dsandson's 60l Iwagumi-esque mountain scape *update*

Discussion in 'Journals' started by dsandson, 25 Oct 2008.

  1. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Hi folks, been reading these forums for a few months now, and decided to try to create a journal for my upstairs tank while I redo it.

    This is a work in progress. I was looking to create a low maintainence setup, minimum ferts and no CO2. Now since money is tight, getting hold of plants is now via Ebay or unreliable LFS stock. Ebay has come up trumps, but I struggled with getting any Java ferns from LFS (was wanting a decent size tropica plants without paying AE prices).

    Now without any Java ferns, its looking a little bare. Couldnt find anything else locally that I thought might go in with this scape.

    Also decided 2 days ago to try out cheap as chips DIY CO2. Ordered diffusors and a bubble counter off ebay and got the rest of the parts for a fiver in P@H. Just need silicone now.

    Tetra Aqua Art 60l
    Eheim 2210 (550l/hr in theory)
    1x 15w Realux T6 11000k typically on 14 hrs per day
    1/2 inch JBL AquaBasis+ with 1 1/2 inches (cheap) Argos playsand on top
    10ml of JamesC's DIY TPN+ twice a week (at the moment - to be modified with time)
    2 pieces of cheap driftwood tied with black thread, so they stand up together.

    Christmas Moss
    Cryptocoryne Lucens
    Cryptocoryne Wendtii Tropica
    E. Tennellus
    Anubias barteri petite

    2x adult Kilifish, 1 male, 1 female. Something Gardneri is the name.
    1x kilifish fry
    1x Angel fish - now blind - due to my ignorance and inexperience with our first tropical tank over a year ago. (and yeah, I do feel awful about it. Thank god for places like this and TFF where we can learn how to do it properly).
    2x Adult Red-stripped Apple Snails, plus numerous babies.
    Soon to be some Mahogany Malaysian Trumpet Snails.

    The tank was overhauled yesterday. No pic of the previous 'scape', but it wasnt really given much attention in that regard, hence time for a change. The JBL AquaBasis+ was reused... not as easy as I thought!



    All planted up. The crypts were harvested from the last scape. Not in the best condition, since the snails were eating parts of the leaves, as they weren't finding enough food. Got some shrimp/snail food from Snailshop and they seem to be leaving the plants alone now.

    All filled up. A little cloudy but that'll pass.

    This is how it looked when I got back from work this afternoon. I have to say I'm really surprised how well the sand looks.

    The male Kilifish. Really gorgeous colours.

    i know this needs work. I need some Java fern, and the narrow variety would probably be best. Considering also some crypt balansae. Would this stay at about 30 in height given the low light (1WPG)?

    Also need cheap silicone for the bottle top DIY CO2 cannister. Does it have to be aquarium silicone, or can I us regular B&Q own brand stuff?

    Anyway, hope you like this and please be kind!

  2. Thomas McMillan

    Thomas McMillan Member

    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    it has potential.

    just out of curiosity, how do you know that the angelfish is blind? i've never heard of a blind fish. how did it get to be blind? isn't 60l way too small for an angelfish?

    also, how do you find the e tenellus in such low light?

    about the balansae, it does grow to about 30cm and this will be slower under such low light.
  3. Superman

    Superman Member

    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Looking good, I'm not really a fan of sand for me, but this might change my mind!

    After having algae issues myself, the only thing I might suggest is that you plant more to increase the plant biomass to try and limit algae.
  4. chump54

    chump54 Member

    Thorington, suffolk
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    I didn't have much luck with the silicone on the diy co2... best option is to drill a tiny (about half the size of the tube) hole, then cut the tube at a very shallow angle, so you have a long slope about an inch long. Then pull it through the hole with a pair of pliers. tricky but worth a go as it is a free option.


  5. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    He was one of our first fish. Followed the usual LFS advice of set the tank up for 2 days and then introduce a hardy fish or 2. What I now obviously know as an immature filter meant him getting ill... a fungus type covering on his eyes. We weren't quick enough in treating it, but when we did it eventually cleared up, leaving not much behind. I never thought he'd last, but he adapted and managed still to find food, though not enough to grow any further it seems.

    Unfortunatley I found him dead this morning when I switched the lights on. The stress of the move must've been too much for him. I'm really dissapointed. Did a quick 20% water change just in case.

