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Thread: Tuna's 3 foot woody jungle

  1. #1

    Cool Tuna's 3 foot woody jungle

    After having my last scape grow into a beg mess for the better part of 6 months, emptied the tank out and started afresh over the Christmas break.

    Have an idea

    The first step of scaping a new tank is to have an idea of what you want. By scouring the internet and aquascaping books beforehand, I had a rough idea of lots of wood in a big pile covered in moss, kinda like a jungle scene. So I spent all of 10 minutes in the back courtyard playing with wood like a kid plays with lego. Some people like to draw, some people like to play around in the actual tank and the lazy people like me just store it in short term memory.

    Prepare the battlefield

    Armed with a basic outline, it was time to get my hands dirty.
    As the tank was already setup, the next step is to get everything out of there. Not an easy task when there are at least a hundred shrimp in there and a partner who insists every life must be preserved. Let's just say that took at least an hour and a half. Fish and shrimp went into a couple of buckets with an air pump and plants in a few other buckets.

    Next you gotta bring in all your hardscape materials ready to be laid out. It is better to be over prepared than under, so bring in everything you can even if you don't think you are going to use it. I did have a photo but my card reader decided to destroy everything on there, just imagine about 20-30 pieces of wood ranging from small to huge and about 30 bits of rock lying on the floor taking up half the room, a roll of black sewing thread, one of those plant misting thingies and pair of medical grade scissors and forceps. I use the medical ones as the small size is easier to work with.

    Get artistic

    Lay it all out according to your master plan, or you can just wing it....I put the two biggest pieces of wood in first as everything else will revolved around them. Put the other bits in one by one. Take a few steps back each time and look at it as a whole. Does it look good? If not, tweak and repeat until satisfied. Add more and more until you are happy with it. After the wood is in place I put the complementary rocks in place. Usually in the nooks and crannies under and around wherever the wood is sitting. Think tree roots growing over rocky terrain. In this aquascape the focus is on the wood and not the rocks, so the former needs to be stronger in presence than the latter.

    How do you know what looks good? If you think of an aquascape as a living breathing photo, then the best looking photos (generally) adhere to well established photography rules. My favourites are the rule of thirds and the use of lines.

    Keep in mind that eventually your wood may eventually be hidden by the plants that form the aquascape. This means that:
    • You don't have to be too fussy in certain areas that you know will be eventually hidden
    • You don't want to use wood that is too small as it will disappear in the blink of an eye and basically be space better used for more plants
    • Don't think that that bit of wood you are using is too small, chances are it won't be
    • Don't put wood in places where it will never see the light of day again
    Last edited by tuna; 25-01-11 at 08:19 AM.

  2. #2

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    Green thumbs are a go

    So now that everything is in place, it is time to put the plants in. Choosing plants is kinda like picking a kids name - there are so many choices. For me however, as I am lazy as already mentioned, I prefer the slow growing, easy to maintain type. See Tuna's guide to an easy to maintain yet beautiful planted aquarium on how I select my plants.

    So given that the focus of my new scape is wood wood and more wood, I chose low growing plants and mosses.

    The plant list and respective planting locations to start with is:
    • Mini pellia (foreground)
    • Peacock moss (to be tied to wood)
    • Anubias nana (stuck in and around bits of wood)
    • Chain sword (mid ground and the edges)
    • Val nana (background)
    • 1 random sword plant that I had nowhere else to put
    • Hydrocotyle tripartita (mid ground)

    (side note: at the time of writing it is now roughly 4 weeks after planting and I feel that the moss is too strong, I am going to probably add some bolbitis, low growing crypts and some short narrow leaf java fern if I can find some.)
    Last edited by tuna; 25-01-11 at 07:42 AM.

  3. #3

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    Green thumbs are a go (cont.)

    The most difficult part is getting the moss onto the wood. As everything is laid out nice and neat in my tank, I thought it best to take out one piece at a time, tie the moss to it using the sewing thread, and then carefully putting it back. The process kinda reminded me of that Jenga game. The two biggest pieces I could not take out so I had a lot of fun getting the moss onto that. This whole process took a while so I had to keep the plants moist by misting it every few minutes.

    The mini pellia I wanted to do something different. Most people attach it to wood, but I thought I might do something crazy with it and turn it into a carpet plant, which I have done plenty of times with moss, so in theory it should work with mini pellia. I just tied bits of the plant onto flat stones from the garden and placed it in the foreground.

    Planting the remaining plants was fairly straightforward. I did however only plant the val nana and hydrocotyle in tiny amounts as that stuff grows really fast and will fill out in no time. With the slower growing stuff you want to plant lots of it to compensate for its slowness. By doing this, I hope that eventually, the tortoise and the hare will cross the finish line at the same time.

    By 7ish the scape is done, the animals are back in and it is time to clean up the mess.

    Lessons learnt

    Unfortunately over the next week all the shrimp went to aquarium heaven. It was probably from the wood, as the pest guy did spray the garden where I had them sitting. Obviously 4 weeks soaking in a tub of water isn't enough to get rid of any toxins - let that be a lesson learned.
    Last edited by tuna; 25-01-11 at 07:42 AM.

