Tag Archives: inspiration

Scaped For You Collections

Scaped For You Collections

We just thought we would introduce you to our new Scaped For You Collections that we have just started offering here at Aqua Essentials.

What are Scaped for You Collections?

Scaped For You Collections are essentially ‘ready made’ aquascapes if want of a better phrase. They are aquascapes that have been created by professional Tropica Aquascapers and come with guidelines explaining how to replicate the scape in your own aquarium.

Some people admire scapes they see on Facebook, pinterest, Twitter etc done by the likes of George Farmer & Dan Crawford who are very talented Aquascapers and so many more out there.  They think to themselves “Oh I wish I could have that in my aquarium but just do not have the time to research all the plants needed nor spend time aquascaping it”. Well this is why we are offering you these Scaped For You Collections compliments of Tropica.

So what do I get?

We are offering a variety of Scaped For You Collections for different sized aquariums. We send you all the plants, wood and rocks you will need to produce your chosen aquascape.  You can refer to the product page on our website for easy to follow instructions which guide you when planting, positioning your rock and wood. You can also view the You Tube video by Tropica which explains step by step and guides you along the way. We even tell you which gravel or sand to use too.

What do it do?

So go to the product page (highlighted links) and choose the right Scaped for You Collection and then just ‘buy’! All that you will need will be packaged up and sent to you.

When will I receive it?

As you are no doubt aware we hold a large quantity of plants in stock so it is very rare that we will not have the plants in stock that you order.  However there may be occasions where a particular plant is not in stock or out of season or we are short of quantities (some Scaped For You Collections do require a large quantity of a certain plant) so we will have to order it in hence the reason why we give 1-7 days depending on availability however these Scaped For You Collections are well worth the wait…trust me! We have our plant deliveries in every thursday and friday and will always email you informing you of any minor delays too.

What level is it for?

We offer Easy, Medium and Advanced Scaped For You Collections here at Aqua Essentials.  Some people might like to start with Easy and progress up the ranks once they have gain knowledge and confidence and some keen and experienced Aquascapers might go straight for Advanced. You choose what suits you.  Easy set ups contain plants that are pretty hardy, need low lighting conditions and non CO2 so need little maintainance and easy to keep. Medium and Advanced set ups require more attention and some will require CO2 and good lighting.

What if my aquarium is bigger than the one I have chosen?

That’s no problem at all! Just either add the Scaped For You Collection you would like to your basket and then just add additional plants to make it up for your sized aquarium or just email us or call and tell us which scape you are looking to order and we will advice you how many more of each plant, wood or rock you will need for your size.

We are here for all the help and guidance you need so only a phone away or call 01363 774787 or email info@aquaessentials.co.uk.

This is a typical Scaped For You Collection we offer which is the finished article.

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This is the type of diagram you will be able to refer to when scaping your chosen Collection.

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Scaped For You Collections

Along with the Scaped For You Collection you can refer to additional images which will show you the progress and growth expected over time.

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Scaped For You Collections
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Scaped For You Collections
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Scaped For You Collections

More Scaped For You Collections will be available in due course.

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Some of you may have heard of this and some of you may have not and its called ‘The Golden Ratio’ which is widely used in planning the layout and perspective of an aquascape.  We have put together a simple ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide on how to create a scape that is pleasing on the eye and has the right composition and design in mind.

The Golden Ratio

Firstly we will look at the The Golden Ratio which will guide you in creating perspective in your aquarium. This ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide is used when wanting to acheive the perfect balance when placing objects in a space.  So let’s begin and these 3 steps explain what the Golden Ratio is.

1. Stand back and look at the front of your tank. Imagine there are four lines going across the front of the glass, two vertical and two horizontal, giving you now nine sections.

2. Where the lines cross are the Golden points where you should consider placing your key features to the tank i.e. rock, wood or prominant plants such as reds or plants that stand out.

3. You can use the Golden Ratio to plan the height layout of your plants too.

Symmetry

Basically symmetry does not work in a planted aquarium. It is too formal, structured and unnatural. Think about it would you see symmetry in the wild? No, so lets not make it neat and symetrical in the aquarium.  The focal point (as we mentioned earlier your key feature so wood, rock, red plant etc) should be slightly off to the center. 1 : 1.62 was calculated long ago as the point which is the most pleasing on the eye.  This is where you could consider having a slope on one side too, like a riverbed.

Shape

Please don’t have all your ‘tall’ plants lined up along the back and try and create a ‘hedge’ or ‘wall’ of plants to cover up the background! It is not needed and only looks dated. Try replicating a mountain look by trimming your plants to be taller on the sides and slightly shorter in the center.  You could also add some rocks either side (not symetrical remember to add to your mountain look).

