• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

'Cozen' - Journey to IAPLC '22 (Next stop: Cenote Aktun Ha!)

Courtneybst

Member
Thread starter
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
London
92B1CC16-7C3D-4A12-A44B-8474F2293303.jpeg
how,s the tank looking? i know the iaplc deadline has ended and that the results will be revealed in 4 months but im curious
Currently the tank is still trucking along and looking healthy but like all tanks I'm about to breakdown, I've turned it into a big holding tank to grow out some species I want for another scape!
92B1CC16-7C3D-4A12-A44B-8474F2293303.jpeg


The ferts are due to run out in a few weeks so at this point I'll turn off the CO2 as well until it gets a makeover.

2ED02EED-9FD6-4EE0-92F2-7D7A25EC11FF.jpeg

Ludwigia Ovalis being grown out for the rescape.

9A254720-9720-4CF2-9C1B-B3B59618B58B.jpeg

There's lots of Riccardia in various states and locations.

1F04F062-8C0B-4359-B949-0F4A65E70365.jpeg

Needle Leaf Bucephalandra has been growing well, almost completely covered by moss.

E119CD0B-476F-41DB-B7C4-8B2AC317A1F7.jpeg

Cryptocoryne Nurii 'Rosen Maiden' is producing babies.

The final photos were a mission and I'm very glad it's done!

That's as far as it goes in terms of sneak peaks 😛
 

Courtneybst

Member
Thread starter
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
London
i saw on ur IG that you took down the tank :)
The rumours are true! 😅

I need a holding tank for my fish and a few plants whilst I rescape my big tank so I broke down the IAPLC tank.

When the 120P is scaped, this tank will become a biotope aquarium.

It's weird because I feel like I just had a tank for the best part of a year that nobody saw! How strange, and definitely not my style...

I also took some pictures/videos as it was being broken down that I will share soon. It looked really cool!!

DEA78B20-D07C-4280-B149-1F4D6221663E.jpeg
 

Courtneybst

Member
Thread starter
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
London
New Scape, who dis?
I've been so busy with life and macroalgae that I forgot to share updates on the progress of this new scape. Rather than create a new journal, I thought I'd redirect this one since the scape is in the same housing and feels very much connected, although completey different.

After seeing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year photograph of a turtle swimming amongst Nymphaea lotus, I knew I wanted to recreate this habitat, but I was mid-IAPLC grrrrr.
356D197B-C3F9-46B3-8CA2-DD272E92AEF6.jpeg

(Owner and copyright: Henley Spiers)

You can see why it appealed to me! I'd done a couple of months of research about the cenotes in the Yucatán region in Mexico, following this inspiration. I read journals, blog posts, analysed photos and videos and reached out to some experts in the field. I created a moodboard to help me decide which angle to take, as the Aktun Ha has a few different looks depending on where you are.
EFAAC692-46C1-461A-A958-7C57344502C5.jpeg


The Grit
Just a "brief" bit of info: The Aktun Ha is commonly called 'Cenote Carwash' because people used to come here to wash taxis! People no longer do that, to the benefit of the local environment I'm sure. The cenotes are essentially old sinkholes that have filled with water to create these unique habitats. If I remember correctly, the bedrock is predominantly limestone based so the water is likely on the hard side (I wasn't able to find parameters). This assumption is also backed up by the fact that it is home to mollies, guppies, Jack Dempsey cichlids and Firemouths just to name a few, which are classically right at home in London tap water!
F13C6948-2015-4CB9-8F3A-EADBF7D03918.jpeg

(Not my photo)

Up top, the terrestrial land is covered predominantly by red mangroves which has its roots protruding down into the water. They have been there since the beginning and form the frame of this picture.
B58AB32D-6B75-44F4-B5F6-84328FDC0311.jpeg

(Not my photo)

On the water bed there are vast carpets of Chara or 'stonewort', which although looks like a plant is actually a freshwater macroalgae. It grows rampant in these areas, only really outshone by gangs of pink Nymphaea lotus. So that makes the plant choices very easy! There's a little bit of wood and rock but it's mostly open swimming space.
D2B21CC5-9362-403A-A575-15693DD623AB.jpeg

