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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all, I am a vivarium-ist who decided to try my hand at fish and planted tanks. Thought I would post some pics of my first hardscape. It's an 11.4 gallon tank with ADA Amazonia, and I plan to plant it fairly heavily with carpeting plants up front, a lot of epiphytes on the driftwood and stems in the back. Hope to stock it with tetra and/or rasbora, shrimp and corys. Low tech, so no CO2 and I have an Oase filtosmart 100 on the way.

Would love y'all's feedback on the hardscape/setup and any plant recommendations! Be gentle, I'm a noob...
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Welcome to the aquarium side 馃榿馃憤 just from personal experience- carpeting plants are difficult to impossible in low tech settings. There are plants that can be used on place of true carpeting plants that give a similar look but don't fill in the same and take longer than high tech. Mosses can be trained to look like carpets and they've done well for me giving the looks of ground cover in low tech/ no tech settings. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to the aquarium side 馃榿馃憤 just from personal experience- carpeting plants are difficult to impossible in low tech settings. There are plants that can be used on place of true carpeting plants that give a similar look but don't fill in the same and take longer than high tech. Mosses can be trained to look like carpets and they've done well for me giving the looks of ground cover in low tech/ no tech settings. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for the feedback. I have heard the same thing about carpeting plants in low tech, but I've heard Eleocharis (parvula or mini) can grow well (if slowly), so thinking about trying that.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. I have heard the same thing about carpeting plants in low tech, but I've heard Eleocharis (parvula or mini) can grow well (if slowly), so thinking about trying that.
I'm contemplating trying e pusilla in low tech as when I neglected my co2 in my cube start up it still grew and carpeted without co2 and under moderate lighting. I've had no luck with mini or parvula in low tech personally.
 

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Really nice scape you have done btw. I would use Java fern and anubias on the wood and crypt wendetti in the foreground. Good luck on your first aquarium!
 

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Welcome! You asked for input on your aquascape so here goes. The tiny branches don't really fit the tank with the larger pieces in there. On top of that, they're going to be a PITA to work around, so I'd suggest taking them out. Also, be prepared for the small rocks you've spread out to get fully covered by carpeting plants. It looks good now, but they're going to get in the way, get covered up, and get moved around when thinning the carpet. You'll be better off removing them too.

The larger of the small stones will be excellent to attach epiphytes to so you can put them in places you want them, but can't tie down.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to seeing this tank over time and watching your journey in planted aquaria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Really nice scape you have done btw. I would use Java fern and anubias on the wood and crypt wendetti in the foreground. Good luck on your first aquarium!
Thanks! Definitely planning on some anubias and crypts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Welcome! You asked for input on your aquascape so here goes. The tiny branches don't really fit the tank with the larger pieces in there. On top of that, they're going to be a PITA to work around, so I'd suggest taking them out. Also, be prepared for the small rocks you've spread out to get fully covered by carpeting plants. It looks good now, but they're going to get in the way, get covered up, and get moved around when thinning the carpet. You'll be better off removing them too.

The larger of the small stones will be excellent to attach epiphytes to so you can put them in places you want them, but can't tie down.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to seeing this tank over time and watching your journey in planted aquaria.
I didn't think about how difficult it might be to plant around the twigs...good call. They're already glued in place but I suppose I may end up having to remove then if planting is too impossible. As far as the gravel, I see what you're saying but honestly I'm ok with it being moved around by plants. It's randomly scattered as it is and I think it adds some good texture and scale. I guess lesson #1 is think about planting before You scape, not after. :cool:
 

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Noice hardscape..wish I was good at scaping too


I would go lightly on pebbles..they are PITA to rearrange and stuff.
If you choose carpeting plants for foreground then really get rid of them and just have some near larger stones.


Also most rocks will leech calcium, magnesium and carbonates into water column.
Ca and Mg don't matter that much, but too much carbonates will have significant effects....mostly negatively on plants.
Usually it's not much problem unless you really go crazy on rocks or keep sensitive plants.


