The Journal of a Complete Beginner! [50 Gallon]

GHudston

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5 Jan 2009
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Well, not complete beginner. Not to fishkeeping at least!

Hello! My name is Gary Hudston and I am currently a poor University Student who has decided, astonishingly, that a planted aquarium is the best use for all his spare pennies!

I have been keeping fish for most of my life, and when I wasn't keeping them I was totally obsessed with my older brothers aquarium. I have had a number of community aquariums, which eventually led to my first experience with fish breeding (Guppies, naturally). I was then hooked, eventually moving on to a small scale Betta breeding programme in my bedroom. When this became too much for me I decided to pack it in until I was able to set up a drip filter system, a project which is still on the back burner until after university, and moved on to keeping a pair of oscars which unfortunately died 6 months ago.

Having no fish at all was slowly starting to get to me and so I decided to scale it back a bit and keep a simple community aquarium to tide me over until I was in a better position to resume breeding bettas. If any of you knew me, you would know that I cannot do anything by halves and during my initial research and planning my simple community tank balooned into a desire to create a lush planted aquascape!

Planted aquariums are somethng that I have not ever tried before besides buying some poor quality plants from various pet shops, throwing them into a tank with my fish and watching them slowly disintegrate. This time I hope to do it properly!

I have had a tank sat on a sturdy desk next to my work space for a couple of weeks now and it is slowly beginning to take shape.

I first put in three bags of flourite black sand (and one bag of flourite black, as I couldn't find more than three bags of the sand!), here it is in the tank:
Substrate001.jpg


Next came the hardscape, sourced from Aquaessentials.co.uk (who are brilliant.). Mini Landscape Rocks and Redmoor Wood:
Hardscape004.jpg


I even got a piece that reminds me of an Easter Island head!
Hardscape002.jpg


I had some difficulty getting the pieces to fit in the tank how I had planned it out, so I had to think outside of the box and eventually combined all three pieces of wood into a single tree root. You have to be sat on my desk to be able to see the join, which will be hidden further when it is planted. Also notice some HC in the process of being planted, it's like performing neuro surgery!
IMG_3474.jpg


And here it is with the finished carpet. Note that from the angle that I will view the tank you cannot really see the top of the root, giving the impression that it continues out of the tank. I want to hide the part where the root has been cut with some moss or other plants that I can attach once the tank is filled:
IMG_3489.jpg


I am going to grow the HC emmersed until I can afford CO2 injection (should be able to order it in a few weeks time, but I may still let the HC grow more before flooding. I'll see how it goes!):
IMG_3505.jpg


And finally, me getting a bit more creative with camera angles:
IMG_3504.jpg


That's it for now. I'm excited to see how the HC grows on from here; it's been in there now for about 3 days and it's still nice and green so I have reasonable hopes for it. This is the first time that I have decorated a fish tank more than just adding gravel, a piece of wood/some rocks and some plastic plants (or short lived live ones!), so please let me know what you think!

Cheers!
 

hellohefalump

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25 Sep 2008
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Newhaven, east sussex
Looks like a good start, it'll be interesting to see the HC grow emersed. I'm growing some in a small tub on my window sill just for the fun of it. Can't tell you how it's doing yet though, as it's been there under a week.

What sort of lights have you got? Have you thought about what you are going to do for ferts? Also what type of CO2 system you're going with?
 

GHudston

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5 Jan 2009
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I have a pair of T5HO 39W bulbs with reflectors. I bought this tank with the intention of having moderately decent lights to start out with but which could be easily upgraded later if I felt that I needed it.

I'm going to get a pressurised system of some description, though I couldn't tell you exactly which one. I want to get a ready made set though if I can find one to suit my needs; I don't like the idea of fiddling with a fire extinguisher if I'm honest!

As for ferts, I'm not sure yet. That's the one thing that I've not completely gotten to grips with, but I'm looking into getting dry ferts and mixing my own drops. As to what, and how much/how often, I've still got to figure that one out!
 

Nick16

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Surrey, UK
have you covered the tank with something like cling film to get the 'greenhouse' effect with humidity. ???

just checking in case you havent, and dont forget to mist the HC every other day or so.
 

GHudston

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5 Jan 2009
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Yes, the tank is covered. It's probably not as air tight as I'd like it to be but it seems to be holding moisture extremely well, with condensation on the glass all of the time. I'm misting the tank at least daily, but I give it a quick spray if it's starting to look anything but nice and moist. Hopefully this will be fine, but I'll keep an eye on it and if things start to dry up then I'll have to try something else!

Cheers!
 

Nick16

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it should be fine with daily misting, looks good though mate. i am in need of some more mini land scape rock.
 

beeky

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21 Aug 2007
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Chippenham, Wiltshire
Looks very good. Plenty of potential there.

Are you just using HC or do you have plans for other plants? (forgive me if you've mentioned it already!)
 

GHudston

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There will be plenty of other plants once the tank is filled. I'm not sure what plants, mind you, but I will definately have more than just HC.

I'm only growing the HC emmersed until I get my pressurised CO2 in a month or so.
 

steve2tanks

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9 Mar 2008
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Durham
Nice start mate,thats how i started out my tank growing the hc emmeresed it saved me a few quid as i only used 2 pots of hc in my rio 240 :lol: Have you soaked the wood?Only asking because i did but i didnt do it for long enough and it pulled up loads of hc up when i flooded the tank and the wood floated to the top :twisted:
 

GHudston

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Nope, I would have soaked it but I the only thing that I have that is large enough to soak it in is the tank!

