Monday, 15 August 2022

Growing 'Monte Carlo' (Micranthemum tweediei) on Hardscapes

Micranthemum tweediei also known as 'Monte Carlo' is one of the easiest carpeting plants to grow in aquarium as a carpet in the foreground. Recently, it is very popular to grow this plant on the hardscape (stones and wood) as an epyphite plant with amazing downward creeping manner. 

How this can be done? There are couple of ways such as planting Monte Carlo directly in the cracks of the wood or stones or glueing it to keep it in place but this is not good in the long run - in the maintenance routine (trimming) it could be easily detached from its place. 

Here is one way that works great if you want to grow it permanently on the stones, even on those that has flat surface. You will need: Coarse filter foam (10 PPI is the best), Gel type super glue and pointed tip tweezers. 

First cut piece of foam, the size depends on the size of surface you want to cover. Tickness should be 5-7 mm :

Then cut the plant to small pieces (having 2 pairs of leaves is just enough) :

Take pointed tip tweezers and plant each piece into the foam - make sure the plant get stuck in the foam. I am using styrofoam board beneath, it is easier to work:

You don't need to plant many plants in the foam, 1 plant per square cm is fine as it will spread out quickly:

Turn it upside down and apply the gel type super glue:

Glue it on desired place:

It is best to glue it when aquarium is empty, but it can be glued underwater too just make sure the surface is clean. 

After 4 weeks:

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

'Jurassic World' - 96L aquascape

This aquarium is inspired by Jurassic World. Hardscape made of Red Moorwood and Fossilized Wood on which various ferns grow - a good combination to evoke that period. The fish I am planning to introduce are Parambassis sp. / Gymnochanda sp. and something more bizarre looking (the weirder the better :)) depending on what will be available. Some of the plants are still not planted such as Bucephalandra and some ferns as I am waiting for the aquarium to stabilize a bit, even though the filter has been in operation since the last setup.

Day 1:

Dimensions: 60x40x40cm - 96 liters or 25 gallons
Lighting: Zetlight Qmaven II ZT6300II
Filtration: Eheim 2217 
CO2: Pressurised 1 bps
Substrate: Lava gravel, ADA Amazonia light, Pool filter sand
Hardscape: Fossilized Wood, Red Moorwood
Flora: Anubias sp. 'Congensis Mini', Anubias sp. 'Micro', Anubias sp. 'Mini Coin', Anubias sp. 'Pangolino', Anubias sp. 'Petite', Anubias sp. 'Snow White', Bolbitis sp. 'Mini' Guinea 2002, Bucephalandra sp. 'Belindae' P. Boyce 2011, Bucephalandra sp. 'Catherinae', Bucephalandra sp. 'Kedagang Mini', Fissidens nobilis, Hygrophila pinnatifida, Hymenasplenium obscurum, Ludwigia sp. 'Marilia', Marsilea crenata, Mayaca sp. 'Santarem Red', Micranthemum tweediei 'Monte Carlo', Microsorum sp. 'Mini Coral', Microsorum sp. 'Mini needle leaf', Moss 'Mini Weeping' Borneo, Phyllanthus fluitans, Riccardia sp. 'Graeffei', Rotala sp. 'Green', Rotala sp. 'Orange Juice'
Fauna: Caridina multidentata, Neocaridina davidi var. 'Blue Jelly', Theodoxus danubialis

Day 21:

Day 47:

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Amano shrimp vs. Black beard algae (BBA)

If you wonder how efficient Amano shrimps are against BBA, here is my story. This aquarium I have used as an experimental tank; fertilizer testing, CO2, photoperiod, water flow... Like the most of my experiments, it resulted in disaster. First there was a problem with green algae (Hair algae, GSA) which I managed to fix, but then BBA appeared. We all know how stubborn this algae is and it is difficult to eradicate it even when the cause is removed. Well, it can be done with some chemicals like direct spraying with H2O2 or Excel / Easy Carbo, but these chemicals can very easily kill some sensitive plants and especially mosses. I decided for a more natural approach and give Amano shrimps a chance. This is the result;

ADA Mini M tank (20 liters or 5.5 gallon). 16 young (about 2-3cm) Amano shrimps were introduced.

The photo was taken about 2 hours after that. You can notice the filter intake mesh was already cloged by BBA that Amano shrimps "trimmed". I had to clean it every day.

