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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I set this up a couple weeks ago with some H. zosterifolia and a local plant species that I collected as well (which is down in the Local Biotope forum if you want to take a stab at ID'ing it). Anyway, here it was a week or so ago:



Here it was this morning after some growth and moving a few plants around:



But, my goal was to try and make it pretty biotope specific, so I decided to yank out the native plant I was experimenting with and keep only the H. zosterifolia in there and let it grow into a big monospecific stand (which is very similar to what I have observed with plants in the wild). My plan is to simulate a bit of a gravel/sandbank in a shallow stream or river along the Rio Guapore in Bolivia, probably in a more open scrub area. So, after I cleared out the native species, here is what the tank currently looks like:



Now I'll just let the stargrass have its way in the tank. It seems to prefer creeping along the substrate right now, with minimal growth upwards--I don't know if it usually does this as I have never kept it before, but I like the appearance because that's how a LOT of plants grow in the high-current streams around here.

Fish include:

15 Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae (red-eye tetra)
6 Gymnocorumbus ternetzi (black skirt tetra)
3 Otocinclus spp.

When the stargrass fills in quite a bit more, I will also add a handful of Nannostomus unifasciatus (oneline pencilfish). I don't usually stock tanks with so many fish--I have stuck pretty much to species tanks over the last few years--so this is a big departure for me. However, in a lot of the snorkeling and diving I've done in local waterways, I have noticed that around areas of dense plant growth or submerged structures (wood jams, etc.) there is often a VERY high density of fish numbers as well as species, so I'm trying to replicate this in the tank.

I'll update as things grow in. If I can find space I'd like to switch all of this over to a 55 gal tank.
 

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Very nice Skyl... is the tank intended for two or three-sided viewing? The area behind the tank looks open...

How is the tank lit? I'm VERY familiar with the options used in reef and marine tanks, but just learning how different light sources effect the appearance of the plants and fish in a planted aquarium.

The substrate is very visually interesting, something that seem to often be neglected. I'm a Starboard Reefer though, so I guess one can get used to a boring bottom. ;)
 

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I see that you have put a lot of thought and research into this tank. It really is a great beginning. I'm very found of what you have done with the substrate. I can't wait till it starts to fill in more and more plants are added. Nice selection of fish also, they seem to be schooling nicely.

Great job :supz:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, guys! Now I'm going to just wait for the stargrass to start growing a bit more--giving more height back to the left side and covering up the filter and heater. This will also cover up the back of the tank some more.

is the tank intended for two or three-sided viewing? The area behind the tank looks open...
No, it's actually right up against that wall--it's the only place in the office where there was room. To be honest, the solid black and royal blue backgrounds so often used (IMO) tend to actually works against simulating depth rather than for it...and they just don't look natural. I think a properly designed absence of a background does for more to give the impression of depth and causes a person to unconsciously ignore the background. The problem is that my office used to be a childrens' nursery...hence the wallpaper. But hopefully later in the spring or summer I'll be taking it down and painting the walls...and I think I've found a color that will actually look a bit more natural.

I think the same goes for reeftanks. Most people go for the black or blue, thinking it looks more natural...but you never get that gradient of light or color tone like you see in the ocean or even most pictures. Granted, so much of the back usually ends up cover with rock, frags, or coralline that you rarely notice it, but I think a tank with a more open aquascaping could really benefit from a more thought-out background. If it's mimicking shallow water, why not go with a much lighter color of blue? More along a washed-out turquoise color? To be honest, what I've noticed in snorkeling and diving is that the substrate tends to affect your perception of the water and horizon, so I think reefs replicating really shallow areas could benefit from even a tank colored background as it gives the eye the impression that the substrate continues on past what you see. Anyway, I've seen a lot of tanks with no background that are just a few inches away from a white wall, and the gradient of light that changes down the back gives a VERY realistic impression of a natural reef, IMO. Also, I think using black starboard can do the same for the substrate--having less of a separation in appearance and color provides a more gradual movement from the rock and substrate. Rather than looking at the obligatory isolated bommie on some sand, you subliminally assume you're just looking at a spot on a larger reef structure.

How is the tank lit? I'm VERY familiar with the options used in reef and marine tanks, but just learning how different light sources effect the appearance of the plants and fish in a planted aquarium.
It's a 4' shoplight, solely because I can't afford PC's or halides to put over the tank. It hangs over both ends about 6", but I just ignore it. :) I have thought about putting the original light strip over the tank with some DIY curly PC's from Home Depot, but I haven't. I would really like to get a halide effect over the tank with some ripples and glitter lines to simulate the stream effect a bit more, but we'll see what happens. But, if I did decide to go halide, it would probably end up over a reef far sooner than this.

The bulbs are just Phillips daylight, full spectrum, I think around 6500K. Anything less (as you know) tends to be too yellow for my eye, even if it's okay for plant growth.
 

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Fellow shoplighter,

I think it looks great! And I'm definately going to try out some of those Phillips bulbs tomorrow (been buying the standard plant/aquarium bulbs).
 

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Hey, nice tank! I love your substrate work, it's particularly fine this time. BTW, I used a couple of your pictures in my talk to the Greater Seattle Aquarium Society on Tuesday and they all were impressed with them. :)

Regards,
Phil
 
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