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Considering a rescape - what are the best practices?

Sammy Islam

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12 Mar 2019
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Hertfordshire
I know i said i wouldn't rescape for for probably 2 years, but now i'm approching 1 year i'm considering a rescape. Mainly because i feel like my fish deserve better swimming room and changing that will hopefully change behaviour. It would also give me an opportunity to own some sort of cory again.

Currently most of my fish just chill about in middle of the tank, as theres a lot of flow around the edges and they must feel safest as in the middle of the plants.

If i was to rescape i would go for some sort of traingle layout, with a larger sand area while still having some sort of carpet area. Having a carpet would mean i wouldn't have to contain all the soil behind the rocks like an island and would allow me to use all my plants from my current scape.

This is the plan i've got in my head, I'm assuming i would need to:
1) buy decent sized storage containers to put the fish and shrimp in? Do they have to be black or can they he the standard see through container/box?
2) how do i run my oase BM600 in a small box, wont the fish get blown about? I assume the best option would be to use the original oase inlet/outlet set as the flow can be reduced?
3) i will use a small pump or eheim surface skimmer for the shrimp box with some plants.
4) catch as many shrimp as i can with a bottle trap at night for a few nights to maximise my chances.
5) start taking out the epiphytes (buce, annubias and trident fern, h.pinnatifida)
6) take out the wood if i can detatch it from the rocks, shouldnt be hard as i assume most would be fairly loose by now.
7) catch all fish and shrimp i can and out them in their boxes.
8) take out the rest of the plants and put them in with my fish or in a bucket
9) catch any remaining shrimp, will they die from ripping up all the plants and stuff released from the substrate?
10) take out rocks and drain tank
11) remove all the soil and clean the tank properly.
12) add new soil and arrange new hardscape over a couple of days
13) replant as much as i can and fill it up and treat it like a new scape, daily water changes etc.
14) wait a few days and put the livestock back in and carry on?

Thanks
IMG_20201208_184337__01.jpg
 

Geoffrey Rea

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What is your time budget Sammy? Above all else have found this to be the most prone to being wildly out from expectations. You have to account for a blowout or at least a hiccup with some startups in high tech and if you haven’t accommodated your stock appropriately it can be quite stressful. Equally it may run as smooth as silk but it’s preferable to plan for the worst and hope for the best sometimes.

The other most pertinent question is are you likely to do this again? If so look to finding more permanent solutions e.g. a second hand or even free tank and filter (some folks just want to get rid of tanks these days) that you can store in a garage between rescapes.
 

Sammy Islam

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What is your time budget Sammy? Above all else have found this to be the most prone to being wildly out from expectations. You have to account for a blowout or at least a hiccup with some startups in high tech and if you haven’t accommodated your stock appropriately it can be quite stressful. Equally it may run as smooth as silk but it’s preferable to plan for the worst and hope for the best sometimes.

The other most pertinent question is are you likely to do this again? If so look to finding more permanent solutions e.g. a second hand or even free tank and filter (some folks just want to get rid of tanks these days) that you can store in a garage between rescapes.
I pretty much have all the time i need really (don't have kids etc) i think allocating 7-10days max for the whole process should make it more comfortable. But i'm not going to be rescaping for a while, ideally need to be out of lockdown (T3 from tomorrow) so i can go to aquarium gardens and hunt for hardscape. But would like to plan it properly and visualise it for a while because i'm usually a sweaty panicing mess during the whole process and time seems to fly past.

I don't think i would do it again for about 2years until i move really. Ideally want an easier scape to maintain and the crypts are taking over and i don't want to be pulling them out with fish in the tank.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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If you’re the kind of scaper that can plan a scape in a dojo, then recreate it in tank exactly as predetermined then the process can be slick. If you’re more inclined to gather materials, bring them home and see what inspires in the moment, then having no time pressure is a nice luxury, if only for the head space whilst creating it. We all work differently when creating stuff, but make sure you get enjoyment from the process.


i think allocating 7-10days max for the whole process should make it more comfortable.

