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SubscribePlanted nanotank with a twist
Callatya
 
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I like planted nanotanks, they are lovely little things, but they look like so much work. i don't have the time or inclination to pamper various expensive tiny plants, so I had a bit of a thought on a compromise.

I have a 25cm cube on my kitchen bench. It gets indirect sunlight and is heated in winter. The plants love it in there and the temperature stays surprisingly stable. Inhabitants vary, but it is looking to be 5 young (read:teeny tiny!) micro rasboras, Boraras maculatus.

So far, java moss has been the big winner. It takes on a grass-like appearance. That is what gave me my thought.

Instead of going for the miniature countryside look, could I make it look like a bonsai on a lawn? Are those flattish bonsai pots fish safe, and what would be the most convincingly bonsai low-light cheap aquatic plant? I'm guessing anubias, but I'm open to suggestions. If I used a pot, what would be good as a plinth to get up higher than the moss 'lawn'? Should it be central or offset?

Or perhaps a windowsill? I'm hesitant to silicone things to the rear wall, but could do a brick background and window from a photo or something, and then add the protruding parts (sill, shutters?) and pot plants on the inside of the tank? it'd be a bugger to get the scale right on though.

Maybe the Bliss desktop rolling hills background from XP? My concern here is swimming space, but it wouldn't be much worse than other options.

I could build a retaining wall out of polystyrene and have a raised garden bed along the back wall, maybe with a small ceramic bird bath. (I dun wanna make a weeny bird bath, you can't make me!)


Ideas appreciated. Providing it is planted and looks classy, I'm all for it!

For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

Post InfoPosted 05-Feb-2008 18:37Profile Homepage ICQ AIM MSN Yahoo PM Edit Report 
Shinigami
 
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Here are my thoughts...

You might try Bolbitis as it might carry the tree look a little better than the broad-leaved Anubias. I think Bolbitis is supposed to be a pretty hardy fern. Not sure about its growth rate, though. Even Anubias nana has leaves larger than your average bonsai plant, and I think that might harm the appearance of scale if you really want a tree.

The closest thing I can imagine you getting to a tree would be to use moss and tie it to some branchy twig, and let it grow in. The twig would have to be unusually branchy and might even have to be bonsai-ish already. On the other hand, wire can be much more easily bent to shape; of course, bonsai are usually trained with wires. I'm not sure if moss will attach to wire, but that might be a way to customize the shape more easily. The moss will allow for small leaf size that I imagine would make for a more natural tree appearance. I can't imagine the wire tree being too too much work to make. I'd probably try taking two pieces of wire, pull out the moss into strands, and then twist them all together, sort of like how a rope is made. The wire would twist around itself which should keep the moss twisted around it held there. Not sure how well it would work but it would be a pretty cool look if the java moss grows in and algae covers the wire to make it look nice and natural. The ends of the wire can be looped to prevent sharp ends from sticking out. Although I've never maintaned other mosses, a moss such as Christmas moss might be nice to vary leaf and branching structure, instead of just having java moss all over.

What would be slightly easier than a bonsai idea, if you want to still be Japanese, is to do zen rock formations. Rocks more or less look the same whether they're big or small, and in a small tank you could definitely more easily trick the eye with scale.

I think the bonsai pots are usually ceramic or something, and should be fish safe. I mean, we use flower pots in our tank often enough. One possible concern would be if the paint of the pot contained some sort of toxic substance. I doubt it, though. Pots are probably fish safe.

Often bonsai have moss in the pot with the tree, once again for scale to look like there is grass growing with the tree. Rather than putting the pot in the grass, you might want to consider displaying the pot on a bare bottom and have the moss inside the pot. I think bonsai are usually displayed just like any fish tank, with things pretty bare around them. Inside the tank, the pot could either be central or off to the side; personally I'd lean towards center. The pot is already pretty unnatural and so while symmetrical things are supposedly more boring, here I think it would serve better in the center (sort of like a spotlight on a bonsai plant).

One crazy idea would be to have the tank inside the pot, and so the pot itself can frame the scape rather than being part of it, as a bonsai pot is usually meant to do. Don't know how you would do that, though...

