• 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.

"Shattered Tree" - 140 ltr Opti-white


19 Jul 2007
Lincoln UK
So I decided to rescape the 140ltr Opti-white. I am going to DSM it for a month with full lights and then it will run low tech with the middle row of lights turned off and no CO2.

Decided on a "Triangular" scape being an "island" in one corner leading down to a "grassland."

With that in mind and calling it "Shattered Tree" I may as well get on with building a shattered tree out of all the Manzanita I took from the last scape. I scrubbed it all clean after taking it out of the last scape. And with cobbles being used in my other little scape I used some more in this scape just to add something else and break up the "grassland."

So first up I'll create the shattered tree. I am drilling holes and then using stainless steel screws to join each piece together. No messing about there and no slippage that can happen with cable ties.

The ruler is there because this tank is 40cm deep so I am using it to gauge where the back and front of the "tree" will be.

At night I sorted the tank out with substrate etc. Long post this one and lots of pictures step by step:

First off I cleaned the tank up and poured the last of some leonardite I had left over from aquascapes in the late noughties :) Then I added a layer of the old akadama that had been rinsed through a sieve to remove all the dust and silt that had developed from being in there for...........Wow, just checked my timeline. The last scape was filled with water on 14th October 2014 and only emptied yesterday!!! So this akadama has been "used" for nearly 32 months!!! It has held up really well and still in nice granular form after cleaning.

Then on top there is about an inch of fresh dry akadama straight out of the bag.

Substrate is scaped and then the "shattered tree" positioned. An adjustment here and there until I am happy:

No spotter's badge for seeing it is now the next day. That reflection is a bit of a giveaway. Nice day out but I'll be here for a good few hours out of the sun because there's a lot to get on with.

I wanted some contrast especially on the left hand side and it was at this point that I grabbed the cobbles. Positioned them to hopefully look as natural as possible and then started to lay micranthemum 'monte carlo' on the bare substrate. This was the carpet in my last scape.

All the monte carlo is now "planted" and another larger cobble (more like a paddlestone) added on the left. Then I looked for inspiration on where to put my anubias. I eventually decided to put them higher up the water column and deeper into the tank rather than near the bottom and towards the front as I normally do.

Next I added Bolbitis Heudelotii to the tree section with Cryptocoryne Balansae behind the tree (you can't see that) as well as scattering Wendtii Green and Wendtii "Tropica" around.

A more zoomed in version looking from above at the "island" at the moment:

Finally for the planting step by step I have now added cryptocoryne wendtii brown and Cryptocoryne Parva to the scape. I have also added a few scraps of Staurogyne Repens in the centre of the cobbles on the left. This may come out at a later date if it looks silly.

And some Narrow Fern has been added to the top of the tree. Not too much because over time it goes mad and blocks the light out below :)

And feeling left out Glenvale Louis decided to get in on the act. One of the rare occasions that lazy greyhounds get up and I managed to capture it :)

Although he didn't get up for long and he didn't have far to come to the tank. I moved the tank about a year ago from where his bed now is, so I don't have to keep listening to a friendly growl when I need him to move :p

And that is what I call planting heavily from the outset!!!

Plants used that I already had in other tanks or from the previous scape:
Micranthemum 'monte carlo' - approx 10-15 pots worth.
Anubias Barteri v Nana - approx 4 pots worth.
Bolbitis Heudelotii - approx 3 pots worth.
Cryptocoryne Balansae - approx 3 pots worth.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Tropica" - approx 3 pots worth.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii "Green" - approx 2 pots worth.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii "Brown" - approx 3 pots worth.
Cryptocoryne Parva - approx 2 pots worth.
Staurogyne Parva - approx half a pot.

Plants used that I bought for this scape:
Cryptocryne Crispulata - 1-2-3 grow x 2 pots.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green - 2 pots.
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Brown - 2 pots.
Cryptocoryne Parva - 2 pots.

So with all the first list free "so to speak" I spent about £30 on new plants however I will recoup more than that from excess plants from the previous scape.

1 month of DSM and 1st July I should be ready to fill her up :)


  • IMG_2403.JPG
    2.2 MB · Views: 263
Last edited:
Subscribed and watching with interest. Should be great to see it growing in, keep the updates coming through the DSM. Never done one before so I'm interested to see how your experience goes
Shattered tree 1 week into DSM.

