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First tank - 100 Litre - High tech

Aetherial

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17 Feb 2021
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32
Location
The Netherlands
Hey all,

Figured I'd make a journal here to keep track of how my first tank is developing, both for myself and anyone else who'd be interested.

I started this tank somewhere around September/October 2020. Was initially happy with how it turned out, but very quickly didn't like it at all anymore and ended up emptying the tank and rescaping it completely in December.
The tank has been running for a couple months now so the first bunch of posts will be some photos, etc. from the beginning up until where it's at now. After that, I'll keep posting real-time updates.

Gear:
Superfish Tropical 100L (68x35x51)
2x Superfish Retro LED Bright
2x Superfish Retro LED Combi
Oase Biomaster Thermo 350
CO2Art Pro-SE Regulator + Bazooka Flux Diffuser + 2kg cylinder

Flora:
Limnophila Sessiliflora
Cabomba Piauhyensis
Rotala Wallichii
Ludwigia Mini Super Red
Rotala Rotundifolia Blood Red
Rotala Vietnam H'Ra
Alternanthera Reineckii Mini
Microsorum Pteropus
Microsorum Pteropus Trident
Hygrophila Pinnatifida
Cryptocoryne sp. Flamingo (Melted)
Anubias nana Mini
Anubias nana Bonsai
Anubias barteri var. nana? Not sure
Bucephalandra Super Blue
Bucephalandra Godzilla
Bucephalandra Theia Red
Pogostemon Helferi
Micranthemum Monte Carlo
Fissidens Fontanus
Weeping Moss

Fauna:
10x Cardinal Tetra
7x Corydoras Julii
7x Otocinclus Vittatus
15x Bloody Mary Shrimp
10x Amano Shrimp
10x Anentome Helena Snail

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the journey if you decide to stick around!
 

Aetherial

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September 17th 2020 - October 10th 2020:
This is the oldest photo I could find and must have been a couple weeks into the first scape.
When I first set this up, I liked it. I thought the higher area on the right and the little path going underneath the wood looked pretty cool.
I also liked the little "beach" I had going on in the foreground.
All the plants were growing pretty well, especially the Anubias. The moss, on the other hand, became more algae than moss. :lol:
1. 08-10-2020.jpg

2. 17-11-2020.jpg


November 2020 - December 30th 2020:
Finally decided to buy fish somewhere around November (10x Cardinal Tetra - 5x Corydoras Julii - 5x Otocinclus Vittatus) and because of the Corydoras, I took out the gravel in the foreground and replaced it with sand.
I was starting to get a lot of algae problems right around here and a lot of the plants weren't looking too great anymore either.
Besides that, there was constantly a ton of garbage floating around in the tank, on the substrate, on the plants, etc. I'm guessing a lot of it came out of the holes of the Dragonstone. I did clean them out as much as I could before putting them in the tank, since the holes were all filled with clay and other stuff, but it was probably not enough.
Another thing I'm just now noticing in those photos is how much I was overfeeding the fish. (See the bottom right of the last photo for example)
3. 29-12-2020.jpg

4. 30-12-2020.jpg
 

Aetherial

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December 30th 2020:
At this point I had done quite a lot of reading, researching, etc.
I realized how most of my plants were pretty much just planted randomly without any thought and decided I was gonna take them all out and replant them.
The more I looked at my scape though, the more I started disliking it in general, and that's when I decided to just take everything out and start over.
That night I started playing around with some pieces of wood I had lying around and came up with the following:
5. 30-12-2020-2.jpg


Wasn't completely happy with it yet, so I made some adjustments until I eventually liked how it looked and ended up with a slightly different version:
6. 30-12-2020-1.jpg



Heading to bed in a minute, so I'll continue posting the rest tomorrow!
 

Aetherial

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January 3rd 2021:
Decided this was gonna be the day.
First I removed all the plants carefully and put them all in a bucket of water I had taken out of the tank.
Once that was done, I took out the hardscape very carefully as not to hurt any fish that might be hiding between rocks, etc.
While taking the hardscape out, I noticed how much garbage was in between and underneath it, followed by a smell I'd imagine to be similar to that of a medieval torture chamber.
Finally, I moved as much water from the tank as I could to a smaller tank I once got when I was a kid, and spent an hour or so trying to catch the fish until I eventually got them all. That day I also learned Corydora's are faster than light!

