I am excited about all of the Manzinita driftwood I have now and loving all of its cool shapes. It naturally floats like a cork, so I am going to be battling that for a while. It’s a part of the game with good drift wood. I am in no hurry to get this Manzanita driftwood into my tanks, as I am slightly overhelmed with it right now. I’ll boil the pieces I decide to go with.
Aquarium Tip and Tricks
You have to love the Low Maintenance Planted Aquarium. Everyone always wants to do more, more of this, more light more plants more work, but what about doing less? Is there something wrong with setting out to say, this is all it is. I have been loving the low tech 125 for a good long while. It is what it is. You can always do more. I think sizing up what you want out of your tank is important and making sure all of your goals are in line with where you are headed. (for example, “I am a rookie, I want dwarf hair grass, I have gravel substrate”–I get this often) Simple plants, simple setups, Planted Tanks Made Easy.
ASK AWAY. This is the secret sauce…
Here is how I did it in a tank outside as well… Nothing fancy here people. Just dirt…let’s get dirty….
Aquascaping is tough to put into words. I realized that this video is actually done at a bad angle to show what I was trying to demonstrate with the triangle. because it is taken at an angel… It would have been better straight on.
The basic idea is that you have to imagine that your eye is going to want to follow along past the hardscape. Hardscape means any drift wood or rock work. You have to realize that the hardscape is cutting the space above and below it. This is also true with plants though not as heavily.
Something else to consider is how much open space is being used or not being utilized. You have to have some space open. this lets the eye rest. You will notice this in almost all winning aquascapes there is a certain area where there are no plants or it is left intentionally open. This was done for a reason. You need space. The key is dividing it up.
Between celebrating my 33rd birthday and looking at the calendar seeing I had been doing this for 6 months, I had to take a second to look at the big picture of what I am up to in this new “career move” It is pretty crazy for me to think that I have been doing this fish tank thing full throttle for 6 months.
As most of you know. August 1st of last year was my last day of selling phone systems for a pretty solid company. I had been doing that for the past three years prior. My job consisted of chugging coffee and cold calling early in the mornings, (which I actually miss doing) and then running as many meetings as I could during the day to close or move business forward. I won’t lie, at times I do miss the B2B sales, sizing up a customer, drooling at how big of a commission I could get if I landed the sale. I also had a pretty gross gut check when I heard that someone at my old company had been able to close a few of the deals that I left behind in my pipeline. No one put a gun to my head and said- “Quit your job and go do the fish tank biz.” It was obviously a choice I fully made on my own, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mind snatching a $20,000 commission which I was used to pulling off periodically. I got some great advice from a mentor of mine named Les, he said whatever you do, don’t look back.
Here is the other side of it with the big picture in mind. 2 years from now, no one is going to remember that Dustin was the one who sold Blue Grass Family Health their phone system, or XYZ college or who ever I ended up closing…… I got paid well and moved on. For me, it is about legacy. One of my favorite quotes is, “Legacy is stronger than Currency” (that is a Gary Vaynerchuck quote FYI – who is a bad ass in social media) Seth Godin talks about how it is not whether your succeed, it is whether you matter. He says, “If you stopped doing what you were doing, would people miss you?” I don’t want to sound too self absorbed, but I would like to believe that I would be missed if I took my foot off of the gas.
Here is the fun part, I want nothing to do with stopping.
This last 6 months has been a great and exciting ride. I can’t fathom doing anything else. They say that you need to do what you love so it isn’t really “work.” I can assure you, it is work, it is labor, but it is a labor of love. (If you think building and retooling this site and getting everything off of Aquatic Jungles was easy- you are kidding yourself) I caught myself in it last night.
I was working on editing the aquarium plant categories on here, nothing big, basically writing a little intro for each genus of aquarium plant. I have to do like 18 of them. It was 9pm and I was just plugging along working, not realizing that I had been soaked up for an hour–was that working?
I woke up today to see an order from Rick D in Calli, the guy spent almost 200 bucks with me. A repeat customer who appreciates what I do and is hooking up and allowing me to hook him up. THANKS RICK! (He also got my last Madagascar Lace)
The new aquarium fertilizers I have out have been a riot to both learn about and experiment on my own tanks with. I have been selling way more of them than I would have imagined.
The Aquatic Experience in Chicago was unreal. I’d be talking with someone about a certain plant and a complete stranger would come up and say, “Whatever this guys is telling you, you should do, my tanks look great because of him.” Or even better, just a random fish tank person walking by who’s eyes lit up when they looked up and realized that I was the dude from the video. (I had a blast yelling, “What’s up Fish Tank People!?” at these folks.
Oh- and the Dirted Tank Guide has been a knock out for me and is one of my biggest accomplishments of 2013.
So what is the bottom line? I have had a blast over the past 6 months and am pretty jacked about the year ahead.
I appreciate all of the support everyone had given me and your positive feedback. I’ll be setting up a photo gallery on here so YOU can show off YOUR AQUARIUMS.
…so TANK ON!
