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"Noobula" 90 x 45 x 60

jaHko

Member
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
New member here and a total noob to the hobby, hence the name of the scape. I have been lurking in the shadows of the forum for the past three months soaking up as much knowledge as I can (information overload) whilst slowly getting all the bits and bobs together.

I wanted to wait until I actually had a bit to post before opening a Journal to give you guys a bit to read and hopefully gain a few thread stalkers contributors – cause I need as much help as I can get! So far it’s been quite a journey and it has taught me to be patient. Very patient. Which is a good thing I guess – measure twice, cut once like my old man always used to say!

But before I dive into the first part of the walkabout – my custom cabinet build – below are some deets on my setup:

Setup: High Tech
Tank: Dymax Crystal Clear 90 x 45 x 60
Tank Cover: Lid Hooks with Glass Cover (still need to get it)
Cabinet: Afrormosia African Hardwood 90 x 45 x 70
Lights: Current Satellite Plus Pro 48”
Filter: JBL Crystal Profi e1501 GreenLine ( 1400l/hr)
Media:
JBL Volcano Mineral
ADA Aquasoil Amazonia
ADA Amazonia Powder
JBL White Riversand​
CO2 System:
2kg Brushed Aluminum Cylinder
CO2 Dual Stage Regulator and Solenoid Magnetic Valve with precision SMC Valve
Oiginal UP New Inline CO2 Atomizer Diffuser System 16/22mm
Aluminium Aquarium CO2 Bubble Counter (built in NRV)
CO 2 Drop Checker + 4kdH Solution​
Glass: CO2Art Aquarium Lily Pipes Set Ø17 - 16/22
Hardscape: Rock from LFS
Plants: Will decide after hardscape is finalized
Ferts:
Seachem Flourish
Seachem Excel Flourish
Seachem Iron
Any recommendations from the forum?​
Other: Seachem Stability
Flora:
Micranthemum sp. - Montecarlo
Eleocharis sp. - Minima
Anubias sp. - Nangi
Pogostemon Helferi
Ludwiga Glandulosa - Red
Hygrophila Corymbosa
Java Ferns
Rotala Macranda
Alternanthera Reineckii mini​
Fauna
Ember Tetras (13)
Neon Tetras (12)​



So yeah there are still a few things missing which is where the forum's valuable input comes in. I have a vague idea of what I am doing when it comes to plants and fish and am not sure if I am ready to take on EI dosing. Anyway - will post about those topics later.

Okay, so on to my custom cabinet build. . . . .All the aquarium stands at my LFS are butt ugly and I sure as hell not forking out a fortune for an ADA Stand. So time to channel my inner Chinaman and build a rip-off! I have done a fair amount of woodworking in my younger days and thus know my way around things but still, this turned out to be quite a challenge. My aim was to try and build my own cabinet for cheaper than I would buy something similar in the shops.

