284L first aquascape attempt

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Bon MotMot, 19 Jun 2019.

  1. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    I've had planted tanks for years but aquascaping is new for me and so is keeping an online journal but here goes...

    I currently am setting up a 110L that was broken down for 3 or 4 years, but has now become my practice tank as I got my hands on a 284L (75g). This is the biggest tank I have ever had, so now the real fun begins since I will be setting it up from scratch and have a lot of decisions to make. I'll fill in and update the stats as the tank develops.

    Tank
    Marineland 122 x 46 x 53 cm 284L

    Substrate
    CaribSea Eco-complete planted aquarium substrate
    CaribSea Super Natural coarse sand
    Tropica Aquarium Soil regular and powder

    Lighting

    Two Finnex 24/7 CC 48" (92 watts combined)

    Filtration

    leaning towards one Oase Thermo 600 and one Eheim 2217 Classic

    Plants

    Gratiola viscidula
    Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo'
    Staurogyne repens
    Spiky moss
    Fissidens fontanus
    Riccardia chamedryfolia
    Hydrocotyle tripartite
    Lilaeopsis Mauritius
    Marsilea angustifolia
    Helanthium tennellum
    Eleocharis parvula

    Critters

    …….


    I'm still trying to get together all of the substrate and some more hardscape. I thought rocks would be easier to come by on the cheap, but nope. Our natural rocks in Florida are limestone, and the garden stores don't have the right sizes. I should have all my materials together by the weekend and can play around with layout.

    Cheers, Michelle

    20190617_161337.jpg
     
    Last edited: 2 Aug 2019
  2. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    I spent the morning adding new plants to the 110L which I set up 10 days ago, and I'll have another order arriving by Friday. Tried superglue gel to attach plants to the wood which worked well for the Buce but not so good for the mini Bolbitis -I glued more of them to myself rather than the wood. Also trying to figure out how to plant a carpet so of course in my ignorance I have to pick HC Cuba. That stuff is sooo tiny and was hard to get to stay put; I'm fairly certain it will all be clogging my filter intake by tomorrow. Going to try a dry start for the carpet plants in the big tank, and that also means I can spread out the costs a little since I won't need a filter immediately, and can postpone decisions about whether or not to add CO2.

    20190619_140155.jpg 20190619_140344.jpg 20190619_140406.jpg
     
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  3. Zeus.

    Zeus. Member

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    Flow Rate: 1100 liters / hour - for 280l tank a flow/output in a high tech tank a x10 tank size to filter output is advisable if planning CO2 where it comes from doesnt matter eg filter or powerheads etc

    You didnt meantion what filter you have on the 110L tank

    Whats your plans for substrate for the 280l ?

    What Ferts you planning? - DIY EI ferts are the cheapest ;)

    Your 110litre doesnt seem to have any Aquasoil (AS) just gravel what ferts are you using/planning

    I have four Kessil 160 tuna suns on my 500l plus six 28w T5 tubes

    If your planning MC in you 280l with that depth think you will need CO2 and good flow/tank turnover IMO/IME as getting good flow at the carpet level is more important than enough light. Low flow leads to elongation between the leaf nodes so the MC will reach up for better CO2. I have a little MC in my carpet of MHG and micro swords light is low where the MC is due to the carpet around it but it stays compact as CO2/flow is good
     
  4. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    Thanks, Zeus! This is exactly the kind of feedback I am looking for.

    The 110 has a AquaClear 50 hanging filter and just gravel; the same gravel the tank had in its former life as a very low-tech heavily planted setup with a few livebearers and tetras. I put CaribSea planted aquarium substrate in the 284 with coarse sand or fine gravel as a cap layer, it is supposed to have nutrients and other good stuff for plants but was less than half the price of the AS from Tropica or ADA.
     
  5. alto

    alto Member

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    If by this you mean, Eco Complete, this is a completely different sort of substrate than the Aquarium Soils (Tropica, ADA, Prodibio, Seachem Aquasolum (in my area Tropica comes in much lower cost re distribution network)
    Tropica, ADA etc knew what they were doing when developing these substrates - plants grow extremely well in them
    Obviously other substrates work as well, but growth will be different

    Not sure why you would “cap” Eco Complete :confused:

    You do need to add some nutrients to the EC - Filipe Oliveira demonstrates the use of Seachem Flourish tabs in this rescape video
    Depending on your keenness, you could “roll back” the substrate layer and add Tropica Nutrition Capsules - Jurijs mit JS opens and sprinkle the fine “beads” (sorry not sure which video)

    You could also add a nutrient rich base layer such as Tropica Growth Substrate (or similar but can’t think of an alternative that’s available in the US ... Dennerle has a good range of aquarium substrates, including a base layer, soils, gravels and sands but no idea how widely available they might be)

    Note that the tabs and capsules are slow release nutrients, the enriched base substrates are instantly available

