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Filling the Fangorn Forest Aquascape! Dry Start Results

By Simply Betta on


Fangorn Tank Recap

Hey, guys. Simply Betta here. Today I'm filling My Lord of the Rings themed Fangorn Forest aquascape. There are a few steps, though, to be done before it's completely ready for water and fish. I have to complete the sump, set up my CO2 get all the pieces and parts working and in order. Water pumps, fertilizer dosing pumps make a lid for the tank, brace my floors so I don't break my house with this. Why would you be without me? Then I'll flood this magnificent Lord of the Rings themed aqua scape. Here's a quick recap of what I've done so far. I got my beautiful rimless tank from Custom Aquariums. My friends almost dropped it. Oh my God. I assembled a hardscape for it using ghost wood, trying to make it seem like the giant twisting old trees of Fangorn Forest. I am loving the vibe in here. super spooky. I have a playlist for this project. If you want to go see that stuff, I'll link that down below and at the end of this video, I moved the hardscape into the tank. I added my florin volcanit planted tank substrate. Then I selected some beautiful Tropica plants that I thought would look really nice in this setup. Got it all in. I painted varieties of moss all over the wood. Then I sat back

Dry start results

and I let my aquatic plants grow in a dry start. That means aquatic plants growing in air and not in water. Here are the results. The dry start yielded some really great healthy plant growth wave. Better than I expected. The moss, which I painted onto my wood by making moss smoothies attached to the wood and started some really noticeably nice growth. I was worried because it was really brown for a while, but the moss persevered. The Lobelia cardinalis looks wonderful. The laenandra meeboldii red looks so nice and red and healthy. The bucaphalandra that I glued all over the wood looks great. The marcelia hirsuta ground cover is filling in nicely the atomizer set up in the last video was a really great idea. And not just because it looks really spooky and cool. I put it on a timer so it would turn on periodically if I wasn't around to mist the set up by hand occasionally. The mist swirled around it kept the wood in the moss really nice and damp. I used a few really tiny USB powered computer fans in a far corner to move the air around, and I kept a small corner of the plastic wrap lid open for ventilation. I know there are a lot of people who think dry starts are a waste of time, but I thought it was kind of fun. The only plant that didn't do well was some Monte Carlo that pretty much almost all died off. Almost. Before I can fill the tank, I have to actually finish setting up the plumbing. I've been procrastinating on this. This is a seamless sump. It's actually in sections. And then you can attach as many sections together as you need. I'll show you. When the water flows out of the tank, it goes down into a filter sock. This is the first step of filtration. This is going to filter out debris and particles. Water comes out of the filter sock and fills this up. Then the water exits through this little overflow here where it travels down into this part of the sump. Inside of this part, there are a bunch of baskets, these baskets stack on top of each other. I'm going to put a bunch of biological media that holds the bacteria that I need in these trays so the water flows coming down. It's hitting all the media, it's feeding the bacteria. The water goes through this baffle right here and back up into this little reservoir. The pump then pumps the water straight back to my aquarium. This is a reservoir. This prevents evaporation, water level dropping. If the water level were to drop a little bit in this tub, it would it would automatically even it out. I'm starting to glue some of my fixtures in place, and I just wanted to reiterate a very strong opinion of mine. I hate PVC ball valves. They're the worst. I can barely turn them and they're stiff and literally can't even turn this one that came with the tank. I'm getting rid of this and I'm using a PVC ball valve that has a metal lever on it. Metal on the inside turns like a dream. Use these. I've glued all my pieces. Everything's dry. I can move on now. I need to set up my pump. That's where this beauty comes in. This is a sicce pump. Sicce is an Italian company that's basically obsessed with aquarium pumps. This is the next step up in fanciness for me. This is going to be so cool. It's app control. Oh, Sicce is known for silence. I love silence

Sump Setup

Oh, my gosh, This is so cool. I got a very top of the line pump. But do note you don't need to get a top of the line app controlled pump. She also has completely normal pumps that are very affordable and very high quality. And you don't need to go crazy like me, but you could. Some people like Italian leather handbags. I like Sicce pumps. I know you can't see it very well, but that beautiful pump is right in here. Everything's hooked up and I'll come back to getting the app going after I fill this beautiful tank. Back here in the corner is the receiver for the signal, for the app, for Bluetooth. I put it on a little piece of adhesive strip and then I just stuck it on to the side of my beautiful stand pump.

