This is my 45 gallon tank; I love it but it's a pain in the neck if you happen to be vertically challenged. Trying to reach the bottom of a two feet deep and 11-1/2 inch wide tank is great fun if your arms are only 11 inches long. ....Oh, all right, they're longer than that, but not much. Anyway, this tank has a 100% flourite substrate, 96 watts of power compact lighting (that's one 6700K 96w bulb), on 12 hours a day, a Carbo-Plus unit for CO2 injection, and it's fertilized twice weekly with 20 ml (4 teaspoons) of Yamato Green. Every three months or so I add about five Flourish Tabs to the substrate, scattered around the tank. Filtration is an Eheim 2215 and AC 300, and there's one 200 watt Ebo-Jager heater. The week before this picture was taken (1/20/02), I did a MAJOR pruning job, dug up all the ambulia in back (the fuzzy green stuff) and replanted it, removed an enormous bunch of rotala that was between the ambulia and the hygrophila corymbosa in the left corner, and chopped the other bunch of rotala in the right center in half. Also dramatically thinned out the crypts and removed a lifetime's supply for six people of java moss. Result: you can actually see George and Gracie bickering in the back there (the marble angels), and the light actually is reaching the substrate--not to mention that you can see the beautiful balansae crypts in the back right corner much better. That's balansae in the front, too. Just because a plant is tall doesn't mean you have to stick it in the back; the open look of balansae means you can see right through it, and it lends a lot of interest to the foreground, or at least I think it does. If you don't, well, fine then. Plant yours in the back! It's a wonderful crypt, one of my favorites, but you'll have to be patient. I started with three plants two years ago; it was well over a year before they put out the first runner, but once they got started, they've been putting out new runners regularly since. You don't want to move these guys if you can avoid it, so think long and hard about where you want them before you plant. That's java fern in the corner--forgot, I yanked out about half of that, too. The large, broadleafed crypt is bronze petchii, and there's an assortment of wendtii in the left corner and center front. There are two nice anubias in the middle there, honest; they're going to vacate this tank when they have a big enough home to move to. You can see the angels, the harlequin rasboras, my ever-present sunset platies, Roger the betta, and a couple of the SAEs (there are 4; the ones you can see are the little ones, about 3"; the big ones are in the bushes somewhere). You can't see the five corydoras melini (well, maybe you can, but I can't), Bubba the bristlenose or the ottos.
Just in case you don't keep live plants and don't believe they really grow, here's the same tank three weeks later (today, as I'm writing this):
|Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow! Amazing, isn't it? You can see how much less light is reaching the substrate than in the picture above, George and Gracie have disappeared again, and the tall plants being closer to the light and reflecting more of it really detract from the look of the tank. Time to hack away again. The fuzzy green stuff that I've been calling ambulia is actually Limnophila aquatica; it's a beautiful light green that is VERY reflective of light and really tough to get a good picture of, you really have to underexpose it to see the individual leaves, which are extremely fine and very thick; the eye does a much better job than the camera with this plant. A lot of books will tell you this is a difficult plant, but like most other plants, if you meet its needs it thrives and grows insanely. It doesn't have extreme amounts of light in this tank (just over 2 pc watts per gallon), but it has CO2 and plenty of iron. If you are NOT adding CO2 to your tank, don't bother trying to grow this plant, it will just sit there, and before it dies a fairly ugly death it will become covered with algae.|