Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 AGA International Aquascaping Contest Open


The deadline for submitting an application to the 2009 IAPLC has come and gone, but don't worry, you still have a chance to make it into the second prestigious annual aquascaping contest, the AGA International Aquascaping Contest. You have until September 15th, 2009 to get your aquascapes in order and submit an application for a chance to win a number of cash prizes. You'll find the entry form and the 2008 entries (the picture above is the 1st place winner in the "Large" category for 2008) on the AGA website. Below is the release from AGA. Good luck!

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Hello Fellow Aquascapers,


It's that time of the year again! The AGA's annual aquascaping contest opened on June 15th for submission of entries and was recently announced on the AGA's website. As in the past, all information including guidelines, entry forms, and other pertinent information regarding the contest is provided on the website, www.aquatic-gardeners.org.


For the contest to be a success, we are again looking for some volunteers to help with the work load. The quality of the contest each year depends on the level of participation from dedicated volunteers around the world. This year is no exception. Of particular importance is finding some people to volunteer for posting of information on websites both in the United States as well as internationally. If you are involved with an internation forum or club, please consider helping out by posting announcements to the forums you frequent. We're also looking for someone with some graphics design experience to create some cool graphics for the contest.


If you would like to get involved, please email me at bailin_shaw@hotmail.com


I look forward to seeing the aquascapes again this year!


Bailin Shaw
Aquascaping Contest Chairperson
www.aquatic-gardeners.org

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DIY External CO2 Diffuser and Inline Heater


I love DIY projects. There's just something way more satisfying when you complete something yourself. I was pretty excited when I found these DIY project ideas on Instructables, an external CO2 diffuser and an inline heater using a water filter housing. The idea is simple and aside from having to purchase a heater with an external thermostat (so you don't have to open up the CO2 diffuser every time you want to adjust the heater temperature) looks to be pretty cheap and effective. I'm all for removing equipment from aquariums since no one likes have a nasty looking heater spoil their aquascape, and placing it inline after your filter can even make it more effective. Once I'm recovered from my big move, I might have to give this a try. Great job thewhite!

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to Move a Planted Aquarium Part 1: Planning


Moving an aquarium is a daunting task, but moving a fully planted aquarium is monumental. Although it may be a lot of work, it is entirely possible without ripping everything up and giving away your fish. How do I know? I've done it before, and I'm about to do it again. Yes...I'm a little bit crazy.

Last time I moved was in June 2006. Back then I had three aquariums, a 20 gallon long, a 10 gallon, and the largest, a 29 gallon tank. I only moved a few miles away, so it wasn't all that bad. The tanks were small enough to fit in the back seat of a car (even the 29 gallon) which made it much easier. The move went very well, and I don't think I lost a single fish.

I'm moving again on July 1st, and once again I've got to figure out how to move my planted aquariums. Since then I've upgraded to a 46 gallon bowfront (seen above, please excuse the iPhone photo, my camera is already packed!) and kept the 10 gallon. Both are heavily planted and happily inhabited by fish. The most important part of this whole process is the planning. Thinking through exactly how you are going to complete the move and issues that might come up will save you time, and possibly some lives.

How will I transport the fish and keep them alive? I tried this technique back in 2006 and it worked so well I'm doing it again. I have two large plastic tubs I bought at Target for about $10 each. I'll fill these up with tank water and some plant clippings to provide cover and rudimentary filtration/food for the short trip. Then I'll catch all the fish and put them into the tubs. Sounds easy right? Wrong. This is probably the hardest part of all.

How will I transport the tanks?
Well there's no way I can transport a fully filled 46 gallon tank that approaches 500lbs. That would be a disaster even for the smaller 10 gallon. So instead, I'm going to drain out as much water as I can from both tanks, putting enough into the fish tubs to keep them happy (but also not too much that I can't lift them). Here is where the Python comes in handy. I'm able to drain all but about 3/4 an inch above the substrate level, which has 2 benefits. First, it keeps the substrate wet which keeps colonies of beneficial bacteria alive, and second it makes the tank much lighter. To keep the plants from drying out, I'm planning on taping a garbage bag over the top (plastic wrap for the smaller tank) and using a spray-mister. The 46 gallon and stand definitely don't fit in my back seat, so they'll have to be moved the same day I move all my larger furniture, for which I've rented a cargo van.

