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Aquascaping


alistairw

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I have always wanted a heavily planted tank but my goldfish see any live plant added to their tank as a mortal enemy which must be destroyed at all costs. I have decided that i am going to completely overhaul my tropical tank and turn it into a lush green paradise for my fish. Aquatics-online is the UK site that i use for all things fish related and they now do complete aquascaping kits. http://www.aquatics-...ons-g889-14.asp

I will be using a CO2 kit for my planted tank and have a couple of questions to all you plant gurus out there. Firstly i intend to use a freshwater planted substrate and i have decided on the Caribsea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate. I have a 248 litre tank (65 US Gallons) and would like to know if a 40lb bag would be enough to give an adequate layer for planting or would i need more ? Secondly which CO2 kits do you recommend ?

I have allocated a budget of £300 for this and 4 of the kits have caught my eye. Each kit comes with all the plants pictured and a schematic diagram of how to plant to get the same layout as the picture. These ones i like are

Jungle Garden 09

Jungle_Garden_117.jpg

This kit comes with a collection of 143 plants from 12 different species and is classed as easy maintainance.

Japanese Vista

Japanese_vista_188.jpg

This kit has 112 plants in 5 varieties and again is easy to maintain

Emerald Isle

emerald_isle_144.jpg

This comes with 101 plants in 11 different varieties and is classed as really easy and undemanding to keep.

Finally Tropical Island - this one is my favourite

Tropical_island_171.jpg

This comes with 410 plants in 4 varieties and is higher maintainance and does require CO2.

All of these kits come as grow it on collections at almost half the price but it does take around 3-5 months to resemble the pictures.

What one would you pick ?

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Wow! What a great project. Will you start a thread to document the growth once you have it set up? Also, I would if you could design something so that you can take time-lapse photography :D

I would pick either the Emerald Isle (my fave) or the Tropical Island.

In my experience of laying down substrate, at a ratio of 0.5 pounds/gallon, you get about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch layer. I think you'll need a lot more than 40 pounds. Are you going to have soil under the Eco-Complete?

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these are awesome! I personally prefer the Jungle Garden 09 and Tropical Island ones (I can't see the Japanese Vista pic?). I look forward to seeing pictures of what you get in the end!

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Wow! What a great project. Will you start a thread to document the growth once you have it set up? Also, I would if you could design something so that you can take time-lapse photography :D

I would pick either the Emerald Isle (my fave) or the Tropical Island.

In my experience of laying down substrate, at a ratio of 0.5 pounds/gallon, you get about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch layer. I think you'll need a lot more than 40 pounds. Are you going to have soil under the Eco-Complete?

I knew you would say that. I have read that 2lbs per gallon would give the best results and that would mean 130lbs of substrate. I am not sure about the soil, do you have any recommendations ? I also looked at Tetraplant Complete Substrate which consists of a high-quality mixture of sand with a naturally high iron and micro-nutrient content as well as natural black peat with useful humic substances but this one is very expensive. It's £22 for 14lb :( What about if i put 60lb of planted substrate then 40lb of normal substrate on top of that one all the plants are bedded in ?

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Wow! What a great project. Will you start a thread to document the growth once you have it set up? Also, I would if you could design something so that you can take time-lapse photography :D

I would pick either the Emerald Isle (my fave) or the Tropical Island.

In my experience of laying down substrate, at a ratio of 0.5 pounds/gallon, you get about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch layer. I think you'll need a lot more than 40 pounds. Are you going to have soil under the Eco-Complete?

I knew you would say that. I have read that 2lbs per gallon would give the best results and that would mean 130lbs of substrate. I am not sure about the soil, do you have any recommendations ? I also looked at Tetraplant Complete Substrate which consists of a high-quality mixture of sand with a naturally high iron and micro-nutrient content as well as natural black peat with useful humic substances but this one is very expensive. It's £22 for 14lb :( What about if i put 60lb of planted substrate then 40lb of normal substrate on top of that one all the plants are bedded in ?

Haha, the Emerald Isle is my least favorite! I always like to buck the trend. I love Tropical Island.

On plantedtank.net, when people use dirt, they use Miracle Grow Organic. There's a dirt fanclub there, so maybe you should check it out.

What I'm curious about is why some people have problems with their goldfish eating plants and some don't. Mine don't eat the plants unless I give them a yummy treat of duckweed.