Amount of soil used and which brand will dictate how quickly you can get ammonia out with water changes at startup. If it’s a rescape rather than new setup using less soil has a benefit on turn around time. Keeping filters running throughout the rescape and using plants from the previous scape helps tremendously. Gin clear water is a good sign, if you’re inclined to put your trust in ammonia testing kits just remember dechlorinator can mess up the test results.
 

Sammy Islam

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If you’re the kind of scaper that can plan a scape in a dojo, then recreate it in tank exactly as predetermined then the process can be slick. If you’re more inclined to gather materials, bring them home and see what inspires in the moment, then having no time pressure is a nice luxury, if only for the head space whilst creating it. We all work differently when creating stuff, but make sure you get enjoyment from the process.




Amount of soil used and which brand will dictate how quickly you can get ammonia out with water changes at startup. If it’s a rescape rather than new setup using less soil has a benefit on turn around time. Keeping filters running throughout the rescape and using plants from the previous scape helps tremendously. Gin clear water is a good sign, if you’re inclined to put your trust in ammonia testing kits just remember dechlorinator can mess up the test results.

I have a good idea of what i want it to look like already. i consider myself to have good visualisation and composition skills (i'm a graphic designer) so i can definitely plan it out in my head like i did with my current scape. I would love to scape it ina dojo but i plan on using most of the rocks already as i had a look at my hardscape photos and most of them have good shape to accentuate a triangle layout. I probably will buy a few more rocks but i will be concentrating on finding the right peices of wood, something more structual and bog-wood like conpared to the gnarled manzanita i currently have.

So i think emptying the tank and just scaping from scratch would be the best option for me rather than use a dojo consideing i need the rocks.

I plan to use tropica soil again, i will probably need 3x9L bags like last time. I might be able to use less, but judging soil is pretty hard for me. I will be using as many plants as i can possibly fit from my current scape, probably can do with less crypts and trident fern as i can't picture where they would go.

What do you think to my plan/list?
 
Last edited:

Geoffrey Rea

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What do you think to my plan/list?

Looks well thought out, will go through it and see what value I can add, see if others have additional/alternative thoughts:


1) buy decent sized storage containers to put the fish and shrimp in? Do they have to be black or can they he the standard see through container/box?

Know your fish. For example putting some species of Barbs in a bare bottom tank can send them mad because of reflections on glass and causes constant displays of aggression and distress. If going the box route, black boxes and a temporary supply of frogbit/duckweed/whatever for cover can ease stress levels. I usually put a layer of gravel on the bottom of temporary stock tanks which has chilled the stock out. Chucking some hardscape in there even better. Seperating species better still. Animal welfare deserves thinking out to the best of your ability.

2) how do i run my oase BM600 in a small box, wont the fish get blown about? I assume the best option would be to use the original oase inlet/outlet set as the flow can be reduced?

Reduce the flow, dispensing the output flow at/along the surface, create lots of surface agitation. Continual gas exchange.


3) i will use a small pump or eheim surface skimmer for the shrimp box with some plants.

I use an Eheim Liberty hang on back with media from an existing filter and freebie 25l super fish tank. I think @Kalum and @dw1305 put me on to these filters and they’re fab for jobs like this. With existing media thrown in they do it all with good gas exchange to boot.

More generally you can use the temporary accommodation to your stocks advantage and feed them well without worrying about penalties to your system, water changes will take minutes with a big jug.


4) catch as many shrimp as i can with a bottle trap at night for a few nights to maximise my chances.

Do all you can in advance. Once you’ve turned your tank into a mud bowl, getting them out is nigh impossible.


5) start taking out the epiphytes (buce, annubias and trident fern, h.pinnatifida)

Yes basically. Epiphytes out first.


6) take out the wood if i can detatch it from the rocks, shouldnt be hard as i assume most would be fairly loose by now.

This depends on how you set the scape up. In previous scapes I’ve made concessions so wood could be easily wiggled out come rescape time. If you glued, then search old photos of attachment points and slice the glue with a razor. For future purposes keep track of your glued attachment points and chuck a photo up on your journal for safe keeping, memory is prone to failing and yanking out a piece of wood attached to a structural piece of hardscape, pouring soil/detritus/muck out is an unfortunate event, especially if there’s still stock in the tank. Just some thoughts....


7) catch all fish and shrimp i can and out them in their boxes.

