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I like it, however I think the rocks standing up towards the left would need to be leant backwards into the sloped substrate.
Maybe thin out the right side a little as well.
Keep messing around and taking photos. That way we can see which look more natural and have the right flow.
 

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It feels like the spacing between the rock clusters is too uniform and could benefit from some of the clusters being scootched closer together to leave a larger open space to break things up. The plants may end up taking care of that, though, depending on how they visually break things up.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I'm working on some different hardscape setups for the 12g but haven't found any I'm in love with yet. I appreciate the feedback and will probably post here soon for more

In the meantime I thought I'd post my Fluval Spec V at work since it has been a couple months since the last update. It's looking pretty lush for a low tech tank. I have a fantasy of going full low tech Dutch with it, which means I would have to remove the spider wood and thin out a lot of plants/ make more distinct groupings. My only sticking point is whether I should keep the relatively large rock in there (that the weeping moss is growing on) or try to remove it.

Let me know what you think! If I keep the rock, what epiphytes would look good on it?


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Discussion Starter #24
Back from a two week trip and fussing over the damn rocks again. I tried to take the advice of leaving a bit more open space in this version, since after all do want a pretty large green "lawn", which I think this will have in the end. For planting I'm thinking eleocharis acicularis in the top left, a whole lot of Monte Carlo, and maybe some crypt parva in the foreground just to spice things up.


I forgot to take pictures, but this little unused area is where the tank will live:


There is only about 2 inches between the top of the tank and the bottom of the cabinet, so I got some white LED's, stuck them to the bottom of the cabinet, and hooked it up to a dimmer switch.


This is what it looks like with the lights on. Not sure what the par is, but I figure you don't need super high light for Monte Carlo and hairgrass anyways


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Discussion Starter #25
The AGA convention started today and I had the pleasure of seeing Dennis Wong's aquascaping demo. I forget what his name is on here, but I know he is on the forum.

First of all, the guy is stupid talented. He made what might be the coolest aquascape I've ever seen in about two hours. I'll post a pic tomorrow, I had to leave before it was flooded so I don't have one at the moment.

One of the things we discussed was using the grain of rocks to draw the eye to a certain point, and he pointed out that rocks without a defined grain structure don't work as well as the focus point of aquascapes. That got me thinking about this whole lava rock iwagumi idea-- maybe it's just not the right material for the iwagumi style.

Since I would like to use all the lava rock I've collected, I'm now thinking about a big tree root style, with epiphytes and low light plants in between the roots. I've posted a "rough draft" of the idea below, let me know what you all think!
 

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The AGA convention started today and I had the pleasure of seeing Dennis Wong's aquascaping demo. I forget what his name is on here, but I know he is on the forum.

First of all, the guy is stupid talented. He made what might be the coolest aquascape I've ever seen in about two hours. I'll post a pic tomorrow, I had to leave before it was flooded so I don't have one at the moment.

One of the things we discussed was using the grain of rocks to draw the eye to a certain point, and he pointed out that rocks without a defined grain structure don't work as well as the focus point of aquascapes. That got me thinking about this whole lava rock iwagumi idea-- maybe it's just not the right material for the iwagumi style.

Since I would like to use all the lava rock I've collected, I'm now thinking about a big tree root style, with epiphytes and low light plants in between the roots. I've posted a "rough draft" of the idea below, let me know what you all think!


I love it!! It’s very balanced, and I love how it follows the golden ratio, if that makes sense. It looks very natural and beautiful. I can’t wait to see your progress!


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Discussion Starter #27
Well, I tried gluing down all the wood for a while but it's just so damn fiddly. Definitely the last time I do one with this much wood detail. I figured everything was going to float anyways, so I just flooded it and left it looking like hot garbage for a week while everything waterlogged.

I still have some areas to fix where branches started floating on me, especially in the "trunk" area, but at least there are plants in there and I can get an idea of what it will look like. As always, feedback is much appreciated.
 

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Well, I tried gluing down all the wood for a while but it's just so damn fiddly. Definitely the last time I do one with this much wood detail. I figured everything was going to float anyways, so I just flooded it and left it looking like hot garbage for a week while everything waterlogged.

I still have some areas to fix where branches started floating on me, especially in the "trunk" area, but at least there are plants in there and I can get an idea of what it will look like. As always, feedback is much appreciated.


Nice layout.

That’s a really tight fit... how are you planning to do in-tank maintenance?


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Discussion Starter #30
Nice layout.

That’s a really tight fit... how are you planning to do in-tank maintenance?


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Thanks! I put the tank on a layer of felt so it slides on the countertop. As for getting in there with my ogre hands and cleaning things... That's been a problem since I got this tank. I use scouring pads for cleaning the glass since they are pretty thin.

