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Concerns and Successes at Startup

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.

Bending and waving in the aquarium, flame moss makes an interesting addition to a planted aquascape.

I am planning to give create a concave design like this one on my website: 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.

Probably a Fissidens sp. moss, this plant was collected from a stream in Washington State.

Probably a Fissidens sp. moss, this plant was collected from a stream in Washington State.

Subwassertang is attached to the Malaysian driftwood alongside Anubias nana “narrow leaf.”

Subwassertang is attached to the Malaysian driftwood alongside Anubias nana “narrow leaf.”

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.


Growth through mesh netting.

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.

Posted in Adventures in Aquascaping and Robert Hudson by TFH Magazine on November 24th, 2009 at 1:32 pm.


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7 Replies

  1. Andrew Nov 25th 2009

    The tank looks very nice! I think some hairgrass in the background would look good.

  2. I was rather disappointed to see the very first set-up require an elaborate co2 injection system.

    I guess I was hoping for something geared towards the beginning aquatic gardener without the high price of admission.

    Looking forward to future articles…

  3. Stephanie M Dec 1st 2009

    I just read your article and loved it. I can’t wait to actually here about your choice of shrimp and hope you include information about there care. My husband and I have a 100 gallon planted tank, but are unable to keep shrimp because of our angelfish. I have seriously been considering setting up a smaller planted tank just for this purpose and I believe your article is just the push I needed! A variety of shrimp in your tank would be awesome! Looking forward to your next article!

  4. Andrew Dec 6th 2009

    Great article. I’ve branched out into high tech planted tank project 75G and look forward to following along. Currently have low tech planted 220G african, 580 G pond heavily planted and was my first out door experience with aquatic plants which was a huge success, 3000 G pond in progress.

  5. Hi Robert, thank you for the helpful and informative article above, I especially like how you walked us through the scaping of your tank. I am also a big fan of freshwater dwarf shrimp and have been raising them for a while now. This looks to be a very interesting tank to house shrimp in. I will definitely be following this blog and look forward to reading your column in TFH.

  6. Thank for information.

  7. This is a very informative site.The tank looks great.Thank You for the valuable information with those beautiful pictures.

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