At this point 90% of BBA has been eliminated. I believe in next 5-7 days this tank will be algae free!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Nano aquascape - "By the Sea"

Dimensions: 59x20x15cm - 17 liters or 4.5 gallons
Lighting: Chihiros RGB60
Filtration: Eden 501 (sponge, ceramic rings) 
CO2: Pressurised 1 bubble every 3 seconds
Substrate: Pool filter sand, gravel 1-3mm, peat
Hardscape: Seiryu stones, Lava rocks
Flora: Riccardia chamedryfolia, Bucephalandra sp. 'Kedagang Mini type 3', Utricularia graminifolia, Eleocharis acicularis
Fauna: Sundadanio axelrodi 'Blue', Neocaridina davidi var. 'Blue Jelly', Clithon corona

Setting up the hardscape

Egg crate is placed to the bottom. This helps to rearange the stones easily without troubles with sliding on the bare glass bottom:

Sand is placed in front and gravel at the back, just to cover holes of the egg crate. Then stones are arranged. Lava rocks act as barrier and they will be covered with Fissidens sp. 'Khao Sok':

All rock sctructure is connected to one piece. I have used super glue (cyanoacrylate) and powder made of topsoil and sodium bicarbonate. First apply gel type super glue to the joint, pour some powder and drop some liquid super glue over it. This makes junctions super strong:  


At the background where Utricularia will be planted I put some peat, to make ideal growing conditions for this plant:

Peat is capped with gravel. Utricularia graminifolia doesn't like nutrient rich supstrates so this should be ideal for it as it likes slightly acidic enviroment:

Finished hardscape:


Fissidens sp. 'Khao Sok' is applied on lava rocks by yogurt method

After 3 weeks of dry start for Fissidens, Utricularia graminifolia (from invitro) was planted and the tank is now flooded:


Just a few days after flooding cyanobacteria has appeared and made a real disaster - all plants has died. The tank was covered with black foil and left for 7 days in the dark. In this period filter was running as ussualy. Later, when all cyano has cleared I let the tank to run with lights off for about a month (dark start). 
Luckily, it stabilized and I plant it again. This time with Riccardia on the lava rocks (initial idea). In the background there are Utricularia and some hairgrass. 

After a few more weeks, first animals was introduced; Clithon corona snails, Blue jelly shrimps and Blue neon Rasbora. 

Neocaridina davidi var. 'Blue Jelly':

Riccardia growing really well, Utricularia still adapting:

Algae eating crew - Clithon corona:

Riccardia is ready for first trimming:

For trimming Riccardia it is best to use curved scissors. This liverwort is very fragile and can easily detach, so be careful. When trimming, press down with open scissors and then cut - this way Riccardia will not detach from the hardscape:

Spring scissors are great for precise trimming:

There will be more shrimps soon! :)

Sundadanio axelrodi 'Blue'

Monday, 9 March 2020

Cryptocoryne nurii var. raubensis 'Rosen Maiden'

This beautiful Crypt originates from the Malay Peninsula (Bt. Perah, Raub). In their natural habitat they grow on the stream banks in limestone soil. This is smaller Crypt and has tendency to grow very low, leaves growing horizontally. It is very easy Crypt to grow (both emersed and submerged).

Closed spathe of C. nurii var. raubensis 'Rosen Maiden':

Beautiful pattern on the leaves:

A great article about C. nurii var. raubensis can be found here.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Nano aquascape - "Fire Garden"

Dimensions: 20x15x15cm - 4 liters or 1 gallon
Lighting: LED 9W
Filtration: Azoo Mignon 60l/h (sponge, Purolite) 
CO2: Pressurised 1 bubble every 2 seconds
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia (regular and powder)
Hardscape: Lava rocks
Fertilization: PPS pro, Easy carbo
Plants: Eriocaulon sp. 'Sulawesi', Fissidens sp. 'Khao Sok', Rotala mexicana 'Goias'
Fish/shrimps/snails: Crystal Red shrimps, Leopard ramshorn snails

In this tank I wanted to create a carpet with one of the smallest Eriocaulon, E. sp. 'Sulawesi'.
Hardscape was made of lava rock pieces glued together to act as a barrier dividing front and background. In the foreground I have used powder type and at the back is regular ADA Amazonia:

Eriocaulon sp. 'Sulawesi':

Fissidens sp. 'Khao Sok' is applied on the rocks by yogurt method and at the back is planted Rotala mexicana 'Goias'. Dry start for 2 weeks.
Front of the tank is elevated as there is a slope - this way I have leveled soil and water level:

Day 1:

Day 21:

Fissidens sp. 'Khao Sok' 4 weeks after flooding:

Day 37:

Day 48 - Introduced 7 CRS. Plants growing great:

Day 50:

Day 63 - Still without trimming!

Day 73:

First trimming! Rotala mexicana 'Goias' growing in all directions, need to shape it. With spring scissors it is one minute job in such a small tank:

I am changing only 1/2 liters of water (RO + minerals) once a week. Now testing my own all in one fertilizer blend.
After trimming:

Fissidens sp. 'Khao Sok':

Day 90:

Fissidens sp. 'Philippines' - appeared unexpectedly, most likely came over the brush during application of 'Khao Sok':

Day 100:

Rotala mexicana 'Goias':