ASW_Issue7_Sept2008 by xiangpeng


                                Making Magic In Glass Boxes

Aquascape In Focus: Down the River
Wabi Kusa Aquascaping Style
Pressurized CO2 System Setup Guide
Frustrations in Aquascaping
IAPLC 2008 Results
Siamese Algae Eaters

                               VOLUME 1, ISSUE 7
                                                                  SEPTEMBER 2008
                                               SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   1
                                       Letter from the Editor

                                       Inside our September Issue

                                       The last week of summer approaches this month, but lucky for us
                                       aquascapers our planted aquarium hobby has no limits when it comes
                                       to weather!

                                       The biggest news to hit our hobby this month is the official publication of
                                       the International Aquatic Plant Layout Contest 2008 Results. There are
                                       some beautiful aquascapes entered into the competition that we will
                                       focus in future articles. At this time I would like to extend an invitation to
                                       anyone who would be interested in having their aquascape featured. If
                                       you’re interested just contact us. The aquascapes featured in the article
                                       about the contest offers a sample of the world class aquascapes
                                       entered into the competition.

                                       Let me redirect your attention to this month’s Aquascape in Focus.
                                       United States aquascaper, Sergio Canabal shows us how he grew
                                       massive Anubias islands from only a few plantlets to start. His beautiful
                                       aquascape, Down the River, is a difficult aquascape to complete, but
                                       having an automatic fertilizing doser and water changing system sure
                                       helps keep the maintenance time down.

                                       Last but not least, if you’re looking for something new to create, you
                                       might want to try your hand at the Wabi-Kusa Aquascaping Style.
                                       Steven Chong gives us a great overview on the style and describes how
                                       Wabi-Kusa is sweeping the aquascaping community.

                                       Happy a great month aquascaping!

                                                                   John Nguyen
                                                                   Editor in Chief
                                                                   AquaScaping World Magazine

2   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
                                      TABLE OF CONTENTS

     Introduction for the seventh issue of AquaScaping World Magazine.
     By John Nguyen

     Wild caught fish are delicate species. There are simple things you can do to
     keep your fish alive and healthy.
     By Douglas DuHamel

     An aquascaping style that is making headway in the aquascaping world,
     Wabi-kusa is an interesting way to create a planted aquarium.
     By Steven Chong

     Are planted aquariums worth the efforts and time required to keep them?
     By Donald Lee

     Have no fear, the Siamese Algae Eater is here! That’s right, this fish really
     eats algae, but be sure you get the right one.
     By Aziz Dhanani

     This month we feature Sergio Canabal’s, Down the River. Read the complete
     details on his aquascape, and learn about the gismos that make his
     aquarium maintenance automatic.
     By ASW Editor

     The best of the best come out in this year’s biggest aquascaping contest.
     Find out more about the contest and enjoy some of the entries and the
     By ASW Editorial Staff

     Carbon dioxide is an important ingredient to any planted aquarium. Don’t
     know how to setup a pressurized C0 system? This article will walk you
     through it.
     By Hector Ortiz

                                                SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World     3
                                         Photo by Charles

                     Raising Wild Caught F
Asian Arowana
Photo by Fang Hong

4     AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
Fred                        Photo by Hazorea Aquatics

                                                              n today’s aquarium hobby,
                                                              almost every freshwater
                                                              tropical fish has been bred
                                                              in captivity. Many countries
                                                        have set up fish farms, also
                                                        known as aquaculture facilities, in
                                                        order to avoid depleting fish from
                                                        their native habitat. It is more cost
                                                        effective for fish stores to buy
                                                        livestock from fish farms.

                                                        Why Wild Caught Fish are

                                                        •    Wild caught fish usually have
                                                             brighter colors than farmed
                                                             fish; therefore, they show
                                                             very well in an aquarium.
                                                        •    Many aquarists are in search
                                                             of exotic fish because it’s
                                                             considered a status symbol
                                                             among their peers.
                                                        •    Wild caught fish have a high
                                                             re-sell value. For example, a
                                                             rare Red Arrowana can sell
                                                             for up to $5,000.

Fish                                                    •

                                                             Breeding wild caught fish can
                                                             be a money-maker for
                                                             It is perceived as a
                                                             conservation effort by saving
       By Douglas DuHamel                                    the fish from predators and
                                                             other hazards in their habitat.

                                                            SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World
                                                                 JULY                          5
These raising tanks in a hatchery outside of
Mangalore City, India holds hundreds of fry
that are protected from predators with a net
covering. Angel Fish, Coryadoras, Cichliids,
and various livebearers are some of the
species breed in captivity here.

Requirements for Raising Wild                  •   An inexperienced aquarist                    Only an experienced
Caught Fish                                        may not be able to keep the             aquarist should raise wild caught
                                                   fish alive so the loss of life          fish. In addition, the impact of
    Research and learn all that                    can also be a financial loss.           removing fish from their natural
there is to know about the                     •   Some fish naturally have a              habitat is something that needs to
species. For example:                              short life span and others are          be considered.
                                                   longer so it’s best to research
•    Water temperature and water                   the species.                            Farm Raised Fish
     conditions such as the pH                 •   Wild caught fish can harbor                  Farm raised aquarium fish
     and hardness                                  more parasites and are not as           found in breeding facilities all
•    Diseases which are common                     hardy as farmed fish.                   over the world offer an alternative
     to the species and the                                                                to the wild caught supply. Fish
     prescribed treatment                             If you choose to buy wild            raised here offer a somewhat
•    Dietary requirements for                  caught fish, be sure the seller has         sustainable supply of fauna for
     regular feeding and                       the correct paper work and the              the needs of the hobbyists
     supplementary meals                       species of fish is allowed to be            without directly effecting actually
•    Compatibility with other fish, if         sold in your country. There are             fish populations in rivers and
     placed in a community tank                unscrupulous dealers who are                streams.
•    Tank requirements such as                 smuggling fish. If you are in                    The trade and sell of wild
     hiding places or type of                  possession of illegal fish, you are         caught fish will remain attractive
     substrate                                 subject to a fine and the seizure           to hobbyists who seek the rare
                                               of your fish.                               and exotic species for their
The Downside of Raising Wild                          Wild caught fish are                 aquariums.
Caught Fish                                    attractive because of their vibrant
                                               colors and their rarity. This
•    Fish are being removed from               makes each fish and the related
     their natural habitat;                    s h i p p i n g c o s t s e xt r e me l y
     therefore, the potential for              expensive. They are much more
     breeding and maintaining the              difficult to keep in captivity and
     fish population is lessened.              any losses are very costly.

