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A Reefers Journey into Planted...

Discussion in 'Aquascaping Journals' started by CalmSeasQuest, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
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    62
    Location:
    Brighton, MI
    Greetings all,

    I'm new to ASW and to planted tanks in general. After having spent a few days perusing many of the phenomenal tanks showcased here I'm both excited and hesitant to share what I'm sure will be a carefully crafted series of newby mistakes :)

    For the better part of the past twenty years, I've kept reef tanks, mostly SPS. As did many, I got my start in aquaria with freshwater tanks. In my case it was 55 gallon tanks with Oscars and Jack Dempsys in my bedroom some 40 years ago. While I was certainly aware of planted tanks, I never really paid much attention, that is until a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across Takashi Amano's builds at the Sumido Aquarium in Tokyo. These were different. While I knew they were an incredible and complex undertaking, they instilled a calmness and serenity that I found irresistible. I truly love my reef tanks, but I HAD to try this.

    I have a few Mr. Aqua 12 longs and stands on hand that I had purchased for other reef builds that I imagined would provide nice proportions for an Iwagumi -style build, so I started my research which inevitable led me to TPT and many others 12 long builds. Enough of the backstory - Here's a compendium of the last couple weeks to get the project up to date...

    I'm using a Mr. Aqua Elm stand stained ebony (just a hint of grain) and finished with Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane - Satin. All equipment will be hidden in the stand with only the clear drain, return, top off and CO2 lines visible.
    • Tank - Mr. Aqua 12 Long (36" X 8" X 9")
    • Lights - 23W TrueLumen Pro 8,000K, R2 LED Moonlights
    • CO2 - Aquarium Plants Carbon Doser, ADA New Pollen Glass
    • Filtration - Eheim 2215 with Lily Pipe Outflow P-2 13mm and Lily Pipe Inflow MINI V-1 13mm, Cabochon Ruby check valve
    • ATO - Elos Osmocontroller
    • Substrate - Power Sand>Aqua Soil- NEW Amazonia Regular>Aqua Soil- NEW Amazonia - Powder
    • Hardscape - Ryuo stones
    • Flora - YTBD
    • Fauna - YTBD
    • Heater - Hydor ETH200 200W Inline (much larger than needed, but the smallest inline I could find.)
    • Controller - I have an Apex Aquacontroller managing two reef tanks in the room where this build will reside that will also manage/monitor this tank, I'll use a temp probe (heater failsafe), pH probe (CO2 failsafe) and perhaps ORP if I can deduce some usage in freshwater IF I can figure out a way to hide them without having a sump. It will also manage lighting sunrise/sunset and Lunar cycles.
    • Test Kit - API
    • Water - Well water with 0 TDS RO/DI available if needed
    Due to my lack of planted experience, I decided to largely use ADA recommended equipment, supplies and dosing regimes understanding that while it surely could be done less expensively - it might help me avoid "newby" mistakes, although I'm learning there may be far better ways to handle the Ferts...

    101-507Clear Parts Set1
    104-041Aqua Soil- NEW Amazonia (9 liters)- Powder Type2
    104-012Power Sand SPECIAL-M 6 liter1
    104-111Bacter 1001
    105-021Clear Super1
    104-113Tourmaline BC1
    150-005Penac P 200g (For Plants)1
    150-003Penac W 200g (Aquarium)1
    102-1014Pollen Glass Type 31
    103-001Green Brighty STEP 1 500ml1
    103-021Brighty K 500ml1
    103-101Green Bacter 50ml1
    103-104ECA 50ml1
    103-103Phyton-Git 50ml1
    103-102Green Gain 50ml1
    106-002Pincettes M1
    RyStoneRyuo Stone30 (I won't need anywhere near 30lbs, but it will provide for more options in stone selection)
    104-043Aqua Soil- Africana (9 liters)- Powder Type1
    105-300Clear Hose (3m) 13mm1
    102-512Cabochon Ruby1 (I've got lots of check valves, but this one is beautiful )
    102-412Lily Pipe Outflow P-2 13mm1
    102-433Lily Pipe Inflow MINI V-1 13mm1
    102-701 Joint Glass 11mm 1
    103-302 Drop Checker 1
    102-011 NA Thermometer J-05CL (5mm) "Fahrenheit Ver." 1

    Here are a couple shots of the Mr. Aqua Stand (not my photos)

    [​IMG]

    While I like the minimalist style, the fit and finish are lacking. The stand requires a lot of filling and sanding prior to finishing to come anywhere near furniture grade. There are many finger joints visible hence my use of ebony stain....

