"Fallen Wilderness" - New Photographs First big trim!

REDSTEVEO

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Steve’s Aqua Journal 23rd May – 25th May 2008

A rescape based on a scene from nature which I have called “Fallen Wilderness”

Here is a picture of what my tank looked like before the rescape,

OldScape.jpg


So why would I want to change it?

a. Because I needed a new challenge
b. Because I couldn't get an idea out of my head
c. It was time for a change

Here's why I did it, when and how I did it.

A few months back early on a Sunday morning in March I was out walking with my wife Gaby in North Wales. We walked from the Woollen Mill in Trefirw near Llanwrst in North Wales up to Llyn Geirionydd and Llyn Crafnant. On route to Llyn Geirionydd we passed uphill through a wooded area with lots of trees and rocks covered in moss and lichens. There were fallen trees and branches overhanging some of the rocks with ferns growing in between. It all looked very wild and natural. Also at the waters edge of Llyn Geirionydd there was a natural beach of ash coloured sand with smaller pebbles of various shades of grey and black and brown. When all of a sudden an idea occurred to me…..what if? :idea:

Inspired by these wonderful scenes from nature I took some photographs and slowly I my made my mind up that maybe I could have a go at reproducing something like this as an aquascape in my aquarium. This was the effect that I wanted to try and re-create coupled with the scape from the woods.

118_1859.jpg


118_1856.jpg


That was it, the seed was planted and it grew and grew until I could not stop thinking about it. I went asleep thinking and dreaming about how I would do it. I planned it in my head until I was sure I knew exactly what I was going to do. I wanted to reproduce the scape that I had seen in the woods and the lakeside of Llyn Geirionydd.

Before undertaking a task of this level it is preferable that the other half is out of the house for the weekend or even better if she is out of the country for a week or so.

Byeee.jpg


This gives you plenty of time for drying out carpets and any other furniture that accidentally gets soaked. (Only joking.....not) :oops:

Whit weekend was a good time to start. My better half, my wife Gaby was going to Germany for two weeks visiting family and friends. This was going to be my opportunity. I had already set up a spare tank in the garage and had it running for two weeks so that I could store the fish and Amano shrimps in it without having to rush the new aquascape. In the preceding week before Gaby went to Germany I had everything ready. Gravel graded, washed and boiled, roots soaked for two weeks before they sank, a rough plan in my head of how the main rocks were going to be positioned.

During the two weeks prior to the Whit weekend I started doing some preparations like,

Sieving, grading and washing the gravel,

LargeSieve.jpg


LargeGrade.jpg


The wire mesh magazine rack from IKEA makes a great sieve :D
FineMesh.jpg


MediumGrade.jpg



Preparing a spare tank in the garage to store the fish while I worked on the new aquascape,

Sparetank2.jpg


Soaking the roots so that they would sink properly,

SoakedRoots1.jpg


Soakedroots3.jpg


I needed to get the rocks and gravel sorted and source the wooden roots that I was going to use as the fallen trees. I collected the gravel from a natural quarry. It had to be a greyish ash colour with different grades from very fine to quite large. The rocks I decided would be petrified wood similar to the rocks I had seen at the Green Machine a few weeks before. I was also going to follow the lessons that I had learnt from Andy and Elaine after watching their planted tank demo at the Green Machine recently. I bought the roots and rocks from Jim and Mark and set about grading the gravel into four sizes.

FourGrades.jpg



I used a large size normal garden sieve to filter out the largish pebbles first of all. Then I used a cheap garden bird feeder to grade the next size of gravel.

BirdGrade.jpg


I did all the sieving and grading under slowly running water this helped speed up the process and helped wash out most of the muck.

After all the sieving, lastly with a fine wire mesh to filter the sand from what was left. The idea being that I would have four grades of gravel to play around with. Once it was all graded I washed and boiled each grade until I was completely happy with it.

I finally finished up with a beautiful coloured natural sandy gravel of all shades of grey, black and brown.