I'm hoping to weight it down or tie it to the rocks when I flood the tank to keep it down and hopefully that should do the trick until it sinks on it's own.
 

hellohefalump

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25 Sep 2008
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Newhaven, east sussex
get a pair of tights, chop a leg off and fill it with a fair amount of gravel or sand. Then tie the end, and you have a weight.

My redmoor looks about the same size as yours, it took a couple of months before it stopped trying to float.
 

steve2tanks

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Yeah thats what i ended up having to do,funny thing is my bit sank in the container that i had it in :rolleyes:
 

GHudston

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I had a bit of a realisation the other day. I was really happy with my scape, but I had left almost NO room behind the hardscape for any plants. I had a big pile of rocks taking up nearly the entire tank apart from the foreground which was to be a field of HC.

So today, I rescaped it.

IMG_3551.jpg


It looks pretty much the same, but I took the nicest rocks and constructed a wall; holding up a raised area of the substrate to keep the wood raised up to the top of the tank. nearly all of the space under and around the wood is now open substrate, ready for planting! I took the absolute cream of the crop and made a little feature pile on the left, which also allowed me to have a slope running up the middle; hopefuly it will hold when the tank is filled up!

There is now plenty of space around the back for plants in the background, more gaps in rocks to plant some nice anubias in and I didn't kill my favourite parts of the already existing scape!

I did manage to kill all of my HC though. I took it out so that it wouldn't get crushed by my rescaping and I took so long doing it that it all dried up before I could put it back. Luckily I had plenty left over, growing away in a spare container!

What do you all think?
 

Vase

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Northants
I'm going to try that with the glosso when it comes to it. The only thing is that I keep wanting to turn the wood up the other way, and so the thickest branch comes down by the edge of the rocks, towards the front.

:D
 

GHudston

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Yeah, that's how I wanted it too at first. Unfortunately the wood doesn't fit in the tank if I turn it the other way up; I may still play around with it before I fill the tank up, just to keep myself amused untilt he HC carpet grows in!
 

GHudston

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I've done a sort of half finished mock up of what I want to do with my scape regarding plants.

IMG_3551-1.jpg


There's been some slight alterations already, primarily that I'm not going to bother with the dwarf hair grass as I've discovered that it's a bit taller than I had thought it was, so just ignore that and imagine a HC carpet in it's place, and I think that I'm going to add some java fern to the wood aswell as the anubias. The longer grass is supposed to be blyxa, but I'm basing that off a handful of images from the net and I'm not completely familiar with the plant; it may look nothing like that so please let me know if I'm mistaken! Also, please bear in mind that the colours and scale of the plants are going to be slightly off. The moss will hopefully be fissidens fontanus if I can find some.

What I need is some advice about plants to put int he background! The amount of choices are so vast and so nice that I'm a bit lost in it all really. I want to stuff the tank full of plants, primairly on the right hand side so that the wood is emerging from them rather than just sitting in the middle of the tank. I want to hide my bulky heater and less than aesthetic filter pipes so the plants need to cover almost the entire rear of the tank, save for a dip about 1/3 from the left (to break up the "wall of plants" look!). Incase you haven't noticed, I'm trying for the "overgrown on purpose" look!

I've spent the past week looking for inspiration in other scapes, and I've found a lot. There are a TON of plants, both stem plants and more "leafy" ones that I love but I haven't got a clue what they are called or if they are suitable for my tank! Any ideas (and examples!) would be much appreciated.

I also need a good "feature" plant, preferably protruding up through the wood, as there is a large open space behind the wood towards the centre of the tank that I made sure to leave open for just such a plant. I like the look of the tiger lotus but I'm not sure if it's big/tall enough for the job. Do you think it would be suitable?

I hope you don't mind the barrage of questions, I'm just terribly indecisive!
 

Garuf

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30 Oct 2007
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Leeds.
That tank looks amazing if you can pull it off!
If I were you I'd add some bolbitis and some rottala in the back. I'd be incredibly happy with what you have there.
 

GHudston

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5 Jan 2009
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Here is the finished mock up.

IMG_3551-2.jpg


I got a bit carried away with the background, which is composed of unidentified stem and leafy plants. I have some ideas of what plants that I will put in the background, but it was just too time consuming to represent them in this illustration. The final tank may have more or less plants in the background in different places, and the ratio of stem/leafy plants may be different too. This is just mainly to give an impression of what I'm thinking of for my final scape (and as an excuse to practice my illustration skills too!)

The reddish plant on the right is supposed to be a red tiger lotus, but I may replace it with a different plant of a simialr hight. The red plant on the left was put in there on the spur of the moment, I don't think that I can have a plant as red as that with my lighting but it essentially represents a miscellaneous specimen plant that I haven't yet decided on to add a bit of interest to the background.

I may still add some more anubias, possibly replacing some of my other plants with larger anubias species, and I may still add some java fern to the wood to fill in the gap that I have underneath the roots, again, that was too time consuming to draw!

I've removed the hair grass also, I much prefer just having the HC in contrast with the tall bacground. Though I may add one or two shorter foreground plants towards the sides if I find some that I like.

The important thing for me with this scape, as it is my first scape, is to pack in as many different varieties of plant as I can witohut making the tank look too busy. I've never grown aquatic plants before and I'd like to get some experience with a large number of species so that I'm better prepared in the future; it also helps me to overcome my indecisiveness!

As I said, this is just an impression of the final tank and will likely look slightly different to this. In truth I just wanted to see if I was capable of painting a mock up of my scape onto a photograph, and I had a lot of fun doing it. If my tank looks half as lush as that in real life then I will be very satisfied with it!

Let me know what you think, and don't hesitate to send me ideas or suggest any plants to me!
 

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