The Master School of Aquarium Design 2018 was a complete success. 5 Teams, each consisting of a master and two apprentices, created their own aquarium, with a lot of interaction from the spectators. This post is about team 2’s aquarium. Stefan Graf und Philip Schwarz joined Garret Gronemann and André Guiddir and decided to create a nature aquarium.
These two young masters were invited at short notice after one of the original masters fell ill. The Austrians immediately agreed to come, and grasped the opportunity to render this complex hobby easy and approachable to their apprentices and the spectators.
There now follows some important facts and background information about Team 2’s layout.
What does the layout show?
The dimensions of the aquarium they were given and its built-in filter inlet and outlet, lead this team to choose a nature aquarium with a triangular layout. The motive shows the bottom of a tree protruding into a riverbed.
Which materials were used?
The substrate composition consists of JBL ProScape Volcano Mineral , JBL ProScape Volcano Powder en JBL ProScape PlantSoil BROWN , filled to rise upwards towards the back where the filter system is. The hardscape consists of mini landscape or Seyriu stones and several pieces of driftwood. The wood pieces are bonded together with JBL ProHaru Universal 200ml en JBL ProHaru Rapid and glued to the stones. This fixes the components and prevents them from rising and slipping.
What special features does the layout involve?
This hardscape (stones and wood) bonding deviates from the classic nature aquarium style, but makes detailed and varied designs possible. It is, however, important to ensure that the glued surfaces are as unobtrusive as possible to avoid shiny or unnatural-looking spots. Any visible adhesive can be covered by epiphytes or mosses.
The planting consists of ground cover plants in the foreground, ferns and Cryptocorynes in the midground and tall plants in the background. Smaller species like Lilaeopsis and Staurogyne fill the transition areas between hardscape and ground covers; Anubias cover free spots in the roots, as well as any visible gluing spots.
Which difficulties did the team face?
Setting up the aquascape progressed rapidly. The team apprentices had already swotted up on the subject in advance, which made the group work easier and saved a lot of time. Both masters had a lot of fun and hope to have taken their apprentices to a higher level of knowledge about their hobby! From start to finish everything went quietly and without complications – a great success for creativity.
The masters’ maintenance tips
At the end we asked Stefan and Philip, the masters of the team, which maintenance they would recommend for the initial phase and later during operation. These are their tips:
As soil is being used as substrate you need to change the water frequently in the first few weeks.
To be precise: during the first week at least 3x 50%, in the second week 2x 50% and from the third onwards 50% once a week. Filter bacteria ( JBL FilterStart ) help to establish a healthy bacterial strain in the substrate and the filter.
Since most used plants are cultivated emersed (with their leaves above water) and absorb only few nutrients during the adjustment phase to their submersed (underwater) form, you don’t need to add fertilisers in the first 2-3 weeks. As soon as visible growth sets in (from about the 2nd to the 3rd week), you can start by adding an iron-based complete fertiliser ( JBL ProScape Fe +Microelements on a half dose basis and after another week the macronutrients ( JBL ProScape NPK Macroelements ). In the long run we recommend you aim for a higher NO3 concentration ( JBL ProScape N Macroelements ) with the help of Hemianthus callitrichoides ’Cuba‘ as ground cover. To maintain the set up aquarium with this plant selection over a longer period a CO2 supply ( JBL ProFlora u504 ) is vital!
Finally we have gathered a few pictures for you to illustrate the structure and making of the layout during the workshop.