This is what I recommend.
For background Myriophyllum species and Bacopa caroliniana are my usual choice for low-tech.
Hemianthus micranthemoides also does well at low tech.

For midground small Cryptocoryne species are good option.
Pogostemon helferi and Staurogyne repens can work.
Few stems at transition points between carpets and stems. Without these stem bushes tend to look like cliffs but you have hardscape so..not completely necessary.

For carpet try Hydrocotyle tripartita. This is more of a 'cushion' then carpet but it can be done low tech.
It can grow all over the place so you might want it to cover some lower woods or rocks for more "natural" feel.

I strongly recommend Bucephalandras. Just get cheap ones. They do great under low tech as epiphytes and often gives unique texture.
Also I find buces to be more resistant to algae then anubias in general.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Noice hardscape..wish I was good at scaping too


I would go lightly on pebbles..they are PITA to rearrange and stuff.
If you choose carpeting plants for foreground then really get rid of them and just have some near larger stones.


Also most rocks will leech calcium, magnesium and carbonates into water column.
Ca and Mg don't matter that much, but too much carbonates will have significant effects....mostly negatively on plants.
Usually it's not much problem unless you really go crazy on rocks or keep sensitive plants.


This is what I recommend.
For background Myriophyllum species and Bacopa caroliniana are my usual choice for low-tech.
Hemianthus micranthemoides also does well at low tech.

For midground small Cryptocoryne species are good option.
Pogostemon helferi and Staurogyne repens can work.
Few stems at transition points between carpets and stems. Without these stem bushes tend to look like cliffs but you have hardscape so..not completely necessary.

For carpet try Hydrocotyle tripartita. This is more of a 'cushion' then carpet but it can be done low tech.
It can grow all over the place so you might want it to cover some lower woods or rocks for more "natural" feel.

I strongly recommend Bucephalandras. Just get cheap ones. They do great under low tech as epiphytes and often gives unique texture.
Also I find buces to be more resistant to algae then anubias in general.
This is awesome, I am going to look at all of these. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
And the finished product! (Minus critters). Went with:

Eleocharis belem
Java fern - black forest
Anubias nana patite
Anubias barteri
Bucephelandra theia
Bacopa caroliniana
Ludwigia repens
Rotala h'ra

Added seachem purigen and holy cow what a difference it makes with water clarity. Will update here as everything acclimates.

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Noice.

Looks like most of stems are emersed grown. Just wait about a week or two till they grow new submersed leaves.
After that trim and throw away bottom emersed grown part and replant tops. They will never turn into submersed growth.

If you want denser bush you could cut stems in half and replant. Cut stems will grow 2 new submersed shoots. So you effectively triple the yield. I recommend this for rotala. They are extremely resistant to overcrowding and able to handle very dense bush. Pick 2~3 stems at once with tweezers and plant them at once to make dense bush.

Btw h'ra needs CO2 and nitrate limitation to show deep red. It might turn yellow or orange..but just don't expect much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Noice.

Looks like most of stems are emersed grown. Just wait about a week or two till they grow new submersed leaves.
After that trim and throw away bottom emersed grown part and replant tops. They will never turn into submersed growth.

If you want denser bush you could cut stems in half and replant. Cut stems will grow 2 new submersed shoots. So you effectively triple the yield. I recommend this for rotala. They are extremely resistant to overcrowding and able to handle very dense bush. Pick 2~3 stems at once with tweezers and plant them at once to make dense bush.

Btw h'ra needs CO2 and nitrate limitation to show deep red. It might turn yellow or orange..but just don't expect much.
Good to know, thanks! So how can you tell the stems are emersed grown? I got them from Buce Plant and can't find anywhere on their site whether they grow their stems emersed or submersed. I will say, the rotala h'ra came to me in not so great condition, so I am hoping they make it. Sounds like if I chop them in half and let them regrow that might help. The ludwigia is in decent shape though. To be honest I am terrified to pull them out and replant because it took me forever to get them planted in the first place, ha! I guess I could use more practice with the technique...