    EC itself has a high CEC, so like Seachem Flourite, can bind and release nutrients (the Aquarium Soils do this as well) but is in itself not a bioavailable substrate (which is what the Soils are)
    Water column fertilization is then very important - initially I suggest Tropica Specialized and Premium while establishing plants, then switch over to your own mix (if that’s your preference)
    Of course if you’re one of those green thumb aquarists, anything will work :cool:

    (I’ve used EC (& other substrates) in several tanks over the years, before Tropica AS became available)


    Carib Sea also now markets an Aquarium Soil product (not sure which product they are referring to as
    Samurai Soil

    I like Carib Sea, their customer service has always been outstanding, but that comment is a blast from the past :lol:
    (though possibly there are some old such Aquarium Soils still languishing on dusty shelves :D )

    On a 120cm tank, easiest way to provide even, good circulation is with two filters, set up in diagonal opposition
    Left side - intake at back corner, outflow at front corner
    Right side - outflow at back, intake at front
    Begin with this arrangement, and adjust depending upon hardscape
    As you’re considering Oase, I’d look at 2 x 600’s

    (Most garden or landscape sources, you need to break rock - beware of (very) sharp edges if you go this route)

    Lighting
    2 Kessil 160’s can work well on a 36” (90cm) x 45cm x 53cm (I’ve old Oceanic Showtanks) but the water column height does limit substrate PAR to “moderate” rather than “high”, eg, I’d you want to easily grow compact MC, they work fine

    Unless you’re planning a smaller planting area than the footprint of your tank, I’d strongly recommend 2 x 360’s (or 360X if you’re a red plant fan) or 3 x 160 (note as you reduce light intensity, light “fall” also narrows, so take this into account when selecting light units)

    You might also consider AI Prime HD freshwater as they should come in at lower cost (I like to have manual light control so didn’t consider these any farther, but Filipe Oliver has several tanks on his YouTube channel with AI Prime lighting)
     
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  6. alto

    alto Member

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    It really depends on your planting goals :)
     
  7. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    Thanks, Alto! A lot here to digest and research further, but that's half the fun :D
    Good points about adding fertilizer to the EC (I cap'd it because I thought it was a brand name); I'm in the information overload stage and I didn't know the differences between the high end AS and what I got.

    Quick question about the Kessil 160's since lighting will be my next big expense: can I start with 2 to have low/moderate lighting and then add a third if I want higher? Besides the initial cost, I worry that the 360's would be too bright, but they do have dimmers? In the long run 2 360's may be cheaper that 3 160's. I should avoid high light situations at first since I come from a low light low tech background and could end up with an algae mess.
     
  8. alto

    alto Member

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    Kessil 160, 360, 360X have a
    - manual ON with intensity control (keep turning ;))
    - manual spectrum adjustment, note this is limited to values that Kessil determined were still optimal for plant growth but from human eye perspective range from warm to cool
    (I finally listed to a Kessil interview a while ago, but have no idea how/where I stumbled across it)

    You can order the controller - note that 160/360 controller does NOT work with the 360X which is supposed to be getting a wifi accessory later this year

    Given the changes with the 360X, that’s would be where I’d go if purchasing today :)
    - more $$ but also a light that will take your tank in any direction
    - the 360s will give better light spread avoid the (front to back) width of the tank, especially if you run at reduced intensity, for better “edge lighting” I always ran my A160 at 100%(for plant growth), afterhours, I’d turn a single Kessil barely ON, swing to the back (one advantage of the goosenecks) and view the tank in “moonlight”
    I love the sunlight on water effect of these lights (a major factor in my purchase decision)
    Kessil is one of the few designed and made in the USA aquarium light options, the construction is top drawer

    Worth looking through George Farmer’s Aquascaper 1200 video series as these feature Kessil 360WE Tuna Sun (he runs them mostly on reduced intensity as it’s a slow growth, low light scape)

     
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  9. alto

    alto Member

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    do you have a link for this?
     
  10. alto

    alto Member

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    Forget to mention Ultum Nature Systems which is ADA style competitor in the USA

    GlassAqua

    BucePlant
     
  11. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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  12. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    This is exactly what I was thinking; more initial investment but lights I can use for a long time to come. I've been binge-watching George Farmer videos all week:D that's how I fell in love with the quality of the Kessil light and the shimmer.
     
  13. alto

    alto Member

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    What are your plant plans?

    With those gravels, I’d focus on potted plants rather than 1-2-Grow or tissue culture (they do very well in fine aquarium soils, but are significantly more challenging in inert sand/gravels)

    As the peace river gravel (1-2mm) is smaller than the red EC (3-6mm), I suspect over time, particles will migrate down
    (Carib Sea site), overall effect will depend on how much of a gravel cap there is
     
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  14. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    Making some progress in hardscaping. I need a couple more bags of substrate so I think I will get 9L of Tropica Aquasoil regular grain and 9L more of the powder, and put it in the areas where I will do the most planting. The low area in between will have sand in it. Kind of a hodge-podge of substrates, but I want to leave the tank for a couple years once it is set up and let it mature and evolve. Thinking it still needs a few more delicate branches, especially on the left side.

