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Swallow Falls State Park

November 18th, 2015

Over the weekend, we visited Swallow Falls State Park in Garrett County Maryland. The park features a wonderful 1.5 mile trail that follows along the Youghiogheny River and Muddy Creek, which are two beautiful white water waterways. It is also one of the few old growth hemlock forests in the area.

Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls itself is actually not a huge waterfall. Seen above, it’s a still beautiful, but the rock formation to the right is really the more impressive feature.

Swallow Falls

This rock formation reminds me of the sea stacks on the west coast of the U.S. Seen below, it really does stand alone will years of geologic layers of earth and rock visible.

Rock Outcrop

These layers are actually present throughout the park, where huge rocks are haphazardly stack upon one another in layers that resemble many stone walls (or cichlid walls for fish fans) that people put together.

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From the top of the falls, there are good views of the river downstream.

Top of Swallow Falls

The trial has beautiful vistas of forest and rock away from the river as well, featuring ferns and moss under the hemlock canopy. Like the sea stack, this reminds me of the Olympic National Forest in Washington, just with less moss and ferns due to vast differences in annual rainfall.

Swallow Falls State Park

Finally, despite the name of the park featuring Swallow Falls, the largest waterfall in the park (and in Maryland) is on the same trail just upstream from where Muddy Creek and the Youghiogheny River meet. Muddy Falls is impressive, falling 53 feet to a deep lagoon, surrounded by the same massive rock walls.

Muddy Creek Falls

I’d recommend this park highly. It’s not a severely technical or long trail, but there is a lot of beauty and exploration to be had in a small area. Muddy Creek is also handicap accessible via a wooden boardwalk and scenic overlook down on the falls.




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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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RIP Takashi Amano

August 6th, 2015

Words cannot describe the loss the planted aquarium community has suffered this week with the passing of Takashi Amano. He was a force in the hobby, and his Nature Aquarium series of books were my own personal inspiration for getting into aquatic plants and aquascaping. I had the pleasure to meet him at the 2004 and 2008 Aquatic Gardener’s Association conventions, and he had a presence about him that commanded respect, but as the picture below illustrates, he wasn’t afraid to have fun as well. We should all continue aquascaping in his memory. Rest in peace, Mr. Amano.

Takashi Amano and Me, 2008 AGA Convention in Atlanta

Takashi Amano and Me, 2008 AGA Convention in Atlanta

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Update on 33g Aquascape

July 3rd, 2015

I planted the 33g tank a few weeks ago, and it’s been growing in slowly. I used mostly Staurogyne ‘Porto Vehlo’, Juncus repens, and Rotala rotundifolia.

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The wood has pieces of Weeping Moss attached, and I’ve wedged some clumps of Riccia fluitans in-between the rocks and wood. Don’t mind the huge clump on moss in the upper left corner, that’s just temporarily. Comments welcome!

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New Addition to Pond

May 31st, 2015

This weekend I added capacity to my raised brick pond. I had been toying with the idea for years of adding a container above the pond that would circulate water back into it. Here’s what I ended up with:

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New whiskey barrel above pond

I found a fake resin whiskey barrel at Costco, and drilled it in three places to install bulkheads. I have a more decorative spout on the side, and an input line directly in the center that feeds water from the pond through a fountain head, and into the barrel. As an extra safety, I also installed a standpipe to handle any overflow situations.

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The pump in my pond is pretty strong so it turns out that the standpipe is the main outlet for water leaving the barrel. I made sure to use twice the diameter piping and tubing so it can handle a lot of outflow.

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As you can see above the water returns via a hose and the faucet. On the pond side, I had to install a bulkhead to allow me to plumb a simple elbow up into the bottom of the barrel. I also installed a ball valve allowing me to regulate the flow into the barrel if need be.

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Right now I’m just floating from Acmella repens which I hope will trail over the side of the container. I also dropped in an iris. I’d love to hear feedback, particularly on the plumbing as I’ve never done this before and would love to avoid any obvious problems going forward.

Oh, and in the pond, I’m keeping Vietnamese White Clouds and Endlers this year.

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EcoQube C: New AquaPonics Filter on KickStarter

April 7th, 2015

ecoqube-c-kickerstarter

Aquarium Design Innovations is out with a new iteration of their EcoQube line, the EcoQube C, a desktop ecosystem that uses basil to filter the water. And for a very short time, they’re offering early backers of their kickstarter compaign the EcoQube C for just $39 — that’s half of their normal $79 retail price!

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The desktop aquarium is designed to be a complete ecosystem for your home or office. The basil filter removes waste from the fish, a UV lamp sterilizes the water, and a full-spectrum LED keeps all of the plants growing. Compared to a normal filtration cycle that uses bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrate, which can then cause algae growth, the EcoQube’s filter uses basil to remove the nitrate altogether.

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ADI’s goal is simple:

“Aquaponics is a clear solution to address many issues of water and food shortages all over the world and we hope the EcoQube can help bring this incredible yet simple solution into our everyday lives and influence the way we perceive the larger issues in the world today. We know there are these horrific things happening but we’ve been so disconnected with our environment and the negative impacts we make with our everyday decisions.”

Kickstarter is all about backers – the more backers ADI gets on the first day, the more it will help them reach their goal. So even if you don’t want an EcoQube of your own, but you support ADI and their mission, donating $1 will help them tremendously. So please go to their campaign and back them!

Learn more about the EcoQube C at www.aquaponicsfilter.com

Support ADI by backing their kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kevinzl/1902509544?token=c8c86f74

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Aquavas Updated Photo

March 7th, 2015

Here’s an updated photo of my Aquavas aquarium after doing some trimming and a water change today.

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Interview on Home Aquaria

March 1st, 2015

I was recently interviewed on HomeAquaria.com, and my recent AquaVas blog was reposted there. Take a moment to check it out!

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Making of Aquavas Aquascape

December 25th, 2014

I posted a picture of my latest aquascape in the Aquavas aquarium recently. I want to walk through how the scape came together.

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The hardscape consists of two large pieces of spiderwood and several locally collected rocks made up of quartz and slate. The substrate is from Mr.  Aqua and pool filter sand in front.

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I used a selection of Aqvainnova plants that I got in Chicago at Aquatic Experience. These are beautiful plants, some still in tissue culture and others were already transitioned to nursery growth.

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I used some beautiful Elatine hydropiper in the front areas under the spiderwood overhang. Otherwise, several different Cryptocoryne species were planted.

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I also used a super glue gel to attach Anubias barterii ‘nana’ directly to the wood.

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After everything was planted, I filled it up, but did have to place some temporary rocks on top of the wood to keep it from floating up.

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Later I tied some weeping moss to the wood to soften it a bit more.
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Finally, you can see what the scape looks like several weeks later. It’ll still be several more weeks before it’s grown in. I’m also not settled on keeping the Hygrophila corymbosa angustifolia long term.

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Comments / thoughts welcome!

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Bermuda Scape Today

January 20th, 2014

I took an updated picture this weekend of my Bermuda inspired aquascape. The sand foreground is virtually nonexistent, but it’s still quite lush.

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33g Today

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