'Under the forest canopy' - 19/06/08 Disaster Strikes again

Discussion in 'Journals' started by GreenNeedle, 20 Sep 2007.

  1. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK


    Fluval Duo Deep 800 (125 Litre / 33USG)

    Tetratec EX700. Vecton2 200 8W UV steriliser. Hydor ETH-200 external in-line heater. Glass 'lily' outflow and inflow pipes.

    Disposable 600g cannisters. Dual gauge welding regulator. Lunapet needle valve. Lunapet CO2 hose, Gamba XII glass bubble counter. Gamba XII non return valve. Rhinox 2000 glass/ceramic diffuser.
    (Running 24 hours @ 1-2bps)

    1 x 24" T8 18W Arcadia Freshwater. 1 x 29" T5 30W Hot5 SpectrumGro (1.8WPG).
    Timed 3½ hours @ 0.9WPG, 3 hours @ 1.5WPG, 3½ hours @ 0.9WPG.

    Macros - 6ml dosed daily. Solution consists of 500ml DI Water, 17g Potassium Nitrate, 3g Potassium Phosphate, 36g Potassium sulphate, 16g Magnesium Sulphate.
    Micros - 3ml Tropica Plant Nutrition Daily
    Hard tap water loaded with nitrate and phosphate.
    10-15% water change on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

    9 Cardinal tetra, 4 Pitbull plecs, 3 Otocinclus, 2 Bolivian Rams and Loadsa Malaysian trumpet snails.

    Blyxia Japonica
    Nymphea zenkeri (tiger lotus) - Green and red Varieties.
    Philippine java fern.
    Needle leaf java fern.
    Anubias Barteri v Nana.
    Anubias Barteri
    Anubias Barteri Petite.
    Cryptocoryne Balansae different varieties.
    Cryptocoryne Undulata.
    Cryptocoryne Spiralis.
    Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green.
    Cryptocoryne Wendtii Brown.
    Cryptocoryne Wendtii Tropica.
    Christmas Moss.


    The substrate contains fresh mulm (from previous setup),leonardite (Earthworks soil builder granules), Tropica plant substrate and finally J Arthur Bowers silver sand.

    First the ferns, anubias and moss are attached to bogwood so that they aren't out of the tank for too long a time. One Anubia has a flower on it from the previous setup.

    A nice clean and empty tank and then in situ with white fablon background.

    Fresh mulm is spread across the bottom. Still in a little amount of tank water that it was mixed with when I boxed it.

    A ½ inch layer of leonardite added which will be invisible as it is below the bottom border of the tank. This is quite a powdery substance rather than granules as it says on the box.

    Tropica substrate goes in as close to planned scape as possible. I can't give a review on this for a long while because I don't know how long it will last etc, but I'm chuffed to bits with the colour because it is the same as the sand and therefore blends in much better than some of the more orangey/brown substrate additives.

    Finally the silver sand goes on the top to complete the substrate. I love the colour of silver/dry/play sand. They are all the same material with the only difference being that dry/silver sand is sterilised and play sand is not. It is also the perfect colour to see Pitbull plecs do what they do best which is to change their colour to match their surroundings within reason so when they are on the sand they go a very light sand colour and when they are in the shade or greenery they darken up and show their greeny freckles

    Then hardscape is positioned, the tank one third filled with water and equipment added, planted and then filled.

    And this is how it looks now.


    The scape's title 'under the forest canopy' is really based on what I envision this scape will turn into, which is to use the 7 Nymphae bulbs in the tank (5 x Rubra, 2 x Zenkeri) to provide the 'tree trunks' and stagger their pads through the top third of the tank which will make the 'forest canopy'. I hope I don't need to rename it!!

    I have also added Bacopa Caroliniana as individual stems as it has developed nicely in the previous setup and has nice thick stalks and a lovely texture to the leaves. I hated the look of this plant when I first got it in a cheapo collection but I have developed a fondness for its fully grown appearance.

    All this cover will provide the plants below with the shelter they need as they are all low light plants (Ferns, Moss, Anubias, Crypts.) These should fill out the floor nicely and provide quite a bit of foliage. In greens and browns and yellows.

    I cut the leaves from most of the crypts and Lilys so that I won't need to fish out dead leaves and also because the Lilys need to be trained to stagger again because during my recent 2 weeks holiday they all got carried away and would look a little bit too much for this scape.

    Therefore this tank will be a slow grower and the vision I have of it may not come into fruition for 6 months or more which I think will be quite interesting to watch (Do I sound boring or what?)