I'm also hoping the slow growers (crypt parva, eleocharis parvula, buce and anubias) and low levels of light will prevent me having to reach in there too often.

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Discussion Starter #31
I stopped by the co-op today and picked up a bunch of supplies and a few fish, including one very handsome Betta for the five gallon at work. He was in a community tank like all of their bettas so I thought he would be fine, but it turns out he's a little hate machine. I put him in the tank with my RCS colony and he immediately started chowing down. He ate shrimp that I could have sworn wouldn't fit in his mouth. I quickly grabbed as many shrimp as I could catch and took them home.

The 12 gallon isn't cycled yet- one of the things I was picking up from Aquarium Co-op was one of their big filter sponges, since there's no way in hell I'm using those cartridges that came with the aqueon internal filter. Testing the water last night it came out at 1 ppm ammonia.

I also got a tissue culture of staurogyne repens and some marsilea hirsuta from the GSAS meeting, so I planted those, drained the tank, fitted the filter sponge, added some cycled media, did a 50% water change with seachem prime, added seachem stability, and finally dropped the shrimp. At this point it was 2 am so I called it a night.

I checked the params again today, and it was at .25 ppm ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 10 ppm nitrates. Thank God for the cycled media! In my experience shrimp can handle some ammonia, but nitrite kills them quickly. There have been no casualties in the 12 gallon so far, so as long as I keep watching the water parameters until there is no ammonia I think it should be good.

As for the betta? He ate every remaining shrimp in his tank overnight. I'm not feeding him for the next week, the little guy might explode. Picture of my miniature homicidal officemate below:


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Discussion Starter #32
Since nobody asked, here's how I set up my substrate for a new tank. This is a 20 long I have in the works. Someday I'll get a regular dimension tank, but this is not that day.

Step 1: Worm castings. Lots of nutrients, and high CEC. Lots of organics too, so if you use too much you might be setting yourself up for algae.


Step 2: Activated carbon. You can use the dust, I use pellets as there's less of a chance of it being pulled up by plant roots. Super high CEC, it acts like a sponge soaking up excess nutrients and making them available to plant roots.


Step 3: The nutes. A lot of osmocote+ (too much?) and Mexican red clay for iron.


Step 4: Cover the whole thing in organic potting soil. If I was less lazy I would have sifted out the perlite and bigger chunks of organic matter, but I'm pretty friggin lazy. I also add more Mexican red clay at this point, not only for iron but because it mixes with the soil and makes it heavier, so if you have to pull plants the clay keeps the dirt from being suspended in the water column and it settles way faster.

If I was planning on uprooting plants frequently, I would not be using this method. It does take extra maintenance to clean up dirt around the tank with this method when you uproot things. This section of the tank is going to be dense bushes, so I hopefully won't be uprooting anything.

Step 5: Wet down the soil, making sure it's saturated and fairly compact. You don't want it mixing with the capping substrate.


Step 6: Cap it. I like black diamond blasting sand, but for this tank I'm trying aquasoil because @Xiaozhuang said so


You can see it's a pretty thick cap (1.5 - 2 inches). You don't want the nutrients rich, high CEC layer to be mixing with the water column too much.

Side question: I'm thinking of just making this a thread for the 20 long, since the lava rock scape is now low-tech (gross, I know). Does anyone know how to edit the title to reflect that?

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Nice, will it be planted? Here is my 12 gallon long. Thinking of redoing it with sand floor instead of carpet plants.



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Discussion Starter #35
Nice, will it be planted? Here is my 12 gallon long. Thinking of redoing it with sand floor instead of carpet plants.
I feel like sand does look nice, but every time I make a sandy area I just want to put more plants in it haha. Now I try and restrict my use of sand to the very foreground. I personally like the look of that carpet!

You can always switch it up and try something different for a while. I do a pretty major rescape every 4 months or so.

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I feel like sand does look nice, but every time I make a sandy area I just want to put more plants in it haha. Now I try and restrict my use of sand to the very foreground. I personally like the look of that carpet!

You can always switch it up and try something different for a while. I do a pretty major rescape every 4 months or so.

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Well I want to go for a clean look. Having carpet plants it gets dirty and is a decent amount to maintain. I was thinking sand floor and a big driftwood with java and anubius petite attached. Something like this but with plants attached to driftwood.



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Discussion Starter #37
You can tell it's getting nicer outside since the posts are slowing down...

The 12 g long is finally not looking so upsetting. My crazy little mixed carpet is not yet a carpet per se, but the plants have adapted and are starting to do better.


