by TFH Magazine on June 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm
By Mark Denaro
The tank I had available to use for this aquascape was a 65 that had originally been set up as a marine tank. It had a really old metal halide bulb for lighting. So, I drained the tank with the intention of setting it right back up. Well, right about that time we got hit with bad weather so the two 100 pound bags of gravel that were sitting on my porch were suddenly inaccessible. I had to wait for the snow to melt before I could set the tank up.
Unfortunately, I had already taken the driftwood out of another tank for use in this aquascape. It was an old piece that was fully waterlogged so I removed the suction cups. I thought that it would be okay to let it sit for a little while, figuring that in the worst case scenario I could weigh it down with a rock for a couple of days and then it would be fine. Well, that was a mistake. It was more like a couple of weeks before I was able to get the tank set up and by that time the wood was pretty dry and rather buoyant. I was still able to hold it down with a rock but the rock will be needed for a lot longer than I had intended. In fact, when I submitted the first pics of the tank to TFH, I got an email back asking about the rock and why I didn’t include any information about it in the article so I had to take the wood out and reshoot the pics. As time has passed, the wood is pretty close to staying down on its own.
Another issue that I had to deal with this time was lighting. I left the halide on thinking that it would be the best way to really boost growth in order to get the tank looking the way I wanted it to as quickly as possible due to the time constraints in getting the pictures taken for the article series. I also left it on 24/7 for the first week. As I said before, it was an old bulb and the spectral output was no longer what it should be so it encouraged a lot of algal growth both on the glass and on the plants. That’s something I almost never experience so it was pretty frustrating. If you look at pics of the tank, you can see the algae on the side glass and particularly on the leaves of the Saururus cernuus. Another drawback to the halide is that I didn’t like the colors in the tank when I shot pics. So, the lighting was changed to T5s that were discussed in Part 3. That improved the look of the tank and the quality of the pictures.
Plant growth has generally been very good, and the Gymnocoronis in particular is growing like a weed, and will grow out of the water within a couple of days of pruning. The E. tenellus is also spreading quite well. Surprisingly, the val pretty much went to mush so it looks like there is a hole in the aquascape right now. That is rare but does happen occasionally. It is coming back with a vengeance, though, so hopefully it will fill in the right rear corner by the time I have to shoot pics for the last installment of this series. I wasn’t able to get as much Marsilea crenata as I wanted for the foreground so I may switch that out for another species in order to get that space filled in more quickly. Even if I do that, I will still leave the Marsilea there as that really is the species that I want to have there for the long term.