    [​IMG]

    The Mr. Aqua stand required so much finish work, I would have been far better off building one from scratch (not to mention the missing hardware.)

    I only had a few moments, but I put the tank on the stand, grabbed a few quick photos and PAR measurements. I'm very pleased with the results. My guess at PAR was pretty close. If needed (largely depending on the aquascape) I can dim these to lower the PAR output. The quality of the light is better than I had expected.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I used an Apogee MQ-200...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These PAR measurements were taken in "open air". Based on my experience, they will differ little when measured with water in the tank. The fact that these lights use surface mounted emitters without any optics might provide different results through water - I'll remeasure once the tank is wet.

    I Moved the the stand to the garage for a few days to allow it to "outgas" The fumes from the oil-based stain and Helmsman were still a bit much.

    I don't like the way the black power cords are so noticeable on the TrueLumen Pro - especially since the fixture itself mostly disappears. I'm painting the the docking brackets white and ordered some vinyl stain to make all the exposed parts of the cords (above the black stand) white and hopefully less noticeable.

    Decided on frosted glass (cling film) for the back of the tank

    I've been thinking through the aquascaping (I guess it's "hardscape" in planted speak :)) I might vary a bit from my interpretation of a traditional Iwagumi design. I really love many of the the Manzanita/Moss trees that I've seen created and would like to try one. I'd like to try and emulate a cliff-side, wind-swept Cypress. I still have to research the best mosses/plants to use in the creation of the tree.

    I also stumbled across some petrified wood tailings that I think might have a couple interesting uses. I'm hoping my DFS-100 will make quick work of these allowing me to create custom sizes/shapes....

    [​IMG]

    At some point I have to start thinking about a planting plan. Likely HC for most of the foreground. I want to maintain some negative space, so, from what I have learned thus far, the challenge will be balancing enough plant mass to avoid algae against - the minimalist design I have in my minds-eye. I'm also trying to come up with a balance between my water options (horrible, tannin-laced well water and 0 TDS RO/DI) with a livestock plan and how I might be able to include a couple shrimp species.

    One other observation for anyone considering the the Mr Aqua stand - It has a very small interior with only ~7" usable depth. It will take some finagling just to get the 2215 and it's water lines in there. A few shots of the completed stand. The finish has a "tortured" look to it - Just image the resulting offspring if a black-lacquer baby grand piano mating with a wooden shipping pallet...

    Yup, that pretty much describes it :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The shelf has to be removed in order for the 2215 and 5# CO2 bottle to fit. While this is not a type of finish I would have normally chosen, somehow it seems appropriate for a Wabi-Sabi style cabinet. The only somewhat disappointing part is that many hours or work went into creating this and it ends up looking like it was made from a left-over shipping crate :sick:

    Thanks again for tagging along :)
     
    Victorpxs, John N. and vcbnamrom like this.

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  2. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Brighton, MI
    I finished testing my water sources - Still trying to decide my options. I was hoping that between my well water, RO-only water (for drinking and ice cubes) and zero TDS RO/DI (Reefs) I would have something close to what I needed for this tank. In looking at the results, I'm not so sure...

    Water Parameters- API Liquid Tests

    ------Well----Sink RO----RO/DI (aged)
    pH--7.6-----6----------6.4
    Gh--< 1---< 1----------0
    KH--20------2----------0
    TDS310-----21---------0

    I understand the RO and RO/DI pH reading are near useless, but if I'm interpreting this correctly, it looks like my best option will be to buffer the RO/DI? I was hoping I'd have an out-of-the-tap option :(

    I've been trying to come up with a shrimp plan, and after reviewing the individual species needs and pairing down what I like - Initially I thought I would target 7.2~7.4pH, 4~5KH, 6~8GH. It appears that would that will provide for the greatest options in shrimp species BUT - It appears that most plants including my intended hc carpet need lower pH levels. I might be better off targeting lower pH and going with CRS like values.