Living in Dubai, it is rather difficult finding exotic wood but eventually I found a lumber yard that was willing to sell a small amount of wood to me. Below you can see the huge trees in the lumber yard – I have never bought wood direct form source but screw it, let’s do it . . .
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I had a look at a couple of species they had and settled on Afrormosia, an African hardwood as it was nicely figured. Here is a rough cut piece straight form the band saw.
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When I first collected the wood I noticed that it was still a bit wet – I knew this was risky to take on but didn’t really have much of a choice as I couldn’t find decent wood anywhere else. Below is a photo of my base I had planed at a local carpentry shop (more money!) – here it became quite apparent how wet the wood still was . . . .:(
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Here are the two chaps that planed and shaped the wood for me. Unfortunately the planer couldn’t do pieces wider than 50cm and I had to cut my backside into two pieces :( - this was also the reason I changed from 120 to a 90 tank. :rage:
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So with the wood being wet I couldn’t jump straight into it and first had to stack the pieces to allow it to dry . . . and I thought watching paint dry was excruciating! The drying took about two weeks (more like my patience ran out after two weeks) after which I noticed some pieces starting to crack at the ends and some were slightly warped and it shrunk about 5mm across the grain of the wood. :banghead: There goes my plans for a 'flush look' . . .
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Long story short – I had to chop and changes pieces around. I had to take my internal divider and re-purpose it for one of my back panels as that had completely cracked up. Fat mission. I did all of this on my balcony and with it taking way longer than initially thought – I started getting the evil eye from the wife.:bored:
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I used a router (more money!) and dowels and did a mock assembly
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Once I saw everything lined up it was time to glue. Ho. Lee. Sheet. It got messier than a stag do in vegas – white stuff coming out of every imaginable gap. :D Had to work super quick to get it wiped off otherwise the finish would be ruined. (Below the doors have been temporarily put in place just to see how it will look when finished)
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Here you can see the Frankenstein backside. Didn’t have the correct tools at the time (still trying to do it on a budget here) to perfectly flatten joining edges so it ended up with quite a big gap. This was later filled in with glue and sawdust mix. After gluing up it became apparent that the base and top had bowed slightly making everything wobbly.:sour: I bought a hand plane (more money!) and eventually flattened it out after tearing out enough wood to build a cabin with.
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Afrormosia is very similar in appearance to Burmese Teak. Since my TV stand and Coffee Table are Burmese Teak I wanted to have the cabinet look a bit different. I decided to go with Danish Oil over Polyurethane as it was easier to apply (with a cloth). I am still regretting this. The VOC laden smell hangs in the air like the smell of a fresh dog turd on a misty morning.:what:
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And the freshly finished fruits of my labour. Pretty chuffed with myself at this point. I since moved it into my apartment and it is stinking the place up. Don’t know which is worse, the smell or my wife not letting me hear the end of it!
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In the end it was worth it. It is extremely rewarding taking a step back to admire one’s creation, much like I expect looking at my first aquascape will be like. Lots of lessons learnt. Am already planning more carpentry projects . . . .


So the setup begins . . .I got lucky with the film for the tank backside. My mate’s wife owns a wall sticker business and gave me a freebie. Damn I love freebies. Whoop whoop! :)
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I moved the cabinet inside only to find the tiles it is standing on is not level. FFS. I fixed that by placing a 5mm foamed rubber pad under the base. The tank has been placed on a 15mm foamed rubber pad. Not easy to find but luckily cheap as chips!
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My mate came to the rescue again when he picked up a discarded Powertank 6kg CO2 cylinder worth like $400 or something ridiculous like that. Still need to have that checked out to make sure all is ok. This freebie was a big win as I had already overspent a bit on the cabinet and other bits and bobs. Only prob here is that it’s a CGA320 thread and my CO2Art regulator is a BS341 Thread. Need to find that adapter . . .
IMG_1426.JPG



So this is what my cabinet currently looks like under the bonnet. Still a bit messy but will have it looking proper OCD once I have everything set up. If you are wondering about all the whisky’s on the bottom left – I had to strike a deal with the wife in order to get the aquarium (married guys will understand) – her condition was that all the booze had to be removed from the top of our fridge (now I am praying this friggin cabinet doesn’t collapse under 300kg of force). Maybe I should build a liquor cabinet, mmmm……
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Time for the hardscape. My LFS didn’t exactly have the stones I was looking for so everything I planned out on paper before when up in smoke. No really. I threw it in the BBQ. Should’ve seen it coming but was pretty bleak as I spent quite a few evenings planning layouts. Noob error I guess. . .
I also tried getting stones from the Wadi’s in UAE/Oman but they ended up altering the pH / GH of the water. No go. Anyway, when limits are imposed it forces creativity - here are my choices:
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I cut a foamed rubber pad to the size of my tank to play with some layouts. As you can see with the lines – I am trying to stick with some rules here but my largest stone – more or less pyramid shaped one – which should be my main stone is difficult to work with and to find the right placement. I like the idea of a towering setup and arranged like this, the main stone is simply too small/short. Anyway, to hell with rules. . . . The two smaller stones together makes for a taller combined structure.
UKAPS024.jpg



I played around a bit but in the end the only thing that gave me the real feels was doing mock ups in the tank. Had a few heart stopping moments when I dinged the glass a few times – so far no scratches – touch wood (*admires cabinet . . . heavy breathing. . . .)
Still not sure which part of the stone to use for the overhang (I don’t like the flat face to face the front) and which way the overhang should point – this creates two total different feels to the layout.

