The last time I scaped my 30 gallon, I set out to make it as simple as possible: hairgrass, blyxa japonica, moss, java fern, some anubias. I wanted a tank that would be easy to care for while I was in law school. I was also in a phase where I preferred aquascapes that had a smaller variety of plants.
I'm still in school, but I've got my schedule figured out a little better. Also, I'm in the mood for something a little more luxurious looking. Got some pretty stemmed plants coming in the mail next week. I have documented some of the process of ripping down my tank, redirting and rescaping it. I had to complete this project today, which was a mistake: in the end, I'm not very satisfied with my hardscape. I wish I had spent more time working on it. But I've got too much to do this week, and my fish were all waiting in a bucket for me to finish, so here's what I've got.
And out it goes!
These guys are going to be hiding from me for weeks after this.
Should have cleaned the glass for these pics. Sorry :/
[In addition to this soil, I will be adding in some soil/sand/gravel mixture from the previous scape]
The leaves were gathered from Riverside Park in New York, NY, so I boiled them in three changes of water to remove most of the industrial waste and dog urine.
This is the third change of water. Didn't quite get all the tannins out, but I don't mind tinted water.
Cutting some driftwood to size. I believe this was a cedar (smells like a hamster cage), collected from the coast of Maine.
Have to disguise the cut edge and hollow a planting area out in the top. Drill + dremel
Doesn't have to be perfect - moss will hide all crimes.
I don't have time to waterlog this thing. Attaching a takeout container lid to the bottom, and then placing dirt and substrate in that should keep the wood from floating to the surface (spoiler: it wasn't. Needed to weigh down with a small stone)
Planning out the scape. Really wish I spent more time on this. Assumed it would all work out when I filled and planted - it didn't.
The driftwood on the left was in my old tank. I believe it's cedar, so the wood on the right should take on the color with time.
.75" dirt layer. Higher in the back for the stemmed plants. You really don't need much though.
Using old substrate should help colonize the tank with bacteria, hopefully shortening the dirt acclimation period. I place this over the new soil because it has some gravel and sand mixed into it, which helps prevent mess if the cap gets breached for some reason.
This is my secret sauce. A layer of dead leaves between the dirt and sand cap really helps to make cap breaches cleaner. The decomposing leaves also provide a long term source of carbon for the tank.
1.25" sand cap
So so sorry about the dirty glass.
I like to refill over layers of plastic wrap to prevent cap breach
To be continued!