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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I'm going to be documenting my next aquascape here and I just want share my experiences with everyone.
Now I want to start off by saying that I am by no means an expert. In fact I consider myself pretty amateur, especially with aquascaping, but I am always aspiring to learn more and improve. In doing so, I hope that my experiences become helpful or insightful for other new or novice aquarists seeking to get some insight in aquascaping.

Please feel free to comment, leave questions or even constructive criticism.

So without further ado, here's my next tank:





I'm using the ADA 45F. It's about 5 gals, very modest in size, but it's a beautiful shallow tank and great for many types of aquascape styles.
I'm going for sort of an igwami aquascape here. I'm trying the Dry Start Method for the first time because I read about all the success DSM has with HC 'Cuba'.

Other flora I am using: AR 'Mini', Mini Pellia and S. Repens. Possibly Downoi in the future, since I read that plant doesnt do great emersed.

I plan on doing this for 4-6 weeks before I flood the tank to allow my HC and Mini Pellia to grow in and secure themselves as much as they can.

So far, my only trouble is the Mini Pellia. It dries up incredibly fast. Although I am one week in, I still have to spray them every 4-5 hours. First few days I had to spray them every hour which was tough. I thought about gluing them right before I flooded my tank, but I am afraid of not liking how they will grow in and being unable to remove the plant/glue. Not to mention if it died somehow and just left a blob of glue on the rocks.

I could actually use some advise about what to do with the Mini Pellia. I can tell that they don't like being emersed very much right now. I noticed some browning today too, oddly in the regions that tend to be always moist. I'm afraid it will start to rot and mold will grow. Perhaps letting it dry out more and dripping water only on the parts that dry out immensely?

More testing is required...
 

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Have you seran wrapped the top of your tank to keep the moisture in?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for asking. Yes, I have kept it air tight since day 1, only opening it a little to mist the plants. It gets very humid in there. The pics are of Day 1 of my DSM, right before I sealed it so I could get clear pictures. If I tried to take a picture now, you would only see moisture on the glass and ceramic top.
 

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I had to ask because usually most plants/mosses do well even emerged with high humidity. Mini Pellia is super hardy. I've kept it in a bowl by the window for weeks. How about putting a bit of nutrients in your spray? Otherwise you may have to keep mini pellia in a bowl by the window as well until you are ready to flood the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had to ask because usually most plants/mosses do well even emerged with high humidity. Mini Pellia is super hardy. I've kept it in a bowl by the window for weeks. How about putting a bit of nutrients in your spray? Otherwise you may have to keep mini pellia in a bowl by the window as well until you are ready to flood the tank.
Yeah, I put just a tiny amount of ferts in my spray to promote growth. Seems to be working for everything in my tank except the moss. I also kept Mini Pellia before in a container. It did fine, so I am also surprised that it's giving me so much trouble right now. I think it might be the light that is causing the browning and drying out. The Mini Pellia is sitting closest to the light so the warmth is probably drying them out fast. Still doesnt explain why the damp parts are browning though.

@rwong2k10 Thanks Ray! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Week 2 Update:



As feared, mold grew on the moss that was rotting. I decided to remove all the moss because they are too difficult to dry start without acclimating them from submerged to emersed. I'll add them back in right before flooding and figure out how to secure them then. Unfortunately, some s. repens that were touching the moss were also infected so I put some excel on infected leaves which killed most of the mold, but also killed the leaf. You can sorta see it in the picture.

Pretty confident the s. repens will bounce back, so I am not too worried. Now I leave open a small hole to prevent the set up from getting too humid as I read the humidity is the cause of the mold.

Mini is growing faster than expected.
HC appears to finally have taken root. Very solid and even growth and no issues to report, so I'm happy.

However, I am thinking of flooding my tank a bit earlier than expected because of some mold still in my tank from the moss (it spread to the soil in more damp and darker areas). If it spreads to my HC and starts creating real problems, I am flooding the tank but fingers crossed.