SmallGrade.jpg


FineGrade.jpg


I also had to soak some plants in a 5g to 1 litre of water mixture of Potassium Permangamate to get rid of some snails, eggs and any potential nasties, soak for 1 hour,
Plantsteri1.jpg


I started at 8:30 pm on 23rd May after seeing Gaby off to the airport and carried on until 1:40 am before going to bed with most of the hard work done. All plants out, substrate and gravel out, fish relocated in spare tank, table in dining room covered in towels and plastic sheeting, coffee table covered, towels on the floor, kettle on blood pressure monitor at the ready. Sandwiches in fridge. It was going to be a long night. The plan was to do all the dirty work and get everything ready for the creative bit in the morning.

Covering areas to be used for storing wet things, spare towels at the ready, (you can never have too many towels :? ,
Sparetowels.jpg


Not just any old towels though,
Funnytowel.jpg


Draining the tank and saving 50% of the tank water,
Tamkwatersave.jpg


Storing the plants that I wanted to keep in preserved tank water,
Plantstorage.jpg


I had also already prepared the Riccia and roots, when doing this make sure you are comfy,

RicciaTrim.jpg


LooseRiccia.jpg


Make sure the kettle is on and have a nice cup of tea,
Rootprep1.jpg


Scissors and monofilament fishing line and loads of patience,
Rootprep2.jpg


Check your stress levels this bit takes a while,
BP1.jpg


Make sure there is something really good on the telly,
Corrysoap.jpg


Check time,
Timecheck.jpg


Get all the hard work done before going to bed,

Like draining the tank and saving 50% of the water,
Draintank.jpg


Getting the base substrate in,
TropicaSubstratebag.jpg


And the first layer of sand,
Substratestage1.jpg


Gently does it,
Substratestage2.jpg


Almost time to go to bed, (1:35 am)
Substratestage3.jpg


Get the water in and the main feature rocks, filters going and heater on,
Addingwater.jpg


ItsabitcloudyRick.jpg


"Its a bit cloudy Rick. Oh look my bi......"
Misty1.jpg


Night night....Zzzzzzzzzzzz

7:00 am Saturday 24th May.
Up bright and early and breakfast by 7:30 and work began at 08:30 am and went on and on and on and on until 08:30 pm Saturday night. Then I got my self a curry take out and drank two bottles of Tiger Beer with one eye watching Britain’s got Talent and the other eye watching and waiting for the water to show some signs of clearing.
I’d used 50% of the original tank water and 25% each of RO and prepared tap water.

For the base substrate I’d used 7.5 litres of Tropica clay mineral substrate and kept my fingers crossed. Unless you try it you never know if it is going to work or not do you :(

I’d added the fine Ash coloured sand over the whole base Tropica substrate and then added handfuls of different size gravel in various places. Positioned and fiddled, positioned and fiddled and the fiddled and positioned some more until I was reasonably happy with the final look of where the rocks were going to be and then planted around the rocks.

I had prepared the roots using Riccia and Willow Moss tied on with monofilament fishing line. It’s a tricky task this so make sure you are comfortable and relaxed prior to starting the job. The smaller rocks had already been covered in Riccia using James Flexton’s techniques with hairnets. Thanks to his brilliant article on UKAPS I had plenty of Riccia for the job. Once everything was in and the tank refilled I got the heater and the filters running and left it until Sunday 25th May before doing a final bit of tweaking and adding some Undulata ferns amongst the rocks and roots to soften things up a bit.

Pictures from Sunday and Sunday Night, Close ups gravel and substrate.

Its a bit spooky looking at first,
Backlight1.jpg


Getting better,
Backlight2.jpg


Now that the water has cleared I can get a better idea of whether or not I have achieved what I set out to do.
Almostthere.jpg


Fine sand 3 to 4 cms on top of Tropica Substrate,
Subsrateveryclose.jpg


More substrate,
Substrateclose2.jpg


The Amano shrimps seem happy,
SubAmanoshrimp.jpg


Experimenting with wild red aquatic grass,
Redgrass.jpg


A bit more gravel,
GravelandTR.jpg


Although I have had a good crack at it I am not 100% convinced that I have achieved the effect I was looking for. But it is early days yet and I need to be patient and allow time for it to evolve and the foreground plants to establish themselves.

I have tried to take some close up photographs of the Tropica substrate and the gravel effect of very fine shale and sand. So far I have not found a use for the larger grade of gravel that I sieved out with the pebbles.

