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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wassup Everybody. Jeff here representing the Bay Area. Fell in love the first time I saw a picture of an aquascape online. I knew it was me. So here goes my first tank.

Started off with some of my basics.



ADA 45-P Tank: JDM is a lifestyle. Went with high quality ADA for clarity and clean design. Choose the 45-P size because I have a small apartment.

Finnex Plated+ Light: This light is bright. Got some power up my sleeves. Yee boi.

Aquaclear Filter: Simple cheap hang on back filter to run my mini tank. Running it on the lowest setting. Runs very quiet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I naturally wanted to the "Iwagumi" style because it is very calming and simple just like Japanese gardens that I really like. My wife liked the idea of having a small tree making it look like a scene from Tototro. So I'm mashing up these two influences into one.

Then went to a local aquarium store and scouted for rocks and a "tree". Found a small drift wood to turn into a tree and randomly found a rock with a crater looking shape. I thought it was very unique. My cousin with me suggested it could be used as a cave. I went for the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sat down with the elements and brainstormed how it would go together. Had an image in my head and started pouring the sand and soil and putting the rocks together. I was about 85% accurate to what I imagined. Overall I wanted a balanced feel.

Cave: I had to build a hill to support the look of the cave.

Drift Wood: The shape looked like it was sweeping one direction like being shaped by the wind. Thought that was cool so I used it on one side of the tank pointing into the tank.

Rocks: Used it mainly as support for these mini hills I created.

ADA Amazonia Soil: Went JDM again and went for the good stuff. Good foundation comes first. Only bought one bag so I went for a smaller ratio of planted space and larger ratio of open clean sand. I thought it would make a nice playground for the shrimps.

Decorative Sand: Cousin had left over white decorative sand. I used a lot of it to make majority volume of the hill. I had trouble making the hill steep so it looks round because the sand would fall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Plants going in. Doing the dry start method. I didn't have the tweezers so I used a pen to make a hole and shove the stem of grass into it. Had more grass than I expected so I expanded my lawn coverage on the right side. I would turn the lights on for 12hrs/day and spray it down before work and after work.

Grass: Eleocharis Sp. Mini - Dwarth Hair Grass tissue cup from Aquariumplants.com

Bushes: Baby Tears
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Detail shot of the planting. Looking back, I would have planted them deeper and split the grass up more.

I used a bit of left over plants and soil to create a planted tank in a shot glass. This is just for experimentation on the side for me to help learn. The shot glass jar dry started with the tank.
 

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Ok so gotta ask. How are you going to keep the soil from settling all over you sand area when you flood? Its a nice looking little cove you have setup I'm just afraid your going to experience disaster when you add water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok so gotta ask. How are you going to keep the soil from settling all over you sand area when you flood? Its a nice looking little cove you have setup I'm just afraid your going to experience disaster when you add water.
Agree with mot. Keeping different substrates apart is a challenge. Even more so when you have a significant slope.

Still very nice for a first scape!
I didn't think to think of that when I was building my hill. Everything ended sliding down and stopping a point it liked. It was like bargaining, I wanted the soil to be here, but laws of physics put it there.

I also learned that keeping the black and white sand apart was an impossible task when they mixed. If anyone has any tips on how to keep sands separate it would be great.
 

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If you have the dark and light substrates meet on a flatter plane and then start the sloping up using supports as you go you will have a lot more success.
Also depending on the length of time you wait until you flood the root system will be able to hold some of the slopes from falling (generally everyone floods too early to actually have a strong root system, or the DSM turns sour and they flood before total loss of plants).

I suggest trying to add some substrate supports, people use egg crate or I believe garden edging (someone correct me if im wrong, the black stuff that often gets placed next to a lawn to keep the edges neat?) basically is a cut and place system.

Good luck with this mate, its still a great first scape! (so much ZUTUTU!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
2 weeks into the dry start. I noticed a gradient of yellow grass to full green grass from top to bottom. I'm assuming it could be from the light difference or if the bottom is getting more water than the top. I tried to spray more water on the top but didn't notice a change. I also added some plant food which are the yellow balls.

Shot glass jar of soil and grass soup is still alive.

Soil has started to fall downhill. I tried to push it back up but it would have taken too long. I'll push it back up later eventually.
 

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It'll be a tough battle to keep the substrate from mixing at where they meet, especially without any rocks or some sort of barrier. The plants might be able to help prevent the mixing, but it'll be a while before they grow in. The more you mess around at the border, the more it'll mix. Plus, once you flood, there could be more settling of the substrate. I'd look into adding some substrate supports. You could try some currogated plastic sheets cut to size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The tank has now been flooded. No Ark. I added about 50% water from another fish tank and 50% treated tap water. Threw in some free fish to get cycling going. The soil and sand did get disturbed because I was lifting my tank up and down a shelf. I threw some brown sand on top. Tangled some java moss on the drift wood. CO2 running 1-2 bubbles per second and turns on when the lights turn on. Running the lights and CO2 about 5-6hrs a day for now to get them comfortable. The tank gets ambient late afternoon sunlight in our living room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Taking it to the next level. Went to buy some guppies at the store over the weekend. Sadly I was only able to enjoy them for one evening because 6/8 of them jumped out over night. The two survivors have been chillin in tank ok. Sometimes peer pressure makes you do stupid things.

I added some moss balls. One of them was floating. Got some shots of mother nature's magic trick. I ended up keeping three moss balls in front because I like them, they provide a focus on the foreground and it is to represent the Father the Son and Holy Ghost.

Moved my hang on back filter to the side so that the intake pipe isn't in the view. It also helped with my water circulation causing a swirl in my tank. CO2 bubbles get blow around the tank now instead of puddling in a corner. The guppies would play in the current. Zebra snail hangs out in the back most of the time.

I threw in 8 Amano shrimps and they messed up my soil and sand overnight. I gave 5 away now only got 3 to represent the Father the Son and Holy Spirit. I did find a way to separate the soil and sand under water using a moss ball and tweezers and water pressure. Pics to prove later.

$25 black metal rack at target also support on its second shelf
-mini planted tank w/hairgrass, shot glass jar
-jar of java moss, growing slowly
-java fern
-moss balls
-one giant moss ball
 

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The back bass from the speakers will stress out your entire habitat, as if there was a predator in the tank making currents. I would recommend moving the tank or the speaker, it's not going to be a healthy setup.
 
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