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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A few months ago while waiting in line for takeout at my favorite sushi
bar in Tucson, I saw a picture so breathtaking, so awe-inspiring, that I
temporarily forgot about my lust for California rolls. The picture was a
Japanese calendar, more specifically, taken of the wonderful, rugged coastline
of the Hokkaido region of northern Japan. Later that night I did some digging
online and discovered a wide array of mind-blowing photography, and I could
only think one thing- aquascape!

Knowing that I was unable to visit anytime soon, it then became my personal
goal to recreate an aquascape that at very least hinted at this truimph of
natural wonder, the Hokkaido!​

Here are some of my favorite shots:

Rebun Island

Furape Cliff

Rishiri Gull Hill

East Coast near Tanohata

Rishiri Island

Green Cliffs of Rebun Island

So, I knew that my traditional approach to aquascaping would fall short of
what I really wanted. I needed materials and techniques that would give me
results. I mulled it over for awhile and decided that I needed a bigger tank,
something with depth, at least 16 inches with 48 inches long (I already have
2x48" 260w PC's) and 15-20" tall. So I planned on a custom made acrylic for
this purpose.
I played with Photoshop and came up with this design:

The fish is supposed to be Bororas sp.
I'd never really seen a scape that looked like this, but I knew it would require
a good hardscape, alot of terracing, and a mature groundcover.

Well, months kept passing and the tank fund was next to nil. Then people
began talking about the ADA contest and I thought to myself; what am I
waiting for! I decided to go for it with my glass 50 gallon. Not good
depth-wise, but I would make up for it somehow.

Next, came the rock collecting. Once I discovered this unique volcanic rock
outside of Tucson (location classified), my idea began to take shape.

I didn't just want to plop them in the gravel and hope for the best, so I
resolved to create a terrace construction using eggcrate light covers and
waterfall foam. This part was messy and time consuming.

I'd never attempted to terrace a slope this steep before, and if I had it my
way it would've been even steeper. Here it sits drying on our bistro table:

As you can see the rocks are held together in precarious positions with the
waterfall foam-a great product. The foam is non-toxic after a 24 hour cure.
I used a dremel tool to carve away excess foam, and voila! The hardscape
looked fantastic!
Next, I got down and dirty uprooting and turning my established tank upside
down. All plants were either relocated or bagged. Then the existing substrate
was shoved all to the left side to make room for the hardscape. I awkwardly
slid the hardscape construction into the right side of the tank and eased it
into the existing gravel (Florabase and Ecocomplet). Extra gravel was poured
onto the top of the terrace and a final one inch layer of Florabase went over
that. What a mess. Here you can just barely see the hardscape, yuk:

The tank sat cloudy for five hours while two powerheads sucked mudwater
through micron filters. Next the replanting, I tried to be meticulous and stick
to the game plan. Luckily for me I had a few huge clumps of Eriocaulon and
Utricularia sp. from the last set-up to fill things in. I also used a good amount
of Downoi, HC, and RanPap. I let the tank sit dark for one day as the dust
settled. Then I cleared the last remaining bits of gravel from the right side to
reveal the bottom glass and siphoned it clean. I used white silica sand
because its cheap, inert, and looks surprisingly good. It took very little
rinsing. Here's a shot 30 min after adding the sand:

The next day the tank was nearly crystal clear. I evicted the random
patrons, a few neons, white clouds, and a blue-eye killie to make way for a
nice swarm of Harlequin Rasboras. I decided that the Bororas wouldn't
command enough attention. Here's a shot after adding the Rasboras:

Wow! That was alot of work. Was it worth it? You better believe it! I only
hope this does the coasts of the Hokkaido justice.
Day 3:

Now it just needs to grow in more! I am already thinking of improvements.
The powerhead has to go. I would like to replace it with a more
inconspicuous HOT Magnum,
which will double as a reactor. That will also eliminate the spraybar on the
right side. Of course it needs a lit,flat white backdrop to cover the textured
wall. I am also considering a hardscape element in the right front corner to
balance the composition more. Any suggestions? I hope this rehaul has been
helpful. Maybe some of you too would like an element of Hokkaido in your

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244 Posts
NO WAY! is that ADA Aquasoil??

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4,333 Posts
That sure beats my method: go to the LFS or NEAPS meeting, find a random plant, stick it in my tank in a random location, get labeled as having a terminal case of collectoritis, and try to piece something together that isn't hideous.

Very nice.

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69 Posts
Wow, you gotta be proud of that scape! I think a rock on the right if positioned right would really top this scape off, maybe something like the rock in the 4th picture.

· Registered
156 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks everyone for the shower of compliments! I also encourage ANY criticism, so that I can perhaps take this to the ADA level.

BigChuckP said:
I think a rock on the right if positioned right would really top this scape off, maybe something like the rock in the 4th picture.
I agree. I will try this as soon as I find the "perfect" rock for it. As for the cliff face, I actually preferred the "rumbly" rocks with more character. They fit into the Hokkaido theme.

This week I will be removing the ghastly powerhead and adding a good amount of HC. This should some depth behind the Erios.

I will post another pic once those changes take place.
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