Aquarium Gardens Spring Update
A lot has happened this Spring at Aquarium Gardens, we’re here to bring you up to date…
We’ve been working hard this spring, bringing in new products and plants in order to develop our range and service. We have also been working on our new aquascaping shop based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. AND we have even held our first Aquascaping workshop with world famous aquascaper George Farmer! Read on for more info…
What’s new this Spring
We now carry a wide range of hardscape materials available to order online and collect in store. We have also installed a hardscape sandpit in store, meaning you can arrange your hardscape layout before you even make a purchase!
Aquascaping Workshop with George Farmer
Back in March we held our first Aquascaping Workshop in our brand new aquascaping shop. We were delighted to have George Farmer on board to deliver a wonderful introductory aquascaping presentation followed by an aquascaing demo. We had a full house to watch George in action. For pictures of the day and the finished aquascape, head over to our Facebook page. Stay tuned for future aquascaping events!
Come visit us…
We are extremely excited to bring our business to the shop floor. Based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, our new retail shop offers customers the chance to visit us and view our range of plants, hardscape and aquascaping supplies. We also have on display a number of planted aquariums to inspire you (including a George Farmer aquascape). We’re on hand for help and advice. Head over to our contact page if you’re planning a visit.
Our Facebook page is also packed with pictures of our shop and plants, a great way to stay up-to-date with what’s happening.
Look out this summer for more aquascaping supplies at Aquarium Gardens. We will be introducing a new range of aquascaping tools and some high quality glassware, including lily pipes, skimmer inlets, and nano glassware.
Lastly we are super excited to announce we will soon be stocking a variety of freshwater shrimp at great prices, watch this space!
A few weeks ago we looked at what to think about when setting up an aquascape (see blog post: Aquascaping – The Basics). Focal points, plants and positioning all play an important part in building an aquascape.
Now we look at how this aquascape has grown in and developed, and we need to decide what care is required to maintain the overall development.
Aquascape at 5 weeks:
As you can see the plants have started to carpet and fill in the gaps. It might take another 4-6 weeks for this scape to be fully grown in. Patience is also required in aquascaping!
These plants haven’t just been left to grow on their own. Oh no, they wouldn’t have got this far on their own! The ‘Aquascaper’ must look after and care for his plants in order for them to grow how he wishes. Fundamentally, plants need light, co2 and nutrients to grow. It is down to the aquascaper to provide the correct amount.
When it comes to light, you must first look at the plants you are intending to grow, and how much maintenance you think you can handle! The plants in this aquascape are keen for a medium to high level of lighting (0.50 Watts per litre +) in order to grow and carpet the way we want them to. To little and the Glossostigma & Hemianthus Callitrichoides in this aquascape will grow upwards towards the light. Give these plants enough light and it will crawl along the substrate and create a carpet just like we want them to.
The Aquascaper can also create problems. Using medium to high levels of lighting requires more water changes, pruning, co2 injection and fertilization. The high light level is effectively accelerating the rate of growth, and subsequently increases the needs for co2 and nutrients. We also increase the risk of algae forming! Therefore, the aquascaper is required to spend more time maintaining their scape.
Want a scape with less maintenance? Reduce your lighting. This will reduce the need for co2, nutrients and water changes. With lower lighting, you are slowing the rate of growth, and as a result, reducing the need for co2 and nutrients. There are many plants that thrive under lower lighting. Many Cryptocoryne, Echinodorous, Java Fern and Vallisneria can all do well under lower lighting. Do your homework when choosing plants. We have come up with a simple rating system to help you choose the right plants for your desired scape. All the ratings can be found here : Plant Difficulty Ratings. All of our plants are given a rating to help you make the right choice.
In this aquascape co2 is a requirement in order to meet the plants demands for growth. Medium to high light requires co2 injection as the higher light levels have accelerated growth rates which require more carbon to complete the photosynthesis process. Should the Co2 levels be too low, algae is given the chance to thrive, rather than the plants. Algae has several survival properties that plants don’t have. Algae can survive without the three essential elements plants need: light, nutrients and co2. Supply all these in the correct amount and your plants will thrive, and algae will stay away.
Planning a lower light aquarium might suggest co2 is not required, but is still recommend for healthy growth. An alternative is to supply carbon in a liquid form from a bottle. It requires a daily dose and is best suited to ‘lower tech’ planted aquariums that require less carbon for growth. Take a look at our shop for more information on Liquid Carbon.
The aquascape above has not come without it’s problems. Algae in the early stages is very much a problem. It’s especially difficult in a high light aquarium such as this one. A simple way to reduce your lighting intensity is to raise your light higher above the surface of the water. This can help control the rate of growth and prevent stress to the plants when the aquarium is given to much light. Algae did appear in this aquascape, about 10 days in. Raising the light helped eradicate the algae, along with many water changes. The light currently sits around 30 cm above the water surface.
