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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks! It feels like it's been forever since I talked about my own tanks here. So much can happen in the span of three years...

I apologize now for the text-rich first post. Pictures will soon be forthcoming, I promise.

I'd like to give a big "HELLO!" to all the forumeisters who were kind enough to shoot the roots with me before my life turned upside down. I'd also like to give a greetings and salutations to anyone visiting my new threads who I have yet to be introduced to. I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you and to enjoying many hours talking about our mutual hobby.

For the past few years I've been cut down to one or two planted tanks that I tried halfheartedly to maintain properly. In the end the only one to have any sort of long term success and stability was a 75g lit by 4x65w PC, with CO2 injection, and a very rich Flourite substrate. The poor thing only got fertilization every once in a blue moon and water changes once every four to six months. The Anubias spp. and Nymphaea zhenkeri did really well and eventually dominated the tank. That was pretty much it for two and a half years.

For the past half-year I haven't had any tanks up and have been jonesing pretty bad.

After having been out of the high tech end of the hobby for so long I had to think long and hard about how I wanted to restart it now that I've got a good job and a fiancee who's been on my case to get the tanks up and going. With all the new advances, new species, and improved availability of aquascaping products I thought it would be best if I went back to basics and re-tread the path I'd been walking when I needed to step back. This all leads me to the present day and the topic of this thread, my Rainforest tank #1 (and #2 in a different thread).

After thinking about the materials I had at hand, where the tanks were going to be, and what the decoration of my apartment was going to be like I decided to focus on the basics of Nature Aquarium. I grew up in Western Washington state and have always found myself at the same end point when I think about what sort of Nature Aquarium I would want to do when I did one. Invariably my mind conjures memories of the lush rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, especially the Hoh National Rainforest. That became the central theme from which I would draw my aquascapes.

This tank, #1, is my "low light" tank that is going to be dominated by green stems, mosses, ferns, and creeping ground cover like Ranunculus spp. and Hydrocotyle spp. Pogostemon helferi is going to be an anchor species meant to imitate the many ferns that dominate the forest floor. This particular tank is going to be a major challenge for me. In real life nearly every surface of the ground and trees is covered with moss if there's not already something else growing there. I've never been able to successfully grow aquatic mosses for any length of time. Hopefully I'll be able to break that streak with this setup.

Ok, enough talk, here are the stats. The first pics will be up tomorrow (Thursday), I promise. My plants are coming in on Friday so the really good stuff will be online Friday night and Saturday.

<edit>This is my first time ever using ADA substrates. It's going to be an interesting journey. Any experienced input is welcome and appreciated. </edit>
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Tank: AGA 75g with black painted egg-crate and spray foam background. The backing will be used to attach epiphytes and mosses to in the future, as needed to fill in gaps.

Lighting: 6x 55w PC retrofits from AH Supply with 7800K bulbs. (That's why low light was in quotes earlier).

CO2: 5lb with Rhinox diffusor.

Filtration: Eheim Pro II

Substrate: ADA Power Sand Special "M" and Amazonia.

Hardscape: Lots of manzanita wood from Jake, aka Fishandturtlejunkie. He sent me two VERY nice and quite generous assortments of wood. No rocks unless they've got something attached to them. EVERYTHING is going to be covered in moss or epiphytes of some sort.

Fertilization: Dry chemical supplimentation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The obligatory ADA product show-off shot. That's four bags of Amazonia and one bag of Power Sand Special.


Power Sand in:


Aaaaand all the substrate:


The filter intake is behind the baffle on the right side, hence the slight slope. I'm glad it's going to be obscured by the plants, my OCD is getting to me knowing that I'm starting the tank with an uneven substrate. Silly, I know but neurotic perfectionism is what it is.

Planting pictures to come tomorrow!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me when I got home on Thursday. My plant shipment had come in a day early! There was much scrambling around Thursday night getting the filters, CO2, and hardscape installed so I could concentrate on prepping and planting on Friday.

As soon as I got home from work on Friday I set to getting the rest of the plants put in the tank. All in all I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I'll have the plant list and livestock list after the photos. We all know it's all about the pics!

You'll have to pardon the crappy photo quality. I had to use one of the field cameras from work and it's been beat up pretty badly.

The hardscape pallete:


The stems:


Full Tank Shot, 10.18.08 12:30am


Left Side 10.18.08


Right Side 10.18.08


Oblique Shot 10.18.08
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Plant List:

Anubias barteri v. nana
Anubias barteri v. nana "petite"
Bolbitis heudelotii
Microsorium pteropus
Vesicularia dubyana
Cryptocoryne wendtii "Green"
Cryptocoryne wendtii "Red"
Blyxa japonica
Limnophila aromatica
Hygrophila balsamica
Hygrophila corymbosa "angustifolia"
Hygrophila difformis
Ludwigia arcuata
Rotala sp. "nanjenshan"
Potamogeton gayii
Pogostemon stellata "Downoi"
Valisneria nana
Heternathera zosterofilia
Didiplis diandre
Hemianthus callitrichoides



Planned fish list:
Cardinal Tetra
Emperor Tetra (The things men do for their women! )
Pygmy Cory
Ottocinclus
Blue Ram
Amano Shrimp
Wood Shrimp
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the heads-up George. I got some ammonia absorbing material for my filter today. Some patches of the HC are already covered with filamentous algae.
 

