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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm still tweaking my Aquascape in my tank right now, and need some advice. I am loosely basing it off of a picture I found:




Current Tank: (edited with simple photo editor to remove the blurryness from my hands shaking)





Current Tank Plan:


It's a ten gallon tank, with 2 13Watt Sylvania Micro Mini 6500k CFL bulbs, Eco Complete substrate, and I'm dosing with Seachem's Aquavitro line. Oh and temporary DIY CO2.

Current plants are only an Anubias Nana Petite and lots of Willow Moss. I'm really struggling on how to better create the contours in the picture. And I think the only solution at the moment will probably be to use substrate dividers to try and build them up. I have plastic notebook covers, but in lime green (eeeek). What kind of paints are safe for aquarium use?

I was going to use egg crate, but decided to not go with that plan. The other place I'm struggling is the creek. I tried sand but that was a no go due to the size of the tank. Filling it up, even with paper bowl I float on the top to diverge water if the bowl even moved slightly, and the water hit the sand, it was like a bomb went off. And it's REALLY noticeable on a black substrate. So I'm thinking of going with river rocks. I threw in what I had, but I still don't like it right now.

I'm liking how my trees are growing in but I need some advice on how to better mimic the picture. I do think I need to find a lot more thinner pieces of driftwood to make different sized trees, and try and create more depth. I was thinking of using the plastic dividers to try and create the curves of the creek, and possibly hot glue rocks to the top of it, with moss attached, to try and recreate the look in the picture. I have access to TONS of driftwood since Lake Michigan is only an hour drive and the dunes are packed with pieces of hard wood driftwood, completely dried out too.

I do have plans to add Fissidens, Hydrocotyle Tripartita, another Anubias nana perhaps (I love that plant), christmas moss, and more willow moss. But if I could spice it up with a few other plants to mimic the picture better, please tell me! Just a side note: this will be a shrimp tank, so the CO2 will be getting removed about 2-3 weeks prior to shrimp going in, but the shrimp aren't going to be ordered until I'm happy with the scape, and the plants have gotten some growth to them.

Anyway any ideas or suggestions to help me recreate the look in the picture please tell me. Be as critical as you can be. I want to get this right, and I'm a perfectionist too. There are no critters except snails that hitchhiked, but the CO2 got the majority of them. So essentially I'm free to drain most of the water out and mess around, and fill back up. The tank isn't close to cycled yet, though I'm thinking it will probably be another 3-4 months until it's ready for inhabitants!
 

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Front substrate line should be perfectly level, not banked on each side like you have. You create the banking within the tank, not on the edge. This makes the view appear much bigger. As well, for perspective, it needs to slope greatly toward the back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Front substrate line should be perfectly level, not banked on each side like you have. You create the banking within the tank, not on the edge. This makes the view appear much bigger. As well, for perspective, it needs to slope greatly toward the back.
That definitely makes more sense. I found some landscaping edging that we have left over. Is it possible to use this stuff to hold back the substrate? I could cut it into a sloping angle to create the slope edge following around the substrate. Then possible use rocks and/or foam glued to the outside edge, paint it black, and then add moss to it to make the creek edge? Maybe lol.

What kind of paints are safe for aquarium use?
 

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Personally I would go with taller "trees" so that they breach the water line, giving that real forest look in the tank. Why only temporary co2? Your plants will adapt to having co2 and if you remove afterward you'll have a lot of die off, you'd do better not putting co2 in at all or ideally permanently.
 

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That definitely makes more sense. I found some landscaping edging that we have left over. Is it possible to use this stuff to hold back the substrate? I could cut it into a sloping angle to create the slope edge following around the substrate. Then possible use rocks and/or foam glued to the outside edge, paint it black, and then add moss to it to make the creek edge? Maybe lol.

What kind of paints are safe for aquarium use?
As long as the edging is non-toxic it should be fine. No guarantees as even PETE plastic, (water bottle containers), are non-toxic but leeches toxins over time which results in water tasting like plastic.

I'm don't know about the paint but I'd rather not use any paint. You can check for aquarium safe paint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I ended up not using any paint at all. I hot glued lava rocks to the side of the plastic and some wood too, and used fishing line to attach loads of moss around it. I like how it came out, and it holds the substrate back really well. The way the moss was tied, and the rocks glued on, hides the tops and back edges of the piece. Was able to bend it the way I like and it's extremely sturdy. Going to be making another one tomorrow. And maybe a few smaller ones to make the levels better.

There's another thread going discussing temporary CO2. This is going to be a shrimp tank, so I can't really use CO2, just wanted to get some of my plants going for the most part. My LFS owner is getting in some more Anubias Nana Petite and my hydrocotyle tripartita for me. I'm debating pulling it right now, but at the same time it's tempting to leave it in as it's helping me with the huge new-tank algae bloom.

I do really need to find bigger pieces of wood. The one on the right was breaking the water line, but I needed to anchor it more in the substrate to get it to be sturdier. I'm going to be going to the beach in around a month from now, so that will be the best time to look for more. All the aquarium driftwood is so expensive here, so I'm just gonna wait it out. I do agree with you onthat helping to create a more forest like look.


The supports are holding back the substrate pretty good, so I might take another go at using gravel again. Won't go with sand, but I saw some nice light gray colored gravel which could work for the creek area. I'll take an update picture tomorrow. Also fixed the sloping on the substrate too. Only trouble spot for me right now is avoiding the heater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I went and searched through google to try and find more information on the edging I used, but couldn't find any. I'll have to monitor it over the next few weeks and see if it leeches anything, but I don't think it will. It's from the 90s (based on the picture on the front), but I don't think it will cause any problems. Hopefully it won't, as it looks awesome covered in the moss, and is holding everything back really well!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·


Okay here's the updated aquascape. I think I need to move the creek over to the right a bit, but I'd like to here other people's thoughts. The wall on the left I'll probably attach some moss too as I did it with the right side. I'm going to the lakeshore this weekend, hopefully, so I am going to try and find more driftwood trees, more specifically taller ones, I have one piece floating at the top that I'm hoping will sink.
 

