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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I originally planned on having a few large live plants in my 60" 120g tank (hence the huge driftwood) but it has evolved into a full blown "planted tank which is soon to have CO2, better lighting and ferts. I am about to redo the entire tank, swap substrates and replant but I am having a hard time figuring out the scape. I just don't have the ability to "see" what it will look like when it fills in. I've been just randomly throwing new aquisitions into the tank with the knowledge that I plan on redoing eventually.

I am really thinking about ditching one or both of the large pieces of wood for either smaller pieces or rock simply because as it sits the wood takes up so much planting room. I'm looking for large bunches of stem plants, vals in the back and some mid ground plants. Not really interested in a carpet.

I'd really like to see if there is someone out there that can help me design an obtainable scape for a novice like me. The tank is 26" deep and I'd like to see most of the back filled in. I prefer a mixed jungle type look but what I have now is just a mess. Any tips, help or ideas are welcome. Pics of things to try, etc. are also more than welcome.

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nice looking tank but do agree the wood is big.i started with wood and eventually removed it make room for plants this is what i ended up with.First pic is a 45 gallon second is 40 breeder.I should never take pics during the day lol
 

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Keep the Driftwood!

I disagree and would try rearranging the wood using the rule of thirds and see how it looks. Everyone has different tastes, but when deciding on a layout for my 75g I ended up deciding on the jungle look myself. Although the tanks with almost no hardscape, and all plants do look good, they kinda all look the same. Here is my 75 on day 7 with quite a bit of driftwood. I am starting to update my journal on here so have more recent pics there as well.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
nice looking tank but do agree the wood is big.i started with wood and eventually removed it make room for plants this is what i ended up with.First pic is a 45 gallon second is 40 breeder.I should never take pics during the day lol
That's how I feel, too much ambient light and it's impossible for me to get a shot without a door or window reflection.

Both of your tanks is essentially what I would like to do. I'm planning on swapping the substrate to black and painting the background black as well. I do like some hardscape but prefer it to be minimal.

I disagree and would try rearranging the wood using the rule of thirds and see how it looks. Everyone has different tastes, but when deciding on a layout for my 75g I ended up deciding on the jungle look myself. Although the tanks with almost no hardscape, and all plants do look good, they kinda all look the same. Here is my 75 on day 7 with quite a bit of driftwood. I am starting to update my journal on here so have more recent pics there as well.

I do like your tank. The pic I posted doesn't really represent the size of the piece on the left. The base nearly extends the full depth of the tank and takes up a huge amount of real-estate. It's literally in there the only way it fits with enough room for my mag cleaner to clear.
 

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My suggestion is to forget what you have right now and start looking at pictures of other tanks. Save copies of the designs you like. Eventually, you'll have a collection of designs you like which will give you some idea of your personal taste in design.

That also then gives you a number of examples of your preferred design. Look at the examples closely to see what you like about them. Is it the driftwood size, shape, location? Plant colors? Does it resemble a design found in nature? What's the feel for the design? Warm, controlled, freeform, what? Just see what those designs have in common that you tend to like.

Now you have some idea of the specific features in a design that you like. You can then use that to create your own design. Or you can outright copy someone else's design (trust me, your tank will be different even if you try to copy another tank's design).

The solution is to figure out what you like. Other people can tell you what they like (large driftwood, small driftwood, no driftwood, driftwood only on the 2/3rds mark, driftwood in the corner, tall driftwood, fat driftwood, and on and on and on). But that doesn't help you figure out what you like. You got into this hobby for a reason. There was something that caught your eye. Figure out what that is, study it, and then try to do it in your own tanks. Then you will thoroughly enjoy your tanks because they will reflect your own personal taste.
 
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Have you considered narrower but tall driftwood? Branches give lots of surface area for planting on wood without hogging up all the substrate. And stem plants growing through the spaces between branching wood look really nice in a jungle tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My suggestion is to forget what you have right now and start looking at pictures of other tanks. Save copies of the designs you like. Eventually, you'll have a collection of designs you like which will give you some idea of your personal taste in design.

That also then gives you a number of examples of your preferred design. Look at the examples closely to see what you like about them. Is it the driftwood size, shape, location? Plant colors? Does it resemble a design found in nature? What's the feel for the design? Warm, controlled, freeform, what? Just see what those designs have in common that you tend to like.

Now you have some idea of the specific features in a design that you like. You can then use that to create your own design. Or you can outright copy someone else's design (trust me, your tank will be different even if you try to copy another tank's design).