On the other hand, you could skip on the pot altogether; Japanese use the same concepts to shape their trees in their gardens, and have bonsai-looking trees outside too mixed in with their rocks and koi ponds. This might be a good way to go, just so you don't have to worry about the pot.

That windowsill is one crazy concept...

I'm assuming you don't have firm ideas considering the range of ideas you've given. Any way it goes it seems like it'll look pretty cool.

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The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian.
Post InfoPosted 05-Feb-2008 20:14Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
DeletedPosted 05-Feb-2008 20:14
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Gone_Troppo
 
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EditedEdited by Gone_Troppo
As soon as Shini mentioned the tree and moss idea I remembered seeing something like that in one of the recent AGA aquascaping competitions...turns out it was the category winner in last years comp. http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2007.cgi?&op=showcase&category=0&vol=0&id=20.

If you were wanting to go with the windowsill or miniaturised garden scene try having a look in model / hobby / toy stores for things to fit with your theme. You will often find interesting little pieces designed for dolls houses or train sets such as garden furniture, ornaments, mini pots.. maybe even that windowsill or birdbath.

Can't wait to see how this tank turns out.

G_T

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
Post InfoPosted 06-Feb-2008 13:35Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
djrichie
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If you don't want to grow it yourself, FloridaDriftwood.com sells them. Troppo that is one of my favorite aquascaped tanks, I seen it I think in PracticalFishkeeping mag last year. I get the feeling that you could walk down that path, on a cool summers day. I really wish I could design them that good.

Djrichie
"So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish" Douglas Adams
Post InfoPosted 06-Feb-2008 15:33Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Shinigami
 
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Wow, I must've not looked in the small category; I've been surfing AGA, but using it mainly for ideas in my big tank. That's a cool 'scape if I've ever seen one! A really good model to try to mimic. Notice the combination of the tree with rocks; though the tree has a very natural shape you could definitely apply the same concepts to create a miniature Japanese garden with a bonsai tree. A light blue background might've been nice with it, though, to mimic sky.

Gosh, I'm still gawking over that tank, it's so cool!

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The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian.
Post InfoPosted 06-Feb-2008 17:52Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Babelfish
 
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Nice tree
I think that'd be a great idea. Would probably take a lot of care though

When you mentioned garden window I immediately thought of Beatrix Potter books and Mr. McGreggors garden/greenhouse...

Can't wait to see the outcome on these.

^_^

Post InfoPosted 07-Feb-2008 22:11Profile Homepage AIM MSN PM Edit Delete Report 
Callatya
 
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EditedEdited by Callatya
*sniffle*

I failed.

I keep looking at it and thinking that I really should do more, but it has be all comfortable with the way it is chugging along. The substrate is gargantuan, the plants are wild and massive, and there aren't any CRS in there, which seems to be a nanotank staple. What I seem to have is a very small regular tank, right down to the pea gravel

OK, so rethink. I love the way the java fern works, but I can't seem to wrap my head around a scape where they'd look anything but gangly and out of proportion Any ideas?




Attached Image:


For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

Post InfoPosted 16-Sep-2008 19:35Profile Homepage ICQ AIM MSN Yahoo PM Edit Delete Report 
keithgh
 
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The smaller the tank the harder it becomes to scape. To make it stand out it has to be simple yet eye catching.

Going back to the days when we had the aquascape competition I can remember there was one done extremely well with the minimal amount in the tank yet it was extremely eye catching.

Think about this if you saw a small shop window packed full of ladies shoes 99% of the time you would walk past. Just imagine one shoe sitting on a velvet draped stand with just one well placed shoe I am sure it would catch your eye. That is what I am thinking about.

Have a look in [link=My Profile] http://www.fishprofiles.com/forums/member.aspx?id=1935[/link] for my tank info
Look here for my
Betta 11Gal Desktop & Placidity 5ft Community Tank Photos

Keith

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Post InfoPosted 17-Sep-2008 05:39Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
poisonwaffle
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Wow, you guys have some great ideas! And I absolutely LOVE that tank with the tree that you linked to, GT!

