Neil's NEW 60cm Nature Aquarium v3

Discussion in 'Journals' started by oldwhitewood, 29 Sep 2008.

  1. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    Ok here is a step by step of my new layout. As you may know I've been running a tank using the same equipment for about a year and a half now, but I'd become a bit bored and frustrated with the old layout and wanted to try something different. There were a couple of reasons for this. mainly the tank had become very unruly and overgrown, and also I'd moved the tank from my house to my parents to my new apartment so you can imagine it was a little worse for wear in terms of design...not however in terms of condition. There is certainly something to say for the longevity of setups using aquasoil and powersand, this has been the longest planted tank I have ever maintained without it becoming completely wrecked, so it was a bit of a milestone for me. However I think I need to challenge myself a bit more, as I still don't feel 100% confident in what I'm doing and I wanted to improve my skills with maintaining something long term with a tricky trimming routine, so after much deliberation I decided to try a planted foreground again, something which I hadn't done for about two years. I also decided to use my favorite foreground plant, echinodorus tenellus which is quite contrary to what I've been reading on here, most people don't use if for foregrounds because it grows too tall but it's been something I'd wanted to try for a while now.

    The first thing I did was to setup a temp holding tank for the inhabitants, which at this stage were around 10 large shrimp and a small shoal of Neon Tetras, probably about 1 otto left in there too. I had to mature the tank and then move the plants and inhabitants in there of course, the process of which is well documented elsewhere so I won't go into the details, suffice to say they're all fine so far. Anyway with the tank drained I obtained a 9L bag of Aqua Soil Malaya, "why not Amazonia?" I hear you cry! Well my plan was to remove the sand foreground and fill in with Malaya which I already had in the tank anyway, but after a chat with my friend Luis (his tank is the one I put on the aquascapes thread) we reckoned it best to remove all the aquasoil and expose the powersand underneath, then re-create the top layer of aquasoil from scratch. This is what I did and the following pictures should show that process. NB I wont go into explaining how to use powersand special and tourmaline BC as again it's well documented elsewhere.
  2. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    STEP 1 - Substrate


    Here we have all the aquasoil removed exposing the base layer of power sand special. I didn't want to disturb this too much.


    The aquasoil was added over the top like so.


    I use a plastic container and sprinkle the substrate lightly over, as I don't want it to compact down too much to begin with.


    Now the substrate is in place it's leveled with a sand flattener type tool (it's name escapes me at the moment). So as usual I slope up the aquasoil from back to front, this time I've left a lot more height at the back; what I observed in the last setup was the soil compacted down over time and it simply wasn't high enough.
  3. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    STEP 2 - Wood arrangement

    I'd originally planned to use redmoor wood which broke the surface of the water easily and looked quite impressive, but I decided against this because mainly I felt it was too overpowering in a two foot tank, I think it would be better suited to a 90x45x45 (hmmmmm). Instead I used some of my collection of driftwood already. I wanted something which looked like ADA old black wood, the sumartra driftwood I have seems to fit the bill quite well.


    As usual the wood was dressed with moss left over from my old layout.


    The idea was to have two opposing structures if you like, rather than the more common outward branch type of thing. I'm still not sure if this looks good but I think I wanted something which looked quite unassuming and wasn't trying too hard. One of the things I have here is an old 60x30x36 tank I saved, as I removed the bracing with a razor blade (and most of the skin from my fingers) from it ages ago it isn't capable of holding water, but I keep it filled with a layer of sand and try out different wood arrangments. It's quite useful to do and I think I went through about 6 different combinations before I arrived at the above.
  4. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    STEP 3 - Planting

    Remembering to keep misting the moss with water so as not to let it dry out I planted up the foreground with echinodorus tenellus. I'm not sure about this at the moment it looks a bit messy but I'm hoping it's going to fill in. As you can see the substrate was soaked significantly to allow easy planting of the tenellus.


    Next I planted cryptocoryne x willisii and parva behind the tennellus, along with a background of stems comprising of Didiplis diandra, rotala spec. green, ludwigia arcuata all tropica potted plants from The Green Machine.


    Finally after I finished planting the stems I filled the tank up and set everything going, as an absent friend once said on his journal 'NOTE THE CLARITY' :D


    My idea with this layout is not to have something really ambitious or even original. I just want something which looks fresh and green, so I've opted for a simple layout with a few types of plants, nothing too complex.
  5. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    STEP 4 - Aftermath!


    This is how the tank looked at that stage.