After getting rid of the old substrate and cleaning the tank, it was time to get started with the new setup.
I already had somewhat of an idea of how I wanted it, so I started with the black gravel. (Which was wet from cleaning it, unfortunately, but wasn't too much of a problem)
7. 03-01-2021-2.jpeg


Next up was the sand. The initial idea was to keep the entire sand area free from plants and to give the Cory's plenty of space to do their thing.
8. 03-01-2021-3.jpeg

9. 03-01-2021.jpg


Once I was happy with how it looked, it was time to get the hardscape in the tank.
Played around with some different positions until I eventually decided I liked it the most as it is in the photo below. (Unfortunately didn't take any photos of the rest)
10. 03-01-2021-4.jpg


Trying to figure out where to place the stones. I liked the stone on the left, but the one on the right didn't work that well imo.
11. 03-01-2021-5.jpeg


Definitely better but still not fully happy.
12. 03-01-2021-6.jpeg



Made a small change by turning the stone on the right the other way around and decided to settle on this.
I would've liked to place that stone a bit more towards the back, underneath that "triangle" below the wood, but the stone I attached to the wood to keep it from floating was in the way, as you can see.
13. 03-01-2021-1.jpg

14. 03-01-2021-7.jpeg
 

Whitebeard

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14 Aug 2015
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Location
Bangalore, India
Hi there,

The scape is coming out good. Some thoughts based on what I see-
1. The base of the driftwood is making a lot of visual impact. I.e. the eyes get fixed on the base rather than moving in the direction of the branches. You might want to see to place more stones if possible to tone that down now, or use a lot of epiphytes like anubias, Java fern etc to achieve the tone down effect while planting.
2. You will need to have a separation boundary between the black gravel and the sand..else they will eventually mix up and will be a nightmare to keep them separated and clean. A row of different sized stones at the border with gaps filled with filter floss would do the trick of keeping them separate
3. Scape the tank with the light on top rather than on side..this will give you the actual view of the scape with final lights and shadows etc. Which you can adjust to your preferences.

Thought might help..Keep shaping!
 

Aetherial

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17 Feb 2021
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Location
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Hi there,

The scape is coming out good. Some thoughts based on what I see-
1. The base of the driftwood is making a lot of visual impact. I.e. the eyes get fixed on the base rather than moving in the direction of the branches. You might want to see to place more stones if possible to tone that down now, or use a lot of epiphytes like anubias, Java fern etc to achieve the tone down effect while planting.
2. You will need to have a separation boundary between the black gravel and the sand..else they will eventually mix up and will be a nightmare to keep them separated and clean. A row of different sized stones at the border with gaps filled with filter floss would do the trick of keeping them separate
3. Scape the tank with the light on top rather than on side..this will give you the actual view of the scape with final lights and shadows etc. Which you can adjust to your preferences.

Thought might help..Keep shaping!
I'm guessing you missed the part in the first post where I said this tank has been running for a couple months now and I'll be posting old pictures of the progress up until where it's at now, hence the dates above photos.
As for your tips,
1: I unfortunately only had stones in other colors than these 2 at the time, mainly Dragonstone, and I felt it wouldn't fit all that well together. I do have a bunch of epiphytes growing on the wood now though, as you will see in the upcoming posts.
2: I've noticed haha. Especially the Cory's liked to make a big mess and the entire sand area is now half sand half gravel. I've recently planted Monte Carlo on the sand though, so it won't be visible anymore soon.
3. I did place the lid on the tank every now and then to see how it looked that way, but I can't actively scape with the lid on, as I won't be able to reach into the tank that way.

Cheers!
Slighty change look of stones maybe? to make the look more natural. Like the wood
How would you suggest changing the look of the stones?

Cheers!
 

Whitebeard

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14 Aug 2015
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My bad!

I typically start from the photos and then start reading from there :rolleyes:..need to get into the habit of reading the intro :).

Having said that..looking forward for more pics of the progress!
 

PARAGUAY

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Lancashire
Not sure how l would change the stones@Aeherial but more stones would give you a seperation of substrates although planting could do the same . It just a personal opinon that the wood if the stones hid the base of the wood it would look more natuaral and not placed? Does that make sense .Some of the ADA scapers do it very well
 

Aetherial

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Not sure how l would change the stones@Aeherial but more stones would give you a seperation of substrates although planting could do the same . It just a personal opinon that the wood if the stones hid the base of the wood it would look more natuaral and not placed? Does that make sense .Some of the ADA scapers do it very well
That definitely makes sense! I initially did want to add more stones but I only had Dragonstone lying around and felt like it wouldn't fit well with the rest aesthetically. Will definitely keep it in mind for my next tank though!

