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The First Stone 60L aquascape

Discussion in 'Aquascaping Journals' started by TheGreenFrat, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Hello,

    I'm new here so first let me introduce myself. I'm a 20 year old male student at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands. In this hobby, being a student translates to small space, low budget, little time. When I was young, my father built me a small aquarium, in which I kept on or two goldfish for a couple of years until the hobby was gone and forgotten. A while back, I was browsing youtube and I came across Takashi Amano's work, which really inspired me. I had no idea that a planted aquarium could be taken this far and ever since I've been looking at all kinds of videos from all these amazing aquascapes out there.

    I spent a lot of time researching the equipment I need, the costs involved, and I finally decided on what to buy and get. My tank is a 60L Jewel Rekord (I guess), with 18W Sera TL lighting. I use an EHEIM pump which is said to pump about 300L/h. I also made a DIY CO2 supply using yeast and sugar, which seems to work fine; when I gently give the bottle a shake you can see and hear the bubbles emerge.

    The layout that I decided upon, uses a rather big center stone. While strawing around my parents garden (they have huge rock-garden) I gathered a bunch of stones from different types and I loved the coloring and shape of this group. I know that beginners are advised not to use big stones, but I just couldn't resist.

    I spent about €35 on plants, and another €35 on substrate and a filter starter. The order was placed last week, but I left a message saying I didn't want the until yesterday since my schedule was really tight. And indeed, they arrived yesterday at 6:30PM, so I spent the entire evening planting and arranging everything. I made a little video of this, inspired by some of the planting videos I found on youtube. Starting at 4:55 the result is shown.



    The plants I used:
    1x Myriophyllum Scrabatum
    1x Microsorum Pteropus Minor (Thin Java Fern)
    2x Taxiphyllum Sp. (Flame Moss)
    2x Sagittaria Subulata
    3x Eleocharis Acicularis (Hairgrass)
    3x Eleocharis Parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass)

    I ordered them at Aquarium-planten.com and I'm overall quite satisfied. Contact was nice and I got some free dried food.

    Most of the planting went really well. The eleocharis was a tedious job, mostly because my tweezers were not really suited for this but of well. While adding water to the tank, I was really afraid everything would come loose, but that was not the case at all. Only two strains of eleocharis went afloatin' and the rest still seems really snug. Whether I planted them well or I chose really nice substrate, must have done something right!

    There are quite a few things that are, in my eye, not so appealing. The right side seems really empty, which might be resolved when the Myriophyllum grows into a thicker bush, but I think some more and mostly higher planting is needed in that corner to take a viewers attention away from the center. It might be better to actually fill the entire corner with thick bushes of some sort.
    Also, the moss which I got wasn't really a bush or something, when I took it out of its package I found it were just hundreds of small loose moss strains. Attaching them to the rock therefor took a lot of effort and gluing and I'm not yet very satisfied but it might still grow out really nice. Time will tell.
    Oh, and planting the Myriophyllum after water was added was a mistake; it's the only plant that keeps coming loose.

    For now, I'll be going for an 8H light/day and I'll see how it goes from there. I'm still way to excited not to sit in front of the tank for the next 24H though, haha!

    Hope you guys have any input :)
    Greetings,
    Bart
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015

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  2. kylumi

    kylumi Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I know what it's like being a student............I survived on beer and chocolate:D

    Super video my friend......thank you for sharing. (y) To be perfectly honest I have never aquascaped a tank myself so my advice would not be of any use.
     
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  3. Gary Murphy

    Gary Murphy Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Nice video and welcome to ASW. You might want to look at the Citric Acid and Soda DIY Co2 method its so much better, You can control the output of Co2 and also shut it off at night. I found the yeast method doesn't last very long at all. Think about getting this.

    $_57.JPG
     
  4. lucasgg

    lucasgg Active Aquascaper

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    It looks great for a first tanks! Congrats, keep us updated
     
  5. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    TheGreenFrat

    Welcome to ASW can you fill your Country as well as your location in your profile.

    First thank you for posting that video its a pity you did not become a member of ASW before you started.

    At the moment all I can see is a Central Aquascape 6.54 with one massive rock and a few smaller rocks different types carefully placed around the tank, which you had added plants.

    My suggestion now is do nothing to that tank and let it develop and in the mean time learn by asking plenty of questions plus do a lot of research on what you would like to do that is in your skills.

    It will not happen over night.

    What is going to be your next step, do you understand the ":Cycling" process, filtration cleaning and water changes?

    Keith:):)
     
  6. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    Thanks mate!

    Thanks, I had never heard of that method. I'll definitely look into that, but for now the two bottles with yeast are doing just fine. When they run out I'll definitely give that a try. I've seen those parts on Aliexpress, I might give them a try.

    Thanks, I will! Once a week has past I'll definitely upload some pictures. Well, that is, if anything's changed at all.
    I have no idea what growth to expect.

    Hello there, I'll update my profile soon, no worries.

    I wonder, what does a "6.54" mean? When the three main rocks were not yet emerged, they did seem very much alike, but apparently the left one is of a completely different type. That's too bad because I think it's best to stick with one type of stone. I might still replace the vulcanic stones though, with some stones that are more like the center stone.

    Other than that, I'll just have to wait indeed :)

    The cylcing process... Well, I thought I had it all figured out, but I'm starting to worry a bit.
    I got myself some 100ml of this stuff (edit: I had a link in here, but my newbness does not allow me to... It's called "EasyStart by the company Easy-Life). I'm using that, together with 15% water changes every 3-4 days.
    One week in, I'll get the water tested at my LFS or maybe I'll buy a bunch of those test strips.
    After that, I'll just tune my strategy in to the results.

    Seems legit? I thought the EasyStart would fill the place of a cycle-fish but now I'm not sure.


    The myriophyllum is starting to unfold; the top branches are looking very green and healthy. Also, in between the roots of the sagittaria subulata I found these little bulbs which I planted here and there throughout the tank. One of them is already sprouting.
    It's big sister is still struggling trying to get it's flowers out and about. Should I cut those of? Seems like it's wasting a lot of energy on flowers that will just rot away underwater.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
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  7. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    TheGreenFrat,

    That is the timing on the video.

    I thing every experienced Aquascaper will tell you they are a waste of money as they are far from accurate.

    You have two options get it checked by your LFS or buy a quality test kit.

    There are two excellent Bio Starters Seachem Stability and Sera Nitrivec
    http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/Stability.html
    https://www.sera.de/en/products/in_...erstellen-5598/product/sera-bio-nitrivec.html

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  8. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    Hello Keith, thank you, I think I'll invest in the JBL Combi Test. From what I've read, they provide very good color charts and stuff like that.
    The store I bought my plants at, sells it at €39,95 so I think I'll order it there.

    Since they ship for free starting at €40, I might as well buy something extra. I'm thinking about maybe another background plant for RHS. Maybe some Nana, or I could thicken the bush of Myriophyllum, or something else, if anyone has any suggestions.
    Another option is buying some liquid ferts. Is it possible to get a good working aquascape without any? I plan on keeping it low tech (read: low maintenance) and the soil is supposed to provide lots of nutrients already so I was kinda planning to do this without ferts.
     
  9. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    7 DAYS UPDATE

    DSCI0025.JPG

    I decided to get some liquid fertilizer after all. I can spot some melting in some of the plants, and when I look at the moss that's near the soil, it looks really good, while the moss that must feed from the top of the water column seems to be dieing.

    The Sagittaria Subulata has grown like crazy. The newest leaves are growing really long though, might this be a sign that they do not receive enough light? It also seems like the new leaves are melting, which gets me concerned. The Sagittaria bulbs that I planted are doing very well; one of them has grown a stunning 10cm (4 inches)!

    The plants, getting quite tall. Some ends were already brown during planting, but those leaves seem the healthiest of them all.
    DSCI0026.JPG

    The melting that I've diagnosed. As you can see, it's only happening in the newest leaves.
    DSCI0017.JPG
    A Sagittaria bulb sprouting like crazy.
    DSCI0030.JPG


    Here you can see the moss on top of the stone. The ends are turning brown, is that a problem or will that eventually grow out? I had expected the moss to be the easiest plant, turns out it's not.

    DSCI0019.JPG

    My biggest concern at the moment, though, is the Myriophyllum Scrabatum. One branch has completely decomposed, and others are decomposing in the middle of the stems. Because it has quite a plant mass, it makes for a lot of waste, and I wonder if this will cause the cycling to go bad.
    As seen in the pictures, the top ends look really healthy and are growing quite nicely. Would it be a good idea to cut off the top ends, replant them and throw out the old, damaged branches?

    DSCI0015.JPG DSCI0028.JPG DSCI0031.JPG

    Decomposing pieces of Myriophyllum, caught in some Eleocharis Parvula. This image can be seen throughout the entire tank.
    DSCI0021.JPG

    I'll be receiving my water testing kit today, so I'll update with the outcome soon enough.
    In the meantime, can anyone tell me whether fertilizers are necessary or not? I still really want to do this without them, because it's just another factor to take into account when something goes wrong and you want to pin down the reason.

    Greetings,
    Bart
     
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  10. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    Water test results are in!

    Date: 9-12-2015
    Temperature: 24.5 C*
    Hardness: 4 KH
    Accidity: 6.7 pH
    NH4: 0.5 mg/l
    NH3+: <0.03 mg/l
    NO2: 1.0 mg/l
    NO3: 20 mg/l
    Fe: <0.02 mg/l
    CO2: 30 mg/l

    These tests are really quite helpful, I'm so happy I invested in a testkit! I recommend the JBL Combitest to anyone. I accidently bought the Plus Fe version instead of the NH4, so I had to get that separately but it was a happy little mistake; now I know that my iron levels are WAY too low (which could well explain the melting of the plants). That means I must start adding fertilizers. I'll also remove the active carbon from the filter.
    I'm glad CO2 is good, it's a little bit too high but due to the lack of livestock that's no problem. I'm getting a permanent CO2 measure glass soon.
    I am also finding out the KH is too low... More frequent water changes might fix that.

    I'm a little bit startled by the NH4/NH3+ levels. Does this mean my tank is cycling pretty quickly?
    The Nitrite is at the peak of what my kit can measure, and there is already a good amount of NO3 as well.

    Can anyone tell me if this cycle seems to go well?

    Bart
     
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  11. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Bart

    Contact Marcel he also lives in the Netherlands

    He will help you in where to get good service and supplies.

    Cycling the Ph will go crazy please completely forget about it other wise it will send you crazy,

    Just checking if you have Carbon in your filter remove it immediately its not required.

    To help the Cycling process I always recommend either Seachem Stability or Sera Bio Nitrivec both are excellent products plus your good Bacteria in your filter will always be very healthy.

    I would like to see the temp slowly increased to 26/27.


    Some Substrate leach out a lot of Ammonia at first several big water changes will certainly help.

    Cheap floating leafy plants like floating Water Sprite/ floating water Wisteria (same plant)

    Keith:cat::cat:




     
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  12. kylumi

    kylumi Aspiring Aquascaper

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    No, your cycle is not going well just yet, it will only be cycled when your Nitrite reads zero.:(

    Post Nitrogen Cycle - my tanks are typically:
    Ammonia 0ppm
    Nitrite 0ppm
    Nitrate 10ppm
    pH8.2 (African Malawi Cichlids)

    What your attempting to achieve with your Nitrogen Cycle is the conversion of ammonia to Nitrite, which in turn must be converted by Bacteria (nitrobacter) to Nitrate. The combined level of Nitrite and Nitrate form the tanks Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN).

    I personally have never used any commercially available aquatic products to "speed" up the natural process of the nitrogen cycle (for me it kind of defeats the object). I simply transfer a filter medium culture and dose my tanks with 100% Pure Ammonia/mg/L.

    I would advise anybody coming into this hobby to spend a reasonable amount of time in getting to grips with a little bit of water chemistry.
    The Nitrogen Cycle is lifes essence, so understanding how it works will hold you in good stead for successfully maintaining this hobby and more importantly maintaining a healthy environement for your plants and fish.:sneaky:
     
  13. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    So today I did some more tests. There's an ammonium increase, right after I added the Easy-Life Filter Starter (according to the manual, a second dose had to be added on day 7), which I think indicates that the filter starter includes some ammonium. All other values were in the same region, except Fe but that is probably due to the addition of fertilizers.

    Right now my spirit is kinda down... I am looking at all these beautiful tanks on the internet and I'm far from satisfied with mine.
    I did a lot of research and thought about this project a lot, yet I made some big mistakes; the dwarf sag seems really out of place, in my oppinion, the central rock turned out too tricky, and I am not too certain about the dwarf hairgrass in the front; it doesn't look like it is growing at all and I wonder if a carpet will ever be achieved.

    I am very much familiar with the nitrite cycle by the way, all I wanted to know was whether the water test results could be interpreted as a sign of progress.

    Thanks for the replies, though! Patience... Patience... But when I look at other journals I see people achieving beautiful tanks right after planting, while mine is still quite an eyesore.
     
  14. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    .

    That is very good advice.

    Bart
    At a rough guess I think this would happen to many beginners today.

    Many of those aquascapes on the WWW have been done by people with plenty of money and years of experience.

    Nothing beats practical experience and that will not happen over night we all had to learn all the necessary skills to reach that level.

    If there is a local Club in your area join and get some extra hands on experience.

    My last tank was the best I had ever done and I started about 50 years ago.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  15. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    Nitrite levels still very high, doesn't matter because I won't be getting any fishies till winterbreak has passed.

    I have already been thinking about livestock though. The first fishes I'll be putting in are a group of 5 Corydoras Pygmaeus. They school very nicely and are small which matches my tank just fine, I think.

    Then I'll get a big group of small schooling fish. Still not sure what kind of fish exactly, I really like the tanichthys albonubes. They seem like great beginner fish, though temperature might be a problem.
    Other options are any of the popular nano fish, like the small rasbora or danio species.

    Later on, I want to get 3 Epiplatys Annulatus (Rocket Panxas/Clown Killifish). They will require some floating plants to shelter underneath, but they truely are beautiful.


    This weekend I've managed to find a lot more rocks of the same kind in the garden at my parental home shown below. It is, of course, much more beautiful in the summertime. IMG_20151213_143548.jpg

    I also paid the LFS at my home town a visit and I managed to get my father excited for an aquarium as well. Showed him a few of those amazing aquascapes by James Findley and Takashi Amano and he was immediately convinced; Like father like son, I guess.

    On a visit to the local gardening store I found that they actually had great stones for very low prices (€0.30/kg). Maybe not as interesting as the Dragon stones but at 1/30th the prices I'd say it's still a great deal.

    Anyhow, the stones I found came from our own garden, they didn't sell this particular kind.
    I managed to break one of the rocks in a few smaller pieces aswell, they might help kinda refining the composition of my scape later on. I will also use them to replace the lava rock. The main objective though, was to find a stone that can replace the overly sized middle stone.

    Below you can see a stone that, in my opinion, could really well replace the center stone. It has the same kind of vibe to it, but the back of it is rather flat, making it possible to place it all the way to the back, and it's just a bit smaller as well.
    IMG_20151213_142530.jpg


    ...and this is the rest of the collection.

    IMG_20151213_142804.jpg

    Other options are replacing the center stone by driftwood. I'm still waiting to hear some opinions about changing the center stone in the first place, though... I'm not gonna rush any of this.

    Kind regards,
    Bart!
     
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  16. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Bart

    I have to ask this do you have any cold water fish or other inhabitants in that beautiful pond?

    Re LFS contact Marcel he will certainly help you in every way he can, just tell him I referred you to him.

    Dark rocks, black substrate and very basic light to dark plants and a red coloured fish and you are on a winner.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  17. kylumi

    kylumi Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Yes, a really nice collection of Dark Rock:cool:
     
  18. TheGreenFrat

    TheGreenFrat New Member

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    Thank you for the replies!

    Actually, the stones are much lighter, when submerged. They look very much like the left stone though. I replaced the lava stones, in my oppinion this looks much better, since the lava stones basically disappear into the substrate, and don't allow for plant growth in those places. The new stones seem to tie it together.

    Below you can see the progression in the tank.

    Tuesday last week:
    DSCI0025.JPG

    Last Friday, some plants had just been trimmed or replanted:
    DSCI0033.JPG

    Today, lava rocks replaced:
    DSCI0040.JPG

    The dwarf sag. are doing much better, maybe because of the added fertilizers. The moss is experiencing some white fungus I think. Not sure if it's a problem or not. Also, I totally forgot to trim the Eleocharis before planting! Didn't even know I had to, to be honest. I did last Friday and I'm already seeing some hair popping up between the existing Eleocharis, so that should be fine.

    Nitrite still very high, didn't test for anything else. Tomorrow another dosing of filter started must be added and I'll also do an Fe test to see whether I should add more ferts.

    I'm also going to order glass inlet and outlet pipes and getting a good background. That should help making it look more professional.

    Greetings,
    Bart
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  19. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Bart

    If you want to make the tank look more professional remove the bits and pieces for the photos.

    Do several good 50% water changes 3 days apart then clean the filter/medium/filter pads and then double dose the filter with Seachem Stability not the LFS that's as good as.

    Get plenty of cheap leafy floating plants eg floating water sprite, they will work wonders for you.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  20. kylumi

    kylumi Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I would like to know what this is:confused:
     

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