Jungle Style - Competition Submission

BLOG by SS, November 23, 2016

Over the past weekend we competed against a few of our local freshwater planted aquarium aquascapers at Reef-A-Palooza Los Angeles. Since most of the attendants at the event were more familiar with coral and marine scales, we decided on a plant-heavy design with a few of our favorites, highlighting a stone and driftwood hardscape layout.

Our finished 'Jungle Style' tank.
The Rules

Each competitor was limited to a 10 gallon aquarium (approximately 15.7” x 11” x 14”) and allowed to supply whatever additional substrate, plants, ornaments, and aquatic life.

The Supplies
  1. Anubias nana - 5 pots
  2. Anubias hastifolia - 4 pots
  3. Cryptocoryne crispatula balansae - 3 pots
  4. Staurogyne repens - 3 packs
  5. Malaysian driftwood - 2 pieces
  6. Seiryu style stones
  7. Natural sand - 4 bags (3 pounds each)
  8. Aquascaping tool kit
  9. Plant tying thread

Before we started with the actual setup, we had decided that we wanted to achieve the following with our design:

  1. Use of vertical space - because the provided aquarium was pretty tall, we wanted to maximize the use of vertical space.
  2. Balance natural elements: plants, rocks, wood and substrate - we like using a mix of elements to create a natural look, stacking substrate, wood, rocks, and plants all together.
  3. Easy maintenance, so no CO2 injection, low light requirements, minimal addition of fertilizers (if any at all).

Some of the elements we used had to be prepared before actual setup.

  1. Soaked wood to release tannins and promote sinking.
  2. Washed rocks to remove dust/particles.
  3. Cleaned plants to remove rockwool/tissue culture material.
  4. Tied certain cleaned plants to select rocks.

Actual setup took some time, but was the most fun.

  1. Initial wood placement.
  2. Rocks added to support placement of wood. Approximately 25% of the rocks we had were kept aside; plants were tied to these rocks for use later.
  3. Substrate added to reinforce placement of hardscape. Notice that we started pouring substrate from the back to create a natural slope.
  4. Plants that were tied to rocks are placed around hardscape.
  5. Plants that needed to be planted are placed around hardscape at various heights.
  6. More substrate added and foreground plants planted.
  7. Water added and final touch-ups made.
  8. Finished!

Though we did not win, we had a blast meeting new people and seeing the different designs people came up with. Congratulations to our friend John Kim for taking first place!