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The Nymph's Spring (EA900)

shangman

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Lava rock is probably the best material you could use to create raised banks as it'll end up housing a lot of bacteria within it too in the long run.

I have some spare if you like. You may need to smash up the rocks so they're smaller and can be put into filter bags which can be more malleable if that makes life easier for you, but I've got some sat around doing nothing.

What I have might not be enough for what you want, but I have a few kgs of the stuff you could put to use.

Hammer and chisel will easily break up the rocks.
That would be amazing!! Actually a v good idea as you said, it has all those nooks and crannies for bacteria too. I'm very happy to bash things up a bit to get them perfect. Will PM you :)
 

Wookii

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That would be amazing!! Actually a v good idea as you said, it has all those nooks and crannies for bacteria too. I'm very happy to bash things up a bit to get them perfect. Will PM you :)

If for whatever reason you injure your hammer arm, you can buy it precrushed:


As @Kogre says, put into mesh filter media bags, or I believe some people use old tights/stockings too.
 

Kogre

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I'll be giving mine away, I think I have about 5kgs or more. I'd ordered 6kg but hardly used mine for gluing epiphytes to. But yes if this isn't enough feel free to order some from the link!
 

Conort2

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You could use alfagrog? A quick search says you can get 15kg for under 20 quid, put that in media bags and that should work well, Sainsburys sell little mesh bags for fruit and veg for about 30p that should be ok to use?? At a guess!
That’s what I used previously as i had some laying spare, I used filter media bags to contain it. Seems like it allowed decent flow through it was it wasn’t too smelly when ripped up a year or so later.

cheers
 

shangman

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I honestly have NO idea what the quantities/volumes of these materials are, or how much I'll need! It's one of the weird bits of picking up this hobby during covid, but for all sorts of aquarium things I just have no idea, since every visit to the shops is as quick as possible with no exploring, and not having used these materials before too. Very thankful to @Kogre though, these lava rocks will form my base and I guess I'll see if it's enough and need more after, fingers crossed not lol!

I did have a look at alfagrog, but I couldn't tell from the links I found how much I'd get, thankyou for checking. Will have a look at the sainsburys bags too, ages ago I went looking for media bags and they were really weirdly expensive so I bought some net and sewed some myself lol, but don't have any net left now! Am quite tempted by the stockings idea, I'm sure I have some friends with some old rubbish ones, I think the stretchiness will be good with the shaping.
 

EA James

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@shangman I have lava rock in my tank and its quite sharp so be careful as it will scratch the glass very easily, I've seen people use plastic egg crate on the bottom to safe the glass and keep the rocks in place.
I just searched alfagrog on ebay and looked at the first one, I think they would all be readily available so if you have the time you could just order up 1 bag at a time and see how you go with regards to quantities etc, if time is on your side you have the luxury of not rushing into it and wasting money.
 

shangman

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I was thinking about getting some egg crate for parts of the base, just to keep everything in place easily, especially since I want to use some bigger rocks as part of the scape and putting bare rocks on the base gives me the heebie jeebies. Will be careful with the lava rock, though this tank is already quite scratched up from the previous owner, so I won't be that upset if there are a few, I don't want many more!! The alfagrog does look interesting, it's definitely a great backup plan if I need any extra building materials, and if the sizing is accurate it looks like the "nuggets" are a good size for glueing together into the perfect shape for steep areas.

I get the rest of my soil today, so this week can set up the dark start! Got a small bag of tropica powder (as well as the normal size ada amazonia), so planning on putting that in too, but in a wide low bowl or something so they don't mix. Fingers crossed that's ok! I know most people do a dark start with all their hardscape and everything done, but I think doing it first with just the soil and filter should be fine, since it's just about reducing the ammonia impact of the soil when first setting up the scape + retaining the filter's bacteria while I gather everything. Am hopefully going to Aquarium Gardens in the next 2 weeks, maybe attempting to make it a double trip to Riverwood Aquatics too. Has anyone been to both and has thoughts about their wood selections? Honestly I'm being really picky about the wood, I think it's really important to make that nice and sculptural.
 

