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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok, so I had it with the mixed communities. I've started to prefer a more natural biotope aquarium. With the introduction of wild apistos a few months ago, I decided they deserve a more natural-looking habitat.

The stats:
Aquarium: 29-Gallon
Fish: 6 Glowlight Tetras, 1 Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish, 1 Apistogramma cacatuoides pair, 1 Albino Hi-Fin Corydoras Catfish
Lighting: 80 watts; 2 AGA florescent hoods, one single (20 watt) and one twin-tube (60 watt)
Substrate: 2 bags of Seachem Original Flourite
Extras: Marineland Submersible 100 watt heater, DIY CO2 System
Plants: Echinodorus amazonicus, Mayaca fluviatilis, Vallisneria, Alternanthera reineckii (old A. reineckii died, will add more at some point), Microsorum pteropus, Rotala indica, Echinodorus parviflorus
Decorations: 3 pieces of driftwood, 1 Terracotta pot (will add one more at some point)

Mind you, there is algae on the plants due to a previous inbalance of nutrients, but I don't have my main filter on the tank and I haven't bothered to "dust clean" the tank yet (waiting till the DIY CO2 is straightened out).


So this is from last December, I changed it since then, and then again, but here's the before:


AFTER... Algae on the back is evident, but believe me, it was a LOT worse before LOL. Four Amazon swords in the back, two dwarf swords in the left front with vals behind them, and cambodia (I think) in the off-center right, rotala indica in the far right front, and will attack java fern to far right driftwood:
Full tank


Right side


Angled


DIY CO2 Reactor... Temporary connector between chamber and powerhead out-take


Front light only (20 watts)


Right scape


Close up of previously noted temporary DIY connector


I'm loading more pictures of the temporary holding tank later, but here's Hyphen (my cory) in the holding tank. The tank appear purple since it had a purple hood (which doesn't work) so I put the 10-gallon's hood on top for a cool color affect:


And a few of the unplanted 20-gallon:




Taken in slit between filter motor and filter media housing - notice the black shadow




Still learning how to use the camera. Any tips are appreciated :)!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
94 VIEWS AND NO COMMENTS? Com'mon people :tongue:!

What do you guys think of the overall scape (ignore the algae)? There's brand new growth on the Mayaca fluviatilis :). DIY CO2 is working really well. Can't wait to see those swords grow!
 

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Its a good start amazon sword grows good in flourite. I would slope the flourite from back to front. I would add a background and move the center drift wood to the right with the other small one. Add an elbow to your reactor in order to move the filter against one corner. Add a lot more plants and group the D. sword in clusters of three. In nature things appear balanced in odd numbers not even. Your scape will look more natural.
 

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Here are some hopefully constructive criticisms.

You need a background.
Your tank looks empty. Get more plants. Some vals along the back. Those swords will look nice once they grow up.
That is some hideous looking hardware in there. Can you hide it any better? If you can afford it, get a canister filter (XP1) and then put your co2 reactor in line. Much cleaner looking set up.

Good start, just attend to the details now.

I am just starting a similar tank called 'Americanita' centered around Bolivian Rams, Curviceps, and American Flag Fish. We have the same swords. Here is a pic.

EDIT: Marimo ninja'd me.
 

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In nature things appear balanced in odd numbers not even. Your scape will look more natural.
It is 'natural' for rocks to pile in odd numbers? c'mon man, think about that. It is just as probably that rocks/wood/whatever occur in odd as in even numbers. Everyone seems to think that around here ('rule of thirds' misunderstood?), and some design schools adhere to it. This of course, has nothing to do with what is natural, but with what (some) humans find appealing. I have seen pretty rock piles in groups of 2,4,6.....

Upshot: Go with what looks nice. Forget the numbers.
 

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Goldfish look at Mac's tank it is beutiful. You can use a co2 ladder like Mac they are $15 and can be hidden realy easy. or get the whole Nutrafin system for $25 and use yeast/sugar they work really good. Amazons don't need too much co2 in my experience anyway.
 

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True dat Mac I totally agree, but it is very difficult to scape in even numbers. At least in my experience. I usually play around with the hard scape without thinking of any rules until I think it looks good, but it usually ends up being groups of odd number.
 

