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How do you set up a new scape?


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I’m a throw together 4/5 times it’s because something had too many babies and I just need it so I scavenge other tanks try to make it not look like too much of and eyesore and run with it. The tanks I plan I have a rough idea in my head, randomly find things and looks I like and add. Then once the tank is all grown up and all it needs is trimmed I get restless and redo it even if I like it. My enjoyment comes from watching things grow up fish, plants and tanks. 

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Generally I have some sort of concept or design in my head and try to find things that will fit my vision. Once I have the items, then I will do a “dry run” either in the aquarium or just anywhere large enough to put everything on. 

Here is an example of my most recent aquarium:

Figured a rough look for the driftwood that somewhat matched what I had in my head. 
837C91C0-36EA-4C1F-A75E-771968560AF7.jpeg.43859aabb69499b2b8db5fd6e5a09630.jpeg

Put it together with the final look dry in the actual aquarium:

C495C568-573B-4570-AED6-A645C7BBACFD.jpeg.7d7960f25017e9535f2ec7af37c3b3fa.jpeg

Planted it and added water:

B8B183F2-3BFC-4DCF-810E-065FDD3F51C8.jpeg.2905bb40f42997ff25245ceabb5808ac.jpeg

Aquarium still in progress and growing: 

E667AB70-7142-4173-91E4-740E69DAA2BA.jpeg.02576fd9854ceb56653e3fe7f78c92fd.jpeg

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On 10/9/2021 at 10:54 AM, DannyBWell said:

I'm interested in how others plan their next tank. Do you draw it? Do you do a "dry run" in a spare tank? Are you like myself and do no planning and throw the tank together?

I have done all of the above.

As I have gotten older, and my health dictates my fishkeeping schedule/abilities, I do a longer dry run, until I am completely happy with how everything looks, and I am confident that the hardscape placement will allow me to service the tank, in my myriad health challenges. 

My 10 gallon Walstad was an impulse buy, and allowed me to test theories before I set up the 4' tank in the dining room. 

The tank in the dining room has been set up dry since my birthday... in February. 

I've settled on the hardscape arrangement, now I am busy propagating and ordering enough plants. It's been a beautiful reminder of the joys of wabi-sabi: the joy of the incomplete, the unfinished. A reminder to enjoy the process by slowing down, instead of rushing. 

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For the equipment I’m definitely a planner I like sorting through all the options for tank, lights, filters etc. For the actual scape I like looking at scapes online to get inspiration. I love seeing how plants change the look of a tank over time, like how a piece of wood that is prominent at first will slowly get covered by moss and ferns. So far I haven’t made a concept sketch  or a planting diagram for any of my tanks, but that might change with my next tank since I’m starting to get a feel for how each plant grows. 

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On 10/9/2021 at 12:26 PM, Isaac M said:

Generally I have some sort of concept or design in my head and try to find things that will fit my vision. Once I have the items, then I will do a “dry run” either in the aquarium or just anywhere large enough to put everything on. 

Here is an example of my most recent aquarium:

Figured a rough look for the driftwood that somewhat matched what I had in my head. 
837C91C0-36EA-4C1F-A75E-771968560AF7.jpeg.43859aabb69499b2b8db5fd6e5a09630.jpeg

Put it together with the final look dry in the actual aquarium:

C495C568-573B-4570-AED6-A645C7BBACFD.jpeg.7d7960f25017e9535f2ec7af37c3b3fa.jpeg

Planted it and added water:

B8B183F2-3BFC-4DCF-810E-065FDD3F51C8.jpeg.2905bb40f42997ff25245ceabb5808ac.jpeg

Aquarium still in progress and growing: 

E667AB70-7142-4173-91E4-740E69DAA2BA.jpeg.02576fd9854ceb56653e3fe7f78c92fd.jpeg

ORD

😍😍😍😍

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I can never just throw it together, 🤔I take an hour to think out a QT 😬

mostly will over think from every angle, dry fit, over think some more, then change everything a couple times

so I started drawing them out to get the concept closer in my head before I start. Even this simple layout i redrew 3 times but was faster and easier than trial and error.D5F840B5-02FA-40FB-8C30-D6B93AC06A76.jpeg.3d2358d15eaac68ae3c6becd05f02cd3.jpegDB48684C-9DDB-4012-96F4-7D29686FF513.jpeg.f4f735f7ae974e5e89b292bd67433a40.jpeg

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On 10/9/2021 at 3:11 PM, Atitagain said:

I can never just throw it together, 🤔I take an hour to think out a QT 😬

mostly will over think from every angle, dry fit, over think some more, then change everything a couple times

so I started drawing them out to get the concept closer in my head before I start. Even this simple layout i redrew 3 times but was faster and easier than trial and error.D5F840B5-02FA-40FB-8C30-D6B93AC06A76.jpeg.3d2358d15eaac68ae3c6becd05f02cd3.jpegDB48684C-9DDB-4012-96F4-7D29686FF513.jpeg.f4f735f7ae974e5e89b292bd67433a40.jpeg

I’m certain these are rummy nose fry 😁

49400A47-E19B-4AD5-A5A1-C9BB852E33F2.jpeg

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On 10/9/2021 at 1:26 PM, Isaac M said:

Generally I have some sort of concept or design in my head and try to find things that will fit my vision. Once I have the items, then I will do a “dry run” either in the aquarium or just anywhere large enough to put everything on. 