  4. #4

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    Military grade hardware*

    Now with the hardware, specs are as follows:
    • 90x50x45cm tank (LxWxH)
    • 150 watt metal halide 8000k, 7 hours a day. Will use additional 2x24watt compact flourescence in another two/three months to for extra lighting to encourage flatter growth in the hydrocotyle.
    • ADA Amazonia II**
    • 1/10HP chiller at 27 degrees C
    • Pressurized CO2, 6.8kg bottle bought from the brew shop
    • Inline CO2 diffuser

    I don't take shortcuts with (important) hardware, it just makes it life easier over the lifetime of the scape.

    * not really military grade
    ** could have used plain old inert sand/gravel with some minor tweaks to plant seleciton. I only used ADA Amazonia II as I already had it.

    Feed the plants

    For the first month I have so far put in roughly 4 drops of Dino Pee in twice a week. Sorry to disappoint you if you were expecting some high tech chemical formula. All I can say is that Dino Pee rocks, and you don't need too much fertilisers as they are probably responsible for all your algae problems anyway. From my experience CO2 is more important for plant growth.

    The water

    Water additives do not concern me and I have no idea what my water parameters are. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone out there, that's just the way I do it. Sorry again.
    Last edited by tuna; 24-01-11 at 10:32 PM.

  5. #5

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    Why so stingy?

    How do I get away with so little plant care? See the guide in my sig regading my aqua scaping philosophy. But basically less is more and just use your eye and judgement to tweak whatever component needs tweaking, whether it be lighting, ferts or CO2. Obviously if you are new to the game this will be very difficult, but eventually you'll get the hang of it.

    Obligatory pictures to prove I am not telling fibs

    30 Dec, a few days after planting:


    10 January


    24 January


    Growth is slow, but that is due to my plant selection and my lighting setup. I invisage that the scape will reach maximum sexyness in about 3 to 4 months.

    The wood is also getting covered in a little bit of algae so I have dispatched two young and eager bristlenoses to fight the battle. They are my go to algae cleaners, but they must be the only fish that poo more than they eat.

    In conclusion

    So, whatever you do, plan ahead and stick to your guns and if it aint working out, ask the kind people on Aquariumlife for help. Not having a plan is planning to fail.
    Last edited by tuna; 24-01-11 at 10:31 PM.

  6. #6
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    Wow Tuna! That's amazing! Loving the hardscape...
    Can I ask why need a chiller? Does it get warmer that 27c? Or are you keeping scrimps?
    Are those red chilli rasboras????

    Cheers
    aLan

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by NewFishTank View Post
    Wow Tuna! That's amazing! Loving the hardscape...
    Can I ask why need a chiller? Does it get warmer that 27c? Or are you keeping scrimps?
    Are those red chilli rasboras????

    Cheers
    I live in Darwin, withouth a chiller the water would probably sit at 30 which aint so great for plant growth.

    The red fish are ember tetras.

  8. #8
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    Ahhhhh.... Make sense now
    Thanks for the detail summary of the tank and all the tips there. Will definitely keep following the thread. Awesome awesome setup!

    Cheers
    aLan

  9. #9
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    The hardscape looks stunning Tuna. Why did you choose 27 degree and not lower since the plant mass mainly consists of mosses and pelia? Is it because of the other native plants in the scape?

    Looking forward to your future updates.
    All I need is the air I breathe, and a place to rest my head.

    | Synchronicity | Symphony | Symposia | Synthesis | Serenity

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfinger View Post
    The hardscape looks stunning Tuna. Why did you choose 27 degree and not lower since the plant mass mainly consists of mosses and pelia? Is it because of the other native plants in the scape?

    Looking forward to your future updates.
    27 is easier on the power bill than 24-26, plus the plants have grown well for me at 27. I guess no reason to change if it works.

  11. #11
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    wow this is going to look great when all fills in!

  12. #12
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    Great start and plenty of potential, should look great in a few more months once the plants fill in.

    Only thing I am not a fan of is the two species of small fish, I would ditch the rummy noses and stick to the embers. I think the embers give a nice contrast against the plant colours. Each to their own though - that's just me being nit picky They do seem to school nicely though in the last photo!

    MJ.
    He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!

  13. #13
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    Very nicely written, Tuan!
    You make it easy for beginners to learn an experienced scaper's "thought processes" and techniques.

    Love the scape too, as usual..
    [SIGPIC]http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d9/wolfy80/otellia10200a.jpg[/SIGPIC]


    Subvert the dominant paradigm!

  14. #14
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    As always Tuna.... STUNNING!! Can't wait for it to reach maxiumum sexiness.

    And a superb write up. From someone who finds the "planning" stage extremely difficult, I assure you I'll read you advice a couple more times and try and get my head around the process. Am thinking about stripping my planted tank down and restarting in the next couple of months so your advice and thoughts are invaluable.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by MJay View Post
    Only thing I am not a fan of is the two species of small fish

    MJ.
    Agreed, however the embers were very shy by themselves though so I got the rummy's. They're best friends ever since.

    Quote Originally Posted by Plantnut View Post
    Very nicely written, Tuan!
    You make it easy for beginners to learn an experienced scaper's "thought processes" and techniques.

    Love the scape too, as usual..
    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brushy View Post
    And a superb write up. From someone who finds the "planning" stage extremely difficult, I assure you I'll read you advice a couple more times and try and get my head around the process. Am thinking about stripping my planted tank down and restarting in the next couple of months so your advice and thoughts are invaluable.
    Glad to be of assistance.

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