    Shortly after this disaster stuck. I went out to the pub and when I got back wasted with a takeaway I noticed the level had dropped and the carpet was soaking, one of the filter taps on my eheim was leaking so I had set up an emergency internal filter and heater and order a new part. You try doing that drunk it's not fun believe me. Due to the ebay seller being an idiot it's taken over a week to arrive, so two weeks later I've finally got the external filter running tonight.

    My observations so far are BBA on some of the tenellus leaves which will need trimming and removing. There is also a significant amount of green dust algae on the front glass, both of these I believe are due to the poor filtration I've been running on it since, so hopefully it should start to mature and recover now. I'm doing 50% water changes twice a week at the moment. More on this as it develops. I've also raised my CO2 slightly to just over 1 bubble per second.

    One thing I will say is the stems are growing beautifully so far.

    I guess I better give you a rundown of the equipment I've used for this.


    60x30x36 opti-white german made tank (same company which makes them for ADA)
    ADA style stand (custom built by yours truly)
    60cm arcadia luminaire retro fitted with two 36w interpet daylight + power compacts (chopped down from the 100cm one)
    eheim ecco 2234
    hydor external heater
    D&D disposable CO2 kit with solenoid

    ADA Products used

    ADA lily pipe inlet & outlet, p2 & v2
    ADA diffuser (old type)
    ADA CO2 grey parts set
    ADA drop checker
    ADA Aqua Soil Malaya
    ADA Power Sand Special S
    ADA Tourmaline BC


    Echinodorus tenellus
    Vwsicularia dubyana
    Microsorum ptrtopus 'Narrow'
    Rotala spec. "Green"
    Cryptocoryne x willissi
    Cryptocoryne parva
    Ludwigia arcuata
    Didipilid diandra

    About 75% of these plants were from The Green Machine, it's nice to be able to buy every plant you want there and then in a shop I can say that much. The condition of the plants was also excellent.

    Ferts will be ADA Green Brightly Step 1 and Special K for the time being. I'm not starting to dose yet though as the substrate is so rich I'm leaving it for a bit to settle down. I did this before and it seemed to work with my last setup.

    Anyway I hope this has been interesting and I will keep the journal updated with everything as honestly and as openly as I can.
  6. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

    ADA Aqua-Porn! :D :D

    Nice one, Neil. Looking good, already. And the photography is superb too. 50mm prime lens?

    Looking forward to seeing this progress... I give it 3-4 months to a nice maturity.

    PS you're mates with Luis? I tried to get him to submit that aquascape as a PFK Great Planted Tank... It's ace.
  7. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    Thanks sir.

    It was a combo of my 50mm f1.8 and 28mm f2.8 both solid lenses although there is a little barrel distortion on the 28mm.

    Yeah I know Luis via MSN, I keep badgering him for more pictures, stunning work he's doing there.
  8. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    The BIG End, South Wales
    Awesome, Neil. I was looking at your work on flickr the other day. Magnificent work mate :)
  9. Luketendo

    Luketendo Member

    West Sussex, England
    Please teach me how to make an invisible jug.

    This should probably grow out nicely.
  10. joyous214

    joyous214 Member

    oh nice... like like like
  11. Dan Crawford

    Dan Crawford Founder Staff Member

    Daventry, Northants
    Thats on the button pal! stunning step by step, worthy of an aquajournal IMO.

    Can't wait to see it grow in, another stunner from you by the looks of it, good luck.
  12. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Nice write up, maybe one day I can get a nice tank full of ADA kit ;) looks awsome.
    Looking foward to see how things grow in and how far you take the scape.
    Keep us posted and congrats :)
  13. Thomas McMillan

    Thomas McMillan Member

    I love this tank, especially the wood. I love wood like that. Just think it would look to get some height at the back maybe.
  14. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    thanks very much
  15. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    Cheers Dan
  16. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    Thanks and will do.
  17. jay

    jay Member

    Harrow, Middlesex
    Now THIS is how to do a journal :)
  18. A beautifully executed journal Neil, we should let you do our next one here.The tanks very finely done too and reminds me of coral with the shapes of the wood. PS, glad you were happy with the plants and see ya soon.
  19. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

    Thanks very kind you.

    I was very happy with the plants yes they're excellent, and such a refreshing change to have all the plants you want right there in the place, as well as them being the correct types! I was also very pleased with the redmoor I got but I just felt I was trying to do too much with a small tank like mine and as I say it would warrant a bigger setup. I have it for the future anyway.
  20. Graeme Edwards

    Graeme Edwards Founder Staff Member

    Wirral/Chester Cheshire.
    Hi Neil,

    Nice thread pal, and thanks for spending the time making it look and read very well.
    You seem quite focused on this, so I have no doubt it will pay dividends.

    Nice one!!!

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