peaceful glide

The little betta fish that I recently added to my desk is a true beauty, with its bright red color and white fin ends. It’s a half-moon type and as it gracefully glides through the water, it’s a peaceful watch for me to behold. The mere glance of the fish is a satisfying one, and it brings a sense of calm to my day. I enjoy watching it explore every inch of its lush green forest-like aquarium, swimming through the dense foliage and resting on the wooden driftwood. It’s a reminder of the vastness and beauty of the world outside my four walls.

The betta fish also serves as a reminder to me, that amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s important to find moments of peace and tranquility. It reminds me that sometimes it’s the small things in life that bring the greatest joy. My betta fish is a source of balance and harmony in my daily desk routine, and it’s a reminder to appreciate the beauty in the small things. It’s a reminder that even in the smallest of spaces, there is always room for something beautiful and peaceful. May you have a day of inner peace : )

aquatic oasis

principal photography, aquascaping & styling : The Border Of a Mind Studios

After moving into my new apartment, I realized that the aquarium setup was in need of a bit of an overhaul. The plants were overgrown and the layout wasn’t quite what I had in mind, so I decided to embark on a complete rescape of the aquarium.

One of the first things I did was add a standing wooden driftwood piece that projects above the water level. I wanted to create a natural, forest-like aesthetic, and the driftwood really helped to accomplish that. It’s not only visually appealing, but it also provides a place for the fish to hide and explore.

I also replanted and pruned my Japanese Hydrocotyle, which has really taken off since the rescape. It was a bit overgrown before, but now it’s spread evenly across the sand, adding a touch of greenery to the aquarium.

In addition to the plants, I decided to switch up the type of sand I was using. My previous sand was just a plain, uniform color, but I wanted something a little more interesting. A friend recommended a blend of aqua soil (brown) and beige sand, and I have to say, I’m really happy with the result. The mixture of colors gives the base of the tank a more elegant and cohesive appearance, and it looks much more natural than the plain sand did.

I also added a few ferns to different positions in the aquarium. These add even more visual interest and help to create a more natural-looking environment. Ferns are great for aquariums because they’re hardy and easy to care for, and they look really nice when they’re planted in small clusters.

Finally, I have around 14 beta fish in the tank. These are very sensitive fish, and they were born in this aquarium, so I’m hoping they’ll last for a long time. Beta fish are known for their bright colors and interesting patterns, and they add a lot of visual interest to the tank. They’re also relatively easy to care for, which is a plus.

Overall, I’m really happy with how the aquarium looks now. I’m trying to take a minimalist approach to things in my new apartment, and that includes the aquarium setup. It’s a small touch, but it really helps to create a sense of calm and tranquility in the space. The combination of the standing wooden driftwood, the Japanese Hydrocotyle, the blended sand, and the ferns all work together to create a natural and cohesive look that I’m really happy with.

re-scaping tank

After over 6 months, I decided to do a deep clean of our little tank and re-scape the entire foundation of the tank. Took more than 3 hours from the deep cleaning to the removal of stains and dirt from the tree barks. I was literally surprised at the amount of dirt accumulated with wooden blocks submerged in water. After a thorough cleaning process, I removed one of the barks and decided to go with only one bark to give a more roomy and wide space for the Neon tetras to swim around. Upon reading somewhere, I learned that Neon tetras are more comfortable with open wide spaces. The half-moon betta is not in the photograph, and it seems to be unwell for the past week or so. I doubt it’s related to the chemistry of the tank, as I’ve been using some new conditioners for curating the water quality in the tank.

3 hours of re-scaping work

I’ve been reading and watching a lot of aqua-scaping tutorials on different layouts possible in a smaller tank and I was inclined to a more simple one as opposed to the seemingly dense option we had previously. After removing the dirt from the soil bed, I filtered them out by removing floating watery dirt with a manual water pump by water cycles of over 8 to 9. Later, I deep cleaned every single element in the aquarium and separated flora which was affected by line algae which were dominant in the aquarium. Netta helped through all the stages. I removed one of the wooden blocks, set up a new tree bark in an inclined position with ferns slowly arranged on the top. Meanwhile, I planted the grass and Japanese Hydrocotyle on the front side of the tank. I hope it will take up a more dense profile as time passes. But now we have a minimal, simple, and much cleaner and roomier tank space, and here’s the final result.

A much more roomier tank. Excuse those flying ferns on the top. More on that below.

One thing what I learned from this whole process is that when we do a deep cleaning for the tank and if there are ferns to be included, they need to be attached to the wooden barks by some means. Either it can be a glue or they can be manually inserted into any holes or spaces available in the bark or by another means. Even though I watered them slowly, I found out that the ferns were floating around after the pump and filter started working. So, I should be taking care of it in the next episode of this whole thing.If you love aquascaping, skim through Story de’aquatics.

I have also written a detailed article on Planted aquariums – How to make them last based on my personal experience of setting everything on my own.
And yes, we love short videos, and here are the ones on those themes
Fluvial Zeal | The Woodland | Neon Gems

The woodland.

Here is a video update to the tank. The ferns have spread across the woods and the Hydrocotyle has really grown well with its deep roots. Probably, I would have to give it a trim after a certain height. Repositioned some ferns that were preventing the Hydrocotyle from steadily growing up. Removed some white algae and did some overall cleaning for what it is, a dense and thick aqua forest 🙂

Read: Story de’aquatics.

Planted aquariums – How to make them last

Fluvial Zeal

Planted Aquariums – Making them last!

