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GWAPA Meeting: April 2012

May 3rd, 2012

Last Saturday, Viktor hosted GWAPA’s April meeting. Viktor has a half dozen aquariums in his apartment, all of which are beautifully planted. We show tank is a 6 foot, 120+ gallon aquarium with a soil substrate that is thick with Cryptocoryne and several other easier plants.

Viktor's 120g

I always look forward to meetings at Viktor’s house because he is constantly adding new and interesting fish to his tanks. The fish that I now want the most is a hovering loach that stays about 1.5″ long and has vertical stripes on the body.

Amano Shrimp

Viktor’s 75G was lush with plants planted more Dutch style, without many hardscape items. The plants are all extremely heathly, and his tank are fairly low maintenance with soil substrates.

Viktor's 75g

He has another 75G rainbowfish tank with some old M. bosemanii rainbowish that are stunning. Given the cover of Val. nana, the rainbowfish streaked from end to end of the aquarium showing great coloration.

Viktor's 75g

After viewing the aquariums for awhile, Cavan Allen talked about plants from the Eriocaulaceae family, describing several plants that are not yet in the hobby. We had a good sized auction with rare plants that rival any club in the country. Yet another good GWAPA meeting!

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GWAPA – February 2012 Meeting

February 27th, 2012

On Saturday, Judi hosted GWAPA’s February 2012 meeting on Amano-style/Nature Aquarium Style aquascaping. I gave the presentation, and had a pretty decent turn-out of 20-25 folks show up, including several new members. We had a lot going on at this meeting, as members picked up fish/inverts from a group buy from MsJinkzd.com, Cavan Allen debuted our first “plant of the month” talk with a 5-10 minute introduction to Eriocaulon compressum, and we announced the rules for GWAPA’s member-only aquascaping contest.

Judi's 2.5G Aquarium

Judi's 2.5G Aquarium

This year, GWAPA members voted to require all submissions to our contest be in the Nature Aquarium Style, excluding Iwagumi. Last year, we had a fun contest with similar requirements for Dutch aquascapes. You can see last year’s winning tank online at GWAPA’s website.

Judi's 2.5G Aquarium

Judi's Other 2.5G Aquarium

Judi has an assortment of tanks scattered through-out her house, which made going from room-to-room a lot of fun. In the kitchen, she has two 2.5G aquariums side-by-side with very nice nano-scapes going on.

Judi's Tank

Judi's Aquascape with Cryptocoryne nurii

In the dining room, she had a 30G (I think) aquarium with some of the nicest looking Cryptocoryne nurii I have ever seen. At first glance, I thought it was a batch of C. wendtii, but the leaf pattern on C. nurii is unmistakable. The foreground is Eleocharis sp. ‘Belem’, with lots of Anubias, Hygrophila pinnatifida, and a few other stems throughout. Overall, it was a great way to spend a chilly and windy February afternoon.


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GWAPA’s January Visit to Amazonia Exhibit

February 7th, 2012

At the end of January, GWAPA members were treated with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Amazonia Exhibit at the National Zoo. Below are pictures from that tour:

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GWAPA: Ghazanfar’s 90-P

January 30th, 2011

Ghazanfar Ghori hosted GWAPA’s January meeting last weekend, and I wanted to share a fantastic video that our recording secretary took of Ghazanfar’s 90-P aquarium and aquascape. The wood in this aquascape is a special wood from Southeast Asia that maintains its bark underwater without releasing too many tannins. He complements the detail in the wood with lots of Riccardia chamedryfolia (Mini Pelia) , Fissidens moss, Bolbitus, and Anubias barterii var. ‘nana’. The foreground is a very shallow layer of pool filter sand, with ADA Aquasoil in the background to provide nutrition to the plants. Check it out!

Ghazanfar's ADA 90-p

For more information about this tank, and the rest of the meeting, please see GWAPA’s website.

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GWAPA: Hardscaping Workshop

April 6th, 2010

A couple weekends ago, GWAPA, our local aquatic plant club, held its first ever hardscaping workshop for its members. Twenty-ten is the year of the aquascape in GWAPA, as we are doing a whole series of meetings stepping thru the ins-and-outs of aquascaping, culminating in an aquascaping contest. The first meeting in this series was about setting up the hardscape (rocks/wood).

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

The club provided buckets of rocks and a large box of manzanita so that our members could get their hands dirty in several 10G aquariums we had setup. The idea was to provide the materials for folks to be creative, while having more experienced aquascapers in the room to assist and give pointers.

