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40G – One Week Later…

March 29th, 2007

Take a look at these two photos, one taken today, the other was taken exactly one week ago. There’s no denying how spectacular this ADA Amazonia substrate is. Since I rescaped the tank about a week and a half ago, I have only dosed SeaChem Potassium once. So, the aquasoil, itself, has enough muster to make the Pogostemon stelleta, Rotala macrandra var. ‘green,’ and Limnophilia aromatica all shoot up like crazy, and all are in need of trimming. The baby tears in the lower left-hand corner has shown excellent growth, but it hasn’t started growing horizontally yet, like I’m hoping it will. It is soon time for me to replace some of the bulbs over this tank, so that may assist in that regard. Even though it’s not easy to see hear, the Utricularia graminfolia has started sending out new growth in the foreground, so it’s just a matter of time before it really kicks it into gear and takes off.

All in all, I have no qualms about my decision to soon rescaped my 20G with more fresh Aquasoil…

40G - 3-29-2007
Taken 03/29/2007

40G-03-22-2007
Taken 03/22/2007




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GWAPA – March 2007 Meeting

March 25th, 2007

Sean Murphy's Nano CubeGWAPA’s March 2007 meeting was another great meeting, this one at Sean Murphy’s home. For a guy known for his Cryptocoryne expertise, he sure can put together an amazing aquascape. This nano-tank to the left, sits innocently on his kitchen counter, with only a desk lamp over top. The desk-lamp sports only a daylight compact-fluorescent spiral bulb. I didn’t measure it, but I believe it’s just an 8″ cube, but he’s made it look much bigger here. Nice work Sean! This tank aside, the rest of Sean’s tanks are all “crypt farms.”

The topic for this meeting was “Growing Aquatic Plants Emerged.” A meeting summary can be found on the GWAPA website.

I was excited about this meeting because I had lined up a trade with Rob to swap my Apistogramma panduros for a half dozen of his Apistogramma sp. ‘Rotpunkt.’ So far they’re settling into my 40G nicely, but are still too young to sex. I hope to post some pictures of them up here soon.

Besides this fish swap, there was a huge auction this month with just about any plant you can think of being auctioned — everything from java moss to sunset hygrophilia to any of the more exotic cultivars you can think of. I only came away with two items, but I’m excited about getting them going. My auction wins are Ludwigia sp. ‘Guinea’ and Bacopa sp. ‘Araguaia.’ I kept Ludwigia sp. ‘Guinea’ previously, but I think it got overgrown by Rotala macrandra var. ‘Green,’ and subsequently melted away. I haven’t kept many Bacopa’s because there’s something about their vertical stance that is unappealing to me, but I’m going to give this one a try nevertheless. Even if I don’t like the look, who can deny the minty smell of its leaves?

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40G: Now that the water’s cleared…

March 22nd, 2007

I wanted to provide a better picture of the rescaped 40G tank that I redid this past weekend. The specs are below…

40G-03-22-2007

Equipment:

Filter: Eheim 2213

CO2: Pressurized, approx. 2-3 bubbles/sec

Substrate: ADA Powersand, Amazonia Aquasoil, with Tourlamine BC additives.

Dosing: None currently, will start dosing SeaChem’s line as needed.

Hardscape: California Pourous Mossy Rock.

Flora:

Front: Utricularia graminfolia, HC, baby tears, Ranalisma rostrata (I’ll decide later which of these to make permanent)

Back: Limnophilia aromatica, Rotala macrandra var. ‘green’, Blyxa japonica, Pogostemon stellatus, Blyxa aubertii

Fauna:

Melanotaenia praecox, Apistogramma panduro, Rummy-nose tetras, Olive Nerite Snails

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Glosso and Utric: A good match!

March 19th, 2007

Kind of by accident (and as a product of my lazy trimming habits), I managed to find a plant combination that I really enjoy. Glossostigma elatinoides and Utricularia graminifolia appear quite nicely together once they become interspersed. The Utricularia adds a nice softening effect to the Glossostigma, both in shape and color. I’m currently attempting to replicate this look throughout the entire foreground of my 75G tank.

Glosso and Utric

Another added benefit of this combination is that the Glossostigma helps to pin down the Utricularia so that it doesn’t become uprooted from the substrate. I have a large whip-tail catfish that loves to lounge on these plants, and has yet to caused any damage, whereas he always tends to pull up the Utricularia when planted by itself.

What’s still left to be determined is whether the Glossostigma will ultimately overtake the Utricularia, leaving just your standard “glosso mat.”

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40G: New ADA Scape

March 17th, 2007

Preparing the roomGWAPA’s order of ADA goods came in this week, so after a long trip through traffic to pick it up, I’m finally ready to redo a few of my tanks. The first tank that I have redone is my 40G breeder tank that’s been quite the jungle of plants for more time that I care to state. This tank already had aquasoil in it, but I was never satisfied with the depth of the Amazonia I had previously added, so I’m basically just going to add another couple inches on top of the old stuff. So, like any new tank project, I move all of my buckets, hardscape materials, and tools into the room. I try to bring in more rocks than I could possibly use so that I’ll be able to choose the best rocks for the particular aquascape.