(Not my photo)

Down below there are vast cave systems where actual 'rooms' have been created over the years. I need to explore this part more but it's all very intriguing. Had I used my 120cm tank, I would have attempted to layer the scape and create all three environments in one... but that's for another time! 😅
FD0CA636-DD9D-436E-B827-C0176066DEE3.jpeg

(Not my photo)

One thing I couldn't understand is why I hadn't seen anyone recreate this habitat before? Upon starting it however, I realised that whilst you can artistically recreate it, it can be hard to authentically recreate it (at least it was for me). Chara is hard to find but not impossible, but shrimp devour it and it doesn't seem to care much for aquarium environments. Limestone is the base but my water is already rock hard. The Yucatán Tetra (Astyanax altior) is numerous in this cenote but is not available in the hobby.
75E33047-4B99-4DEC-BE9D-BADD086D2975.jpeg


So here's a few compensations I made. I used pearlweed to represent the chara fields. From a scale perspective it works very well and looks just like as if you were viewing chara from a distance, which is perfect. It's a solid performer and will help keep nutrient levels in check. I used WIO's new Druid stone as my bedrock as it's neutral and similar in colour to some of the photos I saw. I also used their Wetland Artist sand which is supposedly very nutrient rich and will last for a long time. I mixed it with sand to bulk it out and create a more natural colour. I used Talawa wood to represent the mangrove roots as I simply don't have a decade to wait for the real thing! 😅 Lastly, I added some botanical materials (Texas Live Oak and a mix of twigs) from Blackwater UK and Betta Botanicals.
2B5C0EEB-66DB-470C-AA1F-AC3DFECE6900.jpeg
B6C1C475-05CF-4173-9DC9-7AB133D85D03.jpeg


The plants are just starting to get into gear now as they get closer to the light and have had a chance to build up some nutrient reserves. It'll be really interesting to see how it develops, especially if the lotus behaves or just doesn't play ball. I'll post updates here as they happen! My Maidenhair fern is not having a great time so any similar alternative suggestions are welcome! I'm to recreate the dense foliage of mangrove trees.
FB7FB430-2EC6-4F85-B3E3-8671F89E600A.jpeg
 

Attachments

  • A71BF5CD-E800-41D0-94FE-1169790BAFE0.jpeg
    A71BF5CD-E800-41D0-94FE-1169790BAFE0.jpeg
    805.5 KB · Views: 30

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
3,438
Location
Nottingham
Very nice! I’ve swam, snorkelled and dived in several of the cenotes in the Yucatan around Tulum and the Sain Ka’an Reserve , including some cave diving in a couple of them (a bit too scary for me, especially as Crocs occasionally like to take shelter in the caves!) - so I’m interested to see what you come up with here.

We swam in one tiny cenote near the coastal road where the bottom was covered in green plants, and must have been the Stonewort you mention - there must have been a million guppies in that pool that just swarmed around you like a cloud as you swam.

There were several larger cenotes that we were just too scared to go in, as they were several acres in size and completely surrounded by mangroves other than one small access point - they just screamed croc territory!

This was all some 20 years ago though, and that area has become much more built up and commercialised now I believe - by coincidence we’ll be taking the kids there next April, so it we be interesting to see if we can get back to revisit some of those cenotes.
 

Courtneybst

Member
Thread starter
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
London
Very nice! I’ve swam, snorkelled and dived in several of the cenotes in the Yucatan around Tulum and the Sain Ka’an Reserve , including some cave diving in a couple of them (a bit too scary for me, especially as Crocs occasionally like to take shelter in the caves!) - so I’m interested to see what you come up with here.

We swam in one tiny cenote near the coastal road where the bottom was covered in green plants, and must have been the Stonewort you mention - there must have been a million guppies in that pool that just swarmed around you like a cloud as you swam.

