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Manzi island 180L

Joris

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2 Dec 2017
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The Netherlands
Hi guys! Quite a few years ago I started a journal here about my first aquascape. Since then I actually lost motivation and interest in the hobby - mainly due to investments in cheap equipment which made maintenance a pain in the ass. This was a great lesson learned and now thanks to a friend I'm starting my second aquascape. I've done quite some research and really wanted to go high-tech and invest in proper equipment. Now it's time to finally start this project. I've saved up quite some cash and convinced the wife ;). Below a list of my new equipment:

  • ILA optic white aquarium (90x45x45) + DIY cabinet
  • Oase Biomaster 850 + heater filled up with 6L of Seachem matrix (glass lily pipe set)
  • Pressurized CO2 system + inline CO2 atomizer
  • Twinstar S-line III 900 SM + programmable dimmer

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I've watched a lot of video's of Filipe Oliviera, and I got really inspired by the tank he did for Aquarium Gardens - link:
He used manzanita wood in a triangular composition together with a lot of interesting plants and the fine detail work he is famous for. I basically decided to copy this layout (with a few tweaks here and there). Below a list of my hardscape materials:
  • Manzanita wood (6 pieces)
  • Black lava rocks 15kg
  • Plantahunter Baikal gravel
  • La plata cosmetic sand
  • ADA Aquasoil 15L + Power Sand advanced 2L

Plant list (still WIP):
  • Trident ferns
  • Bolbitis Heudelotti
  • Pinnatifida
  • Anubias Bonsai, Paxing & nan
  • Bucephalandra Wavy green, Theia red and maybe some others
  • Crypts (wendtii, parva, willisii, lucens, beckettii and balansae)
  • Rotala sp green, H'ra
  • Eleocharis mini
  • Blyxa japonica
  • Juncuns repens
  • Christmass / weeping moss

This weekend I've set up the hardscape. Took me some time but I'm really pleased with the end result. Feels like the hardscape is in balance (visually) and it has that wild nature look that I really love. Yesterday I had a chat with a local Aquascape store owner. I explained him that I really like the creative part of assembling and creating the hardscape, but once the tank gets filled with water I get a bit nervous. I think this is because I'm still a noob when it comes to understanding and solving certain problems that show up. Sure, I know a lot of stuff from reading about it, but I have very little practical experience. He advised me to do a 'dark start' to get a more stable tank before adding any livestock (including plants). I quite like the concept and thought I'd give it a go. So right now there is a hardscape tank in my room that is filled up with water without plants, which feels weird :p. But I'm feeling confident about the decision. Right now I'm actually letting the tank get soaked without running the filter (as read in this article: Should I bother cycling a planted tank before planting?). This removes organic debris, dust and sugars released from the woods and prevents the filter from taking up a lot of debris at the start. Tomorrow evening I'll do a 100% water change and start the filter with Seachem stability + purigen. Or do you guys think that I should wait 2 or 3 more days before doing the 100% WC?

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Hope you like it and feedback is definitely welcome! Will keep updating the journal in the coming days.
 

EA James

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22 Jul 2019
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Staines-upon-Thames
Evening and welcome back!

Your hardscape looks spot on, You've done a great job. Plant list looks good too, I'll be following this with interest :) I like the blend from the sand onto the rocks, Are they slate chippings you've used? Looks awesome 👍

Cheers, James
 

Joris

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Evening and welcome back!

Your hardscape looks spot on, You've done a great job. Plant list looks good too, I'll be following this with interest :) I like the blend from the sand onto the rocks, Are they slate chippings you've used? Looks awesome 👍

Cheers, James
Thanks! The gravel is from the Dennerle plantahunter series (Baikal). Really awesome gravel that nicely blends with these dark lava rocks!
 

Joris

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Just did a 100% water change to remove all organic debris and started the filter for the very first time! I love the prime button :) This 850 has crazy flow, but maybe I'm just not used to these types of cannister filters. Added Seachem stability to kickstart the cycle!

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Joris

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Day 5: thus far I’ve added stability everyday as mentioned on the bottle. Also did an ammonia and nitrite test. Ammonia is at 0.03mg/l and nitrite 0. Ph is 6-6.5. Tomorrow I’m buying a nitrate test to see if the cycle has really started!
 

