#1, The tank is 90X45X45cm in dimension (it only mentioned the length, but looks really similar to the tank in my other post~3feet) The laying out of the substrates is the first step in aquascaping. Substrate choices are many, and often fall between the sand and the mud categories. This time I am using the American fine sand as the substrate. This is also the substrate choice that I use most often. Prior to laying down the sand, a layer of rich fertilizer must be spread across the tank. (I am skipping the photograph for this part) You can choose whatever substrate fertilizer you want, but I am using the German BRUSTMANN fertilizer as the source of nutrients. Evenly spread it across the tank, and then slowly pour in the sand on top.
<ul><li>2, Once the substrate layering is completed, we can use a triangle or our own hands to carry out the aquascape we want to create. Of course, you can also use professional tools (ex: ADA substrate flattener). I am going to make it so that the front is low and the back is high, thereby creating a sense of depth through its hilly appearance. After the substrate formation has been set, it is time to choose the proper rocks/stones. Below are the criteria for choosing them: 1. Master-subject relationship(Companionship of the main rock and the subsidiary rocks) 2. Appearance and texture(Should not be too smooth and flat) 3. Coloration(Should be uniform) 4. Size and function(Possibility in creating a sense of layer and depth) 5. Direction and sloping(Visual gauge of proportion and line of movement) </li></ul>
<ul><li>#3, Now, let’s pick out the main rock and decide on its placement in the tank. Utilizing the guidelines from #2, we can continue to pick out and put in the subsidiary rocks. (It is important here that we properly place these rocks in order to prevent them from falling apart). When this is done, a sense of the tank’s theme will have been created. (The above demonstration was an original art work) *Readers can utilize own collections to better gauge in these exercises. </li></ul>
<ul><li>#4, This time I picked out 5 rocks to demonstrate, using 2 of them with their locations to support the main rock; see the red arrows to better understand that the shape and contour of these 2 rocks make a functional accompaniment. As mentioned before, besides adjusting the rocks’ locations and angles, it is as important to factor in their performance(presentation). </li></ul>
<ul><li>#5, We must assess whether the overall appearance of the tank is in accordance with the aesthetics. Once the main theme has been realized, it is time to pour in the water. In order to prevent any disturbance to the substrate, we can create our own hose with lighter water pressure. “DIY Water Pressure Decreasing Hose”---take a hard pipe, burn it to make it bent into a ‘U-shape’, then connect to the hose with low water pressure. </li></ul>
#6, Stop filling in the water when it’s about 80% full (This is not a set rule; each person can decide how much to put in). Try to look at the tank from different angles to gauge its aesthetics, and whether personal preference/standard has been met. Certainly, if one can appreciate a tank from more than one angle then the presentation of its theme will be much greater.
#7, Moving on, we are ready to do some planting. I am taking some plants from my other tanks because I really like them. However, the plants and the rocks must be in a uniform relationship. If not planned carefully, everything will look wrong. I will use Blyxa japonica(http://www.tesri.gov.tw/content/planet/pla_aquatic_2.asp) I like this plant because it is very suitable for fore- to mid-ground. It is useful in filling in the gaps as well as giving a sense of focus. Try not to plant too densely because this plant branches readily; planted too densely and it will cause unsightly formation amongst the rocks. We can plant in-between rocks. Plant with reserve to better control the overall appearance. (With more practice and experience, one will better gauge in these kinds of activities) ***This is a Taiwanese plant site, which includes lots of aquatic plants. Unfortunately, it is in Chinese; Latin names are employed to an extent. It is very informative if you can understand the language. The above link is already in their aquatic plant section, and many of you will instantly recognize many familiar plants as well as new ones.
<ul><li>#8, When we are done with japonica, we move on to taking care of the right side of the tank. I am choosing my favorite plant, Rotala rotundifolia ‘Green’(some also say this is the same as Indica; you decide) Plant about 2-3 stems into the substrate, taking care to make it front low and back high. That way, it’ll automatically create a sense of depth once the plants are in the substrate. Toward the middle back, I want to plant densely in order to show the branching power of the plant(Author is still referring to Rotala) Everyone is free to decide whether it’s better to plant lightly or densely. My aquascape is based on the utilization of middle and back of the tank, hence the focus on those two areas. The remaining unused space is in the back. </li></ul>
<ul><li>#9, Having completed the right side of the tank, we move to the left side. In order to make the overall appearance more uniform, I will therefore continue to use Rotala on this side. Visual balance is achieved when the tank follows the golden ratio of 3:7, so the look wouldn’t become dull/boring. For the back right of the tank we will use Rotala rotundifolia (which according to many people in Taiwan is considered the same species as the ‘Green’ variety). </li></ul>
#10, Again, I plant it densely; its pinkish color will further complement the already present illusion of depth in the tank. Other background plants include Ammannia gracilis, Rotala macrandra ‘Green’, Nesaea spp. During the process of planting each stem, care must be taken to avoid planting too quickly without much thought. One must not plant incorrectly due to tiredness or mind rush.
#11, The first layer of the back left side we will use Nesaea spp.; second layer will be Ammania gracilis. Coloration is the main distinction between the two plants. Nesaea spp. has reddish stems and yellow-green leaves. Ammania is completely red. By incorporating both plants and their multi-colors will increase color depths in the background. A group of Ammania is again used, and this time to fill in the middle part of the tank to act as the main focus. Rotala rotundifolia is used to decorate the sides to further complement the overall look of the tank, making it look fuller and complete.
#12, Now that the middle and back of the tank have been filled, the only remaining area to work on is the front. Glossostigma elatinoides will be used here. Of course, you can also use Riccia fluitans or Echinodorus bolivianus. Once that’s done, the whole tank scape will be finished. We now move on to tank husbandry. (Can use unwanted plastic card board to scrape off any stain and dirt on the glass surfaces. Finish off with cotton to wipe off any remaining dusts) Finally, fill in with water to the desired level, and we are done.
#13, When we first planted the tank, everything was in disarray. However, after a period of 2-3 days, things will start to fit in. We can better observe the plants in their formal shapes. At this point, we can adjust their locations and heights. Next thing to do will be growing and maintaining.
#14, Observe the whole scene from the top. I prefer to leave some empty space in order to bring about a sense of liveliness to the visual perceptions.
<ul><li>#15, Since the plants will grow at different rate, we must therefore have already thought out this process in the beginning. That way, we can better control/manipulate the tank’s progress. After a period of 1 week, we discover that the plants in the middle and back of the tank have grown approximately 2-4cm. The next part will be how well the tank is maintained, and this is all skill and experience dependent. I hereby close my aquascape lecture. Hope it has helped all; please excuse me if there are things I did not cover. </li></ul>
<ul><li>This is the first step - I drew out an out look of the arrangements of rocks / wood and plants. This is a very important step because it affects the appearance of your aquascape. Try to put more time to really think about it. Do some research on plants and photos of nature really help. Working with computer is easier because you can make changes any time you like. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Lets take a look at the tank and decorations for this new layout. For this layout I use a R18 Kinuta 7" glass tank. This small tank has no plastic frame as I want to achieve a clear look with this layout. </li></ul>
<ul><li>I use the old pieces of driftwoods for the layout. Try to find small pieces with interesting shape for a small layout. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Some piece of wood can't stand up on its own so I use stainless steel screw to fix them together </li></ul>
<ul><li>It is hard to get rocks with interesting texture for a small tank. These rocks are bought from "Flower Market" for the use on 盆景 . They are cheap comparing with those at Fish street. Make sure they are washed clean and tested so that they won't make the water alkaline. </li></ul>
<ul><li>There are a lot of discussion about ADA substrate vs PowerHouse sand. I tried the ADA before but this time I give the PH sand a try. The size of each granule is more suitable for a small layout. (ADA substrate has small granule too but unfortunlately shops in HK haven't import it yet) </li></ul>
<ul><li>OK, Let's start the set up!!! Step1 is the substrate preparation. Here I sprinkle the </li></ul><ul><li>powder of ADA Bacter 100, Clear Super,Penac P & W as the base layer. A tea leaf filter is very useful for this purpose. Bacter 100 promote the growth of useful bacteria within the substrate. Clear Super and Penac W improve the water quality while Penac P promote the growth of plants. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Step 2 - Apply a thin layer of ADA Powersand as a long term substrate fertilizer. Use a leveler to distribute the sand evenly. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Step 3 - Apply the substrate / sand. The PH sand needed to be prewashed unlike the ADA substrate. For this small layout I have the sand 3.5cm at the front and 5cm at the back. For bigger layout the substrate should be at least 5cm thick. Use a leveler to smooth out the contour line of the sand. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Step 4 - Go back to the drawing: Use the design as a guide to arrange the driftwoods and rocks. Changes can be made at this stage to make the layout looks better. Remember! This stage is very important. It forms the basic structure of the whole layout. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Step 5 - The planting stage: The growing speed of the plants I choose for this layout is not too fast which is more suitable for a small tank. If you use other plants be prepare to work hard on the trimming! Lets introduce the plants for this layout. </li></ul>Microsorum pteropus Vesicularia spec Marsilia hirsuta Echinodorus tenellus
<ul><li>The first stage of planting is to deal with the plants which grow on the driftwood / rocks. Fishing line is used to tie the 鐵皇冠 and 三角莫絲 onto the driftwoods. Because at this stage there is no water in the tank,if this stage takes you a long time make sure you keep the plants moist by keep spraying water to it with a sprayer. </li></ul>
<ul><li>When the driftwoods plants are all in place. Fill the tank with water a few cm above the sand. Make sure that when you pour the water in, do it slowly and carefully to avoid the disturbance of the layout. Start planting the foreground plants ( Marsilia hirsuta) and finish with the background plants.(Echinodorus tenellus) Use a tweezers for this process. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The next session is the set up of my DIY filter. It works just like any external filter only with an open top. A small glass tank is used as the main body of the filter. I put a dehumidifier's cover at the base. </li></ul>
<ul><li>A Rio 50 pump is placed at the corner. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Piece of sponge is cut to fit on the top of the plastic cover. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Fill up the rest of the filter with the PowerHouse filter rings </li></ul>
<ul><li>The piping system of the filter </li></ul>
<ul><li>My CO2 system connection for the mini tank. I use a set of ADA Ver.74 for the CO2 supply. Since I have more than one small tank I distribute the gas to these tanks with sets of tube connections. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Here is the photo of the whole set up </li></ul>