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I am a jungle person myself. The wilder the more natural. So I have to go with Jungle Garden 09. But then again why not come up with our own aquascape? For one thing some of the plants that work for them may not work for you. Also I think you can get more plants for your buck that way too.

About eco complete. I never liked it. Used it in a 10 gallon tank it is just got way to packed down for good root growth.

I prefer Fluorite Seagram Not any cheaper but like it more and for that size tank you well need 3, 14 pound bags.

Good luck with what ever you decide.

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Thanks for that Hidr. It will actually work out cheaper getting the fluorite if i only need the 3 bags. Do you use normal substrate on top of it or leave it as it is ?

I haven't adding anything to mine.

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I think it depends on what fish you got. Some fish prefer the taller plants for hiding spaces like showin in option 1, 2 and 3. Others would be fine with the # 4.

My personal favorite is the first one. I love it's "natural" look :)

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Tropical Island is fabulous, but I bet you have to trim the plants like crazy to keep them shaped like that. My second choice would be Jungle Garden. It truly looks like a little slice of the wild contained in a glass frame, like you just plucked it intact from nature.

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I think they're all beautiful :) But I can't imagine Goldfish in any of them ;) looking forward to seeing which way you go and how it works out for you & your goldfish ;)

It's for my 65 gallon tropical tank :) I wouldn't let my goldfish anywhere near a mossball !

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Wow! What a great project. Will you start a thread to document the growth once you have it set up? Also, I would if you could design something so that you can take time-lapse photography :D

I would pick either the Emerald Isle (my fave) or the Tropical Island.

In my experience of laying down substrate, at a ratio of 0.5 pounds/gallon, you get about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch layer. I think you'll need a lot more than 40 pounds. Are you going to have soil under the Eco-Complete?

I knew you would say that. I have read that 2lbs per gallon would give the best results and that would mean 130lbs of substrate. I am not sure about the soil, do you have any recommendations ? I also looked at Tetraplant Complete Substrate which consists of a high-quality mixture of sand with a naturally high iron and micro-nutrient content as well as natural black peat with useful humic substances but this one is very expensive. It's £22 for 14lb :( What about if i put 60lb of planted substrate then 40lb of normal substrate on top of that one all the plants are bedded in ?

Haha, the Emerald Isle is my least favorite! I always like to buck the trend. I love Tropical Island.

On plantedtank.net, when people use dirt, they use Miracle Grow Organic. There's a dirt fanclub there, so maybe you should check it out.

What I'm curious about is why some people have problems with their goldfish eating plants and some don't. Mine don't eat the plants unless I give them a yummy treat of duckweed.

I like the first one as well. It truly looks low-maintenance....all those "grasses" are high light plants....I've had bad experiences with grasses...

With regards to your question about substrates...I have started using Flourish Stratum. I put about 1/2in of Stratum underneath about 1/2in of white sand...my plants LOVE it. I have seen so much grow in just three weeks it's outstanding. Like Hidr said, some planted substrates pack too tightly and the roots can't get in and around. The Stratum is spherical so it doesn't compact.

Brand suggestions aside, you can totally do a layer of planted substrate underneath a layer of regular to save money. As long as the roots can get to the planted stuff they will reap the benefits. Plus putting something on top give you another safe guard against algae taking over your substrate. I really like the look of sand, and usually recommend it for planted tanks as it's easy for the plants to push through...so for plants like valisneria, or onions, or swords, or anything that sends out shooters....it's a great choice.

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I tried layering substrates in my planted goldfish tank and my planted betta tank with poor results both times. I put CaribSea Eco Complete in the bigger goldfish tank and put black Tahitian Moon Sand over the top. But it didn't take long for it to mix, and I lost the sandy look. Overall, I still like that substrate.

In the betta tank, I used CaribSea Flora Max with TMS over top. I HATE the FloraMax. That stuff is way to big and porous, and the sand settled into it immediately. Also, the stuff is so big that it's hard to get the roots into it -- there's nothing dense enough to hold them in. But I am by no means good at growing plants, so maybe I'm clueless.

