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ADA Child’s Play To The Tropica Way

Geoffrey Rea

Global Moderator
27 May 2017
So then, our eldest has been asking to scape his first tank for a while now.

He’s only eight and the idea of a glass box full of water and electricity in his bedroom upstairs, where him and his mates decide to randomly start raving it up with the complete abandon of moshy bashers on a dance floor didn’t seem quite sensible.

Cleared out the 45F on the study desk instead:


With the schools now broken up for the summer, took him to the good folks at @Aquarium Gardens to have a play in the dojo.

Big thank you to @Siege for his advice and guidance. Not your usual customer age for sure, he asked me to tell you thank you 🙏🏽 Cheers for being a superstar Steve he loved visiting today 😊

Had a wander around the gallery and he decided on a triangular. Then came up with this:


Particularly liked Pavol’s 900 in AG with sand foreground so committed to sand and gravel with his scape.

End result:



Now, know I’m his dad but colour me impressed. With the exception of gluing the wood and instructing the order the substrate goes in, he had it covered.

On another note… Once remarked that ADA’s system is so easy to follow a child could do it. So done just that. Powersand Advanced on the base, Amazonia type 1 soil, Brighty K and Brighty Mineral daily.

Water wise the tank will be two thirds RO and one third Cambridgeshire liquid rock. Even marked up a little 10l jerry can for him:


Nice and simple. Hoping he enjoys water changes because the first month will require his commitment. With any luck the plant selection will be easy going and simple, but we’ll see.
You and I both @Courtneybst ! Was expecting broken glass but the boy done good 😎 So many questions about plants too, what’s not to love?

Teaching him tanks and in return he’s teaching his dad the drums this summer. Fair trade.
Looks a really good start. Very intrigued to see where it goes with planting. All I can picture is hairgrass and moss.
All I can picture is hairgrass and moss.

😂 He is obsessed with moss right now, you’re bang on the money @Garuf . Won’t like trimming it and cleaning it up though. His tank, we’ll see what he does.

Was honestly impressed with the dry scape today.

Looks great in the tank. Will look brilliant once planted!


Cheers for taking care of him today @Siege , he’s been so chuffed tonight and loved hanging out 😊

We’ll be back for plants 🌱
I get his obsession, I love me some moss too. I’d use fissidens, riccardia and mini Christmas myself.

It’ll be a tough one to get plant mass high enough so good luck from me.
Well that certainly beats the 15l Disney themed plastic tub a lot of kids start out with!
Let's hope his interest in the hobby remains, he certainly has a good eye for arranging hardscape. Though an 8 year old + super glue + moss could be a challenge!
Looking forward to further updates.
Planting today…

But first the Co2 reg needed sorting. It was sticking on with the power off after years of use.

Big thank you to Andrian and JP Gomes @CO2Art.co.uk for promptly replying to the email we sent. The link for the procedure to clean the unit was so simple to follow, even my son understood. Said it was as easy as Lego to do 👍🏽

Spring and plunger were fine:


Just needed a spray of pressurised air to clear out a tiny amount of debris:


Back in service and working perfectly 👍🏽


Once fixed, took a drive over to @Aquarium Gardens . Thanks once again to Dave, Steve and Tom for helping the little lad choose his plants.

Luckily he’s a good listener and didn’t go with moss. Lots of small leaved species:


  • Bucephalandra Kedagang
  • Bucephalandra Micrantha Needle Leaf
  • Cryptocoryne Lutea Hobbit
  • Cryptocoryne parva
  • Gratiola viscidula
  • Hemianthus micranthemoides
  • Heteranthera zosterifolia
  • Micranthemum tweediei Monte Carlo
  • Salvinia auriculata

Good mix of easy, medium and advanced plants from Dennerle and Tropica.

The planting was pretty straight forward, but also pretty stressful for this eight year old 😂

Whoever said aquascaping is a peaceful and calming activity has never watched a kid striving for perfection on his first swing of the bat.

Started with crypts:


Directly underneath the light and not particularly light loving… but should have some shading and can slide the light right to the back temporarily if needed.

Heteranthera zosterifolia in the back corner:


Big plant to choose but good location to put it.

Line of Hemianthus micranthemoides along the back with a line of Gratiola viscidula in front:


The Bucephalandra was done off the cuff and put into crevices, no glue required luckily. The Monte Carlo was the only species requiring superglue so Dad did that bit.

Gentle and steady filling of the tank:


As fortune would have it the foremost rock and wood are perfect for pouring water on without causing havoc.

Straight after filling up:



Pretty clear and most importantly, nothing floated - winner!

Put the co2 diffuser in the back right corner this time to prevent misting over hardscape. Should give the lad an easier time.

Doesn’t look it but the back is packed with stems:


Combined with floating plants the plant mass should be pretty decent in no time flat.

Buce’s look cool:



And the two Cryptocoryne Lutea Hobbit will eventually go red for some contrast:



The Monte Carlo is right on the waterline on his request. Might go a bit bananas with aerial access but should make a nice feature where the wood breaches the surface:



The rest is pretty simple for him. Total water volume with displacement is 15 litres. Marked the jerry can at 7.5 litres:


7.5 litre/50% water change daily for the first month, then once per week thereafter.

One pump of Brighty K and one pump of Brighty Mineral at lights on daily:


So far job’s a good’un 👍🏽
Just super cool 😎
Quick update at just over 7 weeks:


Still training the young man in the ways of water keeping. He’s learned the difficulties of temperature swings, particularly on the low end (16C to 21C). This is due to the window nearby being open at night with colder night temperatures of late. Made nailing down the Co2 harder for him.

To remedy we found an old Fluval heater that has a fixed temperature in the cupboard. Never ever gets to the set temperature of 25C but instead sits at 22C pretty consistently, which is ideal.

He put a few striped shrimp in:


Also changed the background to Ludwigia palustris and Myriophyllum mattogrossense last week after seeing it in the 1200.


The Heteranthera zosterifolia was obviously growing too quickly, who woulda thunk it… so learned that lesson in appropriate plant selection pretty rapidly. The Gratiola viscidula and Hemianthus micranthemoides were way too fiddly for him to replant so they’re in the spare plant tank now.

With the remaining species being unfussy, tank is now full tap water. Much easier for him.

His emersed Monte Carlo island is doing pretty well:


Can see the Co2 still needs dialling in so will help him with small adjustments this week and monitor it together. Rocks need a scrub and the Myriophyllum mattogrossense needs doubling up. He can pinch some stems from the 1200 and pop them in at next water change.


Think the next thing on the agenda may be moss on the rocks… or stuck to his fingers with superglue 😆 Will tackle that one with him next week.
Been a while so overdue an update.

Start with the positives… The young lad has mastered ‘artful neglect’. He also fully understood the assignment when we discussed ‘heavily planted’:


😂 😂 😂

Given this system last received a water change or ferts at end of November it’s done alright for itself:


Think the straw that broke the camel’s back is the frequency of trimming on a shallow tank. You’ve barely put the scissors away and around comes another trimming session.

Message received and changing up to a 45P instead:


Tank comes with a glass lid that covers 90% of the tank. Also still have the mister available.

Suggested to him he could half fill the 45P and do a paludarium. Would be interesting to have two worlds contained within the glass. Or… still do a shallow tank but use the upper half to keep emersed plant forms growing with ample humidity under the glass lid. Should be interesting to see where this goes 😎
Hmmm 🤔 May have accidentally got carried away today and scaped the kids tank for him…


It’s not too late to take it all out you say…!!!

Yeah… May have got further carried away before school pickup, glued it all together and chucked soil in 😂


To be fair he was taking too long and a tank can only sit empty for a finite period of time in this house.

Put a backlight on it as an apology. Good news is he loves the scape and the backlight, winner 👍🏽 Wants to do the planting together this time, team effort. Should be fun 😎