Wookii

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Honestly I'm being really picky about the wood, I think it's really important to make that nice and sculptural.

It's an easy trap to fall into to be honest, and depends on what type of scape you think you'll be aiming for in the long run. I've pained and strained over the hardscape in my last couple of scapes, only to see it gradually and eventually disappear completely from view under the plants.

If you are aiming for a lightly planted, hardscape dominated layout, and plan to keep the plants well and hard trimmed back to keep it exposed at all times, then some decent looking pieces of wood and rock are good. However if you think it's more likely that the plants will dominate in the longer term, then base your choice on getting the right structural shape, and less about aesthetics of the individual pieces.

I know from my own perspective, on my forth coming rescape, I'm going to be caring a lot less about the hardscape detail, and more on just getting a convenient and balanced overall layout, knowing I likely won't see most of it in 4-5 months time.

Incidentally, if AG or Riverwood don't have quite what you are looking for, I've bought a lot of pieces from TM Aquatix on eBay. They are good value, and very helpful (and have pieces of wood individually photographed):


I recently bought a big box of black lava rock from them, and asked if they could curate what they sent so only pieces of around 100-200mm were included, and with rough and interesting non-uniform faces to the rock (a lot of lava rock can come out rather uniform in shape) - yeah, I know customer from hell! :p. Sure enough though they curated the entire boxful for me to suit, and almost all of the pieces look great:

85BC67AF-FC29-4C6A-84DF-419130D92353.jpeg
 

shangman

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It's an easy trap to fall into to be honest, and depends on what type of scape you think you'll be aiming for in the long run. I've pained and strained over the hardscape in my last couple of scapes, only to see it gradually and eventually disappear completely from view under the plants.

If you are aiming for a lightly planted, hardscape dominated layout, and plan to keep the plants well and hard trimmed back to keep it exposed at all times, then some decent looking pieces of wood and rock are good. However if you think it's more likely that the plants will dominate in the longer term, then base your choice on getting the right structural shape, and less about aesthetics of the individual pieces.

I know from my own perspective, on my forth coming rescape, I'm going to be caring a lot less about the hardscape detail, and more on just getting a convenient and balanced overall layout, knowing I likely won't see most of it in 4-5 months time.

Incidentally, if AG or Riverwood don't have quite what you are looking for, I've bought a lot of pieces from TM Aquatix on eBay. They are good value, and very helpful (and have pieces of wood individually photographed):


I recently bought a big box of black lava rock from them, and asked if they could curate what they sent so only pieces of around 100-200mm were included, and with rough and interesting non-uniform faces to the rock (a lot of lava rock can come out rather uniform in shape) - yeah, I know customer from hell! :p. Sure enough though they curated the entire boxful for me to suit, and almost all of the pieces look great:
I'm definitely not one of those hardscape-heavy people, I like the softness of plants, or in a blackwater, the softness of leaves, and I do want plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaants to dominate, but just finding that right bit of structural gestural wood to form the base shape of the tank is so important and hard! Even if it's covered in plants, it's still gotta have a little somethingsomething to give that great shape. I think the important thing is I know it's not gonna be 1 perfect bit of wood, it's gonna be a few nice bits, glued and screwed (and just haphazardly balanced) together to make something cool. And that there is no "perfect" piece, just something nice and interesting. This tank is just another experiment... I'm trying to keep reminding myself this isn't the "perfect" tank in any way, it's just my first hightech, a whole new world to explore where it definitely won't be perfect, but as long as it's cute and the fish are happy then it's all good :) It's nice to have you guy to remind me too! 😂

On the upside, I'm much less fussy about rocks as they are essentially vehicles for moss. I really like that lava rock, I think I want to try some in my nano tank or that future pond tank next, or maybe even this one, though I'm a bit worried about the kuhlis as ages ago I put in some cuttlefish bone to up the hardness a little for the shrimps and they ended up cutting tiny scratches all over from it.

