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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Folks,

I don't post very often, but I do enjoy reading all of your posts when I can. I just reset my 125G tank this weekend. I thought it started out quite nicely and thought I'd share it with you all. (this photo was taken tonight, 24 hrs after set-up) I would have liked to find some of the beautiful driftwood I see in many aquascapes, but this was the best I could could get around here, and I really wanted to be able to pick out pieces myself rather than hoping for the best ordering over the web.

Hope you enjoy it!

Karen

P.S. I don't know if I did something wrong attaching the photo, but when I look at it here, it is not nearly as saturated or punchy as the actual photo is on my computer. Is this a common problem?
 

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Karen,

The scape looks nice :) I am finally able to see your recent aquascaping work. Can you let us know what plants you used in this tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Karen,

The scape looks nice :) I am finally able to see your recent aquascaping work. Can you let us know what plants you used in this tank?
Thanks!

Plants (I haven't repeated the name of a plant more than once, since I figure people can locate them elsewhere in the tank):

Java moss on rocks along the edges between the light sand & Aquasoil

In the area between the moss and the wood L to R:

Cryptocoryne albida (collected in Thailand)
(pale green plant) this is an unidentified species from Thailand. It's a little pale in the photo because it spent almost a week in a plastic bag between tear down of the tank and when I was able to get it re-set. It's a nice plant, and I look forward to getting it out to hobbyists once we have it correctly ID'd.
Anubias barteri var. 'Coffeefolia'
Nessaea pedicellata
Anubias barteri var 'Nana'
Little stem plant (not sure of this one, (AGA plant) but it looks like a type of Rotala to me)
Wild Microsorum pteropus
Cryptocoryne cordata var. siamensis (wild collected)

On wood L-R:

Narrow leaf Microsorum
Bolbitis heudelotti
A different wild Microsorum pteropus

Back L-R (again, you can't really see most of these yet)

Crinum thaianum (wild) - It will get to big, but I brought it home, and I can't throw it out<g>
H. polysperma (new variety we found with long narrow leaves grown submersed)
H. corymbosa
Myriophyllum mattogrossense
Cyperus helferi (wild - seems to stay a bit shorter than the one in the trade, at least so far)
Funny stem plant from Neil Frank ( can't remember what it is... have to check with him)
Barclaya longifolia
Myriophyllum from Thailand (not ID'd)
Hygrophilla difformis
Crytocoryne crispatula var. 'balansae'

Some of the plants are in here because they need a home more than because they were an important part of the aquascape. Some species I collected in Thailand we found in more than one location, and need to keep the populations in separate tanks because of locality differences in growth. So some things may need to be moved in the future. Also, right now you really can't see much of the stem plants, as they are still short enough to be hiding behind the wood. A few of the stem plants I'm unsure of, as they were given to me at AGA, and in the rush I wasn't always sure what I was getting!

As the stem plants grow out, I'll decide which ones I want to keep, and which I'll remove. (or move) With the exception of the few stem plants from the convention, all the plants used came either from the tear-down of this tank, or out of one of my two other tanks. But with the mid ground the way I want it, managing the stem plants into a shape I like will be relatively easy.

I won't be putting any fish in the tank until I get back from Thailand again at the end of Jan. I don't have anyone to do water changes for me while I'm gone, (I leave in 2 weeks) and don't want to take a chance on introducing fish between now and then.

Karen
 

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Hi Karen,
Thanks for sharing your tank reset with us. Clearly you have a little aquascaping skill. Although the layout is still young, i feel like the features on both sides of the tank are a little too similar, and they seem to be "fighting" one another. As the tank progresses you might consider developing one of the features to capture a more dominant presence in the aquarium.
 

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I will stay tuned to watch for the stems. I love the white sand stream look, but am not ready to tackle it's maintenance. Perhaps it's in my future in a small tank. :D

I remain jealous of your "collecting" trips since your presentation at the AGA conference! I will continue to live vicariously through people like yourself :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Coralite,

For me, aquascaping is a very organic process, and it will develop over time. My goal at this point was simply to give the tank the structure though the midground that will lead to stability over the long haul. I think there will be more differentiation between the two sides of the tank as the plants begin to grow out. If not, I will replace things over time to get the look I want.

You are right that the two sides of the tank are too similar, though I don't agree that they "fight" each other. If anything, scapes that are too symmetrical tend to lack the tension needed for a really top design.

125's are a tough tank to work with. Because the tank has a long, low profile, it is easy to end up with what looks like two 3' scapes, end to end. My goal with the wood curving back in was to move the viewer's eye back into the tank from both ends. I would have preferred to have the path a little further to the right, but with the wood I had to work with, I just couldn't make it work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Tex Gal,

It was nice meeting you in person at AGA!

I'm looking forwad to seeing the stems grow in too. We'll see how the next two weeks go, and then it will be 3 weeks before _I_ get to see it again.<g> It could look great at that point or it could be a mess.