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Wow, that's the highest light "low-light" tank I've ever seen (not that I've been around that long). ;)

I really like your choice of plants. The Anubias (especially the 'petite' ) have become one of my favorites, not only to grow in my tank, but to see in aquascapes. The scape you have set-up looks terrific and I can't wait to see it grown in!

-Dave
 

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It most certainly doesn't suck, but it is difficult to judge since the stem plants are so small. The basic layout looks good and I like how you've attached the anubias. The wood on the right looks incomplete to me, like there should be something more out to the right, but I think that's because the background hasn't filled in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, that's the highest light "low-light" tank I've ever seen (not that I've been around that long). ;)

I really like your choice of plants. The Anubias (especially the 'petite' ) have become one of my favorites, not only to grow in my tank, but to see in aquascapes. The scape you have set-up looks terrific and I can't wait to see it grown in!

-Dave
Dave,

Thank you! I'm a huge fan of A. nana 'petite' too. The photos of the rainforest I took the inspiration for this aquascape from have vines climbing all over the trees. It's my hope that the 'petite' give the impression of vines all over the wood. Honestly, if I could have I'd have covered all the wood with it, but then I think it would have lost it's effect. There need to be some "clean" trunks in there to emphasize those that are covered.

csgardener said:
It most certainly doesn't suck, but it is difficult to judge since the stem plants are so small. The basic layout looks good and I like how you've attached the anubias. The wood on the right looks incomplete to me, like there should be something more out to the right, but I think that's because the background hasn't filled in.
Thanks for letting me know it doesn't suck. As silly as it may seem, I was sort of worried about it. I've seen lots of posts from folks oooohing and OMGing over nearly empty tanks only to have no input on the aquascape that I think may be my best to date. It was a little disheartening, especially after so many views. I can deal with the newness factor as long as I'm not so far out of the game that my tastes are a 180 from the current norm. Then again, it is my tank and is only there for my enjoyment so what the heck does it matter if it's trendy, eh?

I completely agree with your assessment about the right side. There are about 6 Bolbitis rhizomes and a big chunk of Crypt wendtii sitting there waiting to sprout. Even so, I'm looking for some good local Hygrophila polysperma to fill in there. I think the color and texture will be a good addition to that corner.

HoustonFishFanatic said:
It looks like a great start. The wood placement is good. I am sure it will look good when it fills in.
Thank you very much. I'm a firm believer in the philosophy that it's the midground and hardscape that really make the aquascape. As long as I got those right I can play with the foreground and background until overall balance is achieved.

bigstick120 said:
Looking good! Welcome back to the hobby! Id like to know where you got all those plants from. And in one shipment.

Thank you! I appreciate your comment and welcome back. It's odd to be involved in things on the fringe and then come back a few years later. Things and the people have changed a lot since I went "away". I'm really excited about my current set ups and all of the cool new stuff going on in the hobby. I've been blessed with a fiancee who's just as interested in aquariums as I am. She likes plants but she gets more excited about the fish. As long as she's ok with me spending $$ and time on the tanks it's all good.

As to your question, I own a small aquascape design and installation business, so I get my plants from a wholesaler.

Ultimately all of the plants in my tanks came from Florida Aquatic Nursery, who, by the way are being INCREDIBLY generous with their donations to the AGA for this year's convention. Brad McClaine is a stand-up guy and has done a lot behind the scenes to help the hobby.

Thank you all for your input, I appreciate your comments and promise to keep things updated often; at least until things are settled down pretty well and aren't changing much. One of the purposes behind this tank in particular is to see how an aquascape changes over the long term (1+ years) so I won't be changing it much except for the odd trim or thinning here and there. Once it's set up like I want it to I'm going to let nature run its course and see where everything ends up growing.
 

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[As to your question, I own a small aquascape design and installation business, so I get my plants from a wholesaler.
Jermack Cultivated Plants. Say hi to Gene for me. I've been dealing direct with FAN for the last couple years, so its been a while since I talked to him.

Pogostemon stellata "Downoi
I think you mean P. helferi ;)

I like your design so far. Its hard to see where the color is yet.

By the way, in case you havn't noticed Phil, the Limnophila aromatica that Florida aquatic nurseries sells, is not the aromatica that everybody on the internet calls aromatica. Just like Oriental aquarium, their aromatica has little ROUND purple leaves. The limnophila hippuroides, aka L. aromatica var hippuroides is the one that everyone in the forums refers to as "aromatica". FAN got all the original plants from Oriental aquarium and then propogated them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Jermack Cultivated Plants. Say hi to Gene for me. I've been dealing direct with FAN for the last couple years, so its been a while since I talked to him.

I think you mean P. helferi ;)

I like your design so far. Its hard to see where the color is yet.

