-doing the rocks a little, shifting them more right-of-center and stacking them so they look a little more natural-- but I also like the way they look, so thanks. Plus, they will provide more nooks and crannies for the sidthimunki and the future Pelvicachromis taenitis. the tank actually has more depth (18") but you can't tell from the pictures-- hopefully after the other plants get added in it will show.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bump! I am getting plants on Friday- any other suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
one last bump! Don't want to be a pest, but I learn so much from these forums!

Right now, this is still the plan: For now I am picturing Aponogeton longiplumulosus in the back left corner (behind the Beast) and Aponogeton ulvaceus right-of-center, just behind that edge of the rock work. The rest of the back right side will be jungle Val. In the mid areas, between the driftwood pieces (spaces are hard to see in the pictures) I will have ambulia, Nesaea crassicaulis, and Nesaea pedicellata 'Golden'. For the foreground I am thinking of either 10-12 sprigs of dwarf Sagittarius (still leaving the center "path" to the rocks open) or plant some star grass and keep it trimmed down low.

I have decided against the crypt parva.

I would also love a few Downoi, but I can't find any anywhere.
 

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Looks great! You can't go wrong with crypts in a setup like this. I'm a moss guy, so I say more moss for all! More moss everywhere!

But I'm with others, you need to bring the rocks down a little, actually they look too uniform is the issue. Why not try a smaller craigly rock in the middle more towards the front.

The shape is more pleasing to the eyes. Your driftwood actually looks identical to a piece of rock I have in my 2.3gal tank oddly enough. Look at it in the 18" link, as it is the aquascape I think you are going for.

Also on the spawning caves, the fish might appreciate them more towards the back behind everything? I'm no expert there.


MABJ's iDevice used for this message :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks, MABJ-- yeah, nobody likes the rocks, lol! I want to keep them in *some* form, because I want to provide nooks and crannies for the botias (which will also keep them out of the spawning caves)-- but I agree, I can make it look better/more natural. Once I get some moss growing on the top of them that will help as well, I think.

The spawning caves will be a little more private after they have some more plant growth around them-- but my main goal was to get them spaced far apart so the P. taeniatus can have separate territories.

I will keep thinking on the rocks-- thanks again!

Keep it coming, everyone. Beat me up a little and get my old brain working.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Now for the CO2 set up: Milwaukee controller, but the gauges and reactor are from aquariumplants.com. I like the electronic bubble counter over my old needle valve, and that the pH probe is in-line now rather than hanging in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey everyone, I had to chase them down from UPS, but I finally received my plants today!

I know I have some fine tuning to do, but I will give them some time to settle in first. The back left corner will be filled in my the Apon. longipluminous bulbs grow.

Still open to any suggestions!

 

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I'll venture that the reason you have gotten so much negative feedback on the rock pile is that it doesn't look organic. Only humans stack rocks in that fashion and it's not an arrangement to be found in nature. The driftwood and plantings look great, but when I see the rocks, I'm reminded that I'm looking at an aquarium. In addition the rock pile occupies what I consider to be valuable negative space in the layout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Understood- I like them, and I want to make sure the Pelvicachromis taeniatus have enough places to stake out territory when I add them in January. If the breeding caves end up being enough I might pull the rocks.

I am also hoping that as the moss covers them, it will soften the lines and make it look more that holes in a natural bank, rather than stacked rocks.
 

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I like it! I do agree you might wanna "messy up" the rocks a tad so it doesnt look so artificial. maybe bury the cave under the pile of rocks and the tank would look 100 percent authentic. But its your tank and it still looks good either way. Keep the pics comin. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Can you guys help me understand "negative space"? Does that mean it is better to have nothing there?
 

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I think that's basically what it means.

I like the rocks but fewer of them & more jumbled.
 

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I like it. As you said, get some good moss growth around those rocks and they'll look alot better. I personally don't like stems or vals. I think your tank would look better and more "African" with just java fern, mosses, and some Anubias nana. I really like to see the hardscape at all times and I'm not a big fan of plants all over. I think with this tank less is more. If you have another tank to put the others in, you could use that tank as a growout to see what else you like. That's what I do. It's nice to be able to add a little and remove a little at a time until you love it. Just some thoughts
 
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