    I managed to get the sections of the lighting power cords that will be exposed painted white. It really helps blend them into the background. They will also be further hidden by running them along the backside of the TrueLumen and down the back corners of the tank - they should all but disappear. I also applied the etching to the back of the tank. I'm very pleased...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I was leaning toward not bothering to incorporate my Apex controller on this tank but - as I've got a lot to learn about freshwater parameters and want to create an environment conducive for shrimp - I've decided to bite the bullet and add the Apex. I'll need to order a long Aquabus cable (basically just a long male/male USB cable) another EB8 and an PM1. That will provide 8 controllable circuits, temp and pH monitoring. It will also provide the piece of mind of having a fail-safe for the heater.

    Now I just have to figure out how to hide the probes. I can probably bury the temp probe, but the pH probe will probably be seen At least it's a pretty shade of blue :)

    I have to admit the planted learning curve is steeper than expected. I incorrectly had the expectation that for anyone successfully keeping Reefs, planted tanks would be relatively simple - Wrong. In marine we take a few things for granted namely water/nutrient levels. We have it relatively easy - just start with 0 TDS water and the salt mix and feeding the fish takes care of most else - maybe some 2-part or CA/Alk adjustments but they are easy to measure and control. In fact, we spend more time trying to remove nutrients form the water column. In planted, pH, Kh and Gh levels are often managed for specific species, as are various nutrients which cannot be easily measured/monitored and there are a thousand different ways to do so - EI, ADA, PPS, PPMD.. plus dozens of other dry and liquid dosing schemes AND the substrate is often another variable that has to be accounted for.

    The use of technology in monitoring/controlling all of this appears to be less often used in FW/planted. This is perhaps due to the costs, but also that planted tanks can be very simple - heck often a heater is not even used. As most planted builds don't use sumps instead choosing canister filters finding a place for equipment (probes, heaters, ATO...) is another challenge. Lighting - for plants, 8,000K is about ideal, but not very much. Anything higher than about ~60PAR is considered high light. Perhaps the biggest dichotomy of all is CO2 - In reefing we work diligently to remove CO2 from the water column in an effort to support pH levels (degassing calcium reactor effluent, CO2 scrubbers...) In planted, you intentionally add TONS of CO2 as a carbon source for the plants and to suppress CO2 levels, bubbling the stuff directly into the water column, with many tanks running with pH levels of ~6.

    Learning curve aside, there are some wonderful differences in planted and freshwater over marine tanks,

    Cost - Virtually every facet of planted is significantly less expensive than maintaining a saltwater tank. Fish typcially range from $2-$10 with plants about the same. Many complain about the cost of ADA products (one of the preeminent brands in planted), but even those pale in comparison to the costs paid by reefers in virtually every way.

    More relaxed and less Hype - The general feeling seems a bit more relaxed. No name games, "Limited edition" plants or the elevated pricing associated with it (I fully admit to being part of the name game having a Frag tank full of "gotta have" corals.) Because many get their start in FW, there are more kids involved in the hobby. It's refreshing seeing someone ponder or save up to purchase a $3 plant :)

    We're not in Kansas anymore Toto....

    I would wager that when many (perhaps most) reefers think of a planted tank - they picture an aquarium simply full of plants and perhaps a few guppies or tetras. I too largely had this image hearkening back to my youth and keeping freshwater fish.Here's an image that portrays the "style" that I'm striving to acheive...

    [​IMG]

    So much of this is foreign to a long-time reefer, but I'll admit I'm enjoying every new challenge :)

    I've been thinking about the hardscape - specifically the substrate design. With the regular and powder Aquasoil and Powersand I'm thinking it might be tough to rescape the million times it will take to finally come up with something I'm satisfied with so... I dug out one of the other 12 longs I have on hand and I set up a "sandbox" to play in. I used Arogonite left over from a reef build and some rocks on hand (still waiting for the ADA shipment) to begin practicing - getting a feel for the scale and how to handle the elevation changes.

    I completed a mock-up that I think I like. Keep in mind, that nothing except the petrified wood are the actual items that will be used in the tank. I just used some misc rocks, Aragonite and a random piece of Manzanita to create the mock-up. I also believe I'll be able to create steeper gradients with the Aquasoil then shown in the mock-up.