CO2 injection

Done. That's one more thing off my to do list. Next on the list is getting my CO2 set up. This tank will be injected with CO2. None of these plants are particularly demanding, but I really want a lush tank and this is what all the fancy people do. So I'm going to do it too. I have my CO2 tank right here. It's suspiciously light. I mean, I just got this like a month ago. I hope it didn't leak. Maybe I'm imagining things to set up a CO2 canister. You need a couple of things. I'm using a CO2 regulator from Aquarium Co-op. This is my first time using this brand. Check it out. This will actually plug in. You can set it on a timer and then the timer will tell the CO2 when to flow and what not to flow. And it'll tell you your pressures. And it's just great. This right here is a little bubble counter so you can count the speed of the CO2 going into your tank. I got it on. I tightened it down with the wrench a little bit. Let's see if this has anything in it. Nope. Great. Thanks. Company who I bought this from? I'm getting this replaced next week. It's all taken care of in the meantime, look at this beautiful regulator. The downside about living in a pretty rural place that's pretty far away from any big cities. It's about when you need parts and supplies. It's a lot of just sitting around and waiting because you have to order them to come to you. Darn it. In the meantime, let's talk about fertilizers. I'm going to be focusing on plants

Fertilizer dosing pump

really hard in this tank because the plants are what's going to make it look like Fangorn for us to properly take care of plants in a high tech tank. That means I have high light, I'm injecting CO2. I can't be doing this without any fertilizers. Algae is going to go crazy and using just plain tap water, I think a lot of my plants might struggle. That's why I have CO2 and why I'll be paying close attention to fertilizers. Usually fertilizers for my aquatic plants is something that I go to every water change. But recently I've been trying to switch over to more of a daily dosing. That means instead of changing your water and then giving all your plants a week's worth of food, I just every day I just give my plants like a day's worth of food. This is supposed to keep your nutrient levels really kind of steady and optimal, and it's also supposed to help combat algae because there's just never extra levels for the algae to thrive off of. But the problem is that daily dosing fertilizer is just one more thing on your daily to do list. It's easy to forget. It's just one more thing every single day. And I'm at a point in my life where I'm trying to take things away from my daily to do list because mental load is real, especially with a family and kids and projects and hobbies and jobs and emails and all that stuff. I'm doing my best to automate things, taking things off the to do list. That's why I have the automatic water change rack. That's why I'm trying to do automatic everything as much as I can. And that's also why I'm going to try a fertilizer dosing pump. What another piece of equipment. Taylor, do you really need that? Yes. The lights that I'm using on this tank are Chihiros brand. I like them a lot. Really bright. Even in the dry start. My plants just seem super healthy. So this is also a Chihiros brand dosing pump. This is going to be fun to play with and get set up. So this electronic box here is going to screw into my stand in the back. I'll hide it somewhere. I got some lovely little bottles that go with the system and they have the little airline attached in them already. Very nice. That of course I had to get a holder for the bottles. Perfect. So what fertilizers will I be dosing? I'll be using my regular Brightwell line of fertilizers. I'll be using a good multi fertilizer, I'll be using something that supplies nitrogen and I'll just go from there. Oh, did I mention it's app controlled? I love it in the app. You can set your timer, you can set how much you want it to dose when, how many times a day. It's so cool and fancy. Love it. The Chihiros kit came with some cable management supplies. Thank goodness it looks nice and tidy after a little bit of work.

Bracing my floor

I do actually have a tiny little problem. Or I should say my house has a problem. How do I make sure this giant fish tank doesn't break my house? I'm not on a cement slab. I am on floor joists because there's a crawl space under me. My nightmare is that the substantial weight of this tank and water in the rocks and everything over a long period of time will actually damage my floor. This realistic? I don't know. I have a family member who's a contractor and builds houses and he says everything's just fine. You're fine. Whatever. It's fine while you're good. I can't help but have this little tingle spidey sense that's going to keep me up at night, that maybe it's not a good idea. I could listen to the contractor, I could listen to the expert, but I'm not going to. I'm going to be cautious. Maybe a little extra cautious, but it's going to help me sleep at night. I'm going to take the time and the little expense to go down into my crawl space and brace the floor that's right underneath the fish tank. Cause I don't know about you, but I'd rather put a few hundred dollars into mitigating the chance of damage than to regret it later. Okay. All right. I'm under my house. I'm in my crawl space. It's really cramped down here. This must be what Gollum feels like crawling through his creepy little caves now. Oh, I think that was Gollum. I had to come down here a little earlier and set up a light just so I'd be able to see what I was doing. Gollum must have had some serious core strength. Now I just need to get it up so I can put my posts underneath. Oh, shoot. That's going to be tricksy. I could actually use some help. Hey, Gollum, come give me a hand. Thanks, man. Where woul you be without me? I appreciate the help from good friends like you. You don’t have any friends! Nobody likes you.