Probably the most undesirable task, water changes have to be done. More so in the early stages, for this reason: organic waste. Organic waste is the build up of nutrients that are not required, mainly ammonia. This occurs from plant decay, substrate, wood, fish food and fish waste. In the early life of your aquarium where it is yet to establish enough bacterial colonies to cope with this organic waste, algae thrive from it. A solution? Water Changes. Many water changes will effectively dilute the organic waste.. We recommend doing as many water changes as you can during the first 4 weeks. As guide try 2 weekly changes of 50%. Over the next 4-6 weeks, beneficial bacteria build up will help deal with ammonia by completing the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle converts the unsafe ammonia into a much safer nitrate. Less ammonia = less chance of an algae outbreak.
If you require any further help with your planted aquarium, or thinking of setting on up for the first time, feel free to contact us with any questions you have.
Aquarium plants on wood are simply great. Being one of my personal favourite ways to scape an aquarium, it’s almost effortless to create a beautiful looking aquascape using plants that are attached to wood. By using 3 or 4 different pieces of wood with a range of beautiful aquarium plants growing on them makes scaping easy!
If your planning on setting up a new planted aquarium, first, take a look at our plants on wood, coconut and bamboo sticks. Depending on the size of your tank, choose a number of different species that take your fancy. All our plants on wood are easy growers, can be grown under high light or low light, with co2 or no co2. These plants actually prefer growing attached to something. Your chosen pieces can be used as the skeleton of your aquascape. Try re-arranging them in different layouts. The wood becomes the main focal point and you can then put other plants of your choosing around this.
Here’s a great example of a planted aquarium using plants on wood from Aquarium Gardens to create a wonderful aquascape…
This tank is just 1 day old, but as you can see there is an instant impact made with the arrangement of wood and plants. Something like this is relatively easy to pull off. Just 4 pieces of wood have been used, with various different plants attached to them (Java fern, Pogostemon, Anubias & Javamoss). Once the pieces have been placed, other aquatic plants that do better pushed into the substrate are planted around them.
Take a look at our range of plants of wood and try using them to build your own stunning aquascape!
Aquascaping – My last post looked at how we might go about planting Hemianthus Callitrichoides. We showed you that a few pots can go a long way! This is how the same aquascape looks one week after planting:
As you can see the HC has started to crawl across the substrate, in a few weeks it will have fully carpeted. I will then be required to trim weekly to keep this plant under control.
Pots used: 4 x Hemianthus Callitrichoides, 3 x Echinodorus Tenellus, 2 x Glossostigma Elantinoides 1 x Hairgrass
The first thing you must remember when you start a new aquascape is the hardscape is always going to stay in the same position. Plants can be trimmed, moved or taken out. The hardscape can not (unless you want a big mess!).
The hardscape forms the main shape of your aquascape, so time should be taken when placing your rocks or wood in a natural position. Often, the main stone or piece of wood will be placed off-centre. Symmetry in aquascaping is often very boring. How often do you see symmetry in nature? Nothing is ever perfectly centred or in line, because it’s not man made. So as much as you want to line things up and centre rocks or wood, try your best not too!
In the aquascape above, the majority of the rocks are to the left of the tank, sloping in height from rear-top left to near-bottom right. This technique is very appealing to the eye and helps add depth to the scape. The plants have been chosen to reinforce this triangular look. Echinodorus Tenellus has been used in the top left corner, this being the taller plant out of the four used (although still a relatively small species). Glossostigma Elatinoides has been used in the middle and Hemianthus Callitrichoides in the foreground. The plants are in order of height, just as the rocks have been placed. A few clumps of Hairgrass have been placed in-between or beside rocks to add a touch of randomness and a more natural feel.
The main focal point to the aquascape is the centre rock piece pointing towards the top right. The rocks point is positioned off-centre, a little to the right. Again making the scape look more natural. After your eye has been drawn to this point the rest of the aquascape unfolds pleasingly. You might be drawn to the left side first and the plants at the back of the aquarium. After this you will probably venture further and glance down to the bottom right foreground area, where smaller rocks and tufts of plants lay. Ultimately, the layout should draw the eye with ease around the scape.
Next time, I will be looking at what’s required to grow such plants. How much light, co2 and nutrients is needed? We will also take a look at how the plants are doing and what sort of tank maintenance is required.
A great example of a jungle style aquarium. Large leaved plants, little hardscape on show & a mixture of colours all add up to the perfect jungle aquarium!
You will need a medium to large sized aquarium as many of the plants used in jungle aquariums are on the larger side.
Maintenance on these types of aquariums is very much on the easier side. With only a 50% water change every week and pruning of dead/oversized leaves.
As long as you have medium light, consistent co2, nutrient rich substrate and/or liquid nutrient dosing & good circulation, you will find your plants flourishing. Because of the huge plant mass you will need lots of liquid fertilizers and lots of co2.
Here are some good plant collections to get you started with a jungle style aquarium:
For a high plant we recommend lots of plant food and a nutrient rich substrat. Here’s a couple of things you may need to feed your plants: