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Tank Journal: 120G Planted tank, wood and rock project.

13132 Views 47 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  Fissure
About Me
Hello, name is John and I live in Sweden. English is not my native language so you have to excuse bad spelling and/or bad grammar. Have been reading on this forum for a while and even though it seems this is mostly an American forum I thought I could join in on the fun.
I have not been into the aquarium business for very long, I had a smaller tank when I was younger but was tank less from age 15 to 30 (I am 30 now). So I would call myself a total aquarium noob. I got a 120G Juwel Vision tank late last year and was going to go for cichlids and lots of plants. Since then I have learned a lot and also had some issues. Major ones were when traveling when working and a discus died in a non-visible place and rotted for a week and the tank crashed. After that I was struggling with a bunch of sick discus, plants dying and algae issues. Got it under control after a couple of weeks but when moving the discus to a temp tank for treatment I killed the discus by accident by Co2 gassing in a miscalculation of KH.
Anyway I learned a lot during these months, and I love every bit of it.
I have a special week spot for gadgets and stuff just so you know. Though I have seen lots of people here suffering from this disease

Might as well list my equipment so we get that out of the way.

450 liter (120g) Juwel Vision Line Tank
Eheim 2080 canister filter
JBL CO2 kit with a controller and a rebuilt 6kg fire extinguisher as a CO2 tank.
Aqua Medic 1000 Reactor
Marine Magic Dosing pump
Eheim surface skimmer

Anyways, after getting the tank up and running I felt that I was not quite happy with the layout of everything so this is why I restarted the tank.
Made a project thread on a Swedish forum, will link a google translate link if you are interested in checking that out.
Link here

Short-term goal
I wanted a good looking rock formation in a light color and have lots more roots/wood in the tank. These were going to build more in the middle and top part of the tank. I felt the tank was a bit empty in those regions before.
Also wanted a piece that broke the water surface. The apistos would get more hiding places to play and make their territories. I also wanted a more "cozy" feeling in the tank for the viewer and have a layout that made the fishes movement more interesting to look at. The plant locations would be better thought through and include more reds and more shades of green.
Also wanted to achieve a softer water and lower PH, have a KH of 6 dkh out of the tap and it rose to 12-15 dkh after a couple of days.

Long-term goal
To get more fish to breed and the plants to thrive. Nutrition levels will be kept right and plants to be trimmed and replanted more frequently.

I did some "head-planning" for a long time and did some drawings and sketches of how I wanted it to look. Spent a month or two finding the perfect roots and rocks (for my goal). I let it take the time it need as I did not want to rush it this time. Did some sawing on the wood as finding perfect pieces was kind of hard. Then the pieces were lying on the living room floor for a couple of weeks. Girlfriend finally got tired of it and we decided to speed things up a little (had been slacking of). Started to look for the plants I wanted, originally I planned to go with only south-American but found so many other attractive plants so skipped that plan. I then made a reproduction of the tank bottom from a cardboard moving box and started the planning of the layout.

Layout Plan



Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini'
Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba'
Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo'
Staurogyne repens

Alternanthera reineckii 'Rosanervig'
Anubias barteri var. nana
Anubias barteri var. angustifolia
Bacopa 'Compact'
Eleocharis sp.
Pogostemon erectus
Pogostemon helferi
Rotala 'Bonsai'
Shinnersia rivularis 'Weiss-Grün'

Limnophila aromatica
Limnophila hippuridoides
Myriophyllum mattogrossense
Myriophyllum mattogrossense sp. 'Red'
Rotala 'Green'
Rotala rotundifolia

On rocks and wood
Fissidens fontanus
Ranunculus inundatus
Taxiphyllum 'Flame'
Utricularia graminifolia
Vesicularia ferriei 'Weeping'

Considering the tank was in use and we did not know how long the re-scape would take we planned the entire day in detail. A couple of days before I got some of the technical stuff out of the way so we would save some time of re-scape day. Moved some stuff around and fixed the electrical stuff to get rid of the snake nest in the cabinets. Connected the AM 1000, mounted some led lights in there as well and hooked up the Dosing Pump.

The roots/wood had been soaking in a smaller tank for approx. 3 weeks with frequent water changes.

Dosing pump from EBay with holes drilled in the Juwel cabinet shelf

Containers for the pump, should last around 50 days.

Getting rid of the snake nest (not sure if it is called that in English
) by mounting some power strips in both cabinets.

Left cabinet finished!

And the right side!

The AM1000 reactor many seem to like.

The big day
We started early on the Tuesday morning by getting the plants that was shipped from Danish Tropica to my local aquarium shop here I Malmö, Sweden. Then we went home with the Styrofoam box and started to empty the tank and moving the fish to the temp tank in our closet, we used the big tanks water in the temp tank. The day before I had performed some cleaning of the filter so it was just to move that to the temp tank and let it run there on reduced power. Did not want to have to re-cycle the filter.
It took an hour or two to get all the plants and fish out and another hour for the amanoshrimps. I thought I had like 5 left but we lost count after 35.
Emptied all the water for the last ones as they were some energetic little jumpers.

Some boxes with plants and substrate.

Most of the old stuff is gone and only the shrimps are left, can't see them due to the muddy water though.

After all the living things were out we emptied the tank completely.

Then we started cleaning out all the old gravel and mud. Sweaty work :p


While we were working hard the energy level on the balcony was somewhat different.
Luna / Juno / Nova (lazy)

When everything was clean we threw in 10 liters of Tropicas substrate and then 5 x 10 liter bags of Oliver Knotts gravel went in. Used mixed sizes of gravel. Gravel is not supposed to be rinsed so that was kind of nice.