    I'm going for a blend of aquascaping with a well-planted nature tank and smaller-sized fish and shrimp; I won't be changing the layout too often but I would like it to have some artisitic sensibility and not just look thrown together. Probably will end up going high-tech with it and trying to grow a carpet in the foreground. I'm enjoying looking through the other journals, especially from other newbies. You pros make everything look so easy:D

    Cheers!

    20190622_150625 (2).jpg
     
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  15. alto

    alto Member

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    Looks good so far :)

    If you want a carpet, I’d basically scape the tank, leaving room for the addition of a 1-2 cm layer of Tropica AS Powder in the areas you want to establish a carpet
    - you can also add this at a later date, whenever you decide on adding a carpet - though it will obviously involve some effort as you’ll need to drain the tank (move fish to a temporary suitably sized food grade bin, or lined styrofoam bin (readily available from most fish shops) as shown in this Filipe Oliveira video )

    AS is used by most (professional) aquascapers as it’s the most dependable way to quickly establish typical carpeting plants
    You can also initially run quite high CO2 levels while establishing the plants, then slowly taper off to minimal CO2 (or none of you select suitable plants)

    Again Filipe Oliveira has video on a long running non-CO2 tank in the Aqua Flora showroom - I’ve linked most of them in this Thread

    https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/stocking-suggestions-for-a-planted-450l.53669/#post-530485
     
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  16. alto

    alto Member

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    Depending upon plant types and density and growth, most Aquarium Soils “hold” sufficient nutrients for several months to 1-2 years, if you run higher water column nutrient levels, this is believed to “renew” substrate nutrients (to some degree, I’ve not read any actual technical studies and I’m always a bit sceptical how efficient this process might be)

    It’s easy to add substrate tabs beginning after a year or so, you can wait for signs of plant deficiency/growth slowdown or just plug them in - Aquarium branded versions are more expensive but also guaranteed slow release, and suitable nutrient levels for aquariums
    Or you can add a nutrient rich layer such as Tropica Growth Substrate (rather messy at this stage but not difficult), Sera Flore Depot (both ones I’ve used in several tanks, hence my “name dropping” ;))

    If you look at Tropica’s Inspiration Page, there are many layouts done with the Growth Substrate + fine gravel
    This was how I did my first planted tanks, though now it’s impossible to find similar fine gravels locally - instead it’s all too fine sands (that pack very densely) or larger gravels (not exactly preferred by fine root plants) ..... I’ve switched over to Tropica Aquarium Soils (much cheaper locally than ADA or Fluval Stratum, similar cost to EC (which has risen substantially recently thanks to a new trade tariffs :( ... and not just EC))
     
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  17. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    Thanks again, Alto; your patience with my newbie questions and your good info are appreciated!

    I think I am going to dry start the carpet plants once I figure out what I am planting exactly, so it will be pretty simple to order some Tropica AS and add it to the areas where it will be needed most. I am in love with Tim Harrison's Return of the Shallow and I want to try to get some subtle blending of plants. I am also really clumsy planting in water; all the videos make it look so easy! It will also spread the process of setting up this tank over more paychecks; I can focus on buying good lighting now and postpone decisions about filtration, CO2, etc. for later.
     
  18. alto

    alto Member

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    Practise planting motions with a GOOD pair of pinsettes (though I suspect if you’re already adept with chopsticks perhaps it’s an easier skill :confused: I was already a biochemist working in enzymology before I planted my first tank ;))

    Try different brands to find one that feels good in your hand - for fine work, you want a narrow tip, for rosette plants such as Echinodorus, a broader tip is easier (or hands - watch Tropica planting videos, they have several Plant Handling videos that include trimming and are well worth watching - it’s nicely organized on their YouTube channel under PlayLists)
    I have a single straight edge ADA knockoff from years ago that are lightweight despite their length and easy to close/release (I keep promising myself an ADA pinsette but am blocked by the rep who has them listed as In the Warehouse (so won’t order more) but cannot find them :banghead:)

    I find the Tropica, Seachem, and a couple other brand names I’ve forgotten, to be heavy, clumsy with poor “feel”; also touch the “grip marks”, some are very sharp and can easily damage plant structure - especially as combined with the lack of “feel”

    It’s a thousand times easier to plant “dry” (or damp”) - this really depends on the substrate, some are easier completely dry, some much damper - you don't want to need to use one hand to hold the plant/substrate in place while releasing the pinsettes - too slow and awkward and difficult to manage planting density
     
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  19. alto

    alto Member

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    I appreciate being appreciated :D
     
  20. Bon MotMot

    Bon MotMot Member

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    Here's the little tank (110L) fully planted. In less than a week's time the cabomba and Amazon sword have taken off while the HC Cuba is mostly withering away. A little crypt melt. I'm keeping this tank as a low-tech jungle.

    20190626_141628.jpg
     
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