February 2012 Aquascape of the Month ______________________________________________ Anti crisis tank - “Lemuria Parça” by Diego Sandoval INTRODUCTION [float_left] [/float_left]Hello, my name is Diego Sandoval (diego.s) I live in a small town in the province of Murcia (Spain), although I've also spent a good part of my life in France, where I went to school and later to work. I am a truck driver and my hobbies include reading, music, cinema, DIY etc, but mostly I like to draw. Here you can see one of my drawings, guess who's that? - Correct, it's Jordi Pelegrí [float_right][/float_right] I love animals and especially fish. I have always kept fish and other aquatic animals, as a child I spent most of my free time stuck in canals, ditches and lakes in search of some kind of bug rare or unknown to me, had water scorpions (Nepa cinerea), eels, tadpoles and so on, and of course a bunch of fish. As an adult, my work did not allow me to keep any aquarium, given the short time I was home and was in the early 90's when I changed jobs, so that I only drove in Spain. Only then I started to have some free time to devote my hobby and decided to buy my first tank, 38 liters. For decoration I had a treasure chest, a plastic plant and a stone. For fish I had such a mix, some of those fish kept them many years. Later I became interested in the cichlids, especially cichlids of Lake Tanganyika and kept them for a few years, while maintaining planted tanks. Another job change left me with more free time and I started to use the Internet for more research. I started frequenting forums and one day I saw some in the gallery of the master Amano, what I saw I could not believe it was beautiful, landscaped tanks that seemed to be taken from the bowels of nature. It had such an impact on me, I become very interested in aquascaping. Started seeking photos and read all about aquascaping, until I decided, about 4 years ( 2007/2008 ) to create planted tanks with "aspirations" for aquascaping, large and small, my surprise was that I was not the only one that liked small tanks, but when I put photos in the forums for fun, there were many people who also liked what I did. Some of my large aquascapes have been well received, but the most popular to date have been small aquariums; however “Lemuria Parça” seems to be changing that. AQUASCAPING TECHNIQUES [float_right][/float_right] Initial Conception of the Scape As most at ASW know, this tank is mounted on a shoestring, only had some "material" and plants to assemble and I had to adjust to that. One thing was clear, wanted to build a natural aquarium. Using this "material" and had already searching for what I needed in the very nature, such as river gravel, some wood and moss, “Lemuria Parça” began to gain form. OHKO stones were used as a retaining wall in my previous installation Sanctuary, with which it bears some similarity to the “Lemuria Parça”, but it is no coincidence, in this assembly wanted to repeat the same idea of Sanctuary, which I believed would be my last job for a while, but that's another story, as I said, it is no accident, wanted to ride the same style of design, but improved by the many details. The name of this aquarium is “Lemuria Parça”, Lemuria is the name of a supposed former continent after of Africa and Atlantis, where it is said that living beings existed, called Lemurians, ghosts or spirits of the dead that roamed at night to haunt the living (the primates of Madagascar was named for their large eyes and nocturnal habits that make awful sounds at night). There is much written about Lemuria and I thought a good name, especially given the appearance of the aquarium when I was just riding with that black background. Parça means chunks or slices, something sparse. Arranging the Hardscape [float_right][/float_right] The middle and rear of the tank is formed with OHKO stones and sand from the Loire, some stones are part of the floor mingling with the sand of the Loire, in front there is only silica sand, at the transition between the area stones and gravel, silica sand of the river there. Ultimately ended mixed, but the gravel will keep for a long time without mixing the two areas and also gives a very natural look to the set. The placement of the roots is something I've been doing little by little until I find a suitable position for each piece. I tried to create a natural environment and but also wild where everything seems to be ancient, to do that is another story, easier said than done. This is a show that started with little and I added the details from its inception until today and will continue to implement new ideas to improve their appearance as much as possible. For substrate I have never enjoyed a large budget for my aquariums and I have always used cheaper substrates like Aqualit. This substrate is always covered with a layer of natural sand from the river Loire (France). I've also tried some homemade manufacturing substrates with vermicompost. Among other things I tried also JBL Manado and Akadama. The tap water here comes with a hardness 36 of gh , 16 of kh, and 8 of pH (ideal for Tanganika fish), so to keep the majority of fish and plants I mix tap water with osmosis water to achieve a softer parameters. Goal is 6,8 to 7 pH, and hardness about 3 to 5. Regarding filtration, in medium and large tanks I have always used Eheim canister filters. In nanos I’m using AquaClear filters. I sometimes use two filters, one with mechanical filtration and other with biological filtration. In 300l Lemuria I’m using EHEIM PROFESIONAL II 2028 with UV lamp in the outlet pipe. [float_right][/float_right] About photography, my gear is nothing special, simple compact SONY Cyber-shot DSC-HX1. I am not a photographer and my sessions are very simple. I’m not using any photographer tools, only simple panels or cards for the background and the aquarium lights. The first thing is to clean aquarium glass, than choose the background colour, filter tubes out etc. Latest tank is very difficult to light from behind because it’s very close to the wall, but I try to put something to give lighting from behind, closing the lamp to the wall. Once I've finished with that, I set up lights, tripod and than take many photos from which I choose the best. I’m using PhotoDeluxe to correct brightness, contrast, to crop the photo, correct some little flaws, framing the photo and signature. Just enough to make it presentable. I also use PhotoDeluxe to draw with the Wacom. Planting and Trimming Techniques In this tank I have not adhered strictly to any design scheme known in aquascaping. As for the sense of depth, we all know that by doing a front elevation of the ground back of the tank, and that in itself gives a feeling of considerable depth; a rear end with adequate lighting also makes an important role in the sense of depth, and if we put the decoration properly, we magnify that feeling. GREATEST CHALLENGES My biggest challenge for this tank; the first thing is to keep it healthy until you remove it, the moment the absence of a large number of plants is a challenge to keep without algae problems, there is also a moss that I'm trying for the first time and I would see how far and I have an idea of the final result for the next time you use it. I will try to maintain this tank so that looks so natural and although the planted areas must evolve, it is the hardscape that will continue to have the greater role and not be muted by the green. FINAL THOUGHTS & ADVICE This tank, as I said before, is mounted on a small budget, and people seem to be really enjoying the work, a good sign that with few resources we can also do great things. My advice is do not worry about whether you can not have everything first mark, but whatever you do try to be original and creative, with a little imagination you can do great things and if you need inspiration, a nature walk will be of much help. Thank you all and especially the staff of ASW for choosing this work as a tank of the month. Click here to view Tank Specifications Click here to view Plant and Fauna List SOME OF MY PREVIOUS AQUASCAPES Mehirugi (6L) Lamento (23L) Sanctuary 1fase (300liters) Beyond (300liters) La Rambla (2liters) Laderas Del Almanzora (13liters) Editors note The same time we interviewed Diego, he was interviewed by Leonard Popovic from HAS, due to several reasons we had to postpone our publication. But finally it is there and is more focused on aquascaping aspects of Anti crisis tank - “Lemuria Parça”. For additional Information please see Leonards Interview here as well as Diegos Blog pages Aquaminiatura and Aquascapers in Portrait Interview made by Luis E.Edited and published by Jurijs J.