Here is a list of some techy details for those interested.
Tank is a Trigon 190 bow fronted tank.
Lighting: 2 x 18 watt Sera Tubes in the centre, 1 x 15 watt Sera tube at the rear and a 24-watt T5 right at the front. I added the extra lights by attaching them to the lift up lids at the front and rear with reflectors
All lights are on separate timers with the 15-watt coming on at 10:30 am and going off at 8:30pm
The 2 x 24 Sera tubes come on at 11 am and go off at 6pm
The 24 watt T5 comes on at 12:30 pm and goes off at 5:30 pm

Water parameters:
Temp 26 degrees
KH 4.0, GH 6.0, PH 6.5
Water driven CO2 Injection with Dupla diffuser 2 bubbles per second through bubble counter

I am using the EI Dosing method adding 100mls of KPN every other day and adding 5mls of Tropica Plant Nutrition plus each day.
I also use Sera KH buffer and Iron when I do the 50% water change on the seventh day.

Fish / live stock:
4 x Flying Fox, 10 x Ottocinclus, 4 x Serpai Tetras, 10 x Lemon Tetras and 10 x White tipped Tetras, and 12 Amano shrimp. I keep the fish stocks fairly low - ish so that I don’t have to feed too much. This is in an attempt to avoid polluting the tank (I always tend to overfeed otherwise)

I would love to hear of any suggestions of fish that might be better suited to this aquatic biotope so please post a message here or PM me to let me know. I am going to leave it for a while before taking any more pictures until the tank has settled and the foreground plants have established themselves a bit. I will post an update a week or two.

Cheers,

Steve,

I'm off for a cup of tea and to watch an episode of Britains got talent that I taped earlier, can't wait for the final on Saturday, How sad is that!! :oops: :?
 

TDI-line

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Great jorunal Steve.

This must off taken you hours just to put this together, geat pictures and running commentory/
 

johnny70

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Nice Journal:)

Love the look of the new tank, very 'dark' thats the impression it give off, I think this will be a stunner given a little time

JOHNNY
 

REDSTEVEO

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

TDI-line said:
Great jorunal Steve.

This must off taken you hours just to put this together, geat pictures and running commentory/
Thanks very much. You are right it did take me hours, and here is the sad thing. I did it once live on the site and by the time that I had finished it and got the photos uploaded I went to submit it and I had been logged out. I had to log back in again only to find that the whole journal, text photos had disappeared. :twisted: Won't make that mistake again. Now I prepare the text in a word document, sort out the order of photographs and then copy and paste the whole thing in. ;)

Ta!

Steve.
 

Graeme Edwards

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Nice journal.
Nice looking scape too, once this fills in, its going to look awesome.
I take it TGM is now your place for all things planted?
Tut tut on the TV choice, get some Hedrix on while you scape man. 8)

Cheers for spending the time posting.
 

Steve Smith

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

That's a beauty :) Love the inspirational photos too. You know, I'm seeing riccia in setups like this more and more and it's making me want to try it after my last failed effort...
 

Ray

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Before undertaking a task of this level it is preferable that the other half is out of the house for the weekend or even better if she is out of the country for a week or so.

This gives you plenty of time for drying out carpets and any other furniture that accidentally gets soaked. (Only joking.....not)
:lol: Funny because its true - just like what happens in the saussage factory, aquarium building is another case where what they don't know won't hurt them.

Your photo's are very inspirational, I think the reason it doesn't look quite like your inspiration is because you choose an island theme which causes the rocks and branches to dominate more than they do in your photo's. With all your special gravel its almost a shame there is not a wider expanse of clear space where we can see it. Still its a good effect and certainly the most interesting journal to appear on here for some time.

Looknig forward to the 2 week photo when the Mrs gets back :wideyed:
 

LondonDragon

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Great write up, thanks for sharing your experience with us, will give some of us encouragement to rescape too ;)
Looks great the tank hope the missus likes it upon her return hehehe ;)

Keep us posted on the progress
 

TDI-line

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

REDSTEVEO said:
TDI-line said:
Great jorunal Steve.

This must off taken you hours just to put this together, geat pictures and running commentory/
Thanks very much. You are right it did take me hours, and here is the sad thing. I did it once live on the site and by the time that I had finished it and got the photos uploaded I went to submit it and I had been logged out. I had to log back in again only to find that the whole journal, text photos had disappeared. :twisted: Won't make that mistake again. Now I prepare the text in a word document, sort out the order of photographs and then copy and paste the whole thing in. ;)

Ta!

