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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Mr Aqua 12G (3ft Bookshelf - 90 x 21 x 24cm - 45litres~)
UP Aqua Pro Z LED
Eheim 2217
Hydor ETH 200w

Tunze CO2 Regulator
KegKing 2.6kg Cylinder
Max Mix CO2 Reactor (Medium)
Cal Aqua Labs Lily-pipes (F2 Outflow and X1 Nano Inflow)

Substrate and Flora
CAL Black Earth
Mr. Aqua Soil (Used as foundation for the slope)
ADA Decorative Sand (Mekong)
Seiryu Stones

Cuba (Hemianthus Callitrichoides)
Pearl Weed (Hemianthus Micranthemoides)
Utricularia Graminifolia

Mini Glosso (Elatine Hydropiper)
Mini Hydrocotyle (Hydrocotyle Tripartita)
Mini Vietnam (Limnophila sp. Mini)
Mini Pellia (Riccardia Chamedryfolia)

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31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Our experience with our first scape was nothing short of eventful!
The equipment for the most part will not be changed.
Although I was doubtful at first about the lighting; it has proved that it can establish a healthy HC carpet.
The 2217 on full power just falls short of the opposite end of the tank but we had not noticed any stunted growth or direct algae issues resulting from this.

The biggest change in this new journey would be the substrate and plant selection.
HC proved to be a very tedious plant to work with once established. Frequent trimming was required and often followed by aggressive algae attacks.
ADA Amazonia unfortunately degraded quite quickly for us. I'm assuming because of the prolonged DSM (3 months) and without any substrate additives; the nutrients would have dried up prematurely causing the HC to thin out and eventually uproot. This also caused patches/pockets to develop which caused an excessive and unsightly build up of surface scum daily.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

The New Substrate
The foundation for the stones and slopes were achieved with Mr. Aqua Soil and capped off with CAL Black Earth.
Out of the bag it's already a much finer, cleaner and robust soil compared to Amazonia. However with the steep angle of the slopes, this meant the harder substrate would trickle down with the slightest touch.

Rookie Mistake #1
I hastily decided to make use of old sand that was salvaged from a Tanganyikan tank I had many years ago before checking if it was neutral. For one who patiently waited 3 months during a DSM; this did not make any sense *sighs*. Painstakingly I removed it all again and replaced it later with some cosmetic sand which eventually looked a lot more natural and warmer.

HC ain't got nothing on Mini Glosso
I thought it was hard planting HC... but boy is Mini Glosso a piece of work. Due to it's smaller form; it needed to be tediously separated into little plantlets rather than clumps. Combine this with the 'slip and slide' substrate and you have formulated the recipe for a sore back.

Mini Vietnam is a very beautiful and intricate plant and we hope it matures well. It still has quite a big footprint for a tank this size; but from the distant photos it seems to work okay.

This is also our first time with mosses and we are looking forward to seeing how the Mini Pellia develops in the shadier areas of the tank.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

No DSM this time. Woohoo!
Although it was effective in establishing strong roots and reducing the chance of an algae outbreak; we just don't have the patience for it this time around.
In our experience, we noticed substantially more growth in the plants whilst submersed and under CO2 injection.

Flooded without a drip line; directly onto a plate laying on the sand. The substrate had no leeching at all... none, zilch! Tank was visibly clear from the get go and 30 mins after the filter was switched on it was crystal clear! Surprisingly none of the plants were uprooted as well. Another win for the substrate!

40° Incline
This is the amount of space we have to work with in this tank... A whole 21cm.

Next Steps
More UG will be required to fill in the background and also some HC for the foreground as we couldn't salvage much from the previous scape. We will also be looking for some Mini Fissidens to work into the stones.

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This thread is a great inspiration for my next tank - the layout is absolutely stunning! I just re-entered the hobby after many years of absence (this is my first post on this board), and I just set up a 40G Breeder sized tank. I'm just cycling the tank and I haven't even purchased the lights yet.