PS- Here is the video I did yesterday with 6 tips on buying aquarium fish
It took me awhile to figure what to feed my fish.
When I was first starting out in the hobby I was (like many of you) on a pretty limited budget.
When it came to what to feed my fish, I typically went with the cheapest food I could find. Whatever was on sale or that I could get a bunch of it for not much money. My thinking was, “What’s the difference? It’s all the same right?”
That is actually pretty wrong. Not all fish foods are created equal. I used to think that any old generic flake food would be fine. Not so. There is a big difference between different kinds of both brands and types of fish food.
I didn’t really think much of this early on as I was feeding my fish the cheapest stuff I could grab. Much like a human who eats only the cheapest and probably not the healthiest food, a fish is the same way. Us humans don’t look or feel too hot when we eat garbage, neither do fish.
My fish looked ok eating the “so so” fish food. It wasn’t until I started feeding them the higher quality stuff that I really got to see the benefits. My fish looked healthier and acted better. Most importantly, their colors really started to come out.
Feed your fish better food and they will look better. – Shocker right?
Let me know what you like to feed YOUR Fish!
I am forever being asked about how to reduce algae of all different kinds. Algae on the glass, green slime algae, hair algae ect.
What I am about to say isn’t a sure fire way to get rid of it, but it certainly help to prevent algae. Your goal is to find the root of the problem, not the quick “band aid” fix.
People are always looking for a formula like how many watts per gallon or inches of fish per gallon.
Here is a formula that I follow that keeps my tanks rolling with very little algae or maintenance.
Feed your fish 3 times a week. Yes- That’s it. Your fish won’t starve if you have a well planted tank. They will pick stuff off of the plants and pick around at the gravel. People always think that fish need to eat like people. “I eat three meals a day, so should my fish, right?” Wrong. Your fish are living in a closed system. When you go to the bathroom, you don’t have to sit around in your own waste. (You probably leave the bathroom right away as well) Fish sit and have to live in the waste they produce. Less waste, less excess nutrients and algae in your tank.
Run your lights for only 6 hours a day. Yes you can run them more, but start your tank off with the lights on for only 6 hours a day. Why so little? Why not 12? Think about it like nature. Even aquarium plants in the wild don’t get a full 12 hours a day of direct sunlight. They are typically getting some full light, but they spend a good deal of time in the shadow of other plants. Also too, those plants are in an “open system”the water is probably flowing or if it is not flowing, the plants are in a large enough body of water that excess light won’t cause algae as there are enough other plants to absorb it. Your aquarium is a highly condensed “Closed System” Your are sitting there on Max- Grow until they can’t take in anymore light, but guess who can take some more light? Mr. Algae
30% water changes every week. Yep. It is as simple at that. You can buy as big of a filter as you would like or do as many crazy things as you can to keep your tanks clean, but there is no substitute for a nice water change. When you do a 30% water change, not only are you removing the excess waste. You are also ADDING back cleaner water with the trace elements that have been used up by both your plants and fish. What to get your plants and fish to grow bigger and faster? Do frequent water changes and watch them grow. (side note: I do %50 water changes once a week in the green house tanks and the plants and fish are growing like crazy)
You can most certainly adjust these numbers to your liking. Play with them until you find that BALANCE point. Balance is what you are ultimately looking for in your tank, every tank is different, find what numbers will work best for your tank.
NOTE This photo is of my 75 gallon tank down stairs which is one of the most balanced tanks I own. It has 4 HO-T5 lights on it. The tank has a lot of light for not having CO2 but also has a massive plant load of dwarf sag, baby tears and duckweed which take all of the light it dishes out. (and yes the lights are only on for 6 hours, I fed about every other day and do 30% water changes almost weekly, if I skip a week, I do %50 the following)
I bought 12 sterbai cory cats back at the ACA 2 years ago and I might have seen them all once. They never come out. (I kid, i’ve seen them a little bit, but not enough to please me)
Cory Cats are one of the more popular fish in the hobby. I have always like them ever since I got them back in college. I love their schooling behavior, but I just wasn’t getting that sweet behavior out of my cories in my 90 gallon tank. They typically hide behind this huge stump I have in my 90 gallon that is surrounded by jungle val and Ludwigia Repens. So perhaps they just have too many places to hide..
Below is some of the advice from people online that I think is worth sharing on how to get Cory Cats out….
From merra85 on youtube
wassup, bro? i’m frm singapore and have been enjoying ur vids, man! awesome planted tank u have!:) anyway, i saw ur last vid abt ur cory cats. yeah, they’re super shy but somehow i found a way (not guaranteed of cos! haha) to make corys not shy. its my own personal method. and jus to share with u, currently i have sterbei and panda cory that have been with me for 3 yrs now. awesome cats they are.
When newly bought, i placed them in a bare-bottom, temporary tank. sponge filters and a small vase as shelter is all i have inside. i used ambient lights rather than tank lights since i noticed they do more exploration under dimmed lighting. after introducing food gradually and they accepted it, i slowly intro tank lights. i turned them on for a couple of hours for the 1st few tries, like an hour or two? something like that. gradually i increased the time period to the same time period as my main tank. wat happens is, their shy nature of avoiding lights eventually disappears and they started to explore the tank with the lights fully switched on. don forget, its bare-bottom, no sand gravel, plants, whatsoever. jus a filter a small vase.
after abt 2 wks or so, i transfered them to my main tank. to my surprise, on day-1 in the main tank, the corys are so confident with themselves, they move all around the tank and exposing themselves to the open. they dont rush to hide even when i approached the tank! wonderful!
oh, and one more thing, in my 12yrs of keeping different cory species since i was 14, i kinda disagree abt the proper substrate for corys. i’ve kept corys in many different kinds of substrate; course gravel, fine gravel, sand and currently seachem’s fluorite gravel which has some rough edges. and through all these, i have NEVER had corys injuring themselves. corys, like all living things, are smart enough to avoid injuring themselves. i mean who the hell wants to self-injure, right? i know i dont! haha! so dont worry too much abt the substrate. they know better than any phd scientist out there.
so, yeah. even tho people say every tank is different, i hope this tip will work for you, too. its a shame to have a cory and always have them shying away. bcos if they not shying away, its beautiful to see them school together at the bottom of the tank. its seldom, but they do school together sometimes. peace, bro.
Below are some of the comments from the folks over on YouTube…
Also i just saw you video about how to get the sterbai cory cats out more.
will i don’t have much experience with cories. but i think there is a lot of plants and hiding spots so why wouldn’t they hide when they are a bit spook or somthing.
i don’t know for sure just throwing out ideas.
but on the plus side i will getting some sterbai and panda cories.
i will tell you how my reacts.
Dude! I’ve had Sterbai’s for a long while now. My Sterbai’s are just like yours, they’ll spend most of the day hiding and then come out at night. They’ve gotten better at coming out during the day, though. But then again, they’re in a 55g and not a 90g… If they have places to hide, they’ll hide
My first thought is you might want to create a few more open “pockets” where you can see the bottom. It could be just having continuous plant cover makes it hard to notice them.
I use a sand bottom and my corries seem to always be out. When not browsing on the bottom they ALL cluster under one plant and enjoy the shade. So it could also be your lighting to intense?
Hmm, I have about 20 in my 55 gallon. I bred and raised up 15 cories from fry. Check out my channel to see my aquarium vids.
I have to admit that I am jealous of the man. It isn’t every day that someone gets to set up a 220 gallon tank.
It doesn’t help that Jolley is also the person who really dove into the hobby with me pretty heavily back in like 95. He saw my tank and had to have one…
Now his has the potential to pass mine….
I have busted the guys balls for not setting it up faster, but I have to admit that the joy of setting one up is part of the fun and should be savored like I feel he is doing.
He has a 75 planted you can see here…(his 1st dirt tank too I might add)
We found this stump and it is truly amazing. Finding good hardscape is tough to do, but when accomplished, there is nothing better…
As you can tell in the video, I easily talked him into putting the stump in there…oh god help us!
Here are some of the comments off of the Youtube channel…
Woah, a Full on planted tank with an Arrowana?! Amazing! Should also get a catfish.
No, He should get a Snake head and three Pirhanna!
I would turn that tank into a community freshwater systems with all kinds of tiny small schooling fish. Swordtails, Platies, mollies, neon tetras, a few iridescent sharks, man that would be awesome. Life all over the place instead of just a few big fish.
have an angle fish sprecies tank only
I am super excited for him….
Here’s what I personally would do with that tank…
I would cover the entire left 1/3 with jungle val. The right 2/3 would be dwarf sag, or some kind of sweet carpeting plant.
I’d cut out a circle of lighter colored gravel infront of the stump and no plant it. There would hopefully chill the HUGE cory cats, or the tiny one. (pigmys)
Black skirt tetras, or serpaes and some kinda surface dweller. Small arrowana would be awesome for several years…
Man, I need another 220 🙂
I believe what has helped me succeed in my aquariums is learning how to keep them in balance. It doesn’t come easy or quickly.
But it can be learned.
A big part for me is looking at what I have going on naturally in the way of filtering. I know that plants help with the filtering of the water. It isn’t however a 1 plant per 1 fish ratio. Its probably more like 1 to 20 or 30 plants. But this 1 to 30 ratio works. (obviously, both plant and fish size have to be factored in, but stick with me)
It works beyond just keeping happy health fish. It works because your tank will not only be balanced to handle the waste of that one fish, but it will also look better.
Don’t read in too much about what kind of balance or ratio you have. It isn’t an exact number or science. It’s a feeling. (just like you shouldn’t be overly worried about your watts per gallon with your lights)
Balance is key. I recommend starting more on the heavily planted side. (or live rock if your in a salt tank and have the money) Start with a heavy plant load and a low fish load. Then slowly work your way into a higher plant load. Most people do the opposite.
I’d love to hear about your balanced tank, how many gallons, what type of fish/plants ect….