January 4th 2021:
Unfortunately, I don't have any photo's of the planting process.
I replanted most of the plants I took out of the original scape and then filled the tank back up with the 50L of water from the spare tank the fish were in, placed the fish back into the tank, and then added another 50L of fresh water.
The next day (Which is the date above) the water had gone very cloudy, which I assume was due to bacteria bloom.
I also noticed that for some reason I hadn't filled it to the top, so I added another couple litres. I'm guessing it was due to sleep deprivation. I'm someone who can't just stop in the middle of something, I NEED to finish it, and because of that, I had been awake for 30 hours or so by the time the tank was filled back up.

Couple notes about the photos:
Majority of the plants currently aren't in the tank anymore
Also, you're allowed to laugh at the horrible placement of the Anubias and Trident, no worries :hilarious:
17. 04-01-2021.jpg

18. 04-01-2021-1.jpg
 

Aetherial

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Since there's not a whole lot going on in the next couple photos, I'll post everything I've got from January in this post.
I might do all of February in one post as well, I'll have to check how many photo's I've got and if there's any major changes happening.

January 8th 2021:
Tank has gotten cloudier and the usual slime has appeared all over the wood.
Most plants were looking pretty bad at this point.
19. 08-01-2021.jpg


January 11th 2021:
Not much of a change compared to the photo above.
Still very cloudy, and the slime on the wood has decreased slightly.
20. 11-01-2021.jpg


January 13th 2021:
The water has started clearing up a little bit, and the slime on the wood is starting to fall apart.
The Anubias on the right is covered in BBA and all the mosses are full of debris and dying.
21. 13-01-2021.jpg


January 16th 2021:
The water is starting to really clear up now.
Removed as much of the slime as I could with my hand, and cleaned the mosses too, which where surprisingly green underneath all the garbage.
I did try removing the BBA on the Anubias, but I wasn't able to without tearing up the leaves, so I stopped.
23. 16-01-2021.jpg


January 19th 2021:
Once more, the clarity of the water has improved.
The slime came back, but I decided to just let it disappear on its own rather than removing it again.
Looking back on these older photos, especially this one, I can't believe how much I was overfeeding the fish.
24. 19-01-2021.jpg


January 27th 2021:
Again, no really big changes.
The water did become a little clearer and the slime was still covering part of the wood.
Also still overfeeding the fish, as you can clearly see on the Anubias below the wood.
The plants were growing rather slow, (Which is no surprise now that I look back on it) and I started seeing some hair algae at the very top.
28. 27-01-2021.jpg
 

Aetherial

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Time for some more updates. On to February!

February 5th 2021:
Water is finally nice and clear now and the slime has pretty much disappeared completely.
Most of the plants are slowly growing and doing pretty well, with a couple exceptions. All the mosses are pretty much 50% moss and 50% algae at this point.
The Corys have also mixed the sand and gravel quite a bit, as predicted by @Whitebeard 😂
34. 05-02-2021-1.jpg


February 6th 2021:
Got 15 Bloody Mary shrimp and a couple plants from a friend.
I didn't have any glue, so I had to attach the Tridents to the wood with sewing thread. By the time I was done, I was ready for a couple therapy sessions, and would like to never even look at sewing thread ever again.
I also removed the Anubias, cut off the leaves that had a lot of BBA on them, and gave it a new place between the stone and the wood.
37. 06-02-2021.jpg


February 16th 2021:
Finally a bit of a bigger change here.
I've decided to get rid of the small Superfish filter and replaced it with an Oase Biomaster Thermo 350.
I also replaced the Dennerle DC with the nicer looking ADA DC.
39. 16-02-2021.jpg


February 19th 2021:
Another big change!
The small Dennerle CO2 system has been replaced by the much better CO2Art system. (CO2Art PRO-SE Regulator + Bazooka Flux Diffuser + 2kg Co2 cylinder)
I also installed 2 more lights. The lid on this tank only has 2 dedicated spots to install lights, so I had to improvise. I decided to drill a couple holes in the lid so I could keep the lights in place with cable ties. I don't have any photo's of this currently, but if anyone wants to see what I did, let me know, and I'll take some photo's.
I also gave the background plants a trim and placed all the cuttings back in there.
43. 19-02-2021.jpg
 