Pointing towards the left side it creates a V-Shape to the middle of the aquarium as well as creating a separate little nook on the left side – a scape within a scape – Scapeception if you will. I also like this because this side will get a lot of facetime facing the kitchen, apartment entrance, bedroom entrance . . . you catch my drift . . .
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Facing inwards. Positioned so that it complements the angle of my main formation on the right is the other option. Can make for an epic overhang but it does take away that V-shape I kinda liked. Also the little nook I had is no longer but does make for something else – maybe I can build it higher at the back. (Foam is to protect glass if there are some rockfalls!)
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So I am fairly happy with the right hand side of the scape - maybe swop the two smaller stones around - your thoughts?
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Here are a few other flavours I tried out - I numbered the pics for easy referral in feedback . . .

1.
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2.
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3.
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UKAPS060.jpg
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Using the volcanic rock substrate just as support to try a few things - this will obviously be higher once the AS is added. The black 'river' down the middle is indicative of where my white river will be in the final scape.

Not sure what to do next. Going on a business trip today so will leave it a couple of days and give it another look when I am back, in the meanwhile please fire away with comments! :thumbup:
 
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chrism

Member
Joined
3 Mar 2009
Messages
72
Location
North Wales
1600px x 1200px should be fine I would have thought, perhaps try lower the quality / increasing the compression.


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chrism

Member
Joined
3 Mar 2009
Messages
72
Location
North Wales
P.S. Only skim read your first post and not all the pictures loaded as I'm in A&E at the moment (nothing serious) but it's looking good! Following your progress with interest!


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Wisey

Member
Joined
19 Jul 2014
Messages
1,062
Awesome work on the cabinet, that's really nice and its always satisfying to have made something yourself.

For me, your right hand side is a bit upright, the pinnacles look a bit strange and not very natural, it may even help if they just leaned a tiny bit, so all the stones in the whole scape, both left and right, lean the same direction, or the left and right both lean in towards the central sand area, or each side leans away from each other. It's always good to try and work with the strata in your stone and ensure that it all matches if you want to retain a more natural look. It just feels a bit like the right hand side is upright and the left hand side is more natural and the two don't fit together. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you have to look at it every day and if you like it, just ignore me :D
 

jaHko

Member
Thread starter
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
Thanks for the kind words and input. Saw a bunch of members were using Tapatalk so thought I'd give it a go. [EDIT: quality of the compressed photos ain't that good - meh - but the resolution methinks is a good size, 640x480]Back from my trip and made a beeline for my setup the moment I stepped through the door with Wisey's wise words of wisdom in mind - here's the outcome

(a) First try
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(b) Trying to create more of angled vibe but not succeeding
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(c) Starting to C the light - still feel there is a bit of a gap at the back - needs more of a backbone
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(d) That's better - me likey
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(e) flipped the big rock at the back around - really dig this look - still think it needs some tweaking. Don't really like the flat embedded rock at the front. Also not sure about stubby there in the back left corner . . .
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Thoughts fellas?


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jaHko

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Thread starter
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
I dun cursed myself. Nicked the glass twice in a space of 5min :mad::rage::sour:. FFS. Anyway think I am onto something here after some minor adjustments. Removed the flat rock and buried ol' stubby in the back (;)) so that it makes a bit of a overhang too. I think this might be it. It better be it otherwise I wont have a tank left at this rate . . .

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.



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Wisey

Member
Joined
19 Jul 2014
Messages
1,062
I think that is a really big improvement. Just keep tinkering with it, take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes, its amazing how what looks perfect one day but is improved on the next day. I've been tinkering for weeks with hardscape, but I do it on a board as my tank is full of life and water. I'm rescaping at the weekend, so really only have a couple of evenings to make a decision. I'll have to bite the bullet soon and just go with an idea.
 

jaHko

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Thread starter
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
Right, so I have gone ahead and done the hardscape - happy with the general layout but still feel some tweaking is required. . . Too much of a gap in the middle compared to the pic above for example. Will leave it for a day or two but don't want to over think it. This scape will only be up for minimum of 6 months or maximum 10 ( gots to move to a new place)

With that in mind I want to keep flora selection simple/minimal. Plant questions coming soon....

