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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I am looking for some suggestions regarding the aquascaping of my new tank.

This tank is a 20 long, will be planted, and will house a firemouth.

The inspiration for the aquascaping of this tank comes from these two members' tanks:

Macclellan's


Trackhazard's


The following items are those for which I'd like suggestions:

1) Substrate: I am sure that I want a sand or fine gravel because the firemouth will enjoy digging. However, I am unsure about what type of fine substrate to chose. Play sand or pool filter sand are cheap, but I am afraid that the firemouth's color may wash out over these light colors. Alternatively, I am thinking of black sand which is more expensive. Ultimately, I am most concerned with what will look best in this set-up; black sand won't be too expensive since I only need a little for a 20 gallon tank. Which color do you think would look best?

2) Rockwork: I have already decided to use dark lava rock and have purchased about 10 lbs of it. I think I would like to use the island scape, as the above two inspirators have done. Below are pictures of the current rockscape.


What do you think? Is the island too high? I was also giving consideration to siliconing these rocks to the back of the tank to form a back wall instead....sound better?

3) Driftwood: I could knock the height of the island down or leave an opening in it and lay some driftwood in or on it as Macclellan and Trackhazard have done. Or, I could place some driftwood vertically in a corner to cover the heater and filter intake. Thoughts?

4) Plants: I will be using needle leaf java fern and anubias nana and petite as Macclellan and Trackhazard have done, and located similarly as in their set-ups. I may add some java moss. Suggestions?

5) Background color: I have chosen this green colored spray paint for the background.

I am still debating as to whether black would look better. I am also debating on whether to paint the sides. The tank will remain on that coffee table, and so the sides will be partially but not fully visible from the sides of the room. Thoughts?

6) Other fish: Right now my best candidates for other fish are redwag platys. Can you think of other small fish that might look nice given the color combinations offered by the background, plants, the lava rock and substrate?

Thank you very much for the suggstions.
 

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A black sand would really bring out the fish and the plants. Check out the 3M colorQuartz thread for suppliers.
With the current hight of the rocks the plants may break the surface if you plant them on top. If you lower is a touch and then plant on the top you'll reach the same visual height.
The island is a lot more impressive then a wall, in my opinion. With more rock you could attempt a wall + island combo but it may look to heavy in a tank that small and really limit swim space.
I'm not sure about the driftwood placement. In the second inspiration tank it looks mildly out of place. Having it break the visual lines of the island too much makes it look like an afterthought.
Java moss could get a little too messy and stringy for this setup. I'd look into flame or christmas moss. They're tighter and have a nicer shape. Harder to find but worth the effort - you'll never go back to java!
Depending on how creative you feel, I'd be tempted to try a two tone stencil background.
Skip painting the sides, it'll box the tank in too much. Something like:


Looks like a great start and some really kick ass inspiration.
This is the same style I want to pull for my 500gal - but with feather rock and a larger scale.
 

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1). Any of what you said would look good.

2&3). Nice lava rocks. Don't silicone to the back. Don't do anything until you get your wood. I'd recommend not having the filter in a corner on a 20L due to unever water movement. The middle is better. That's how I was able to hide most of my filter tube and heater - it is even more hidden now that the is grown in more.

4). Java moss can be messy, but this is okay if you stay on top of cleaning and trimming. If you don't like it, you'll basically never get rid of it though.

5). Green plants against a green background don't look very good in my opinion - the plants don't stand out. Go with black. Don't paint the sides.

6). Firemouth = red, Lava rocks = red. Redwag = too much red. I'd go with something neutral to let the Firemouth, plants, and rocks stand out. Something like 6x Black Skirt Tetras would be perfect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input. You both gave some great advice.

Dialicious: how do flame and christmas moss compare to java moss regarding how easy they are to grow? I would be interested in hearing a little more about the two-tone background if you don't mind. *** never heard of that before.

Macclellan: Good point about the placement of the filter and heater. I agree about the contrast of the black background with the plants as well. As for the black skirt tetras, I have really come to dislike keeping them because they are so piggy and make feeding time a real ***************. Can you think of another neutral fish? Diamond tetras are pretty cool, but maybe they are too strident for the set-up.

