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.
The second part in this series on planted aquariums will focus on installing the soil substrate, the sand cap and the hardscape in the tank that will have a contoured bottom. The tank that appears in the video is located in my living room, and will be the centerpiece aquarium in the house.
I am finally getting around to working on a few of the display tanks that are coming back home since closing the warehouse. I decided to tear all the planted tanks down completely and start over with new substrates. One 75-gallon tank will be in the family room and be the centerpiece display in in the house, so I am taking my time and being careful to get everything just the way that I want it to be.
The first step is mixing the soil substrate that will be on the bottom of the tank under a cap of fine sand. The mixture I use is something that hobbyists here in the Madison, WI, area came up with years ago the works well for us: 3 parts clean topsoil, 1 part peat, 1 part calcined clay (Turface). Some people will also put a medium gravel in the mix, but I do not (the calcined clay serves the same purpose).
This video is the first in a series of however many parts it takes me to tell the story. Part one is about making the soil mixture….
Where can you get cool plants like this Mayaca seweliniana? I get them from Singapore when I am able to put in an order. Unfortunately, I am only able to take advantage of it a few times a year. Now is one of those times, so I thought that we might try something different. I very, very, very rarely do pre-orders for anything. I prefer to get stock in, acclimate it and then offer it once I know it is good. Plants are different than fish though. They come in GREAT and are best when they can be sent out as fast as possible. So let’s see if doing pre-orders works out.
Please note that this list is all the aquatic plant species that the exporter MIGHT have, and that the fill rate is usually 70% or less. So please do not get mad at me if they do not send that really rare plant you desperately want. The stem plants are priced per stem, and will come to you as loose stems… no rubber band or lead weight. You should also assume that if the description says ‘bulb’ that it will not have a shoot coming out of it.
I need orders (use the contact button above) by Tuesday, January 22. The plants will arrive to me the following Monday. I will let you know what filled and give you a chance to add to it from other stock, then invoices will go out. I need to be able to ship on that Tuesday or Wednesday.
We were snowbound on Thursday this week, so I decided to to a much needed makeover in my 10-gallon planted nano tank. This aquarium is an unfiltered tank that sits on my work bench. Honestly, it gets neglected a lot, which is why it was a bit over grown. Some of the plants were so think that they were shading themselves. And I had let the foreground plants get too large and obstruct the midground plants. This simply would not do! I received a shipment of plants on Monday (hint hint… check out the livestock page), and there were several that I wanted to play with. Most notably the Cryptocoryne tonkinensis and the Myriophyllum matagrossense. I have never done much with myrio plants, so I incorporated two in this cleaned up aquascape. I also put in different fish, including the very cool neon yellow Microdevario kubotai. Check it out…
The sporadic (and on short notice) opportunity to get imported aquarium plants happened last week, and even though these plants are arriving the week before Christmas I went ahead and placed an order. Not a huge one, and then about 1/3 of what I ordered did not fill… but what is coming in is interesting stuff! Lots of uncommon stems. There is a full list on the Livestock page. Here are some of the highlights:
Crypt. parva, albida & tonkinensis
Bacopa myriophylloides (very cool!)
Blyxa alternifolius (new to me… should be interesting)
Myrio. scabratum, tuberculatum and matagrossense
Val. rubra ‘Serpenta’ (love this plant… narrow leaf w/irregular bends and kinks)
Limnophila hippuroides (red and green stem with a dramatic form)
Nymphaea rubra bulbs (finally! bright red triangular leaf dwarf lily)
The aquatic plants of the genus Crinum have interested me ever since seeing them in the wild in Cameroon and Gabon. These aquatic onions have a reputation in the hobby of being difficult and slow growing. While I agree with slow growing, I do nto think that they are all that hard to work with. Probably the biggest detractor is their size. Very few species are available in the hobby, and all of them can grow to large for most aquariums. The most common varieties (from west Africa) are C. calamistratum and C. natans. The former is a smaller plant with very narrow leaves… almost like wrinkled strings. C. natans can grow into a real monster. I have several of both, and the individual in this video I have had around my fish room since 2008.
The aquarium in the video is a 75-gallon aquarium that I started in June, 2010. I used a very nutrient rich layered soil substrate, which I credit for the incredible growth of this crinum. The plant dominates the tank with huge leaves that fill the space from pane to pane. Around our house we have nicknamed it ‘The Kraken’. The aquarium is lit by four 48″ HO T5 tubes (2 x 6700K and 2 x 10,000K) for 10 hours a day. The tank holds a LOT of plants, so I fertilize with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every other day. I also supplement the heavy root feeders (like The Kraken) with commercial potted plant food sticks (one every 3-4 months). CO2 is provided by a yeast bottle, and the aquarium gets a 50% water change each week. There is not heater in the tank, and in the summer the temperature averages 76-78 F, and in the Winter that average drops to 70-72.
Other plants include crypts (wendtii, becketii, blassii, pontederifolia, balansae), Aponogeton ‘lace’, Nypheaea lilies, jungle val and a large red rubin sword plant. The only fish in the tank are a colony of Skiffia bilineata and a few Sycidium sp. gobies (for algae control).
The blooming of the crinum started on July 21, 2012. I have never seen a crinum bloom inside before. I do not really know if this is much of an accomplishment or not, but I am certainly enjoying it! I am going to try to pollinate the blooms, but I am not sure if they will self-pollinate or not. Hopefully I will have another video soon of the seed pods and seed germination….
Many of the largest pet industry companies in the world gather every other year in Nurnberg, Germany, for InterZoo… one of the two largest distributor trade shows in the world (the other is Aquarama, held in opposite years in Singapore). All aspects of the pet trade are represented, and the aquarium displays steal the show. From huge koi ponds to nano tanks (both fresh and marine), everything available in the hobby can be seen at InterZoo. Here is a video of only of small sampling of the cool stuff I saw this year.
I am trying something new… plants. My interest in planted aquariums has increased to the point where I am making use of a lot more species, so I had lot shipped in from Singapore. The extras are listed at the bottom of the livestock page.
Matthew and I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with Kris and Lauren Weinhold while we are visiting the Raleigh A. S. Spring workshop last weekend. Kris is a very aquarist and photographer who is very active in the club scene as a speaker, writer and with home club GWAPA. Kris’s blog (Guitarfish.org) is a great resource for aquarium advice, and just a fun place to go to see a lot fo great photography. I followed Kris around the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and watched him take incredible pictures without a flash… I have a lot to learn.