Wow, What a jerk. This tank really needs a lid. I can't not have a lid. My house is too dry. My climate's too dry. I would just be fighting evaporation all the time. And that's not fun. So I went to Home Depot and I got a piece of twin wall polycarbonate. I've seen other people use this as lids, so why not give it a shot? It will probably look nicer than the plastic wrap lid done. CO2. I got a new not leaky canister, so that's ready. I think I'm actually ready to fill this tank, which is just a surreal experience because it's been a such a long project.


I finally get to fill this tank *Elvish spellcasting* Yes, I'm a dork. I filled my tank nice and slow so as not to disturb my substrate and my plants. Once it and the sump were ready, I turned on the cool Sicce pump and with the app I dialed it into a flow rate that I liked and I made it so it would send me an alert if my power ever went out. That's kind of cool At the moment. My cords and whatnot are in a fabric basket. I'm not the best at cable management. If anyone has some fun ideas on how to hide power cables and my CO2 canister, please feel free to leave that in the comments. I like the dosing pump. I think taking this item off my daily to do list will be a nice little relief for my daily workload. I used a nitrate testing kit to make sure that my levels were looking nice over a few days. I'm beyond thrilled about how this is turning out, so the water looks a little dark. The driftwood is probably releasing some tannins that should go away in a while.


The final piece of the puzzle is to just get my biological media going. Part of the point of having a really nice sump like this is so I can just shove tons of biological media into it. Bacteria needs a place to live. I'll show you what I'm using as my media got a little late. You can probably tell because of the Sasquatch jammies, people use porous materials as the media for their biological filtration. I've seen people use, like, natural stuff, like lava rock. I've seen little plastic balls. I'm going to be using something specifically made for, like some this is called a bio block. These little things have so much surface area. It's it's almost weird holding it. It feels funny compared to little plastic balls or porous rock like lava rock. You can tell this stuff has so much surface area and this will be a really great media for bacteria. I'm going to be using a bunch of these. I'm going to put it in this bucket. I have a container of basically the same thing, but it's in a really small, like kind of a rounded form, not intended for consumption. I've been saving this huge brick look. This is like a Lego brick of that really, really crazy, porous material. I've been saving it for this project, but it's just ever so slightly too big to fit into my perfect little tray. I it's a pretty delicate material. So this is working. Okay. I don't think my bacteria will mind that it's a little broken up. I marinated the media overnight in some bacteria dosed water. I know that sounds lovely. I'm using my usual flora and factor bacteria starter and fast start bacteria food. I flippin love this thing green forest

4 weeks later

tank and I'm excited for its progress. It has a long way to go. I had a really good water change and fertilizer schedule to minimize algae growth at the rough beginning stages. But then, well, all of that fell apart. I got so sick for weeks straight, literally two weeks straight. Thanks to nasty little preschool toddlers, my water change schedule got thrown out the window and now it's an algae ridden mess. This isn't uncommon at the starting stages of a tank, though, so I'm not too worried about it. I'm back on a good water change schedule and I made a few adjustments, so this will all clear up soon, I hope. Stay tuned for the next update where I add some life into this tank. What creatures do you think I'm adding? Feel free to guess what you think would look great in this tank. Thanks so much for watching everyone. Thank you so much to my patrons. You guys are fantastic and you really help me by my supplies. Have a great day and I'll see you next time.  

About Simply Betta

Taylor, from Simply Betta, is a betta breeder, planted tank enthusiast, colorful nano fish lover, gamer, LOTR nerd, and all-around creative person! A betta fish enthusiast, watch her YouTube channel today for practical betta fish care, aquariums, aquatic plants, unboxing videos and more. You can shop her online store for betta fish and fish food at

We met Taylor at Aquashella in Dallas, where she showed off some excellent dance moves!

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