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Chocky's Aquascaping Journal 2016


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#1 chocky

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 06:06 PM



YAY I'm first !


So this year I decided to get more involved with PCS. I enjoyed reading and following everyone's journal last year :)


At first I wanted to go for the biotope category because it seemed quite interesting. But after doing a bit of research only and looking at examples, I decided to go for the aquascaping, as it is something I really admired for many years but never had the urge to really do it (online photos and videos were enough haha!). Also after showing my other half examples of biotopes, he flat out said no. BUT he was all for the aquascaping idea. I'm hoping to go for the Nature style aquascaping.


Here's the space that i will putting my tank - excuse the mess and clutter!!



So as you can see, my tank will be on display. So it has to look good (not like the ones now..sigh) - that was the rule my partner put in place to allow me to do this.


Last night i did some measurements of the space, allowing ample space convenient access. With the two current tanks, the larger one on the right is a real pain in the butt to do my maintenance. I can't actually take anything out without draining the whole thing and moving it out, hence the main reason i hadn't gotten around to putting in that 3D background in that i got from last last PCS Auction..sigh.. The tank on the left is somewhat the dimensions I'm after but obviously longer. I'll be slowly shutting down these two small tanks and selling them off to help fund this scape.


Went to Perth Aquarium Gallery today to get a quote for the tank size I'm after and will be putting in my order on Monday :)


To finish off this first journal entry - a little piece of advice that was given to me from my Manager that i worked with on project for the last 3 yrs, on his last day of work before he retired. I'm somewhat fickle when it comes to setting goals for myself and actually sticking to them, so I hope this competition will help me improve on that. haha :)




"Achieving success consistently is no accident. It is the end result of an ongoing commitment to a relentless pursuit of personal excellence. Individuals who seek excellence are exceptionally determined and refuse to settle for anything but their best"


"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality"





#2 chocky

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 12:51 PM


Just placed my tank order in with Perth Aquarium Gallery.

Here are the dimensions I ended up going with:

Should be able to pick it up end of April which gives me time to sort everything else out :)

#3 chocky

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:17 PM


Sorry for not posting for last month as there really wasnt anything to post. haha

Today however my new tank has finally come in and I picked it up today from the Perth Aquarium Gallery guys up in Wangara. Thanks to them, they were top notch.

Still sitting in its box. Will be eagerly setting it up over the next week or two. :)


#4 chocky

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 07:43 PM

25th June 2016

So just to catch up, here was the space after we cleared the area.


Heres with the tank in:

Today i got some goodies from the Perth Aquarium Gallery again, tomorrow ill be ready to putting scape to my tank :) :)

#5 chocky

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Posted 26 June 2016 - 11:00 PM

Today I finally got around to adding some substrate to my tank. First was to drain as much as i could.. d556407e764fb2dde322dedbbc9e7e27.jpg At the moment all i have in the tank are 2 peppermint bn, 4 of the lethrinops red caps (I got from Aqotix a couple months back), couple of random cories (panda and leopard) and purple galaxy guppies. The guppies will eventually be moved to their own tank I'm thinking as they dont school very well. they just kinda swim at the surface begging for food whenever Im at the tank. lol After adding the first small bag of Ada soil in. I just used a little plastic bowl and sprinkled it in. Ideally I would have done this on a bare empty tank, but I couldnt really be bothered catching and stressing out my red caps or bn's. 603033b54d9b9c8e525e1c0cce801fc6.jpg About 7litres of ada soil later: c21f27de3ab74d2ca9c41e05f5d56473.jpg I still have about 2L left. Not sure if i need it as I have a 9L bag of the ada powder to go in too, which i doubt I'll even use half of that either. I left the centre rather bare as I plan on adding light coloured sand to just give it a focal point and also so the overall tank isnt too dark. Here's the tank after about 4hrs. Water has cleared up nicely. 870da17c569f6492dc8e83d7201bcd5a.jpg One red cap instantly coloured up after adding substrate. Much happier now :) fba79d1f0f912f02d83e47165ec576a5.jpgd85c3b770f6f307802be1a0fb8d07f50.jpg Plans for next month are; - Purchase an LED light - Look at upgrading the existing HOB filter and replace it with a bigger cannister filter. - Find a big piece of driftwood to be my centre piece - Research and purchase appropriate plants for back, middle and fore ground. - Save up for CO2 unit :/ I have also started treated some of my existing narrow leaf java fern from my other tank for snails and algae. They are the BANE of my fish keeping existence! So im really hoping to avoid an explosion of either. Lastly Ill be keeping an eye on the pH over the next week or two. Hopefully it wont drop too much due to the ada soil.

Edited by chocky, 26 June 2016 - 11:08 PM.

#6 chocky

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Posted 26 June 2016 - 11:59 PM

Oops so did have an ammonia spike due to the soil. (thanks MM85). Showed about 2.0ppm :o

I did a 30% water change and added 2 large seeded sponge filters.
Managed to get it down to roughly 0.5ppm so hopefully when I test in the morning again itll be at 0.