    I know, just need to find something affordable. Seen some potted crypt balansae on Plants alive website for a reasonable price, might go for that.

    Will soon find out! Seen it in LLj's scapes on TFF. She seems to have success so it should be possible.

  6. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Nice fish!!! Always look longingly at those when I see them in LFS.

  7. Ark

    Ark Member

    Hanham Bristol
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    crypt balansae might not help you battle algae, it is such a slow grower it may be an algae magnet.

    you should go for some faster growing stems until things settle up, ie cabomba, hygrophila and some other stems. they can easily be removed after
  8. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Well, went out to p@h today to get cat food, and had a look for plants, but nothing interesting. I had the time so decided to go across town to my LFS, Exotic Aquatics, before ordering plants online. To my surprise they were in the middle of putting out a large Tropica order, and had tons of fresh Java ferns. No Narrow variety, but I can't ask much more than this as its the first time they've had these in pots. Actually turns out they've stuck they're necks out and put in a big order of many plants they dont usually stock. Brilliant!

    Anyway, got 2 large Java ferns. Might go back tomorrow to see what else was in that order. Some nice P Helferi there too.

    Got back and after lunch I took the wood out of the tank, to find the cotton thread was disintegrating already, after only 3 days. After lots of messing around, I decided there was no point holding it together with thread so I opted for something different, with one simply resting against the other, like so.


    Not the best of pics, but I really like it. The Christmas moss doesnt look great here, but in fact it starting to pick up micely. The only issue is the Crypts to the right dont quite seem right... too low and uniform. I'll need to give them a few weeks to see how they fare, but I'd like something taller, whilst not as high as the java fern.

    I've always liked Hyrgophilia Rosanerva, so this might go, but we'll see. Still keen on the amazon frogbit idea too.

    Could also do with some long nosed scissors, to trim the browning leaves of the E Tennellus. Cant bring myself to rip it all out, clean it up and replant! Anyhow, there's a long way to go.

  9. Luketendo

    Luketendo Member

    West Sussex, England
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Good start. If you need cheap free plants then this is the place for them. Look in the sales / swap forum, a lot of people give you free plants that they have too much of for a small donation to UKAPS.
  10. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Time for an update i suppose!

    The tank is certainly progressing.

    The DIY CO2 is now up and running, using a slightly diffferent method. Tried using a cheap airline connector siliconed into a 6mm hole in a coke bottle top. Silicone didnt take. Grr! So my little twist is that I found a superglue especially for "waxy plastics", by the name of Loctite Super Glue All Plastics. Is was listed on the back of the normal packs, and I finally managed to find it in B&Q. It has a primer and a glue, and it worked an absolute treat! Airtight seal first time. Now there is a steady stream of Co2 bubbles, which miss my filter output. So I need my circulation sorted out.

    Have been trying to get a cheap Tetratec EX600 on ebay, but both auctions I tried for were messed up by the bid snipe tool I was using... serves me right I suppose! So still trying to sort this out long term.

    Short term... I picked up a second hand 8-month old Rio 180, plus a few extras, for £120. The girlfriend and I decided this would be our joint Christmas pressie to each other. I'm all chuffed, its in brilliant nick, and comes with the new T5s. Quite a few other goodies, plus a Red Sea Yeast Co2 unit, with a powerhead venturi. So the powerhead has went straight on this tank. Its only a measly 250l/hr, but every little helps.

    In between all this, I got some more plants nice and cheap from P@H. Java Fern Narrow, Hygrophilia Polysperma Rosanervig and Ludwigia Arcuata. The Java Fern Narrow didnt look anything special in the shop, but now I realise why so many people like it... its gorgeous in the tank. Now the other 2... I know they'll not show they're red colours in this tank, but I'll let them grow and see what happens.

    To be honest the hygrophilia looks a little out of proportion, so will prob end up moving it to the Rio 180 when I finally get it set up.

    On a less positive note, the female killi seems to have picked up some dropsy, so I've had to dose melafix for the last week, as well as extra water changes. Think she might be through the worst of it though. Fingers crossed.

    Will try to get a pic soon.