Ordering stuff online is great and so useful, but like with the lava stone/alfagrog it's so hard to work out the scale!! I've seen lots of great stuff online at Riverwood Aquatics too but the scale of these things is soooo hard to imagine without it being in a tank of the same size as mine, I'm always worried I'll buy it and it'll come and be too small or big. I bought some weird ancient root from them expecting it to be not that big, and when it came it was massive!! Which actually was great, but you never know until you see it. Hopefully with experience it'll all make more sense to my little brain. Thankyou for the ebay link, will check them out, maybe they'll be happy for another picky customer ;)

I do like your focus on convenience, in my nano I didn't think about that at all and it's basically impossible to clean properly 😭 definitely will keep that one in mind more than I did before.
 

shangman

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It's an easy trap to fall into to be honest, and depends on what type of scape you think you'll be aiming for in the long run. I've pained and strained over the hardscape in my last couple of scapes, only to see it gradually and eventually disappear completely from view under the plants.

If you are aiming for a lightly planted, hardscape dominated layout, and plan to keep the plants well and hard trimmed back to keep it exposed at all times, then some decent looking pieces of wood and rock are good. However if you think it's more likely that the plants will dominate in the longer term, then base your choice on getting the right structural shape, and less about aesthetics of the individual pieces.

I know from my own perspective, on my forth coming rescape, I'm going to be caring a lot less about the hardscape detail, and more on just getting a convenient and balanced overall layout, knowing I likely won't see most of it in 4-5 months time.

Incidentally, if AG or Riverwood don't have quite what you are looking for, I've bought a lot of pieces from TM Aquatix on eBay. They are good value, and very helpful (and have pieces of wood individually photographed):


I recently bought a big box of black lava rock from them, and asked if they could curate what they sent so only pieces of around 100-200mm were included, and with rough and interesting non-uniform faces to the rock (a lot of lava rock can come out rather uniform in shape) - yeah, I know customer from hell! :p. Sure enough though they curated the entire boxful for me to suit, and almost all of the pieces look great:

View attachment 168967
Also, do you have any favourite lava stone scapes? I'm kinda intrigued by using them as a main stone, it doesn't seem that common.
 

Wookii

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Also, do you have any favourite lava stone scapes? I'm kinda intrigued by using them as a main stone, it doesn't seem that common.

It’s not that common, no, I assume because it’s more difficult to find pieces with good texture and interesting shape.

But as you rightly said “I’m much less fussy about rocks as they’re essentially vehicles for moss”. I’d extend that to being a vehicle for any epiphyte, and lava rock in particular is much easier for plants to root to. Mine will be almost completely covered, so I’m not too fussy about them much either.

For me though going with lava rock was a choice to get an inert rock to be able to maintain a soft water tank. I failed this time around with my Kinabalu tank because I used loads of Seiryu stone. With CO2 injection pushing the pH down, it sheds loads of calcium carbonate constantly increasing the water hardness. I water change with pure un-mineralised RO, and my tank water still stays at around KH 8 and GH 12 regardless due to the CaCO3 in the stone. It was a schoolboy error on my part, but lesson learned for the rescape!

As for an inspiring scape using lava stone, you can check out @Geoffrey Rea’s rescape from this post onwards:

'New Decade, New Decadence...'
New Decade, New Decadence...
 

shangman

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It’s not that common, no, I assume because it’s more difficult to find pieces with good texture and interesting shape.

But as you rightly said “I’m much less fussy about rocks as they’re essentially vehicles for moss”. I’d extend that to being a vehicle for any epiphyte, and lava rock in particular is much easier for plants to root to. Mine will be almost completely covered, so I’m not too fussy about them much either.

