The Magic of the Planted Tank

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posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 09:55 AM
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There's not enough hobbies on ATS! I'm sure all of you have a hobby of some sort, and today I'd like to hopefully introduce a few of you to my favourite hobby. Aquascaping.

Over the last 15 years, there has been a huge community gathering skills and most importantly the extremely rare plants which has made this hobby possible.
The aim of a Planted Tank is to bring nature into your living room, and replicate it in a soothing, interesting and carefully constructed way to give the illusion of true forms found in nature.

The godfather of Aquascaping would be Takashi Amano, who is a keen photographer brought his tanks to life and started a massive company which sells good quality stuff, only it's ridiculously expensive - there are many cheap alternatives out there, but be warned that this is not a cheap hobby.

Here he is INSIDE (you don't need to go this big!) one of his many tanks followed by a pic of him with the tank completed.


Source and blog of the stages of this tank.

Ok, so that tank is flipping HUGE! But you can set up a tank right on your desk, here's an ideal video to check out which will whet (lol) your appetite further for tanks you could attempt in your own home!


The living art-forms in your lounge are so relaxing when you get a chance to rest, but resting is difficult as soon as you notice a few spots of algae or a dead leaf. Algae is a HUGE problem, the tanks in this video below look perfect and that is a science on it's own. BALANCE is the key, you need to get just the right amount of (quality) lights, the ideal pH/Hardness, temperature and nutrients and CO2. Be prepared to do a lot of reading if your thinking of getting involved, and be prepared for heartache. Persistence is the key, eventually you'll get a tank growing in balance, then its a case of honing those underwater Bonsai skills.


Anyway, here's some fantastic examples of what can be achieved.



(I'd love this tank!)


(This one too...)


(Ok, I want them all!)

Images courtesy of AGA Aquascaping Contest

Planted tank forums are everywhere on the net which are a good place to start to find some of the rarer plants (many swap sell and share), but please keep in mind that any plant trimmings are never flushed down the toilet! This can lead to invasive plant species overtaking natives in some cases decimating eco-systems. Also keep in mind various countries and states will have laws about which plants you may keep (some are much stricter than others).


Best of luck to any of you wishing to give this a go!
Oh by the way, YES you can add fish, they just take a back seat!

Some species of freshwater shrimp are also great candidates for tanks like these as they can munch on algae for you and are great fun to sit and watch.


This will hopefully get some of you started on a new hobby, but please go to your library and grab a few books to read through first and have a serious think about how costly it can get.
edit on 20-7-2012 by Qumulys because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 10:09 AM
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this is beautiful, but im not one for trapping nature in a cage.


peace.



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 10:14 AM
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reply to post by SoymilkAlaska
 


Most of the fish in the freshwater trade are tank bred, and the shop tanks are pretty crummy. When you put those fish into planted tanks, the fishes colours intensify like crazy. So, I guess it's giving them a better home. But I do get where your coming from. Think of this as underwater Bonzai, and fish/shrimps are certainly not necessary to create a beautiful display in your lounge.
Oh, be prepared to do weekly trimmings, once you get a balanced aquarium you will have so many plants to give away so others can enjoy a bit of nature at home.



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 11:35 AM
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Originally posted by Qumulys
The godfather of Aquascaping would be Takashi Amano, who is a keen photographer brought his tanks to life and started a massive company which sells good quality stuff, only it's ridiculously expensive - there are many cheap alternatives out there, but be warned that this is not a cheap hobby.

Wow! Very impressive! Thanks for the thread.


I guess that the most exensive part of it is the tank itself, as you can find everywhere natural stuff for free, such as floated wood, sand, gravel...

I was also wondering how he proceed to tied all the vegetal stuff up on the branches, etc...

Forgive my ignorance, I'm a perfect noob in Aquascaping!



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 04:31 PM
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These are awesome. I've been in the hobby for 47 years and have a couple of tanks that resemble these. In fact the one needs thinning now. Free plants for somebody. Great thread more people should try this. It's so easy to do, and infinately enjoyable.
S&F



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 05:00 PM
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Ive never hard of this before, they look amazing


Heres a few more i found











posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 05:48 PM
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I had a friend growing up whose hobby was building saltwater fish tanks, he got really crazy in his set ups. Some of these remind me of his stuff, he had this custom tank that covered one wall in his room, his dad had helped him build it.

thing always terrified me, always thought their would be an earthquake and it would come down...

Those are all really cool.



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 06:47 PM
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The last image in your original OP is brilliant. I Love the way it gives the illusion of depth.

Now the next trick would be to make sure all the little fish swim at the back and all the big fish swim at the front and the trick is complete!!!



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 07:52 PM
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reply to post by elevenaugust
 


In fact, the tank can be one of the cheapest parts! My recent 7x2x2 (foot) tank for instance cost me roughly $600. I've spent about $2000 alone on the lights for it! I wanted to get some top quality ADA soil for it, but it was going to be way too much, but I still spent $300 on gravel. Then another $300 on the rocks for it.
Rocks and gravel can be sought from nature itself, just check with local laws about it though first. Wood can be also be found, but it needs to be a hard-wood otherwise it just rots. But tracking down just the right rocks and wood can take months!
But it gets really fun when you track down a unique piece, you hardly think twice about spending a few hundred on a chunk of wood. People will think your nuts!

Then there's test kits, filters, heaters and plants. You can spend up big time on plants, especially if you try and go it alone. But getting linked in with like minded people is a great way to meet people who dont think your nuts and our group often has meets every month were we offload excess plants.