6    AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
                                                           The picture on the left shows a harvest of
                                                           Angels being done. Once the fish reach the
                                                           desired size they are harvested and
                                                           stocked in tanks for a purging process that
                                                           ensures a healthy stock of fish.

After two days in the holding tanks, the fish
are then packed up and shipped out to
Aquarium Shops and distributors around the

      Photo Credit
      Hatchery Photos:

                                                             SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World            7
                             Wabi-kusa Aquasc

8   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
caping Style
         By Steven Chong

                   Wabi-Kusa “Magic Balls” is an
                   aquascaping style just in now
                   sweeping the world

                                           wo years ago when I
                                           first heard of ADA’s 「侘
                                           び草」 “Wabi-Kusa,” I
                                           was both intrigued and
                                 put off at the same time.
                                 Creating the appeal of the
                                 aquarium’s design by relying on
                                 the random growth of the plants
                                 grouped in the Wabi-Kusa is
                                 undeniably a very nature-esque
                                 concept. It also speaks to a part
                                 of us aquarium keepers who are
                                 not only artists but also fish-nuts
                                 as the idea of letting things run
                                 wild has a definite allure to those
                                 who enjoy tramping through wild
                                 ponds and marshes. On the
                                 other hand though, it also is a
                                 direct attack on the necessity for

                                   SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   9
the trained skill of a frequent         Wabi-Kusa can be placed inside         spiritedness.
aquascaper. Instead of relying          the filled aquarium or in a                 While it is possible to
on the practiced eye and well           container with only a small            incorporate wood and stones with
thought out plans for layout, one       amount of water to allow the           Wabi-Kusa into a more complex
simply places two or three Wabi-        plants to maintain their terrestrial   design, more often Wabi-Kusa
Kusa in the tank, and off it goes.      form in a more potted-plant type       are featured by ADA alone. A
I would be lying if I said I did not    existence. Either way, the results     few stem-using groups in the
have my doubts. After these few         can be stunning as the idea is to      back laid out on simple sand, or
years though, it is apparent the        create a natural beauty by             using Glossostigma elatinoides
idea has taken off, and that the        allowing the wildness, the small       only Wabi-Sabi to build a
power of Wabi-Kusa as a design          “chaos” of the mixed plants to         foreground.
tool is both real and appealing.        grow together.                              While traditionally a plant-
     For those who do not know,              The name Wabi-Kusa is a           only layout has the risk of
Wabi-Kusa is a product made by          reference to the Japanese              becoming flat and monotonous
Aqua Design Amano.             It is    aesthetic sense of Wabi-Sabi that      (hence traditionally it is left only
essentially a ball covered by           appeals to the beauty in the slight    to skilled Dutch style
aquatic plants grown in their           chaos of nature. Kusa means            aquascapes), the sheer chaos of
terrestrial form, very similar to       weeds or plants. Even in his           the Wabi-Kusa, the mixing that
hydroponics used commonly in            earliest books Amano-san               occurs with the plants’ unified
plant nurseries. Unlike typically       referred to finding beauty in a        grouping, breaks up the
sold aquarium plants though, the        patch of weeds, and this beauty        monotony surprisingly well. Wabi
Wabi-Kusa is generally covered          has been turned into product.          -Kusa was well named, and truly
with a variety of plants, and is not    While it is unlikely that anyone       does capture a Wabi-Sabi
meant to be separated and               will be topping the contests with      feeling.
inserted into the substrate, but        these types of layouts, I have to           Perhaps what I respect most
rather placed directly into the         say they do have a strong appeal       about Wabi-Kusa is the capacity
aquarium, as it naturally sinks.        and a refreshing free-                 it represents for allowing much

10   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
more casual hobbyists or simple     we all know the frustrations of not   experience has become much
nature-lovers to create beautiful   being able to get things to look      easier. The potential to bring in
layouts.    I have always seen      good and perfectly arranged.          more hobbyists is very tangible
spreading aquascaping to a wider    With ADA’s cheaper and easier         and exciting to me. I will be
audience as an important task for   to use Do!Aqua line of products,      looking forward to a wabi-future.
the aquascaping community.          and the simple to use yet visually
     However getting into it is     refreshing Wabi-Kusa, the task of
quite difficult. Even though we     creating a beautiful tank without
can get the plants growing well,    great amounts of skill and

                                                                          SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   11
      Frustrations in Aquasca

12   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
   Is it Worth it?

                     By Donald Lee

                                lodea,      cabomba,
                                salivinia,    ludwigia,
                                vallisneria,      water
                                lettuce, and even milfoil!
                     What do these plants all have in
                     common? They’re all plants listed
                     as invasive species in the U.S.
                     More importantly, they're all
                     aquarium plants that have likely,
                     at one point, been disposed of
                     only to find themselves thriving in
                     new territories thanks to the
                     frustration of a beginning
                     aquascaper who was incapable
                     of making them thrive in their fish

                     The Woes of Introductory
                          It seems that there is that
                     added frustration most
                     aquascapers give themselves
                     when considering a plant:
                     certainly, they can purchase the
                     plant for their tank for a few
                     dollars more, but in the end they
                     often end up with a brown pile of
                     mush and a welling sense of
                     frustration. Is it a scheme of

                     SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   13
                                                                               with fish, this is a very good thing!
                                                                               Too much C02 is bad for the
       Keeping fish is a varied degree of                                      inhabitants, just as too much C02
                                                                               is bad for us. For plants,
     difficulty for the early fish owner, but                                  however, it is far from
                                                                               unfavorable. In fact, the filtering
      plants seem to offer new degrees of                                      often encourages the more
                                                                               diehard planter to install their own
           frustration to the formula.                                         method of putting more C02 back
                                                                               into the water!
               Are plants worth it?
                                                                               Why Bother?
                                                                                     It seems that aquascaping
To be honest, it has nothing to do       fluorescent or incandescent           from the very beginning is an
with any schemes of any sort—            appearance to the tank, but           uphill struggle. But with that said,
though one may think otherwise           barely musters any light to           it is far from an impossible task
as pet stores do have a tendency         encourage photosynthesis.             for the person willing to make
to mix emersed plants with their         Plants are usually recommended        some         changes        while
aquatic selection—it mostly has          to have 2.5 watts of light per        understanding the limits of both
to do with the aquarium.                 gallon, but most tanks can only       their tank and its residents.
                                         provide 1 watt or even less. The      Keeping plants has many
This is Not Your Father's Fish           fish don’t mind the poor lights. In   rewards in the end that most
Tank                                     fact, it is often encouraged to       fishkeepers appreciate, as do
      Admittedly, we have come a         keep lights low since strong lights   their fish.
long way from the days when              promote stress for certain                  Plants (especially of the
guppies came in only one variety         species who often thrive in cover     "invasive weed" variety) siphon
and plecos were rare novelties           or are nocturnal. For the plant,      out the nitrates from your tank
for the most experienced and             however, we are barely throwing       that your fish produce, providing
spendthrift of freshwater                it a bone.                            less for the algae to grow off. The
aquarists. The aquarium has                    Filtration also encourages      tank thus gains a little more
advanced quite a bit, but the            removal of carbon dioxide (C02)       breathing room for its inhabitants
emphasis has mainly been                 from tanks through devices that       as a result.
towards fish.                            encourage disturbing water                  Plants will aerate your tank
      For example, the typical           tension. Considering how many         from what C02            they are
lighting system offers a pleasant        people run their tanks exclusively    receiving.