By the way, in case you havn't noticed Phil, the Limnophila aromatica that Florida aquatic nurseries sells, is not the aromatica that everybody on the internet calls aromatica. Just like Oriental aquarium, their aromatica has little ROUND purple leaves. The limnophila hippuroides, aka L. aromatica var hippuroides is the one that everyone in the forums refers to as "aromatica". FAN got all the original plants from Oriental aquarium and then propogated them.
Hey Robert, how're things?

Yup, Jermack. I say hi to Gene every time to call. He's a great guy to do business with. I noticed you were doing wholesaling now, congratulations on getting your direct in with FAN. I'm a big fan of theirs (no pun intended).

Yeah, I mean P. helferi 'downoi', thanks for the correction. The P. stellata is in the 90g.

The color? You mean green's not a color? =P Seriously though, this is meant to be a green dominated 'scape. Almost all of the red/purple/yellow/orange is in the 90g. There's a stand of Limnophila somethingorother and Didpilis diandre behind the joint on the left side where all the branches start arcing toward the middle. It's growing slowly but surely.

Thanks on the tip about the different Limnophila varieties/species. I couldn't find what FAN had labeled as L. hippuroides in my order based on the submersed growth I expected. There were a few bunches of an emersed grown green stem with alternate, serrate leaves that I figured was one of the Limnophila species I'd ordered after a bit of consideration. I've never worked with either variety/species of Limnophila before and am not terribly familiar with the morphological differences yet. Hopefully time and some submersed growth will help me distinguish between the two.

Interestingly enough, in my 90g my Ludwigia inclinata v. 'cuba' is throwing out very rounded, alternate leaves rather than the lovely lanceolate, whorled-appearing foliage we've all come to expect. It's an interesting change, but I'm hoping it'll switch back to the bottle-brush shape before too long since that's why I got it.

Regards,
Phil
 

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Phil, I like your philosophy which seems to dictate that if you gotta do something, then do it right! You seem to have achieved that. I can't wait to see the tank's progression as time goes on:) It definitely is an inspiration for those who were in the hobby and had to get out and now are trying to get back in! Myself included! Thank you!
 

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There were a few bunches of an emersed grown green stem with alternate, serrate leaves that I figured was one of the Limnophila species I'd ordered after a bit of consideration.
Yeah, ovate with serrated edges, thats the rice patty aromatica, and as far as I can tell it stays that shape underwater, and its not easy to grow. The hippuroides is the one that looks much like P. stellatus, (eusteralis) The ovate aromatica is listed as aromatica by the USDA/APHIS and is known all over Asia as an edible plant. The pipe brush type seems to go by different names, but I can never get any of the name experts on APC to admit that the oval form is the true aromatica! :tape2:

Anyways... the hippuroides is the more desireable one of the two.

Interestingly enough, in my 90g my Ludwigia inclinata v. 'cuba' is throwing out very rounded, alternate leaves rather than the lovely lanceolate, whorled-appearing foliage we've all come to expect. It's an interesting change, but I'm hoping it'll switch back to the bottle-brush shape before too long since that's why I got it.
That is wierd. That is the immersed growth form. I have had that happen if I let the tops grow above the water surfacel, but I have never had it happen below. Nice to see you back Phil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Phil, I like your philosophy which seems to dictate that if you gotta do something, then do it right! You seem to have achieved that. I can't wait to see the tank's progression as time goes on:) It definitely is an inspiration for those who were in the hobby and had to get out and now are trying to get back in! Myself included! Thank you!
Paul,

I think that philosophy only applies to aquariums for me. ;) I learned the hard way with my own tanks and by rehabilitating client tanks that had previously been half-assed by other people when I did maintenance that it's best to just bite the bullet and make sure the tank is set up just right at the very beginning. Doing it this way is certainly a lot of money up front and seems expensive, but I've found that it's cheaper over time since I only need to buy hardware once and am not constantly upgrading.

I'm looking forward to seeing it grow in too. Whenever I look at the tank all I can see is what I anticipate it being, not what it might actually be. It's good to get the perspective of fresh sets of eyes. Only time will tell how closely the actual planting is to the plan I had in my head when doing it.

Are you going to AGA Paul? I was planning on trimming all the tanks and auctioning off the clippings, but if you're going to be there I'll be happy to send you off with a good care package for the NASH folks. Your club's been a great ource of inspiration for me and I'd be happy to help y'all out.

Robert Hudson said:
Yeah, ovate with serrated edges, thats the rice patty aromatica, and as far as I can tell it stays that shape underwater, and its not easy to grow. The hippuroides is the one that looks much like P. stellatus, (eusteralis) The ovate aromatica is listed as aromatica by the USDA/APHIS and is known all over Asia as an edible plant. The pipe brush type seems to go by different names, but I can never get any of the name experts on APC to admit that the oval form is the true aromatica!

Anyways... the hippuroides is the more desireable one of the two.

That is wierd. That is the immersed growth form. I have had that happen if I let the tops grow above the water surfacel, but I have never had it happen below. Nice to see you back Phil.
Well, let's see how the two varieties grow differently. I've got them pretty much next to one another in the tank. Oddly enough, right now the ovate ones are growing better.

I think the cuba's growth form probably has something to do with it growing under 500w of halide light. :) Gotta use what you have when you can, right?

Regards,
Phil
 
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