  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Leamington Spa, UK.
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Java Narrow is a great plant :) My local P@H has 3 in at the moment (the rest of their limited tropica stock looks in a a state). I'm quite tempted :lol:

    I have had the needle variety in the past, but never really managed to get it to grow like some manage.
  12. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Well, since I just received some shrimp from a fellow board member through the buy/sell/swap forum, I thought it was really about time I got round to updating this journal. To be honest this tank has largely taken a back seat to my new Rio180, downstairs, in both money and time.

    Anyway, its new inhabitants, courtesy of Donkey. I have to say he's been brilliant. This is this first time I'm bought anything of a fellow hobbyist, and its been a great experience! Thank you Kev!



    Thankfully they're all settling in well, with no arguements from their new tankmates.

    Now to get this back up to date. The Kilifish were actually quite dirty fish for this tank. Even with the extra flow of the koralia Nano there kept being spots on the sand were detritus would build up, affecting the water quality. So when I spotted some lovely Pygmy Coryies in my LFS, they were relegated to my Rio180. I have to say they are such brilliant little fish! So entertaining. Really wish I'd got more than 8. I'd love some galaxy rasboras as well, but I've only ever seen them locally once, and that was a long time ago.

    So I've now got 8 wild green neons. They're really destined for the Rio180, but they'll need to grow up a bit so the Kilifish dont try and eat them. So at the minute I have:

    8 Corydoras Habrosus (I think - or maybe Pygmaeus)
    8 Wild Green Neons
    11, or posibly more, Cherry Shrimp
    1 Spixi Apple Snail
    Many Normal juvenile Apple Snails
    Many Malaysian Trumpet Snails

    My planting has taken a back seat as said before

    Well here's the answer... Abysmal! The emersed leaves melted and nothing grew up to replace it. In hindsight, if I'd have just pruned the whole lot like hairgrass then maybe it might have responded.

    The Hygrophilia Polysperma Rosanervig and Ludwigia Arcuata went downstairs. Replaced by Rotala Rotundifolia, which has struggled badly, only producing the smallest of leaves. Also got some cheap P@H twisted vallis mini. again its struggled too, but I've never had any luck with it.

    I've got some Crypt Parva from P@H too. lovely plant, but was just chucked in where there was a space. Also a few strands of dwarf hairgrass and some narrow leaf Amazon Swords from the rio180.

    In the end the tank does need a lot of work. I've realised that the reflector is actually touching the bulb in the light fitting. So I've spotted an idea in keymaker's nano journal - putting tinfoil behind the light instead. I've also got a 15w T8 ballast lying around so I'm going to add that for a midday sunburst. I'd still like an external filter... I recently bought a Superfish SP2 filter off an excellent merchant on ebay, and I'm hugely impressed by it. Think an SP1, rated at 700l/hr would be perfect. I'm still paying off debts so that'll have to wait.

    The tank does really deserve a good rescape. I recently bought a lovely piece of redmoor root in one LFS. Then visted another, and found it was selling seiryu landscape stone for £2.75/kg. Got eight pieces, of which 3 are in the tank already. They really are as good as the pictures on here suggest!

    You maybe able to see from the photos many of the plants show deficiencies. Somehow I struggle to keep a dosing regime on this tank, even though I'm bloody great at it on the Rio. I've recently bought myself a small dosing bottle from AE so I can keep some DIY TPN+ by the tank. I'm also worried I'll overdose as I sometimes wait up to 2 weeks between water changes. Must do better!! Hopefully the next photos I post will be a properly aquascaped tank!

    Oh and sorry about the photos... my new 8mp cameraphone should in theory be a huge improvement. Sadly the only macro setting it had was called 'Text' but seemed to work... sort of!


    The only cory i could get to pose!


  13. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Actually I'm more inclined to believe that your problem is poor CO2, not poor lighting.

    Again, I believe that's because you are focused in the wrong direction. Short term structural deficiencies such as stunting, browning and melting all indicate Carbon deficiencies.

    Adding more light without fixing your CO2 will only make matters worse. My recommendation would be that you stop treating CO2 as an afterthought and instead make it your Prime Directive. While there certainly is a possibility that there is insufficient light, if you really want to determine whether the tank suffers from a lighting problem as opposed to a Carbon problem then increase the daily allotment of Excel which is a Carbon supplement. A growth performance increase will then indicate a Carbon deficiency.