    [​IMG]

    I tried to emulate a wind or current sweeping right to left that would result in the tree being so contorted. This includes trying to guesstimate where sand would be eroded away and where eddy currents might pile the sand higher (windward side of stones.)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm struggling with the petrified wood - I can't decide if they should be more random, as if a natural deposit - or as shown, placed in a way emulating a wall. The individual pieces will be less evident as the Aquasoil will be deeper with a steeper cliff (I ran out of Aragonite.) The smaller pieces will likely be hidden entirely by plants.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I toyed with creating a sand pathway separating the 2 environs, but I think less may be more. This is my first attempt at a planted tank - any and all feedback is really appreciated
     
    nick.scott likes this.
  3. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Brighton, MI
    I'm really liking my "Sandbox" It lets me play (learn) without worrying about mixing substrates or being in a rush to get things planted. I think I'm getting closer. I shortened the petrified wall and moved the individual pieces closer together. Some of the bases (hidden) still need to be shaped a bit to allow them to "key" closer together. I think this is looking more natural and will look much better when mostly buried in Aquasoil and a larger drop-off...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I also added more emphasis to wind and erosion premised elevation changes. I'm excited to see what this will look like once carpeted. The balance on the left stones still isn't right, but it probably makes more sense to wait until the Ryuo stones arrive...

    [​IMG]

    It's just as well the ADA shipment is running late - I bet many hours will be spent on adding-to and shaping the moss tree....


    After much deliberation I decided to remove the Manzanita tree and petrified wood. Although I like both very much and will use them in a future build, I felt (and so did others) that trying to include both concepts in such a small tank ended up with each detracting form the other. So back to the drawing board...

    I've looked at so many tanks, trying to get a feel for the balance and what defines a "good scape" Because these tanks are so long, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for elevation changes. Here's my concept...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Again, the rocks and Aragonite substrate are just place-holders until the Ryuoh stones and Amazonian arrive. I like this concept as the elevation changes provide natural environs for different plants (i.e varying carpets.)

    I'm still waiting on my ADA shipment containing 30lbs of Ryuoh stones to cherry pick. It's hard for me to get a sense of what's possible elevation-change wise until I actually get my hands on the ADA substrates (it's also possible/probable I might change my mind entirely...again, based on the stones.) I also ordered some 8X8 316 Stainless Steel mesh that I'm hoping to use to shore-up the elevation changes and ridges. I've been giving a lot of thought to trying the Dry Start Method. I'm still researching but It seems this tank might be a perfect candidate allowing the carpet to take hold and hopefully help stabilize the Aquasoil Powder.

    I think I've made a decision on the water - Initially, I was hoping that for the sake of simplicity, I could use my tap water. As I thought through it further, here's why I'm leaning toward remineralizing RO/DI...,

    As strange as it seems, over time my well water varies quite a bit. I test is several times a year and find that TDS ranges from ~250 to as high as ~400. I'm at a loss to explain why (aquifer changes, water-softener variations...), but it does pose another variable that might be harder to manage than simply using the known quantity that is 0TDS RO/DI.

    Maintaining reefs has my routines pretty regimented. I test a lot and leverage technology (Apex, probes, reactors...) to monitor and allow me to create a stable environment. I find this especially valuable as I travel extensively and Internet access and alerting provides an additional level of comfort. Because I'm so conditioned to having known values and clear targets, strangely I think I might find it more stressful not knowing what's going into the tank (via tap water) vs the comparatively simple process of adjusting RO/DI. This coupled with the fact I already have a RO/DI system in place and can easily incorporate an automated top-off system, I think makes RO/DI a better choice for me.

    Hi-tech vs low-tech, lights and CO2 - I designed this so I could go either way, or perhaps more accurately - both ways. I had the CO2 equipment already on hand including a AP Carbon Doser regulator that coupled with the Apex and pH monitoring should make managing CO2 virtually plug-and-play. I chose the LEDs so I could easily vary the amount of PAR (i.e. lots for DSM, than less as needed once submerged.)

    I went this way as I'm just smart enough to know I don't know what I'm doing and it affords me the most flexibility along the way for when I hopefully reach the point that I do know what I'm doing. :)
     
    Ohly likes this.
  4. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
    Brighton, MI
    The ADA order arrived :)

    I'm very pleased with the Ryuoh stones...

    [​IMG]

    As expected, seeing the tank with the stones and Aquasoil has caused me to rethink the hardscape. I like the stones and I think they look very good in larger numbers (even though they will make maintaining adequate flow more of a challenge.) The Aquasoil is much "rounder" than I had expected and would require much support for the drastic elevation changes I was planning.

