In the April 2013 issue, Frank Wazeter completed the story of the creation of “An Elegant 5½-Gallon Nano.” The tank was inspired by the author’s many visits to the San Marcos River. To see the completed, beautiful layout the way it was meant to be seen, please check out the video below.
Geosesarma sp. red devil crab. Photograph by Bill Brissette.
Bill Brissette’s 45-gallon paludarium featured Geosesarma red devil crabs as the centerpiece of aquatic life. Bill let us know that the crabs are now prolific breeders, and he provided us with one of the only videos of the crabs breeding. Check it out!
Diatomaceous earth filter. Photograph by Ben Johnson.
By Ben Johnson
One reality I have learned to live with as a professional aquascaper is brown diatoms. Whether $1,000 or $10,000 is spent on a saltwater aquarium system, an initial but short-lived bloom of golden-brown algae in the beginning stages of the aquarium’s cycle is almost assured to occur. These are known as brown diatoms. In an overly simplistic explanation, these brown diatoms take advantage of the availability of certain nutrients that are abundant before beneficial bacteria grow into the system. The beneficial bacteria eventually out-compete the diatoms for these nutrients as their numbers increase and the tank’s cycle is complete. This is why there is usually a sudden collapse of the diatoms as the populations of good bacteria gain the upper hand.
As you can see in my March 2012 “Adventures in Aquascaping” column, there is one way to combat this pesky growth–a diatomaceous earth filter, or DE filter for short. The DE filter polishes the water, and can lead to a beautiful, crystal clear aquarium for life.
Photograph by Jeffrey Senske, Aquarium Design Group.
Goldfish are arguably the most popular fish for beginners, but few people know how to set up a truly spectacular tank for them. Jeffrey Senske, of Aquarium Design Group, found creating a layout for fancy goldfish to be a particularly daunting task—one he hadn’t succeeded in doing until now.
Given that goldfish are messy eaters and produce large amounts of waste, a primary requirement for any successful tank was that it must be easy to maintain. Another notable feature is that, since goldfish are herbivorous, plants could not be included in the aquarium. Jeffrey found that using sand for the substrate and river rocks for the hardscape created a simple, clean look, that was still easy to clean, to compliment his variety of fancy goldfish. Learn exactly how this tank was set up and designed in the November and December 2011 issues of TFH.
Jeff Senske’s (Aquarium Design Group) 90-gallon rimless aquarium features his signature hardscape-only design. He chose to use wild discus, penguin tetras, and gold tetras. Be sure to check out his articles on how he set up this tank. And here’s a gorgeous video by Jeff of the entire aquascaping process.
Without strong enough glue, the cork island floated away from the expanded PVC.
I wanted to write a note about using silicone with expanded PVC. Expanded PVC is a great material because of its light weight, easy machinability, and smooth, food-safe surface. Unfortunately, its surface is one of its downfalls as well: While it is readily glued to itself with PVC cement for plumbing, silicone has a hard time sticking to the surface.
After writing the latest installment of “Adventures in Aquascaping” and setting the tank up for a week of rinsing, the cork island in the center of the tank floated up and away. The silicone had stuck just fine to the cork, but not to the surface of the PVC. At least, it did not stick well enough to overcome the buoyancy of the cork. The other parts of the hardscape seem fine, especially where I used a lot of silicone, and where it is above the waterline. But this was a major setback that could have been avoided.
I would like to experiment with a few glues to be able to tell you the best one for this particular application, but I think an expanding polyurethane foam glue may be more suitable than the silicone in places where it is not visible.
One thing is for sure though, and that is that the porous center of the expanded PVC sheet is far more receptive to bonding than the smooth surface is.
To repair the float-away island, I plan on fully drying the insert and using the random orbital sander to roughen and gouge the surface of the PVC where it will be reglued so the glue has a chance to grab hold. Then, when I return to my rinsing phase, I plan on loading up the submerged cork parts with stone, so that their buoyancy doesn’t defeat the bond prior to planting. Simply adding weight during this phase, will emulate the substrate that will weigh things down once the tank has been planted.
In future projects, I will be sure to really roughen all surfaces that are to be glued, to avoid this problem.
The vector drawing the author used to cut his blank for the plastic insert.
When planning an intricate insert for an aquascaping project, it is especially important to plan ahead. Included here is the author used to cut the plastic insert. Learn more about how he built the insert at http://www.tfhdigital.com/tfh/201106#pg41
Cork bark provides a perfect medium for growing mosses and other plants. Photo by Bill Brissette.
In terms of decoration, most hobbyists tend to use plants, driftwood, live rock, coral, and even a range of plastic items, but Bill Brissette prefers to use something a little different—cork bark. Bill, who is fascinated with environments where land and water meet, has found that cork is the perfect medium for a paludarium because it is lightweight, non-toxic, water-resistant, and easy to work with. Mosses and other low-growing plants readily grow on a cork surface, giving the tank a natural look.
See one of Bill’s first cork creations video below.
And to get tips and tricks to build a cork background for your tank, and to learn about the setup he is creating for red claw crabs check out the newest Adventures in Aquascaping project at http://www.tfhdigital.com/tfh/201105/#pg81.
This video shows the tank, which has just been filled with saltwater for the first time, before filtration has been added to the system. Jeff Turner, of Reef Aquaria Design, Inc. sets up tanks like these on a regular basis.