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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At the suggestion of Auballagh I wanted to set up a short journal for my 90g tank set up. It's not a Biotope but will mostly focus on CA cichlids, with a couple odd balls thrown in. I've traded in a few fish since my last post and lost one to a "decoy accident". The current stocking is 2 Nicaraguan Cichlids, a Flier Cichlid, and a Sengal Bichir. The next fish I get will be a HRP, 1-3 Firemouths, 1-2 Topaz Cichlid (if I can find them) and some plecos.

I am not sure how I feel about the driftwood right now so please give me some opinions. I also will get more anubius eventually.
 

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Wow! That is one seriously well-made, 90 gallon aquarium. Rare to see something so well built for New World Cichlds, esp. one featuring Central American species.
It's beautiful! :)
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I see you have added a bit more bog wood? Those are some really good pieces - there must be a killer supply of that stuff, nearby? There IS a lot of detail and structure in that pile, that most of us are not used to seeing. It looks incredibly natural though, and I'm sure your fish in that tank really enjoy swimming in and around all of that structure. It also looks like you've got some wood tannins leaching out of it, that has stained the water. But, unless that look bothers you, I wouldn't worry about it. I actually like the darker look in my own aquariums (while it lasts).
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As for plants, I see you are starting with some dwarf Anubias 'nana'? That's good, but to enhance that look, you are gonna need a lot more it. Also, be SURE you like the arrangement of the wood pile and other structure in the aquarium BEFORE committing to installing your plants on it. Making constant adjustments to the rocks and wood is one thing. When you have plants that have (sometimes painstakingly) been attached to those pieces, it raises the stakes and potential irritation level of the whole thing - a LOT. :x
For non-substrate rooting plant choices, you have what I call: The Big Three. That is, Java Moss, Java Fern and Anubias species. Don't be fooled by the Java Fern you may have seen in the LFS or elsewhere. Those sad, browning and weak-looking specimens you may have dismissed earlier, are NOT what you can expect when they have adapted and are growing strongly in your aquarium! Well-tended Java Ferns can provide a nice, visual balance to the plants in the tank. Additionally, there are a LOT more Anubias plants than the dwarf Anubias 'nana' species that we commonly see in aquariums. I recommend going online and perusing some of the less seen, possibly more exotic varieties. You might be amazed at how many leaf shapes, sizes and types of Anubias there are! A mix of the low growing dwarf variants combined with larger/taller growing types will look very nice in the higher water column of your 90 gallon tank.
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And then there is Java Moss. Mostly under-utilized in planted aquariums, this stuff will grow quite prolifically in all kinds of tank environments. Additionally, it has the distinction of being one of the only plant species that is just absolutely NOT LIKED by a host of plant-destroying fish species. Seriously! In my own experience, this stuff has defied the attentions of Silver Dollars, Severums and even a surly Black Belt Cichlid I had, that seemed to delight in wrecking even ARTIFICIAL plants placed in with that beast (maybe he just didn't like the color green?). If Java Moss has one downside... when happy, it will tend to spread by attaching itself to all kinds of things. It can grow literally just about anywhere it gets some light.
I found that Java Moss is used most effectively when placed on extended/long pieces (both wood & rock) in the aquarium. It helps to soften the edges of things, and will visually enhance a more well-established and natural look for the tank. It is a bit tough initially to work with. I followed the technical direction provided by Takahashi Amano (Nature Aquarium, now deceased), and used black, polyester thread to bind my Java Moss onto wood pieces and some rocks. Admittedly, it's a bit painstaking. But, you soon get the hang of it and it works great! And, in no time the Java Moss will puff back up and mask any evidence of the thread being there at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
All the wood is from the root system of some old bushes outside my station that had been cut down years ago. I soaked it for a couple months and then used a wire brush on my drill to take off the bark and soft wood. And yes it is letting off a lot of tannins, this picture was after a large water change. I don't mind the tannins myself, it's kind of like having to tanks, it turns to a black water tank after about 2 weeks and then I water change and have it bright again. I do plan on getting a lot more anubius, the ones I have now are coffeefolia. Their is actually a Java fern rhizome in there too, it had been neglected in another tank for years so I cut all the leaves off and saved the rhizome and now it's starting to have some leaves grow back. I also want to get a few varieties of moss going.
 
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