There were several larger cenotes that we were just too scared to go in, as they were several acres in size and completely surrounded by mangroves other than one small access point - they just screamed croc territory!

This was all some 20 years ago though, and that area has become much more built up and commercialised now I believe - by coincidence we’ll be taking the kids there next April, so it we be interesting to see if we can get back to revisit some of those cenotes.
I'm not sure how I missed this! But this sounds so interesting. I'm really all ears for this experience.

It's also really great to know about the guppies. I wanted to use Poecilia velifera in the scape but they get too big and I worried about them gobbling up my cherry shrimp. I also thought about Poecilia mexicana but they're very hard to get hold of here and it seems a waste to get a big shipment in for a couple of fish.

I had actually found in my research that guppies existed in these waters but could not find any pictures/videos or personal accounts to verify this. So thanks!! I think guppies will be my choice alongside the fish I added recently. This 'biotope inspired' after all so I might get fancy guppies 😬. What do you think?
 

Tim Harrison

Administrator
UKAPS Team
Joined
5 Nov 2011
Messages
9,114
Location
UK
New Scape, who dis?
I've been so busy with life and macroalgae that I forgot to share updates on the progress of this new scape. Rather than create a new journal, I thought I'd redirect this one since the scape is in the same housing and feels very much connected, although completey different.

After seeing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year photograph of a turtle swimming amongst Nymphaea lotus, I knew I wanted to recreate this habitat, but I was mid-IAPLC grrrrr.
View attachment 192463
(Owner and copyright: Henley Spiers)

You can see why it appealed to me! I'd done a couple of months of research about the cenotes in the Yucatán region in Mexico, following this inspiration. I read journals, blog posts, analysed photos and videos and reached out to some experts in the field. I created a moodboard to help me decide which angle to take, as the Aktun Ha has a few different looks depending on where you are.
View attachment 192464

The Grit
Just a "brief" bit of info: The Aktun Ha is commonly called 'Cenote Carwash' because people used to come here to wash taxis! People no longer do that, to the benefit of the local environment I'm sure. The cenotes are essentially old sinkholes that have filled with water to create these unique habitats. If I remember correctly, the bedrock is predominantly limestone based so the water is likely on the hard side (I wasn't able to find parameters). This assumption is also backed up by the fact that it is home to mollies, guppies, Jack Dempsey cichlids and Firemouths just to name a few, which are classically right at home in London tap water!
View attachment 192465
(Not my photo)

Up top, the terrestrial land is covered predominantly by red mangroves which has its roots protruding down into the water. They have been there since the beginning and form the frame of this picture.
View attachment 192466
(Not my photo)

On the water bed there are vast carpets of Chara or 'stonewort', which although looks like a plant is actually a freshwater macroalgae. It grows rampant in these areas, only really outshone by gangs of pink Nymphaea lotus. So that makes the plant choices very easy! There's a little bit of wood and rock but it's mostly open swimming space.
View attachment 192467
(Not my photo)

Down below there are vast cave systems where actual 'rooms' have been created over the years. I need to explore this part more but it's all very intriguing. Had I used my 120cm tank, I would have attempted to layer the scape and create all three environments in one... but that's for another time! 😅
View attachment 192468
(Not my photo)

One thing I couldn't understand is why I hadn't seen anyone recreate this habitat before? Upon starting it however, I realised that whilst you can artistically recreate it, it can be hard to authentically recreate it (at least it was for me). Chara is hard to find but not impossible, but shrimp devour it and it doesn't seem to care much for aquarium environments. Limestone is the base but my water is already rock hard. The Yucatán Tetra (Astyanax altior) is numerous in this cenote but is not available in the hobby.
View attachment 192470

So here's a few compensations I made. I used pearlweed to represent the chara fields. From a scale perspective it works very well and looks just like as if you were viewing chara from a distance, which is perfect. It's a solid performer and will help keep nutrient levels in check. I used WIO's new Druid stone as my bedrock as it's neutral and similar in colour to some of the photos I saw. I also used their Wetland Artist sand which is supposedly very nutrient rich and will last for a long time. I mixed it with sand to bulk it out and create a more natural colour. I used Talawa wood to represent the mangrove roots as I simply don't have a decade to wait for the real thing! 😅 Lastly, I added some botanical materials (Texas Live Oak and a mix of twigs) from Blackwater UK and Betta Botanicals.
View attachment 192471View attachment 192472

