The old forest

Discussion in 'Journals' started by AquamaniacUK, 28 Oct 2017.

  1. AquamaniacUK

    AquamaniacUK Member

    16 Apr 2014
    London, United Kingdom

    Time to share another assembly. This will be my last assembly made in England.

    Tank : Clearseal 40x 30x 30 cm aprox. 36 litres
    Filtration : Dennerle scapers flow
    Lighting: Chihiros Aquasky 451 (Initially 6 hours, currently 7 hours day)
    Heating : Fluval mirrored M 200 watts
    Co2 : pressurized with co2 supermarket regulator, 2 kg fire extinguisher , solenoid and neo S diffuser. (turns on 2 horus before lighting and shuts down 1 hour before)
    Substrate : JBL proscape brown
    Hardscape: Lava rock + 3 bonsais +pieces of redmoor
    Eleocharis acicularis mini
    Michrantemun monte carlo
    Bucephalandra wavy leaf green
    anubias petite
    Riccardia chamedryfolia
    Flame moss
    Xmas moss

    This as been a weak year around here, so far i had only assembled a small nano and because i am going to move back home soon i was not planning anymore assemblies.The irony was that my cousin decided he did not wanted his tank anymore and gave it to me.

    The tanks isn't anything special, its a clearseal i bought for 25 pounds at Aquarium design centre in London back in 2012. I did a couple assemblies on it and then gave it to my cousin when i upgraded for a TMC.
    Fate decided it should end up returning to me and my head started imagining on the possibilities straight away.

    The problem was that i only got the glass back, so i had to go out and buy a new filter and light unit for it.
    The choice for a filter fell on the Dennerle scapers flow hang on back canister filter, this unlike a hang on back filter, its really a canister filter quite suitable for nanos, but its designed to be kept hanging on the side or back of the tank instead of underneath it.

    As for the light i chose a Chihiros aquasky 451, as far as i know this unit is known for being a cheap ADA rip off, but a 25 pound tank i am not willing to break the bank. The heating will be provided by a 200 watts fluval mirrored M, this is quite big for this tank, but i had it lying around and it saves me buying a new one.

    I already shipped all my tanks, equipment and hardscape back to Portugal ahead of my move in the end of the year, still i found quite some lava rocks lying around that i somehow forgot to send, so the option was to reuse them in this scape. Initially i wanted to go for a mountainscape, i even published some pictures of a work in progress hardscape asking opinions.


    However the rocks weren't of good size, didn't felt suitable for the design and i wasn't very happy with the look of it. My inspiration came from somewhere else, i still have some leftover bonsai trees here from when i used to sell them on ebay. And i started thinking about using them to do a treescape similar to Filipe Oliveira's one.


    I was only a beginner back at the portuguese forum when Filipe started sharing this work there, this was before he stormed the world with it, to this day i still think this original treescape is still the best.And i say this after the world and its mother, including Filipe himself, creating countless aquarium trees over the years.

    So why i am talking about this scape?
    Like i said before while having a look around my leftover box i found my bonsai trees, so i thought why not use it to try and create my first successful treescape.
    But i don't want in any way or form just to copy Filipe's design, it would probably not look as good or make any justice to the original. So i decided to create a loose re imagining of the original design, in other words, all of this just to say i decided to create another treescape. As if the world hasn't had enough of those already.

    The harscape used for this is lava rock and bonsai trees.

    Trees? Wasn't it just one?

    It was, but this as a lot to do with how the layout evolved, i started working out trying to create something very similar to the original, with just one tree, but has i was playing around with the rocks and trees, it become something a bit different.

    Here's some photos:

    Here's the harscape still just with one tree. Some pieces of redmoor wood were also added to make the tree a bit more interesting.

    At some point i had this crazy idea of adding a second tree. It was just for some fun, however looking at the final result i thought i was on to something. Originally the trees were facing each other and it didn't look very natural, the solution was to move the larger tree on the left forward helping to create a sense of depth. But this created a problem at the back as there was a good amount of empty space there, it wasn't visible but it was annoying ,e as i knew it was there. So i added a third tree to the back.


    Here with the third tree already added at the back, its barely visible, but its there, however the tree on the right still didn't look well.

    This is the final design, i added some rocks to help keep the trees and substrate in place, lifted the tree on the right as it was too low in the previous photo, and i replaced the third tree at the back.
    Looking back it may not have been a good decision. Viewed live the new tree does add to the scape and it makes it look more impressive, however on photo it becomes invisible behind the larger one as opposed to the one in the previous photo that you can actually see it.


    With the hardscape finished it was time to make sure the trees wouldn't float when flooding the aquarium, for this i used an epoxy putty, this was strategically placed between the rocks and wood. I used it both to glue the trees as well as the rock to one another. The final touch was the addition of cosmetic sand in the middle.

    After finishing the hardscape it was time to plant it. The plants chosen where the following:

    Eliocharis acicularis mini

    Michrantemun monte carlo

    Anubias petite

    Bucephalandra wavy leaf green

    Flame moss

    Xmas moss

    riccardia Chamedryfolia

    For the trees i used Xmas moss, but instead of glueing it, i simply used the cracks and crevices of the bonsai wood to attach it in between the branches. For carpet i used a mix of monte carlo with eleocharis sp mini. At the front i used more monte carlo, the idea is as the carpet closes the two plants will mix giving it a more wild and natural look, i hope it works. For the back i used only eleocharis, the grass look makes it look light its far away increasing the sense of depth.

    At the front i glued anubias petite and bucephalandras to the trees to add detail, the idea as they are bigger and together with the tinny leaf grass at the back it will increase the sense of distance.
    Final details was flame moss and riccardia attached to wood and rocks.

