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Aquascaping Hidden Secrets (on purpose?)

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., Mar 30, 2008.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    We all find ourselves looking at an aquascape and wondering "How on the earth do he/she do it?" We're talking about perfectly healthy plants trimmed to perfection, fish swimming in tight formations, eye popping photography, and most importantly for many aquacapers, the tank appears to be algae-free.

    Well, we all know nutrient balance within the system is a key component to a healthy tank. However, sometimes there are some hidden secrets that advanced hobbyists are not sharing with the rest of us. For example, maybe some of the great Iwagumi HC layouts are initially grown emersed, and simply filled filled up with water for the photo shoot. None would be the wiser. Do you think we are not being told something that sets the average person apart from these "gurus"? :ehhh:

    -John N.
     

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  2. Orlando

    Orlando Supporting Member

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    From what I have noticed, most top notch looking tanks come from overseas and there fert regimens are a little leaner and they dont over do it on lighting. Here in the states we like big cars, big house and giant tanks with 1000watts of light hanging over them. Fast cars and fast growing tanks... I think they take there time in growing and lean feeding.. But who knows, maybe they have some underground secret code of how to grow algae free amazing tanks.
     
  3. Freemann

    Freemann New Member

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    Of course they have secrets. All "trades" have secrets, some of this maybe in front of our eyes but we don't see them, simple things can make big difference if you use them all the time with repeated success. I give you some examples. For one the use of rich substrate with an underlayer of super rich substrate with repeated WC every other day can start a tank without algae and without the need for the addition of ferts on the initial period, or the use of ammonia (they do not add ammonia directly of course) instead or together with NO3, or as John said the use of emersed setups as the starting stage of a tank (this was circulated among people in the yearly ADA meeting some years ago long before Barr referred to it).
    Unless people with super looking tanks come out and talk openly, sincerely and fully about their methods we will never know what are this "secrets", most of them (not all mind you) tend to just saw their tanks, avoid replying to questions and wait for the applause, I find this most disturbing and somehow mocking other peoples failures and I really wish it will not happen in this forum as well. What most of us need is a way to achieve the same results instead of staring in wonderment.
     
  4. Guillermo

    Guillermo New Member

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    Amazing topic to say the least. Maybe some members of this forum can say some wise words on this topic, kookaburra, Roy Deki or George Farmer perhaps ? Just a thought.
     
  5. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    I think part of the "hiding" information is in attempts to keep a developing aquascaped veiled. Because of this fact, progression journals are not posted as often as they could be. Without a journal, aquascapers can not ask "how did you do" questions. Even after their aquascape is done and showcased, sometimes viewers are only able to view the finished piece without receiving any information on how it's done. Is this wrong? Well I do not know.

    This fantastic discussion makes think of the great painting masterpieces of Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Monet, and Dalie who's techniques were never really demostrated or elaborated, but studied and disected by other artistians and scholars who then helped the world understand how they did it. Maybe we should be appealing to find more aquascaping analysts rather than going directly to the Artist for information?

    -John N.
     
  6. Norbert Sabat

    Norbert Sabat New Member

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    In last few years many people made many beautifull layouts so box of ideas is almost empty ;) - trully speaking many layouts in etc. ADA contest are variaton about layouts that we saw before - only few are trully innovating. IMHO many aquascapers hide layouts before ending because they don't want show new idea because everybody can copy that (maybe unique) idea. "Players" don't show cards before end of play ;). Many aquascapers made layouts for contest so they don't show it before results - for example CAU guys: they show some of tutorials after ADA contest closed.
    I made same thing - i don't show any details about latest layouts but in right moment i show everything step by step. Latelly my friend made tutorial iwagumi layout (i was photographer) AquaDesign Artykuly so ....we show something from time to time.

    ps. Sometimes reson of "hiding" is very simply.....some people are lazy and don't like computers ;).

    ps2. sorry for my bad english.
     
  7. Roy Deki

    Roy Deki New Member

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    Exactly...well said Orlando...

    We as hobbyist tend to make things harder on ourselves by thinking we need more light, more ferts...etc. I say "HOGWASH".

    There is more than one way to skin a cat (sorry to the cat lovers) I have done the over lighting technique and no more. The key is shallow, tanks less light and go easy on the ferts. I dose by feel and do not have a regiment. This results in slower growth but every bit as healthy.

    One thing that people tend to overlook in a planted tank is good BACTERIA. This is one of the key components to "balancing a tank" The more lights you have the more bacteria is needed. After every water change and filter cleaning, bacteria should be added back into the system. I use Green bacter and will start to add Bacter 100. Green bacter is food for the bacteria so you have healthy bacteria. Bacter 100 is used as food for shrimp, and as the shrimp digest the bacter 100 the process of new bacteria is the by-product. Bacter 100 is also used under the substrate at start up, as it decomposes new bacteria starts to grow.

    Ever heard the term "new tank syndrome"? Well for me this is because the tank has yet to cycle, meaning no or little bacteria. So the algae grabs hold and until your tank is cycled with enough bacteria to match the amount of light and ferts given. This is why I over filtrate a tank. My 60 gallon tank has two filters rated for an 80 gallon tank each. My result was no algae from start til present day.

    Ever wonder why we can get away with 6 or 7 wpg on a nano tank? That the WPG rule does not apply to nano tanks? I believe that it is because we are using filters that are for a 10-15 gallon tank on a 3 gallon tank. If you do have a nano and are struggling with algae add another filter.

    Try adding "Cycle" to your tank after water changes and see if you start to notice a difference, I bet you will.

    This is only my expierence and maybe someone here that is more scientific could back me up on this theory. It really to work for me.
     
  8. JDowns

    JDowns New Member

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    I add ClearZyme (double the dose 1 teaspoon to 150 gallons) on every water change. One dose to the overflow which use to always get dietrous buildup, and now stays 99% crystal clear, and another dose to the tank itself.

    Only reason I started doing this was I messed up my nitrogen cycle once and bought the stuff to speed up the cycle and dosed it into the overflow box. Was amazed the next day at how much crap was removed. I've dosed it ever since.
     
  9. Mellonman

    Mellonman New Member

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    Maybe is it also because, theoretically, aquascapes submitted to ADA contest must be unreleased work...
     
  10. George Farmer

    George Farmer Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I don't think there are many secrets to the actual physical techniques used to create good 'scapes.

    Appropriate light and nutrients in balance, good filtration/flow, lots of plants well-pruned and good photography.

    Personally I don't use any chemical filtration or bacterial additives etc., although I understand these benefits in the early days of the tank's life until the biological filtration is up to speed.

    The creative aquascaping itself is the hardest part for me, closely followed by good photography.

    It all gets easier with practice, of course. I've just managed to grow a tight HC carpet from scratch, submerged from minimal biomass. If I can do it...
     
  11. Brian

    Brian New Member

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    I gets years of learning and trial and error to make a great aquascape aquarium.
     
  12. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm glad that you noted this important overlooked aspect of planted aquariums. In way Bacteria is a "secret" that's not truly promoted but really does help establish and minimize algae in a recently setup tank. I've seen it all the time where newcomers give up on their tanks because of algae. Having a system that supports a planted aquarium environment from the very start would help them along in the hobby.

    For those that don't know, like me, where does one get Bacter 100 or Green Bacter? Is it true that it works as prescribed because there are many "bacteria" products designed to jump start an aquarium that are simply rubbish in my experience.

    -John N.
     
  13. Freemann

    Freemann New Member

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    First of all let me say that personally have absolutely np with people witholding their layout designs before the time of the competions for me this has nothing to do with the type of secrecy I have in mind which refers to the way top notch hobbist keep their tanks in top health.

    Ok here are some tricks of the trade:
    • Baccies by Dupla in the substrate right above the bottom rich substrate layer, and Biozyme in the water column are supposed to be very good choices for starter bacteria additions from day one. Bacteria addition seems to be very important.
    • One of the most important strategies in the startup of an alge free aquarium is the avoidance of as much as possible of organic compounds in the tank (measured indirectly as chemical oxygen demand), wc take care of them.
    • Rich substrate layer under the top substrate (the top maybe inert as well) seems to make a big difference.
    • The additions of shrimps from really early in the tank setup is another thing that helps stop the appearance of algae.
    • UV use will kill algae spores and keep the water clean and not hazy and is being used by some.
    • Lots of water changes specially on the initial stage.
    • Additions of micros soon after the setup day and macros maybe after 5-6 weeks.
    • So basically algae appearance prevention instead of eradication is the key.
     
  14. Brian

    Brian New Member

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    thankyou for the information Freemann. In my new aquascape I using that methods and seem to stop algae problem
     
  15. Norbert Sabat

    Norbert Sabat New Member

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    Yes, this is what i say before ;).
    In ADA contest rule you can't show final photo in web but....you can show everything else ;)....but if you show layout setup 6months before contest closed somebody can use yours ideas.

    And about primary discusion.
    All water/lighting/dosing rules are all know - there is maaaaaany articles/threads in web or forums so everyone can find that info ;). This is not a secret.....but only practise can make you "advance" :)
     
  16. goalcreas

    goalcreas New Member

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    For those that don't know, like me, where does one get Bacter 100 or Green Bacter? Is it true that it works as prescribed because there are many "bacteria" products designed to jump start an aquarium that are simply rubbish in my experience.

    -John N.


    You can get Green Bacter and Bacter 100 from anybody that sells ADA products as they are ADA brand addatives.
    I am using them in my newly set up 30 gallon and other then some diatom's that easily vac out every other day at WC time, I am algae free.
     
  17. defdac

    defdac New Member

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    One common trick is to spread new sand over old to get that really clean look before photoshoots/contests.

    I came to think of it when I recieved the latest TAG:
    [​IMG]

    On the front you can se a close up of the ADA Grand Prize 2007 "Ashy Range" by Dave Chow (Creative Aquascape Union). If you look really close you can se algae infested marbles next to sparkling clean sand. More importantly you can se small specks of new sand ontop of the drift wood...

    Very effective way of getting that over the top clean look.
     
  18. defdac

    defdac New Member

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    Here is another hidden secret revealed by Oliver Knott in his "ADA Training Days"-album over att pbase.com:
    ADA Training Day's - Day 2 photo - Oliver Knott the aqua creator photos at pbase.com
    After setup a diatomfilter is run until the water is crystal clear. Something for contest photoshoots.

    Another trick: Make the photoshoot in the morning before the plants have started to pearl. This is a trick I personally don't like since I find non pearling tanks a bit dead, but what to do when this is de facto standard and how folks in general likes their tank pics..
     
  19. Freemann

    Freemann New Member

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    Aha defdac you just brought up another part of the story "the cover up part", meaning how you hide the weaknesses of the layout so they won't show. This is getting very interesting.
     
  20. zeneo

    zeneo New Member

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    Lets see if I can explain myself in the right words :*.

    I agree with many things you said, but also have some other points of view.

    Competition is getting to high, and creating big expectations and goals on everyone.

    It my be good, because it makes people look more for new forms of layouts. But in other way, many are loosing all the fun to have a tank and see it grow. Everybody wants it to grow really fast, so can go to another one.

    Also as the expectations are to high for many aquascapers that go to competitions, many feel afraid to show the beggining of the layout as they can not acomplished what they want.
     

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