                                                                                                  Photo by George Farmer

14    AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
     The tank inhabitants will
appreciate the plants, as they
offer cover and will make them
feel less like they are in a tank
and more like they are in their
wild habitat. Unlike the plastic
variety, they do not encourage
damaging the fish as much,
     Plants help in breeding tanks
by encouraging infusoria, which
are tiny microorganisms that very
small fry will eat.
     Unlike the more easily
available species of fish, there is
often demand for aquatic plants.
There is not as much value
towards the "weed" varieties, but
there is always someone willing
to buy if the stock is healthy.

Tips Towards Aquatic Plants
• If it looks like it should be in a
   flower pot, chances are that it         Aquascape by Lam Phuoc Thanh
   is an emersed plant. These
   plants will live underwater,
   but given a month without air,            will also work, and certain            fertilizer, try something with
   they will die. Certain species            melon swords will live in the          the lowest nitrates and
   include names like "dragon                tank as long as you keep               phosphates possible.
   flame" or "purple waffle" and             them within closer range to            Otherwise, stick to liquid
   often appear very colorful.               the light source and will              fertilizer, which can be
                                             maintain a nice small size.            purchased for a reasonable
•   Most fish will nibble on your            This also applies to the               price.
    plants or thrash them, silver            banana plant.
    dollars and goldfish                                                        •   Just because you have plants
    especially. Diehard plants are     •     Floating plants have the               does not mean that you can
    often recommended for such               benefit of being closer to your        stop cleaning the tank unless
    species, such as java fern,              light source as well as                you are growing a jungle. Use
    java moss, and anubias.                  receiving C02 from the air,            a turkey baster to flush the
    Conversely, you may also                 making them a little easier to         fish waste out of the ground
    use plenty of fast-growing               grow.                                  and have a hose suck it out of
    plants for them to nibble on                                                    the aquarium.
    and keep in check, such as         •     Unless the plant itself is
    hornwort. If you are                     normally red, a lightening/
    considering the plants before            yellowing of the plant is a sign
    the fish, then consider getting          of malnourishment. It will
    fish that have a small                   need some more nutrients in
    maximum size (3-4 inches).               there in the form of trace
    Most bottom feeders should               elements and may require
    be avoided as well.                      some liquid fertilizer to
                                             substantiate it.
•   Most low-light plants are
    recommended for a beginner         •     Do not use regular fertilizer
    tank. These generally include            unless you understand how to
    elodea, java moss, java fern,            plant it properly. If you do
    and anubias. Cryptocoryne                attempt to use regular

                                                                                SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   15
Fish Profile: Algae Eating Fish


16   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
se Algae Eater
rossocheilus siamensis

                         By Aziz Dhanani

                                Prior to converting my 40
                         gallon unplanted aquarium to a
                         40 gallon planted aquarium, I had
                         a real Siamese algae eater
                         (Crossocheilus siamensis) that
                         was a long time (8 years)
                         inhabitant. He was a solitary
                         resident who kept to himself, was
                         not aggressive towards any of the
                         other inhabitants, and had grown
                         to about 6 inches in length. I
                         even named him Nessie (after
                         the fabled Loch Ness Monster). I
                         still remember how my family and
                         friends were in awe of Nessie
                         owing to his size.
                                Sadly things took a turn for
                         the worse for Nessie. This was
                         due to the fact that I turned up
                         C02 levels too high. As soon as I
                         realized my mistake, I tried
                         pumping the aquarium with
                         oxygen, but it was too late for
                         Nessie. He never recovered.

                         SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   17
Fish Profile: Siamese Algae Eater
engulfed my aquarium as I did           months after the algae breakout       rivers and even flooded forests in
not coordinate lighting, CO2            and action taken to eradicate the     South East Asia, including
injection, and fertilization in a way   algae, including the introduction     Thailand and the Malay
that would have prevented this.         of the “dynamic duo.”                 peninsula. Females are said to
To give you an idea of what my                                                appear fuller/fatter than the
aquarium looked like. This is a                                               males. This often is the sole
picture of the aquarium a few                                                 factor used to distinguish males
days after I converted it to a                                                from females. The real Siamese
planted tank.                                                                 algae eater is said to reach a
                                                                              maximum size of six inches and
                                                                              have a life span of approximately
                                                                              ten years.      It has not been
                                                                              successfully bred in captivity. All
                                                                              specimens purchased from pet
                                                                              stores have allegedly been
                                                                              captured from the wild and
                                        Siamese Algae Eater Really            imported. The Siamese algae
                                        Eats Algae!                           eater is only suitable for tanks for
                                             It is not uncommon for           20 gallons as it will easily grow to
                                        people new to planted tanks and       six inches.
                                        even experienced individuals to
                                        struggle with black beard/brush       Compatibility
     The different types of algae       algae, not to mention the dreaded           With respect to compatibility,
that plagued the tank included:         red algae. Although I am not          the real Siamese's algae eater is
Black beard/black brush algae,          suggesting that algae eaters be       said to be compatible with most
green dust algae, and green             solely used to control or eliminate   fish. However, the real Siamese
thread algae. Frequent water            algae without addressing the          algae eater should not be kept
changes (two to three times a           underlying causes, the Siamese        with the red tailed shark. The red
week), overdosing Seachem               Algae eater (SAE) may prove a         tailed shark is related to the
Excel (three times the daily            helpful ally for anyone faced with    Siamese algae eater and this fact
dosage), and a reduced lighting         the daunting task of battling a       is known to bring out the
period, all but eradicated the          black brush/beard algae bloom.        territorial and hence aggressive
algae, with the exception of the        Interestingly, it first garnered      tendencies of both fish. Having
black beard/brush algae. In my          interest in the 1970's when it was    more than one real Siamese
desperate attempts to try and           observed eating red brush algae.      algae eater in the same tank is
eradicate this algae, I decided to      It is even said by sources from       also not recommended as males
add an Albino Bristlenose               Badman’s Tropical Fish Site that      are known to behave
Plecostomus and Siamese Algae           “..the SAE, when coupled with         aggressively towards one another
Eater.     I watched in utter           the Amano shrimp (Caridina            in staking out territory.
amazement as this dynamic duo           japonica), can deliver a knockout           Also,    the real Siamese
grazed on the black brush/black         punch to any algae-ridden tank!”      algae eater not be kept with
beard algae.       It was      like                                           some fish that are spawning such
watching cattle grazing madly at        Origins of the SAE                    as dwarf cichlids.         Siamese
field grass.       They literally           The real Siamese Algae            algae eaters are highly active
eradicated the algae in less then       Eater (not to be confused with the    fish. Their activity could
a week.                                 Chinese Algae Eater) is found in      potentially stress out fish that are
     This is the same tank 3            densely planted streams and           spawning.

