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Thread: Aquascape production explained

  1. #1
    Ecoxotic
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    Aquascape production explained

    The Production of a Layout

    The Selection of Composition Materials
    Once the substrate is laid, the next step is producing a layout. As for the order of production, the framework of a layout is built by arranging composition materials such as driftwood and rocks, and then aquatic plants are planted from the foreground to middle ground to the background. First, an aquarium and substrate are prepared according to the concept of the layout that was established before the production. The next step is to select composition materials. Although the decision to use driftwood or rocks as composition materials is made generally at the concept stage, you may not be able to obtain exactly what you have in mind since they are natural materials. You may have to modify slightly the composition that you envisioned depending on the sizes and shapes of the composition materials you obtain. It often results in a more natural looking layout if you are flexible with your composition to take advantage of the material you have rather than getting hung up on the design that you envisioned initially. Regardless of driftwood or rocks, multiple materials are arranged together generally to produce a layout. Except for an open top aquarium in which driftwood is protruding for the water surface, you should select composition materials that fit inside an aquarium basically and leave enough space to plant aquatic plants when arranged. It is important to select the composition materials by considering the balance with the size of an aquarium rather than their shapes.


    Basic compositions
    In Nature Aquarium, the composition of a layout is produced based on the arrangement of the area with densely growing aquatic plants and the empty space. Although limitless numbers of layout compositions can be produced, there are three basic compositions. One of them is the U-shaped composition. Looking at an aquarium from the front, bushes of aquatic plants are located in the left and right sides of the aquarium and the empty space is in the center. This composition is well suited for expressing perspective since the empty space appears to narrow from the front to the rear center of the aquarium. The second one is the mound-shaped composition with the bush of aquatic plants in the center and empty spaces in the left and the right sides of the aquarium. Because the focus is in the center, this composition is suitable for a layout with a strong impact or with a dramatic expression. The third one is a triangular composition. Bushes of aquatic plants are placed either in the right or the left side of an aquarium and the empty space is created in the opposite side so that the layout appears as a right triangle from the front of the aquarium. Since this composition can be viewed not only straight from the front of the aquarium but also from the side with the empty space in an angle, it is also suitable for a cube type aquarium placed in a corner of a room. Although the actual layout composition may not necessarily work out to be one of the basic compositions, it is easier to put a composition together if the composition is produced initially with a basic one in mind.


    Preparation of driftwood and rocks
    Since driftwood and rocks that are composition materials in Nature Aquarium are both natural materials, not only their shapes but also their quality are not uniform. Sometimes they present a problem that needs to be addressed before or after a layout is produced. In the case of driftwood, if it is too dry, it floats and cannot be used in a layout. Although a rock can be placed on top of it, we recommend that you check first if purchased driftwood floats or not. If it floats, the driftwood should be soaked in a bucket of water for awhile. When driftwood is placed in an aquarium, the water sometimes turns brown right after setting up the aquarium. This problem can be alleviated if the driftwood is soaked in water for awhile. It is not necessary to boil or pour hot water on Old Black Wood from the tropics to remove tannin. It should never be boiled as a matter of fact since the natural resin in the driftwood seeps out like black tar and becomes unmanageable. In the case of rocks, it is not necessary to prepare them before use. Depending on the type of rocks, it may increase the total hardness of the water after setting up an aquarium. If the total hardness increases significantly and hinders the growth of aquatic plants, we recommend installing Softenizer.



    There are three basic Nature Aquarium compositions: U-shaped composition, mounded composition, and triangular composition. The framework by composition materials, bushes of aquatic plants, and the placement of an empty space define a composition. It is important to consider the volume of aquatic plants and the balance of their colors and placement so that the composition is not bilaterally symmetrical.


    The Selection of Aquatic Plants
    Once the composition materials are arranged in an aquarium, the next step is to plant aquatic plants. In Nature Aquarium, the space for aquatic plants is divided into mainly three areas: the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. As a general rule, short aquatic plants are planted in the foreground and tall aquatic plants are planted in the background. Medium height plants and aquatic plants that grow attached to driftwood and rocks are planted in the middle ground. By arranging aquatic plants this way, three dimensional appearance and perspective can be expressed in the limited space of an aquarium. Therefore, when selecting aquatic plants for a layout, it is necessary to understand how a particular aquatic plant grows and place it in an appropriate area. Not only the height of an aquatic plant, but also its form, speed of growth, and light requirement need to be considered as well. Heliophytes such as stem plants that require bright light grow fast in general and require frequent trimming. Sciophytes such as Cryptocoryne do not require bright light and their growth rate is relatively slow. Heliophytes are suitable for the foreground and the background where light reaches well, and sciophytes are suitable for the middle ground that tends to be shaded by driftwood and rocks or the aquatic plants in the background.


