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The Power of ADA – A 60-P Nature Aquarium

ADA Nature Aquarium Step 15

Full write up further down the page…

Congratulations to James Starr-Marshall, a customer of The Green Machine, for being selected to showcase what can be achieved with the ADA Nature Aquarium system.  This Aquascape Journal was created and photographed by James Starr-Marshall – yet again, the ADA Nature Aquarium system is showcased to narfection!

ADA are looking for more people like James; people with a passion for aquascaping, an eye for photography and some experience of working with the ADA or Do!aqua Nature Aquarium systems, to show their potential and demonstrate the natural beauty and success that can be achieved with the ADA system.

So if you think you can aquascape and have some experience of working with ADA, or you know someone else who might, please contact us to let us know!

For more details about this aquascape, and a step-by-step Aquascape Journal please read on!  If you would like some help, advice or assistance to re-create this Nature Aquarium style, or any other style, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Specifications:

Aquarium Tank:  ADA Cube Garden 60-P, 60 x 30 x 36 cm, (WxDxH)

Lighting: ADA Solar II, ADA Arm Stand

CO2: Injection through Do!aqua CO2 Diffuser

Filtration: Do!aqua Violet Glass Outflow, Do!aqua Violet Glass Inflow, ADA Bio Rio, ADA NA Carbon

Substrate: ADA Aqua Soil Arficana and ADA Power Sand Special SADA Tourmaline BC with ADA Congo Sand and ADA Nile Sand for decoration

Hardscape: ADA Ryuoh Stone

Plants: Hemianthus Callitrichoides ‘Cuba’Glossostigma ElatinoidesEchinodorus tenellus

Tools: ADA Pinsettes S, ADA Riccia Stone, ADA Riccia Line

Ferts: ADA Green Brighty Step1ADA Brighty KADA Green BacterADA Green GainADA Phyton Git

ADA Nature Aquarium System

The first stage in setting up the aquarium is to fix the ADA Solar II lamp to the the Do!Aqua wood cabinet via the ADA arm stand. The arm is secured by 2 brackets at the back of the cabinet, once in place the arm can be slid easily in to them. The lamp suspension cables can now be set to the desired length and the lamp hung from the arm. The adjustable height is a useful feature of the Solar II as it allows the aquarist to set the light intensity at a suitable level for the chosen plants. The lamp is set at 9 inches from the water surface and can be lowered if the Glossostigma elatinoides require it.
Next the foam base mat was cut to size and placed between the ADA Cube Garden 60P and the cabinet. With the lamp switched on and the rest of the equipment to hand it was time to continue with the setup.

ADA Nature Aquarium System

In this case, the filtration and CO2 equipment were set up before aquascaping the aquarium.   The tank can then be filled and the ideal circulation and CO2 distribution levels can be found. In this case the Do!Aqua CO2 Diffuser was moved to the opposite end from the Do!Aqua Violet glass inflow and outflow, its best to get these things sorted now rather than fiddling around in a newly planted tank. This is a matter of personal preference, with some aquascapers preferring to set it up afterwards so that they can aquascape an empty aquarium, and others preferring to set it up at the start so that they do not have to risk disturbing a newly planted tank – why not try it both ways and see which you prefer? The tank can now be drained and the equipment removed for easy refitting after the aquascape is planted. Do not leave your glassware in the tank whilst placing rocks or planting with tweezers as you risk breakages.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The next step is to build a layered substrate system, which begins with one of 3 additives. ADA Penac P. This will help to increase root health in the plants.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

3 scoops of Penac P are spread evenly across the base of the aquarium.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The second additive is ADA Penac W which will help prevent anaerobic activity in the substrate.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Three scoops of Penac W are sprinkled evenly over the Panac P.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The last of the additives is ADA Tourmaline BC which helps create favourable conditions for carpeting plants, in particular Glossostigma elatinoides.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Ten scoops of Tourmaline are sprinkled over the top of the two Penacs.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Next we provide a base layer for our substrate, to do this two 2 litre bags of ADA Power Sand Special S are poured carefully over the additives. Power Sand Special contains further additives such as ADA Bacter 100 and ADA Clear Super.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Power Sand can look a little unsightly if it is visible against the aquarium glass so it is scraped back at the front and sides using an old credit card.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step 9

ADA Aquasoil Africana is now added carefully at the perimeter, this prevents the Power Sand from moving.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step 10

Once the perimeter is filled the Aquasoil can be poured in more liberally

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

A soft brush can be used to shape the soil

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Once the desired shape has been created with the Aquasoil the hardscaping process can begin.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The first stone is placed to give height to the scape. This stone will be part of a small mountain in the distance.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The second stone is placed so that it matches the strata and texture of the first. This maintains consistency in the mountain’s form. The gap will not be visible when the scape is grown in.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The third stone in the formation is placed, but whilst the strata match is convincing it does not provided enough width and the mountain feels a little too heavy on the left. This will be addressed once some further stones are placed.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The next stone represents a rocky outcropping in the middle distance. It also forms the beginnings of a plateau at the foot of the mountain.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

This stone continues the creation of the plateau and gives a rock face in the foreground from which plants can drape.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