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

I had the privilege of doing a short presentation at the beginning of the meeting, where I showcased a number of award-winning aquascapes and pointed out how the hardscape was the foundation for why they were successful.

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

Our members produced a variety of different hardscapes. Some were rockscapes like the one above, using locally collected slate.

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

Others decided to mix manzanita and slate in their tanks. It’s not hard to figure out where this member would have planted this hardscape, leaving a path down the middle.

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

I was happy to see lots of collaboration among members when working on their hardscapes. Personally, I’ve found it very beneficial to aquascape by committee so because other folks can point out potential pitfalls that I would have otherwise missed.

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

In addition to the slate, we also had some locally collected quartz-based rock, which looks very nice in an aquascape with a bright sand foreground.

GWAPA Hardscaping Workshop

In the end, we auctioned off all of the manzanita and aquariums at reasonable prices. The auction itself was pretty sizable, and overall, I think the workshop was a success. Has your club ever done anything like this? I’d love to hear other similar types of experiences in the comments…

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Paul’s 90G Updated Aquascape

March 23rd, 2010

Last fall, a couple GWAPA members got together at Paul’s house to help him aquascape his 90G aquarium. To remind you, just after planting, the new aquascape looked like this below. Obviously, the initial planting did not feature many stems in the background.

Paul's 90G - Aquascape Just Planted

Just after planting...

Now, several month later, the tank has really grown in. Paul made a few minor adjustments to the original placement of the wood in the aquarium, which I think now looks better than one day one. The foreground is growing in very nicely, and the Sagittaria subulata in the middle background is adding a very nice jungle look. The Cryptocoryne looks especially healthy in this aquarium.

Paul's 90G Aquarium


I think the hardscape, foreground, and mid-ground look pretty good. The background looks good, but I probably took the picture about a week past its prime. I think that when Paul trims the stem plants, and they grow back up to about 3-4 inches above the tallest rock, it’ll be perfect. What does everyone else think of this aquascape? I will pass any comments onto Paul…

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GWAPA: January 2010 Meeting

February 4th, 2010

Two weekends ago, GWAPA hosted its first meeting for the year at our member Ghazanfar’s house. Ghazanfar is an accomplished aquascaper, and had a fantastic aquascape on display in his ADA 90P aquarium. He also has an extensive emersed setup, with several racks of 40G breeder tanks filled with various Cryptocoryne and similar plants. In the past I’ve always marveled at his huge 210G in-wall aquarium, with automatic water changes, metal halides, and a nice aquascape, but this meeting everyone was glued to his 90P.

Ghazanfar's 90P

Ghazanfar's 90P - Photo By Jim Michaels

The actual topic of the meeting was about growing aquatic plants in tissue culture. Ghazanfar showed us some jars of various Cryptocoryne that he has started to produce via tissue culture techniques. Doing this allows you to preserve and propagate large quantities of genetically identical plants, which could otherwise take much more time and space using traditional growing methods. We ended our meeting, as always, with an auction full of aquatic plants.

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Rico’s New Aquascape

January 11th, 2010

On Saturday, a fellow GWAPA member, Rico, invited a few of us over to help him aquascape a new 75G aquarium that he had just bought. Originally, we were going to aquascape his 90G aquarium, but a leak developed in that tank, and he had to replace it with the 75G. My friend Cavan and I showed up mid-afternoon and helped Rico finish transferring stuff out of his 90G, bring in the the new 75G, and off we went. Rico had some manzanita wood and dark river rocks to use as hardscape items.

Rico's Tank

It took us a little while to figure out what direction we would take with the hardscape material at hand. The problem we originally ran into was figuring out how to get enough height in the hardscape, but we ultimately discovered the right combination of manzanita branches, zip-tied them together, and solved that problem. After the wood was in place, we filled in underneath it with the river rocks. Never having scaped with river rocks before, I wasn’t exactly sure how it would turn out, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The rocks match Flourite Black Sand almost perfectly!

Rico's Tank

For plants, we used Ranalisma rostrata in the foreground, which should fill in as a nice short grassy lawn. In the mid-ground, we used Blyxa japonica and Hygrophila sp. ‘Kompackt’. As a transition plant between the foreground and mid-ground, we used Staurogyne sp. ‘Porta Vehlo’. Finally, in the background, we used Blyxa aubertii and a broad-leafed Sagittaria species. Ultimately, I hope Rico will remove the Sagittaria altogether and replace it with just Blyxa aubertii, but we didn’t have enough of that plant to do it in the beginning. Finally, for a little bit of color, Rico had some stems of Limnophila aromatica, which aren’t visible in the picture, but should be very nice to the right of the B. aubertii on the left.

