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1st attempt at a high tech box 'o water

Discussion in 'Aquascaping Journals' started by Wendy1B, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    • So, I HAD fallen in love with the artistic elements in the design of the Fluval Edge. I am really excited about the top-down viewing of the plants, as I think this is the most beautiful angle. However, I have since been talked out of the Edge. Then, I was pretty sure I'd be ordering a 28 Gallon Red Sea Reefer. It fit nicely into my annoying space limitation, and I've always wanted to try a sump set up. Now, much to my husband's dismay, I have finally decided on the 43 gallon Red Sea Reefer, which is almost double the original footprint, and nearly quadruple the volume! But, hey, we did some intense maneuvering of living room furniture today, and I was able to carve out enough space with no more than 1" to spare. Yippee! We will be viewing the display from 3 sides. There will be many firsts for me in this setup: 1. First tank smaller than 55 gallons. 2. First attempt at keeping freshwater Shrimp. 3. First time using an active substrate. 4. First time I have a decent tank budget with some splurging room. I have literally only purchased two brand new pieces of equipment since I began keeping aquariums in 1995. 5. First time purchasing setup components online (I've been out of the hobby a few years). 6. First sump (I'm going to use it as a refugium with the lights on an opposite schedule as the display to maintain stable oxygen levels.) 6. First foray into the big, bad world of Co2. As far as the inhabitants go, my #1 dream critter is a colony of Crystal Red Shrimp (CRS). I also want to try Vampire & Bamboo Shrimps. I love me some creepy-crawlies! I also have always been enamored with glowing, flashy shoals of cardinal tetras. In addition, I'd love to get a nice little shoal of Threadfin Rainbowfish. I saw an established group of them in a store display tank once, and their behavior was captivating. True to my eclectic nature, I'd also like to try a group of Ghost Glass Catfish, and I NEED some Kuhli Loaches. I also want an assortment of Nerite Snails, Amano Shrimp and a group of Zebra Otocinclus for algae control. Last but not least, a pair of Stiphodon Gobies have stolen my heart. As far as the plants go, I pretty much want one of everything. No bueno, dudes. I don't have the tank yet, but have the room to order it in my next paycheck on the 15th. I have contracted collectoritus in a mean way, by looking at Tom Barr's setup here: Dutch something or the other | Page 9 | AquaScaping World Forum I'm telling you, I am CONSUMED with thoughts and schemes of how to possibly achieve such an eye-poppingly colorful aquatic wonderland of a display on the small, very limited scale I've got to work with. I know a few things for sure regarding my plant choices: exciting colors are important to me, and vibrant reds are the most important of all. I'm seriously considering attempting a display only in shades of red! But since I haven't found a nice red carpet plant, I may have to have my carpet provide the green contrast in the display. We shall see.
      January 15th, 2017

    • First purchase: I've never kept inhabitants which require such splitting of hairs, but since I want to avoid unnecessary shrimp deaths, I determined a good starting place is testing my tap water. TDS is at 136 ppm. GH is at 8 degrees (140 ppm) and KH is at 7 degrees (120 ppm). Not ideal. Now I'm off to educate myself about remineralized RO water. Total cost of setup so far: $30.48.

      As I was daydreaming about all the hundreds of plants I want to order from Ebay, I stumbled across seeds. I've never met anyone who raised an aquatic plant from seed. I figured I'd give it a whirl. I found the Eriocaulon ratonagiriuni I have been salivating over in Tom Barr's set up. I'm super excited to try sprouting them! They arrived last week, but I don't have my ro/di unit yet to sprout them.

    • Running Set up subtotal:
      Test kits: $30.48
      Plants: $17.67
      $48.15

    • Jan 18, 2017 ·

      Picked up some small pieces of wood at my LFS. I was inspired by the Amazon Rainforrest Wood on aquariumplants.com, but not willing to pay $120 for something I thought I may be able to pull off. Here's what I had to work with:
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]
    • Here's what I came up with so far. It's surprisingly stable and although I know all the different colors and textures are a strange hodge-podge, I am hoping to attach fissidens and pearl moss artistically enough to achieve the look of a gnarly ancient swamp bonsai.