  14. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Re: Dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Fair point. pressurised Co2 is pricey enough to be a long way off, so I'll take your advice and get some easycarbo next time I order from AE.

    Guess I just thought that since I'd added the yeast based Co2, that was grand. Again, you'd think I'd be able to apply the stuff I've learned from my big tank, eh!

    Cheers Ceg
  15. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Re: dsandson's 60l Tetra Aqua Art tank

    Well, not a lot has changed. I've purchased some AE Liquid Carbon now my Excel is done. Noticed the recomended dosage is much higher than for excel. It works out at 6ml per day for this tank. No ill effects from the fish and shrimp though, and the Java Fern and Staurogyne are responding well. Well enough that I've removed the yeast CO2.

    I've also changed my all-in-one fert recipe from JamesC's DIY TPN+ to Yzeman's EI All-in-one solution recipe from the spreadsheet he made, and have got the following;

    Dose; 10ml per day, 6x per week
    Potassium Nitrate [KNO3]- 2 tsp(10g)
    Potassium Phosphate (monobasic) [KH2PO4] - 0.75 tsp (3g)
    Magnesium Sulphate Heptahydrate (Epsom Salts) [MgSO4]- 5 tsp (26g)
    Chelated Trace Elements Mix - 0.5 tsp (1g)
    E300 Ascorbic Acid - 1/8th tsp (0.4g)
    E202 Potassium Sorbate - half 1/8th (0.2g)
    250ml boiled water

    At a glance would this look grand?

    Also got tempted into buying a cheap ebay external filter. Flow was good but it was a little too noisey so has went back on ebay again. I'll try to write a review though so others can have a look. Will prob move my Aqua Pro 2 SP to this tank whenever I upgrade it to a 4 SP shortly.

    Took the plunge and added another 15w light to the hood. Think its and arcadia tube, very pink colour. It forms a much better colour combination and theres been no sign of any extra algae.

    Will also be looking for a cabinet stand. A Fluval Roma 90 cabinet for £43 from pets at home looks best at the mo. Need to wait until I'm ready for a rescape though before I start moving it around.

    Was thinking of replacing the rear two thirds of the sand with more Aquabasis+ topped off with a bag of Red Sea Florabase, as thats the only all in one substrate available here without paying shocking courier charges. I'm looking at a small mountain of seiryu stone, jave fern narrow behind, and E Acicularis, Lileopsis, staurogyne and a little crypt petchii and parva.

  16. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Iwagumi-esque mountain scape

    Well, I've been planning on a proper re-scape of this tank for a while now. Getting a bigger filter for the rio has meant the smaller external can go on this tank, starting off a lot of improvements. Also got a Fluval 90 stand to help tidy things up. This is how the tank looked just before I striped it down.



    Looking at my last post, I didn't change my plans too much, just had to tailor the planting to what was available. Decided against the Red Sea Florabase, so went for more Aquabasis and some fine gravel.

    Tetra Aqua Art 60l
    Superfish Aqua Pro 2 SP (960l/hr)
    1x 15w Realux T6 11000k 8 hrs per day
    1x 15w no-name T8, don't know the colour temp but its quite pink.

    1/2 inch re-used JBL AquaBasis+ mixed with a little sand from previous setup, at the bottom of the whole tank.
    Next, 2.5l bag of fresh AquaBasis+ under the gravel section to form the mound.
    2kg of Roman 'Lakeland' gravel
    Re-used and cleaned playsand
    Seiryu Stone

    6ml AE Aqua Carbon (seems a lot to me but the instructions on the side say 5ml per 50 litres)
    10ml of Yzeman's EI All-in-one 6 days a week, as per previous post.

    Eleocharis Acicularis (3x pots from fluidsensoronline, brilliant quality)
    Tropica Lilaeopsis brasiliensis (4x pots - AE)
    Aquafleur Cryptocoryne Amicorum (1x pot - AE)
    Aquafleur Cryptocoryne Moehlmannii (2x pots - AE)
    Tropica Cryptocoryne wendtii green (1x pot - AE)
    Cryptocoryne Parva
    Staurogyne sp. (from Altaafe)
    Java Fern Narrow
    Christmas Moss

    Fish, etc
    8x Pygmy Corydoras (Habrosus I think)
    5x cherry shrimp
    Lots of Apple Snails
    Mahogany Malaysian Trumpet Snails.

    just before planting

    i wish I'd have been able to use dry materials, as the re-used sand and aquabasis were a bit of a nightmare, especially when removing the barrier. I had tried to make the right hand side of the gravel come out towards the glass before turning to the back to stop it looking boxy, but I kind of lost that as the barrier came out.