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Quick update :) Just been on the phone to Aquatics-online and they were really helpfull again. I love this site. They passed me on to the plant guy and we talked for about 20 minutes about my plans. He pulled up the plant page and talked me through each of my 4 choices. In the end he recommended the Jungle Garden 09 setup for my tank based on my lighting and fish stock and advised me to get the grow it on collection (97 smaller plants, 12 species) as oppossed to the complete set up (143 plants same 12 species). It's half the price and will take about 3-5 months to be fully grown into the picture on the site. He highly recommended the Seachem Fluorite Black Sand saying he uses it himself and told me that i would need 5-6 of the 7kg bags for my tank size. 6 would be better. I have decided on the Tetra Plant Optimat CO2 system for my tank, each canister will give 50 full diffuser uses and the refills are very cheap. We did talk about DIY CO2 setups and he said that some worked very well and some were hit and miss. He would only recommend that for me once my plants were fully established and coming on at a good rate. The Nutrafin CO2 Natural Plant System is a favourite with DIY enthusiasts as once you buy it you ditch the tabs that come with it and use 2grams normal yeast, 2 grams baking soda and 2 table spoons of white sugar mixed with warm water. This will give 3-4 weeks CO2 but is hard to regulate. He did say that if i was looking at a DIY system that i would be wise to buy this as the actual kit is top notch and will work for years with very little cost. http://www.aquatics-online.co.uk/catalogue/co2-systems-g79-304.asp He also stated that when i was going to go ahead and order the stuff he would co-ordinate it all so it would arrive when i am home from work so that Julie who is 28 weeks pregnant would be left to shift the heavy boxes :) As Alex has suggested i am going to do a visual diary of the whole set up process with my findings and tips of what not to do for the next person planning something like this. Maybe even some time lapse photography as i have just got my new 32gb HD card for my camera :) For the time lapse i will try and do the set up process but from what i have read it will take about 700-1000 individual pictures to give 20-30 seconds of film. However, i will definately do some time lapse for the 3-5 months of the plants growing into the full set up :)

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I tried layering substrates in my planted goldfish tank and my planted betta tank with poor results both times. I put CaribSea Eco Complete in the bigger goldfish tank and put black Tahitian Moon Sand over the top. But it didn't take long for it to mix, and I lost the sandy look. Overall, I still like that substrate.

In the betta tank, I used CaribSea Flora Max with TMS over top. I HATE the FloraMax. That stuff is way to big and porous, and the sand settled into it immediately. Also, the stuff is so big that it's hard to get the roots into it -- there's nothing dense enough to hold them in. But I am by no means good at growing plants, so maybe I'm clueless.

I had the same experience with eco complete with tahitian mooon sand on top! I ended up taking all the sand out and using it in my betta tanks, instead. (I am also clueless at plants. sigh)

Quick update :) Just been on the phone to Aquatics-online and they were really helpfull again. I love this site. They passed me on to the plant guy and we talked for about 20 minutes about my plans. He pulled up the plant page and talked me through each of my 4 choices. In the end he recommended the Jungle Garden 09 setup for my tank based on my lighting and fish stock and advised me to get the grow it on collection (97 smaller plants, 12 species) as oppossed to the complete set up (143 plants same 12 species). It's half the price and will take about 3-5 months to be fully grown into the picture on the site. He highly recommended the Seachem Fluorite Black Sand saying he uses it himself and told me that i would need 5-6 of the 7kg bags for my tank size. 6 would be better. I have decided on the Tetra Plant Optimat CO2 system for my tank, each canister will give 50 full diffuser uses and the refills are very cheap. We did talk about DIY CO2 setups and he said that some worked very well and some were hit and miss. He would only recommend that for me once my plants were fully established and coming on at a good rate. The Nutrafin CO2 Natural Plant System is a favourite with DIY enthusiasts as once you buy it you ditch the tabs that come with it and use 2grams normal yeast, 2 grams baking soda and 2 table spoons of white sugar mixed with warm water. This will give 3-4 weeks CO2 but is hard to regulate. He did say that if i was looking at a DIY system that i would be wise to buy this as the actual kit is top notch and will work for years with very little cost. http://www.aquatics-...ems-g79-304.asp He also stated that when i was going to go ahead and order the stuff he would co-ordinate it all so it would arrive when i am home from work so that Julie who is 28 weeks pregnant would be left to shift the heavy boxes :) As Alex has suggested i am going to do a visual diary of the whole set up process with my findings and tips of what not to do for the next person planning something like this. Maybe even some time lapse photography as i have just got my new 32gb HD card for my camera :) For the time lapse i will try and do the set up process but from what i have read it will take about 700-1000 individual pictures to give 20-30 seconds of film. However, i will definately do some time lapse for the 3-5 months of the plants growing into the full set up :)

I LOVE the jungle garden. It has depth and variety of color which I think over the long term will be most engaging, especially once the fish are in. Looking forward to the photos as it goes along!

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