I'm seeking advice on rescaping/improving my 240g Discus tank so I can enter it in the AGA competition in September. I posted it over in Large tanks section. I appreciate any suggestions you might have.
Yes, early on I stuggled against blue-green algae and high phosphate levels and had lots of interesting plants that didn't grow in the tank. To combat the algae, I kept adding more and more plant mass to soak up the nutrients and now that it's stabilized, I'm not really sure how to bring it into a real aquascape. I like the java fern stuff on the right side, and I like the red temple plant growth, but I need to limit it to one area of the tank. It just grows so well, I've been propagating it to keep plant mass up.
I rescaped a week and a half ago... here's where the tank is as of last night. There is also a shot of the bog. I'm not sure it's up to the standards of the competition. Maybe I should wait till next time.
The piece of wood in the middle cuts the tank in half, I would work on that piece of wood in particular. Having several pieces of wood or several pieces of rock visible in the scape would make it flow a bit better.
One of the cool benefits of entering the competition is the comments from the judges. It's worth $5 just to get some comments. I won't tell you who the judges are, but you're going to want to enter for the comments.
The bog is great! I agree with hooha about the piece of wood centered in the tank. It would be visually more appealing off-center and with some other pieces of wood more visible. The overall look of the tank is a definite improvement to the jungle you had before. It was a healthy, lush mix of plants before but not a coherent planting. Your moving in the right direction. I think you could use a more developed mid-ground to bring things together.
Well unfortunately, the centerpiece is on slate that is set on top of some large rock buried in the gravel. I can't move it without ripping up the entire tank. Here is the approximate hardscape underneath. I have a nice rock pile that the fish have taken up residence in and a dug out area around it that some of the Discus will actually go hide in. There are pictures on my blog of the big orange discus turning sideways to slip under the rock pile! I battled massive blue-green algae early on and managed to grow some beautiful java fern over it to keep the algae off. The Java fern has created some nice pockets of space the fish like to hang out in. Unfortunately, it consumes a significant amount of space. I need to reign it in a little.
I've had a lot of trouble with the bog area. If you follow the blog, it's actually the 4th attempt at it. Some of the plants are there because I needed something to fill the space to start out. Some plants are doing ok, but there is definitely no cohesiveness to it. The one plant is doing great and is threatening to take over. The others are doing ok or dying. The biggest problem is it's hard to access and I can't tell how the water is flowing through it so I don't know how or where to plant things so they get enough, but not too much water. Like my creeping fig was doing fine but was being overrun by the creeping plant. I cut that plant out of the way but apparently uprooted the fig and it dried up and died on me. Again... it's the second one I bought. So frustrating. There is also no real connection between the plants in the bog and those in the tank. I have a plant in it that looks a lot like a terrestrial sword plant so there is some hope. I floated some of the blue plant in the tank to see if it'll root. I'm letting an anubia grow out of the water as I know it'll grow emmersed. We'll see.
Although they didn't notify us, the new entries/results are posted. Here is mine. Of course it's evolved since then. I did move the centerpiece to the left and back some and thinned out the java fern a bit. It's currently in that in-between stage... it'll look good eventually I hope. I recently did a substrate replacement on two of my other big tanks and am loving how those tanks are looking. I might have to go to the trouble to do this one early next year. What a difference the substrate can make...
Have you thought about some mosses covering the plastic as it flows into the tank. A little of it could be draped over the DW or rock.
The rock on the left, though beautiful seems to draw a lot of attention to itself. If it were softened by more crypts (or is that java?) in front or moss or something. Or maybe a few smaller similar rocks at the right base of the tree and nestled in amongst the rock bank.
Your foreground looks a little sparse. The lone sword in the front needs some friends.
Having said all that... you have a beautiful tank there!
The substrate is Black Beauty sand blasting media... size 4 is the finer one I put in the 72g bowfront, size 3 is a bit coarser that I put in the 150g. I think for the future I lean a bit towards the size 3. While some have expressed concern about the sharp granules, the only specific problem mentioned was hearsay. Spreading it through the tank (under water) with my hand left my hand feeling a bit sanded right after, but no lasting irritation. We have had bolivian rams dig to the bottom of it to lay eggs and hatch fry successfully. It holds plants really well. Apparently it has iron in it, but I don't know if it's in a form that can be released. I learned about it from Dane at Rift2Reef in Denton. He was using size 6 super fine, but that is much too fine IMO.
When I first started to use Blasting Sand it was available at a Concrete Supply place now it is being carried by a Tool Rental.
Check out the Yellow Pages for Sand Blastng supplies and call or just dig up a Sand Blasting operation and scrounge.
Supposedly this has a lot of iron and is kind of sharp but I have been using it for a long time and it is OK. The last time I used it I mixed with Eco Complete (about Half and half by volume and not a whole bag) in a 75 about two years ago. Got this originally from a very good Chichlid guy many moons ago.
One bag (about $10) goes a long way.
My apologies for jumping in here but it seemed to be an unanswered question.
It's $13 for 100lbs... I used 200lbs in my 150g and 100lbs in my 72g... sure beats the cost of the alternatives!
They have a glass bead substrate that seems interesting too, but the size they carry seems too small, so I'd have to special order some in the larger sizes. It might be too slippery for plants, but might be cool for an artsy tank of some sort.
I was told that Black Beauty is a slag product It has never discolored as some of the Aquarium Gravels have over the years but it is small/fine and is aggravating to suck it up when trying to clean a tank.
It's funny that at one time I would argue with MTS and now I need them to stir gravel after getting rid of most of my UGF plates. How things change.
They have samples of some of the substrates in the store, but not all that they have online. I haven't used it long enough to see that it doesn't discolor, but it seems very nice so far. It is a bit odd vacuuming... I guess it's heavier than normal gravel so while it's pretty hard to vacuum the gravel out, even visible fish waste on top of the substrate doesn't always want to vacuum up and out of the tank. Granted, this is with my 72g tank where I'm draining into a sink that is almost the same level as the tank so the siphon isn't as strong as it would be otherwise. And this tank has the finer #4 grade sand. I found that I could force it somewhat by pushing the vacuum tube deeper into the substrate and let it fill up with mostly substrate which displaced the space in the tube and pushed the waste up to the top where it could actually be removed. Doing that tells me that it would make good substrate for a fluidized bed filter. I'll have to try that in the next one I build. Though by definition, I guess it could be capable of scratching the clear pipe. We won't know until we try it through.
When I had flourite in the tanks, the siphon would pick up all the little pieces of flourite and drop them on top of my plants and hardscape which was equally annoying. Can't have everything I guess!