18   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
     I have seen my Siamese              a custom made aquarium and                        worms.
algae eater chase my black skirt         since the tank cover accidently                        My real Siamese algae eater
tetras when the black skirt tetras       cracked I was unable to replace                   loves feeding off zucchini that
invade his territory and attempt to      it.   I have been resorting to                    has been microwaved for 60-80
feed off the algae eater's piece         maintaining a dense mass of                       seconds. Once a week he enjoys
of zucchini. Ironically, the black       floating plants.        This has                  a special treat of frozen blood
skirt tetras often harassed my           effectively served to keep my                     worms. Below is a picture of my
Siamese algae eater when I first         Siamese algae eater from                          real Siamese algae eater
purchased him. At that time, he          jumping out.                                      enjoying some zucchini. As you
was considerably smaller than                 As far as feeding goes, the                  can see, he has no problems
the black skirt tetras.        I still   real Siamese algae eater has no                   sharing with my Albino
remember how they would nip at           special requirements. They are                    Bristlenose Pleco.
his tail constantly as he would try      known to accept normal fish food,
and eat at the algae caked on the        algae disks, and blanched                         Slow Acclimation
glass.                                   zucchini. Overfeeding these fish                       Equally important is ensuring
     Although there is no                allegedly causes them to become                   that your tank is properly cycled
scientific evidence of this, there is    lazy and develop a preference for                 and that you properly acclimatize
a possibility that smaller fish that     flake food over algae. If you                     the fish prior to adding him or her
share the body color may bring           have a heavy black beard/brush                    to your tank. I find that the drip
out the Siamese algae eater's            algae infestation, you should feed                acclimatization method works
aggression. I have yet to see my         these fish as little as possible to               best for me. When acclimatizing
Siamese algae chase any of my            entice them to feed off the black                 any fish to a new tank, slowly
other fish that are the same size        beard/brush algae.                                introduce small amounts of new
or larger with different color and            The Siamese algae eater is                   tank water to a large bowl where
body markings. In fact, I have           even said to eat planarian worms,                 your fish is waiting in its original
seen these fish freely venture into      making them ideal additions to                    water.
the Siamese algae's territory and        any tank infested with such                       Get a “Real” Siamese Algae
even feed off the zucchini left for
the Siamese algae eater. In such
cases, my Siamese algae eater
will often leave the area or return
when the other fish leave.
     The real Siamese algae
eater is not destructive towards
aquarium plants.

Care Requirements
 They prefer a temperature of 21
-29 degrees Celsius, a ph of 6.2-
8.0, 5-20 dh water hardness. A
soft water current and a densely
planted       aquarium         is
recommended to try and mimic
its natural habitat.  It is really
important to keep them in a                                                                                       Photo by Leylia Gray
covered aquarium as they are
known aquarium jumpers. I have           Siamese Algae Eaters swim at all levels of the aquarium and occasionally sit still like this one
                                         resting at the bottom of the aquarium.

                                                                                            SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World             19
20   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
Fish Profile: Siamese Algae Eater
Get a “Real” Siamese Algae
     The most important thing for
anyone who is considering
purchasing this fish is ensuring
that you purchase a “real”
Siamese          algae      eater
(Crossocheilus siamensis) vs. a
flying fox (Epalzeorhynchos
kalopteru), "false” Siamese algae
eater (Epalzeorhynchos sp. or
Garra taeniata), or Chinese algae
eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri).
This is particularly important if
you are looking at getting this fish
to help clean up algae. Only the
“real” Siamese algae eater is
known to consume thread algae,
black beard algae, and black
brush algae.
     In my experience, it is not
uncommon to find pet store staff
and owners who are unable to
distinguish these fish. I have had
fish store clerk try and convince                                                              Photo Credit
me that the flying fox and “real”
Siamese algae eater were one in        Although this fish appears to look like a Siamese Algae Eater, it is actually a Flying Fox
the same.         Confusion also       (Epalzeorhynchos kalopteru). Notice the smooth scales on its body compared to a real SAE.
abounds as you may come
across literature that mistakenly      uncommon for fish of the same                  “real” Siamese algae eaters,
fails to provide a clear distinction   species to behave differently with                  I strongly urge readers who
between these different species.       all other things being equal. This             are considering purchasing a
     When I hear aquarium fish         is not particular to Siamese algae             “real” Siamese algae eater to
keepers say how horrible,              eaters. This may be in large part              refer to the different SAE Guides
terrible, and aggressive the           be due to innate differences in                (below) on the internet as a
Siamese algae eater is and how         personality or temperament.                    reference to ensure that you
they would never consider                   The major distinguishing                  purchase the right fish.
purchasing another since they          characteristics that set the “real”
have never observed them eating        Siamese's algae eater apart from     
any algae, I often wonder if they      the other algae eaters is the more   
have not mistakenly purchased a        intense black and white contrast,    
Chinese algae eater believing it       transparent fins, and a black zig-
to be a “real” Siamese algae           zagged horizontal stripe which
eater.     Apart from that, it is      extends all the way down the tip
possible that the odd “real” algae     of the tail. Since it is so easy to
eater may turn out to be more          get fooled or be fooled into
aggressive than normal. It is not      purchasing fish that may not be