Forgive the sideways photo, but I don't know how to rotate it and I'm too lazy to learn. The components of the "carpet" are eleocharis parvula, crypt parva, marsilea hirsuta, staurogyne repens, and my personal favorite, the lobelia cardinalis "mini".


The little round leaves are very charming and give a great texture. I lucked out on this one-- bought a 7-pack of random TC's and the lobelia cardinalis was one of the plants I got.

There is a definite to do list on this tank. I'm going to see if I can pick up some buce and anubias nana petite at the next GSAS meeting for the rocks. I like the weeping moss, needs a little trimming but I think it is great for a forest look. It spreads pretty prolifically though, so its better of to be planted sparingly at the start. We will see if the fissidens fontanus makes it as well. There are also some spots on the front left that seem too empty, I'm going to need to glue some more twigs in there.

FTS:


Since it's in a little nook under a cabinet, here is how I usually see it:




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Discussion Starter #38
And now a separate post for the 22 long.

I planted and flooded yesterday. The water was wicked cloudy so I didn't get any pictures. Took a couple today though.

One of the things Dennis Wong talked about (specifically in reference to Luca Gallaraga's aquascapes) was the importance of making a scape look "grounded." First photo is as it was flooded yesterday:

Second photo is after adding some rocks to try and "ground" the main structure.

It's an improvement, but there are not enough middle-sized rocks to bridge the gap between the huge ones and the pebbles, so it looks unnatural. Oh well, that's a project for another day.

I don't think I've talked about the planting yet. Here is a top down picture:

From left to right and back to front, it will be myriphyllum "Guyana", Rotala rotundifolia "Pink", Hemianthus micranthemoides, Rotala macrandra, Rotala sp. "Manipura", and Monte Carlo in front of all of them.

The idea is to have bare rock and sand in the foreground with Monte Carlo growing over the front of the rocks to help make them look cohesive. Hemianthus micranthemoides will act as a transition layer between the foreground and the bright Rotalas in the background peeking over the rocks.

Will it work? Depends on whether I can get the stems to cooperate. I'm hoping the rich substrate will help.

Note to my future self about how long my CO2 lasts: I'm replacing it tomorrow as it is down to 400 PSI.

Oh yeah, light is at roughly 30%, I'm looking for some vertical growth first before I crank the intensity to get some reds going. Here is the spectrum I am using:


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Discussion Starter #39
Not much to report. Tank still looks very bare since the stems haven't started poking out the back. Myriophyllum Guyana is doing pretty well, it's a very pretty little plant. Still very small stems, I expect they will get bigger as they grow but it's my first time growing this one so who knows

The rotala rotundifolia "pink" decided to grow horizontally and shoot up bright green side shoots. I trimmed it back and planted some rotala h'ra very densely next to it to see if that will convince it to grow upwards. Side note-- I tried uprooting some of the rotala, no dice. It was already rooted waaay down in the dirt and didn't want to come up without a half pound of worm castings coming with it. It's gonna be a b**** to keep this tank clean...

Pearl weed is growing well, Monte Carlo seems to have adapted but it isn't spreading yet, and the other rotalas are growing up as well. None of them are coloring up yet. I don't know if I'm not giving them enough light or if the green hues are due to all the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate leaking out of the aquasoil. I requested to borrow a par meter but haven't heard back from the club chair about it yet.

I also played around with adding some crypt parva to the front to break up the monolith of rock, and I kind of like it. I think I'm going to add a few more to the foreground just to break things up.

I also super glued in some riccardia chamedryfolia on the uninteresting pieces of rock to give them some detail. It doesn't look great now but I think it will once it grows in.

Currently blasting CO2, much higher than ever before, and I'm only getting a .8 pH drop... I can hear a faint hissing noise coming from the inline diffuser, but I covered it with dish soap and saw no bubbles... Is that something that happens? Or do I have a leak somewhere that I haven't found yet? Or maybe I've just never properly injected CO2...

-Gavin

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Discussion Starter #40
Myrio Guyana mini is currently dying from the bottoms up. Im going to see if I can replant the tops, but I might just move it back to my low tech tank where it was doing just fine.

Rotala manipura and macrandra are doing the best, even though it's not at the level of color I'm hoping for. That probably won't happen until the aquasoil stops leaching ammonia into the water column.

Background levels of nitrates are around 10 ppm. There are still some nitrites in the water (not much, but detectable) so I'm holding off on adding shrimp. I think I'm going to start adding fish this week as the tank is otherwise cycled. I replaced the weird Oase floating media with some regular Fluval biomedia I had left over for an instant cycle.

I like that you can start to see the plants poking our from behind the rocks. You can start to get an idea of what it's going to look like now.


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