    Planting of Aquatic Plants
    The majority of aquatic plants except for mosses and ferns are planted using tweezers. Whereas just one or two aquatic plants can be planted by hand, planting aquatic plants densely in the foreground or producing a layout with an intricate design is impossible without tweezers. Forms of aquatic plants include stem plants with long stems with leaves and rosette (root) type in which leaves and roots grow closely together. In the case of stem plants, plants are aligned at the terminal buds and cut to the same length. Then their lower leaves are removed and the plants are planted with tweezers made for aquatic plants. If three to four thin stem plants are held together at this time, plants can easily be planted densely. Rosette plants such as those in the Cryptocoryne family can easily be planted using a triangle or curved type Pro-Pincettes. If a rootstock is very large and difficult to plant with tweezers alone, it helps to hold the rootstock with Sand Flattener or pour Aqua Soil on top of it. The plants that spread with runners are cut into easy-to-plant sections, and the sections are planted with a small space between plants, keeping them a small distance away from the glass surface. It is difficult to plant aquatic plants after filling the aquarium with water since aquatic plants tend to float due to their buoyancy. Placing just enough water to soak the substrate and then planting them from the front of the aquarium toward the back makes the work much easier.

    Stem plants should be inserted into the substrate at an angle rather than perpendicularly so that they won’t easily come loose due to their buoyancy when the aquarium is filled with water.



    In Nature Aquarium, a layout is divided into three areas: foreground, middle ground and background. Aquatic plants are selected by type and planted so that their height increases gradually from front to rear of an aquarium. As a general rule, aquatic plants are planted one by one using tweezers. Small aquatic plants used in the foreground and thin-stemmed aquatic plants can be planted densely if a few of them are planted together.



    Epiphytic plants
    In a layout produced with driftwood as a composition material, epiphytic aquatic plants are secured on the driftwood after planting aquatic plants in the substrate. The aquatic plants used for this purpose are mainly ferns such as Microsorum and Bolbitis. Anubias nana is sometimes used as well. These aquatic plants are secured with Wood Tight to the places that become focal points of a layout. Wood Tight can be removed once the plants become attached. If they are to be placed at the boundary of driftwood or rocks and the substrate, the plants should be secured to small rocks with Wood Tight and placed at the boundary. These epiphytic plants grow attached to driftwood and rocks in nature as well. Planting them directly in the substrate is not ecologically sound. In addition, when attaching Willow Moss on driftwood, it is easier to attach it after arranging driftwood and before planting aquatic plants. Willow Moss, which is a type of moss, should be spread thinly over the area where you want it to grow and secured using Moss Cotton. The Moss Cotton should melt away naturally by the time Willow Moss is attached to the driftwood. Fuji-Ishi rocks have a lot of indentations and very little surface area with which Willow Moss can make good contact. Since Willow Moss does not grow attached to them in a short period of time, Riccia Line should be used to attach it to the rocks as in the case of Riccia which is not epiphytic.

  2. #2
    President of the United SCAPES of America 10,000 posts, I am legend! Neon Shrimp's Avatar
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    I will add these articles to the thread entitled "Useful Scaping Articles" here:
    http://socalaquascapers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5469
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  3. #3
    Ecoxotic
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    I will continue to add them into general so people can see them first and what you see fit for "Useful Scaping Articles" can be moved..

    Thank you Richard!

  4. #4
    President of the United SCAPES of America 10,000 posts, I am legend! Neon Shrimp's Avatar
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    That sound like a good plan. Keep them coming John!
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  5. #5
    Ecoxotic
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    I've got lighting, co2, filtration, layout, maintenance, and a couple others up.

  6. #6
    SCAPE Member SCAPEr tkblazer's Avatar
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    great articles John, thank you very much!

  7. #7
    Ecoxotic
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    No problem, just trying to wreck as many peoples tanks as possible LOL!!

  8. #8
    SCAPE Member SCAPEr tkblazer's Avatar
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    you already have me wanting to redo my scape now... thanks a bunch! hahahaha

  9. #9
    Ecoxotic
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    Scape party at your place, just buy beer and have good supplies! We will crush it!

  10. #10
    President of the United SCAPES of America 10,000 posts, I am legend! Neon Shrimp's Avatar
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    John, are you sure you haven't already started with the refreshments
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  11. #11
    SCAPE Member SCAPEr tkblazer's Avatar
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    ^ lol it is friday i suppose

  12. #12
    Ecoxotic
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    I might have, I'm getting ready for an artists for autism show tonight!

  13. #13
    SCAPE Member Just Planted h.embass's Avatar
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    I would prefer the triangular position as it is pretty rarely used by the common people. It would be a challenge for my part as I have not tried it before. I usually use the mounted composition but its getting kind of boring when you use the same thing for all the plants. Its nice to try different things sometimes.
    Last edited by h.embass; 06-04-2010 at 10:31 PM.

  14. #14
    Ecoxotic
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    No, thank you! Just apply it and rock on with the scaping!

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