    • New running subtotal:
      Test kits: $30.48
      Plants: $17.67
      Hardscape: $13.66
      Grand Total: $61.81
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]
      • [​IMG]
    • Jan 19, 2017 · #6

      I got my heater in the mail today. And I added some of my Harry Lauder's Walking Stick twigs to the wood formation. I have the wood soaking now. It's all really light and floaty, so it'll probably have to be under water for 3 weeks. I got an email that my light shipped today from CA! I have been slowly chipping away at my plants wish list. Today Riccia made the chopping block. I just don't think with all the contortions I'll have to assume in order to trim, that it would be wise to have something that requires such frequent trims...*sigh*...bye-bye Riccia fluitans. One day our paths shall merge...

      Updated subtotal:
      Test kits: $30.48
      Plants: $17.67
      Hardscape: $13.66
      Heater $40.71
      Grand Total: $102.52
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]
    • Jan 22, 2017 · #9

      Look, a thermometer is what Brown could do for me yesterday.

      Updated subtotal:
      Test kits: $30.48
      Plants: $17.67
      Hardscape: $13.66
      Heater $40.71
      Thermometer $5.29
      Grand Total: $107.81
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]

    • Wendy1B
      online
      Jan 23, 2017 · #10

      Today my Shrimp foods and ferts arrived. I bought them at discobee.com. Still waiting on my substrate. I'm excited to see it in person because narrowing down my choice was harrowing!

      Updated subtotal:
      Test kits: $30.48
      Plants: $17.67
      Hardscape: $13.66
      Heater $40.71
      Thermometer $5.29
      Food: $32.97
      Fertilizers $40
      Beneficial Bacteria Additive $13.99
      Grand Total: $194.77
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]
      • [​IMG]

    • Jan 23, 2017 ·
    • I keep trying to come up with plant combos without green, and none of them appeal to me without the pop of green breaking things up. So I think it was a silly idea to go all reds, oranges, pinks.

      Feb 4th, 2017
      I have received my substrate, and pulled all the rocks from my old low-tech display. Look who passed the vinegar test today! Makes a mama so proud!
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
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  2. Shane P.

    Shane P. Moderator Staff Member

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    Liking the progress! Keep it up, and be patient with the hardscape. Hardscape always takes time!

    What are your next steps?

    Shane
     
  3. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Wendy

    Shane has summed it up beautifully. All I can add is if you do all you planning well it will be straight forward until you start Aquascaping its something you can look at a picture and copy (if only it was that easy). The secret is have a plan or a photo of a tank you like. Then make up a mock tank using a strong cardboard box and sand as a substrate, by doing it that way you are working from the front not the top its a lot easier.

    This is what I like doing best as I have a very long history of different design practices.

    I like the DW very much and has plenty of possibilities but those small rocks that is a totally different story they look like a mix of smooth river stones that lack character, plus because of their sizes could easily be lost in your planting.

    A few well sculptured rocks would be far better than all those rocks very sorry to say.

    Do you have any photos of what you would like create?

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  4. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Next step is assembling my cardboard mock tank. I truly love this idea which Keith has given me! I am hoping to do that today and get some pictures of what I'm thinking with my driftwood modge-podge and the river stones. I was originally intending to have a full carpet covering the entirety of my substrate, but after reading about the care of Stiphodon Gobies, I realize I do need to give them smooth rocks of various sizes as well as some bare substrate. So I think I'm going to try a stone lined path. I really like the looks of this one: [​IMG] http://s20.photobucket.com/user/keithgh/media/AA ASW HELP/html Is this one of your tanks, Keith? These stones have a lot of sentimental value to me. I call them my serenity stones. I used to be a live-in care giver for my elderly, disabled mother. Every day, I'd take her Dalmatian down to the river I grew up swimming in the hot summers. We'd get exercise and some decompression time and I'd bring home a pocket full of stones. They aren't going to achieve any structural greatness in my scape, but I did love having them in my old low-tech set up. They ended up completely covered with Anubius in that tank, and when I tore it down, I was so excited to see their color striations again. They really are beautiful when wet, and I need to find a way to work them into my new tank.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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  5. Zeus

    Zeus Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Most aquascapers dont use RO water, use the stuff straight out off the tap. You will find the plants that like your setup and save cash and complexity at the same time
     
  6. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I have determined I need to use remineralized RO water in order to keep the CRS happy. They are my #1 desired inhabitant in this tank, and I'm trying to plan the entire setup based on their ideal parameters.
     