Not much change. The monte carlo will change into emersed form before it starts to grow and fill out
I added some Anubias petite on the branch in the centre to hide the screws which were slightly visible.
Not much to post because it is a DSM. I did add another cobble on the right of the scape where I was umming and ahhing if the plants would disguise the "join" between monte carlo and Crypts. A couple of weeks of looking at that part constantly ended up making the decision for me. If I am seeing that as a possible future "problem" all the time then something needs to be done.

I have done the obligatory 0-1-2-3 week advance shots of the DSM. They don;t really show much difference but as an explanation. The first week the submersed monte carlo started to yellow a bit and die back. The Second week emersed form started to grow and by the end of the 3rd week it has started to come really green and thicken up. I expect the gaps will fill up in the next week and I may it give it an extra week if it hasn't.

Another little problem that was expected is that the plants from the old scape in submersed form have struggled a bit and melted in this emersed stage. The new plants that arrived in emersed form have of course flourished. There will probably be a reverse when I flood it of some of the emersed plants then melting to come back in submersed form.
Wow, 27th June 17 was my last post on this and I didn't even show it filled. This is still going so I'll try and update from pictures I have on the HD.

These pictures are from 17th July 2017
Seems I didn't take many more pictures of the tank as it was then. I moved house last year in September and the tank lay in an emersed state for months untouched and going a bit manky. At the beginning of March I tidied it up a bit and re spread some Monte Carlo along the front with Dwarf Hairgrass mid to background and ran it for another 3 weeks emersed so these pictures are from 3rd March this year. Not pretty but that is the state it was in at the time.

The LED light has been taken from the brackets at this point and laid directly on top of the lid so it is closer:
Last edited:
And then the last photos I took are from 17th April 2019. There are no full tank shots here as I was photographing my first new arrivals into the tank. 6 Zebra Otos (Otocinclus Cocama.)

I will update further as the scape progresses and grows back in. There was a vast amount of pruning to tidy it up before it was flooded. I think it had been running for a month before I got round to adding the Otos

Finally you will have to forgive me the quality of pictures taken this year as I dropped my newer camera last year and thus these are taken with a Fujifilm FinePix A700 which is from 2006 :

I should add that the film on the back has been on there since either the beginning of this scape or possibly the one before that and I've never been that happy with it. It is a bit too white rather than just frosted and I want to use backlighting (as you can see above) which doesn't work very well because the light from the above just highlights the whitish film so much.

So I've ordered some more that I hope will be less white and more misty. Then I'll take some before and afters and show you how this mess is shaping up so far. As you can see from above there is plenty of "Oto food" in there and while I usually experience some Oto death early on when I add a group these 6 are still alive and well. So maybe it is usually from them starving rather than my previous assumption that they are just sensitive souls and a death or 2 is to be expected.

I have also added a mesh shrimp filter inlet cover because Otos are notoriously weak swimmers and waking up to an Oto that has been stuck to the filter inlet all night is not something I want.
So fantastic to see this journal continuing on

I’ve always admired how much you accomplish while maintaining strict budget (sounds a bit naf when I reread that comment :oops: )

Zebra Otos (Otocinclus Cocama.
I don’t know how much you had to splash out for these - no one even brings them in locally as the wholesale price is so high - but that price does mean that these tend to be much better looked after through the “fish chain” than traditional otocinclus species

Yours look nice and fat :D

Pretty sure Glenvale Louis is feeling left out over the lack of 2019 portraits :shifty:

Commiserations on that camera drop :eek:
So fantastic to see this journal continuing on

I’ve always admired how much you accomplish while maintaining strict budget (sounds a bit naf when I reread that comment :oops: )

I don’t know how much you had to splash out for these - no one even brings them in locally as the wholesale price is so high - but that price does mean that these tend to be much better looked after through the “fish chain” than traditional otocinclus species

Yours look nice and fat :D

Pretty sure Glenvale Louis is feeling left out over the lack of 2019 portraits :shifty:

Commiserations on that camera drop :eek:

I wouldn't say that I do too much in terms of trying to intentionally maintain a strict budget. I'm just tight :)

The Otos were silly price. I remember a decade ago they were £20 for 4 from Tri-Mar. These cost £18 each :eek: but I've wanted them for ages so I bit the bullet.

Unfortunately Glenvale Louis was put down in March after being diagnosed with bone cancer in November. He was quite happy till the end though.
Last edited:
Just a few pictures to show where we are with this at the moment. The pictures might make it look a little "cleaner" and possibly "fuller" than it actually is. The phones weaknesses really showed up in these. Struggles with white balance especially when pointing at a great source, makes some picture look very dark (2nd one in particular.)