Thanks for looking!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Week 3: Last update (probably) before flooding my tank. A bit of a longer post, sorry.
I'm in the middle of week 3. Everything going well. Got some algae growing on the soil but that's fine with me, the HC is creeping over it regardless.
Still have some mold, unfortunately, but it isn't doing anything to my plants (I don't think). I tried to keep the tank dry enough so the mold dies off, but it appears that once you get mold, you cant get rid of it. Oh well.




To show you how much my plants have grown in a week, these are two shots 8 days apart. Top is week 2, bottom is week 3.



It's slowly getting there, bit by bit. :)
I'll be planting some pearl weed right behind the larger stone when I flood the tank and try to reintroduce the mini pellia onto the rocks.
If I've learnt anything so far with my first attempt at DSM, keep it dry to avoid mold (and probably algae) and don't use plants that depend too much on moisture to be emersed because this leads to mold and other problems. Also, DSM really tests your patience...

Now onto something more important that I've been thinking about. I love to aquascape and it makes me really happy when I see healthy, lush and vibrant plant growth in high tech tanks, but I also love raising and breeding shrimp (specifically cardinas). It appears the two don't easily go hand in hand. From reading thoroughly on different forums and articles, talking to several members here and elsewhere, I've gathered that cardinas and high tech tanks don't really gel.

So for this tank, my goal is to rear CRS in a high tech tank in the hopes that they will grow and reproduce in a similar manner that they would in a breeding tank. I'm not expecting positive results, but I'd sure hope I am successful. I am preparing several experiments with O2, CO2, ferts and I'm in the process of gathering some supplies. Expect more details in the coming weeks about my hypothesis and experiments, and hopefully positive results.

With that said, thanks for looking!

-Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here you go! :)





Sorry, got called into work and had to run but was so excited to share pics.

First impressions with the UP Aqua Z LED: I bought the 24-inch for $60. It's a bit larger than this tank, but it disappointingly isn't as bright as my FugeRay.
That said, it's still not bad for a cheap LED. It is a much cooler light and the effect it creates off of shimmering water is rather pleasant. It makes the water feel "pure" despite my camera not being able to capture that at all.
It's also very sleek and slim, and looks quite great actually.
I read it has about the same PAR output with the Finnex FugeRay, so I'll update in a few weeks on how my plants are doing under this new light. That's what's important to me after all.

So now I am going to begin some experiments with pH, ferts/gH, CO2 and O2 in the following weeks. In my earlier post, I mentioned that I aim to keep some high grade CRS while still being able to keep my plants growing healthy and lush with CO2 and dosing ferts. My goal is therefore to keep water parameters as stable as possible for the sake of the shrimps.

I'll post my procedures and results in my next update around 2 weeks from now. If it fails and I can't keep my water stable enough consistently, I'll probably end up going with Bloody Mary's and a few fish. Wish me luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I use the Zoo Med Canister Filter 15. I am also going to use a sponge filter.

I'll do a write up of my entire set up once I get fish/shrimp in there.
 

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Week 5: Quick Update





Filled the mid section with sand because HC wasnt able to grow evenly inside there. Gonna let the HC carpet around the sand, make it look like an entrance.
I've been running CO2 at a steady rate at 1bps using DIY citric acid. My recipe has lasted 9 days so far and looks like it can go for another 2-3 days.

The only problem I'm experiencing with my plants are some of the mini pellia and one s. repen is melting. Not sure why but I'm just going to be patient with them. Seems to be slowly bouncing back.

I'm picking up the rest of my supplies to complete my tank tomorrow, then I can begin my experiments to keep CRS with a high tech tank. Not sure if I am optimistic; I'm keeping the pH steady at 6.3-6.4 but the TDS goes up by 20 every day because of the ryuoh stones. Maybe I should just go with PFR cherries?

Anyways, thanks for looking.
 