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Its a good start! I agree....you should get a background and more plants! It looks too empty for me. ;) (If you saw my tanks you'd know I like to pack the plants in....).

You may need more light for the Mayaca....IME it likes high light and really looks its best in higher light.

Do you dose any fertilizers? Your swords look like they are missing some nutrients.
 

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You need many more plants. And healthier ones. The Swap N' Shop has good deals all the time.

Don't get a Hagen CO2 ladder. Those are made for smaller tanks. Get one designed for your size tank. And, try to invest in a pressurized unit. It makes things so much easier.

80 watts should be plenty. The last thing you need at this stage is more light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The DIY reactor is hideous, I agree. I think it looks like a gun or an underwater torpedo LOL. I actually removed the powerhead (since it was SOOOO darn ugly) and now just have the gravel vacuum head helping the air line float at an angle so I get a better release of CO2. It's so weird to watch - little tiny tiny bubbles come up less than every second. And if you shake the producer bottle, it's just like an air stone (really heavy stream). I plan to get a CO2 ladder at some point. I might get a canister filter if I can find a cheap one.

Yes, I do need a background. Haven't gotten around to purchasing one. I'm used to making them out of paper for my smaller tanks, so the whole pasting process of vinyl backgrounds baffles me. I heard you can use vinegar and then you press any air bubbles out with a credit card?

The plants have quite a rough past. I got them when I thought I'd make a DIY CO2 system, which ended up being put off for about 3 months... BSA took over the leaves. When I replanted, I actually could peel a "leaf" off the leaves of BSA. Disgusting? You bet! If they don't grow within a month or two, I might get new plants. Just wanna see how it goes. I dose once a month with Tetra FloraGro. What do you think about dosing with Flourish Excel?

But why would I need more light? I have about 2.5 watts per gallon. I thought that was a good, average amount for growing a nice number of plants?

I was going for a trailing/optical center kinda technique with the hard scape. The piece on the far left (which is carved stone) was the cheapest root-like driftwood I could find. Under all the aging it's a beautiful orangy color with dark brown splashes. What plants do you think I should add? I was thinking about some stargrass to put behind the little sword in the left front. I know it grows big, so I was thinking of trimming it to eventually plant around the left driftwood to making it look like the plants were sloping to engulf it, just like a root sloping into the water.
 

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star grass grows as big as you let it. I use it as a mid ground. As I said above, vals would be a good choice.

2.5wpg is fine.

It is best not to shake your co2 bottles. steady reaction is better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well I do have some baby vals now that are growing in the tank, but I am trying to keep most of my plants from South America.

Any other suggestions on plants?
 

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Plants: Hygrophila pantanal wavy if you can find it. Any Anubias. Brazilian pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala), Myriophyllum elantoides, Bacopas, Stargrass (Heteranthera zosterifolia...

BTW, Rotal indica is Asian, technically.

Camera tip. Room lights out and use a tripod if one's available. Good luck!
 

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I agree it needs more plants, but once those swords start taking off, they will stuff a 29gl to the max if you let them. Some of those plants look to be on their last leg, forum members here send out high quality plants usually in large quantities, look for "trim time" threads in the swap and shop. You have plenty of light, all you need now is pressurized CO2 to get the most out of your light.

I have to admire any S.American tank, I do the same given the parameters of my local water, now using reconstituted RO/DI. Some of your plants aren't S.American as pointed out, but I think you know that. I've reached a point where there are certain non region specific plants I will use as an exception, purely based on my own aesthetic reasoning, like Val nana rather than V.americana, it's more pleasing to my eye and a tank with any type of val is going to look S.American if the rest of the theme is there. In all actuality, if our SA tanks were true to most of the Amazon biotopes, we'd have an ugly tank full of mud and dead leaves with a few sticks laying around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The rotala indica was from atleast 5 months ago when I had bought some live plants to fill in my 10-gallon (I have a picture somewhere...). I know it's techinically isn't South American, but my 29-gallon is the only tank with sufficient light to grow it. ROTFL I had no clue vals were considered South American. I thought they were an introduced, but not naturally occuring species.

I might go this weekend to get a few buddies for my betta, and I'll look to see if they have any good deals on plants.
 
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