#7 chocky

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Posted 10 July 2016 - 11:16 AM


Last weekend bought some plants at vebas. Impressed with how healthy and lush most of their plants were.

Got some anubias and swords.

When i got them planted in yesterday, reminded me why i never do planted tanks. I really suck at it. I also noticed one of the anubias started browning quite quickly and i think it was due to the fact I placed it near the filter output. Gotta keep that in mind when i eventually upgrade my filter too.

Also added in narrow leaf java fern, extra bits from my shrimp tank that i bought from a pcs auction last year.

Here it is today after a 50% water change and also added the sand substrate to the front.


I bought my Led light too off ebay last week so I'm waiting for that to arrive.
Also havent really worked out the best or nicest way to tie the swords down. They are a bit awkward as they are so big already.

Yesterday I also went to Pet Magic in bibra lake to check out their driftwood. I still think they are well priced and although i didnt find the right one, they had a few hollow logs and other pieces i think would look great in a cube tank. All aboit 30-50cm in size and all less than $50.

The red caps again looked much happier too once I put in some sand. They've already made a mess but thats ok.


Next few items I still need to sort out;

- Get my LED light on

- Upgrade filter (and take out the sponge filters)

- Get some nice big leafy background plants

- Still looking for that perfect long piece of driftwood.

- Once I have a layout more finalised - smaller/carpeting plants to go in the front. Still have a big bag of ada amazon powder to go in for that.

- Guppies will come out eventually too into their own tank.

#8 chocky

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 10:54 AM



Another quick update while i'm bored at work.. :D


From last month's post -


Next few items I still need to sort out;

- Get my LED light on  Donesky - got this beginning of July from ebay. If any one is interested it was this one:


It's super bright. Bit bigger / bulkier than i thought. but the shipping was relatively fast and it was pretty cheap for the size so can't really complain. 


- Upgrade filter (and take out the sponge filters)  Done. After searching on gumtree for a secondhand cannister, i just went with a new one from Aquotix (16/7/2016) and got the Astro filter. I like how i can just open the top cap to fill and prime. Runs very quiet. 

- Get some nice big leafy background plants - Still need some of these..

- Still looking for that perfect long piece of driftwood. - picked up a piece at the last PCS auction. Didn't put it in until last weekend though and didn't think to soak it first.. So the position its in is just temporary. I managed to wedge it in so it wouldn't float.Will move it once its fully soaked. Probably a bit small for my tank, so will still be keeping an eye out for another 1 or 2 horizontally longer pieces.. 

- Once I have a layout more finalised - smaller/carpeting plants to go in the front. Still have a big bag of ada amazon powder to go in for that. - Have bought a small pot of HC from Aquarium gallery last weekend (they only had 1 pot left). I tested it by planting a small portion in the regular ADA soil. If i don't have to use the powder would be preferable and i can sell that bag off if I don't end up needing it. 

- Guppies will come out eventually too into their own tank. - Guppies still in there..and still swimming around like unfilled water balloons... 




I also bit the bullet, and got myself a CO2 kit. Just a basic one. I hope i have set it up right. There wasn't really any instructions with the kit :| Currently got it going at 1-2 bubbles per second. 



Here's what the tank looks like so far... Still a long way to go...


#9 chocky

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 02:14 PM


Not much has changed with the tank in terms of new plants or fish.

However it has slowly been overtaken by black brush algae. :(
I have been too embarassed to post any photos because of it! grr

So today I tried to do a bleach/water mix (10%) on the main plants, stones and driftwood that it had been over taking. 5 second dip and a rinse off.

The algae started dying straight away as it changed colour.
I know its due to an imbalance somewhere so im still in the process of finding what that is.


Poor anubias that i picked up from the last auction. At least it still growing but the algae looks horrible.

Ive also taken the guppies out. :)

#10 chocky

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 05:52 PM

Just a quick photo update on the black brush algae.

#11 chocky

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Posted 04 November 2016 - 02:53 PM

October 2016




Not much to really update. I'm still not entirely happy with the look of the tank. Haven't had the time to really go out and look for better hardscape items. I did however finally find a tap connector to attach to my kitchen sink. Water changes are a hundred times easier now.






I think I've also found a way to stop my red caps from digging up all my plants. Bought these plastic sewing things from spotlight.


3de5bba5fd3bd641aa6cb0ab62be7f91.jpg I've sewed this small Monte Carlo and buried it under the substrate. So far it has stayed in.