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I'd be a little bit worried that the tds raises 20 ppm per day. As much as rocks looks very nice ada has a few other rocks that don't raise the tds. I'm currently using koke rocks in my shrimp tanks and the tds does rise. I believe the manten and San Sui rocks and dragon stone doesn't raise the tds. The dragon stone would have a similar shape but a much lighter colour.

Great looking tank, I'd imagine a large rock half out of the water similar to yours if I were doing a ada 45f again.

Sent from my SM-G900W8 using Tapatalk
 

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Yeah, I wish I realized that before buying these stones. I think it might be too late for me to switch the stones now. I may have dug myself a grave here, in terms of trying to keep CRS. Gonna be closely measuring my tank parameters in the next two weeks and conclude what I can keep.

We'll see, fingers crossed.
 

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Nice HC carpet Matt! Shrimp are going to look so good in there. I actually had the same issue with the Ryuoh stones increasing my TDS constantly. I think you have a great opportunity to replace them with dragon stone right now if you'd be interested: http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/sale...ascaping-stone-165802/index2.html#post1119530

If you decide to stick with them then you just have to keep up with regular water changes. I was still successful in breeding cherries even with the increasing TDS but I now stopped using Ryuoh and Seiryu stones because I'm not a huge fan of doing water changes haha.

Hopefully in a few months you'll have a nice established tank and then we can do a Taiwan bee group buy from somewhere!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks Matt. The carpet looks better every day.

Gosh, those dragon stones look so great. I really wanted to use seiryu stones but couldnt find any...
I am just settled into the current scape and I'd have to restart if I bought new stones. I think I'll stick with ryuoh stones this time around. Still sorely tempted tho!

I'm going to stick it out with the ryuoh and see how it goes in two weeks. I'm just doing everything I can to keep my tank as stable and constant as possible. If I can do that, I'll be happy and transfer my CRS into this tank. Speaking of which, my current stock of CRS are starting to be a bit more successful. I'm getting a few more berried females. I hope the offspring survive.

Thanks for commenting! Always appreciate the input
 

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Discussion Starter #20
12810154_10153843703060491_181772839_o.jpg

Good news and bad news:

I transferred all my crystal reds and blacks into my new tank. They seem to be happy. They are much more active, graze more and they poop everywhere all the time now, something I never noticed in my other tank. I even have a berried female.

However, I'm not really happy anymore. Balancing a high tech tank with crystal bees has been hard and it's taking the fun out of shrimp keeping and aquascaping. I use to get such a high off of admiring my fish tanks and watching my shrimp/fish, but these shrimp have been so difficult for me to make happy, not to mention my deep desire to have a really nice looking tank, that I am losing interest.

My recommendation to anyone who wants to aquascape and rear nice looking crystal bees is to go with a 15g and up. A 5 gallon is so incredibly hard to perfect. The slightest change to anything, even the surface agitation, and the parameters also change with it. I'm constantly testing my water and making changes to keep it consistent.

In case anyone is wondering my tank parameters are:

pH: 6.4-6.6
gH: 5
nitrate: > 5ppm

I've been lightly dosing my ferts, I run DIY Citric Acid CO2 at 1bps 24/7, my surface agitation is just enough to keep O2 coming in and CO2 coming out which is what I want since I run CO2 continuously. My TDS meter was showing an increase of 5-20 ppm every day since filling my tank, but that has changed. It only goes up by 5 ppm a day at most now. Why? I really don't know, but the change allowed me to put my shrimp in.

I have been able to keep everything very consistent but that's why I am not enjoying this anymore. It's really difficult. Now I understand why people recommend a 10 gallon tank for crystals - it's because they are such frail things and demand consistency.

I'll probably be selling these guys off because I'm done with Crystals for now. The good news is that I'll be replacing them with PFR cherries and some small fish. I can ease up on CO2, testing my water and stress less. I just want to enjoy my tanks and not worry about being perfect.

So sorry if I disappointed some of you, but the next update will be more positive. :D

Thanks for your support and I hope you keep checking back for more updates.
 
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