Aetherial

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February 22th 2021:
I finally got me a tube of glue, so I removed all the Tridents that were at the very top of the wood, and glued them all to the big central area of the wood. (And made a huge mess in the process 😅)
I also decided to give up on the moss, so I ripped most of it off.
45. 22-02-2021-1.jpg


February 24th 2021:
Got a whole bunch of Anubias nana Mini & Anubias nana Bonsai from a friend, and decided to place it all along the wood. Looking at it now, it gives me a bit of an "Ivy" kind of feel, like it's climbing up the wood.
I also got some more Rotala Rotundifolia Blood Red stems from him to fill out the right side of the background a bit quicker.
46. 24-02-2021.jpg


February 26th 2021:
Finally, new plants!
I ordered a ton of new plants after drawing a bit of a plan on top of the previous photo.
I spent quite a while figuring out which plants I wanted, and as you might've suspected from the photo, I ordered way too many, because I couldn't choose. 😂

Plants in the photo:
Hygrophila Pinnatifida
Proserpinaca Palustris
Limnophila Aromatica
Cabomba Piauhyensis
Rotala Vietnam H'ra
Rotala Wallichii
Alternanthera Reineckii Mini
Cryptocoryne Flamingo
Pogostemon Helferi
Bucephalandra Super Blue
Bucephalandra Theia Red
Bucephalandra Velvet
Bucephalandra spec. Brown/Red
Bucephalandra Godzilla
Micranthemum Monte Carlo
Weeping Moss
Fissidens Fontanus
48. 26-02-2021.jpg



Spent the entire afternoon planting everything, and in the end, I used the following plants out of everything listed above:
Hygrophila Pinnatifida (A couple stems)
Cabomba Piauhyensis
Rotala Vietnam H'ra
Rotala Wallichii
Alternanthera Reineckii Mini
Cryptocoryne Flamingo
Pogostemon Helferi (Store said "1 per pot", ordered 5, got 5 pots completely filled up with plants instead 😂)
Bucephalandra Super Blue
Bucephalandra Theia Red
Bucephalandra Velvet
Bucephalandra Godzilla
Micranthemum Monte Carlo
Weeping Moss
Fissidens Fontanus

I also got rid of a lot of plants, most of which I bought just because the lfs recommended those, right after I set up the tank for the first time.

Because my previous moss didn't work out too well, I decided to look a bit more into how to grow it well.
I found a video where they suggested cutting the moss up in very small pieces, and then "sprinkling" it all over the glue in a thin layer.
I decided to try it this way, and even though at some point there was more moss glued to my gloves than on the wood, my gloves glued to the tweezers, my tweezers glued to the wood, etc., it worked out well!
49. 26-02-2021-1.jpg
 

Aetherial

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I gotta agree with you - the Ivy effect is great!
Cheers mate, glad to hear!
Currently, it's looking a little rough. Quite a lot of the leaves started dying, got holes in them, etc., so I cut all of those off earlier today.
You'll notice once I get the journal up to date, which should be in 2 more posts or so, considering the previous post is from 3 weeks ago. Almost at the point where I'll continue updating with real-time progress!
I suspect the reason for a lot of the leaves dying is because they came from a friend's tank, which I'd imagine could have quite a difference in water parameters, etc.
 

Aetherial

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March 2nd 2021:
No big changes really.
All plants are growing well except for the Trident.
50. 02-03-2021.jpg


March 5th 2021:
The Limnophila Sessiliflora are growing crazy fast! Only 3 days between the photo above and the one below.
Most of the other plants are growing pretty fast as well, and you can see a clear difference between those 2 photo's.
2 of the 3 Cryptocoryne Flamingo's have melted and the 3rd has decreased in size quite a bit as well, but we'll see what happens over time.
I also removed the H. Pinnatifida from the middle of the branch, as I found it way too distracting. I moved it down, in between the Anubias nana Mini.
Lastly, I moved all the Rotala Vietnam H'ra and Rotala Rotundifolia Blood Red from the sand to the black gravel area, to keep some more open space for the filter inlet and diffuser.
51. 05-03-2021.jpg


March 7th 2021:
Still some very fast growth from the Limnophila Sessiliflora.
Most of the other plants are doing quite well too, and especially the Rotala Wallichii is starting to go past the other background plants in height.
The Monte Carlo is slowly starting to crawl across the sand as well, and luckily, this time the moss is actually still green after a week!
The Alternanthera Reineckii Mini is starting to get some nice color as well, which is always good to see!