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jaHko

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Thread starter
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
So I have made a few more tweaks to the hardscape and am pretty much ready to starting planting. What exactly I am not too sure. I want to go with something like Glosso, Montecarlo and hair grass and maybe something just a tad taller in the back, like Staurogyne Repens - dunno - suggestions welcome.

Anyway, I have AS Powder that I can use - the question is - do I have to? I've seen some people plant straight into AS and others go with AS Powder. What about anoxic conditions in the soil with AS powder? If I use it, how thick should the layer be? Do I have to dry start if only going with AS? Is dry start even an option because of the slopes in my tank? :wideyed:

Sorry for all the Q's - when I did research this wasn't really my original plan so never really brushed up on it :meh:
 
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Wisey

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Joined
19 Jul 2014
Messages
1,062
Your hardscape and plant choices seem very low level, yet you have a really tall aquarium. Have you thought how you will fill the vertical space? I ask as this has been my issue, my tank is smaller, 60x45x45, but with hindsight I would have got the 30 high instead as you really need to scape in a way that uses the tank dimensions. I think I achieved it in my rescape today, hopefully get my new journal started tomorrow. Something for you to consider though.
 

jaHko

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Thread starter
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
Yeah, I do kinda regret going with those dimensions - like waking up the next morning after a bender and seeing who is lying next to you :nailbiting: . Unfortunately I am very limited for choice in Dubai when it comes to low iron rimless tanks. My second tank will now doubt be a shallow one.

I was thinking of kinda working with the negative space (much like in photography). Choosing fish that prefers to live at different heights of the water column. I am however totally open to going with taller plants although I am afraid it will dwarf my hardscape. The thing is, I don't know what to choose. Any suggestions?:(
 

Wisey

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Joined
19 Jul 2014
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1,062
Yeah, I just used a big chunk of bogwood to give height on one side of my scape. The other side is low, but gives swimming space for fish.
 

rebel

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Joined
4 Aug 2015
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2,227
Love this journal!!

Your cabinet is awesome. Plant ferts on the left upper level. Human ferts on the left lower level...... ;)
 

jaHko

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Thread starter
Joined
2 Feb 2016
Messages
58
Location
Dubai
Hey guys - quick update!

Finally managed to plant my tank (19.03.2015) - have been traveling quite a bit and kept on postponing it. Anyways - it was quite the learning curve and once again I was humbled by the hobby.

Total water volume ended up (did rough measurements) came to around 165-185L.

Flora:
Micranthemum sp. - Montecarlo
Eleocharis sp. - Minima
Anubias sp. - Nangi
Pogostemon Helferi
Ludwiga Glandulosa - Red
Hygrophila Corymbosa
2 Unknown

I was like a kid in a candy shop and forgot to note the names of the other two - in the picture below its the two planted in the corners at the back (think one is a crypt?). I don't have my CO2 running yet so have dosed Excel so long. I couldn't find a CGA320-BS341 adapter so ended up buying an new cylinder (more money!) and still need to get it filled.:meh:

I used Stability and before my first water change today my Nitrites were 0.35 and Nitrates were 0.15, KH-3deg. I got a pH pen on a recent trip and my tap water and after calibrating got pH8 but (there is always a but) the JBL test kit got around pH7. This calls into question the accuracy of JBL test kit as a whole so even my Nitrate/Nitrite test might be off.

Final Hardscape
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Started to fill
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Got quite a thick film on top when I started to fill - not sure if this is because I didn't spray the soil before hand. Filthier than your local strip joint . . . .
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Shot taken this evening just before my first WC . . .
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And after . . .:D
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Not sure about my back plant placement so comments are welcome! Note that I am not attempting win a comp - just to try and grow stuff and not kill it!
 
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