February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt - APC Library - Aquatic Plant Central

Go Back   Aquatic Plant Central > General Interest Forums > APC Library

APC Library The APC Library containing articles on planted aquarium topics, aquascapes, and people.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-19-2008, 10:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
John N.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: California
Posts: 4,130
iTrader Ratings: 161
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
John N. is a valuable member of the community John N. is a valuable member of the community John N. is a valuable member of the community
Default February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

February 2008 Tank of the Month
Cat T.V.
by Jessica Leebelt



Introduction and Background

Hi my name is Jessica Leebelt (Jessie). I started out in the hobby when I was very young and was introduced to fishkeeping by my brother and his 55 gallon "fraternity tank" that was overcrowded with Oscars, Pikes, and others. After getting completely bitten by the fish bug, I began surfing the websites of Frode Roe, George Booth and Takashi Amano and became enamored with planted aquariums. My first "planted tank" was a 48 gallon tall, 1/2 watt of light per gallon and a DIY CO2 fixture that ended up siphoning out half of my tank over night because I didn't know about check valves. Needless to say, it was relatively disasterous, but I did have an impressive grove of Hygro. polysperma and hornwort!

When I was 16, I worked at a local fish store where I spent most of my time concentrating on South American oddballs and breeding Tanganyikan shell dwellers. At home, I had about 10 tanks set up for different areas of the world and was breeding (mostly unintentionally!) Severums, Jewel cichlids, Sunspot Brevis, Guianacara oroewefi and others. However, after many moves and life changes, I ended up selling off or tearing them all down and took a hiatus from the hobby for about 4 years. Finally, in February of 07, I got back into it and finally had the resources and time to set up a "high tech" planted tank - the one I've always wanted!

Out side of fish keeping, I work for an e-commerce web firm, am a student, dabble in digital photomanipulation and spend time with my other animals. I'm a fairly typical 20-something!


About the Tank

This tank has been an exciting learning experience for me. Both in growing plants, and aquascaping. In the beginning of the aquascape, I did have some substrate sloping however there was not enough hardscape or foundational support to maintain it. It has since all evened out with my neurotic tendencies to move plants around. So the aquacape mostly took it shape in a quite random fashion. The aquascaped developed through a hap-hazardly placing of Manaznita branches throughout the aquarium. A few random stones helped hold down Anubias and Java Ferns, and keep whatever substrate slope was left. As you can tell, there's not too much methodology, mostly knee-jerk aquascaping.




Tank Specifications

Tank Dimensions/Volume: 72" x 18" x 22" / 125 US Gallons
Lighting: 4) 36" Power compact fixtures; (2) 96 watt dual including (1) 6700k and (1) 10,000k each. (2) supplemental fixtures; (1) 96 watt 6700k, (1) 72 watt 10,000K.
Filtration System: Fluval 405, Eheim Ecco 2232, Emperor 400
C02 supplementation: Pressurized via 20# cylinder, Milwaukee regulator and bubble counter. Currently using a Rhinox 5000 diffuser to disperse microbubbles but will be upgrading to an inline, external reactor.
Substrate: The back of the tank is a mixture of Flourite, pea grave land playground sand. The front contains about 2 bags of ADA AquaSoil Amazonia.



Tank Maintenance, Fertilizer System and Water Chemisty

I'm still learning about what the fertilization needs are for my tank. It changes so often that it's difficult to find my tanks "sweet spot." However, I do stick with some of the basic Estimative Index (EI) dosing concepts: the occasional teapson of KNO3, ~3/4 table spoon of Monopotassium phosphate every other day, a "few glugs" of Flourish Iron, some "glugs" of Flourish Potassium. Flourish root tabs, at random. Let me reiterate: no rhyme or reason. I'm completely novice in this endeavor and am still experimenting.

My maintenance involves 50% water change once a week and trimming, as needed, once a week.

The exact water chemistry of the tank is a bit of a mystery because I don't check unless the fish's health and behaviour suggest I need to. However, the pH is probably around 7.0-7.1. Here in Denver, Colorado the water is hard, but "if it aint broke, don't fix it." That's probably not a very popular method of thinking, but it has not failed me.


Moenkhausia pittieri (Diamond Tetras)


Aquascaping Technique

Since my tank is so expansive, I tried to plan a layout that would tie together nicely, but also gave me room for forgiveness when it comes to my unintentional knack for growing a slightly choatic jungle. I know I am not disciplined enough for any mound-styles, triangles or island configurations, so it was one big expanse for me. Dave Chow's "Nature, Endure Forever" and Bryce's 180g were my two greatest inspirations.

As mentioned earlier, I plopped the Manzanita Branches in there at random, only making sure the branches were pointing in different directions to create points of interest. The plants were arranged by potential height. No frills.

The aquascape is entitled "Cat TV" my cats love to watch the fish swim around. Believe it or not, over the last few months my cat and fish have become close friends.


Aquascape Shot on September 2007


Aquascape Shot on December 2007


Aquascape Shot on January 2008


My Greatest Challenge

By far, my greatest challenge has been finding the secret to getting my plants to color up. It has been my topic of conversation surrounding this tank for quite some time now. I am currently experimenting with dosing to see if I can bring these colors out. Also, I struggled with HC and Glosso. Even though I have quite a bit of light, it just didn't cut it. There is something strange going on with this tank (if I compare it to other similar sized tanks in my area), and even though I am very happy with it overall, the color and the carpeting have been my biggest enigmas


February 2008 Tank of the Month - "Cat T.V."


