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Scaping with Baliban (Monster 180G Scape)

December 15th, 2009

This weekend, Jason Baliban, award-winning aquascaper and recent judge of the AGA contest, invited a few GWAPA and DVAGA members to his home to aquascape a brand new 180G aquarium. He had obtained the aquarium a few months ago, and spent that time acquiring the materials needed to set it up.

Jason Baliban's 180G

When I arrived, he already had his hardscape setup and ready to go. He had the patience to spend much of the past few months tweaking the hardscape so that it would be perfect. This is always the hardest and most critical element in aquascaping, but as you can see below, the rocks and wood look pretty solid.

Jason Baliban's 180G

One of the goals for this tank was to set it up and let it mature without much regular maintenance. Therefore, he choose to only use four types of easy plants: Needle-Leaf Java Fern, Trident Java Fern, Bolbitis, and Anubias. Due to the very large size of the tank (roughly 6’x2’x2′), he had to amass a significant number of plants.

Plants for Scaping

Since none of these plants were to be rooted in the substrate, he only used pool filter sand as a substrate. Of course, this means that Jason will need to fertilize the aquarium regularly to provide nutrition to the plants. Pretty much all of the plants were positioned in the aquarium by using zip-ties to attach them to rocks, then placing the rocks into the hardscape.

Anubias tied to Rock via Ziptie

Jason placed Anubias in the front of the tank, letting Bolbitis and Java Fern in the background. He decided to leave the wood free of moss, at least for the time-being. We planted the aquarium 100% dry, so the plants needed to be sprayed with a water bottle periodically to prevent them from drying out.

Jason Baliban's 180G

Due to Jason’s great planning and preparation, it probably only took 20-30 minutes to plant the aquarium. You can see below that it looked pretty darn good even without water in the tank.

Jason Baliban's 180G

Filling a tank with 180 gallons of water takes a long time! We sat around talking about plants, aquascaping, and sports while we waited over an hour for the water to reach the rim. Jason was a little worried that the wood might float, so you can see that he weighed down a few pieces with extra rocks to let them saturate with water.

Jason Baliban's 180G

I’m really glad that I was able to make it up to Jason’s house for this aquascaping. As one of the premier aquascapers in the U.S., there’s always something you can learn from him. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a quality person as well! Be sure to pop over to Jason’s website at ProjectAquarium.com to let him know what you think of the scape. (You can leave comments here too.)

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Pelvicachromis pulcher ‘Super Red’ Fry Update

December 12th, 2009

In October, my Pelvicachromis pulcher ‘Super Red’ spawned and I had a whole swarm of little Krib fry swimming around in my 40G farm tank. After only a couple months of paying extra special attention to feeding them, I now have a group of decent sized fish. The largest ones are about 1.5 inches long, with the smallest being about an inch.

Pelvicachromis Pulcher Super Red

The parents have left them to fend for themselves, although so far they are getting along just fine with the parents. I don’t completely know how many young fish I have, however, because they have dispersed throughout the tank, and the only time I ever seen a number of them together is when I’m feeding them. At those times, I’ve counted 7-8 together, but it wouldn’t surprise me to have double that number hiding in the overgrown farm tank.

Pelvicachromis Pulcher Super Red

They have yet to get the brilliant colors that the parents display, but you can definitely tell that they’re kribs now. Small patches of color are starting to show up around the gills and fins. They have the distinctive squat (or maybe pear shaped) body where the belly seems a little bit too big in comparison to the rest of the fish. I’m not able to sex them yet, but I’m never great at that anyways with most fish.

Pelvicachromis Pulcher Super Red

I’m really pleased with how easy these fish have been to keep and raise. The only thing I’m worried about is if the parents spawn again, and decide they don’t want their previous brood around anymore. If I see signs of spawning though, I may pull the parents out to their own tank to do their business.

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50G Aquascape Update

December 9th, 2009

The holiday season has been really busy for me this year, so I haven’t been able to post near as much as I’d normally like to. Nevertheless, I did want to update everyone on the one aquascape that seems to be progressing along pretty well — my 50G Blyxa scape. I haven’t posted about this tank in almost three months, so if you were to look back at the last picture, just after rescaping, you’ll see that the Blyxa japonica has really taken over the scene, maybe too much so.

50G Aquascape - 12-9-2009

50G - 12/09/2009 (Click for larger image)

New additions to this aquarium include a colony of Apistogramma baenschi ‘Inka 50’, who I am hoping will breed. Speaking of breeding, the group of bristlenosed plecos have burrowed out a hole under the rock on the left side of the tank where there’s no hairgrass, and have already spawned once. The little black specks on the right wall of the aquarium are the baby plecos hanging out. They’ve survived for over a month now, so I’m hopeful that they’ll continue to grow to adulthood. Besides taming the monstrous Blyxa japonica, please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement!

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