Here's another plant I have added beginning of the month. (Have to go back to vebas to find out the names of these plants lol) d56da751740a88ac8a346d4abae2c376.jpg Plans for this month is


to look for better driftwood and also buy some more plants. I took the wrong approach where I bought 1 pot of everything rather than buying say 5 of the same to really fill out the tank. some more random photos of the tank: b1aad8bf74647e9bbd1479becbcf9226.jpg5403215868dfdb205c56bec623423591.jpg2a891b7ab9a423a9b9748a92d31b8abe.jpg Sorry for such a disjointed and random post but will have to find time this month to do a more thorough post. Final photo after a water change : 61be0c8072ea028638c47c8527549ea5.jpg Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by chocky, 04 November 2016 - 03:00 PM.

#12 chocky

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 01:22 PM

Final Aquascape Journal Entry - December 2016 Livestock in tank - * 8x neon tetras (6 died and only 2 left) * 4x lethrinop red cap itungi (2x males, 2x females- 1x female jumped out of tank and died, swapped 1x male for a female with another pcs member). Currently have 1x male and 2x females, 5x fry) * 1x panda Cory * 4/5x peppermint bristlenoses * 6x Siamese algae eaters * 2x Chinese algae eater (1x died) * 3x leopard corys (they all died for some reason...) * 2x electric yellows (from PCS member) Equipment - * 1500 x 300 x 300 Custom Firestar Tank - built by Aquarium Gallery Perth * 5ft Dee Aqua 6500K LED light - EBay * Astro canister filter - Aquotix * Co2 kit - Aquarium Gallery Perth * Ada amazon soil, powder, sand - Fishroom & AGP. Ada amazon powder unused. * Iwugami hardscape rocks * Driftwood (pcs auction & AGP) * Eheim 300W heater (gumtree) * 2x petworx 100W heaters - eBay (both broke when I accidentally forgot to turn them off during WC). * Tetratec air pump - age of aquarium Plants that worked/easy to grow - Amazon sword Narrow leaf java fern Anubias Nana Rubra Ludwigia Mini jewel Amazon Chain Swords Blyxa Japonica Plants that could have but didn't work - Cardamine lyrata Narrow leaf ludwigia Monte Carlo HC What I like about the tank / what worked - The tank itself I like. I think it's very high quality and well made. Price was reasonable as well. The iwagumi rocks I managed to find I liked. I think the size suited the tank well. I would have liked to have gotten a few more and have less/no driftwood. Things I would have done differently- * Build an in-tank filter - to hide heaters, pumps and filter media. Canister takes up a lot of space on my bench. * Tint the back of the tank. Either opaque black or diffused white. * Chosen different fish - shell dwellers maybe for next year? Also would have liked to have taken out the red cap cichlids and peppermint bristlenoses but unfortunately due to lack of space and spare tanks I have at home, they had to go in there. I would not have bothered with driftwood if the bn were not in there. Also the red caps were constantly sifting through and uprooting newly planted plants which made it very difficult to establish a good root system. * Establish carpeting plants first (not fill with water). Would have liked to have done this but again due to lack of spare tanks etc. my existing fish had to go somewhere. I tried to plant them anyway but it was a constant losing battle, with the fish constantly uprooting them and it being very difficult to plant in the first place. Overall I had contradicting livestock/plants in the same tank which made everything much harder. On one hand, the red caps that needed hard water and were constantly sifting through the substrate. On the other - the peppermint bristlenoses needed driftwood, plants that required good soil & CO2 for growth ; which resulted in softer water. I could have moved on the fish but they were still fish I enjoyed keeping so I didn't want to sell them. Considering the constant uphill battle I have had with this tank, I think it looks relatively good and more importantly the tank must be healthy as my red caps have spawned several times now and yesterday was able to collect some fry. The smaller female is still holding. I won't lie, it has definitely been an expensive learning experience but on the bright side- it's important to support local businesses and I don't think I would have learnt as much as I have this year without doing so. Plants have never been my forte or interest but going forward, I have more confidence in trying again and being successful. Also I have all the equipment needed and can reuse everything to start again. I look forward to next years competition :) 80aa44cf89bfa143bc0249010dc63d85.jpgea6416cd854e19bef4cdfdb7fe9eacee.jpg7c2bfbc2b2608a1764af9ca55a00ca3a.jpgc0619598acebd4576ccbd1a92cdb0586.jpg5425e6f0e929073228e275b60b42c85c.jpgbf58668cb85cf20d1d0a0a22e3059ec1.jpg2fd8bed69edcfe6be45b58f0d19c3187.jpg5ae6465ec758a2b68b2ce698d45e2a18.jpgcf677a63460ab96aca2c77c1579e67a2.jpg Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by chocky, 27 December 2016 - 01:30 PM.

#13 chocky

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 06:54 PM

Here is just an update overall tank shot.
Moved some rocks out, added extra driftwood, which aren't in their ideal spot but the plants have gotten super dense. I've only had to refill the CO2 bottle once so far too so that's been great

Since taking the adult Red Caps out, the plants are happier.
But I've added the first batch of babies cos I needed the space. Not big enough to do any damage yet so I don't mind them growing in there.


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#14 jakefoster

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 04:25 PM


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