Interestingly enough, for my 40 gallon tank I'm thinking about purchasing the UP Aqua Pro Z light as you are using in your setup. From using Google, I see that this light is used more prevalently in Australia than it is here in California where I live. However, my main LFS owner recommended it, says it's very good (and he's selling it for US $130, which I think is a good price from a store). You said you had reservations about using the light for this setup, I'd be curious to know what they were. I'm sure it would be strong enough for such a small tank, but perhaps not for my 40G? I'm thinking that if it doesn't work for my 40G, I can use it for my 12G long. You got the 36 inch long version of the Aqua Pro Z, right? To my knowledge the 12G Long is 35.4" inches long, so it should work.

Interesting also to read about your experience with ADA Amazonia. Someone recommended it to me for my 40G setup. After researching it online, I decided to go with a layer of Eco Complete topped with a fine silica based sand that looks similar to what you're using in your setup. First I felt the ADA Amazonia was to expensive, and the LFS owner I mentioned (whom is very knowledgeable) recommended strongly against it due to the fact that it disintegrates.

Again, beautiful tank and great job. It's easy to see you're a designer by day, aquarist by night!

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Week 2
It's been quite an easy week with no sign of diatoms or any concerning issues. Slight amount of green algae on the rocks which means I didn't scrub hard enough (but will take care of it with a toothbrush). The slope has held out quite well too *touch wood*.


Mini Vietnam
Have already trimmed this once! The replanted trimmings are growing exceptionally well and looking healthy. The original stems however aren't faring too well :S

UG, HC and Hydocotyle
Growth is good. UG is yet to creep.

Mini Pellia wasn't in the best shape but it is slowly taking off.
Recieved a bit of "Mini Fissidens" from a friend but I have a slight inkling that it might be regular US Fissidens from the size of it. :eek:

A little mixed. Some of the stems look bruised and are melting. However it is creeping and those plantlets look healthy :)

Mini Glosso
Leaves are yellowing and it looks like it's not going to make it. :cry:

The week ahead
Will be swapping out my lily pipe for a 'Jet Type' which will not only look less overpowering; but also increase flow and circulation around the opposite end of the tank.

An order with AG will be made and we'll start EI Dosing which hopefully will bring back the glosso... but I doubt it! And I can't believe this, but I'll probably order another serving of HC as well just to speed things up a little.

Will also place through an order for an 'Eheim Skim 350' which will take care of current and all future surface scum! HURRAH :whip:

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Week 5

This scape is really testing our patience
It's just ticked over 5 weeks now and the maintenance required to date has been excruciating!

The Challenges

Week 3:
- Additional dosing of Phosphorus
- 75% water changes daily over 4 days
GSA seems to have slowed down. Diatoms remain unfazed.

Week 4:
- 3 day blackout which cleared a good 50% of the GSA and Diatoms.
- Additional Phosphorus is no longer dosed.
No new GSA growth on glass. Diatoms unfortunately returned.

Week 5:
- Introduced a pair of Ottos last week which work fast to clear diatoms off the rocks.
GSA now located mainly on rocks. Unfortunately the Diatoms are returning to the spots just as quickly as they are eaten.

EI Ferts daily and a top-up every second day
Weekly 75% water change with tap water, stems trimmed and replanted

Next Step
Obtained 40 litres of RO Water today that was guaranteed to be silicate free.
Will do another 75% water change with it on Tuesday and top up with it from now on too.
This will hopefully determine if the tap water was indeed to blame for the prolonged diatom lifecycle.

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Week 8
Just a quick update before a proper trim, clean and shoot this weekend.

The Decline of Diatoms:
2 weeks of water changes with RO water rid it completely. Hurrah!
I really wish we could have done it sooner.

Tank is Finally Maturing:
The mosses are getting quite bushy now and starting to get brighter in colour.
Stem plants are responding extremely well to trimming and replanting too.
HC is also starting to creep now (after 7 weeks of just sitting there)

Current Challenges
Have yet to re-introduce additional phosphate after the Diatoms phased out; so GSA is getting a little rampant.
BBA is also quite vicious at the moment but I'm treating section by section slowly with excel and it seems to be working.
You can tell the rocks on the left side is cleaner than the right.
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