Maintaining a planted aquarium would require care and attention that can be fueled by your passion to keep it going and a solid understanding on the different components and aspects that we need to be aware to use them wisely. We’ve a tank running from November’2019 and I shall share some details that I learned purely by my experience of curating them. I shall also put in some details of products tried and found to work well. Instead of making this a long format post, let’s make it short and simple.

For planted aquariums, if we take care of the below aspects, we’d find it lasting and healthy.

  • Ample light – It’s very important that the aqua plants get enough light to live on. A very important aspect that might be unfamiliar with newbies would be on the amount of light to be used in the aquarium. Having the right balance of light exposure is paramount. Based on my research online and watching several videos of aquarium curation, 8 hours of consistent light is the golden number that seems to strike the balance. If we go below 8 hours, the plants wouldn’t have sufficient light for their photosynthetic activities and they won’t stay longer. On the other hand, if we put in excess light beyond 8 hours, that’d lead to excess algae growth which eventually can deteriorate the quality of the tank. Hence, the balance of 8 hours is very important in my experience handling them. I use a Wifi plug timed with Amazon Alexa for lighting up from 5 PM to 1 AM so that we can avoid the hassle of switching on and off on a timely basis.
  • Water Quality / Dechlorination – This is something very obvious. Aquascaped plants and fauna would require good quality water to flourish. If you are lucky to be in a village area with good water quality, especially from a well, then there is no need to go for any dechlorination or denitration activities. On the other hand, if you’re living in a city and getting municipal water lines, there’s a good chance that there’s good chlorine content in the water and unless it’s not your permanent place of stay, it’s a complicated process to have sort of a dechlorination set up ( a mini plant). For most of us, this might be impractical. The best solution is to use commonly available dechlorinating chemicals in the market. The ratio of usage would be specified in the pack and depending on the volume of the tank, it can be used. These chemicals remove chlorines and chloramines and can also aid detoxifying ammonium. (Product I’ve tried – SERA Chlor-ex)
  • Carbon dioxide Supply – If you’ve aquatic plants, having a robust supply of carbon dioxide is as important as ensuring good water quality. For good plant growth, carbon dioxide is an essential component.  Carbon dioxide in its purest form is a gas, but like oxygen, it can be readily dissolved in water. Just like how a tree or grass in the garden would do, aquatic plants would require dissolved carbon dioxide to photosynthesize. There’re several ways to provide dissolved carbon dioxide to the aquairum. For larger tanks, this is done with a CO2 cylinder and a slow diffuser (something like this).  Using a C02 cylinder can turn out to be expensive. So, if you have a smaller tank like mine, an alternative cost-effective solution would be to use CO2 tablets. The quantity to be used would be in the packaging. For my smaller tank, I generally pop in half a tablet per week. Similar quantities could be tried and you can see the results. I try not to put in excess tablets as it’s important to note that Co2 can cause pH level swings in the tank. We need to note that carbon dioxide, when dissolved in water, is pushing the pH towards the acidic side. Excess built up of CO2 added to the tank can cause the pH level to drop rapidly and can cause damage to the aquatic elements in the tank.
  • Plant Nutrient Supply – This is another important aspect. Regardless of our assurance on good quality water and ample carbon dioxide supply in the tank, essentials nutrients and liquid fertilizing are required for ensuring good growth of aquatic plants. They’ve all the necessary minerals and trace elements. I’ve tried certain products from SERA (Florena) that seem to work well in my experience of using them.
  • Food for fish – Food fish is normally available in variants of granules or flakes. Depending on the fish types you have, the type of food can be selected. I have a small tank with some Neon Tetras and Half Moon Bettas and I feed them granules and it happens to work well for them. It’s very important to take care of not feeding the fishes excessively. Not only is it harmful to the fish but at the same time, it can lead to some excess debris in the tank that could lead to other detrimental growths that we don’t need in the tank.
  • Snails in the tank – Snails, again like other things are to be used in a balance. Snails can be a good inhabitant in an aquarium as they are natural vacuum cleaners and can be used as effective tank cleaners. They are potential algae eaters and can free the tank from uneaten food, dead plant matter, and other debris. But they can spread rapidly as well and kind of do the opposite effect and it might be difficult to control them and can end up as straight-up pests. Hence, they’re to be monitored closely and a balance has to be struck.
  • Taking control of Algae growth – Every planted aquarium hobbyist or enthusiast would have to face algae menace in their tanks at some point or the other. When I started up, I didn’t have any clue on certain growths at some portions of the tank and it took some research to understand that they’re basically different types of algae. If you search on it, there’re different types of algae like brown algae, white algae, etc. I would recommend to google the type of growth you notice and you’ll find Youtube videos on effective methods of removing them. When I clean the tank, I closely examine the wooden portions and plant stems for any algae growth and I try my best to scrape them off. Trust me, algae, if not brought in control, can completely jeopardize your planted tank dreams.
  • Setting a routine and order in cleaning & maintaining – We need to spare half an hour every week to clean, curate and maintain the tank. I recommend around 25-40% water change every week with proper dechlorination and other treatments. CO2 charging need to be done regularly once in a week in a consistent manner. While cleaning, take extra care to scrape any algae growth from wooden or rocky elements in the fish tank.

Below, I’m sharing the details of the products that I’ve tried. This is sort of like a kit or suite of items that I use regularly on a weekly basis. Hope I could help with some information and basic guideline on curating a healthy tank. Happy Aquascaping!

Some resources of interest that have inspired me with aquascaping are linked below:
MD Fish Tanks (I had sent a personal message to MD thanking him for his videos)
Aquarium Co-Op
Planted Aquarium Tutorial by Botanical Woman.