Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aquascape of the Week: Norbert Sabat's 2008 ADA Layout

This aquascape is Norbert Sabat's entry to the 2008 IAPLC (ADA) Contest, with which he ranked 145th. I love the open grassy feel of the entire aquascape, with great use of different grassy plants. I like the overall "mound" shape too. I think the only thing I'd change is the driftwood on the left side; maybe a less "heavy" piece would be a little less distracting. Find out more about this tank here, and more about Norbert Sabat in this interview.

Monday, March 23, 2009

IAPLC Nature Aquarium Photography Lesson

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest website has just posted a great lesson on how to take contest-quality photos of your aquarium. There are some great tips on how to use a basic point and shoot digital camera for photos, as well as more complex SLR cameras. Applications to the contest, which is the largest and most prestigious in the world, are now open, so get your camera tripod set up and get to work!

Aquascape of the Week: Reca's "O Fogar da Ayama"

When I saw this aquascape over on the Aquascaping World forums this morning, I knew it had to be the Aquascape of the Week. It's a veritable wall of green, but Reca has skillfully used different leaf shapes and textures to break up the monotony. Nothing jumps out at you, there are no bright red plants, but it's infinitely deep. It's one of those aquascapes that you need to look at for a long time to take it all in, there's just so much interesting stuff going on! Nice job Reca! You can find his blog here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

iPhone and iPod Touch Apps for Planted Tanks

As an owner of an iPhone, I decided after seeing rumors of a Seachem application to search around for cool applications that may benefit planted tank owners. There aren't many, but they are pretty cool, and most are even free. I picked out the two most useful I could find here.

Dose - Free

This handy app is meant to be used with Seachem's products, and can help you out with a wide range of calculations. It's got 3 main options, Reef, Plant, and Gravel. Reef and Plant both deal with dosing for these types of tanks. Gravel will tell you how many bags of a Seachem substrate you'll need to fill your aquarium to a certain depth given the width and length (which is really cool, though maybe only a one time use tool).

The plant section in particular will tell you how much of each Seachem product you need to add to achieve a desired amount in your aquarium. Although only really helpful if you are using Seachem products to dose, I know a lot of people do, so this can be very helpful.

AquaNotes - Free

This one is really cool, and if you have a Neptune Systems AquaController III and the AquaNotes software (you can buy them over at MarineDepot), you can monitor and control your aquarium remotely from your iPhone. You can see temperature, pH, and a whole host of other measurements. You can also remotely turn on or off your CO2, lights, or almost anything else connected to your aquarium. This would be really helpful for going on vacation to keep an eye on your tank so you don't come back to an algae-ridden mess, or worse, a dead tank. Although the application is free, the AquaController III and AquaNotes software will run you about $375.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Follow Me on Twitter

I've decided to jump on the bandwagon and try out Twitter since, as you may have noticed, I'm falling horribly behind in updating (I swear Aquascaping Answers is coming!). I'll post short updates about my tanks, aquascaping news, and tips as often as I can. You can find the most recent tweets on the right hand side under the most recent posts, or you can visit the Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/aquaticeden.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Aquascape of the Week: Filipe Alves Oliveira's "Origens"

I love Filipe Alves Oliveira's aquascapes and this one is no different. The different textures in this "mound" style aquascape work well (I particularly like the Crypt in the front left foreground) and the subtle use of red creates a nice focal point. Check out more of Filipe Alves Oliveira's aquascapes on his blog (all in Portugese) or specifics about "Origens" in his post on Aquascaping World.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Aquascape of the Week: Pereiro's "Claudia's Garden"

The shape of this iwagumi-like aquascape is just beautiful and reminiscent of a mountain peak. Although the photography is not quite professional, I had to include this aquascape for the natural beauty of it. The school of colorful fish around the mound just add to the effect. I also love how the Hemianthus callitrichoides is creeping up the mountain. Very well done! To follow this aquascape and see more pictures, check out the thread here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Aquascaping Answers: Natural Light

Each week in Aquascaping Answers, I do my best answering your aquascaping and aquascaping related questions. Just leave your question in the comments section!

I'm trying to do a natural tank, currently with low light basic fluorescent. I want to add some high light requiring plants and use natural sunlight for a few hours, probably in the morning. Is there a 'right' amount of natural sunlight. A proper amount of time and portion of the tank to receive light? What other considerations and temperature controls should I consider?

I'd be very careful trying to use direct sunlight. It's far more intense than any artificial light, and like you hinted at, can cause temperature issues as well as algae issues. Diana Walstad's "el Natural" style of fishkeeping advises placing the tank near a southern-facing window so it gets a few hours of sunlight. This means it won't really get blasted by the sun at any point during the day directly. I don't know the exact details, but I don't think that this would be enough for a high light plant to grow well in. You also have to consider the angle at which the light is entering the aquarium. You're going to get most of your plants growing sideways towards the sunlight. As for temperature, the sunlight will heat your tank quite a bit, especially in the summer, so you may need to use a fan or chiller to keep the tank cool. Also, since it's likely going to be next to a window, keeping the tank heated in the winter will be more expensive and require a better heater. Sunlight also tends to encourage algae, so you'll have to work a little bit harder to keep that in check. Overall, I'd say using natural sunlight isn't a bad idea if you want an "el Natural" style tank with low light, low maintenance plants. However, I don't think high light plants will thrive under these conditions. They need constant and direct high intensity light to really grow well.

Any tips on making DIY caves? I'm going to make some for my fish soon - preferably from natural materials. Any suggestions?

Well the most natural caves would be crevaces made by piles of rocks. Just make sure to select rocks appropriate for the aquarium and start building. If you're looking for a cave for breeding purposes, although not the most natural, halved coconuts and upside-down flower pots with a hole for entrance are the easiest ways to go.

Ask a question about aquascaping, keeping aquatic plants, plant-friendly fish, lighting, CO2, fertilizing, or any other aquarium plant related question in the comments to this post, and I'll answer them in next week's edition.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Aquascape of the Week: Eric Monteiro's "Enchanted Hills"

Sorry for the delay in this week's aquascape, had to deal with some winter weather! This aquascape uses light and dark very effectively to highlight certain areas of the aquarium. The light plants in the background create a focal point, while the lighter plants in the foreground draw the view around the tank. The discus fish are very impressive as well! Fore more information and pictures, visit Eric's entry page for the 2004 AGA contest.

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