#24: 38L Aquatic Garden

Chris Tsang Vancouver, Canada

Awards and Comments

Honorable Mention
This is a lovely tank. The bright splash of the Alternanthera is breath-taking. It might however benefit from a little simplification. There are a lot of species in this little tank! I would also prefer not to see the jarring color disparity between the dark brown gravel and the grey pebbles.
— Karen Randall
The application of the red Althernanthera reineckii
gives this aquarium its characteristic shaping.
— Kaspar Horst

Aquascape Details

Dimensions 51 × 27 × 30 cm
Volume 38L
Background Black
Lighting 15 watt Interpret Triton, 14 watt Hagen Powerglo
Filtration Penguin 660 Powerhead with prefilter
Plants Alternanthera reineckii, Aponogeton longiplumosus
Ceratophyllum demersum (Hornwort), Ceratopteris cornuta, Hydrocotyle leucocephala, Hygrophilia polysperma, Hygophilia difformis, Lilaeopsis brasiliensis, Microsorum pteropus (Java fern), Rotala rotundifolia, Vesicularia dubyana (Java moss)
Animals Harlequin Raspbora, Marble Hatchetfish, Caridina Japonica, Otocinclus, Siamese Algae Eater
Materials Laterite - to provide a source of nutrients for demanding plants. It was laid down such that the laterite slopes upwards towards the back.

Rocks - small round rocks of similar colour (blue-grey) was used to bring out the light green colour of the Hygrophilia Difformis. Jagged rocks were used to attach java moss, and to prevent the sloped substrate from leveling out.

Driftwood- Used mostly to create a sense of depth. The driftwood resembles a V-shape, where one of its side is laying on the substrate. Again, plants such as Java moss and Java fern are attached to it, and is used as a means to prevent the substrate from leveling out.
Additional Information The initial setup consists of the rocks and the driftwood covered with Java moss and Java fern. The relatively large driftwood created a secluded area where the powerhead can be hidden.

When dealing with a small tank, it is extremely important to create a sense of depth for the viewer. The sloped substrate, the tip of the driftwood reaching towards the back corner, and the Java moss covered rocks bending towards the glass all contribute to the very much needed depth perception.
The light green colour of the Hygrophilia polysperma contrasts well with dark green colour of the java moss, emphasizing on the triangular shape of the driftwood.
Hygrophilia difformis will grow vertically under low lighting, and horizontally under high lighting. Hence, I decided to grow it under the Java fern in front of the driftwood. In this location, the plant forms a "natural" triangle. Pruning is only required once the plant grows too tall, or reaches over to the Lilaeposis brasiliensis. Also, the Hygrophilia difformis contrast well with the dark green Java moss behind it, and the blue-grey elliptical rocks below.
A low growing foreground plant was needed such that it will not block the view of the Java moss, and the plants behind it. I had decided that Lilaeopsis brasiliensis is the best candidate since it stays between 2 and 3 inches, and it will form a dense carpet given enough time.

The Hornwort and the Hydrocotyle leucocephala are both very fast growers and are kept floating to use up excess nutrients in the water, and to hide the powerhead cord and CO2 airline.

Finally, the main focal point is located one-third of the way from the left side of the tank. It presents itself well such that the right angled triangles formed by the driftwood and the Hygrophilia difformis leads the eye over to the Alternanthera reinekii. The Alternanthera reinekii contrasts very well with the dark green of the Java moss below, the light green of the Hygrophilia polysperma and Rotala rotundifolia to the right, and the Ceratopteris thalictroides to the left. The Alternanthera reineckii is a beautiful plant with a rich violet underside.

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