                                                                                       SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World            21
Aquascape In Focus
      Down the River
                                        An Inte
22   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
                                                      emember the Kenny
                                                      Rogers and Dolly
                                                      Parton song “Islands
                                                      in the Stream”? What
                                            does that title mean? When
                                            you look at Sergio Canabal’s
                                            aquascape Down the River one
                                            can’t help but notice the
                                            separation of the two Anubias
                                            bordered islands. Each island
                                            is a near replica of the other,
                                            and despite the separation,
                                            the river that runs through the
                                            islands serves as the
                                            connective ribbon to bring
                                            them together into one
                                            complete aquascape. Perhaps
                                            the meaning of the song title,
                                            like this month’s Aquascape in
                                            Focus, implies a story of two
                                            entities forever linked together.
                                            As you read more about
                                            Canabal’s aquascape discover
erview with Sergio Canabal                  the more intricate details and
                                            trimming techniques for his
                                            aquascape, Down the River.
                     SEPTEMBER 2008 Aqua-
Sergio Canabal proudly displays his aquascape, Down the River.

Q: Sergio congratulations on                     would have to take a back seat       from this and am grateful to have
creating such a well balanced                    for a while (razor sharp hand-       the opportunity to meet and
aquascape. Before we get into                    tools + power tools + baby =         dialogue with other hobbyists
your aquascape, let’s get to                     emergency room!). I wanted to        who are as excited about the
know you a little better.                        keep myself occupied, but with       hobby as I am!
                                                 something that I could do right at        I’ve also recently become
A: My name is Sergio Canabal.                    home and wasn’t so dangerous.        interested in keeping Bonsai,
I’m 31 years old, and I live in                  I had tried to keep aquatic plants   though I still have quite a bit to
Montclair, NJ with my wife and                   previously but failed because I      learn on the subject.
daughter. I’m a pharmacist by                    didn’t understand any of the
profession and I have found the                  major principles. So I decided to    Q: Manipulating Bonsai trees is
chemistry (non-organic, organic,                 read up and give it another shot.    very similar to what we do with
bio and medicinal) I’ve been                          I became a member of my         our planted aquarium plants.
“subjected” to has been very                     local planted aquarium group,        Is that what inspired your
helpful in understanding some of                 The New Jersey Aquatic               aquascape “Down the River”?
the principles of maintaining a                  Gardeners Club.              The
planted tank.                                    membership includes some of the      A: There have been many
     I’ve kept “fish” tanks since                nicest, most helpful people out      influences and inspirations for
I’m very young. Surely it’s been                 there! They’ve help me grow          this aquarium! The source of
more than 20 years. I began                      aquatic plants better.               initial inspiration would probably
keeping plants when my wife was                       A buddy of mine and I began     be Jason Baliban’s “Valley to the
pregnant with my daughter. Up                    building C02 regulators this year    East” tank.          Subsequent
until that point I spent quite a bit             for fellow planted tank              influences for the tank came from
of free time woodworking. With a                 enthusiasts, under the name          many, many places. So many
baby on the way, I knew that                     SuMo. I’ve learned quite a bit       individuals, situations and

24    AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
experiences affected the tank          with more hardscape than you                     Flourish and Flourish Iron are
and its progression that I think it    think you will need. It does not                 dosed at 8mL each daily for
would be difficult to cover every      take long for plants to grow in                  micros. The automation was
one!                                   most tanks, so rather than having                integrated to allow me a bit more
      Planning for the aquarium        to redo things later on, start with              time to spend with the family.
began in October/November              the right amount of hardscape to                      Trimming is usually done
2006. The substrate went in at         begin with. This can obviously be                every 10 days or so, cleaning the
the February 2007 NJAGC                tricky, as it isn’t always easy to               pipes and substrate are done as
Meeting. I did not really rush any     visualize what an aquarium will                  needed – usually every few
aspect of the aquarium. I think        look like a year down the road!                  weeks.
patience is absolutely necessary
in keeping a planted aquarium.         Q: What does it take to keep an                  Q: How have you overcome
When I look at the tank today, I       aquascape like this?                             algae infestations?
still don’t see it as complete!
                                       A: Water changes and dosing are                  A: Currently I get the occasional
Q: How did you separate the            done daily. I change 15% of                      Green Spot Algae if I try
different islands and how did          daily via an auto-water changer.                 extending my midday burst too
you create the rock/driftwood          It utilizes a RO/DI filter, so I need            long. BUT when the tank started
arrangements?                          to reconstitute for GH. I use                    up, it certainly went through all of
                                       Seachem Equilibrium for this                     the traditionally expected startup
A: The substrate is the ADA            which allows me to skip dosing                   algae.       That was a very
System, and includes PowerSand         for potassium.                                   frustrating period of time. The
Special M, Tourmaline BC,                    The aquarium is dosed daily                tank was first infected by
AquaSoil Amazonia (Type I) and         via an auto-dosing system to                     diatoms, which time and a dozen
BrightSand.       Cardboard and        maintain target parameters of:                   Otocinculs fish helped to clear
stones were used to separate the                                                        up. Then Staghorn Algae and
“islands” for the initial layout. A         NO3 = 9ppm                                  Hair/Thread Algae took over.
stone called “Shou stone” was               PO4 = 1.5ppm                                Hours of manual removal and
used as the final barrier between           K = ~30ppm                                  about 60 Amano shrimp help to
AquaSoil and BrightSand.                    KH = < 1dKH                                 get rid of. It took about 2 to 3
     A decent width border helps            GH = ~4dGH                                  months in total to be rid of
to prevent substrate mixing                 pH = 5.00                                   everything.
(shrimp are the primary villains),          T = 25°C                                         I don’t suspect that there is
though maintaining separate                 C02 ~30ppm                                  really a planted tank that is 100%
substrates does take a fair                                                             algae free. That’s not realistic to
amount of maintenance.
Everything is held in place by
gravity. I do not have the wood
tied down.
     The driftwood was laid out by
trial and many errors.          The
original driftwood layout was
almost entirely “consumed” by
the plants and vanished. About a
year in, the tank had to be re-
scaped to shift plants away from
the front glass.       I’ve recently
added a bit more wood to re-
acquire a bit of visible hardscape
and have been toying around
with the pieces to come up with a
“final” layout.
     From this aquascape I
learned and would advise others
who are planning to design a tank
                                       A group of Siamese Algae Eaters looking for something to eat among the foliage of the Anubias
with a large plant mass to start       barteri var "coffeefolia”.