    Here's the final result:
    Day 1
    A week after
    Two weeks after

    Tank in the living room

    Video of first trimm

    Shortly after two weeks the tank started showing some diatoms. For that i added some ottos and used regular maintenance to keep it clear.
    I was able to add the fish because the media for this tank had been cycling on an already established aquarium.
    This tank had daily water changes on its first week, every other day on the second and third. It was supposed to go into every three days but i kept it every other day when the diatoms started showing up.
    I am dosing evolution aqua the aquascaper fertilizer daily, so far i am happy with it, besides the tank is small so its reasonably unexpensive.
    The trees provide quite a good amount of shade, so i had to bump up the light, because in the beginning the monte carlo was stretching all the way up instead of spreading sideways. So far no algae problems have come from it, not worried about diatoms as its only normal at this stage, but i don't really want any of the other ones creeping in.

    The tank looks slightly different today as i added a translucent backgroung i bought from B&Q and i changed the white sand for a more natural one. This was done for a few reasons, the white sand had a very high impact, and was making the scape unbalanced, the eye would go to it straight away, second because all the fish waste was collecting in the middle and with the white sand it was popping up like a sore thumb, this way it is less visible.
    Changing sand is not that difficult, bit because of the tight space due to the trees, it was time consuming, i also took the chance to add some smaller pieces of lava rock to add some detail.

    here's how he scape looked after the change:

    This photo was taken 3 days ago, i will put a more updated one later as i not at home this weekend.
    Anyway i hope you guys like the scape, feedback is welcome.
    I know its not nearly as good as Filipe's nor does it make justice, but i am enjoying the journey.
  2. Silviu Man

    Silviu Man Member

    12 Jun 2017
    Barlad, Romania
    It looks just great. It need time ( and patience from your side) to reveal its value, after the moss on the trees will thrive.
    I have something like this in a tank and the grow is very slow. The path amont the trees is a very nice view. When moos
    will grow, a certain shadow over the path will give it an interesting look.
  3. kadoxu

    kadoxu Member

    24 May 2016
    Kingston Upon Thames
    Looks really good. From my experience, the moss will need at least couple of months to get to a decent size. I eventually got bored and bought more moss. :lol:

    You probably know this, but I'll say it anyway... Moss is like a filter floss in the tank, it picks up a lot of debris from the water column, so when doing some cleanup/water changes, you need to gently disturb the moss so it releases some of the debris. If you don't do this, you'll eventually get algae issues with the moss.
  4. AquamaniacUK

    AquamaniacUK Member

    16 Apr 2014
    London, United Kingdom
    Thanks. For the feedback I appreciate it.

    Thanks, I am aware this. To remove the debris I will use a brush, using it gently on the moss will release the debris, waving around the moss to create some movement during water changes also helps.

    Time for an update.

    After a suggestion by the tree man himself, Filipe oliveira, I decided to cut the carpet closer to the substrate at the front to keep the it proportional in size to the trees. Around this time the diatoms started being a nuisance and to counter that I cut the light to its minimum output. That stopped the algae problem on its tracks, but at the same time it reduced the growth rate to a crawling speed, so much that since then I have not done a single carpet trimm. At the same time I cut down my nutrient dosing do 1 ml daily to match the decrease in lighting, I am using the evolution aqua the aquascaper complete plant food.

    With time the algae have subsided and today the aquarium is looking much better, 2 weeks ago I increased the lighting to level two and 3 days ago for level 3, the chihiros aquasky I am using has seven output levels, but for the moment I think I am leaving it where it is. Mostly because with the decrease the tank as become a lot easier to maintain, I do the daily fertilization, a 50% water change weekly and that's it. I am looking for a balance between easy maintenance,having a bit of growth and algae control so I don't plan increasing the light for the foreseeable future.

    The tops of the trees are a lot more developed even though the photos don't do it justice, but with the light decrease that growth as now become a lot slower, but the Xmas moss was one of plants more affected by the diatoms and it looked horrible all brown and full of oxygen bubbles to them pearling. Keeping it clean as not been a problem as mentioned above waving my hands around it doing maintenance has been enough to remove debris, and I am gonna start using a brush on it, saw the kind of DIY on a video using it to clear is moss of debris and it seemed very effective, so I will give it a try.

    On the other hand the Flame moss that didn't look like much in the beginning is now starting to take off, I already had to trimm it a bit and as I placed it in areas of less visibility its slowly contributing to add more detail to the different levels of depth of the aquarium as well as making these areas stand out more.

    The monte carlo didn't like the light decrease and it practically doesn't grow, which its not at all bad, less work with trimming, besides its still looking healthy. The eleocharis acicularis mini on the other hand its still spreading and its becoming visible in the spaces between the trees in the midground areas where I placed it.

    Finally when it comes to plants the riccardia is not growing at all, it doesn't look nice and in some places it came loose and ended being sucked by the filter. I never used it before, so I don't have a lot of experience with it.

    Last but not the least I was still not happy with the pathway, at the back it looked too wide and unnatural, not counting with the piece of wood on the left that many people had said it looked unnatural, to try and fix this during one of the last water changes I broke apart some lava rocks and added a few more pieces in the pathway, at the same time I increased the height of the sand at the back of it.

    Without futher a due here it his a photographic comparison of the tank before and now:



    And here is a video I made of the tank a few days ago:

    Hope you like it and will welcome some feedback.
    Daveslaney likes this.
  5. Daveslaney

    Daveslaney Member

    21 May 2016
    The changes you have made are for the better.Looks great.
    AquamaniacUK likes this.

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