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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I'd post up some pics of one of my current tanks, which is a first attempt at iwagumi. During the making of this tank i was also in the process of tearing down my existing 50g planted, which was as experiment with a hybrid system of sorts, dirt tank + CO2.
Anyway, the focus for this thread is the new tank build, I will start off with some images shot last week, before and after a trim. The tank specs are as follows:
Tank: 8mm Glass, 45x45x40 cm, approx 20gallon
Substrate: Hobbylit vocanic rock based substrate + hobbylit clay based substrate (poor man's ADA powersand)
Very little dirt (high iron content, low organics)
A very nice black rounded, unknown substrate sold by the general description of "soil" but a real fav of mine for its colour, size and smooth texture (I was always planning to have some cories in this tank)
Hardscape: Assortment of rocks that I collected
Flora: Echinodorus Tenellus and Vallisneria Nana
Fauna: 10x Dwarf Indian Shrimp
12x White cloud mountain minnow
6x corydoras Trilineatus (wrongly sold in LFS as C. Julii)
6x Albino Bristlenose catfish
4x whiptail catfish (Rineloricaria lanceolata)
Lighitng: 2x26W 6500k Daylight CFL lamps in a home-made mdf hood
Co2, External filter, Thermometer, small eheim power filter for water movement (recent addition)
Design intent: Create a "natural" (un-manicured) grassy look with some layering from front to back whilst maintaining a single species look. The choice of the e. tenellus and v. nana is due to the similarity in leaf structure and colour. To let the grass soften the arrangement of the rocks and their interface with the substrate.
The first few shots are the most recent, shot on 23 December 2012. here you can see the tank before and after the trim.

After the trim:

Now, on to the build journal. I hope that my methods will in part or whole provide some assistance to others who are trying to experiment with their own tanks. I will be happy to answer any reasonable questions about my methods, the success or otherwise can be judged by the first few pics.
Build Journal:
1. Setting up the tank on its plywood/foam base and adding first layer of substrate. The bar code on the white background chart paper did not bother me as I knew it would be covered by the substrate.

2. Addition of hobbylit porus substrate at the bottom. This is used as a substitute for powersand. This is approx 1/3 packet of the volcanic type and 1/3 packet of the clay base mixed together. This could have been made more potent with the addition of ADA bacter ball or similar, but I decided to give it a miss. (There is eventually going to be a second tank next to this one which will be built as an ADA tank.)

3. A little soil for long term iron release, make sure the soil is low in organics for a more manageable tank.

4. Top layer of substrate with the appropriate mounds and slopes, however I kep a bit for touching up after the rock arrangement.
Hint: An old credit card or atm is an amazing tool for forming the substrate. No need for $$$ ADA products..!!

5. My collection of rocks

6. Now for the most timeconsuming activity, the rock arrangement. Now this tank is not really a show tank, it is in my utility/fish room away from living spaces. Even then, it took me a couple of hours to get a satisfactory end result. Please plan to commence this activity when you are relaxed, and not pressed for time as it can really drive you up the wall..!!


7. Planting the e. tenellus. I gave all the plants a 2 minute 5% chlorox bath, then trimmed the roots and leaves before planting. When it comes to initial planting, the more the merrier, this not only increases the amount of living plant matter (reducing potential for algal outbreaks) but also means that in carpet like arrangments you dont have to wait ages for the plants to multiply and grow out. Note here that e. tenellus is not the fastest growing carpet plants in the best of conditions.

8. Valisneria Nana added to the background as well as filters, etc. Now the grow in phase begins.
I started dosing with Seachem Nitrogen, Phosphate and some Pot. Sulphate that I got off another hobbyist. The CO2 is at 1-1.5 bps and the photoperiod is 8 hours. for the frst week, I did daily 80% water changes, followed by 3 times a week for the next week, then twice in the week after, and weekly 75% from the fourth week onwards. Week 4 is also when I started to add shrimp and fish.

9. update pic a few weeks later

10. Finally, part shots of the tank as it was last weekend before the trim


20 Posts
Very nice indeed!! Good work!! Starting on a iwagumi myself...Ordered some HC, D. Hairgrass and some Tenellus aswell. If u have a minute maybe u could have a look and give me some pointers/opinions... Thanks
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