This is only my second experience with Aquasoil, and the first was in my desk top nano. That tank has been very stable from the outset, so I'm hoping the same will be true for this one. But I've also heard of people having some reall algae problems in the beginning with Aquasoil. I also don't know how much this driftwood is going to leach. There's a bit of color to the water, but not too bad. But then again, I also put some Purigen in the filter.

Right now, I'm running the CO2 pretty strong, to give the plants all the advantage I can. In a week, I'll reduce the CO2 to something shrimp can deal with and put in a bunch of Amanos, then hope for the best until I get home.

Karen
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Penny,

The fish will have to wait till I get back. I've also got to figure out what I want to use. Part of me would like to stick to the small Asian fish that I love. Another part of me is thinking that the tank is big enough to show off some bigger fish, and maybe a nice school of Congos would work. ...so many choices...<g>

If anyone has any suggestions for inhabitants... preferrably ones that school well and don't cost a small (or large!) fortune, I'd love to hear them!

Karen
 

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Surprised to see a thread started by you! over the years I have read many of your articles and found them informative. Its nice to see you start an aquascape thread to follow.
 

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Nice Karen I like the layout just fine and is too early to even make a comment but once the plants grow I am sure things will balance much more.
When I talked to you last for some reason I understood you wanted an open foreground in the "front" but I am glad you went for the 2 section it makes the tank look better.
Fare well in your trip and take many more pictures this time! Close up on the plants and fish please!
Best regards,
Luis
 

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Karen,

Nice restart. You've done a great job building your midground and hardscape. You're going to have a nice strong aquascape once everything's filled in. You know me though, I'm a sucker for lots of Anubias, ferns, and Crypts. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this setup matures, it looks like it could go a couple different ways. I'm also very jealous of all the wild plants you've got.

How do you intend to measure your CO2 and at what point are you going to add the shrimp?

As far as fish go, I think sticking with SE Asian species is your best bet. For some reason the colors of SE Asian fish and plants go best together (to my eye at least), especially with predominantly green and brown plants. How about some larger gourami for a specimen fish and a couple schools of rasbora and barb for dithers/fillers? A large shoal of P. pentazona would be stunning in there. Then again, an all Rainbow tank might be nice too with a Melanotaenia species and some Pseudomugil and/or threadfins.

Have fun in Thailand and bring back some good information and pictures so I can do a decent biotope!

Regards,
Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Mountaindew,

Believe me, I'd love to have the time to participate more often. Unfortunately, at the moment, "life" seems to get in my way all too often!<g>

Karen
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Luis,

Thanks! I'm glad you like it. I think an open foreground going all the way across a tank this long would just look funny. I really felt it needed something to break it up.

I will definitely take LOTS of pictures again on this trip, but remember at AGA you only saw the number of pictures I could stuff into a one hour talk... not even CLOSE to all the photos I took. (over 1000 ;-)

Karen
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi Phil,

>> Nice restart. You've done a great job building your midground and hardscape. You're going to have a nice strong aquascape once everything's filled in. <<

Thanks!

>> You know me though, I'm a sucker for lots of Anubias, ferns, and Crypts.<<

Oh, me too. They make for easy, long-lasting scapes. And it's not like they aren't included here... I just wanted a real change from what was there before. I took a large green trach bag full of Anubias and C. wendtii to the LFS when I took the tank down. (along with the [email protected]#$% cichlids that caused me to have to take the tank down to start with<g>)

>> I'm also very jealous of all the wild plants you've got.<<

With time, I'll get them out to people. But we have to have firm ID's first. And a lot of the plants aren't really different from what we can get here... it's just fun that I collected them myself.

>> How do you intend to measure your CO2<<

Same way I always have... a bubble counter and a pH test kit.<g> (I know my KH and it remains quite stable, so I don't worry about that) None of the equipment on the tank has changed... I can't afford new stuff and go on another trip in 2 weeks.<g>

>> and at what point are you going to add the shrimp? <<

I'll check the ammonia and nitrite levels just in case, but I'm hoping I can add them next weekend.

>> As far as fish go, I think sticking with SE Asian species is your best bet. For some reason the colors of SE Asian fish and plants go best together (to my eye at least), especially with predominantly green and brown plants. How about some larger gourami for a specimen fish and a couple schools of rasbora and barb for dithers/fillers? A large shoal of P. pentazona would be stunning in there. Then again, an all Rainbow tank might be nice too with a Melanotaenia species and some Pseudomugil and/or threadfins. <<

Well, Rainbows are out of the question. Gary Lange won't even give them to me any more... I've killed too many.
:-( It must be something about my water that they don't like, but over a period of months, they just waste away. I was thinking of pentazonas, though the only gouramis I really like are pearls, and I have them in another tank. What I'd REALLY like would be to get my hands on a bunch of P. partipentazonas to go along with the wild plants in the tank. But I've never seen them for sale here, I think because they aren't quite as bright as their tetrazona cousins.

>> Have fun in Thailand and bring back some good information and pictures so I can do a decent biotope! <<

I've already got one great biotope picked out, and we are going back there again this time to see what it looks like when the water is a bit higher. Most of the plants are esily available in the hobby, too.