Here is an example of my most recent aquarium:

Figured a rough look for the driftwood that somewhat matched what I had in my head. 
837C91C0-36EA-4C1F-A75E-771968560AF7.jpeg.43859aabb69499b2b8db5fd6e5a09630.jpeg

Put it together with the final look dry in the actual aquarium:

C495C568-573B-4570-AED6-A645C7BBACFD.jpeg.7d7960f25017e9535f2ec7af37c3b3fa.jpeg

Planted it and added water:

B8B183F2-3BFC-4DCF-810E-065FDD3F51C8.jpeg.2905bb40f42997ff25245ceabb5808ac.jpeg

Aquarium still in progress and growing: 

E667AB70-7142-4173-91E4-740E69DAA2BA.jpeg.02576fd9854ceb56653e3fe7f78c92fd.jpeg

That is amazing! #tankgoals

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I use the power of Pinterest to collect a bunch of images I like for different reasons and draw sketches of what I'd like to have, but ultimately the hardscape I find dictates what the final product is. I wait until a piece of driftwood or rock speaks to me, buy that and let it dictate what the rest of the tank will look like. It's a lot of hours spent staring at the tank, placing the hardscape just right, visualizing what plants will look perfect where and then trying to match that with my skill level. I have a notebook dedicated to tank drawings and notes about plants. 

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I get a basic idea of the textures and colors I want. Then decide how big the components are going to be, meaning lots of little pieces or a couple big ones. Is there going to be rock and wood or one or the other? Then I gather as much of the hardscape stuff as I can and first piling up stuff. These are the remnants of the one I'm doing now.

1968554707_TrialRun.jpg.1b33a42af54594fec478fa7e9cb84ffb.jpg

As you design remember there has to be a spot for filters, heaters and bubbling pirates chests. The blue tape is the perimeter of the aquarium.

Here's what I ended up with.

10-1.jpg.3986aa00c9c769fb5886ea179589b6e8.jpg

 You have to think about what kind of plants you're going to use and leave a place for them also.

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On 10/9/2021 at 2:03 PM, Patrick_G said:

For the equipment I’m definitely a planner I like sorting through all the options for tank, lights, filters etc. For the actual scape I like looking at scapes online to get inspiration. I love seeing how plants change the look of a tank over time, like how a piece of wood that is prominent at first will slowly get covered by moss and ferns. So far I haven’t made a concept sketch  or a planting diagram for any of my tanks, but that might change with my next tank since I’m starting to get a feel for how each plant grows.

Pretty much ^^^ this for me.  But it's a process.  Like a months long process.  I start with a concept of what I want.  A theme if you will.  I often get inspiration for them from loads of photos and videos inline.  Some contrived (i.e. built by people), and some natural settings.  Then begins the process of sourcing materials.  Often, my focus is on hardscape: the rocks, the substrate.  Will I be paying for it online, or can I source it more inexpensively locally?  Once I have everything, I don't dry run it.  Tried to diagram once.  Didn't work.  Well, I did try a dry run once, spend time stacking rocks over and over.  Once I finally decided on the layout I wanted, I carefully brought them into the tank in a specific order to get it just right, and...  It looked totally different, and I scrapped it.  So, now I just place in the tank.  Because of the months of research, I have a decent idea of what I am going for anyhow.  Lastly, I've started to get into the lighting completing the "look".  With the color and control available with LED lights, you can also craft a lighting environment like you would a hardscape, or planting.  I think it's an underappreciated aspect of the display; probably because it has only been an option for a few years. 

But take all of this with a grain of salt.  Because despite the effort that goes into it, I would say my scapes are mediocre.  Not from lack of trying.  Just lack of talent.  😆 

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On 10/9/2021 at 7:38 PM, Patrick_G said:

Have you found the perfect light?

I have in no way, shape, or form tested all the lights.  Not even enough to know if I'm working with something better than average.  I'd not heard of the light you mentioned, and when I looked it up my wallet fainted! 

Right now I am using the Current USA Satellite for Freshwater light.  That was expensive enough for me.  It allows you to independently control the dimness (in 5% increments) white, blue, red, and green LED bulbs.  If you can't make the color you want with that, you are working with a bigger box of Crayola than I, sir.  Plus it has a twilight feature that you can determine the color on which fades in and out at the start and end of the day.  It also has a moonlight feature, but that thing stays on way too long for my taste.  All of that is enough for me.  

