Amazon River Basin Biotope Help - Aquascaping - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 12-25-2009, 01:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Amazon River Basin Biotope Help

Merry Christmas guys,

This week I'm upgrading my tank from a 75L/20US G to a 165L/44US G tank. Within the constraints of a 75L tank I've kept fish for about a year and a half and dipped my toe in the aquascaping pool... and let me tell you, i'm awful at the latter and could use the help of enthusiasts! Aesthetically, my current tank has always looked pretty bad despite my best efforts. It's not a biotope and I just chose plants that are easy to maintain that don't require supplementation. e.g. h polysperma and java fern.

I want to do things different this time, and I'd like to use your help on a step by step basis.

I want to develop an Amazon River Basin Biotope (or at the very least South American) with the following stock:

1 Angelfish
2 Bolivian Rams
15 Black Skirt/Widow Tetra's

I've done a little research and it looks like the following plants would work in this biotope:

Hairgrass or Pygmy Chain Swordplant
Amazon Sword
Brasilian Water Ivy
*Vallisnena Reeds (Eel Grass) either the tortifolia or spiralis kind
**Cabomba

*: I'm big on the Vallisnena species because it looks beautiful and I've always wanted reeds. I'm just not sure how readily available they are.
**: H polysperma is what kept most of the algae away in my current tank. I need a South American fast grower and it looks like Cabomba may be a winner.

So to cut to the chase I need recommendations for both plants and substrate type for a South American biotope. In my current tank I used a combination of white gravel and white silica sand. It was a disaster. the silica sand would always work it's way to the bottom and the hairgrass would always uproot itself. Not to mention it wasn't aesthetically pleasing with the white bolivians I had. As you can probably tell, i'm in over my head when it comes to this stuff. Once we talk plants and substrate then perhaps we can move onto supplementations (CO2), lights (watts per gallon) and all of that confusing stuff.

Cheers guys,

Don

P.S. I plan on creating an aquascape prior to introducing any fish, based on this theory put forward in this article. This may mean it would be OK to supplement like crazy at the start, but then drastically back off once fish are introduced.
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Old 12-27-2009, 10:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Amazon River Basin Biotope Help

why not look into el natural for this tank....im having great success with it in my tank and it looks high tech with no effort lol
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Old 12-28-2009, 06:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Amazon River Basin Biotope Help

I've set up an Amazon-esque tank too (discus, rummynose tetra, cardinals, etc) and also like valisneria, but have found that mine don't do well in the tank. Maybe it's the 82-84 degree water or the 6.2pH or low kH (pretty much zero)...or a mix of the three.

The swords grow beautifully and the brazilian pennywort grows out of control. Cabomba might not like warmer temperatures and will turn in to a huge mess.

I went with aquariumplants.com substrate and use their pellet fertilizers monthly. Swords don't need much liquid fert since they get what they need through the roots. This keeps algae down too.

Good luck!
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Amazon River Basin Biotope Help

Thanks for the responses guys. I've spent the past week planning my tank. I've drawn up a really bad planogram in paint, which isn't even symmetrical, but it should give you guys (and anyone else that wants to throw in their 2c... I would appreciate it) a rough idea of what I’m going for here.



Now, let me explain this mess.

Tank Parameters: 850mm long, 580mm high and 440mm deep.
165L/44US G

Fish Species:
15x glass bloodfin tetras
2x bolivian rams
1x angelfish

Plant Species:
Amazon Sword (Bleheri)
Vallisneria
Dwarf Hairgrass
DUCKWEED!


Substrate:

(Brown section): El Natural substrate: The brown coloured section represents the El Natural substrate portion of my tank, as outlined here. The bottom portion will be an inch of unfertilized natural top soil. Ontop of this there will be an inch of dark brown gravel (it won't be a uniform colour but it will probably be darker than what's contrasted in my picture).

(Black section): Black silica sand: The black section represents black silica sand, which is preferable over gravel for dwarf cichlids. It will comprise the foreground.

The substrate will gradually slope from the back of the tank down to the front.

Plants

(Corner Green): Thin Vallisneria: The green patches in the corners represent heavily planted sections of thin vallisneria.

(Black Curved Lines): Driftwood: The black curved lines towards and overlapping the green corners represents pyramids of drifwood.

Note: While the corners will be heavily planted with thin vallisneria, there will also be bunches of vallisneria in-between and around the driftwood.

(Single Curved Green Line Outwards to the corners): Dwarf Hair Grass: The Single green line that is bowed outwards from the corner represents the dwarf hair grass that will be planted in front of and around the pyramids of driftwood, comprising the midground/foreground.

(Centrepiece Dark Green Square): Echinodorus Bleheri: This plant will form the centerpiece of the tank as it grows quite large and looks amazing. There is not much more to say about it. While it is slightly off center in drawing, make no mistake about it, it will be in the dead center of my tank.

CURVEBALL: DUCKWEED (Lemna minor): My single floating plant is not present in this planogram. No, I am not crazy. I'm going to be putting duckweed into my tank! Firstly, because it isn't an enormous tank or pond, I’ll be able to quite easily pull out the portions of duckweed that are blocking light from my floor plants on a weekly basis. Secondly, I'd much rather have duckweed running rampant in my tank than algae. Thirdly, aquaone tanks have lights already pre-installed. This plant will subdue the lighting for the benefit of my biotope.

THE UNKNOWN: SEPERATION OF SUBSTRATES: I do have one concern. When I create a tank I think long term. There are three different kinds of substrates in this tank. I'm not too worried about the gravel and soil mixing because they will be easy enough to separate if I ever choose to dissemble this tank in the future (and they're unlikely to mix). I am however worried about the sand mixing with the gravel and soil. I had a bad experience in my current tank where the sand that was ontop of my gravel sunk through the cracks to the very bottom. I want the sand to remain separate from the gravel and soil. I was thinking I could cut black mesh to maintain a division between the substrates. Is there any normal procedure for maintaining this divison?

Any other thoughts? Was this even remotely clear?

Thanks for your time.

Thank you

Last edited by bolivian_d; 12-29-2009 at 03:51 AM..
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Amazon River Basin Biotope Help

glad u went with el natural lol fun stuff
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Amazon River Basin Biotope Help

I would suggest not making a perfectly symmetrical design. It's obviously up to you, but generally using the golden ratio, or some offset, will deliver a more pleasing and interesting design. It's hard to find a focal point in a symmetrical design.

Just a quick sketch, but something like this will create much more depth.



Also, if you can, use the smallest leaf plants possible. These will make the tank look larger than it is. Some division between substrates will most likely be necessary to prevent mixing. Duckweed can be really cool in aquariums, just watch the growth. Shouldn't be hard to control in a tank like this.
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