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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I had Tonina style tanks for a while last year but the maintenance was too much work. I wanted to to back to something simpler. What got me started back in this hobby in the first place after 20+ yrs absence was seeing one of Amano's iwagumi layouts. It really struck a chord but sadly my skills lagged. Stones are a hard medium to master. Good stones are hard to find. A nice one may be sitting under your nose and you don't even realize it it until. I turned to various driftwood arrangements for several of my recent aquascapes but in the back of my mind, I wanted an iwagumi layout.

Several months ago, came upon yamaya some stones that I purchased but never used. I picked up a large stone and turned it slowly in my hand....and suddenly I saw its "face" and then I felt it. I grabbed the box and went down to the kid's sandbox and made a 5 stone arrangement, numbered the them and photographed it for future reference.

I had Africana on hand from my Tonina tank but the color was all wrong for iwagumi. It had to be Amazonia. But I had to wait an ETERNITY for an ADG's Aquasoil shipment to arrive from Japan. This actually was a blessing in disguise because I went through several styles of sloping the substrating in my head (and in the sandbox). FINALLY, the the Amazonia arrived and it was the "new" version.

  • Equipment: ADA 60P "mist"; Ehiem Ecco 2236 (blue and white filter pads, substrat pro and Seachem Renew); Cal Aqua 13 mm lily pipe set; shrimplabs bazooka atomic diffuser at 1 bps; Aquamedic 150 MH pendant (5 hrs photoperiod at 0-4 wks; 5.5 hrs at 5 weeks and will probably not go much above that).
  • Substrate: Powersand special 2L; Tourmaline BC; "New" Amazonia 9L x 1 bag regular and 1/3 of a 3L bag "powder" type.
  • Flora: HC, Bylxa japonica, Eleocharis sp. "Japan", hydrocotle sp (ones with really small leaves)
  • Week 1 - daily 30% water changes; Week 2 and 3 - 3x/week 30% water change; Week 4 till present - 50% weekly water changes.

I did the layout pretty much as shown on the ADG video. After a the substrate was placed in the tank and sloped properly, the stones went in. The hardscape layout was finalized and secured with the substrate still dry. No further attempt was made to rearrange the hardscape after water was added. Enough water was added to barely cover the lowest part of the substrate. It was added slowly so as not to disturb the substrate. Plants were placed into the substrate with pincettes, and the tank filled slowly.

During setup and cycling, water remained crystal clear. No nuisance algae was visible despite the low plant load. I think limiting the photoperiod and the excellent flow from the Cal Aqua pipes helped a great deal. It took 4 weeks for the tank to finish cycling completely (no detectable NH3 or NO2) in this respect the behavior is similar to original Amazonia

The pictures you see below are at 5 weeks after initial setup.

With fauna - Hyphessobrycon sweglesi, Amano shrimp, and Otocinclus. As you can see the substrate looks pristine, no breakdown or dust and water is clear.

From the left side

Right side

Here are a couple of FTS. The only difference is the type of lighting used. The camera was on a tripod and I used the same settings for both pictures.

Aquamedic Oceanlight 150 watt MH pendant with Giesemann Megachrome Tropic bulb

AquaticLife dual T5 fixture with 24 watt Giesemann Midday + 24 watt Giesemann Aquaflora

You can see the shadows cast by the MH fixture on the main stone. The T5 give a warmer feel to the aquascape and the fish colors really pop. But.....I like the spaciousness with the pendant and it looks cooler. If there was a nice looking silver T5 fixture like the UK Arcadia ones, I would be all over it!!

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712 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks John! I didn't know you could do that with the FNI T5. The Aquatic life one is way too big and heavy but maybe it bec the ballast in hidden in the fixture. We had a NASH member try to hang a Tek 4xT5 bulb fixture on his Solar I arm but that did not work out well at all. The FNI 2 fixture one just might work. Is it pretty light?

Thanks Csr, the stand is a custom one made by ADG with MDF. Has a built in shelf great for holding ferts, fish food and other stuff.

The aquascape by no means perfect. I wish the main stone was bigger, but that is what I had to work with By sloping the substrate and placing the main stone higher on the slope and the smaller stones lower, I hoped give the illusion that the main stone was more massive and also create an impression of depth at the same time.

Once the HC grows dense I can start trimming it to look more even lawn like. The Bylxa OTOH already had to be thinned out twice. The hydrocotle is starting to peek out from the bylxa. I hoping I can achieve an effect where it "hovers" over the HC.
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