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I rather liked the first scape better. You could create the bank using small polished stones, maybe covered in moss. That would come close to imitating the picture. Im not sure you even need a dramatically different substrate for the waterway. To me that usually it looks more like a drainage ditch than a natural stream. Using either nothing, or some low carpeting plants for that I think looks better.
 

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It looks worse than before. The creek looks artificial and the choice of pebbles looks like yellow M&Ms.

This is what I would do:
1. Black lava rocks for the banks of the creek, both sides.
2. Keep the black substrate for the creek bottom. No sand, no pebbles.
3. Place the creek close to center.
4. Replace trees with fallen logs with moss on top.
5. ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's just so frustrating trying to get it right, and for some reason it's driving me nuts trying to get it right. The first time I set it up, it looked AWESOME, then I had no idea about the tricks to keeping substrate undisturbed while filling (I now use a large paper plate floating at the water line), and TADA MESS. I had the levels I sketched out nicely filled up and angled, with lava rocks holding them back, covered in moss, the whole tank looked pretty decent, and then yeah.

I can't find a way I like it. I'm tempted to siphon most of the water out tomorrow, even if it means my tank having to recycle, and redo the substrate. I might keep the supports in but put them where they originally WERE. To be honest the hardest thing right now is working around the heater. I'm tempted to just take it out because it keeps me from angling the left side of the tank. I was originally gonna have it slightly bigger on the left not the right, but the heater got in the way lol.
 

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It's getting there. Every scape goes through an experimenting stage, it's part of the fun :).

1) I agree on the trees, keep that look as you were inspired by the forest photo and it's what you want. Do see if you can find taller ones locally.

2) +1 on replacing the red lava rocks with matching dark rocks, what you want is the bank to blend in with the substrate not stand out.

3) I would bring the stream more to the centre, with a slight bend allowing the eye to follow it..

4) Having done the above, I would actually narrow the stream a bit, and run a trickle of white sand through it. Subtle, but gives an impact.
 

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I love your picture but do realize that if you do achieve that look in your tank you will have lost a significant amount of water space with the steeply sloping sides.

Seems your problem is how to achieve those slopes with substrate. In real life the sides are held up with the tree roots and the covering plants. Even if you were to slope the substrate and add your water really carefully the substrate wouldn't stay at that slope and would gradually flatten out. Some folks add hold back walls running horizontally though the substrate with flat plastic (clear sheets from your stationary store cut into strips) would do but the slopes in the picture will take more than even that to achieve. On the steepest parts you are going to have to use more than that. I suspect you could use black plastic netting to create bags of substrate that could then be planted with a covering moss. Interspersed with black rocks.
For the creek itself you could try a number of things. White sand has been suggested, even grey or black sand. You could try something different by looking at what railroad modelers do to recreate rivers and waterfalls. They use fibre glass resin to get some very realistic looking water. Just make sure you give it plenty of time to cure properly.
Good luck with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I love your picture but do realize that if you do achieve that look in your tank you will have lost a significant amount of water space with the steeply sloping sides.

Seems your problem is how to achieve those slopes with substrate. In real life the sides are held up with the tree roots and the covering plants. Even if you were to slope the substrate and add your water really carefully the substrate wouldn't stay at that slope and would gradually flatten out. Some folks add hold back walls running horizontally though the substrate with flat plastic (clear sheets from your stationary store cut into strips) would do but the slopes in the picture will take more than even that to achieve. On the steepest parts you are going to have to use more than that. I suspect you could use black plastic netting to create bags of substrate that could then be planted with a covering moss. Interspersed with black rocks.
For the creek itself you could try a number of things. White sand has been suggested, even grey or black sand. You could try something different by looking at what railroad modelers do to recreate rivers and waterfalls. They use fibre glass resin to get some very realistic looking water. Just make sure you give it plenty of time to cure properly.
Good luck with it.
Ironically I make model railroads, but they are easier for me because you have more materials you can use due to the fact it doesn't have to be "aquarium safe". I do realize it will decrease the water space, but it is for Tiger Shrimps, so fish aren't much of an issue. I have the tank 100% draining right now. Gonna take my time today. I was wondering if you could use the resin stuff. I have a case of it downstairs... All I know is I don't have a lot of black rocks. Is it possible to try and do it with the reds at all?

College student at end of monthly budget lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Tank is pretty much as drained as I can get it with my siphon. I think I might still use the support on the right side, but maybe ditch the one on the left. I have no clue. I don't have any more moss right now, so can't cover up the red rock. I don't have anywhere around here that sells black lava rock in bulk, only red lava rocks. And the red ones were old filter media for the pond :hihi:

I have around 200 pounds worth of red lava rocks lol. 0 of black lava rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sorry picture is blurry, my hands shake, its quite annoying lol. But is where the creek is sitting now, better? I use a big hunk of driftwood to hold back the substrate on the left side, it already has moss on it too. I might go get some egg crate, though I think I seriously need at least half a bag more of substrate. Would make it easier. 1 bag is not enough lol. If I could have maybe 2 cups more of the substrate, tht would be perfect lol.


That heater is really killing me lol. I have NO clue where to put it, and without it my tank would temperature would be very very low, necessary evil.
 
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