Your tank doesn't look bad, Calla. But like you said, it turned out as a very small regular planted tank o.O

This whole thing got me thinking... I should do this in my 4"x4"x4" cube tank (1 liter). I asked Calla, and she said I could steal her idea, so I am

I've got a perfect piece of driftwood that I just epoxied rocks to the bottom of (for weight/stability) that will be the trunk of the tree, and as soon as it's dry (~8 hours), I'm going to sew java moss to the top inch of it (note: the piece of driftwood is ~3.5" long). The rocks will be mostly buried in the substrate (eco complete). Will probably use some other rocks for a basic hardscape. Not sure what I'll do for other plants yet, though.

Using an Aqualifter for filtration (will probably use an in-line filter sort of deal... will have to build it).

Will most likely use a 10k 15w CF bulb hanging above the tank for light... might have to put it up 5-10" or so...

Will probably put a ghost shrimp or two in the tank for a nitrogen source and algae cleanup crew.

Will post pictures tomorrow when I can get my hands on a working camera (DSLR refuses to power up)...

And thanks for the awesome ideas, Calla, Shini, and everyone else

I'll let you guys know how it goes
Post InfoPosted 18-Sep-2008 09:54Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
poisonwaffle
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Okay, here's a 2 min sketch of how I plan on scaping it for now. If I can find some small foreground plants (HC maybe?), I might put some in the foreground.

I'm also thinking of putting a few short pieces of some sort of stem plant in the back left corner... maybe they could resemble pine trees?

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y22/PoisonWaffle/4x4x4cuberoughscape.png
Post InfoPosted 18-Sep-2008 11:30Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Gone_Troppo
 
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I still like that tree concept. Can't wait to see how it goes for you.

Maybe instead of the strands of java moss on the left side you could use something like flame moss so its not exactly the same as the foliage of the 'tree'.

You're going to have to be really careful with your choice of stem plants if you go for stems - with a scape like you are considering it would probably be really easy to get the proportions wrong making it look a bit odd. (I'm still working on that whole scale concept with my tanks lol)

Good luck, keep us posted on how this one goes

G_T

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
Post InfoPosted 18-Sep-2008 12:12Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
poisonwaffle
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Yeah, proportion (and keeping this thing trimmed... probably weekly!) will be the hardest part of this whole project. At least pine trees are kinda big and floofy like Cabomba (which is what I'll probably end up using as a stem plant).

The epoxy has hardened to one of the two rocks (the other fell off, but it'll still work fine), and I'm going to let it cure outside of water until I'm ready to set up the tank.

I'm trying to find a good way to mount the aqualifter to use it as a filter in such a small tank... I've gotta run to the LFS to get some hardened airline tubing that I can soften and bend with a lighter, so it'll just run up and around the edge of the tank.

I don't have access to any other kinds of moss around here, so java moss is what I'm stuck with. There isn't much of a selection of foreground plants around here, either

Will keep you guys posted
Post InfoPosted 18-Sep-2008 19:50Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
poisonwaffle
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Okay, took a few pics this morning

The Tank:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y22/PoisonWaffle/DSCN0429.jpg

The 'trunk' of the 'tree' aka driftwood w/rock:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y22/PoisonWaffle/DSCN0430.jpg

How the tree will be positioned in the tank... from the front:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y22/PoisonWaffle/DSCN0431.jpg

From the Top:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y22/PoisonWaffle/DSCN0432.jpg

Tank with water and eco complete in it. I think this will be about how much substrate I'm going to use... might have to take a little out when I put the hardscape in, but I think that's where I want the top of the substrate to be. I might just push some toward the back of the tank for the cabomba forest... give it more depth...
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y22/PoisonWaffle/DSCN0441.jpg

I'm going to let the driftwood/rock cure for at least a week or two. During that time, I'll get the rest of the tank set up and get the fine details worked out. I think I'm going to start a new thread on this tank in the planted forum once I get things going a bit. Until then, you can post comments in here, I guess. I'll post a link to the new thread once I post it.

Btw, sorry to steal your thread, Calla... you can have it back

Thanks for your input, everyone

Post InfoPosted 19-Sep-2008 06:52Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
poisonwaffle
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Okay, this is the last of my thread stealing

Here's the the tank log thread for my 4" cube tank, for all of you who are watching this thread to find out how the tank turns out

http://www.fishprofiles.com/files/threads/38180.1.htm?0.2478756#

Thanks again for your ideas, everyone
Post InfoPosted 25-Sep-2008 08:36Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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