Steve.
Steve, did you know you could save your journal as a draft, then keep adding to it before it is posted as a thread.

Under user control panel. :D
 

REDSTEVEO

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Graeme Edwards said:
Nice journal.
Nice looking scape too, once this fills in, its going to look awesome.
I take it TGM is now your place for all things planted?
Tut tut on the TV choice, get some Hedrix on while you scape man. 8)

Cheers for spending the time posting.
Thanks Graham, Yes TGM is my local although it is about 25 miles away and takes about 30 - 40 minutes to get there.

Music wise I have never been much of a Hendrix fan myself, more of a Roxy Music / Bryan Ferry / Dylan fan. But you are right music is definitely more relaxing / inspirational than telly.

Steve
 

REDSTEVEO

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

TDI-line said:
REDSTEVEO said:
TDI-line said:
Great jorunal Steve.

This must off taken you hours just to put this together, geat pictures and running commentory/
Thanks very much. You are right it did take me hours, and here is the sad thing. I did it once live on the site and by the time that I had finished it and got the photos uploaded I went to submit it and I had been logged out. I had to log back in again only to find that the whole journal, text photos had disappeared. :twisted: Won't make that mistake again. Now I prepare the text in a word document, sort out the order of photographs and then copy and paste the whole thing in. ;)

Ta!

Steve.
Steve, did you know you could save your journal as a draft, then keep adding to it before it is posted as a thread.

Under user control panel. :D
Thanks, you learn something every day on this site. I'll try that next time.
:)
 

REDSTEVEO

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

JAmesM said:
hehehe, great journal, I enjoyed that. Tank looks great too btw :)
Cheers James,
I am glad you enjoyed reading it. I thought I would make it slightly less serious and less techie in the hope that people would enjoy reading it.

Steve.
 

GreenNeedle

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Really good write up and nice work. I tend to keep going until the whole thing is planted, positioned and filled. That means I can then get the filters on and they will clean the water overnight.

When you wake up you can then see the scape in nice clear water and see if anything is wrong before putting the fish back in. (I am often up until 5/6 in the morning when I do a rescape. lol)

Music is definately better than TV. TV distracts your eye whereas music keeps you moving along. I think I had a mix of Pantera, Muse, Marillion and Dire Straits through my last change and like you the missus had been packed off to Portugal for 3 weeks visiting friends and family and hometown. lol.

Not a huge fan of the whole redmoor 'cliche' as loads of tanks all looking the same doesn't really appeal to me BUT I quite like the idea of it in a triangular tank like yours. Different aspect and you do have quite a nice example there. One problem though is that those 2 huge rocks are hiding it. lol

Will be good to see how this pans out though as at the moment it looks quite good and not the usual Amano copycat tanks we see.

Keep us posted.
Andy
 

REDSTEVEO

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Thanks Ray,

Ray wrote,
Your photo's are very inspirational, I think the reason it doesn't look quite like your inspiration is because you choose an island theme which causes the rocks and branches to dominate more than they do in your photo's. With all your special gravel its almost a shame there is not a wider expanse of clear space where we can see it.


Ray,
You are absolutely right in your comment about it being a shame that there is not a wider expanse of space to see the special gravel, especially as I spent so much time preparing it. So guess what...............

Yep a rescape of the rescape. It took until this Saturday for me to digest your comment and think about why I wasn't 100% happy with it. The space at the front wasn't right. Sooooo..... from 3:30pm until 8:30pm on Saturday I set about moving stuff about and pushing everything back towards the corner so that there was more room in the front area. I broke up some of the rocks because they seemed too large - out of perspective, and recovered them with Riccia. I am much happier with it now.

I am not taking any photos of it just yet because it needs to settle down and give time for the Riccia to recover and brighten up. I am keeping my hands out of the water for at least a week.

Watch this space for the photos.

Thanks.

Steve.
 

REDSTEVEO

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Re: "Fallen Wilderness" An Aqua Journal by Steve Lancashire

Thanks Aaron,

Any particular reason for that?

Cheers.

Steve
 
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