    I ordered 2 large bags of regular Aquasoil, 1 large bag of Powersand and 1 Large bag of Powder Aquasoil which combined is much more than needed. Here's the sandbox with just 1 bag of Aquasoil and the stones quickly added to get a feel for what it might look like...

    [​IMG]

    I'll work on a final hardscape over the weekend and hopefully complete installing the equipment in the stand. I'm still undecided, but leaning toward starting this tank dry to give the HC a head start.

    And that gets us current to today - The planting plan is still a work in progress. Because the tank is so short, I'm planning on all foreground/carpet types and mosses for the rocks.

    Thanks much for following along and putting up with all the silly questions I'll likely ask. :)
     
    vcbnamrom likes this.
  5. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
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    beautiful tank, beautiful scape and selection. I agree with you on the carpeting and moss selection due to the shortness of the tank. Im really excited to see how this turns out. following.
     
  6. octavusprime

    octavusprime New Member

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    Very well planned out. I wish I had planned when I first started out. I just started adding things haphazardly and hoped for the best. I look forward to the scape.

    You just happen to have a PAR meter lying around? Lucky dog.
     
  7. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
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    That's an awfully large amount of light from such a small fixture! If you could raise it till you hit 40/50 par at the substrate you'll make your life a whole lot easier. Can you give us more details on the fixture? I'm very jealous of the par meter and the light!
    I dread to think how much you paid for all that ada! The only things I'd ever buy ADA is soil and tanks everything else is just so expensive a lot of their product range isn't actually needed too but they keep that awfully quiet, it'd spoil the myth.

    In regards to your water, the plants don't care either which way what you use, they'll grow no matter what, ferts and co2 are more important, in nature water as a general rule isn't always the same so they're adapted to changes in composition. Crypts are the only ones that could be problematic but the changes in parameters happens so slowly I can't imagine they'd ever know.

    I'm going to re-read your thread now, I'm sure there's some other things I've missed and meant to mention. :)

    Welcome and great start.
     
  8. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    What are you using the controller for? Using a ph probe co2 controller will actually induce instability and therefore algae. Much better to get the level of co2 right by watching your plants and the drop checker and running it on a timer with it coming on 1 or 2 hours before the lights come on. Aquasoil plays holy hell with parameters for about 3 months after initial set up too.

    I think we have it easier, I don't even need a test kit, I just add ferts and watch my plants the tank, I've never altered water for specific plants, I don't know anyone who does thinking about it, the most common plants don't give a single toss about water parameters as long as there's enough co2 and ferts in the water. Softer is better as a general rule but there are very few plants that won't grow in hard water. I've never known anyone to account for the substrate when doing dosing either... I use EI which is fantastically simple, you know what PPM ferts a plant can take up at maximum in a week, you then divide that up and dose daily. All the hard works done for you.

    I think tech isn't really used because we don't need it as a general rule a timer is the most advanced we get, most people are trying to get things down to the very very minimum in equipment adding more would be sacrilege. Sumps I think will have a renascence very very shortly, the problem was that we didn't understand how to use them to best effect which now bit by bit we have cracked. I don't know about supressing co2 is the reason we add it in the main tank, simply that it's closest to the plants. I personally add mine in line now-a-days, works a whole tonne better.

    Ph doesn't really matter to plants it's tds gh/kh that's really important, it's just that ph is a handy way of measuring things, most people don't even check it.
     
  9. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    As I pointed out above, best not to use the controller. I think it's important to mention the plants and scape you allude to isn't really achievable without co2. You mention you're away a lot, are you going to use auto dosers or is there someone there to chuck ferts in daily for you? Also, I'm concerned the filter might not give enough flow for the tank, aim for 10x turnover as a minimum the more light, the more turnover you need to get the increased level of co2 to the plants.
    Ps. penac, tourmaline etc are all snake oil. ;) Only the ferts npk and macros are actually needed.
     
  10. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
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    Thank you! I'm looking forward to switching from thinking about mechanics and hardscapes to plants :)

    Thanks - I think I acquired the habit of planning virtually everything after a couple decades of reef tanks - Nothing good happens fast. As for the PAR meter, I was an early adopter of LEDs in reefing and it was a necessary expense. I think it will come in very handy in helping get through the planted learning curve.
     
