Before we started with the actual setup, we had decided that we wanted to achieve the following with our design:
- Use of vertical space - because the provided aquarium was pretty tall, we wanted to maximize the use of vertical space.
- 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.
- 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.
- Soaked wood to release tannins and promote sinking.
- Washed rocks to remove dust/particles.
- Cleaned plants to remove rockwool/tissue culture material.
- Tied certain cleaned plants to select rocks.
Actual setup took some time, but was the most fun.
- Initial wood placement.
- 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.
- Substrate added to reinforce placement of hardscape. Notice that we started pouring substrate from the back to create a natural slope.
- Plants that were tied to rocks are placed around hardscape.
- Plants that needed to be planted are placed around hardscape at various heights.
- More substrate added and foreground plants planted.
- Water added and final touch-ups made.
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!