And good to know about the h'ra...I knew it might not be great without CO2 which is why I only got one bunch to try out.
 

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Good to know, thanks! So how can you tell the stems are emersed grown? I got them from Buce Plant and can't find anywhere on their site whether they grow their stems emersed or submersed. I will say, the rotala h'ra came to me in not so great condition, so I am hoping they make it. Sounds like if I chop them in half and let them regrow that might help. The ludwigia is in decent shape though. To be honest I am terrified to pull them out and replant because it took me forever to get them planted in the first place, ha! I guess I could use more practice with the technique...

And good to know about the h'ra...I knew it might not be great without CO2 which is why I only got one bunch to try out.
Emersed leaves look different. They also kinda feel different as well.
For example, emersed leaf of Rotala rotundifolia is round as its name suggest (Rotund-round + folia-leaf), while submersed leaf is oblong.

As for planting technique you can just plant in the dry soil. No floating so much easier.
You can plant deep as long as top portion is exposed. Use tweezers.
Once you have bit of practice it gets easier..
 

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Havent read the whole thread, but based on the first post, just a warning if you decide to go with corys as livestock. They will level out your substrate and eliminate the backslope faster than you can blink.

If you have a flat substrate layer like sand they are fine, but for any type of sloped scape like the one you have, they will flatten out the look and really detract from what you're going for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Havent read the whole thread, but based on the first post, just a warning if you decide to go with corys as livestock. They will level out your substrate and eliminate the backslope faster than you can blink.

If you have a flat substrate layer like sand they are fine, but for any type of sloped scape like the one you have, they will flatten out the look and really detract from what you're going for.
Good to know. What fish would you recommend for waste/algae control?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Emersed leaves look different. They also kinda feel different as well.
For example, emersed leaf of Rotala rotundifolia is round as its name suggest (Rotund-round + folia-leaf), while submersed leaf is oblong.

As for planting technique you can just plant in the dry soil. No floating so much easier.
You can plant deep as long as top portion is exposed. Use tweezers.
Once you have bit of practice it gets easier..
Does the ludwigia (right side) and bacopa (left side) look emersed-grown to you as well? Or just the rotala?
 

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Good to know. What fish would you recommend for waste/algae control?
The trifecta of algae waste control is Amano Shrimp, Otocinclus, and Clithon Corona Snails (aka horned nerites). If you have those three would can do a pretty decent job of combatting just about every type of algae and eliminate waste buildup at the bottom of your tank. Generally you should have 1 Amano/5 liters, 1 oto/15 liters, and 1 snail/5 liters. So fo you're 11.4 gallon aka 45 liter you'd be looking at 9ish amanos, 3 otos, and 9 snails. Honestly though with such a small tank, I'd probably avoid the Otos as they're a shoaling fish and need more of the same species, and I'd replace them with more amanos
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The trifecta of algae waste control is Amano Shrimp, Otocinclus, and Clithon Corona Snails (aka horned nerites). If you have those three would can do a pretty decent job of combatting just about every type of algae and eliminate waste buildup at the bottom of your tank. Generally you should have 1 Amano/5 liters, 1 oto/15 liters, and 1 snail/5 liters. So fo you're 11.4 gallon aka 45 liter you'd be looking at 9ish amanos, 3 otos, and 9 snails. Honestly though with such a small tank, I'd probably avoid the Otos as they're a shoaling fish and need more of the same species, and I'd replace them with more amanos
Great info, thanks. What about plecos? Do you think a few dwarf or other small species of pleco might do well instead of ottos?

So if I do 9ish amanos, 9ish snails, and either a few plecos or more amanos, how much room would that leave me for a group of neon/cardinal tetras? I am reading about 10 can go into a 10-gallon, but I am not sure if that is on top of the bioload of the clean up crews. Plus, plants and that big driftwood piece is taking up a lot of swim room...maybe I'm safer starting with 8 or so?
 
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