    I have chosen the white background because when you walk through a wood or forest you see the horizon through the trunks as white although I'm not too sure about the fablon backing. I chose fablon because my equipment is all glass and it needs to be suckered to the outside of the tank. The fablon is very smooth and lets the suckers hold on whereas paper, cloth etc doesn't let you do this. I may yet paint the back of the tank white but I'm not too keen on this.

    At the moment it looks poor and people may say black would be better but if the tank develops as I am planning then it will get a lot darker with the Lily pads blocking a fair bit of light and then the white will be integral to the overall effect. Black would look better at the moment but in a couple of months would mean you couldn't see much at all. This tank is very much a case of planning for the future and I may well keep it the way it is for many years to come if it turns out the way I want it to.

    Another integral part is the hardscape. Some may say that it is too low for a high tank but there are no set rules in this hobby and I have intentionally left the hardscape low because I want the sense of depth to make the tank seem taller and give an illusion of height to the 'forest'.

    Let me know what you think. I am open to critique, both positive and negative, but please be gentle as this is my first real attempt at an aquascape rather than just a tank with plants in it.

  2. bugs

    bugs Member

    Mmmm... I'm interested in how the backing turns out over time... I keep debating a backing on my tank, mainly to hide the kit; however, sense that I'll never be happy with what I choose. I contemplated placing a backing an inch or two off the back of the tank so that there was some shadowing to create more illusion of depth but have not got round to trying anything yet.

    The scape... I like the right-hand side best. The left feels less cohesive and the rocks not quite right. I think I would be tempted to develop the terrace effect on the right hand side by placing another piece of wood opposite, creating a gulley effect.

    Like you say, no hard and fast rules - I'm constantly fettering, pleased with the results, and then find myself fettering more again at a future date...

    I'm interested to see how this develops.
  3. Dave Spencer

    Dave Spencer Member

    N. Wales
    I reckon using the light background is a good idea. With the more subdued lighting and shading effect from overhannging plants, black may have come out too gloomy in this instance.

    I`m not convinced by the substrate line across the front of the tank, though. It`s a bit too distracting for me. Perhaps if it was to undulate more gently, especially on the right hand side. The make up of the substrate is pretty interesting.

    You know you are a true aquascaper when you give your creation a poncey name. :lol:

  4. beeky

    beeky Member

    Chippenham, Wiltshire
    However it turns out, I applaud you for trying something a little different with your own ideas, rather than going to formula.

    Although I like darker backgrounds, I find flat black a little uninteresting and your mention of cloth got me thinking. I quite fancy the idea of a dark material put on the back, to give a bit of texture. Maybe a combat/camaflage material?!

    Does the tropica substrate require a 'cap'? I like the colour as it's a nice 'natural' brown rather than the whiter sand or black.

    I like the tank though, and look forward to seeing it grow. Good luck with it.
  5. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    I won't be updating this journal every week because with the plants I have chosen for this scape and also the reduced lighting the growth will be much slower. I also won't be changing the layout at all so there won't be huge changes week to week.

    However I can show you the finished pine hood that is now on the tank. It is definitely better than the original hood that I persisted with for so long, modding and modding over and over. lol


    The two HO T5s are fitted and I have moved from the previous 0.6WPG (1 x 18W T8) to 0.9WPG (1 x 30W T5) with just the Spectrum Gro Lamp on for a straight 10 hours. Next week I will have the Daylight on for the middle 2 hours which will give me 1.8WPG (2 x 30W T5) during this 'midday' period. This is the lighting routine I am planning to keep.

    These lights are super cool looking and the light they give is nice too. These shots are with 0.9WPG!!! Only the Spectrum Grow 30W is on.


    The final 'little' change this week is that I have joined a Cichlid forum. Why? Because I have purchased 2 male Bolivian Rams!! These are peaceful dwarf Cichlids which enjoy planted tanks and are hardier than German Blue Rams. The 24 hour CO2 should benefit them by keeping the Ph in the low 6s rather than the low 7s that my tap dispenses (No RO etc on this tank.) I had been looking to buy a pair of German Blues but saw these and loved their more subtle but still vibrant colourings.


    Although they are peaceful for Cichlids, the males are territorial and they are still confronting each other to decide where the middle ground is. lol. They seem to take it in turns to back off though.

    A week or two to let them get settled in and I am planning to add 2 females and hope that they pair off with the boys.