Joris

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Day 15: Tank has been running stable the past week. Pretty easy hobby without the lights on 😂. Did an ammonia and nitrite test. Ammonia is still around 0.03mg/l and nitrite has started showing up at 1.0 mg/l. Have not had the chance to buy a nitrate test. Also finally filled up the CO2 canister (2kg) and will install it the coming week.

Added some pics with the light on. Really love the bright Twinstar look. Can’t wait to start planting!
 

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Joris

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Day 38: due to some construction work at home I have not been able to check regularly on the tank. But it has been doing great and has finally fully cycled! Ammonia and nitrites are practically zero which means I will be shopping for some plants this weekend 😍 Next week I will start planting and will ofcourse share it with you guys!
 

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peru27

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Hi mate, would be nice to get an update on how your tank is doing and looking now. When you get a chance, please do post a pic after planting. Thank you.
 

Joris

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Wonderful layout. Love that explosion of wood and, as a few people have mentioned, that rock/gravel combo looks ace.
After 38 days you must be bursting to get back in and get planting. Looking forward to seeing it green!
Haha yeah I definitely cannot wait to start and see it develop!
 

Joris

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Started putting together the plant list on my favorite aquarium plants ecom website. It’s going to be pricey, but I definitely want to start my tank with as much plants as possible. It will hopefully make it more stable and more green from the start. Do you guys think this is overkill or do I perhaps need more for my 90p?
 

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Joris

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Nice looking scape, can I ask why you have cycle tank with out plants? Just out of interest
Thanks! Yeah it sounds pretty weird I know :p it’s something totally new for me as well. It’s called a ‘dark start’. Without plants the aquarium light does not have to be turned on which means no chance of algae or anything. This helps because now the tank can actually run and cycle without any problems. Cycling is normally always seen as a preparation tactic for live stock, but plants are actually also live stock and according to some articles I’ve read, it seems that some plants actually have a hard time coping with high ammonia levels, just like livestock. For plants, the initial startup phase in an aquarium is highly stressful (strong lighting, emerged to submerged, ammonia levels) and reducing any one of these factors will hopefully make my aquarium more stable these first weeks!
 

Joris

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Seems I can’t edit my post, but wanted to add that having a more mature microbacterial community ofcourse also helps with cleaning up organic waste, which plants ofcourse also produce (especially in the beginning when plants melt etc). So all in all at least something that I personally wanted to test, and I must say, so far so good!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
It’s called a ‘dark start’. Without plants the aquarium light does not have to be turned on which means no chance of algae or anything. This helps because now the tank can actually run and cycle without any problems.
can I ask why you have cycle tank with out plants? Just out of interest
We have had a few members <"who've used "dark start"> with ammonia rich substrates (ADA Amazonia etc). If you don't have an ammonia rich substrate you can just plant and then wait for the plants to grow in.

There is more discussion of this in <"Dr Tim Hovanec's comments"> thread.

cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Thanks for explanation, learn something new everyday
Every day is a "school day" for me as well. I had a moment of revelation yesterday in the <"Bio media for planted tanks"> thread, when I began to appreciate the stocking densities that some people keep fish at.

I've always assumed that all tanks could have enough plants to act as a biological filter for the tank, and that the volume of filter material is largely irrelevant (you are always going to have enough, basically) but yesterday I began to realise that this isn't necessarily true.

cheers Darrel
 
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Joris

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Day 52: Finally fully planted the aquarium! Bought a lot of plants and tried to really heavily plant from the start. Hopefully that will help during this first vulnerable phase.. most of the plants were in their emerged form, hoping not too much melting will occur. Now it’s time to start fiddling with co2. Dropchecker is currently green, but this is directly opposite of my outflow. I’ll test different corners of the tank to see if the co2 is distributed evenly in all planted zones. I do like the wild look and I’m really curious to see how it will develop :).

Plant list:

Blyxa
Crypts
Trident ferns
Bolbitis
Bucephalandras
Anubias nana
Juncuns repens
Rotala green and Hra
Pinatifida
Christmas moss and fissidens
 

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