  11. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Thank You very much for your detailed comments and suggestions Garuf - they are truly appreciated. I'll take time to read through each and respond. I'm hoping that for each I can demonstrate there's "method to my madness" :)

    I made some progress today - The sandbox has served it's purpose. I think I've got a hardscape that I'm pleased with...

    [​IMG]

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    Getting enough flow with a single return might be difficult with all the stones. If needed, I'll upgrade filter and split the returns. I also tried to make sure each stone was set in a manner that allowed enough light for the carpet between the stones.

    Now all I have to do is re-create it in the actual tank :) It will look a bit different as I'll add the Powder Aquasoil cap. I'll also use more Aquasoil to hide a bit more of the bases of each stone and to increase the grade on the right side. Small strips of stainless steel mesh will be added to support the steeper grade areas as needed.
     
  12. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
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    You might find this article useful:
    http://www.h2oplusomething.com/inde...72:aquascaping&catid=52:aquascaping&Itemid=64
    And this:
    [​IMG]
    And this:
    http://www.aquatic-eden.com/2007/07/iwagumi-rock-placement-animations.html

    My initial thoughts are that there's no unity between the rock work as is. They work well at low angles but not as the full frontal. I'd be inclined to make them break away from the central stone sloping away as such, imagine the O is your main stone, the /'s the direction of tilt of you supporting stones \\O/////
    I'd also swap the largest rock with the one it abuts next to on the right, I think as is this actually is the focal point rather than the negative space between the two rocks, swapping them out I think will bring the focal closer to the golden section and give a better sense of poise and balance.
     
  13. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
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    Thank you very much Garuf - I'll read the sources you provided then it's back to the sandbox for me. In response to your comments and suggestions...

    Thus far I'm really impressed with the quality and quantity of the light generated by the TrueLumen Pro (although I have yet to actually try and grow anything under it.) For it's diminutive size, it generates a great deal of PAR. Rather than raising the light, after flooding I'll dim the the output to whatever level is desired. Dimming is as simple as turning a rotary knob. I also have a tiny LED moonlight that will provide a bit of night-lighting. I could simulate the lunar cycles compliments of the Apex, but it seems of little importance in freshwater.

    As for following the ADA process and purchasing the ADA "additives" - Aside from Aquasoil, I knew going in there was little hard fact to support any of their substrate additive claims, but as I'm brand new, I thought it worth the cost if it were to provide any advantage during start up. While ADA costs are clearly higher than most any other source Ive noticed in planted - from a reefing perspective, it's still relatively cheap :)

    My focus on water is twofold - In reefing, water quality and maintaining stable parameters is paramount. In keeping with those habits, I'd like to create a process whereby the water used for this tank is equally consistent. I'm also hoping to create an environment conducive to shrimp. I find a few of the freshwater shrimp species fascinating and want to tailor the water parameters to their needs.
     
  14. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Brighton, MI
    The Apex will monitor and provide fail-safe for CO2 and temp (heaters WILL eventually fail and usually in the ON position. I never trust a heater without a second heater controller.) It will also manage the lighting and provide access via the Internet from anywhere on the planet. Should an unplanned event occur (heater or CO2 valve failure, power outage, leak...) the Apex notifies me via an email and text message. I can then access the tank via a smart phone or computer. It's not going to actively "manage" Co2 - rather monitor pH. I've found that knowing the daily diurnal pH swings can be helpful (at least in marine tanks.) The way I see it - I have the controller already - it's located just a few feet from this tank so it would be silly not take advantage of it.

    I learned of Estimative Index dosing after I had made the ADA purchase. I agree, it seems a far simpler and more efficeint way to handle ferts.

    A sump is one thing that I do miss from my marine tanks and my next planted build will include one. I understand the need to minimize CO2 out-gassing, but the benefits provided by a sump (increased water volume, more filtration options including increased biological area, space for mechanics such as pumps, probes, diffusers, heaters, cryptic areas, ...) IMO, far outweigh the inconvenience of perhaps needing a bit more Co2.

    Agreed - I'm using a AquaticPlants Carbon Doser regulator feeding a ADA New Pollen Glass although later, I think an inline reactor will be used.