Karen
 

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Some P. partipentazona would be gorgeous. I've looked at using them or pentazona in a biotope setup and have fallen in love with the little guys. Have you seen either of those species in an area where M. pteropus is growing?

As far as your tanks go, do you like large schools of one or few species or smaller groups of many species?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
M. pteropus usually doesn't grow under water except at high (fast moving) water, on water falls, or in the spray zone of water falls. So I think the likelihood of finding small schooling fish of any kind under those conditions are slim. There were fish in the pools at the base of the waterfalls, but mostly large trout-looking (though I suspect they were something else) fish.

We found the smaller barbs in slower moving streams and slow moving, shallow rivers. Some areas with the small barbs had LOTS of plant diversity, but no Microsorum that I saw.

(sorry<g>)

As far as my tanks are concerned, typically, I set up one main species as a breeding colony, and then sometimes a secondary cast of characters. For instance, One tank is home to a breeding colony of black ruby barbs, some denisoni, a pair of pearl gouramis and some catfish (that my now-grown son collected in Brazil when he was 10 yrs old<g>) that I see once every other year if I want to or not.

The other tank has a colony of cherry barbs, and these great danios that I got from Mike Hellweg... I can't remember the name, but they look like zebra danios, but they are a bit bigger and have beautiful orangey red fins. There are also some Botia striata in that tank, and the Badis and A. panchax that I brought home from the last trip.

The tank that I just reset had had a colony of Rosario's thread fin tetras (or, rather, the decendants of his... I think I was on generation 3 or 4) and (unfortunately) a colony of Thorichthys aureum. The areums are gorgeous, peaceful, and never directly hurt the plants but the dug constantly, and dropped the mouthfuls of substrate all over the plant leaves. This cause an unending algae problem. They also reproduced like rabbits. And because they are cichlids, they are too smart to catch. It was because the only way to rid the tank of the aureums was to pull everything out that they could possibly hide behind or under, that I decided I might as well just tear it down and start over.<g>

Fortunately, the LFS was thrilled to get the aureums, and it turns out that Rosario was looking for some of the threadfins again, so I think they will end up going in his direction. There were some misc. guys in there too... a group of red phantoms that never showed well as they were too intimidated by the aureums (even though the aureums didn't bother them... they never even bothered the Amano shrimp) and some panda corys. But I took everyone to the LFS.

So for the first time in probably 10 years, I have a completely "clean slate" to work with in terms of fish. I'm going to try to be really disciplined about ONLY putting in the "right" fish for this tank.<g>

Karen
 

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remember at AGA you only saw the number of pictures I could stuff into a one hour talk... not even CLOSE to all the photos I took. (over 1000 ;-)

Karen
I saw you in CT back in April and I got to see them many pictures before the presentation.
Have fun and be safe.
Cheers,
Luis
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks, Chuck!

Here's an update on what's been happening over the last week. I had an algae explosion which I wasn't expecting... I haven't really worked with such nutrient rich substrate materails before. So I've been changing lots of water (which takes forever on such a big tank, and makes me feel guilty about the wasted water!) and manually removing stringy algae.

By Thursday, there was still no measurable ammonia or nitrite (I'm sure because I used an already mature filter) so I decied I really needed to get an algae crew installed. I put in a dozen otos and 11 Amano shrimp (all I could get locally... and I got a few cherries and a Thai wood shrimp thrown in free for good measure<g>). That's not near as many Amanos as I would have liked, so I was looking for something else that would eat the string algae. They had a bunch of Florida Flags, but they aren't one of my favorite fish... they can be nippy, they eat fine leafed plants when the algae is gone and they are hard to catch.

The LFS (Uncle Ned's for those of you in the Boston area) had some very nice Panda barbs though, and they said they had been doing a great job of clean Cladophora off of plants that they were rotating through the tank. I figured if they'll eat Cladophora, they should make short work of the much softer string algae. Besides, they are nice fish. I've had them in the past, and they show well, breed easily in a planted tank, but don't overpopulate. The only problem was that they were $$expensive$$. Still, I had to have something that would eat algae, and I figured I'd be better off with fish I really like. So I got 3 trios. They have settled in nicely, and have made good headway on the algae already. I have to say, it's nice to see a little life in the tank!

I also reduced the photoperiod. Again, I haven't had a problem like this with my "old style" gravel/laterite or Flourite substrates, so I hadn't really thought about it. But I noticed that a lot of people here mention a reduced photoperiod in the beginning with teh Amano substrates, so we'll see if that helps. I've also got the CO2 cranked as high as I dare with the fish and shrimp in there. I'm running the pH down to right around 6.4, which should give me a concentration of about 60 mgl.

I had to go out anb buy all new test kits (I don't use them often, and I didn't trust the reagents to still be good, other than the pH kit) so that I can do some readings this weekend and see where I stand on N&P. (I have to be careful on the P because my tap water contains about 3ppm)

I'll try to post a picture later, but not much has changed.

Karen
 
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