The solution is to figure out what you like. Other people can tell you what they like (large driftwood, small driftwood, no driftwood, driftwood only on the 2/3rds mark, driftwood in the corner, tall driftwood, fat driftwood, and on and on and on). But that doesn't help you figure out what you like. You got into this hobby for a reason. There was something that caught your eye. Figure out what that is, study it, and then try to do it in your own tanks. Then you will thoroughly enjoy your tanks because they will reflect your own personal taste.
I totally agree and I have been looking and looking at tanks trying to figure out the types of scapes I like. Unfortunately "copying" someone's tank seems to be more difficult for me vs. some people simply because I am not really sure how to start it to end up looking like I want. There is definately an art to seeing the scape before it grows in.

Have you considered narrower but tall driftwood? Branches give lots of surface area for planting on wood without hogging up all the substrate. And stem plants growing through the spaces between branching wood look really nice in a jungle tank.
Pretty much what I am looking at if I use any wood at all. I agree with what you are saying 100%. The bases are so wide on these pieces I really can't have anything near them.
 

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The wood is the right size for this tank, the trick will be to make it work.
Perhaps just one of them, and a little closer to the middle. Not centered, though.

When you take things apart try turning the wood around, upside down... It may look good in some other orientation.

Ditto the suggestion above. There are sites with Aquatic Gardener contests and planted tank contests and so on. Look at some of the award winning tanks and see what you like. They will pretty much all have some focal point. Usually just one main focal point. The larger ones may have a secondary focal point that is not the same size as the main one.

In your current tank it looks like it was set up as a mirror image. The 2 pieces of wood are equally spaced from the middle and too alike.
Since you want less hardscape, remove one of the driftwoods.
I like the larger of the two. I like the way it reaches out.
 

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No but you can grow on wood. Moss, Anubias, Bolbitus, Buces, Java ferns are terrific plants that anchor to wood and stone. Moss and Anubias especially do great shaded by other plants and would add a lot of depth to your scape.

Use large wood with large tank and the usual larger plants. Skinny branches look terrific with plants with bitty leaves but will just tear sword and crypt leaves up and easily just look fussy.

I like your jungly tank, mostly it needs to grow in. I'd let the water sprite have the right rear corner and move the stems there somewhere else though. Decide which small leaved stem plant you like and likes you best and just use that one. Same for the long leaved plants, chose one and rehome the rest. Then grow them in big clumps/rows. Even Dutch tanks have strict rules about how many plant species are allowed. I just plain lose plants if groups aren't large enough too! Not having large enough groups and too many conflicting same shaped plants can make a tank look chaotic. Think, vals AND willow hygro AND C. balansae, too much long and skinny with the added issue of leaves held at slightly different angles.

If you want some listening as well as all the reading you've been doing check out ScapeFu, an aquascaping podcast. There are over 50 episodes now to listen to.
 

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I totally agree and I have been looking and looking at tanks trying to figure out the types of scapes I like. Unfortunately "copying" someone's tank seems to be more difficult for me vs. some people simply because I am not really sure how to start it to end up looking like I want. There is definately an art to seeing the scape before it grows in.
If you find a scape you like, then show a picture of it and ask for help in drawing a blueprint of the design. It doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to have the basic layout drawn in a top-down fashion. Then you just plug in the plants in the general area outlined by the blueprint and enjoy watching it grow in. As it grows, you can then make adjustments.

And remember, nothing in your tank will ever be stagnant due to the constant plant growth. So you will always be fiddling with it (trimming, removing excess babies, moving plants around, etc). So you don't have to get it 'right' in the very beginning. You get to change things around until it finally looks the way you want.
 

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I'm more interested in aquatic plants than drift wood. But I think your aquascape looks very nice. I agree with other posters who think it just needs to grow in more.

I have a 150 gallon long tank that's only 20 inches high. The large "architectural" features are a small thick forest of vallisneria (asiatica) about 2.5 feet from one end and a patch of cryptocoryne (deep chocolate color) planted a couple of feet away for balance. The rest of the tank is a carpet of pygmy amazon chain sword, a little bit of nesea and a few strands of anacharis, there are also several small patches of dwarf hair grass, too. But the real features of the tank are the open areas of sand substrate where pygmy cories gather and all the open water for schools of lambchop and chili rasbporas to shoal. If they ever feel threatened they have a nice thicket of vals or a shorter jungle of cryps to hide in. The cryps are getting a bit out of hand and I've recently whacked them back, removing about half of them.

I like big aquariums with nano-sized fish. My next favorite type of aquarium is one that is heavily overgrown; a tank where plants have gotten out of hand. My out door flower gardens are pretty much the same. Rather than perfect, tidy rows of plants I maintain a lush, overgrown English country style of garden, letting annuals go to seed and/or winter over under lots of mulch. I haven't bought typical annuals for many years. They just reseed true-to-type every year. But I'm also certain that's because I don't fuss over them. I just cut back what needs cutting back in early spring. I sort of have the same attitude about planted tanks. I let them grow to a point where the work is cutting back rather than worry about growing more.