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  7. Zeus

    Zeus Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Just had a quick read on the CRS and I understand. Strip the water back to nothing then buffer to get the right hardness. Makes sense. Do like the CRS

    Sent from Mountolympus via neural interface
     
  8. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Wendy I often use that Aquascape to demonstrate what a natural looking pathway should look like. Then there are the low plants at the rear of the tank that helps to give an excellent field of vision.

    All those rocks are very carefully positioned yet look extremely natural. This can be achieved by pressing the rocks into the substrate then sprinkle the various sized stones around the rocks and along the pathway.

    One point to remember look after the finishing details and the rest will look after its self.
    I was taught that when I was an Apprentice Cabinet Maker 60+++ years ago.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
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  9. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    • World's best mock tank making buddy:
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]


    • World's most ghetto mock tank:
      Attachments
      • [​IMG]
      • [​IMG]

        • My path is disappointing. I am not altogether certain I want any of the wood on the right side. I don't think this allows me much room for plants. I know the wood colors and textures being so different looks odd, but I'm going to use the yogurt/fissidens/blender method to paint the trunk & roots and I'll be painting pearl moss onto the twisty, gnarly branches. So all I care about with the wood combo is a solid, interestingly shaped structure.
          Attachments
          • [​IMG]
          • [​IMG]
          • [​IMG]
          • [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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  10. lucasgg

    lucasgg Active Aquascaper

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    Wendy, I would personally recommend sketching and drawing experimental hardscapes. It's a great learning experience about visual weight, guidance, direction, balance, and distraction. This is the very starting point of my 15 gallon. [​IMG]

    I would like to add a technique or quote of that my still life painter father told me: Every painting has a start, a highlight, then a summarizing finish, typically flowing from left to right in order.

    You probably can decipher this in my drawing. The start is the low left sticks, flowing to the highlight, the rock island, and finishing to the right, as seen as the longest lowest branch pointing right.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    lucasgg

    You are off to a perfect start, now its positioning the pathway cut a piece of paper to the shape and place it where you think it will look best.

    Sketching is a great idea if you are good at sketching and with DW that can be difficult. The other problem is its one dimensional and many cannot visualise a sketch to a solid object.

    I might do a rough sketch first some members in the past have produced excellent sketches.

    [​IMG]

    As a starter this is the path Centre Line 1/3rd from the left front and 2/3rds back left

    Remember is a starting guide and being paper you can change it very easily. Remember think "Field of Vision"
     
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  12. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Wendy going back a little the DW LH towards the back would be OK. The smaller piece towards the front RH.
    Once that is done use the paper for the path. Also can I have a photo of all the DW twiggy pieces and all the rocks can you place them in colour groups from largest to smallest please.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  13. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Yes, will try tomorrow after work. Thank you!
     
  14. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Your sketch is a piece of art; very beautifully done. Do you have any pieces of that hardscape yet, or is this just your visualization of what you'd like to do? You have far more natural talent than I; I am incapable of drawing anything worth beholding! That is why the idea of the mock tank excited me so much; I just don't have the ability to visualize realistically. My strong points include having a mean case of Collectoritis and making amazing chocolate chip cookies, lol.
     
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  15. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Wendy Its a slow method but over the years I have found this is the best way a little at a time and get it right first before you move to the next step.

    When its in the tank it will only take a little tweaking here and there because you have all the photos to work from.

    At the moment I have a vague picture in my mind but that could change a little as we go along.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  16. Shane P.

    Shane P. Moderator Staff Member

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    Wendy, Lucas actually created that tank. I don't have the link to his thread, but maybe he will post it for you. @lucasgg


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  17. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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  18. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Sorry guys for dropping off the site for a while; I've been battling a migraine for over a week and it makes reading painful. I was able to order my tank yesterday, and today the vendor called me at work to tell me it will be shipped ground all the way from the state of Florida. So hopefully I can track it tomorrow to get an ETA. Stuff just got real!
     
  19. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Wendy

    I have never had a migraine I get a brow ache which is a strong dull pain just above the eye and that's enough for me.

    Looks like things are on the way, as soon as you get it do a full capacity leak test just in case there is a leak with all that travelling.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
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  20. Wendy1B

    Wendy1B Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Ok, Keith, I have finally gotten around to the pics you requested. Here are some of the wood I have to work with: IMG_3084.JPG IMG_3083.JPG
     
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