Above is the picture a few hours later after Rico filled it up and added back in the fish. Please ignore the three rocks placed on top of the manzanita to keep it from floating — those will be removed in a few days after the wood is waterlogged. So, how did we do? Comments/suggestions welcome!

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Aquafest 2009 – Aquascaping Challenge!

October 19th, 2009

I haven’t posted in a long time, largely because I’ve been incredibly busy preparing for Aquafest 2009 in Laurel, MD. As president of GWAPA, one of the three clubs hosting the convention, there was plenty to do, but after a blur of a weekend, I think the convention was a success. Thanks to all of the sponsors, attendees, and volunteers who helped us pull it off! The main event that I was responsible for was the aquascaping challenge between Jason Baliban, our speaker, and Jeff Ucciardo, GWAPA’s vice president.

Aquascaping Challenge

We spent the hour prior to the event sorting a mass of materials into two equal piles so that Jeff and Jason would start on a completely level playing field. Above is some of the manzanita wood that we got from Manzanita.com to use in the scapes. Jason got off to a quick start, putting in the white pool filter sand, developing a hardscape, and topping it off with some Aquasoil.

Aquascaping Challenge

Jeff took a little bit of time to plan his scape, but was right behind Jason once he got his hardscape placed. Jason chose to extend the white sand all the way from front to back, while Jeff kept the sand confined to the foreground. Both competitors divided the tank into two mounds, one larger than the other.

Aquascaping Challenge

In the end, both Jason and Jeff finished before the hour was up, which is quite impressive given the amount of time I usually spend working on an aquascape. Below is Jason’s finished scape from the side. The judges liked the rockwork in his scape, as well as the use of manzanita to provide flow to the layout.

Jason Baliban's Scape

However, the judges thought he could have filled in the scape with more plants than he did, but recognized that it should fill in nicely once it grows in. The tanks themselves are very nice, being a first look at Aquarium Design Group’s own line of rimless aquariums. They are 24″x16″x16″ and Catalina Aquarium donated a pair of HO-T5 lights to go with them.

Jason Baliban's Scape

Jeff’s finished aquascape is below, and as you can see, he did a very nice job filling in the scape with plants from the get-go. The judges took off points for his hardscape saying that it got lost in the plants.

Jeff Ucciardo's Scape

They also wondered why he didn’t extend the white sand front to back between the two mounds. Ultimately, we ended up being able to exhibit two very nice scapes, especially considering that they were completed in an hours’ time frame. The judges gave a slight nod to Jason’s scape, but explained to the audience what they liked and disliked about each.

Jeff Ucciardo's Scape

Also, during the whole hour, I gave a mini presentation about Aquascaping in general. We wanted to avoid folks from getting bored while the planting was going on, so I fielded a number of questions keeping the competitors from having to. Our A/V team also did a great job projecting the two tanks live onto two large screens so that everyone could see what was going on. Overall, the event was a success!

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Helping a Friend Rescape

September 1st, 2009

This weekend, myself and another GWAPA member helped a third GWAPA member, Paul, rescape his 90G aquarium. Paul has been in the club for awhile, but wanted to make an earnest foray into the high-tech world of aquascaping. He has a nice T5 fixture on order, CO2 rigged up, and replaced his old gravel mixture with several bags of Eco-Complete.

Paul's 90G - Rockscape

It took us longer than you would think to place eight rocks in the aquarium. We added a rock, stood back and looked, gave directions to the person closest to the tank to move a rock a little to the right or left, and ultimately ended up with the rockscape you see above. You can see a little bit of crayon on the front of the glass because we drew a very minor sketch on the tank beforehand. The crayon wipes right off.

Paul's 90G - Hardscape

After setting our rockscape, we added another two bags of Eco-Complete to mound up on both sides. Then, we added in a few manzanita branches that Paul wanted to use in the scape. After doing this, we were ready to start scaping. We wanted to to keep a relatively simple plant arrangement for the time-being, so we used a number of lower-maintenance plants, with a couple stems thrown in.

Paul's 90G - Aquascape Just Planted

We used Sagittaria subulata and a short Lilaeopsis species in the foreground, with Lobelia cardinalis and Crytocoryne wendtii in the midground, and on the right side background. There’s Echinodorus sp. ‘Vesuvius’ and Ludwigia inclinata var. verticillata ‘Cuba’ in the left background. Overall, I think we were all pretty happy with the scape. Obviously, it needs to do a lot of growing in, but it should fill out nicely. It’s definitely a lot of fun to aquascape with other people!

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