Final Thoughts

If I could do it over again, I would definitely have purchased a Metal Halide & T5HO combo fixture. For tanks my size, it really makes the difference.

That being said, I'm still learning (obviously) but enjoying every minute of it. My tank has a long way to go, in my opinion, but I wouldn't even be where it is now without the help and advice of all the great members here who have shared their experiences with me. You can follow the complete journey of my aquascaping adventures in my 125 Gallon Journal thread. My goal with this tank is not to show off brand names, compete in any contests, or create some epic piece of art. This is my hobby that I love and enjoying learning about, relaxing with and talking to people who love it too.
John N. is offline   Reply With Quote

Advertisement [Remove Advertisement]
Old 02-19-2008, 12:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Questin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 213
iTrader Ratings: 1
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Questin is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

Grats Jess! We all love your tank, and the cats that love your tank! Reds or no reds, the tank looks great =)
Questin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2008, 06:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
deepdiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wayne, MI
Posts: 186
iTrader Ratings: 6
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
deepdiver is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

Congrats! You're getting some really healthy growth in there. The interaction between your cats and fish sounds funny. As far as carpeting goes, do you think it's due to the depth of the tank? The last picture you posted gives some perspective on how fast light dissipates. You can really tell the difference between the top third, and the rest. I had the same problem trying to grow stems in a 55gallon. I don't know just a thought.
deepdiver is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 02-20-2008, 02:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Jessie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Posts: 845
iTrader Ratings: 8
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Jessie is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepdiver View Post
Congrats! You're getting some really healthy growth in there. The interaction between your cats and fish sounds funny. As far as carpeting goes, do you think it's due to the depth of the tank? The last picture you posted gives some perspective on how fast light dissipates. You can really tell the difference between the top third, and the rest. I had the same problem trying to grow stems in a 55gallon. I don't know just a thought.
Thank you very much I do believe the depth of the tank and the light intensity are the primary culprits for my struggle to get a decent carpet going. You can see in the progression pictures -- freshly planted HC that never took off, Glosso that grew up, and now finally, good ole Blyxa japonica that is working just fine so far.

I may try Marsilea next.
Jessie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2008, 02:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
BryceM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: South Central Idaho, USA
Posts: 4,332
iTrader Ratings: 42
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
BryceM is an inspiration to us all BryceM is an inspiration to us all BryceM is an inspiration to us all BryceM is an inspiration to us all
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

My goal with this tank is not to show off brand names, compete in any contests, or create some epic piece of art. This is my hobby that I love and enjoying learning about, relaxing with and talking to people who love it too.

Well Stated! It is way too easy to get carried away with the competitive side of things. Many of us got into this side of the hobby simply as a way to provide a better habitat for the fish.

Your tank shows some good progression over time. The final shot shows some really healthy growth and a "tame but wild" appearance. It'll be fun to see in 6 months.
BryceM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2008, 02:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Jessie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Posts: 845
iTrader Ratings: 8
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Jessie is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

Questin -- Thanks I'm thrilled my tank is liked by so many people. Sometimes I have to step back from the frustrations of it and enjoy it too

Bryce - Thank you! While the award-winning tanks have definitely been my inspirations over time, the notion of just creating layouts to photograph at a "peak", enter in a contest, tear down and start again seems a little empty to me.

In 6 months time, the tank will probably go in the direction of huge ferns, lots of crypts and a few favorite stems (with color???). Now that things are settling, I'm expecting a lot of dominance with the rosettes and rhizomes.
Jessie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2008, 08:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 172
iTrader Ratings: 20
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
A_Shea is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

stunning tank. it reminds me when i had first started with a planted tank. i had all the same exact equipment and ferts that you did except the filter. and my tank looked like a jungle too. it was awesome looking back on it. And now seeing your tank and reading your post makes me realize how far away i have gotten from actually enjoying my tank and doing what i want. Now its like a competition and trying to create an epic piece of art, as you mentioned. I really enjoy looking at the pictures of your tank and reading your thoughts. your tank is Beautiful
A_Shea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2008, 10:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 1
iTrader Ratings: 0
strumagic is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

the tank is fabulous!! i'm a novice with a 155g tank and u give me hope. i've been reading feverishly and beginning to doubt a nice tank could be had. i'm pumped after seeing your tank!! got a question though, i was reading that hang on back filters agitate the water too much and disperse co2. r u finding that happening with your emperor 400?
strumagic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2008, 11:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Squawkbert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 919
iTrader Ratings: 7
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Squawkbert is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

\/\/00T for "knee-jerk" aquascaping. Congrats!
Squawkbert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2008, 01:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Jessie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Posts: 845
iTrader Ratings: 8
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Jessie is a regular member
Default Re: February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

A_Shea - thanks! Sometimes I find myself getting a little caught up in trying to make things very dramatic with my tank. Then my goofy fish remind me why I really have the tank.

strumagic - thanks to you too! Just keep researching and ask a lot of questions. And don't do like me and skimp on the light on your first go around! The HOB filter may disperse some of the CO2, yes. But I've found that my fish enjoy having the extra circulation and as long as the water level is kept up, the agitation isn't that much.
Make sure you post pictures of your tank! I love seeing more large 'scapes around here.

Squawkbert - WOOT indeed! Thanks
Jessie is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Aquatic Plant Central > General Interest Forums > APC Library > February 2008 Tank of the Month: Jessica Leebelt

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:15 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1