                                                                                         SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World        25
                     Three months into Initial Start                                                                       Nine months later

expect for a planted aquarium.                     Q: How did you choose your                       no additional Anubias barteri var
We are after all, creating                         plant species?                                   nana "petite" for example, added
conditions that are good for plant                                                                  to the tank between nine months
growth. Most algae forms are                       A: For this aquarium, I decided                  of development. You can see
like plants!                                       what plants were going to be kept                from the progression pictures
     The best we can do is keep                    based on what grows best with                    how they have grown
algae to a minimum in my                           the parameters I was keeping. It                 exponentially.
experience.      The trick is to                   takes a few months for plants to
provide good conditions and                        really “settle in” in my experience,             Q: Describe your initial
environmental consistency for the                  but they are constantly                          planting and ongoing trimming
growth of “higher” plants. When                    developing. The “slow growers”                   techniques for your plants.
the plants are growing happily,                    in particular have not really
algae is kept at bay.                              stopped developing. There were                   A: Initially, the tank was planted
                                                                                                    with as many fast growing stems
                                                                                                    that I could get my hands on.
                                                                                                    This was to foll ow the
                                                                                                    conventional wisdom that packing
                                                                                                    the tank with fast growers may
                                                                                                    save me from “startup algae.” In
                                                                                                    my case, there was no saving!
                                                                                                    The algae came, and had to run
                                                                                                    its course anyway!
                                                                                                         There is no good way to trim
                                                                                                    Cyperus helferi that I’m aware of.
                                                                                                    When mine become too tall, I
                                                                                                    remove and replace them with
                                                                                                    new, younger plants. While I was
                                                                                                    keeping Rotala macrandra I
                                                                                                    trimmed them by cutting off the
                                                                                                    top six or so inches, removing the
                                                                                                    bottoms, and replanting only the
                                                                                                    tops. The Rotala sp. ‘Colorata’
                                                                                                    species and currently Ludwigia
Rotala sp. ‘Colorata’ are trimmed every ten days by replanting the tops and discarding the bottom   a rc u at a a r e t ri mm e d b y
stems of the plant.

26    AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
                                                                              Current layout

essentially mowing them into the            which cools the water. Topping                 by some of the brilliant members
shape I want. I do not replant the          off the tank is necessary with                 of the planted aquarium
tops (unless I need more stems)             these fans as I’d be loosing a                 community!
and simply leave the bottoms in             gallon or more daily through                        My auto-water change works
place to thicken up.                        evaporation. The depth sensor                  by Approximately 4 gallons of
                                            on the auto water-changer keeps                water are drained from the tank
Q: What are some of the DIY                 the tank at the appropriate level              daily. Overnight, an electric
elements to your tank?                      for me.                                        solenoid and water pump (Eheim
                                                 The other DIY elements to                 1250) which are plumbed into the
A: During the warmer months I               the tank are the plumbing                      waste line, kick on at the same
use cooling fans to maintain the            manifold that keeps most of the                time via a timer. When the
water temperature at about 25°C.            instrumentation out of the tank,               solenoid receives power, it
They are Azoo Cooling Fans and              the auto-water changer and the                 opens, allowing water to run
work by means of evaporation                auto-dosing system, all inspired               through the waste line and down
                                                                                           the drain. The water pump is
                                                                                           there to speed the process along.
                                                                                                Draining the desired amount
                                                                                           of water takes 19 minutes. The
                                                                                           timer then cuts power to the
                                                                                           pump and the solenoid (which
                                                                                           closes without power). That
                                                                                           completes the draining

                                                                                           Q: What will you do with this
                                                                                           aquascape now that it’s about

                                                                                           A: Well, I’m not really sure that it
                                                                                           is complete! I may continue the
                                                                                           tank making “small” changes
                                                                                           here and there, or I may tear it
                                                                                           down and start over! Only time
A diagram of the Automatic Water Change system created by Sergio Canabal for his planted   will tell!

                                                                                           SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   27
Down the River
Dimensions: 48" x 18" x 23"
                                                              Plant List
Volume: 240 liters
                                                              Anubias barteri var "coffeefolia"
Light: 4x54W T5HO (Teklight)
                                                              Anubias barteri var nana "petite"
Photoperiod: 8 hours, with 4x54 watt 4 hour midday burst
                                                              Cyperus helferi
Substrate: ADA Substrate System
                                                              Ludwigia arcuata
           (PowerSand, Tourmaline BC, AquaSoil Amazonia and
                                                              Microsorum pteropus - Java Fern
                                                              Poaceae sp. 'Purple Bamboo'
C02: Pressurized C02
                                                              Rotala sp. 'Colorata'
                                                              Paracheirodon axelrodi
                                                              Crossocheilus langei
                                                              Otocinclus vittatus
                                                              Various Snails

28   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   29
Rank #178: Herpin Renaud from France

Rank #68: Marcin Peczek from Poland

30     AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
Aquatic Plant Layout
   Contest 2008
                                              And the Winners Are...

                                                                ome one, come all. The
                                                                International Aquatic
                                                                Plant Layout Contest
                                                                2008 Results have been
                                                       announced. The International
                                                       Aquatic Plant Contest (IAPLC) is
                                                       the largest planted aquarium
                                                       aquascaping contest in the world.
                                                       The competition is organized by
                                                       the number one planted
                                                       aquarium company, Aqua Design
                                                       Amano. Aquascapers from all
                                                       over the globe spend months to
                                                       years designing their planted
Rank #68: Alexsander Grebenyuk from Ukraine            aquariums all for a chance to win
                                                       thousands of dollars in prize

                                                        SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   31
Rank #476: Tobias Coring from Germany

