I have not been particularly active in my aquarium hobby lately. Let’s call it an ‘interest break’. I am not quitting, and my work with CustomAquariums.com keeps me very engaged with aquariums, hobbyists, and the industry. But, at the end of the day, I have not had much motivation to work on my own tanks.
I have begun an ambitious project that I am confident will restore my passion, but it will take some time. The fish room is coming down… completely gutted. A gallery of display tanks featuring CustomAquariums.com tanks, stands and filtration will take the place of a fish breeding set up. I am not in a hurry to make this happen.
I think that the moment that my flame went out was when the 75-gallon planted tank I had planned so carefully leaked the morning after I set it up. My plan for a totally new aquarium gallery started as I spent the 4th of July holiday tearing down that leaking aquascape.
Winter hit Wisconsin earlier this week. We had a beautiful Fall with pleasant temperatures, and all of a sudden the air turned cold, windy, and threatening snow. Daylight savings time has not ended yet, but it is already getting dark before 6 PM. Next week, it will be dark at 5. This is the time of year when most northern aquarists disappear into our hobby for the Winter.
I am not, apparently, totally devoid of aquaristic invention, because I suddenly had the urge a couple days a go to scape a tank. I had a lot of plants growing out in an emergent growth chamber (there was a video about that in July), and empty 10-gallon tank, and a blank spot in my office to set it. I decided to try something different. I did not set up an aquarium… I set up a ‘wabi-kusa’ terrarium. Emergent-growth aquatics plants in a moist enclosure.
Take a look:
I am hosting a live stream event each week that we are calling the Tuesday Night Mixer. Tonight was the first one, and it was a lot of fun. The topic was how I work with killifish. Here is the recording… join us next week!
Guess what! I found the footage that I shot months ago when I intended to make a 2-month update on the planted aquarium projects I started last summer. I was shooting a new update after doing a major overhaul the other day, but since I found the older footage I will make videos and show you the progress over several months leading up to where I am at on the tanks today. This episode shows the upstairs 75-gallon 2 months after starting the tank. Enjoy…
Here is the second part to the video set on using botanicals to infuse tannins into an aquarium. Tannins are an important part of a soft water, black water aquarium. Fish from these habitat really thrive in tannin-rich water. They are more active and their colors are vibrant. The botanicals that I feature in this video series came from Tannin Aquatics . I am very happy with the products Tannin Aquatics sent me.
I keep a lot of fish species from soft, black-water habitats. I have visited some of these places in both Africa and South America, and have seen many videos shot by traveling aquarists. The factor in those habitats that is the most obvious, and the least represented in most aquariums, is the amount of decaying organic matter that rests on the bottom of the habitat, be it puddle or stream. I have waded into water netting fish and sunk to my knees in thick piles of leaves, sticks, seed pods and any other organic matter that hits the water and sinks to the bottom. There are plenty of pretty, clear, sand-bottomed, fast running streams in the tropical world, but most of the fish we keep come from the mucky waters.
I started keeping botanicals in my aquariums several years ago. After visiting Peru last year, I have greatly increased the amount of organic debris I put in with my dwarf cichlids, but nowhere near the amount that is in the natural habitat. To match that I would have to fill a 10-gallon tank full from top to bottom with leaves, but I do not think that is wise in such a small volume of water. The bottomlands we were collecting in had ponds with thousands of gallons of water over a thick layer of debris, but the water was still deeper than the layer of leaves. If you tried it in a 75-gallon tank you would want 10-12″ of matter on the bottom with clear water over it. Someday I will have the guts to try that!
This video begins a short series on using botanicals in the aquarium. I will show you leaves, bark, seed pods and other things that I use. I will also introduce you to a great source of exotic botanicals, Tannin Aquatics. I shot this video just after getting a big box of items from Tannin Aquatics, many of which I had not tried before. So far so good. The first episode will show you how I prepare the heavier objects, such as bark, coconut husk and seed pods, before putting them into the tanks.
Here is part 7 in the planted tank series, which will be the last episode for a few months. At this point I am doing regular maintenance and waiting for the plants to grow. Eventually I will add some more plants to the tanks and stock with with fish. When that happens I will publish as update on the tanks.
I had intended to try to cover filtration, lighting and CO2 all in one video, but it would have been too long. Here is an episode on filtration. You will hear me describe a new product my Boyd Enterprises… ChemiPure Green. That product is not on the market yet, but I really like it. I am sure that it will be released soon.
Here is the follow up video that shows the planting of the level-bottom aquarium in the fish room. The plants for this tank are all Tropica 1-2-Grow! tissue culture stem plants.
The plants finally got here and I am able to get these tanks running. This video shares the steps taken to plant the tank with the contoured bottom.
Here is a look at the other tank that I am working on in this planted tank project. I apologize up front for the messed up footage of attaching suction cups to the piece of wood, but it is a pretty simple procedure. Just tie suction cups to the wood, and leave some slack in the line to accommodate for the depth of the substrate.