For me though going with lava rock was a choice to get an inert rock to be able to maintain a soft water tank. I failed this time around with my Kinabalu tank because I used loads of Seiryu stone. With CO2 injection pushing the pH down, it sheds loads of calcium carbonate constantly increasing the water hardness. I water change with pure un-mineralised RO, and my tank water still stays at around KH 8 and GH 12 regardless due to the CaCO3 in the stone. It was a schoolboy error on my part, but lesson learned for the rescape!

As for an inspiring scape using lava stone, you can check out @Geoffrey Rea’s rescape from this post onwards:

'New Decade, New Decadence...'
New Decade, New Decadence...
Haha I totally agree with you about the epiphytes with rocks... I originally typed "vehicles for moss and buce" but then edited it down 😂 honestly I can't wait to put soooo many plants together all mixed and rich together!

PXL_20210518_140502251.jpg


I took a photo of a thick edge of wildflowers at our allotment, it's total 😍 vibes. + Some wood with moss and bolbitus + a sand area + mossy rocks. Done!

That is actually so interesting about the seiryu stone! I did really like that, but I definitely don't want to make the water any harder, I'd like it softer if anything! Maybe I'll join you with a lavastone rock tank!

Will take a look at that journal tonight 👀
 

shangman

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I've got the temperature of the tank at 23 atm and I think that's probably the only reason everything isn't breeding like mad!!

Since I got the cardinals, I realised on the second day that about half of them (I think females as they are all the largest/fattest ones) had nipped fins, some quite extremely so. So I've been doing big 50% water changes twice a week to help with that healing, and added even more leaves. Since it's been raining so much it's been really easy (hallelujah for the RAIN! I've never been more obsessed with the weather since starting this hobby, I used to resent rain and more it pleases me immensely).

And secondly, there is sooooooooo much live food in all the water butts. Daphnia, seed things, little white hopper things, even a few blood worms! So they get a bit when I do a water change, and then a lot when I remember to bring my net. This is 2 swishes of the net from one butt in a large mayonnaise jar, I just had to brag!!

PXL_20210521_153316156.jpg
PXL_20210521_153322036.jpg


I've noticed some of the cardinals getting very fat a few days ago and doing some interesting flicking at eachother, and then the bellies went down again the day after. Haven't seen any fry, but with the amount of fish in this tank atm they would never get anywhere. These cardinals tbh aren't in great shape, not only were their fins quite nipped, half of them have slightly crooked spines. It doesn't look like neon tetra disease, I think maybe they were bred like this?
If they do breed is that fine? Will they be able to have healthy fry if I nurture them? Or is it just bad stock and will not help along.

The apistos have been wiggling at each other a lot, but nothing has really developed thankfully. That'd be a nightmare right now!
 
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shangman

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Ok just a small question tonight cos I'm feeling paranoid about it.

This afternoon I made some small wabi kusa balls, using at most a golf ball sized amount of the new ADA Amazonia in each. The soil is wrapped in sphagnum moss and then a letter of moss/pelia/hydro tripartita. I made 4, with 1 in each nano tank, and 2 in my 60L, half submerged with coated wire holding them to the side.

Will enough ammonia be given off by that small amount of soil to make me to need to do extra water changes? I do 2x 40% in 60L. 1x 50% in the 23l & 45l. They're all stocked mature tanks now with lots of plants.
 
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Wookii

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Ok just a small question tonight cos I'm feeling paranoid about it.

This afternoon I made some small wabi kusa balls, using at most a golf ball sized amount of the new ADA Amazonia in each. The soil is wrapped in sphagnum moss and then a letter of moss/pelia/hydro tripartita. I made 4, with 1 in each nano tank, and 2 in my 60L, half submerged with coated wire holding them to the side.

Will enough ammonia be given off by that small amount of soil to make me to need to do extra water changes? I do 2x 40% in 60L. 1x 50% in the 23l & 45l. They're all stocked mature tanks now with lots of plants.