Rank #105: Jason Baliban from United States

32     AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
money.                              bar, from including waterfalls in         find inspiration and a renewed
      However, for most it’s not    their aquariums, to uniquely              passion to aquascaping planted
about the money. It’s about the     layout mosses on pedestals. It’s          aquariums.
ranking. Many aquascapers are       large leap from the standard                     The IAPLC 2008 does the
seeking bragging rights and         three stone Iwagumi layouts that          official commentating and prize
recognition for their pieces of     used to dominate the                      awarding in mid-September. The
“living art.” It’s a chance to      aquascaping hobby. New aquatic            top aquascapes will be displayed
compete and compare your            plants, new arrangements, and             at the Nature Aquarium Party
aquascapes to the world’s best.     attention to detail are all elements      held in Tokyo.Takashi Amano
Each year there is excitement in    that improve year to year. It is          and the panel of judges will
the air as the results come out     mind boggling to see what each            discuss the winning aquascapes
and the final ranking number        aquascaper has achieved. There            in detail and award the finalists
appears next to their aquascapes    is no aquascaping competition             with their prizes. Aquascapers
and names. You’ll find these        like this one.                            will be able to rub noses with the
same aquascapers announcing               This year boasted 1169              top aquascapers of the world. It’s
their ranking on the forums,        entries from all over the world,          a wonderful end to a competition
blogs, and personal websites.       the highest number of entries             that celebrates and advances the
Some are very surprised with        since it began in 2001. The               planted aquarium hobby. For the
how well they ranked, and there     competition revolutionizes the            full list of winners visit the ADA
are always some who are upset       world’s understanding of what an          website.
with how other aquascapes           aquarium can be. With a top
ranked better than theirs.          panel of aquascaping judges,
      This much can be said         including Takashi Amano
                                                                              Photos credit to respective authors
though; each participant should     providing comments to each      
be proud no matter what their       aquascape it’s no surprise the
final ranking may be. The           number of entries keeps growing.
compilation of aquascapes in this   The competition gives purpose
competition is truly world class.   and meaning for some hobbyists,
Aquascapers keep pushing the        while for others it’s a chance to

                                                       SEPTEMBER 2008 Aqua-
    Carbon Dioxide
   Injecting Method
Pressurized CO Syst
                           By Hector Ortiz

                                             Understanding t
                                             achieve the plan

34   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER

                                                   arbon Dioxide (C02) is a
                                                   indispensible component
                                                   for      effective
                                                   photosynthesis      and
                                          plant growth. C0 is necessary
                                          when your lighting is above the
                                          standard 2.0 watts per gallon
                                          threshold.     In lower lighting
                                          setups, supplementing C02 can
                                          only help plant growth and keep
                                          algae away. At first it may be
                                          slightly intimidating, however
                                          understanding and applying C02
                                          injection is very simple. As you
                                          will see, there are three easy,
                                          mainstream methods to inject
                                          carbon dioxide. I will walk you
                                          through the pressurized C02

                                          Carbon      Dioxide       Injection
this essential ingredient will help you   Methods

nted aquarium you’ve always wanted        1) Pressurized C02 gas
                                          2) Do It Yourself (DIY) C02 gas,
                                          3) Liquid C02 i.e. Seachem

                                          SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   35
What do I need for                  a   Regulator
Pressurized C02 Setup?                       The common C02 regulators
                                        brands used in this hobby are the
     Pressurized C02is the best         Milwaukee, JBJ and the Azoo
form of injecting C02 gas in a          C02 regulators. These three
planted aquarium because it             regulators are excellent and
offers a continuous flow of gas         affordable components for any
that offers consistent levels of        system. They can run anywhere
C02 . Besides the initial setup,        between $75-90. You can find
there’s no additional maintenance       them on eBa y auctions,              That’s important because plants
required. Although the startup, and a            utilize (photosynthesize) carbon
costs of      $150-200 can be           number of other online retail        dioxide when the light goes on.
deterring, the low maintenance          stores.. There are some planted            Aquarium regulators will
and guarantee that C02 is               tank hobbyist oriented online        have another necessary
constant from day to day make           v e n d o r s             l i k e    component called the needle
pressurized C02 an attractive , and          valve. This allows you to change
method to be used for any      that are now         the rate of gas flow. C02 gas is
planted aquarium. I will describe       offering their own custom build      measured in parts per millions
the main components of a                regulator systems as well.           (ppms) or observationally by the
pressurized C02 setup so that                One of the key parts to an      amount of bubbles flowing into a
your aquarium is one step closer        aquarium made regulator is the a     tank per second.        A bubble
to an optimal environment for           part called the solenoid.        A   counter (a see-through container
aquatic plants.                         solenoid is essentially the on/off   filled with water) allows the
                                        switch to your regulator. When       aquarist to see and count the
Essential C02 Components                on, the solenoid opens a             bubble rate. Generally,
   • Regulator                          magnetic gate that allows gas to     depending on your tank size, a
   • C0 Cylinder                        flow from the cylinder to the        rate of 3-5 bubbles per second is
   • Reactor/Diffuser                   tubing line. When turned off, C02    a good rate to have for a planted
   • Check Valves                       flow stops. When you place a         aquarium. This will produce
   • C0 Tubing                          solenoid on a light timer, you can   around the optimal 30 ppms of
                                        automate your C02 system and         dissolved C02 gas in a planted
                                        have C02 flow stop when the          aquarium. A CO2 drop checker
                                        lights go out, and have the flow     product can also help measure
                                        resume when the lights go on.        your CO2 levels.