    I'm already loving these fish as they compliment their co-habitants really well. The plecs laze around ignoring you unless you move suddenly and then they hide. The Otos ignore you totally with their tunnel vision focused on grazing all day. The tetras rush away to hide when you come near before slowly advancing back towards you and these Rams see you there and come towards you as if to say 'What you looking at Eh?'

    One of the pitbull plecs munching away on Tetra Prima.

    Thanks for reading


    Attached Files:

  6. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK

    This setup is now 7 weeks old and 1 reason I haven't been posting updates is because there was so much green on the glass that you couldn't see anything. I have left it to 'cycle' and there is still some remaining but not too much.

    I have come to the conclusion that the HO T5s absolutely smash the WPG rule because I have had some major algae build ups with 'just' 1.8WPG.

    The current routine is now based on lean dosing which I dose daily (see first post for the ingredients for my dosing as I have altered it there)

    I have also changed my lighting to 4-2-4 (30W,60W,30W) WPG???? Who knows.

    My water changes are no 10-15% twice a week.

    This is how the tank is looking at the moment (after a heavy prune)


    And this is the view I have from my chair whilst using the PC

    Guess what this 'little' Otos been feeding on!!

    And this is a view through the left side of the tank

    Finally this piece of bogwood has had a huge trimming fest as all the Anubias and Needle Ferns were covered in staghorn.

    So after 7 weeks we have had lots of growth both in algae and in plantmass.

    The Nuphar Japonica is huge now and starting to 'command' the tank so I may still have to prune this back a little.

    The low light plants suffered a little during the time when the Lilys gre their leaves to block the light and they have had to be pruned heavily due to this. Switching dosing routines and lights will not have helped but hopefully the tank is balanced again now.

    Thanks for reading and will update again in a month or so

  7. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK

    An update on the scape so far. Week 12 of ?

    So people please remember we are talking a slow growing tank here with Ferns, Moss, Crypts and Anubias and growth of these is not rampant.

    The Giant Bacopa and Nympeae are rampant however and require pruning every week.

    The Nuphar is out of control and I have to cut 2-3 leaves off every week or so (so much for the dennerle guidelines which say 2-3 leaves growth per month. lol) This plant pre pruning spans the tank at 80cm (30 inches.) It is a monster.

    The lighting is 0.9WPG of T5HO for 10 hours with another 0.9WPG T5HO for the central 2 hours so this is basically a low light tank with a noon burst and is now being lean dosed.

    I do have some pics at this stage.

    The Crypts are growing quite well and ridiculously tall some of them. Me thinks they are not what they were meant to be but they look great anyway.

    The Java Fern is now down to new growth only as all the pre-scape leaves have been cut away. I must say it is looking as lush as ****

    The Anubias are battling on and are now producing quite a few leaves.

    The Christmas moss has battled the algae and is now winning as it is feeding on any dead relatives it is sitting on and there are huge frongs of green coming from it (and in the mesh portions on the right which I intend to tie to another piece of wood I am preparing)

    This is the front of tank shot

    This is an arty Jimboo stylee shot from the left of the tank

    And this is a view through the left hand side of the tank

    Sorry the pics look a little green but the Nuphar Japonica leaves are acting like green slides over the bulbs. lol

    I am moving house yet again in January and therefore I will be having to probs remove most of the plants to get the fish out. They will go back as close as possible to where they came from but you never get it right.

    One thing I will be doing. If anyone fancies the Nuphar Japonica I will be cutting the 'core' in half before replanting it so if someone fancies the other half they are welcome to it. (This is how I first received it as a quarter of the previous plant and it had about 5 6 inch long leaves/stems. Now 1 leaf is bigger than the plant was when I got it. lol)

    Please please please some comments...even abusive.

  8. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK

    An update on my 'move' plans really.

    The other day whilst doing a thorough water change (pipes, hoses CO2 Equip etc) I caught the daylight HOT5 on he rim of the glass and unfortunately it ended up half submerged.

    It wasn't turned on so no fatalities but the light will not work now (with it being a ballast within the reflector its not just a case of drying out i'm afraid)

    Therefore I have my fav 18W Arcadia Freshwater back in the hood. The electronic ballast is screwed to the back of the hood. So we are in effect now at 48W which gives me (by the rule I hate) approx 1.5WPG (This does not take into account the higher efficiency of the T5HO that remains.

    I will be moving house in January (yet again) and am planning quite a few changes.

    The Lily pipes and diffusor will be moved into the same position as George's two 125ltr tanks. Call me a copycat but consider if you see something that works with the same equipment that you have would you not do the same?