Regardless, good luck with redesiging your current tank. Personally, I think it looks just great the way it is. :)
 

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You mentioned you are looking for a jungle mix, are you talking about having a dutch aquascape?

Your driftwood pieces are actually very nice, the problem i'm seeing is your scaling ratio with driftwood versus rocks/plants. Part of the problem is the plant haven't grown out enough or you haven't been able to propagate them enough. I could possibly see a triangle layout being utlitize with your hardscapes. But with a 120 gallon tank, it's hard to do a golden ratio or having a focal point. So creating a triangle in each corner or maybe even an island. Check out 3rd rock - Genesis for an idea of a larger scale.

Here is a typical triangle golden ratio aquascape - although it's only about 60 gallons, it shows you the right scale with the plants and rocks to the driftwood.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74I0RFkjcMs
 

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Another thing to remember is that wood can always be cut down in size. I had a huge piece of wood in my 66 gallon tank, and decided it was just taking up too much room, so I cut it in half. That made all the difference in the world. I had enough left to provide a little cave and wood for my bristlenoses, but not so big that it took up a lot of real estate in the tank.
 

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Also don't underestimate the power of a very steep slope front-to-back. This adds SOOOOOO much depth its unreal. Every time I make a new tank my slope gets steeper... and then I realize I should have adulterated it even more so.

The major difference in my mind from DOOGY's tank and your tank (besides the beautiful colors and plants for sure), is the amount of depth he has. This is not only in plant selection/placement, but also in slope (feel free to comment on this). When you think you've sloped enough, slope some more :)

This can also help hide some of the massiveness of the drift wood by letting it "break through" from underneath the substrate.


Just thoughts of what I am focusing on right now :) :) :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the help everyone. I am about to venture into this swap and while I'm looking forward to getting it like the way I want I'm also dreading what it is going to take lol.

I am looking at potentially cutting the larger piece down as suggested to keep the longer "branches" but not have such a large foot print. At the same time I will most likely ditch the other piece at the same time. I am planning on having a deeper/sloped substrate this time also, that is another thing I missed last time since I wasn't planning on having many plants.

Lots of good suggestions here, I am trying to gather a little more equipment before I break everything down and move things. Now just to figure out how I want the layout, which plants I want and how to keep everything alive while I move it.
 

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I think you got some good advice. With those Angels you'll probably want a decent amount of open swimming space, so you'll probably not want anything too large an tall. Maybe one large piece with alot of plant around it and keep the rest low growers, but there are alot of ways to go. The suggestion to look at other tanks is always a good one, but keep the Angels in mind.
 

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I've been down this same road recently, and am trying to balance the aquascape with fish. Kind of a fish tank with plants, instead of planted tank with fish. I keep Rainbows, so they need room to swim.

My tank is same exact size as yours, and I recently replaced my substrate with Black Diamond. My basic plan has been taller plants in the back, lower plants in the front, and some rocks to kind of break things up. Nothing like the spectacular dutch tanks on this site, but good enough for me.

And like others have said, it's always a work in progress. Here's where I am at now, but as always subject to change. Good luck to you and keep posting updates. Curious to see what you do, as I am always looking for ideas as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I've been down this same road recently, and am trying to balance the aquascape with fish. Kind of a fish tank with plants, instead of planted tank with fish. I keep Rainbows, so they need room to swim.

My tank is same exact size as yours, and I recently replaced my substrate with Black Diamond. My basic plan has been taller plants in the back, lower plants in the front, and some rocks to kind of break things up. Nothing like the spectacular dutch tanks on this site, but good enough for me.

And like others have said, it's always a work in progress. Here's where I am at now, but as always subject to change. Good luck to you and keep posting updates. Curious to see what you do, as I am always looking for ideas as well.
Very nice tank, I do like the dimensions of the 60" 120g....until I look for lights lol.
 

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Very nice tank, I do like the dimensions of the 60" 120g....until I look for lights lol.
Yeah I went with the 48" lights. I was finding very little selection of 60" bulbs.

It works out fine, I just put lower light plants at the edges, higher light plants more toward the middle. I really don't notice any drop off, but I am sure a par meter would show otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah I went with the 48" lights. I was finding very little selection of 60" bulbs.

It works out fine, I just put lower light plants at the edges, higher light plants more toward the middle. I really don't notice any drop off, but I am sure a par meter would show otherwise.
I'm currently using a 60" beamswork light which has been good but I ordered a 48" BML light before they shut down, still waiting on it. I would have gone 60" BML but it will need to be hung above an open top canopy and I was worried about spillage over the outside. Hoping the 48" will be ok like yours.
 
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