Monday 18 April 2016

32 Litre "Bucephalandra Garden" Tank

This started as a side project to consolidate some of the bucephalandra variants that i've been collecting. It gradually evolved into an opportunity to try my hand at aquascaping a simple layout based on these types of plants.

I noticed that many of the bucephalandra tank photos online tend to be rather dark and shadowy (perhaps its the type of lighting or camera effects used?), so i figured it might be a nice change to showcase a bucephalandra tank that has a brighter tone instead.

Initially i wanted to leave the sand area in front open with plans to keep a group of dwarf corydoras fishes... but i'll probably end up just filling up the space with more plants as i collect them.

Currently there are around 15+ varieties of bucephalandra in this tank. All their individual rhizomes are tied to small pebbles which are then partially buried under the sand and hidden, so it looks as if the plants are just sitting on top of the sand. This method also allows for easy shifting and relocation too.

I guess the top-down view could be reminiscent of what the plants may look like submersed along the edges of a jungle stream...

Its a low-tech setup, based on a 2ft low-profile crystal glass tank (L60cm x D30cm x H18cm) illuminated with just an old generation Up Aqua Z-Series Pro LED light set and filtered by an Eheim Ecco Pro 130 unit. I dose Tropica Specialized fertilizer weekly to maintain a steady nutrient supply.

Cherry shrimps, horned nerite snails and zebra otocinclus help to keep algae in check.

One of my favorite variants, Bucephalandra sp. "Elegant Blue".

Another interesting addition, Bucephalandra sp. "Mini Skeleton King".

Looking forward to collecting and adding more plants soon! :)

Sunday 27 March 2016

64 Litre "Hidden Paths" Tank - Week 60 Update

Its been almost a year since the last update of my 64 Litre "Hidden Paths" Tank, here is what it looks like now...

The overall layout is still more or less the same. As time went by, i gradually separated and transferred out the various Bucephalandra sp. plants to another tank. In their place, i added in more Anubias sp. "Petite" to fill in the foreground areas, along with other variants like Anubias sp. Coffeefolia as mid-ground cover. Most of the grey volcanic rocks were also removed because the plants ended up covering them anyways.

Paracheirodon axelrodi (aka Cardinal tetras) were swapped in a while back to add some dashes of red and blue colors to the tank.

A closer look.

View from the substrate level.

So far this tank has stayed relatively low maintenance. The usual routine involves just feeding the fishes every 2-3 days, weekly 20% water changes (sometimes bi-weekly if i'm busy) and some occasional pruning of old leaves every month or so.

Algae is kept under control by the resident population of cherry shrimps and horned nerite snails. The snails really make a big difference by constantly eating algae on the tank glass and plant leaves, this ensures that everything is kept sparkling clean. I keep around 12+ horned nerite snails in this tank and haven't needed to use an algae scraper for more than a year.

One thing to note is that while anubias are naturally slow growing and thus assumed to be low demand in terms of nutrient requirement... its usually when the tank has only a few of them. In a tank with higher density of anubias, especially the larger leaved variants, their combined nutrient uptake can actually be surprisingly high.

In the case of my setup, i found that i had to start dosing additional fertilizers once the plants density started to fill up more than 70% of my tank's base area. Just simply feeding the livestock was no longer sufficient. Without additional fertilizer supplements, the anubias leaves tend to progressively turn yellowish and develop holes. Once that happens, it means their nutrient reserves have run out, hence the need to dose both macro and micro fertilizers to support further growth.

Overall, this concept of a low maintenance modular planted tank went according to plan and worked quite well over a long term period. My next project will probably involve setting up a much larger tank layout. Most likely it will incorporate the ideas and plants from this tank too.