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Bermuda Home Show

May 4th, 2013

Recently, I was honored to be invited by the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society to speak to their club about planted aquariums and judge their home show. On Friday evening, I gave a presentation on keeping planted aquariums and the basics of aquascaping. Then, on Sunday, I went house-to-house with several members to judge their home show. In their home show, they have two categories: designer tanks and planted aquariums.

Sinder's Design Tank

The tank above is Sinder’s aquarium, who is a teenager that is wonderfully inspired by aquarium keeping. He entered two tanks and this is his designer tank. I like the idea behind the hardscape, and but thought that overall it just needed a little more growth and polish.

Michele's Design Tank

Michelle had a very nice Anubias tank that flowed very nicely from one side to the other. Overall I liked the tank, but was hoping for a small amount of intrigue from a background or from some pieces of wood jutting from the main section.

Nyon's Design Tank

Nyon won the designer category with his aquarium. He had several pieces of driftwood suspended and hanging into the aquarium. He had incorporated some Amazon Swords to add a splash of greenery to the tank, which I liked.

Sinder's Planted Aquarium

On the planted aquarium side, Sinder had a very nice Aponogeton 10G aquarium that included mostly South American fish and represented a nice biotope-style aquarium.

Scott's Planted Aquarium

Scott had a beautiful cluster of Cryptocoryne wendtii in his 75G aquarium. He had started to planted dwarf sag across the foreground, but it hadn’t really filled in yet. The plants looked very nice though, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finish aquascape once everything grows in.

David's Planted Aquarium

David had a 180G aquarium in his kitchen with and really nice hardsacpe in place. He used lacerock, mixed with wood to a simple minimalist scape using just C. wendtii, Val, C. lutea, and some Anubias. It is a stunning aquarium to sit in front of, and had a lot of activity going on from a nice selection of fauna.

Robert's Planted Aquarium

Overall, I judged Robert’s 75G aquarium to be the winner. He had really nice plants, and while he did had some wood in the tank, he basically pulled off a nice planted aquarium without much hardscape visible. The Marsilea still needs to fill in a little bit in the foregroundbut his plants were not showing any deficiencies, and he had them nicely groomed. I had a wonderful time in Bermuda mingling with the local aquarium-keepers, and was very encouraged by the planted aquarium talent present on the island.

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50g Rescape

March 25th, 2013

After looking at an overgrown mess for several weeks, I broke down and spent the day on Sunday rescaping my 50g aquarium. I emptied everything from the tank, but the substrate, including dozens of bristlenosed plecos. I overturned one of the previous pieces of wood, and saw probably a hundred baby plecos scurrying everywhere. It probably took me an extra 30 minutes to pull all of those tiny 1/2″ fry from the tank.

50g Hardscape for Rescape

I recently bought a large amount of Malaysian driftwood from a local store, and wanted to use some of those pieces in this aquascape. I was looking to recreate the base of a tree submerged in the water. I don’t know if the above hardscape is exactly that, but I did create three distinct lanes running from left to right; one on the left behind the centerpiece, the center lane, and another that goes behind the large piece on the right. In addition, knowing that I would put dozens of plecos back into this tank, I chose pieces of wood that have caves or crevices that I hope they’ll occupy. Some always insist on digging underneath the wood!

50g Rescape

Next, I replanted the tank using most of the same plants that I had in previously. All throughout the tank is Ranalisma rostrata, with Hygrophila pinnatifida both used as stems and attached fern-like plants on the wood itself. I used some Staurogyne sp. to help add some more intrigue throughout the Ranalisma, along with Hygrophila sp. ‘Araguaia’. I still need to add some mosses to the wood, particularly the center piece that has a visible sawed off area. I will post updated shots once the tank completely clears. Initial comments/critiques welcome!

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Bookshelf and 33g Aquascape Updates

February 27th, 2013

I snapped a few pictures before feeding the fish today. The Bookshelf tank is basically filled in. I’m starting to get a little bit of algae in this tank, but the combination of shrimp/baby bristlenose are keeping the problem at bay. If anyone has found a good solution for getting consistent and constant water circulation in a tank of this dimension, please comment below.

Bookshelf Tank Update

The 33g tank has exploded in growth. I was suffering from a terrible spirogyra outbreak, but managed to successfully eradicate that with AlgaeFix. I am not usually a proponent of chemical solutions, but the infestation was bad enough, and this tank does not have any invertebrates, so I decided to drop the bomb. I’m wary of any product that lists its ingredients as known carcinogens, therefore, during treatment and for several water changes later, I took extra effort to avoid any physical contact with water from this tank.

33g Update

 

The only issue I’m having now is some green spot on the glass. I’ve adjusted my phosphate dosing upwards to address this issue. Otherwise, I’ve added a dozen black-neon-tetras which hang out in the open. I’ve noticed that they seem to have calmed down the sunfish some, so they are out in the open more as well, which is a nice development. Comments/critiques welcome!

Dungeon Striker
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How-to: Moving Aquariums During a House Move

February 24th, 2013

I’m happy to post a how-to article from a guest author, Ricky Peterson. Ricky is a fish lover and a writer; he also loves the sea, travelling, and he writes for Swallow Aquatics, who sell aquarium & tropical fish supplies in the United Kingdom.