Could you not soak them in a jug for a few days, swapping the water out a couple of times a day, to get rid of the initial flush of ammonia?
 

shangman

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Could you not soak them in a jug for a few days, swapping the water out a couple of times a day, to get rid of the initial flush of ammonia?
Sometimes I marvel at the obvious ideas I manage to completely miss! 😂 Good plan, will do. I did make extras that ended up in bowls, I guess the windowsill will just be a bit crowded for a week or so!

Fingers crossed they work, only done emersed things with new emersed-grown aquatic plants. If it does, we're one step closer to my rainwater pond tank too 😍
 

shangman

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Another episode of Shangman's Apistos...

Things haven't been too bad in the 60L with 3 apistos. The tank is so full of plants (I've not been able to resist purchasing or swapping the occasional lovely plant from UKAPS members for the new tank 👀 ), that it's VERY jungley and overgrown, which since it's overstocked atm (3 apistos of varying sizes, 6 otos, 7 kuhlis, 10 cardinals) I'm quite happy about. Even though it's too many fish, the balance of different niches seems great, I've never seen the kuhlis more than now, they seem to love having cardinals around. I also did an experiment where I put a thin layer of playsand in the front to see if it changed behaviour, and it did! The kuhlis and apistos sift this sand a lot more than the usual, so I'm definitely using it in the new tank. The downside is that it doesn't look nearly as good with the plants, as it's light it shows up the gaps between plants a lot more and makes things look more leggy, but in the hightech hopefully that won't be a problem once the planting becomes dense. I also lowered the light a lot in the past few months, as I have had a lot of spirogyra, (spyrogira? I always get confused on that spelling) the only way I've found I can control it is by lowering the light, and having a lot of floating plants to block light even more. I

PXL_20210523_094550581.jpg


The dynamics of the apistos is evolving a lot, it'll be very interesting to see what it's like when the two small ones are bigger. Currently the male is "presenting" himself to both the females. Motherfish seems half interested, half not impressed and spends half her time chasing him away. Luckily, she never bites, she isn't violent but she just like to chase for a little while to remind them who's boss. I'm quite relieved there's bene no serious breeding attempts, which would really make things a bit much.

The little female is clearly interested in the male, but in a more innocent way. She's tiny, the size of the tetras, but is extremely cute. She has quite an irridescent face, which Motherfish doesn't have at all which I find quite intruiging, I wonder if it will go away when she's older or not. She also gets chased away from Motherfish when she comes to the front, and it's taken a week for me to get a good photo of her without her hiding away, but she's definitely getting bolder. She always has verticle stripes, which I think is a camoflage thing. Really looking forward to seeing what she's like in the new tank when she can have her own proper territory. Both the young ones are now bold enough to always come out at feeding time and eat without being chased which is great.

PXL_20210523_0912292542.jpg


PXL_20210523_0912292543.jpg


The male is very funny, he's sometimes bold, but mostly shy (he does try it on and get chased quite a lot). Something he seems to love to do is to wriggle/crawl around between plants to reach food, which looks ridiculous when he has such long majestic fins. He really needs more space to be able to swim around confidently like Mr Apister did, again can't wait to see him in the big tank fully scaped. His colours are less strong in this tank, without any brothers to compete against and having to hide a lot, but his irridescence is beautiful. He's still got a good bit of growing to do, I hope he ends up fully majestic! I vaguely remember reading somewhere that it's not until the males are fully grown that the colours get really strong.

PXL_20210523_091229254.jpg
 
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shangman

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shangman

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Just vacuumed all the sand and rubbish out of the 180 tank ready for the soil to go in for the dark start. WOW that SUCKED, what a tedious horrible job!!! I really, really need to get a pump so I can do waterchanges without buckets.

Found a few cull cherry shrimp were still alive and uneaten by the apistos in there, so I put them back in their main tank lol, they're colourless but I couldn't bring myself to flush them. They're survivors!!

Going to visit Aquarium Gardens and Riverwood Aquatics next week in an aquarium day extravaganza!! I WILL find my hardscape!! Really looking forward to it :)))))))
 
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