The plants are just starting to get into gear now as they get closer to the light and have had a chance to build up some nutrient reserves. It'll be really interesting to see how it develops, especially if the lotus behaves or just doesn't play ball. I'll post updates here as they happen! My Maidenhair fern is not having a great time so any similar alternative suggestions are welcome! I'm to recreate the dense foliage of mangrove trees.
View attachment 192473
Nicely put together Courtney, and a very interesting read. Great to see this level of research and dedication 👍
 

Wookii

Member
Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
3,438
Location
Nottingham
It's also really great to know about the guppies.

Don’t quote me on the ‘guppies’ comment - I was kinda using it as a generic term and working from a twenty year memory. Probably should have said ‘little livebearers’ - looking at some images they could equally have been the Poecilia Mexicana you mention, though they were small (about 50mm at a guess).

This 'biotope inspired' after all so I might get fancy guppies 😬. What do you think?

Hmmm, wouldn’t be my personal first choice. Whilst I have some fancy Endlers myself (inherited from my sons tank), they look a little ‘fake’ bless them! I suspect they might detract too much from the biotope ‘feel’ I think you are going for with this tank.

I think a plainer, more natural looking fish will work well, so if it were me, I’d stick with wild types.
 

Courtneybst

Member
Thread starter
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
London
Nicely put together Courtney, and a very interesting read. Great to see this level of research and dedication 👍
Thank you Tim!
Don’t quote me on the ‘guppies’ comment - I was kinda using it as a generic term and working from a twenty year memory. Probably should have said ‘little livebearers’ - looking at some images they could equally have been the Poecilia Mexicana you mention, though they were small (about 50mm at a guess).



Hmmm, wouldn’t be my personal first choice. Whilst I have some fancy Endlers myself (inherited from my sons tank), they look a little ‘fake’ bless them! I suspect they might detract too much from the biotope ‘feel’ I think you are going for with this tank.

I think a plainer, more natural looking fish will work well, so if it were me, I’d stick with wild types.
That's fair enough, I'll see what I can find!

It's a shame the wild giant sailfin mollies get so big because they look beautiful and are native to the Yucatán region.
 

Courtneybst

Member
Thread starter
Joined
5 Sep 2016
Messages
1,057
Location
London
A slight meander back to Cozen, following the announcement of the IAPLC results!

736ABC2D-F877-4814-9B58-3A7BEDD97FF5.jpeg


After months of hiding it, here it is! I ranked 1122 out of 2083.

I learned a lot during this process. Even once my hardscape was finished I thought 'I know how I would have done that better now'. You never stop learning! I took some big risks in this scape as well, going a little bit against the status quo somewhat in hopes of making a dramatic final scape. I think some paid off, some didn't.

I have been in two minds whether to enter again (before the results were even announced) but I can't deny, seeing all the works and knowing what I can do now makes me a bit geared up to try again next year haha.

I learned how build semi-secure structures 😅 (bricks are great btw), how not to use superglue and placement of plants based on their scale and growth habits. I discovered the beauty of a dark start in helping to establish my tank's ecosystem and how to dial in CO2/lights/nutrients as the tank matures. Additionally, those little things I thought were critical to the scape were actually holding it back - so I learned to kill my darlings, even at the last minute!

Who knows what's next!
 

Hufsa

Member
Joined
22 Aug 2019
Messages
1,601
Location
Norway
View attachment 193378
After months of hiding it, here it is! I ranked 1122 out of 2083.
Beautiful! 😍 I would have placed it much higher
I love the cliffsides and what looks like a cave in the bottom near the fish, and those pieces of wood that stick out of the plants remind me a lot of old oak that has broken during a storm 🥰
 
Top