As for techniques with the plants, it really depends on species, some will need planting in the gravel, but for those attached ones there's a few ways.
Plants like Anubias and Java Ferns develop roots which will eventually cling on and grip the rock or wood. Until then there are a few methods. Cotton is often used to tie them on as it eventually breaks down after a few weeks, just long enough for the plant to take over the gripping duties.
Some also use fishing line, or even hot glue guns! (I've had no success with hot glue guns before though, and the root you glue normally dies in the hope the other roots start gripping).

Various mosses are easy, just wrap them around, then wrap around fishing line (you can't see it once the moss grows over, but make sure it's tight so fish cant get tangled)


OH, forgot to add onto the costs. CO2! My CO2 gas bottle set me back $300 then another $300 on regulators and electric solenoids. We pump the CO2 in as soon as the lights are on, this has to be done carefully because it will make the pH drop very quickly and suffocate your fish, unless you have healthy plants!!
That's the trick, given enough light the plants will soak up that CO2 and you can watch them give up thousands on oxygen bubbles, everything in balance!
edit on 20-7-2012 by Qumulys because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 07:53 PM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


Those tanks are gorgeous! I've seen a couple of them a while back, but I really love that first tank! Thank you for adding them in!



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 08:08 PM
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This is absolutely beautiful, I love it. They do look majical.
We have tonnes of driftwood wash up here which would be perfect for one of thease tanks.
Right now I have 4 tanks all set up for aquaponics = grow food from fish poo. They were all filled with redclaw but the local Cormarant family cleaned them out.


The only thing I would add to these tanks shown in the op would be a 'splash' feature for the sound, it's very soothing.
Thanks op x



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 08:10 PM
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Pretty cool


I want one.



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 08:18 PM
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Originally posted by welshreduk
The last image in your original OP is brilliant. I Love the way it gives the illusion of depth.

Now the next trick would be to make sure all the little fish swim at the back and all the big fish swim at the front and the trick is complete!!!


Now that WOULD be a challenge! Actually, the photography side of Planted Tanks is also a growing sub-hobby. The shots often will setup a hair dryer to blow on the surface to create ripples! We take photo's for hours waiting to get the fish in just the right spot. It's therefore that planted tanks usually only use a single schooling species rather than a big mix of random fish. Even then, getting them all lined up swimming the same way is a waiting game!

I wish we could train them, its just the whips are too small



As for the depth of illusion, you are right! That's something I would have messed up in that tank, I would have had the bigger bits to the back, skinnier ones to the front. But by using those (I assume they might be petrified wood) stronger thicker bits further forward, it really extends the depth of that scene. It is an awesome tank!



Here's another tank which has great depth to it. Waterfall's can be created with glass-wool (kind of like cotton buds pulled apart, but it won't rot away). But the more adventuress make them using falling sand!

Source Image and how to make your own underwater Waterfall



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 08:51 PM
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Here's a few more pictures of stunning tanks on display at the AGA site, so much inspiration can be found there.











The months these guys have fussed over these tanks to get them to this stage leaves me in awe. It is they're wet canvas



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 09:56 PM
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reply to post by Qumulys
 


Very Interesting, especially for the Urbanite.

I however, am fortunate enough to have the reverse.

Which would be me in my own personal tank

surrounded by the forest.

In effect, Nature observes me with its infinite awareness.

With sideways glances , subtle and unknown.
S&F



posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 10:08 PM
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Originally posted by Wildmanimal
reply to post by Qumulys
 


....Me in my own personal tank

surrounded by the forest.

In effect, Nature observes me with its infinite awareness.

With sideways glances , subtle and unknown.
S&F




What a beautiful thought, so eloquently put too. Made me smile
I envy you!


But what you said is spot on, this is a great hobby for those with the urge to have a garden but don't have the land to make one. Soggy green thumbs unite!



posted on Jul, 21 2012 @ 10:40 AM
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A few snails in the tank is a great way to keep the algae down but after a while the bottom gets littered with snail shells.



posted on Jul, 21 2012 @ 11:31 AM
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reply to post by Qumulys
 


i had no idea there was a word for i just call it an aquarium. i have a planted set up in mine to but not quite as elaborate



posted on Jul, 21 2012 @ 12:17 PM
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Snails can help with algae problems, but as you say you do end up with a tonne of little shells!
Mind you, I never buy snails but I inspect plants before I put them in, but they always manage to get in there! Dodgy sneaky buggers that they are
(very often the snail eggs are under broad leaves).

Cherry shrimp are awesome to watch at work, but also Australian Rainbow fish can do a pretty good job at nibbling on certain species of algae. Kribensis are reported to munch on it, but I've bred them for 20 years now without noticing this behaviour. Of course there are the catfish specimens of which there are thousands, but they are fussy on algae types too. The best bet is to keep your plants healthy and growing, they will use up the excess nutrients and prevent algae to a large extent, if you end up with a big bloom though its time to evaluate the NPK nutrients your adding to try and get a better balance.

Here's a Xmas Shrimp carefully cleaning moss, these grow to about 1 inch and are super relaxing and fun to sit and watch.


A couple more pics for your peepers


(Cardinal Tetras are those blue/red fish, a huge school of these fella's make great viewing.)


(The middle planted slight to right of center that looks like a fern is my favourite species, a variety of Bolbitus)


Any other questions, images, thoughts, (objections even!) are welcome!



posted on Jul, 21 2012 @ 03:32 PM
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reply to post by Qumulys
 


I'm going to have to make one of these, on a much smaller scale though. Thinking 10 gallons with just a small handful of tiny fish. I have my other tank with my gold fish and some other little guys that I love to hangout with.

I could use one of these for the ambiance in my bedroom though!





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