    I will move onto TPN+ on its own as the fertilizer eventually but not until I have finished all the dry ferts I still have using JamesC's PMDD+PO4 recipe from his site (which is the best recipe I have used yet.)

    The hardscape (Sorry George) will remain the same although I do have a small spindley knarled piece of wood which I will be adding.

    I have decided with much regret that the Nuphar will not be returning as it is just too succesful. Also The Nymphea numbers will be reduced as it is just too prolific in my tank so I will be sticking with the 2 Zenkeri and removing all the Rubra (Zenkeri/Tiger Lotus has a much more striking pattena on the leaves).
    (The Nuphar will live on though as Themuleous has requested one quarter of the plant. There will be three more quarters to get rid of, or maybe for me to sell on ebay. lol)

    The Crypts which were scattered will be moved to a more traditional layout with the taller ones like Undulata to the back and Wendtiis towards the front.

    The Phillipine Java Fern (although smaller) is starting to look like George's wonderful specimens being a lovely 'clean' grass green as are the needle leafs and Anubias.

    The White background will be removed totally leaving a plain glass back (The walls in my new house will be an ivory colour once painted)

    Fishwise - The current larger Ram has chased the other to death. It has been confirmed as a female much to my surprise as when I bought them this one was ID'd by bolivian experts as a Male on the Cichlid Forum but now fully fattened up the same experts have decided he is a she!!. Therefore I shall be getting a new Male mature example and hope they pair up.

    I am also going to return the cardinals to their original numbers (20) now there is no moss wall (which was a death trap).

    After I have laid out the new 'scape' I shall probably get some weeds in to fill the gaps for a while until the crypts fill out properly (I am anticipating a lot of crypt rot)

    Until then I think the current scape will remain pretty similar so I won't do the next update until 'we' are settled in.

    Thanks for reading

  9. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    As the tank stands at the moment I have already removed the white background getting ready to move the tank in the next 2 weeks (Fablon is damned hard to put on without bubbles but a joy to peel off)

    I have cut 2 slots on the right of the hood and moved my Lily pipes into the same position as George. I'va also copied his diffusor position too. (Copycat yes but why not if you see something that works so well)

    Im also going to copy George and go solo with TPN+ after I've run out of dry ferts. I'm currently using JamesC's PMDD+PO4 solution with TPN for trace and it is working really well. EI also worked well for me but James' mix seems to work better. Its lean but there are no defficiencies that I can see and the water is like crystal. It also allows me to do 2 x 10% changes per week rather than have to do a huge 50% like I did with EI.

    With the house move approaching fast I am gathering thoughts and ideas as well as inviting people to give opinions on what to do with my hardscape. I will have to stick with the items I already have in the tank but position them a little better.

    Thoughts and opinions?

  10. Garuf

    Garuf Member

    I know you like to do something different each time with your scapes so why not try and replicate a section of forest similar to that of plillipe oliver did? I'm sure you could pull it off.

    The things that I always like about this tank was the choice of plants, the hardscape never really spoke to me, I think With more height and brasher hardscape, think Iwagumi It could really look amazing especially if more dense growth is encouraged.
    hope that makes sence.
  11. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    Im sorry to disappoint you Garuf. My initial plan sounded good but the planning wasn't thought through properely (even though it was 2-3 months in planning. lol)

    The Nuphar and 7 Nympheae are just too much for this size tank to handle. The Nuphar on its own is borderline as it can fill the tank on its own if allowed.

    As for Felipe Oliveira. I guess you mean Syrah with the moss tree? If so Im not too sure about doing something like that. The moss around my driftwood (dead tree) I have let grow and is starting to get to 2 inches long in some places.

    My ideas for the hardscape so far aren't readical changes just that instead of having the plum slate cave roof almost flat as it is at the moment to angle it a lot more by proping in with the other piece just to the right of its centre. This would also mean banking up the substrate again behind in the left rear corner.

    Now the filter pipes and diffusor are not in this corner anymore the Phillipine Java Fern should have more room to cover the bogwood it is on and take over this corner. Not with the same success as George's but its a lovely colour at the moment anyway.

    The needle leaf is starting to grow well as are the Anubias (of which I am getting another load from?????..lol) The moss dead tree may move towards the right and the large Mopani more central.

    The Nuphar is going and I am going to leave in there The 2 Zenkeri (Tiger Lotus) One has leaves in green with Red Flecks and the other is red with dark red flecks so they are wuite different. I may retain one of the Rubra too and train it to stay low.

    The large Crypts will be moved to the rear and allowed the room to Grow and then merge hopefully.