Of course, we can't have an update without any negative news, though.
The bigger Anubias at the bottom/middle/left (Still make sense? 😂) is starting to get some yellowing on the leaves, and some staghorn algae is appearing as well.
I'm not sure what caused this, but I'm guessing perhaps all the new plants means there's a lot more demand for nutrients/co2, and there simply isn't enough for everyone.
I tried looking it up on google, but I couldn't find any deficiencies that look like what's going on here.
Rather than the entire leaf becoming yellow, it's only becoming yellow in small areas. (The top leaf anyways. The one below is more yellow overall)
53. 07-03-2021-1.jpg


March 14th 2021:
Trimmed the Limnophila Sessiliflora and planted the cuttings back in between them. Must have been a couple days before this photo, though, as they're already quite tall again.
Again, most of the other plants are doing well, and the Cabomba Piauhyensis is finally getting tall enough to be visible.
Monte Carlo is spreading nicely, although I'm starting to see a little bit of algae on it on the right side.
Luckily the Cryptocoryne Flamingo that didn't melt at the start is still slowly growing, so I feel like at least this one will make it and get nice and big over time.
What I'm probably happiest about at this point, is that the Fissidens seems to be doing great. It's made its way across the wood quite a bit already, and it's nice and green.
The Anubias seems to be getting worse. The leaves are getting more yellow, and more algae is starting to appear.
There's also some algae starting to appear on the stone on the right side.
One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that I added 10 Amano's somewhere in the past week or so. Hopefully that will help a bit for the algae as well.
Lastly, my DC is blue because I refilled it earlier that day.
54. 14-03-2021.jpg


March 15th 2021:
Once again, I trimmed the Limnophila Sessiliflora and put the cutting back into the gravel.
I also cut the tops of some of the Alternanthera off and replanted those as well.
After that, I got tired of looking at the ugly mess that's supposed to be a Trident, and decided to just cut everything off and see if any new leaves start growing out of the rhizomes.
55. 15-03-2021.jpg


March 20th 2021:
And that brings us to today! From this point, I'll be posting real-time updates.
Since all posts from here on will be of the current state of the tank, I'll happily take any suggestions you might have, to improve to scape, etc.

Did a bit of a clean up today. I cut off the bad leaves on the Anubias and removed a bunch of leaves from some of the other plants as well.
I also moved all the H. Pinnatifida to a different spot, as I'd read you should attach them with the stem going along the wood, rather than vertically, as I had them before.
Other than that, I cut off the top of the rightmost Alternanthera and replanted it, as it was growing a bit higher than the others in that group.
Lastly, again, the DC is blue because I cleaned and refilled it.
57. 20-03-2021.jpg


Something else that's not an update.
In the very first post, I mentioned Corydoras Julii in my list of fauna.
Earlier today while browsing through some threads, I found out it's actually the Trilineatus rather than the Julii, (At least, I think it's the Trilineatus) which apparently happens quite a lot.
Here's a photo for confirmation, and cuteness. (Taken before the rescape. in case you're wondering where that Dragonstone suddenly came from)
47. 24-02-2021-1-Edit.jpg



Some final notes:

The open area on the left, between the 2 groups of Alternanthera, is left open on purpose, because there's a bit of a "tunnel" there, going underneath the wood, all the way to the back. The Corys like to hang out there a lot, and usually when they come to the front, that's where they're coming from.
I think maybe once the Monte Carlo covers that black gravel area, it'll look better and less empty.

I also want to start shaping the background plants soon, but before that, I think I want to trim everything down till maybe the first nodes above the substrate, then cut up the cuttings in smaller pieces and replant those, to get everything nice and bushy.
Two questions I have about that are:
Should I give the plants some more time to grow taller first? Or is it fine to start doing this now.
Secondly, should I do this one species at a time? For example, start with the Limnophila Sessiliflora, then once they've grown back to a good height, do the same for the Cabomba that's next to it, etc.
 

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