Positioning of the plants

Depending on the scape you are looking to achieve, I like to keep my rocks or wood positioned amongst the midground plants as the stems can easily be hidden amongst the rocks plus you can carpet foreground plants around the base of the rocks to create a really natural look.

Creating depth

Creating depth is not the easiest task however keeping the golden ration in mind it can be done.  The first thing to remember is to avoid positioning the rocks from left to right across the middle in a straight line which just looks two-dimentional and very unnatural looking.  So I recommend planting and positioning in layers starting from the front to the back leaving a small gap in between and from low to high. With time and experience you will become more bold and challenging with your aquascaping and start creating some amazing looking scapes.

Another element to consider when planting your scape is to take note of the estimated growth guides that come with the plants or you can use the guide we use on our plant product page. Obviously you dont want to have to be trimming your plant all the time as it grows quicker than the one behind it so it really plays off to carefully plan your scape and even put pencil to paper first and sketch it out.

With all the above considered when putting a scape together, you should be impressed with the results. If however you need further advice we are only a phone call away on 01363 774787.

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Aquascaping our way to health

Aquascaping our way to health

Why is it so important to of have an Aquarium in our lives?

The National Marine Aquarium, University of Plymouth & University of Exeter have conducted new research and found that people who spend time sitting and watching an aquarium can improve their physical and mental well being according to research that they published in the journal Enviromnent and Behaviour.

What were the findings?

The team assessed peoples responses both physical and mental to different aquariums with various amounts of fish. The team found that blood pressure and heart rate lowered whilst viewing the aquarium and the more fish they watched, they longer they held their attention and improved their mood which is why we can Aquascaping our way to health.

Deborah Cracknell, PhD Student and Lead Researcher at the National Marine Aquarium, conducted the study and found that spending time in a ‘natural’ enviorment such as underwater has a calming effect on us ‘stressy’ human beings! She says that the use of aquariums in doctors surgeries and dental practices have always been associated with calming techniques however there is now ‘robust evidence’ that proves that being amongst aquariums definately improves your overall wellbeing.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor in Psychology at Plymouth University, said: “In times of higher work stress and crowded urban living, perhaps aquariums can step in and provide an oasis of calm and relaxation” and encouraged aquascaping our way to health.

In summary

So from this research carried out, its obvious the effects that having an aquarium in your home can improve your mood and overall wellbeing, thus your physical and mental health. This is why this hobby is so important in our every day lives. We all work hard and tend to put so much pressure on our shoulders these days with day to day living. Our aquariums not oly remind us to ‘stop, sit back, relax and enjoy the view’ but also to ‘bbrreeaatthhhh!!!

Aquascaping our way to health
Fantastic use of dragon stone – click on picture for more info

To find out how aquascaping our way to health and improve your well being by either setting up an aquarium or improve an existing one, call today on 01363 774787 and we will help you get there.

 

Fittonia Forest Flame

Fittonia Forest Flame

Fittonia Forest Flame is a relatively new strain of an already established vivarium plant that has recently been introduced to the hobby.  It has an incredible wow factor which comes from the vibrant colours it displays on its leaves.  These range from flame red (hence the name) to a shocking pink.  Your eyes will not miss this plant if it is in a vivarium.  The fittonia forest flame is an ideal plant for instant impact as it will have very vivid colours when you buy it.

Origins

This new cultivar was discovered in Haaren, in The Netherlands and is a naturally occurring “whole plant” mutation of Fittonia verschaffeltii ‘Josan’ which is very similar looking but with a more muted green and pink coloured foliage.  Terminal cuttings were taken of the first fittonia forest flame plant and successful cultivation produced uniform and stable plants which were then introduced into the hobby.

Planting and Growth

Fittonia forest flame is a relatively easy plant to keep.  The plant does not like direct sunlight so a vivarium environment is perfect for them.  Plant fittonia forest flame directly into well drained loose substrate that is nutrient rich.  Fittonia forest flame grows extensively in a creeping manner and can spread up to 40cm in size with an eventual height of about 20cm.  This plant will need regular watering but do not “drown” it!

Availability

Fittonia forest flame is available as a small potted plant ready for use in a vivarium.  The plant comes set in rockwool, to get the best from this beautiful plant simply re-pot into a container of your choice with a suitable substrate and away you go.  Should look spectacular in a planted vivarium and provide a good contrast against rocks and wood.

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Potted Fittonia Forest Flame

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Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut

Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut

If you’re one of those people who is looking for something a bit different, or dare I say it even a bit cool, then consider the Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut – it’s a new product into us and on first impressions it looks pretty darn neat! A really bright plant that has been carefully grown on a 1/4 coconut and then suction pads glued on.