What about the filters? Pressurized CO2? Right now I have two Eheim canister filters, one for each aquarium. I'll simply use the shut off valves provided and disconnect them, keeping them full of water for the move. This ensures the beneficial bacteria inside won't completely die out (as long as the move doesn't take too long).

For the pressurized CO2, I'm going to shut it off and disconnect the regulator before moving it. The most important thing is to properly secure the CO2 tank. I've heard plenty of horror stories of improperly secured CO2 tanks falling over and opening in a car.

Other important things to remember:

  • It's summer, so keeping everything out of the direct sun and cool is important. I wouldn't do this in winter, the changes in temperature may be too severe for fish and plants.
  • Lift the tanks slowly and evenly. Twisting or torquing the tanks excessively can lead to cracks.
  • Use plenty of padding when putting the tanks in a vehicle and drive carefully. Make sure to tie them up so they don't move around.
  • Figure out where you are putting your aquariums in your new place ahead of time. You don't want to have to repeat this process later! Consider the floor (can it support a large tank?) and also the proximity to a water source. You can buy a 100ft long Python, but it's much easier to use a 25ft or 50ft. Power outlets are also an important consideration.
  • Luckily, I have no stairs or tight corners to deal with, but if you do, make sure your tank will fit without having to upend it, or this method won't really work for you (horrible images of being showered with muddy substrate while trying to hold up a tank come to mind).
Supply List:

  • Large, sturdy plastic tubs with lids (like these)
  • Python
  • Towels to clean up the inevitable mess and pad the tank during the move
  • Fish net to catch the fish
  • Plastic garbage bag or plastic wrap (depending on the size of the tank)

Will everything go according to plan? Not likely, but it still helps to minimize the risk of something unexpected popping up mid-move.

The next part of this series will be documenting the move day prep and process (with pictures). Look for it once I get settled in at the new place!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aquascaping Topic: Hours Per Week

These last few weeks of hunting for a new apartment have squeezed my schedule and I finally got a chance today to give my aquascapes a good trim, which took the better half of two hours. Overall, I tend to be on the low end for hours per week I devote to aquascaping. Usually I spend anywhere from an hour to two hours per week on my 2.5 tanks (one is less than a gallon).

I think many people have an inflated sense of how many hours per week it takes to maintain a decent looking aquascape. How many hours per week do you spend on your aquascapes?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Aquascape of the Week: Uttoshii's Island Layout

Here's another great aquascape using Myriophyllum matogrossense. I seriously need to get my hands on some of this stuff once I move and re-scape my 46 gallon tank. Uttoshii has used driftwood and sand to his advantage to create a really nice island type aquascape. The tank is only 6 weeks old, so I'm eager to see what it looks like when it matures a bit more. Great job Uttoshii! Read more about the tank here.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Common Aquatic Plant Deficiency Diagram

One of the biggest parts of growing aquatic plants is being able to "read" them and evaluate how healthy they are. Learning all of the signs of nutrient deficiencies can be confusing though, so a picture is worth a thousand words. Zapins over at APC has done exactly that and created a handy diagram showing what common aquatic plant deficiencies look like. I have to say this is a really excellent diagram that I will undoubtedly be using in the future. Nice job Zapins!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Aquascaping Topic: Emersed Growth

I've finally thrown in the towel on the last of my emersed grow out containers, since the bulb burnt out and I didn't realize it, and all my dwarf hairgrass in it died. I have to admit, when it works, growing plants emersed is much faster and less intensive than a grow out tank. Not having to dose fertilizers, worry about CO2, or plants that wont stay planted is fantastic. It does have its drawbacks though, since my HC was overrun with some sort of slime mold, and before that it was infested with little bugs. The transition from submersed to emersed and back again can be tricky as well. What about you? Have you ever tried to grow any plants emersed? Do you think it's worth it?

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