    Both top off and dosing is automated. Auto top-off will be handled via an Elos Osmocontroller or Tunze Osmolater (not sure which yet - I have both on hand but trying to figure out which sensor will be less intrusive.) Dosing is handled by the controller using small BRS Peristaltic pumps controlled to the second providing extremely accurate dosing on any desired schedule.

    I'm also concerned about the filter and flow - especially considering the direction the hardscape is going in. I've created a few reef tanks using these 12 long tanks and getting enough flow to the opposite end of the tank can be a challenge. I have an unused Fluval 406 on hand, but it's far too large (and the hoses are hideous.) If the flow from the 2215 is inadequate, I'll purchase a larger canister filter and use split returns. I'll have to do some research on canister filters. I know Eheim has a great reputation (I've used their pumps for decades), but I don't care for the basketless design of the classic series. It seems it would make maintenance more difficult.

    As for the ADA "snake-oil" substrate additives - I've already got em, so I might as well use em. :)

    Thank you again Garuf - I truly appreciate the time you have taken to try and keep me on the "straight and narrow"
     
  15. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
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    Location:
    Brighton, MI
    Thanks all for the comments and suggestions! After a couple hours of staring, I decided to try again. Here's revision # 6,154 :)

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    This "arranging rocks in a box" is hard :)
     
  16. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    Location:
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    this tank shape can be fun but is sometimes challenging to scape.
    The different shape directions of the stones are kinda way distracting to me
     
  17. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    What shrimp are you planning on trying?
    Dosing will be a sod to set up but I've faith you know what you're up to you seem pretty switched on everywhere else.
    Just to reiterate, you're using the probes as a monitor not to dictate the injection rates. Co2 injection should be constant and consistent an hour or so before lights so you get the levels up to what's needed and the injection rate enough to maintain them throughout the photoperiod. If it's flittering on and off to maintain a certain ph it will only induce algae through instability.

    You can replace the tubing on the fluvals, the stuff they use is ghastly and kills flow. I've a fx5 and it's something mad like 20% more flow when changing the tubing, I can't remember off hand but it's a sizeable increase!
    In terms of flow, I personally would just suck it and see, the 2215 might be plenty, it might not, it largely boils down to the amount of light, I use 10x turnover as a guideline for the filters I use on my tanks but regularly take no heed to it what so ever and 20-30x turnovers aren't unknown. Manufacturers turnover that is, actual is probably 40% of that once the heaters and tubing and head and lily pipes strangling flow etc is all taken into account.

    The trick with sumps is to seal them and avoid any gurgling or offgassing if possible. If you use an inline atomizer like many of us do then I suspect you'd barely use any more co2 than you do with a canister. I'm planning on trying a sump just to see how it goes, a constant water level in the display tank would be a dream come true, evaporation means I loose a litre or so daily.
     
  18. CatfishSoupFTW

    CatfishSoupFTW Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Location:
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    I agree with this. looking at it, I did notice that they do look in one too many directions I feel. Still nice though
     
  19. CalmSeasQuest

    CalmSeasQuest Aspiring Aquascaper

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Thank you for all the comments and suggestions. Tom Barr had offered advice about separating the stones into 2 groups. Here's the result...

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    I removed one of the stones and this design might provide for a bit more flow. It also includes a bit more elevation change, creating some nice inter-stone planting areas.

    I like it a lot, but then again - I liked most of the earlier designs as well so I clearly have some developing to do :)
     
  20. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Tom did? Are you posting on the Barr Report too or something? 'Cause those guys suck. :p

    I'm messing of course, they're the brains behind the operation, we wouldn't be were we are without them!

    I think you're improving scape wise, perhaps imagine that they're all one rock or mountain range? The idea behind iwagumi is that it's a representation of both mountains and zen ideology. Perhaps thinking like this may help, find a photo/image you really like and mimic and tweak with what you have so you figure out what they were trying to create. Using masking tape to split the tank into 9's is also a really useful tool when scaping. The right hand is working well, the left less so, it's a bit jarring with the verticals and the fissures in the rock suggesting it should be more angled, the largest rock first still creates a focal point too far towards the corner of the tank.

    You're coming on though, rock scapes aren't easy and they'll always be someone who says "that rock should be rotated by 3degrees and should be moved 4mm to the left". :p

    Maybe check out the AGA competitions gallery, it's packed full of lovely stuff.
     

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