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New Aquascape in Aquavas Tank

January 26th, 2016

During my winter break I rescaped my Aquavas aquarium that previously been setup for over a year. Below is the new scape, utilizing lots of spiderwood and dragonstone. It’s a pretty simple scape in terms of plants, using mostly weeping moss, Anubias barteri var. nana, Hygrophila corymbosa ‘Angustifolia’, and some crypts.

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The old scape used pretty much the same plants, but had become very overgrown with moss and I was ready for a change.

Aquavas Aquascape

The biggest challenge in the new scape is the darker area created under the branches. I like the intrigue that this area creates, but it definitely makes it more difficult to photograph. The fish, just a few cardinal tetras, usually like to hang out there, however. I still need the Hygrophila to grow in more in the back left and perhaps get a bit more moss established on the wood. Comments/critiques welcome!




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120G Aquascape

December 10th, 2015

My 120G aquascape is growing in nicely! The wood has finally sunked after a couple of months, and the mounds are filling in the gaps between the various pieces of Rosewood. I’m happy with the jungle effect in this tank, with most of the species of plants intermixed throughout each other. I will need to be diligent to keep the Hygrophila pinnatifida from throwing out runners that consume everything, however.

120g - December 9, 2015

The Stuarogyne ‘Bihar’ is another plant that could easily take over the scape. I may pull it out, anyways, opting for more Ludwigia ‘Cuba,’ but I haven’t fully made that decision yet. Comments/critiques welcome!

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Rachel O’Leary Visits My Fishroom

October 29th, 2015

Rachel O’Leary of Invertebrates by MsJinkzd spoke at the GWAPA meeting I hosted this weekend. She put together a nice tour of my fishroom for her popular Youtube channel.

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It’s a About Perspective…

September 9th, 2015

I did a photoshoot of my 33g this weekend. Normally, I pull out my go-to 24-70mm lens for the majority of my shots, but unfortunately, this weekend that lens was in the shop, necessitating that I experiment with some other options. In doing so, I was amazed at how the exact same aquascape can look radically different based on the focal length of the lens used to shoot it.

33G - 11mm

33G Aquascape – Photographed with 11mm lens

Take the first shot above as an example. This was start with a super wide-angle lens at just 11mm. Of all of the shots, I love how dramatic it makes the hill look, with so much depth it’s amazing. However, if you submitted this to an aquascaping contest, you’d likely get points knocked off for too much distortion. Just look at the silicon line on the back left — it’s not even remotely a straight line like it should be.

33G - 13mm

33G Aquascape – Photographed with 13mm lens

Dialing it back a bit only 2mm to 13mm makes a lot of difference. You can see the distortion is not quite so profound, albeit still present, and the warping of the hill itself is less so. Whether or not this is a good thing or not is up to you.

33G - 17mm

33G Aquascape – Photographed with 17mm lens

Now, jumping to 17mm the lines are much more natural but you still get a good amount of depth. Notice how there’s less and less reflection as the angle gets narrower. In the first shot, you get nearly the entire grouping of Rotala rotundifolia whereas as 17mm we only see the tops.

33G - 50mm

33G Aquascape – Photographed with 50mm lens

Finally, jumping all the way up to 50mm it almost looks like a totally different aquascape compared to the 11mm shot. There’s barely a foreground to speak of and the mound itself is compressed. The lack of depth is profound. This further demonstrates how important the photography aspect of aquascaping to ensure that you’re capturing the right version of the scape that you want to share with the world. I’d be very interested to hear what you’re personal favorite is of the photos above in the comment section.

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33G – Coming into Shape…

July 16th, 2015

I snapped another quick photo of my 33G aquarium this week, and wanted to share. As you can see, the Rotala rotundifolia is growing in, as are all of the other plants. The Riccia is staying put, although I’m not 100% sold on its placement. Ignore the moss ball in the upper-left — I’m just stashing a mound of weeping moss there temporarily. Comments welcome!

33G - June 13, 2015

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Aquatic Experience Aquascaping Live Contest

November 13th, 2014

Last weekend, I attended the Aquatic Experience show in Chicago as a participant in the Aquascaping Live contest. My local aquatic plant club, GWAPA, sent two teams totaling seven people to participate in the 75G large tank competition. We were extremely fortunate to take the first and second place positions in the contest.

GWAPA Team 2

The first place went to a GWAPA team led by Jen Williams, a rising aquascaping talent in the hobby. She also won 1st place in the small tank contest. Jen and her team mates, Arlene Wagner, Nick Kinser, and Cristy Keister did an excellent job putting together a very nice rockscape. Jen pioneered a technique using the Great Stuff foam used for filling drafty doorframes to fuse the rocks in this scape together so that they could be transported in three distinct blocks. I’m happy and humbled by their scape.

GWAPA Team 1

My team won second place with the scape above. Aaron Talbot, Cavan Allen, and I worked together on this aquascape about 3 months prior to the contest. The rocks are a quartz-based rock that we sourced locally. I would have liked more small form Bolbitus so that the tall one wasn’t necessary, but overall we’re very happy with the scape.

Texas Team

Next, a team from Texas put together this beautiul aquascape using manzanita. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture following the completion of their scape, as they had several issues with plants and materials not arriving on time to the hotel, but the finished scape was about the same but with white sand on the right side. Had they not suffered this setback, I’m sure they would have assembled an even nicer result. What they put together was pretty nice!

Chicago Team

Finally, a local Chicago team put together this last aquascape. They did a nice job and prominently used one of my favorite plants, Blyxa japonica. 

This was the first year the AGA conducted this competition in conjunction with the Aquatic Experience show. I hope that more teams will compete in next year’s contest so that we can continue to grow the aquascaping hobby in the U.S.

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33G and 50G Updates

July 28th, 2014

I previously posted pictures of my 33G and 50G aquascapes. Both are growing in pretty nicely. The 50G started to get some BBA on the wood, but a combination of peroxide treatment and adding additional algae eaters seems to have eliminated most of that problem. It did, however, harm some of the foreground Monte Carlo plant, slowing it’s growth. I’m sure that it will rebound.

50G - July 28, 2014 Update

I’m still figuring out the exact amounts to dose this aquarium, slowly increasing the dosage as the plants have been growing in. The LED lights are quite bright and are actually dialed back slightly to slow things down.

33G Update - Two Weeks In

Two weeks in, the 33G cube (above) is doing okay as well. I have been getting some algae on the Blyxa japonica especially, but I think that it’s just a matter of all of the bacterial colonies stabilizing to help me with some of the organics. The foreground is starting to grow, but definitely has a ways to go. The most prolific plant thus far is the North American native, Heteranthera dubia, which is growing up behind the peak of the hill. Comments/critiques welcome!

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33G New Aquascape

July 13th, 2014

This weekend I rescaped another one of my aquariums, the 33g cube. Previously, this tank had several iterations of my Bermuda-inspired aquascape. This time, I wanted to reuse some Africa Bogwood that’s been sitting idle for awhile. This wood is pretty chunky, but it sinks well, mosses attach to it well, and it stacks nicely without too many obvious gaps. As proof, you hopefully can’t tell that there are actually about a dozen different pieces of wood in the new scape that are woven together with the intention of making it look like one comprehensive stump.
33g New Aquascape

In terms of plants, I reused most of the plants that I had in the previous aquascape. In the foreground/midground, I have Micrantherum umbrosum “monte carlo”, Staurogyne ‘Porto Velho’, Ludwigia sphaerocarpa, and Riccardia chamedryfolia. Surrounding the wood I use Blyxa japonica, and in the background there’s a mismatch of Syngonanthus ‘Madiera’ and ‘Belem’, Ludwigia simpsonii, Ludwigia octovalvis, and Dioda virginiania. Once the stems are more visible I’ll pick which ones I’m actually going to keep. The fish are the same that have been in there for awhile, highlighted by the trio of blackbanded sunfish. Comments/suggestions welcome!

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50G Aquascape

June 7th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I rescaped my 50G aquarium and setup a new scape with some new Rosewood and Activ-Flora substrate — two things I’ve never used before. The Activ-Flora substrate is chose is a mix of their Floragems and Lakegems varieties, which basically look like river pebbles. I used a quartz-based rock that was locally collected that has slate and other veins marbled through it.

50G Aquascape

The rosewood is a very unique wood that branches in many different directions. Most of the branching is actually root material. It floats initially so I needed to weigh down my pieces for about a week, and the wood went through the normal fungus phase which was quickly consumed by snails. I did get some brown algae that I remedied by blasting the tank with 6 different powerheads and some extra filtration to clear it. Currently, I think the scape is a bit too bright due to the substrate, but I’m hoping that once the Monty-Carlo foreground grows in, it will look better. I may need to adjust the heights on the rosewood pieces to create a bit more distinction and visual pathways. At this point, however, I’m happy to just get the plants growing and algae-free. Comments welcome!

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75G: Rescape

November 19th, 2013

This week I rescaped my 75G angelfish aquarium. I wanted to open up the tank a little bit, while still preserving some of the classic anglefish biotypes by including sword plants as key focal points to the scape. I reused several plants from the previous scape, namely the Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia and Anubias barteri var. ‘nana petite’.
75G - Nov 2013 Rescape

This is the first aquascape that I’ve done using Brightwell Aquatic’s FlorinVolcanit substrate. I completely emptied the aquarium of all of the previous substrate, leaving only the eggcrate to prevent rocks from directly contacting the glass bottom.

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Then, I placed the hardscape into the aquarium. I choose to use several pieces of manzanita laying over quartz/slate rock, to simulate a fallen branch in the river, wedge between a rocky riverbank. I wanted to simulate a stream bed where the dying tree branches gave life to other aquatic plants, namely the Kleiner Prinz Sword plants.

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Lastly, I filled in the foreground with white pool filter sand. I did plant some Staurogyne sp. ‘Porto Velho’ in the sand that I hope will break it up a bit, but hope to keep most of the plain foreground intact, as it provides a nice contrast to the darker wood. Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing how this new aquascape progresses as the plants grow in. Comments welcome!

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