You can place this aquarium plant pretty much anywhere in your planted aquarium and the beauty of the Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut means you now have a 3 dimensional look to your tank. The suction cups are designed so that you stick the coconut to the side of your tank and bingo, you’ve got something that looks totally unique!

So who is it for?

Perfect for any level of hobbyist from old to new. In terms of difficulty it’s very easy as the aquarium plant Microsorium pteropus windelov is extremely easy to care for. Doesn’t really matter what sort of lighting your provide it does well. This means you can place it near the bottom or top of your tank, although not too close to the top or else it can look a bit odd. If you have fish that tend to enjoy consuming plants, then this could be another good reason for you to invest in this because Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut is generally left by fish due to the taste!

What maintenance does it need?

Very little. Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut is slow growing and the piece you receive will probably be many months old. As soon as it’s placed in your aquarium, growth rate will probably slow a little. Once in a while you can trim the ends off but that’s pretty much all you will need to do.

Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut Microsorum pteropus Windelov on Coconut

Have you every seen this combination of plants?

We’re calling it Fittonia Combo – it’s actually two separate plants called Fittonia White and Red and they compliment each other beautifully as you can see. Now these plants are not suitable for planted aquariums, and they are specifically for use with Vivariums like those which house dart frogs or other similar creatures. These types of environments are humid and warm and as a result there are a lot of plants that actually suitable that environment but Fittonia in particular to very well.

Their bright colours always attract the eye and if you ever decided to plant multiple Fittonia Reds together, the effect is quite wonderful. But for this piece we’ve combined the two Fittonia’s together and grown them on mopani for an extra special effect.

What conditions do they need?

Surprisingly not tricky conditions at all. We’ve had them under T5 lighting in a moist environment and they’ve done well. According to most information though they prefer lower lighting, but as you can see we’ve not had any problems. They’re thriving in fact so it’s always important to see if a plant grows another way.

Where can I place it?

We recommend that you place it at the front of your viv – or at least near it so that you get the full benefit of the colours. As it grows and matures, you can move the piece towards the middle. I personally don’t recommend that you get these plants too wet as there is always a risk that it could rot.

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Fittonia Combo On Wood – ideal for vivariums

Ultimate Aquarium Algae Eaters

Algae is a massive issue in a planted aquarium and everyone suffers from it.

Some more than others. Those who have been in the hobby for a while will know the HUGE benefits of keeping shrimp in a planted tank, with particular reference to Amano Shrimp which are the LARGEST algae eating shrimp I am aware of. They’re SO HUNGRY for food is almost comical. Not only do they eat a lot, they’re big at roughly 3cm long.

Imagine this for a moment: The tank we keep them in has no algae left – they’ve eaten every last scrap and as a result we have to feed them shrimp food. We pop a few premium grade pellets in and within seconds they’re fighting over it. In the end, the largest shrimp wins and swims off the biggest chunk and eats it all to himself (greedy or what?!). The rest battle it out over the smaller pieces and in no time all the food is gone. Hopefully this demonstrates just how hungry these shrimp are for food. They will tirelessly eat algae 24/7, 365 days of the year.

Below is a wonderful picture of how good these shrimp are. The picture (from Tropica website) shows how efficient the Amano shrimp is when it comes to keeping a plant aquarium free from algae. The aquarium to the left had 3 shrimps, the one in the middle had none, while the one to the right had one shrimp during the start-up. They were all planted in the same way: 3 Anubias barteri var. nana and 3 Eleocharis parvula. The picture has been taken 3 months after the start-up.  A recommendation is 1 Amano shrimp per 5 L water during the start-up of a new plant aquarium. Once a biological balance has been achieved in the aquarium, you can easily settle for fewer shrimps – e.g. 1 per 15 L water. However, if you have many fish that you feed, then we recommend that you maintain the population of 1 Amano shrimp per 5 L water.


If this tickles your fancy, and you want a stress free way of keeping your tank algae free, then invest today in Amano Shrimp by clicking here. And if you want your order for (tomorrow) i.e. Saturday then you can – just make sure you order before 4pm today :)

Where do your shrimp sleep?

Shrimp are essential for all planted aquariums but they’re also part of the food chain.

I can’t count the number of customers who buy shrimp for the right reason, only to turn them into expensive fish food. Now you always have to be aware of the tank mates and if they are compatible for obvious reasons, so you must plan.

But you always have to remember that as shrimp are part of the food chain, they naturally hide. Provide them with somewhere to shelter where fish can’t get to them and you will find your shrimp will not only be happier but will breed more quickly and more often.