    The planting was a piece of slate with some of the Java fern Narrow superglued, placed behind the rock mound. Then Cryptocoryne Moehlmannii to its left, Cryptocoryne wendtii green to its right. The Cryptocoryne Amicorum comes down around the right hand side of the mound. Then along the back is the Eleocharis Acicularis, then Lilaeopsis brasiliensis in front. Finally, the Staurogyne sp. was planted in the front, complemented with the little crypt parva that I had.




    The sand in front and to the left will probably stay unplanted, as I really do love how bright it is, and it brings the corys out to play.

    As I didnt really have a dry tank to play around with hardscape, I'm actually quite pleased how the rocks turned out. At this point my only big mistakes were maybe not buying enough gravel. As it is, the gravel layer is a little thin, but I can always add more over time if needs be. I also kept the java fern out of the water for too long without wettng it, so its suffering a bit now. Wont be long before new growth appears though.

    Overall, I'm really chuffed with it. This really is the first time I've made anything which begins to approach the quality I see on here all the time. Only problem is the girlfriend now thinks our 180l needs a similar makeover! :wideyed:

    My last note would be to say I was really chuffed by the quality of the fluidsensoronline E Acicularis, and one of the pots was almost twice the amount I expected, with plantlets growing all around the outside of the pot! The AE stock was a mixed bag. The Aquafleur plants were hit and miss. The Moehlmannii was good quality, but one quite big, then one quite small pot. I ordered 2 pots of Cryptocoryne Costata, and they turned up worse for ware, as seen below


    Now having said that, I really wish I'd bought more of both of these. I really think I should've put Moehlmannii on both sides of the Fern. The Costata is currently down in the 180l recovering before I decide where it goes, and its recovering well too! I'm actually really liking how it looks, its a nice change to most other crypts I've kept. Also just read about AE stopping selling plants :( . Not good at all! Just glad I got what I did, when I did.

    Think thats it for now. Hope you all like, and critiques are welcome!
  17. TDI-line

    TDI-line Member

    Yaxley, Peterborough
    Nice scape Dsandson, i like your rock positioning and the look you have achieved. :D

    But i'm not too sure about the right angle with the sand, it just looks to regimented to me. 8)
  18. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    Thank you! I was a little worried about this. Just shows that I've learnta little from you guys. I'm sure it could've been better, but I just didnt have days to tweak it again and again.

    Yeah, I see it too, and it looks the worst from straight on... how I took most of my pics. Think I'll have to buy another bag of gravel. Not sure what way to lay a little more gravel to make it more natural.

    Anyway, E Acicularis is sprouting new growth already. L Brasiliensis I'm not so sure about. There's usually quite a few of its leaves floating on top of the water every morning. none with roots though. Just have to keep up the dosing an keep my fingers crossed with that one.

    Oh, also got some tetratec fittings through the post this morning from nry (cheers mate). Its a bit of a nightmare to fit them. They are actually very big, and not at all suitable for this tank without a lot of diy to the rear of the hood. Its nuts... nobody at tetra must think the someone might want to use an external on this tank, let alone one of their own!
  19. andyh

    andyh Member


    Nice looking tank.

    love the sand, i am looking to create something similar.

    any advice?

    Does it all stay in place?
  20. dsandson

    dsandson Member

    Belfast, NI
    thank you mate!

    Its just argos playsand, but sand can be a nightmare to keep clean from detritus, although plenty of surface level flow will help.

    err... start with lots of flow, ferts and co2, and dont fret too much over making an aquascape... learn how to plant, how much to plant, where to plant them and then how to grow them.

    em... just about. Think I should've used slightly more gravel. However, I'm not really sure Aquabasis+ is the ideal substrate for this kind of scape, its not quite firm enough at the top of the mound... an all-in-one like Aqua soil or Nature Soil would probably hold its shape much easier.

    Anyway, it should last as long as I dont do too much uprooting and replanting

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