At this point a better stone can be found to match overall formation of the mountain, again the gap will not be seen once the plants have grown.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The placement of this stone completes the plateau, in this case it has been placed higher in the substrate so that the grass behind has space to curl over naturally.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The final stone is placed to form a transition between planting and the Nile sand that will be added.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

With the stone removed a piece of card can be pushed into the soil along the intended boundary. This allows the portion of soil inside the boundary to be removed without the other soil collapsing.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The soil is leveled off at about 1cm above the Power Sand.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

ADA Nile sand is poured in to fill the cavity.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The Nile Sand is then leveled off with a soft brush.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Once level on both sides, the divider can be carefully removed.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The final stone can now be repositioned.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

ADA Congo sand is added to provide a transition between the rocks and the Nile sand.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

With the hardscape complete, the planting can begin.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

First it is important to soak the substrate throughout with a fine mister spray as plants will be damaged if pushed into dry substrate.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Once the substrate is completely soaked the plants can be prepared and placed on trays. Be sure to cover any unattended plants with a plastic sheet and keep all plants regularly sprayed throughout the process.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

In the foreground Tropica Glossostigma elatinoides is used. Each pot was divided into 6 portions still attached to some of their mineral wool.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The portions were then be planted about 3cm apart using ADA Pinsettes S.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

Now that a potential carpet of G. elatinoides extends along the soil at the front, a finer textured plant is needed for the mid to back ground.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

By planting Tropica Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ behind the G. elatinoides its smaller leaves should add to the illusion of depth. Each pot was divided into 9 portions and left attached to a little mineral wool.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The plateau is also planted with H. callitrichoides.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

To encourage the H. calitrichoides to creep over the edges of the rock faces larger portions without mineral wool are attached to ADA Riccia stones with ADA Riccia line.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The Echinodorus tenellus is planted in individual plantlets, again using the small pinsettes. The planting is dense here to provide enough mass to combat algae in the early stages, as the G. elatinoides and H. callitrichoides may not be sufficient to do so.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The tank is then filled very slowly via an airline hose siphoning from a large drum of prepared water. Be absolutely sure not to disturb the substrate, the water should not cloud significantly if the aquarium is filled correctly.

5 drops of ADA Green Gain are now added, this product contains useful plant hormones and will help the plants overcome the rigors of initial planting.
The soil was left to settle overnight before fitting the filter, to minimise the risk of uprooting plants.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The next day the Do!Aqua CO2 diffuser and ADA Violet glass inflow and outflow can be refitted and the filter turned on. In the filter 3 litres of ADA Bio Rio and 1 litre of ADA NA Carbon were used. The carbon is there to absorb initial excess leaching from the Aquasoil and will be removed after 2-3 weeks.

It’s worth mentioning that the Aquasoil will also release a fair amount of ammonia into the water column at the start. This is useful because it matures the biological filter media very quickly, but it is not very good for the plants, so there are 2 main options: you can wait around 2 weeks before planting it, or if you need to plant straight away it is important to do large water changes every day in the initial period. In this nature aquarium there was a daily 80% water change for the first week of the tanks life to prevent the ammonia from reaching a level that is dangerous to plants. In some ways the ammonia spike is useful as it will quickly mature the biological filter media.
Dosing:
5ml ADA Brighty K daily
5 drops of ADA Green Bacter daily
5 drops of ADA Green Gain weekly
5 drops of ADA Phyton Git Weekly

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The CO2 rate is adjusted to 2 bubbles per second via Do!Aqua CO2 diffuser which also acts as a bubble counter.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The flow from the filter should give good circulation throughout the tank, but be aware that too high a flow may uproot plants this soon after planting.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

The full ADA system in situ, 2 days after planting. The plants are already showing signs of new growth: a testament to the quality and effectiveness of ADA.

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

One week after planting the H. callitrichoides and G.elatinoides are beginning to take hold, the E.tenellus can now be pruned right back to encourage shorter denser growth. The water change regime will now be 50% daily for the next week. In this nature aquarium the water changes were done outside of the photoperiod in order to avoid fluctuating CO2 levels.

Dosing:
5ml ADA Brighty K daily
5ml ADA Green Brighty step 1 daily
5 drops of ADA Green Bacter weekly
5 drops of ADA Green Gain weekly
5 drops of ADA Phyton Git Weekly

ADA Nature Aquarium Step

At 2 weeks old the H.callitrichoides is beginning to form a carpet and the E. tenellus has almost fully recovered from it’s pruning last week. However, the G.elatinoides is still producing vertical stems despite receiving good flow and CO2. This plant can require very high light levels to produce horizontal runners and form a carpet, so the lamp will be lowered by 2 inches and plant pruned right back.

Before lowering the lamp 8 Amano shrimps are introduced, they will address any algae issues caused by the stronger lighting. Although ammonia is now at a safe enough level to move to weekly water changes, a 50% change will be performed every other day to keep conditions good for the shrimps. Also, the NA carbon is removed at this stage.
Dosing:
5ml ADA Brighty K daily
5ml ADA Green Brighty step 1 daily
5 drops of ADA Green Gain weekly
5 drops of ADA Phyton Git Weekly

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