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August 2008 Tank of the Month
by Dave Williams



Introduction and Background

My introduction to planted tanks, and to keeping aquariums, was my daughter's kindergarten biotope project - guppies, pond snails, anacharis, and duckweed. We brought one of the biotopes home. The guppies did what guppies do, and we soon ended up with a couple of tanks.

Fast forward three years, and planted tanks have become my hobby and a relaxation tool. I found the local club GWAPA to learn from and grow with, and have expanded my horizons from a 10g with guppies and anacharis to several tanks and many species of fish and plants, including this 180g set up in January '08.



About the Layout

As I learned more about planted tanks, I found myself trying to find the style of aquascaping that was for me. I liked parts of Dutch styles, I liked parts of Nature styles, and I've grown more than my fair share of out-and-out jungle tanks.

This scape is an attempt to blend some of those styles into one. The hardscape was set in a definite nature style fashion, with care to placement, ratios, and space. Plant selections were done with two things in mind - simple maintenance, and getting some of the Dutch style leaf and color transitions. Is there such a thing as a Natural Dutch tank? I guess that is what I was trying to do.

Specifications:

180g Reef Ready tank.

Eheim 2260, Mag 9.5 running an inline loop for CO2.

2 6x39w TEK lighting, uses 8x39w Geisemann bulbs 9 hours a day.

Mineralized Soil Substrate capped with 3M Colorquartz.

Plants include:
Crypt. - Balansae, Spiralis, Willissii, Parva, Wendtii 'Green Gecko', and Beckettii
Anubias - Barteri, Barteri Nana, Nana petite, Lanceolata, Nana "Yellow Heart"
Hygrophilas - Corymbosa Angustifolia, sp. Bold, sp. "Low Grow"
Pogostemon Stellata
Polygonum sp. "Port Vehlo"
Needle leaf Java fern, Java Fern "trident"
Pogostemon Helferi
Echinodorus - Angustifolia "Vesuvius" and Midifleur







Stocked with:
Cherry and Amano Shrimp, Otocinclus, Dwarf Neon Rainbows, Rummynose Tetras, Pygmy Cories, and German Rams.



Tank maintenance:

The tank is plumbed to my house. The tank does ~5 gallon daily automatic water changes. Fertilization is at a bare minimum, .1-.2 ppm potassium dosed every few days. Every couple of weeks I'll do additional water changes via python for a vacuum and cleaning.

Technique:

Mainly, pestering the more experienced aquascapers within GWAPA for tons of help! It has worked so far. ;)

It is trimmed biweekly at the most, usually weekly. The hardscape was set using the Golden Ratio - we set this tank up at a club meeting, and used the opportunity of a larger tank to demonstrate what the golden ratio was and how to use it setting a hardscape.

Final Thoughts:

First and foremost, thanks for making my 180 Tank of the Month!

This tank is, more than anything, a tribute to what joining a club and learning from others is all about. The support and information I've gotten from my club locally, as well as from online forums dedicated to this hobby, are invaluable to me. They have made this hobby so much fun for me, inspired me, and made the learning curve so much shorter.

If this tank and article inspire anyone to do anything, it is my hope they are inspired to get involved in their local club, get involved in online forums, and soak in all of that knowledge that is out there for the taking!
 

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Dave - What a fantastic tank! Your style of aquascaping is very much in line with my own. I don't know if it should be called "freestyle" or "natural dutch" or what, but it works well for you. Formal "Dutch" tanks usually seem a bit stuffy and contrived, but the intersting leaf texture and color contrasts give them a certain apeal that isn't usually found in natural tanks. In my opinion, you've beautifully combined elements from the two schools here. The hardscape is very nice.

Somebody help me out here - what is the lush, green plant in the forground/midground on the right side?

Could you provide some additional detail about how your automatic WC works? I'd love to set up something similar and I'm in the market for ideas.
 

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Congratulations! :clap2: Love being able to see the wood. Really nice! The open space in the front almost looks like a river.

One question- Are you standing on the ground?... That's one high tank, if you are....
 

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Congrats Dave. It's a well-deserved nomination for sure man. :D
 

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Congrats Dave! You have really come a long way from when you joined GWAPA a short time ago.

Bryce that plant is what GWAPA is calling Low grow Hygro. Possible a new plant from tropical but I can recall, Syn something!
Yup... He just sent some of that plant to me today...
 

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Thanks all!

I'm sitting in front of the tank. :) I'm short, but not that short.

Bryce - Low Grow hygro. Will let you know next time I'm trimming, just sent a big pile of it out.

For the automatic water changes, another learning from GWAPA, thanks Ghazanfar! -

I have one of the stand pipes plumbed to the drain line of my house. Stand pipe comes into the overflow, and the top of it is where I want the top of the water level to be.

Next, we have a cold water line. Set up a digital sprinkler timer to go off for one or two minutes at a clip - mine pushes about 5 gallons a minute.

Run a hose line from the sprinkler timer into the opposite overflow intake, just over the top of the back of the tank.

Timer turns on, water comes in... water level rises... over the lip of that stand pipe we installed. Excess water goes right into the house drain.

I have chlorine, not chloramine, so disspation happens and is harmless. 5 gallons in a 180g tank.... no concentration to be worried about. I don't typically do more than 10g in a day of changes, so do not use dechlorination at all, I just let it naturally offgas. Should you have chloramine, you add something like an Eheim autodoser into the mix, and let it hit the tank with a small dechlor shot daily with the new water.
 

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Fantastic tank Dave! It really looks good in person too. Watching the army of cherry shrimp patrol the foreground, and then get chased back into the forest of 'Low Grow' is quite entertaining.

One question- Are you standing on the ground?... That's one high tank, if you are....
Dave is that short! LOL! Nah, that just happened to be the best picture. It does look like he's standing though, doesn't it?
 

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Nice tank, beautiful plant growth. Without the picture of you in front of the tank, I didn't realize how big the tank really is.
 

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Beautiful, I love this aqurscaping so much.
In addition, what name the plant in second plant photo is ? Thanks!
 

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Wow, looks like I clearly have some learning to do. I like my humble little 30 gallon, but this is in another league entirely. Any suggestions on when the next meeting in the Houston area will be so I can start learning from you all? Thanks in advance!

Nathan
 

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Love that BIG tank.

sooooooo algae free too!
 
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