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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Progress in Pictures - Planted Fluval Spec by TBM

Finally started aquascaping my Fluval Spec, and here is a look at how it has evolved so far.  In the pictures below, the progress has been broken down into 4 phases.

Phase I  - Black plastic mesh added to the back wall and the base of the tank, and lace rock stacked in the middle.  The mesh in the back encases some Taiwanese moss strands which I'm hoping to grow into a lush moss wall.  The mesh at the base of the tank helps to disperse the weight from the lace rock, and prevent scratches.

Phase II - Malaya aqua soil added as the substrate for the tank, along with water from an established aquarium.  The filtration media of the Fluval Spec had been placed in the filter of another tank in efforts of establishing beneficial bacteria on the filter media and expediting the cycling process.  There is duckweed floating on the surface of the water that I didn't initially intend to add, but decided to leave it in the tank.  What the heck... why not?

Phase III - Plants including Rotala Indica (front) and Hornwort (back) have been placed into the tank.  I found that the use of a long pair of tweezers and a single chopstick handled the job really well.  Squeeze, insert, twist, and pat down into the dirt.  Piece of cake.

Phase IV - Dwarf hairgrass was selected as the foreground plant and embedded into the substrate.  I used the same method as I did in Phase III, but siphoned out 80% of the water before inserting the grass.  The low water level made it a lot easier to plant the grass, and also kept loose blades from floating all over the tank.  Amano shrimp have also been introduced to the tank, in an effort to minimize nuisance algae and liven up the aquatic environment.

Phase V  - More plants including Ludwigia Broadleaf (left side) and Hemianthus callitrichoides (base of  rock) were added to the tank.  I used the same squeeze, insert, twist, and pat down approach.  Fish were also introduced, and include a pair of Kuhli Loaches.  These snake-like critters love to slither through the hairgrass and forage (one is visible wrapped around the front Rotala Indica plant).

Phase VI - The tank takes a big leap from being low-tech to hi-tech with the addition of a CO2 infusion and regulation system, the Varzea CO2 Pro Set & electronic solenoid.  The system was further upgraded with ADA silicone tubing & check valve, and was also fitted with an Archaea glass CO2 diffuser.  I used the stock bubble counter that was included with kit, and RODI water as the counter fluid.  These upgrades didn't come cheap, so I am really hoping I see big results fast!

Phase VII - Only 2 weeks following the addition of CO2 infusion, and there is definitely noticeable change.  Every single one of plants in this setup have grown, and I have already had to trim the Hornwort, Rotala Indica, and Ludwigia Broadleaf several times.  I have also had to spoon out and discard some of the duckweed on the surface of the tank due to its rapid multiplying.   Trimmed portions of the Rotala Indica grew back with a pinkish tint, and have added to a more vibrantly colored aquarium.  There were also several Cardinal Tetra added, but they spend a majority of the time hiding in this aquatic jungle.

Phase VIII - Perhaps the final upgrade to this setup, the stock LED lighting was replaced with a more powerful fluorescent lighting system.  I have added an Aquatic-Nature 13W Solar Duo Boy lamp to the tank, which can utilize 6500K daylight bulbs.  The plants have been progressing just fine with the stock LED lighting, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to improve one of the most important aspects of a planted aquarium.  This is it!  No more upgrades!  Maybe...










Video of this tank is now available!
Check the "My Fluval Spec Aquarium Kit" page on the column to the right.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Still on Vacation...

It has been over a year since my last post, and I have traveled to some exquisite locales.  I have snorkeled off the coast of Maui, Hawaii and swam in the emerald waters of St. Lucia in the Caribbean.  Seeing the underwater life in these areas have inspired me in my fish tanks, and I look forward to incorporating some of nature's beauty in my aquascaping.  Below are a few videos from a few of my favorite vacation destinations.

Triggerfish off the Coast of the Molokini Crater:

Snorkeling at Kanappaali Beach:

St. Lucia's Emerald Caribbean:

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