Our Shrimp Shelters are awesome for that. Not only are the covered in moss so they look natural, but the tubes are small enough for only shrimp to shelter in. What more could they want :)

To find other cool shrimp accessories click here.

The quest for new aquascaping rock continues

Because we’re always looking out for new types of rocks we have by chance stumbled across a new one never seen before called Island Rock.

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This rather tasty looking rock comes in a variety of different sizes and is on the lighter side of grey. It’s not white by any standards but certainly a very lightish colour and at first glance looks a picture. It has small grooves that have been carved out over the years that add character and style. This rock stacks well too which is a bonus so even though there aren’t any HUGE pieces, by stacking them up you can give the appearance that they are large. For added security use some Aquarium Putty and this will make sure none will topple over.

Mastering a minimalist planted aquarium

My good friend George Farmer has demonstrated just how you create a planted aquarium with just one pot of Micranthemum ‘Monte-Carlo’. This is no easy task and unless you have A LOT of experience, do not try this at home. I always recommend a high plant mass from the beginning for creating balance, but if you know what you are doing, you can experiment.

Here George mentions why he thinks this tank has been successful:

  1. Controllable LED lighting – without which it would be too easy to have too much light
  2. Super (and already mature) filtration with lots of Purigen – mature bio-media and chemical media result in zero ammonia spikes and low organic waste
  3. Time to do water changes every other day – lots of water changes help prevent algae by diluting organic waste
  4. Large shrimp population – constantly cleaning all surface inside tank to prevent algae
  5. Low fish population – less organic waste = less algae
  6. RO water – I find I need less CO2 compared with hard tap water, and there’s other anecdotal benefits
  7. Active soil – high nutrient content, ideal grain structure, and stable low pH to encourage root growth

So take note, replicate, rinse and repeat. Do as George says and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Primeval Forest Aquascape

They don’t come any bigger than this. Not only is this tank HUGE but it’s also scaped by the most famous Aquascaper in the world, Mr Takashi Amano – an inspiration for me and one of the reasons I became interested in planted aquariums.

To take on a tank of this size is tremendous – you would certainly want as much of it to be automated as possible such as water changes, and even better if you have others to maintain it for you. Nevertheless truly incredible don’t you think?

Aquascaping like a boss

This truly is an amazing aquascaped that has been finished to the very highest standard. Tropica have a great team of aquascapers working for them and I hope they are inspiring you.

Notice how the water is only about 2cm deep at the beginning – this is great advice for anyone as it makes working in a tank so much easier. As are using tweesers for planting up (fingers are cumbersome). Anyway I hope you enjoy.

Maple Leaf Rock Inspiration

We all need some inspiration in life – it’s what motivates us after all. I also know that looking at rocks and trying to imagine if they are any good for aquascaping or not can be very very tricky. So my good friend Viktor who runs Green Aqua in Hungary (http://www.greenaqua.hu/) and has an awesome blog has taken a superb picture of Maple Leaf rock in situ, and it looks like this:

Not bad heh? Does this inspire you? It certainly works for me.

You can find this rock by clicking here

How to nail a 265x60x60cm planted aquarium…

YouTube is just so inspirational sometimes and this clip below is no different. It a BIG tank at 265cm wide so it’s no nano. Apart from the aquascape being lovely, the owner of the tank has got it right for many reasons. Watch the vid, then read my comments.

 

  1. You can see a substantial amount of CO2 coming out of the glass diffuser on the right hand side. So he gets a big tick there.
  2. The plants swaying nicely which means that nutrients and CO2 are being distributed (this is no mean feat in a large tank). This is a key reason why he has no algae (apart from having a high plant mass).
  3. Hydro Koralia pump (top right) is angled at 30 degrees directing water/CO2 into the main area of the tank – another tick.
  4. Wood and rock placement is excellent. The 2 main islands placed slightly off centre is very easy on the eye – tick.
  5. A lot of moss is used for this tank. This gives a great feeling of maturity and calmness. It appears to be java moss. Big tick.
  6. Lots of small fish used. Bigger fish would detract from the aquascape. Tick.
  7. Good use of transitional plants from foreground to midground – again this makes it look very natural and serene. Tick.

In summary this is a very skilled hobbyist who’s working his magic. Great job I’m sure you’ll agree.

What did you like about this tank?

Planted tank inspiration

Our good friend Mark Evans has created yet another inspiring aquascape and a beautifully presented video as well. I love watching clips like this, especially first thing in the morning as it sets the tone of the day immediately.

Mark is a hard worker. He tries a lot, experiments and this is proof of the hard work that he has put in and his dedication to the hobby. He’s doing wonders for the UK market and I hope it inspires you. If it does, tell me what you think!