    Altogether a more structured and typical scape in a sort of U shape (more like N really)

    A much different range of plants than most but in a more traditional layout.

    Fish will help me keep this interesting whilst it grows though as I am restoring my Cardinals to 20 in Jan/Feb and finding a nice male for my female Bolivian Ram.

  12. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    I've moved house and relocated the tank. At the same time I have done my rescape and the tank looks quite bare at the moment.

    I will post some updated piccies later. Reason being that the Nuphars root system was over 2 ft long (and there were hundreds of 2-3mm wide roots!!!! and of course there was no way even though i spent 1 hour individually pulling each root to minimise disturbance of the substrate!!! Therefore some of the clayish Tropica was pulled through the sand.

    This is what I have done:

    Turned the house temperature up to 26º (to help keep the fish in their containers at a decent temperature as I estimated a long time out of the tank (was about 15 hours in the end)

    I removed all the water (apart from that in the fish containers) to reduce the amount in the water and then refilled to a third of the tank height.

    Then in went my hardscape.

    Next the plants were laid out on some newspaper and I arranged them according to their height and style (trimmin the roots to ½inch and removing any unhealthy/damaged leaves.

    Then I did my planting.

    In went the filter pipes, DC, thermometer and diffusor.

    Filled to 4/5ths with water.

    Turned on the CO2, filter, heater, UV and let the water get closer to the previous parameters (i.e. CO2ppm, Temperature, Ph reduction from CO2 etc)

    Went to bed at 7am.

    Awoke at 3pm and floated the fish containers in the tank (mixing tank water into the containers every 10 minutes)

    Released the fish at 4-30pm.

    Sat and watched as they all investigated their 'new home'

    They all look pretty unscathed by the move although there is the usual flicking that I often see after large water changes (I do use dechlor)

    Will let the filter continue its work in removing the cloudy particles before doing a full clean of the media tomorrow. After which I will take some piccies for you to critique tomorrow.

  13. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    At last an update with pictures.

    As a quick recap, this tank was moved to my new house in early January and immediately rescaped (meaning I moved things around).

    It did of course suffer a little due to being down my list of priorities as I have been redecorating since then.

    At the moment it looks a little bare as I had to get in there and tackle a huge algae attack and with my tactics this always inviolves scissors and the greenwaste bin so please bear this in mind.

    In the end I have left the slate where is was but slanted it in a much more prominent position. The tree has moved from centre to right and the Mopani Cave has moved from Right to left. The pipes have moved to the right in a blatent attempt to copy George's tank seeing as we have the same pipes.

    On the CO2 front I am using a maxijet MP400 with a DIY needle hole impellor which I will see how well this method works. If it does it may stay. If not I shall reinsert the Rhinox and bring the darned bleach back to the front of the domestic cupboard.

    I have also planted the Blyxia Japonica (Grows great under .9WPG with 2 hours at 1.5WPG) and C Balansae that I got from George, and also some Anubias that are on the left of the Java Fern that Garuf sent me.

    Here is the tank as it stood tonight

    Comments welcome

  14. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Leamington Spa, UK.
    Looking good mate :) I'll be interested to know how the CO2 diffusion goes with the maxijet. If I were to make a constructive criticism, I think the flat stone middle left looks a bit out of place.

    Looking forward to seeing how it recovers from the move :)
  15. Garuf

    Garuf Member

    Massive improvement, glad to the the anubias I gave you still doing well.
  16. TDI-line

    TDI-line Member

    Yaxley, Peterborough
    Hey, i've got that tea towel. :lol:

    Lovely layout joking aside. :D
  17. Luketendo

    Luketendo Member

    West Sussex, England
    IMO the big red plant should be more in the centre, it is attracting too much attention at the sides.

    Other than that, still much better than mine!
  18. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Really, really like the new scape, Andy. Needs to get a bit of height on it, but that will happen with time.

    Keep it up matey :)

  19. Luketendo

    Luketendo Member

    West Sussex, England
    Yeah just needs a bit of growing!
  20. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Lincoln UK
    The flat stone left of centre is there for the rams to breed should they wish to. lol

    I like my red side. I think the Zenkeri 'Red' goes well with the plum slate with the Zenkeri 'Green' in the opposite side. (p.s. It was in the centre and I wanted it to be more subtle so that is why I moved it!!)

    Height will happen eventually. I am hoping for a shallow 'U' shape with the two sides being full of Zenkeri and Balansae leaves with the Java and Anubias filling the centre.

    Thanks for the critiques guys.


Share This Page

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice