Fish Tank Newbies

Newbie Paludarium

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5gallon-paludarium

I honestly feel that it is the year of the Paludarium or even Riparium. I need to learn more about the difference between the two.  This was ridiculously cheap, and it practically takes care of itself. You need a tank, a top, a light and some gravel, and whatever else you want, then moss and planst to adhere or live near. The key is maintaining humidity which so far in a 5 gallon experiment has been easy. I have a glass top with a plastic flap so I just seal the sucker almost all the way except for a crack for air and that helps keep condensation off the glass.

So far the most fun I’m having is watching java moss grow. Underwater java moss is a let down for me most the time, it always gets webby and tangly (like bottom right), but growing above the water is whole other vibe (ground left), they get all organized and grass like. But even cooler then grass because each blade is made up of so many little mossy fern like blades. Anubias nana scattered around some totally submerged some not. Also baby tears, those are pretty new and I’m not sure how they will react to being planted above the water. So far it looks like the new leaves come out tinnier, this is going to be interesting.

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Fighting Algae With Variation

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I read one way to fight algae is by varying the light conditions throughout the day. Basically surprising your algae! At first I was like, what about the fish?! But realized the time shifts don’t have to be super dramatic (no strobe lights needed). So I have a couple timers attached to two units that both have 2x24w t5 tubes. I’m learning that there are more sophisticated lighting and timer systems out there that more accurately simulate the rising and falling of the sun. I wonder if thats the ultimate fight against algae…. after all my wabi kusa has been in front of a south facing window for a few years now and I only ever have to deal with algae on the glass. I imagined I would have tons of hair algae everywhere by now. I don’t know enough about algae types to know which one would take over in certain conditions, but that would be some dope knowledge to have someday, specially at a party.

The major update is that this is a whole new layout and we’re now zooming forward like two or three years since I posted about the 30 gallon tank. I let the last layout grow over with algae and just let it go where it wanted to go, the only rule I gave myself was ‘do not do a damn thing except drop a few flakes into it and top it up once and awhile’.

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Low Light Jungle

10 gallon

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Its been ages since the this last post. Mostly because when you end up moving and breaking down your tanks it takes time to gain traction again, nah mean? This 10 gallon migrated nicely though, and its kept its awesome jungle vibe (maybe jungles are easy to move cuz they are so messy to begin with).

Admire the cool new addition of palm net/bark to not only the look of the tank but the water chemistry as well. You can see it in the back sticking out. I’m sure the shrimp lost their minds when this arrived (super OCD shrimp starts drooling as the palm bark gets installed).

Also notice the lovely assortment of terrestrial plants to exterior perimeter of the layout (don’t just look in the tank). We live close to the flower and plant district in downtown LA.

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Wabi Kusa

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My bro got me this wabi kusa tank along with the amazing lava stone inside it for my birthday. We set it up pretty much like an aquarium, with amazonia for the substrate, added some frog bit floaters and planted baby tears for starters. The rock came with a couple orchids growing on it… lets see if I can keep them alive. There is also this pretty cool mossy plant growing up the stone, has small oval shaped leaves. He said he got the stone with plants on it from a cool old plant shop in Korea town.

Hardcore wabi kusa-ers please stop emailing me, I get it, this is not a pure wabi kusa layout. I am not correctly simulating a rivers edge. Its more like a shallow aquarium… I should start a shallow aquarium movement to counter the wabi kusa culture exploding in the scene right now.

Ok spoiler alert about the orchids and cool oval shaped mossy plant… its now 2014 when i write this and those plants have been dead for like about….3 years. I mean I should have figured they would not survive the powerful california sunlight without any enclosure to hold in humidity. Direct sunlight with no humidity… i basically dried them all out. Live and learn. It is what it is.

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Cryptocoryne Balansaese

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Nearing its 1 year birthday this tank has pretty much been left alone for past few months. Water changes have been done about every 3 weeks on average, along with supplements, but very very little compared to before. I let the crypts take the foreground over, I like letting them take over, I am a god, lol… jk.

There was a horrible battle with duckweed recently which cut off a lot of light from to the rest of the plants and may have stunted or killed a few in the process, but I won’t bore you with those deets.

The Balansaes thriving nicely and no problem competing for resources. The more I mess around with this tank the more it whispers, no wait, it screams, that it wants to be a Paludarium.

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The Iron Update

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Hey there, so since the pogostemon is completely out of season right now I removed it and let the Aromatica take center stage. I’ve been harvesting blyxa weekly but I think I have the right amount figured out, and now I just need to stay there. The big update really is my new found passion for growing Ludwigia Arcuata! Well its a passion mainly because I can’t seem to figure it out. I bought a bunch from AFA and planted it, I’ve even added more iron in the form of chellated mix to the water column but the arcuata is far from its blood red look I see in books and online all the time!! what gives? Patience newbie, patience

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pearling

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Lowrider Plants

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I trimmed out most of the rotala in the tank and I’m making room for the lobelia cardinalis ‘small form’ and the staurogyne sp. The staurogyne is a hearty low plant that wont grow high but will spread around, I want to blend this with the lobelia for its low growing properties as well. For a little height in the back I’m trying out eichhornia diversifolia and spiky rotala. The wood centerpiece will be covered in xmas moss and I just tied some mini pelia to the top branch. The foreground is a race between the UG or the HC, whichever one wins gets to be the foreground plant there, I’m happy if either take hold :-) I’ll be documenting the shift in the new layout – i’m pretty flippin excited about the new scape! (that and the new lily pipe set i got… so much more clearness in there!

A new floater was added as well, this one doesn’t take over the surface in a short period of time, its heartier and slower to grow as well, Limnobium laevigatum. I keep it above where the co2 is hitting the surface to hold the gas in the water longer.

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Low Light & Low Maintenance

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This 30 gallon tall tank we had kicking around the studio from an underwater rigg we had set up for a shot. Inspired by 4 pieces of beautiful bog wood bought at our local fish store (Nature Aquarium in Santa Monica) we made this a low-light-low-maintenance-tank. So we got plants like crypts and anubias. The other objective was to create a home for a collection of mosses and mini pelia. Separating them at different heights allows us to observe different mosses. There are also small bunches of mini bolbitis tied to the wood.

In the foreground there is a lot of blyxa, these were brought in from the 10 and 60 gallon tanks. Because the amazonia substrate is so fresh and new we thought we’d let the blyxa help with the nutrient absorption. The light levels are to low for blyxa yet it is still thriving from the substrate… eventually it slowed its growth, then grew very vertical trying to get closer to the light and eventually started melting away.

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The 10 G Journal – November

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The new piece of manzanita wood that is resting on top of the asian bogwood is a piece my brother picked up while he was in Montana. It made me take out most of the blyxa that was growing in the front which was doing really well, but it wasn’t helping the scale of the tank much. The space is opened up now, so maybe the UG will take over sometime, if not, then the next plant I want to really feature is the lobelia cardinalis (small form) – It’s been slowly growing which is great since i don’t have to stay on it so often like the rotalas.

Something I’ve learned in these past months with this tank:

black brush algae, the thick fluffly tuftes of it grow really well in areas with more current – a piece of the bogwood on the left was getting hit directly with the filter outflow and eventually it was covered in all the nasty forms of algae. A really awesome technique to rid of it swiftly is double dosing the tank with fluorish excel, i would fill a little dropper with it and apply the excel directly to the algae. After a day you’ll start to notice it turning white, this is when you know you’re winning!  I just did that for a week, everyday until all of it was gone. It pops up in small amounts here and there, but for the most part its gone.

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Fall season in the 55 Gallon tank

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The scape starts to really fill out and give me ideas on what to do next. The Blyxas grow so quickly I’m trimming every two weeks and basically giving away 2-3 zip lock bags worth each time. I keep trimming them down but they have still managed to cover all my stones. The summer is most definetly over according to my Pogostemon Stellatus. They went from a luscious bunch of colorful dense leafs to simple pale yellow green leafed plant.. pretty amazed by that actually. The Aromatica on the other hand seems to benefit from the hibernation of its neighbor and suddenly it is springing into action. Most the rosettes with yellow to red in the center are the Aromatica.

One of the grassy plants I brought back from my trip to Iowa is really taking off. I have no idea what it is called. Its the plant growing in front of the Blyxa Auberti, the one that has made it to the surface and is bright green.

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New 60 Gallon Aquascape

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My 55 gallon tank was on its last legs since the brace that holds the top of the tank cracked from a couple earthquakes here in sunny California. Of course I should learn from the Japanese! Famous ADA has cushioned mats for your tanks to sit on. Of course ADA tanks don’t have that awful center brace to begin with because they use thicker glass. Mo’glass, mo’money. We spent 12 hours transplanting everything and developing a new layout. It was fun having a bunch of plants to start off a new layout, but in the process I was able to eliminate bare stems and many little mini tiger lotus’ that looked ready to take over the tank if given the chance. We tried doing something different with the stones, that aspect took a couple weeks to really figure out… fish love it when you take big bolders and move them around in the middle of the day.

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Blyxas!

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It looks like the tank has reached a good equilibrium with the water now, and no more algae is showing up! The left side is going to be all Myriophyllum Mattogrossence now and the blyxas up at the front are really taking off nicely. Still dealing with some blue green algae BGA but its under control for now. To make sure it doesn’t keep coming back I’ve added a bga chemical remover to the tank.

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13 Gallon June

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13 Gallon Algae Bloom

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13gallon_may26I’m battling a slew of algae right now, seems to be thread/string algae . I was adding fertilizers to the tank during its start up but later found out that its not good to fertilize the tank in the beginning months. Now I’ve stopped adding any fertilizers and have been doing bigger water changes to control it, as well I’ve been just manually taking it out and just introduced a flagfish in the tank to eat it.

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More plants introduced to the scape

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1st Month – 13gallon

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55 Gallon, 7 months

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This post will the be the last post for this layout and tank. I’ll be dismantling this set-up because the tank itself is about to break. The tank is one of the cheap 55 gallon tanks with a black plastic center brace making up for the thin glass. The brace is cracked… probably from the three small earthquakes its survived so far here in LA.

I’m replacing the tank with a 60 gallon tank. What will i do with the extra 5 gallons you ask? I will be filling it with water. So the 60gallon tank is slightly shorter in height but much wider than the 55 gallon, so I’m excited to work with these more plant friendly dimensions. The 55 Gallon was difficult to create depth because it was so thin and tall, I never really had the space to scape it depth wise and so all my layers were basically paper thin as a result. Of course I’m a newbie so what the hell do i know.

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55 Gallon, 6 months

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55 Gallon, 5 months

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Having discovered SCAPE, Southern California Aquatic Plant Enthusiasts, and their amazing monthly auctions, I scored myself some delicious red flora! I’ve been craving the introduction of red into the scape for sometime and the lotus is what really pushed me over the edge on what could be. So far as I know you need lots of iron if you’re growing red plants, also some red plants require a lot of light in order to become red.

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55 Gallon, 2 months

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Just moved to a new loft, here is the 55 gallon about 2 months after the initial setup. We wanted to keep the left side the high side, and then let the layout drop out as it moved to the right. You can see the ledge we scaped. We started with glowlight tetras and shrimp for the first month then we sprung for the cobalt discus. You’ll see some head and tail lights in there as well. Lets see how long it takes me to make this into a giant collection of plants vs the more minimal aspirations I’ve set up for myself.

The unfortunate discovery we made was we discovered staghorn algae starting to grow. We also noticed that the fresh new crinium we planted was suffering from some deficiency that was rotting the center structure of individual leafs. Brief reading made me think its a phosphorus deficiency… which kind of makes sense because I had recently purchased a phosphate absorption mat for my canister filter. There are many conflicting theories on whether or not phosphates are good or bad for plants. PMDD followers swear against it, whereas people following the reflective index method of dosing, dose phosphorus on a regular basis.
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August

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African Cichlids

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february2006We set up this tank for our parents, its a 100 gallon african cichlid tank. In these pictures the fish are all still babies. The hard scape is made up of black lava rock, drift wood, various smooth lake stones, dead coral, the base is made up of the same subrstrate you buy for saltwater, I believe its a mix of sands, coral, coarser bits of stone.

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55 Gallon :: Older layouts

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I moved so the 50 gallon had to be taken apart and here we are 8 months after I set it up in our new place. New characters like the dark fern in seen in the center, much more rotala this time around, the clovers I’ve had for two years and only now really took off. In fact they only really took off when I bought some of the pearl grass (micranthemoides) and I think it didn’t like the competition and sprung to life spreading across the tank bottom.

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Micranthemum Umbrosum / Baby tears

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aquariumnov2007

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