Adding PowersandAdding AquasoilSo, from here on out, I’m going to describe how to setup a basic tank using the ADA system, as I understand it. The ADA substrate system is composed of minerals, powersand, and then aquasoil. So, I scraped out the existing substrate to add more Tourmaline BC to the bottom of the tank. Only a tiny bit of this is needed. Then, I added the powersand (left), finally topping it off with aquasoil. These picture show a soupy mixture because I didn’t fully drain my tank, but this didn’t seem to be a problem. One thing to note at this point is that I reserved about 1/2 to 1 bag of Amazonia to add after I’ve established my hardscape.

So, now that the substrate is intact, it’s time for my personal favorite part of aquascaping — the hardscape. In this particular scape, I wanted to try to accomplish a sort of mound aquascape, with aquasoil in-between some of the rocks so that I can actually plant on the “mound.” The first step is to build up the mound with the rocks. Try to envision what the tank will look like with more aquasoil and plants filling in the gaps.

Setup the Hardscape

Then, after the rocks are in place, I add the remaining 1/2 bag of Amazonia on top of the rocks to soften some of the gaps in-between them. At this point, I also try to correct of the slope of the substrate to gradually ascend up the mound, and to the back of the tank.

Fill in Hardscape with more Aquasoil

Finally, fill the tank up about 1/3 way, and begin planting. It’s helpful to have a spray bottle handy, so that none of your plants dry out while you’re still busy working. When you’re done, fill up the tank with water, and hopefully you’re happy with what you’ve accomplished. In this scape, I ran out of plants that I wanted to use, so I still have a little bit of work to do, but when isn’t that the case?

Final Aquascape

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Time to replant

March 16th, 2007

Glosso overgrownWhen your aquascape has a glosso foreground, just about every 6-8 weeks, you glosso will look like it does in this picture. The glosso will have formed a mat that’s about 3-4 inches thick, with portions of that mat floating up away from the substrate. Underneath the substrate, you’ll have a nice thick mess of mulm sitting there. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have from fry using this thick mat as a refuge from much larger fish.

Too bad for those fry, when this happens, it’s time to replant! I have to do just this, this week. In about 6 weeks, I will be hosting the GWAPA meeting. Hopefully, by that time, that new glosso plantlets will have matured into a nice 1″ thick glosso mat.

Timing is one of the key things to keep in mind for every aquascape. Whether you’re planning to show the tank to friends, club members, or take that perfect photograph for sharing online or to submit in an aquascaping contest, timing is everything. I generally tend to play things by ear, but one of these days, I’ll spend a little more time counting backwards. What I mean by that, is the advice of another GWAPA member, Ghazanfar, who suggests writing down every time you trim a plant. Then, whenever that particular plant looks “perfect,” note that on your calendar too. If you subtract the “perfect” date from the date you trimmed, you should know exactly how long it takes for each group of plants in your tank to reach its ideal look. Then, anytime you want to show your tank, you just need to count backwards from that date for each plant, and trim accordingly. By the tank your friends are over, every plant in your tank should look “perfect!” (Of course, YMMV.)

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Mutant Anubias!

March 14th, 2007

AnubiasAt the last GWAPA auction, “Delaware Jim” was auctioning off two bags of some “mutant anubias” that appeared in his tank. Apparently, he claims, this plant grew from a regular Anubias barterii ‘nana’ rhizome. What we’re talking about here, is an anubias plant with leaves that very closely resemble Anubias barterii ‘coffefolia,’ except the stems are approximately 12+ inches tall.

In the picture, you can see that some of the leaves are growing out of the water. This is in a 54G corner tank that is 24″ tall. That’s one heck of an anubias ‘nana!’ My theory is that some other species of anubias was hitching a ride with his nana plant, and over time, the plant grew to this incredible size. If that’s not the case, then something in his tank must have spurred this mutation. In either case, I promise that I won’t drink the water if I’m ever at Jim’s house!

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North Carolina Bog

March 5th, 2007

Neuse RiverThis weekend, we made a trip down to New Bern, North Carolina to visit family. Since we were blessed with some beautiful 65 degree days, we decided to visit a park on the Neuse River where pine bogs and forest were all around. Of course, I couldn’t resist hiking through the surrounding areas to do some exploring and snap a few pictures.

PennywortWith pine needle litter everywhere, I can only imagine how soft the water must be here. As damp and marshy as this looks, there really was not an unpleasant smell whatsoever. This is why I believe this is a bog, as opposed to a swamp, where water sits, allowing organics to break down and release gases. The bog flowed directly into the Neuse River, where Cypress trees lined the water’s edge. Even despite the lack of summer leaves, the roots and water provided for a very nice landscape. I was hoping to find a few pitcher plants to photograph, but I imagine it is still too soon after the latest frost for

Barnacles

those. I did, however, see quite a few Hydrocotyle vines starting to emerge along the wet ground. I

bet the entire floor will soon be covered with these as the weather warms. One of the neat things about this specific location is that the Neuse River is brackish, so among the freshwater plants and species found in the bog, where the two met you could find more saltwater-related things of interest. There was plenty of barnacle-covered driftwood, mussels, and clam shells populating the sandy beach.Neuse Bog

I hope to get back down to these bogs sometime later in the year when it’s warmer to see the contrast the seasons have on these areas. If anyone has any suggestions for places to go, please comment to let me know!

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