These were taken about 10 minutes ago so are not the full lights. I am running 36W from 2pm to 3pm (front and back row.) Then 54W from 3pm to 7pm (all 3 rows.) Then back to 36W from 7pm to 10pm.

The Drop checkers are bright blue at the moment because I have just refilled them. I did have the traditional style one low down which struggled to get to green at the back left and the hang on one bordering yellow over the front right but I was suffering drunken shrimp which the new Cardinal Tetras were picking off in mid water madness. Was on 3bps.

So I've refilled them and moved them. Limited as to what I can do with the hang on one so it is now behind the inlet/outlet on the front left and the traditional one is on the right. turned down to 2bps and will see what happens tomorrow. Using an Up inline atomiser. I will be trusting the shrimp/fish rather than the DCs. The traditional one was right next to the shrimp feeding tray which collects the bubbles into one underneath it so it shouldn't be staying blue. The beauty of atomisers is that you can see the micrbubbles (with some 4x reading glasses anyway) and plenty are low down running along the bottom.

This is the tank setup at the moment. Next to my laptop and my beer........and me if I weren't taking photos at this point. This picture is the closest to the actual brightness of the tank. A teeny bit darker than reality but very close when only 2 strips of LEDS on:

This is the full tank shot. This camera can't deal with the light here and has darkened the tank up:

And from an angle to try and look arty:
Just a backdated post here. Some more pics from 12/05/19. These just show the layout as it was. Not really grown in properly yet. The left hand side is all a bit flat. These pictures (and those that follow to today) are taken with an old Fujifilm 7.3mp compact which is nigh on impossible to take decent aquarium snaps with. It just can;t deal with the contrasts of dark and light and the luminaire blinds it most of the time:
And finally (yes finally) some pictures from Wednesday last week (18/09/19) in the final hours of its current format. 4 months since the backdated post above. Yes I got a bit bored of how it looked and the Crypts had all taken over a little on the left, spreading out so that there were larger ones creeping through the front. So these are the final pictures of "shattered tree" and we will move on to.................."shattered tree Mk2."

The title being a hint that rather than a new scape it will be a re-work of the current one albeit everything being refreshed and a change of tack in terms of products used within and routine.

At this point there is only 1 of the Otocinclus Cocama left in there. 5 died in the first month, probably because of transit issues when they arrived as well as the "emersed" scape being left manky for so long when I moved. 17 of the 18 Cardinals are still alive and well and I'm not going to attempt to count the shrimp for obvious reasons. Somewhere in the region of 250 were taken out to go into the re-work.

I'll put a link to the new journal when I've sorted out pics. probably tomorrow as I am doing a Tropica style "plant plan":

Last edited:
Do you guys have experience with transparent lids like this one? I have one too and there is quite a bit of water droplets on in due to evaporation. How much light do these lids prevent from reaching the tank?
Do you guys have experience with transparent lids like this one? I have one too and there is quite a bit of water droplets on in due to evaporation. How much light do these lids prevent from reaching the tank?

You can see the evaporation droplets on this one. I have no idea the effect on light but then this is a 10mm thick acrylic lid and a few years old. I daresay even when new it would have some effect. I just prefer to have a lid for several reasons:

1 - Stops childrens fingers as well as any missiles entering the aquarium
2 - Stops water evaporating at the usual rate of an open top. I have very hard water and thus would need to replace evaporated water with DI / Rainwater.
3 - Stops any splashing getting to the light and leaving marks on the lenses. Even if there is just a ripple then you get teeny bubbles bursting.

There was a thread on another forum somewhere where a reefer tested the PAR for open top vs glass but he was more trying to show how much a dirty / soiled glass blocked. IT was quite eye opening though.
Just a tip for photographing tanks, especially with your phone...

The tap to focus is a really valuable tool here... if you touch the screen before you take the photograph, the camera will use the place you touched as the point at which it takes its autofocus calculations, rather than looking either at the centre or at the whole image and trying to balance everything. This includes the white balance, brightness etc. So by clicking near one of the darker areas of the tank, you should get a far better overall shot as the phone realises that you want to be able to see the detail in this location. Hope that makes sense, happy to do a better write up if anyone is interested in this... I prefer to use my phone camera over anything else as I find the auto features far better when using the above feature.