I would love to hear some input from others as well.
 

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do you plan on having a bottom feeder? I agree with the "too much red" but dont think you should go with a boring looking fish. Personally i like glolite tetras, they school and have great yellow stripes on their body and red tips on their tail, and for the most part should be cheap and easy to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the feedback BurgerKing. I have been thinking about bottom feeders. My "go to" has always been corys, but I have heard people discuss potential conflicts between corys and firemouths because both will occupy the lower region of the tank. Do you have any suggestions for a bottom feeder?

I agree, glowlite tetras are really cool looking and would look great with the plants. My concern with glowlite tetra is that they may just be feeders for the firemouth. I realize that any small fish will be potential prey, but I think glowlites may make especially easy targets.
 

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Glowlights = lunch. Has to be a high bodied tetra.

Diamond Tetras are cool...
How about Priscillas?

In a 12"T tank, there is no such thing as a bottom feeder. I'd say no dice on the Corys. In a 20L, you are pretty much limited to a small school of something and the firemouth and maybe a dwarf pleco.

For the record, I did not say that Black Skirt tetras are "boring." I said "neutral." Black Skirts are one of my favorite fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the heads up. That beats the **** out of the Aquarium's price. I've actually never been in the Critter Barn....stopped by one time, but it was closed.
 

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Flame moss is stunning, growth is similar but the shape of the fronds is different. Mostly vertical with curves and waves.
I had a really interesting article photocopied that showed microscope views of the differences... hmm.. I'll see if I can get a scan.



Christmas moss has more of the shape of java but instead of the long thin fronds, Christmas moss's has horizontal bushy fronds, looking kinda like .... Christmas Trees! What snazzy thinking.

\

http://www.aquamoss.net/Moss-List.htm - Aquamoss is fairly helpful about all of this.

As for the two-toned background, the concept is like stenciling. (And by "like stenciling" I mean it's pretty much stenciling - just on your tank) I'm in the middle of moving, or else I'd crack out my spray paint and do an example on a 10gal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Dialicious-

That flame moss really is stunning. I would be interesting in seeing that article if you can find it.

Also, if you have any pics of fully set-up aquariums with two-tone backgrounds (your tanks or others') I would really like to see them.
 

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LJ said:
Dialicious-

That flame moss really is stunning. I would be interesting in seeing that article if you can find it.
Click on the link below the last pic in Dialicious post. In the left collum, 1/2 way down the page, is "Introductions to Mosses"
There is some interesting stuff in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well yesterday I received 20 lbs of black sand in the mail, and today I received my 30 in coralife double-strip light and 100 watt Eheim heater. I will try to spray paint the tank this weekend and will try to get it up and running before placing plant orders.

I should have taken more care when ordering the heater; it's too long to be placed vertically in the tank. I have heaters placed horizontally in my other tanks, but the instructions that came with this one explicitly stated that it should be placed vertically.

What do you think, can I place it horizontally as long as it is not touching the substrate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well I have started setting up. I changed my mind and decided to put this thing on a cheap stand instead of leaving it on that coffee table.

The sand was a real pain to wash; I guess when I fill the tank tomorrow I'll find out if I did a sufficient job. I'd like to know what you think of the rockwork before I silicone:



As for schooling fish, I went with 6 lemon tetras; they looked healthier than the priscillas that I was considering. Right now they are in the 10 gallon holding tank with the firemouth. I think they look decent next to the firemouth and allow him to stand out:




Thanks for all the input so far.
 

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The rock looks fine although if it was me, I'd probably shift it over to the right a bit more so that the peak of the pile wasn't exactly in the middle of the tank. That will be the focal point and when the focal point is in the center, it can create a sense of artificiality.

I would suggest keeping the foreground as open as possible fo swim space. Your tetras will appreciate it. To do this, I would take a couple of smaller rocks, wrap them in moss and place them at the bottom front of the rock pile. They will be easy to trim as you can pull them out of the aquarium when the moss starts to overgrow and trim them out of the tank with no mess. I would then take some smaller anubias and wedge them in the cracks between the rock pile. You might also want to plant a medium size midground plant in bunches behind the rock to add a little depth.

Charlie
 
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