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100 Day Update – The Sunken Grove – Giant Aquascape

By Tank Tested on

0:00:00.0: Hi, I'm Alex, and this is Tank Tested. You're looking at my 150-gallon Aquascape that I've nicknamed the Sunken Grove. It's 5 feet from side to side, 2 feet tall and 2 feet front to back. In total this Aquascape fills 20 cubic feet. The setup has been running for 100 days, and so far it's the easiest aquarium I've ever maintained. It's been a peaceful break from this year, so many months stuck inside, away from people and unable to travel. This aquarium and its many inhabitants have been a calming and wonderful distraction. Let's go on a little tour of this 100-day old Aquascape.

0:00:58.1: By far, the most dramatic element in this tank is the wood bridge. This piece of wood has been with me for seven years. It was the first giant piece of hardscape I ever bought and you can see the age on it. The wood is cracked and worn down by years underwater the entire time being scraped away at by the female Bristlenose that's hiding somewhere within this tank. As a result, this wood has shrunk over the years, but it probably still weighs 60 pounds. Getting it stable within the tank was a process, and without plants, it would look a bit artificial.

0:01:46.2: Both ends of the wood have straight edges with clear saw marks, something the plants disguise. By using epiphytes like Java Fern, Anubias and Bolbitis, I was able to hide the ends of my wood, giving the illusion that they continue far beyond the confines of the aquarium. Peeking through the bridge is a glowing white backdrop, I added this for my competition photos, and I think it allows the tank to be filmed more clearly. While I love being able to see through my tank across my living room, I've decided to keep this white background up for now, hiding under the fallen log bridge are a pair of Rainbow kribs. They're the only fish not native to the Amazon River system, but they're left over from a previous set up, and until I find the new home for them, they'll live with me here.

0:02:54.4: For a few months, they were living happily in the 40-gallon sump for this aquarium, but a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of adding them to the tank. Within days, all but the largest of my Amano shrimp had disappeared, another strike against despair. Getting them out of the tank will be a chore, but I'll be happy when they're rehomed. In my initial design, I resisted the urge to add stem plants to the setup. Stems require more maintenance than slow-growing Rhizomes or Crypts, and I didn't want to create a huge workload for myself, but ultimately, I gave in. The draw of a pop of red or orange was just too strong. These stems also do a great job of filling out the holes in my scape, allowing the wood to just peek out from behind them.

0:03:56.4: Hopefully, it completes the illusion that all the wood is part of one giant fallen log. In fact, the wood is seven pieces, whose ends are all hidden within the plants. As for the fish, everything I added three months ago is doing well. These fish naturally exist together, it's no surprise that they're comfortable co-mingling in this set up. Still, they tend to prefer to show with members of their own species. Some fish enjoy swimming in the open water near the top of the tank; others seem to prefer to spend their time skirting the edge of the plants. Because I chose to stock this tank with relatively large schools of just a few species, it's a real treat to see them behaving naturally.

0:05:05.1: One of the late additions to this tank is on top of my fallen log. Originally, I had this area unplanted, but I realized a few weeks ago that I could use it for just a few more plants. In nature, given enough time, it would certainly be overgrown with plants. Rotting leaves and sand would naturally collect in the concave sections of the branch, giving a foothold for new plant growth. Even though it's only been a few weeks and the plants have barely rooted, this area of the tank is already looking more complete. It also softens the fallen log and hopefully helps to unite the left and right side of the aquarium. Without this late addition, the tank was really starting to look like two islands connected by a quite artificial-looking structure. With the simple addition of plants on the top side, I hope that issue has been resolved.

0:06:08.2: I also added a few small plants around the base of my main island. My goal was to soften the edge between my islands of plants and the white sand below. Originally, I hoped to do this with just Crypts, and while they have a role to play, adding a bit more diversity has helped to make the bottom of my tank feel more interesting. Previously, so much of the visual draw on this tank was focused at the midline of my scape. Now, I think there's something to look at at any level of the aquarium. While I haven't had an issue with algae in this tank, I have had a little trouble with my Java Fern turning brown. This may be due to too much light, not enough nutrients or no CO2. To help fix the issue, about 10 days ago, I started pumping CO2 into the tank and started dosing the water column a bit more heavily with nutrients, that's why you see pearling plants in this video. For the first 90 days, this tank was grown with no CO2, but now I'm giving it a go and seeing if I can get my Java Fern to perk up a bit. It's still possible, the Java Fern just doesn't like being in such direct light.

0:07:36.7: So if the browning continues, I'll work to solve that problem next. The tank itself is from Custom Aquariums and came custom-made with their overflow sump. I loved it, but I wanted to disguise my inflow and outflow as much as possible. On first glance, I think it's almost invisible, but you might just be able to make out a hint of the inflow here. I covered it in Anubias and it's all but disappeared from view. One of the few giveaways that it's there at all is the occasional fish dancing in the current they produce. To light the setup, I've relied on a pair of UNS Titan 1s. They've been a reliable workhorse for me, and they've done a great job of growing my plants, and speaking of, all the plants were also provided to me by UNS. So between the lights and the plants, a lot of the beauty of this setup is owed to them.

0:08:42.6: It's hard to believe this setup has been running for 100 days. It's such a short time, but it feels like this tank has been with me forever. It already looks established and mature, but I'll continue to tinker with it and update you on how the scape evolves. If you enjoyed this video and wanna see more, please consider subscribing, liking this video and sharing it with others who might enjoy it. I don't publish videos every week, but when I do share a video, I always try to make sure it's worth your time. So please subscribe if you haven't already. I'm getting close to 100,000 subscribers and I would love to cross that milestone. Finally, I want to thank my Patreon supporters, who help make these videos possible. With that, I hope you have a great day and I will see you next time.


About Tank Tested

Alex Wenchel from the YouTube channel, Tank Tested, has been aquascaping and keeping aquariums for over twenty years, sharing his knowledge and expertise with the YouTube community. Watch the video filmed at Aquashella, Dallas 2019 here, and check out his channel for some great info on aquarium care.

"Tank Tested was created by me, Alex Wenchel. I've kept aquariums for more than twenty years, but it's only been in the last few that I've gotten into aquascaping. By trade, I'm a documentary and natural history filmmaker based in Washington, D.C. and I've been producing digital series for years. If you'd like to see some of the series I've produced, check out Nat Geo Wild's Wild_Life with Bertie Gregory or Symbio's Wild Warrior."

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