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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have been working on this 50ish gallon tank for a while now. This is my third endeavor. I have been envisioning an undercut riverbank sort of theme. It will have a planted overhang with fountain cascading down either side. The corners also hide an area for an intake/outake. It will be eventually filled about 1/2-3/5.

Substrate will be dirt capped with black blasting sand. It will be planted primarily with crypts plus some java fern, anubias and mosses. I am open to other suggestions, but I am aiming for low-light, low maintenance. I will be doing a hybrid dry-start.

My pictures of the progress to this point are a bit unorganized, but here is a start.

Soon after the second coating of cement on top of expanding foam:






This was taken soon after I planted the overhanging ledge with various crpyts including parva, wendtii:



Finally, the following was taken soon after I added a soil layer to the bottom of the tank. Notice the die-back on the crypts. This is standard in my experience, and most are showing strong new growth:





Updates to follow once I get the base planted. I am searching around for a supply of parva. I am planning on a good coverage of parva in the front and mid sections, with various other low-light plants closer to the back. Feedback welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Here is another update after I planted and capped the lower level. I planted with Java fern, crypt. parva, crypt. willisi, anubias nana, and a couple other assorted crypts in the back. I refuse to consider buccephelandra after researching it, and I strongly believe its use should be discouraged on the forums. My goal is to stock my tanks with both plants and fish grown commercially--not collected.

These pictures were taken approximately two weeks following planting of the lower level:











I should have another update following. The tank is already flooded and looking great. I'm just behind on uploading pics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Update #2
As usual, very behind on updating this journal. Below are a few pictures I took (cell-phone...I know I suck) less than a week after flooding the tank. The water is still a bit cloudy in these pictures, but has cleared up nicely since. I have since taken video to demonstrate the fountain effect on the back wall. That and more pictures to follow.







Here is a link to crappy cell-phone video I took soon after these photos:

http://youtu.be/lC3FLow-BkQ

Update #3

I am finally getting around to uploading some pictures I took earlier this year. I built a fixture to hang my lights with some wood I had left over from another project. I haven't gotten around to making the box look nicer yet, but the hanging lights have been working out great.

Everything has been growing relatively strong, and I have much more coverage from moss on the rock ledge, which is nice. I have made a few changes recently, so it's about due for a new photo shoot. Hopefully those will be up by the end of summer. Now here are some pics from early 2013:









The upper rock ledge. Water flows from the upper right across to the upper left of the tank. It also flows over in a few spots, and through one opening below the canister out-flow on the upper right.







 

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Fantastic start wheaties!!! Do you plan on adding additional plants to the very top "ledge"?

Personally, I would skip the anubia species and go with buccephelandra instead and keep it all southeast Asian based theme.

Nice job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks!

I like your suggestion of keeping the planting based on a theme. I haven't grown buccephelandra before, but I will look into it.

That very top ledge is actually a channel that will eventually direct water down either side. I will try to take some close-ups to match a better explanation when I update. I am guessing once the crypts grow back in a bit, it will be obscured from most viewing angles. This design would probably look best with a rim-less tank, but I wanted to practice something this ambitious on a cheaper tank first.
 

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Not trying to be mean or rude, but all aquatic plants were collected once before they were sold. Also many buccephelandra sp. are sold by members on this forum that have them. I understand that stripping something from the wild to be grow in home is an issue.

You have an awesome tank setup and love the planting you have so far. Nice job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am aware that all were initially collected. Aquarists are responsible for numerous plant and animal extinctions in the wild. It's terrible. I can't go back and prevent the original collections of the commonly traded ferns, crypts and anubias now. However, sticking to species that are currently grown commercially, even if collected in the past, is far more responsible than fueling the demand for plants that are not grown commercially and are currently being illegally collected.
 

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Not trying to be mean or rude, but all aquatic plants were collected once before they were sold. Also many buccephelandra sp. are sold by members on this forum that have them. I understand that stripping something from the wild to be grow in home is an issue.

You have an awesome tank setup and love the planting you have so far. Nice job.
Hobby collecting lots of Bucephalandra and other rare aquatic aroids from that region in Southeast Asia really is ethically questionable. A lot of that material that is imported is wild-collected. You might not necessarily be breaking the law to have it in possession here, but collection in the wild from most of those places is illegal. It is likely that commercial demand and collection is also depleting wild populations of those plants, many pf which might be restricted to very small areas in the wild.

I am aware that all were initially collected. Aquarists are responsible for numerous plant and animal extinctions in the wild. It's terrible. I can't go back and prevent the original collections of the commonly traded ferns, crypts and anubias now. However, sticking to species that are currently grown commercially, even if collected in the past, is far more responsible than fueling the demand for plants that are not grown commercially and are currently being illegally collected.
This is an important distinction to make.
 

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Very nice tank. I was wondering if you could describe how you made the rock work or maybe you have a link to a site that you used? It would be, much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the comments.

I will try my best to explain the "rock." In summary, it is a cement coating over expanding foam. I got the idea from various sources all over the web, including these forums. I didn't really follow any single guide.

First, I drew up a basic design. I then used egg-crate material and various pots, recycled containers, etc to fashion a frame and give the whole thing a basic shape. I used the egg crate to mark out the areas reserved for plumbing, but I wish I had thought to just drop some 6 inch pvc pipes and elbows in.

I then used outdoor expanding foam for pond-use. There are a couple brands, and the foam comes out black. I like this better than the usual expanding foam because it seems to set denser.

I used one can at a time, very spread out, and let it set over night. Then I would carve or sculpt as I saw fit. I used 7 or 8 cans, but had I framed things out better, I could have used far less. I really want to try this again with more fore-thought on the plumbing and framing.

I then did my final sculpting, and I used a rasp to really rough up the foam. This is a critical step. In places where I did not rough up the foam, I had to reapply cement after it flaked off.

To coat the expanding foam, I used portland cement mixed with a charcoal cement dye and quikcrete acrylic fortifier. I am not positive the latter is necessary, but saw it suggested on one guide. I used three coats of cement. I made a small error working with the cement in that I added it to the expanding foam without wetting the areas first, and I let it set too quickly. Once I started planting the ledge, and adding more humidity, things shifted just enough to cause some cracks in the final coat. Nothing the mosses aren't hiding.

That was about all there was to it. Fairly simple in theory, but working with the foam and cement can be tricky in the technique (wear gloves!). I would recommend practicing making a faux rock on a piece of plywood or something similiar first.
 

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wow I do not know how ive missed this thread! I love riparium tanks and this one is stunning. I hope someday I can make something like this. Also good for you for doing research on what plants to choose from when stocking your tank!
 
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