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I plan a lot. I usually find a photo or videos that inspire me and then I start with that germ of an idea. Lately I’ve posted my ideas and plans here and bounced it off the lovely people on here. I usually then put it on paper and write a list of what I’ll need - hard scape, substrate, filter, lighting, plants and livestock. I then come up with a preliminary Budget based on that. I run it by my boss and she says ok or not. 

I do find that there are deviations from the plan, could be the size of the hard scape doesn’t actually measure out right for the scape, maybe the LFS is out of substrate, plants aren’t available. 


ive started to think about what the maintenance required for the scape. I’ve got 2 boys and a very busy work and home life. I now know what I can and can’t handle. This is why I go low tech not high tech because I couldn’t keep up with the maintenance and trimming in a CO2 setup. 

I’ve taken/stolen a lot of ideas from MD Fishtanks and @Bentley Pascoe. I use the ADA, George Farmer and Green Aqua stuff as inspiration. 

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On 10/9/2021 at 12:54 PM, DannyBWell said:

I'm interested in how others plan their next tank. Do you draw it? Do you do a "dry run" in a spare tank? Are you like myself and do no planning and throw the tank together?

I have a strange method.  In general I probably have an idea what I want to keep in the tank, at least partly. Then I acquire a tank of the appropriate size.  My next step is I look at a lot of tank inspirations and videos online to get an idea of what I want to do or try to do.  Generally I will have one or two rough ideas in my head of what I might like. Then I start hitting up the fish stores looking for the right hardscape.  What I can find will dictate what design I more or less go with. Even so, the concept evolves as I work on it.

At this point in the process much swearing and alcohol is involved.  Once I am satisfied with the overall results of the substrate and hardscape I will make sure I have all the hardware (filtration, lights, heaters) and hit the fish stores or online stores for plants. As many plants as I can find and afford. So many plants.  Then I'll plant my tank and fill.

This entire process can take awhile.  Even though there is some frustration involved in bringing my vision to life and finding what I need to do it, the end results have indeed been well worth it.

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I’ve done most of the above.  In general, the larger the tank, the more planning I do.  I sketched out the 100 gallon and ai stole an idea from @dasaltemelosguy for the start of my 75 G redo.

I usually have at least an idea of what’s going in the tank for fauna, then I “build” the plan around them, more or less, but using what I have or what I can find.  The 100 gallon I planned a nanofish tank, I bought the first piece of wood from a local hobbyist (left end of 100 G) that was moving and selling stuff, then found “matching” pieces of wood - one on line from somebody that just sells driftwood (middle piece you can’t see much because it’s mostly behind the rock stack), and one from a lfs (right end piece that has those sexy zip ties still attaching pieces of petrified wood).

Sometimes it’s starts with, or evolves around, finding a great rock or a great piece or pieces of wood.  Sometimes I deliberately look for specific types of wood or rocks.  Sometimes I pick out a piece of wood but it didn’t work for that tank (14 G cube - still in process), so I bought a different piece of wood (both were from that online seller).  Then I have a leftover piece of wood for another tank (left side of the 29 G will be puffers).  😃 😊 😀 

Sometimes I get a pea puffer accidentally (long story) and I just happen to have bought some great rocks from someone and the emergency set up happens that looks so good I surprised myself.  Those specific rocks are now in my Betta tank (6 G Volcano) and the other 1/3 is in my 6 G Bad Pea Daddy cube.

I’m still looking for the rest of the wood pieces that will complete what I need to get started on my angelfish tank, but I’ve got almost all of my plants collected now.  [Why can’t I find Echinodorus hadi ‘Red Pearl’ for a decent price right now?]  They’re mostly floating in the 46 G that will become the angelfish tank or planted in assorted 10 G plant holding tanks.  I’m kind of looking forward to the day that I can convert plant holding tanks to the shrimp tanks I intended to set up, but now some are going to be cory fry grow outs, so it’ll work out OK in the long run.

The lesson here, I think, is do whatever process works for you.  Visualize, sketch, plan, or impulse.  Decide on fish/shrimp/snails, or whatever other fauna, or find a type or piece of driftwood or rock that speaks to you and plan inhabitants around them.  It doesn’t matter where you take your inspiration from, just let it flow through you until your tank makes you happy.  And don’t forget to let the tank grow and evolve.  If it stayed exactly the same all the time it would be boring.

 

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It has been a couple of years since I setup a new tank. My style is organic topsoil with a thin cap, gravel more recently, but I have used sand. I tend to drop in a central piece of wood, and then plant around it with medium-height plants. Then I will add taller plants in the back, helping to conceal Aquarium Co-Op Sponge Filters. I will add shorter plants to the front. I like to add tons of Anubias and Java Fern to my wood, just jamming it into crevices, and letting it grow. The roots find their way down to the substrate. I especially like Cryptocoryne in the substrate.

I am studying more about Alleleopathy, and I am not sure that I want to keep Amazon Sword, and Vallisneria in the same tanks as these low-light, smaller-root plants.

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