Yes. Fish are fish, some may be impossible to fish out in a scaped tank. Shrimp, being calm pays dividends. Laying a little Dennerle style shrimp net in front of them usually piques their curiosity. Once they’ve climbed on in, slowly lift the net to the surface and by the time they realise what has happened, they’ve been shifted. You can pull out hundreds in an hour in advance.


8) take out the rest of the plants and put them in with my fish or in a bucket

Buy a large euro box with high capacity. Your inclination will be to have a lot of moisture in a confined space, but you’ll find it causes things to rot. Stems especially if you take too long.

9) catch any remaining shrimp, will they die from ripping up all the plants and stuff released from the substrate?

Potentially. Cut anything at the base that you have to if you’ve arrived at this point so they’re clearly visible, also factor in time to lift out any stragglers. This one usually takes the longest out of your list so everything you can take out prior to this point is worth it. Don’t upset the substrate until you’re satisfied all the livestock are out.

10) take out rocks and drain tank

Plan for multiple refills and draining repeatedly to do this.


11) remove all the soil and clean the tank properly.

NOOOO!!!!! You’ve got sand in there and one grain will cause remorse. Siphon out what you can, refill and siphon again... and again...

Once there’s no debris visually there let it dry overnight. The following day you can gently run your hand about the side glass panels and you’ll find bits of sand stuck to the glass by static. Knock them off gently to the base glass, a hairdryer on a cool setting works well. Hoover the dry debris out from the base glass. Once you’re satisfied there’s nothing that can scratch your lovely optiwhite sheets of glass, then clean it up using a Dennerle cleanator or equivalent with a sprayer, mop up the moisture on the base glass with a sponge or tea towel you can wring out.

12) add new soil and arrange new hardscape over a couple of days
13) replant as much as i can and fill it up and treat it like a new scape, daily water changes etc.

You know the drill.


14) wait a few days and put the livestock back in and carry on?

A tank is ready when it is ready, patience is necessary. Loathed to say how long this takes but again animal welfare comes first. Three bags of Tropica and daily water changes is a good choice along with a matured filter and using existing plants. My answer to this is as long as it takes and not a second less.
 

Sammy Islam

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Joined
12 Mar 2019
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692
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Hertfordshire
Looks well thought out, will go through it and see what value I can add, see if others have additional/alternative thoughts:




Know your fish. For example putting some species of Barbs in a bare bottom tank can send them mad because of reflections on glass and causes constant displays of aggression and distress. If going the box route, black boxes and a temporary supply of frogbit/duckweed/whatever for cover can ease stress levels. I usually put a layer of gravel on the bottom of temporary stock tanks which has chilled the stock out. Chucking some hardscape in there even better. Seperating species better still. Animal welfare deserves thinking out to the best of your ability.



Reduce the flow, dispensing the output flow at/along the surface, create lots of surface agitation. Continual gas exchange.




I use an Eheim Liberty hang on back with media from an existing filter and freebie 25l super fish tank. I think @Kezzab and @dw1305 put me on to these filters and they’re fab for jobs like this. With existing media thrown in they do it all with good gas exchange to boot.

More generally you can use the temporary accommodation to your stocks advantage and feed them well without worrying about penalties to your system, water changes will take minutes with a big jug.




Do all you can in advance. Once you’ve turned your tank into a mud bowl, getting them out is nigh impossible.




Yes basically. Epiphytes out first.




This depends on how you set the scape up. In previous scapes I’ve made concessions so wood could be easily wiggled out come rescape time. If you glued, then search old photos of attachment points and slice the glue with a razor. For future purposes keep track of your glued attachment points and chuck a photo up on your journal for safe keeping, memory is prone to failing and yanking out a piece of wood attached to a structural piece of hardscape, pouring soil/detritus/muck out is an unfortunate event, especially if there’s still stock in the tank. Just some thoughts....




Yes. Fish are fish, some may be impossible to fish out in a scaped tank. Shrimp, being calm pays dividends. Laying a little Dennerle style shrimp net in front of them usually piques their curiosity. Once they’ve climbed on in, slowly lift the net to the surface and by the time they realise what has happened, they’ve been shifted. You can pull out hundreds in an hour in advance.




Buy a large euro box with high capacity. Your inclination will be to have a lot of moisture in a confined space, but you’ll find it causes things to rot. Stems especially if you take too long.



Potentially. Cut anything at the base that you have to if you’ve arrived at this point so they’re clearly visible, also factor in time to lift out any stragglers. This one usually takes the longest out of your list so everything you can take out prior to this point is worth it. Don’t upset the substrate until you’re satisfied all the livestock are out.



Plan for multiple refills and draining repeatedly to do this.




NOOOO!!!!! You’ve got sand in there and one grain will cause remorse. Siphon out what you can, refill and siphon again... and again...

Once there’s no debris visually there let it dry overnight. The following day you can gently run your hand about the side glass panels and you’ll find bits of sand stuck to the glass by static. Knock them off gently to the base glass, a hairdryer on a cool setting works well. Hoover the dry debris out from the base glass. Once you’re satisfied there’s nothing that can scratch your lovely optiwhite sheets of glass, then clean it up using a Dennerle cleanator or equivalent with a sprayer, mop up the moisture on the base glass with a sponge or tea towel you can wring out.



You know the drill.




A tank is ready when it is ready, patience is necessary. Loathed to say how long this takes but again animal welfare comes first. Three bags of Tropica and daily water changes is a good choice along with a matured filter and using existing plants. My answer to this is as long as it takes and not a second less.
Thank you for your input and for taking the time to analyse the plan.👍

I hadn't thought of using a HOB for the shrimp so that's a great shout.

Thanks for the sand tip, i plan on siphoning out the sand first before anything really. So will definitely be doing multiple water changes during the process, i use a python so make it all much easier.

Ideally i would like to have the fish back in the tank within 10 days. I guess 2days to plan out my hardscape, 1 day to plant and flood. Then the first week starts before hopefully adding back my fish and shrimp.

I probably will attempt it in 2months all depending on lockdown etc.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Knowing you Sammy it will be an absolute belter. As before, remember to enjoy yourself! We do this for fun, plan accordingly and take your time. If the fish are happy in their temporary accommodation, getting well fed and the plants secure the rescape will fall into place with ease.

Lastly, if you suspect things aren’t ready for stock to be added then don’t ignore that, it will pay dividends in the long run. No two tanks have ever matured at the same rate from experience so err on the side of caution. I never run Purigen at startup these days as I want to see what is what without interference.
 

Sammy Islam

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Knowing you Sammy it will be an absolute belter. As before, remember to enjoy yourself! We do this for fun, plan accordingly and take your time. If the fish are happy in their temporary accommodation, getting well fed and the plants secure the rescape will fall into place with ease.

Lastly, if you suspect things aren’t ready for stock to be added then don’t ignore that, it will pay dividends in the long run. No two tanks have ever matured at the same rate from experience so err on the side of caution. I never run Purigen at startup these days as I want to see what is what without interference.
Thanks mate, i'm dreading it but looking forward to it now. Will revise the plan and look over it many times before i do anything.

Hopefully in a couple months i can make this a reality and have something easier to maintain and shape. The whole double mound thing is hard to get right as the rotala grow at different speeds so timing is key.

Regarding the fish in the box, should they be kept in the dark the whole time? Or dark box with lid off? And i will have to use the original oase parts to reduce the flow right?

Whats the best way to store the plants? If things go to plan then i would assume they would only be out the tank for 4 days max.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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The whole double mound thing is hard to get right as the rotala grow at different speeds so timing is key.

Get proficient at cyclic lean dosing weeks with the occasional EI level dosing week for a happy compromise maybe. Always figure nature knows what to do and our job is being the caretaker, we get to input the odd desire such as growth speed, colour and plant form for some of the time. Two year scape will require you not letting things tilt too far into NO3 limited territory unless you fancy some drama. Maybe a conversation for another thread though and personally constantly working at this to enjoy less maintenance with maximum visual appeal for as long as possible.


Regarding the fish in the box, should they be kept in the dark the whole time? Or dark box with lid off? And i will have to use the original oase parts to reduce the flow right?

