by TFH Magazine on November 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm
By Robert Paul Hudson
Welcome to the debut of the Adventures in Aquascaping blog, a unique chronology of newly designed and created planted aquascapes and biotopes from the ground-up to maturity. My first project is a 15-gallon planted aquarium for freshwater shrimp using the following plants: subwassertang, flame moss, Fissidens sp., Java moss, Riccia, Anubias nana “narrow leaf,” and Blyxa japonica. The goal is to create a challenging aquascape design using primarily mosses and liverworts that serves as a balanced environment for the shrimp.
I am planning to give create a concave design like this one on my website: http://www.aquabotanic.com/aquascapingprincipals.html. I am using a 15-gallon glass aquarium with a T5 two 24-watt light bulb fixture, a 50 watt heater, a hang-on-back filter, clay gravel substrate, and a pressurized CO2 system.
I began by arranging the hardscape aspects of the aquascape—Malaysian driftwood, Tambora wood, and stones. I tried placing the hardscape items in different places—this is the time to figure out how to make your aquarium look best. After everything is set up and growing, it is much more difficult to move hardscape items, and it can even mean that you have to start over. The Malaysian driftwood already had the Anubias and subwassertang attached—having plants already attached to driftwood is an easy way to make the aquascape look nice from the start, although it is generally more expensive to do than attaching the plants yourself. For your own project, you can choose which way you would like to begin.
My next step was to plant the Blyxa, the focal plant in this aquascape and an important part of the reason I chose to use CO2. Although Blyxa can be grown without CO2 supplementation, it looks much worse that way, adopting a leggy, thin growth. Also note that Blyxa requires moderate lighting. The Blyxa has also shown early signs of acclimating well. My water is a bit soft (KH 4 degrees), which is ideal for the Blyxa.
I attached the Riccia to the rock using mesh netting—for more on how to do that please see my upcoming column in the February 2009 issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist. I noticed the Riccia perked up and began to grow through the netting almost immediately, even with no CO2 going.
I am pleased about that because I was concerned that the lighting may not be bright enough. The mosses have been slower to respond. The Anubias and subwassertang are not expected to show signs of early growth, but are not showing any signs of stress either.