36   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
5-10 lb C02 Cylinder                    Reactor/Diffuser                          plant leaves which is said to aid
     C02 cylinders are best bought           In my opinion, reactors and          in aquatic plant C02 absorption.
locally from your fire extinguisher     diffusers represent the most                   Glass diffusers in the past
supply depots and welding supply        difficult aspect of the                   three years have taken the hobby
shops. Pick up the phone book           system. There are many ways to            by storm. Most planted aquarists
and call around.           With the     dissolve the C02 gas. The                 now use this method over
paintball hobby in full swing,          common methods include:                   external reactors. The caveat of
these C02 distributors won’t blink                                                using glass diffusers as I
an eye when you say you need a          External Reactor                          mentioned earlier is that they
5-10 lb C02 cylinder for your                An external reactor such as          require frequent (every 2 weeks)
aquarium.                               a Aquamedic 1000 or a DIY                 cleanings to keep the disc
     A 5 lb cylinder can produce        reactor is set inline with the            surface as clean and effective as
at least six months of C02 for your     plumbing of your canister filter. It      possible.
aquarium. The bigger, 10 lb             works by dissolving C02 gas in                 Over time, algae and
cylinder can last double that. I        the turbulent water created inside        bacterial film may grow on the
recommend getting the largest           the external reactor. This is an          disc surface which covers up the
sized cylinder that can fit in your     effective way of dissolving C02           fine pores on the surface. This
home and under your aquarium            without worrying about cleaning           results in larger, and less
The cylinders can run anywhere          out an in-tank diffuser like the          dissolvable bubbles of C02 gas.
between $60-100 from a local            ones describes later.                     The remedy to a dirty disc is to
supplier. Refills are about $20 at           Remember to put the                  soak the glass diffuser in a
most locations.                         external reactor on the water             solution of bleach for ten minutes
     In the heyday of introducing       output side of your canister filter       during a tank cleaning. Some
pressurized C02 in the late             to ensure that only clean water           people purchase two diffusers
1990s, hobbyists used to make a         goes through it.                          and swap the dirty one out for a
big stink over whether or not one            There are many tutorials             new one to save time.
should get an aluminum cylinder         available on the internet on how
or a steel-composed cylinder. In        to make your own DIY External             C02 line in the intake Method
all honesty, it doesn’t make a          reactor so at the moment I will                 Now this is the “cost
squat of difference when it comes       not go into the process. The key          efficient” way of dissolving C02.
to planted aquariums. A full steel      for any external reactor is to get        It’s as simple as sticking the
10lb C02 cylinder weights around        as close to 100% dissolution of           output end of the C02 tubing
40 lbs. Aluminum cylinders are          your C02 gas before it enters the         directly into a filter intake and
lighter so I suppose you should         aquarium.                                 using your filter as a reaction
take that in mind if lifting 40 or so                                             chamber to dissolve the gas.
pounds is difficult. Aluminum           C02 Glass Diffusers
cylinders can run about $50 more             Using a glass diffuser or
than a steel cylinder of the same       “pollen glass diffuser” as it can be
size.                                   referred to after an Aqua Design
     It is also important to            Amano product, is another
remember your C02 cylinder will         effective means of introducing
be hidden under your aquarium           carbon dioxide to a tank. This
and out of sight. So when your          diffuser is a glorified (yet efficient)
C02 distributor tells you they only     airstone that is placed inside the
have refurbished cylinders for          aquarium underneath a flow of
sell, don’t worry and just get it.      water.
C02 cylinders are tested about               What makes it so effective?
every 5 years by the distributors       The diffuser disc is composed of
to ensure they are safe enough to       tiny pores that results in very fine,
hold C02 under pressure. You’ll         mist like bubbles as the C02 bust
find C02 cylinders dating back to       through the membrane.              The
the 1960s still on the selling floor    resulting fine bubbles are easily
today. So the worn looking              dissolved into the water column,
refurbish cylinder will work just as    and some of the mist-like bubbles
well as a new shiny one.                even find their way underneath            This all-in-one regulator with bubble counter
                                                                                  allows the hobbyists to calculate the injection
                                                                                  rate of the C02.

                                                                                   SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World          37
38   AquaScaping World SEPTEMBER 2008
Sounds easy enough? Well it is,               between the regulator
but filters aren’t exactly made to            and diffuser end.
handle the acid byproduct that                      You might think that you
C02 gas inherently has. Some                  won’t need a C02 check valve,
filters parts such as the impeller,           but you’ll soon realize your
rubber areas, and motor may                   mistake. Water will siphon back
wear out prematurely as a result.             out from your aquarium and down
In extreme cases, a filter may                to your expensive C02 regulator.
stop working altogether if the gas            Getting water inside the regulator
builds up in the filter and stops             or more likely the solenoid part
the impeller from catching water.             will render your expensive gismo       t o     b e      r e p l a c e d
      However, this method can be             inoperable.                            regularly.       Compared to
effective depending on how well                                                      Pressurized C02, it is
the C02 dissolves as it makes it              C02 Tubing                             economically cheaper, but the
way through the filter. Just be                    Typical airline tubing and        time and maintenance required to
careful.                                      silicone tubing are highly             keep it producing gas at the
                                              permeable to C02 gas and               highest level can be costly. I will
     The dissolution method that              they can become brittle/crack          talk about how to make a DIY
works best will vary with every               over time.       Specialized C02       C02 setup in a future article.
tank. I personally like to use                tubing like Poly urethane tubing is
external reactors because I like to           one of the best choices for            Can I use Seachem Excel for
take one less thing out of the tank           offering low gas permeability and      C02?
maintenance process. But I know               C02 resistant degradation. To               Seachem Excel is an organic
several others swear by the extra             ensure 100% of the C02 gas             based liquid carbon source. It
effectiveness of bubbles from the             makes it to the tank use tubing        requires daily administration but
glass diffusers. As long as you’re            that is made for C02 gas.              is very effective at providing C02
pumping C02 gas into your                                                            to plants. Seachem Excel can be
aquarium, I’ll be happy and your              pH Controller                          used alone or as a supplement to
plants will be happy too.                          This is an optional               DIY C02 or pressurized C02. In
                                              component for a pressurized            the long run Seachem Excel can
Check Valves                                  system. A pH Controller such as        become expensive to use every
    Check valves are designed                 the Milwaukee SMS125 pH                day on a large tank, but on tanks
to prevent water from back                    Controller helps regulate the          under 20-30 gallons it is relatively
siphoning out from the tank when              amount of C02 injected in a            inexpensive. To minimize costs
the C02 flow is turned off or runs            tank. The user sets the pH level       buy Excel in bulk 2 liter bottles for
out. The best check valves are                at a desired level, and the            around $23.
the metal type (brass) check                  controller will make sure it stays
valves. Plastic check valves will             around that level (much like a         Pressurized C02 Wrap-up
work but they are susceptible to              heater thermostat). The reason              Now that you know all about
C02 deterioration and will need               why this is an optional product is     pressurized C02 and have been
yearly replacing. These are                   because a light timer designed to      introduced to the other common
placed on the C0 2 tubing                     turn off the solenoid at night will    methods of C02 injection, be sure
                                              do the same thing. A timer will        to inject the gas slowly if this is
                                              eliminate the flow of C02 when         your first time. Also, be sure to
                                              the plants are not using it if it is   secure your C02 cylinder inside
                                              set to turn off when the lights go     your stand and away from any
                                              out. off.                              wandering kids who may be
                                                                                     interested in turning knobs or
                                              What do I need for DIY C02?            have a tendency of tipping things
                                                   DIY C02 is an applicable          over. Once you begin introducing
                                              system for 30 gallon tanks or          C02 you’ll notice within a few days
                                              less. It uses yeast, sugar and         the positive effects it has on plant
                                              water to produce a reaction that       growth and health. You’ll wonder
                                              has C02 gas as a byproduct. The        to yourself, why you hadn’t
Brass check valves prevent water from back    reaction can last anywhere             started with pressurized C02 in
siphoning from your tank to your regulator.
                                              between 2-4 weeks and will need        the first place.

                                                                                     SEPTEMBER 2008 AquaScaping World   39

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