Previously gone with lid off with some floating plants but these days have few spare tanks for rescapes, some with lids some without. Obviously adapt to your circumstances (high/low traffic area, protect fish prone to jumping etc...) will require varying levels of security depending on your stock.


Whats the best way to store the plants?

1608336649368.jpeg


Ferns are solid. Stem wise, Bacopa’s melt like a chocolate fire guard in a sauna, Rotala’s are good for a week generally but place them on top. Ludwigia’s are similar to Rotala’s. Try to place your stems at the top of your storage box, don’t drench them but don’t let them dry out, fresh air for a few minutes daily.


If things go to plan then i would assume they would only be out the tank for 4 days max.

15/16C is good, out of direct light, should be fine in that time.
 

Sammy Islam

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Get proficient at cyclic lean dosing weeks with the occasional EI level dosing week for a happy compromise maybe. Always figure nature knows what to do and our job is being the caretaker, we get to input the odd desire such as growth speed, colour and plant form for some of the time. Two year scape will require you not letting things tilt too far into NO3 limited territory unless you fancy some drama. Maybe a conversation for another thread though and personally constantly working at this to enjoy less maintenance with maximum visual appeal for as long as possible.




Previously gone with lid off with some floating plants but these days have few spare tanks for rescapes, some with lids some without. Obviously adapt to your circumstances (high/low traffic area, protect fish prone to jumping etc...) will require varying levels of security depending on your stock.




View attachment 159182

Ferns are solid. Stem wise, Bacopa’s melt like a chocolate fire guard in a sauna, Rotala’s are good for a week generally but place them on top. Ludwigia’s are similar to Rotala’s. Try to place your stems at the top of your storage box, don’t drench them but don’t let them dry out, fresh air for a few minutes daily.




15/16C is good, out of direct light, should be fine in that time.
Is it possible to actually be NO3 deficiant over time with large water changes using tap water with avg 30ppm NO3? While actually adding NO3 too?

So don't submerge the plants in water at all? But spray them a lot and maybe put some wet kitchen roll on them to keep moist?
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Is it possible to actually be NO3 deficiant over time with large water changes using tap water with avg 30ppm NO3? While actually adding NO3 too?

Can’t actually answer that without causing world war three.


So don't submerge the plants in water at all? But spray them a lot and maybe put some wet kitchen roll on them to keep moist?

In four days they’ll be fine. Lift them out of the tank and into the box wet, that should do fine. Just open the lid once a day to exchange some fresh air.
 

Sammy Islam

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Can’t actually answer that without causing world war three.




In four days they’ll be fine. Lift them out of the tank and into the box wet, that should do fine. Just open the lid once a day to exchange some fresh air.
Cool sounds good. Thanks for clearing thing up!

I may PM you some time to have that discussion 😉
 
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Don’t take this the wrong way, that’s my disclaimer:

But if you take this scape down I will have to find you and punch you square in the kisser!

It’s beautiful I’d just figure out how to make it more comfortable flow wise for the fish lol.
 

Wookii

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Ideally i would like to have the fish back in the tank within 10 days. I guess 2days to plan out my hardscape, 1 day to plant and flood. Then the first week starts before hopefully adding back my fish and shrimp.

I probably will attempt it in 2months all depending on lockdown etc.

It took my recent rescape (with Tropica soil powder and mature filter) 11 days before it was Ammonia free. The first 7 days were close to 100% water changes too.

If I were you I’d plan to make your fish and shrimp comfortable in their temporary housing so you can keep them in there a good few weeks before reintroduction.
 

Sammy Islam

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Don’t take this the wrong way, that’s my disclaimer:

But if you take this scape down I will have to find you and punch you square in the kisser!

It’s beautiful I’d just figure out how to make it more comfortable flow wise for the fish lol.
Haha, i guess i'll keep it for a couple of months then 😉

It took my recent rescape (with Tropica soil powder and mature filter) 11 days before it was Ammonia free. The first 7 days were close to 100% water changes too.

If I were you I’d plan to make your fish and shrimp comfortable in their temporary housing so you can keep them in there a good few weeks before reintroduction.
Thanks for that, will add a couple days extra onto my plan. I knows it's going to be a major effort to completely rescape, that's why i'm trying to make a decent plan if i decide to go ahead with it some time. 👍
 

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