Then we moved on to the decorations, pretty big rocks so I took it extra careful. It did not fit exactly as planned but after some rethinking it ended up better than initially planned which was nice.

On to the plants! Sorting them all out and cleaning out gel and the wool. Some pruning and we were good to go.

We started planting, and I quickly noticed that it was somewhat harder to plant in Oliver Knots gravel due to its light weight. But some long pincers helped out a lot. The ones on the rock and wood was either wedged or attached with some sewing thread.

Planting and finally topping the tank.

First plant coming loose

Some more pics

1 week later
It has now been a week since the re-scape and almost everything has been going smoothly. All the plants are growing and looking good with the exception for "Limnophila aromatica" and "Utricularia graminifolia" the first one rots under the gravel and the last one kind of falls apart. Have reattached them 2 times now using fishing line and plastic covered steel line. So hopefully they will stay there now and recover. Unfortunately my angelfish (Pterophyllum) finds the UG quite delicious and love ripping it.
And I am still not quite sure if you even can grow the UG on wood?
Other than that I already have had to trim down most plants and have replanted that to make denser groups. Also added some Cuba on the roots (not sure if that will work though). Water values are looking good and I now have softer water around 3-4dkh (sits stable at this even after a 60-70% water change and does not seem to drop below it either after a full week.

Will be taking some more pictures tomorrow to show the progress and the minor changes made.

Thanks for reading !!
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· Premium Member
528 Posts
John, I really enjoyed going through this thread. You can tell everyone involved put an awful lot of thought into this scape... except the cats lol. Great job!

· Registered
432 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi! The shrimp seem to like their new home, especially the white growth that keeps coming from the left piece of wood (that they thankfully are keeping clean). Looks kinda creepy with 30+ shrimp crawling all over it.

Have not noticed any cross breeding with the apistos yet. But i like you said i don't really care about that.
There are a couple of MacMasteri that was breed in this tank and the original female.
A lonesome Agassizi 'double red' male and one pair cacatuoides. Would like to restock some females for the agassizi male but he is pretty big and last time there was a female there he was a complete douchebag against everything and eventually stressed his female to death. :/

· Registered
432 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So a little update, noticed today that my Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini' looks totally shreded and with some holes in the leaves. Also the Ammania Sp. 'Bonsai" only have leaves left in the top part of the plant. The leaves underneath also looks shreded, but only on the ones planted on the left side of the tank. Could it be some kind of deficiency? First thing that came to mind was if the Angelfish or Otis fish have been having a fest on them (the angelfish have effectively eaten 4 pots of Utricularia Graminifolia :/). I am dosing a daily EI, but maybe it isn't enough? As of know i only have kits to measure for Iron. But should i get some kind of kit for measuring potassium?

· Registered
432 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Was a while so time for a little update.
Having some growth issues and move some plants around.
In the process of building a strong LED light for the tank since the 4 t5ho;s don't give enough intensity at the bottom of the tank.

Will be planting some new plants once this light is finished. Anyway here are some pics of the tank and some of its inhabitants.

A while ago

Move the middle plants to the right, they were growing to fast.

More plants


Some plant deficiencies (upped the EI dosage since the pics were taken and it has improved a lot).

Thanks for watching!

· Registered
432 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Time for a small update. Will be adding some more plants soon, just wanna have my LED build finished before that. Will stock up with some new carpet plants and some more plants to attach to the wood. Some more red plants will be added as well just have not decided what ones to go with yet.

Here are some new pics from yesterday !


· Premium Member
415 Posts
This looks really great. I can't believe how healthy those plants look.. and I bet it looks even better in person.

You mentioned adding some red plants, I think some Rotala butterfly would look awesome somewhere in the background.. like a nice large clump of it. For the front, the AR just needs to grow in and it will look awesome :).

Keep the updates coming!

· Registered
432 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well it has been almost two weeks now with the light running over the tank. Had some smaller issues with the bluefish controller but it turned out I had set it up in a way that the software did not like and it bugged out. Got that sorted out quickly though with some help from the creator of the controller.
Other than that the unit has been working flawless.
The growth of the plants is crazy and I am not having any major algae issues yet. Some small amount of BBA on the driftwood close to the surface on some spots. Will treat that with hydrogen peroxide next WC.

The tank as of today. Image is a bit dark since it is sunrise time in the tank.

Had issues with the growth of the Pogostemon erectus with my old light. Growing really fast now.

Mix of Rotala sp. ‘Green’ and Rotala rotundifolia, the rotundfolia is finally getting the red-brown color I wanted.

Mix of Limnophila aromatica and Limnophila hippuridoides. The reds in hippuridoides is really nice. The picture does it no justice. The green in the aromatica is really intense and a nice contrast to the reds/purple in the hippuridoides. Trimming down the aromatic when it starts going red/brownish.

Rotala 'Bonsai', also had issues with it being stagnant and lower part of the plant melting. It is starting to recover. Soon time for some serious cutting and replanting.

Have ordered some new plants from my LFS. Will ditch/move the Anubias barteri var. angustifolia that is attached to the rocks on the left in the tank. Feel it is kinda boring and draws to much focus. When the plants have arrived I will likely be doing some moving around of the background plants in the middle and the right. Not really happy with how it looks there. Anyone got any good plant tips that I might be able to replace the plants in the middle with? It gets a bit bushy back there and the hanging growth of the rotala 'green' did not turn out as I hoped.

Thanks for reading !
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