As an aquarium owner, moving house isn’t something that you are likely to look forward to. It is certainly tempting to stay put and just avoid the hassle. Moving a fish into the next room is stressful enough!

Unfortunately moving home is often necessary; so how can you do it as stress-free as possible?

It will take some preparation, but with the right approach there is no reason why you can’t take your fish with you wherever you may be going…

How To Prepare For The Big Move

There are two sets of things you need to move:

  • Your fish tank (plus accessories)
  • The actual fish

Moving the whole lot at once isn’t sensible, so you are going to need a spare tank to store your fish in while you arrange to move everything.

A hospital tank or a quarantine tank would be ideal, but as an alternative, any large see-through plastic tubs will suffice just so-long as they have tight-fitting and secure lids.

Top Tip:
If your fish are going to be spending much time in these temporary tanks, you may need to set up some aeration to keep them healthy in the mean-time. You can rig up a simple aeration system using a battery-powered pump and some plastic aquarium tubing which will suffice for a couple of days.

Timing The Move

If possible, move the fish last so that they spend as little time as possible in their make-shift accommodation. The less time they spend out of their home the less stressed they will be.

While they are waiting to be moved, make sure to keep your fish away from any noise or dust. Also, make sure those lids are secure (to keep the fish in and anything else out!)

The commotion of moving can easily cause undue stress to your fish, so planning ahead and having somewhere safe to keep them is essential.

Draining The Tank

Many aquarium owners will simply pour away the old aquarium water, but this is a mistake. This is the water that your fish are acclimated to — with its specific balance of chemicals, PH, bacteria, etc…

Try to keep as much water as you can. Some of it can be used to house the fish while they are in their temporary tanks and the rest can be stored in any suitable, clean containers that you have available (such as a few thoroughly rinsed out water bottles or 5 gallon buckets).

Drained Aquarium

Drained Aquarium

Keep the substrate from the tank a little wet and store it securely. The substrate contains a wealth of essential bacteria and preserving these will help the whole tank to spring back to life when you put it all back together.

The Actual Move

Moving the tank is actually the easy part, after-all it’s just a glass box. Wrap the tank as carefully as possible so that it doesn’t get damaged in transit.

Any decorations can be rinsed-off and dried; this will generally be anything man-made (hardscape items and the like).

Remember that some items need to be kept in water. Biological filtration systems contain micro-organisms and bacteria and if allowed to dry they will stop working. Live plants will also need to be kept in water of course, otherwise they will die.

Moving The Fish

Moving the fish is probably the most stressful part of the process and unfortunately there isn’t a lot that can be done to make it easier on them.

If possible, transport the fish in your car with a passenger to keep them secure. Before you leave, double check those lids and make sure they are secure.

A loose lid and a sudden bump can cause things to splash out of the tubs, so be vigilant and drive carefully. If you have a long journey, plan to make some stops along the way and take your time.

Setting It All Up – Again

Your first priority after the move is to get the tank set up again. Don’t put the fish back in yet, just put the substrate back in along with the water (and top up if necessary), plants and filters etc…

Once set-up, the tank will need some time to cycle and the water will need to settle before you put the fish back in.

Top Tip:
If possible, try to move the tank a few days before moving the fish, so that the tank can start cycling in advance. With a bit of planning you can then put the fish back in their home as soon as they arrive.

For a few days after setting-up the tank, test the water each day for PH level, chemical levels etc… Once all of the readings are back to normal (whatever normal might be for your particular aquarium), you can reintroduce your fish!

 

 

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33g – Rescape Debut!

January 29th, 2013

This weekend, I decided it was time to rescape my 33g cube. This aquarium has a few other changes, namely that I replaced the 4x24w HOT5 + 250W MH light with two Finnex Ray2 LED bars. It doesn’t take a mathematician to calculate the energy reduction from this change to “a lot.” The amazing thing is that as soon as I put the LEDs on top, the plants in my previous aquascape started pearling more than they normally did with the metal halides on.

33g Hardscape

 

For the hardscape, I’m using some new Manzanita from Msjinkzd.com that I got over the summer. If you’ve never looked at Rachel’s stocklist, check it out now, as she carries amazing nano fish and inverts for our planted aquariums. For this hardscape, I wanted to do something a little bit different than I’ve done before. I wanted to have the hardscape flow throughout the aquarium in a more artistic way, while still looking somewhat natural.  You can see the bare hardscape above. Since I didn’t soak the manzanita ahead of time, I tied all of the piece together using florist wire so that I could keep them from floating via angular resistance between pieces, and a large rock that I put on the largest pieces for a couple days.

33g Rescape

 

In planting the tank, I had a bunch of plants from the previous aquascape that I wanted to carryover, namely the Anubias barterii ‘nana petite’, Java Fern ‘Trident’, Cryptocoryne lucens, Limnophila repens ‘mini’, and chain sword. I also pulled some Ranalisma rostrata, Gratiola viscidula, Syngonanthus anomalous ‘Madeira’, Fontinalis hypnoides, Nymphaea micrantha, and Didiplis diandra to the tank. I’m still figuring out exactly what direction I want to take this time in terms of how the plants should fill in, but I’m happy that the first planting is complete and looking forward to see how the LEDs perform in their first aquascape. Comments welcome!

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