20 Gallon Long Aquascape.. I Kinda Messed Up And It Looks Ugly

cooledwhip

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Hey everyone. So I recently got a 20 gallon long and want to turn it into a planted tank/aquascape. I love aquascapes, they look so beautiful but I tried to set up my tank and it just looks ugly REALLY ugly. The two pieces of drift wood I got are ugly and I just don't like them at all. I also have no idea on where to place the wood/rocks. 
 
I read online something about 1/3 from left side or 2/3 from right side? Idk but my tank just doesn't look good. I don't know if I should buy some more rocks/drift wood and place them in the tank for them to look better or if I just just completely get rid of the two peices on the left. I originally had one of the pieces on the right, so there was one on the left and on the right but it just looked bad. 
 
It didn't look like other aquascapes I see online, like I'm looking at ADU aquascapes on Youtube and I really like some of his designs. 
 
I think when I bought my drift wood I messed up, I don't even know what kind of wood this is and I think I should have gone with the manzanita drift wood I think it is? IDK it's just that really curvy drift wood with lots of branches coming off of it. 
 
I also will probably buy some rocks to put around the drift wood. I really don't have the best idea of what to do. Is there a special formula or something about where to place your centerpiece, etc?
 
Here is my current tank setup: http://imgur.com/a/xZMSt
 
you can see how ugly the pieces on the left are.
 
On this video by ADU aquascapes you can see he has a very nice piece of drift wood, (what kind is that called again) and a lot of super nice rocks around the wood with moss all over it. THAT IS WHAT I AM GOING FOR.
 
Where can I get some REALLY NICE drift wood and rocks? I live in a suburb of chicago and I only know of one aquarium store in downtown chicago. I will be going there soon to try and buy some more drift wood and rocks.
 
I plan to buy some manzanita driftwood and put some rocks all around it, add some really thick plants to cover up the separation between the wood/stone.
 
 
 

HarpyFishLover

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Hey at least you didn't drop it on your floor like I did with a 3 gal. :/ Been busy with wet carpet today.
 

Mark Z.

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This is tricky because everyone's tastes are different, but since you don't like what you have, you should redo it!
 
Personally, I like to have my driftwood, plants and rocks in the center, looking like a little island with the sides clear. That's just me and most of what I see on YouTube is the opposite. If you did this, you'd have to slide your filter over.
 
I just purchased some manzanita branches from  http://manzanita-driftwood.com/default.html. I JUST purchased them, haven't received them yet, so I can't say one way or another if I'm pleased with the place. For my taste, that piece of driftwood looks a little big for that tank. That's just me. Have you tried it on its side? Maybe cut into a smaller piece it if you really don't like it?
 
I like to use a few big flattish rocks and lay some driftwood on top, creating little interesting caves and passageways for the fish.
 
Good luck!
 

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Keep in mind the plants are not yet established.  Once they get established and grow a bit you might find it looks quite good .  You need to try and see how it will look in about a year verses right now.  It is a difficult skill to learn  In my personal opinion your tanks looks quite promising.  
 
 
 
I read online something about 1/3 from left side or 2/3 from right side? 
That is a rule of thumb or formula someone came up with.  Sometimes they work quite well.  Some times they fail badly.  What really maters is what do you like not what  someone says.  You just might not agree with him.   However sometimes breaking the rule will also work.
 
One thing I think you need to watch out for is overdoing it with too many things.  One commonly cited composition rule in photograph is to "Keep it simple".  sometime just adding more rocks and wood will make just make the tank look busy.  Your effort in making it look better may backfire.
 
Also in my opinion the suction cup device on the rigt side is a little distracting to me.  I would recommend trying to hid it behind the wood.  In fact I would try and hide as many mechanical devices as possible so that they will not be visible.  That includes the wires and things behind the tank if possible.  Maybe a mirror?
 
 
 
I think when I bought my drift wood I messed up, I don't even know what kind of wood this is and I think I should have gone with the manzanita drift wood I think it is?
 
 
It does't really mater what type of wood it is.  What really maters is that it is properly "seasoned" so that it doesn't float or contaminate the water and that you like the look.  Keep in mind with plant growth much of the wood near the water will be covered by green leaves.  
 

SherLar

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Personally, I don't see the problem. I think it looks pretty good for a newly planted tank. I have no skill with aquascaping at all, so I may not be the right person to say it, but I agree with StevenF; give it some time for the plants to fill out. You may love it.
 

Ch4rlie

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I'll be honest, I actually kinda like the woods as they are.
 
That aquascape is not too bad to be perfectly honest, what you need is patience. Let the plants grow and spread out and then it will start to take on some more filling out of the tank. Perhaps adding some long background plants at back right of tank, opposite the wood that may help a little if thats what you want to do. Keeping it simple is usually good advice ;)
 
As Steven F mentioned already, less equipment in the tank is more appealing, the clear plastic device on right side is kinda offputting, what is it? a co2 bubble reactor or soemthing? Anyway, hiding this with plants or behind the wood may be worth considering or even removing from the tank is possible.
 
One last thing that would improve greatly, is to put a background poster a plain simple black would work wonders, any background poster of your choosing from most LFS is pretty cheap and easy to obtain or even painting the back of the tank glass would help imho.
 
My first aquascape left a LOT to be desired
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, So I kinda gave up on it for a while and slowly over time I learned what I liked and what works for me, nothing fancy, just more natural looking (have a look at my sig pic, thats a 25 gal long tank) the most important thing is the wellbeing and health of the stocking is what comes first in my book
wink.png
 

*pete*

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Wood... Rock... or both, the rule of thumb I try to follow is stick with one type or it can look lke a pile of rubble!
 
Your set up looks fine to me, just needs time to mature.
 

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My response will pick up some of what others have said, but when I offer suggestions I like to be complete so bear with any repetition.
 
First, in my opinion, the wood in the photo is superb, keep it.  I believe it is Malaysian Driftwood.  I use this almost exclusively in my tanks because it is heavy and sinks immediately, it is not bad for tannins, and it often has crevices and tunnels which are especially good for loaches, corys, loricariids (pleco, whiptail, etc).  My loaches play tag through these tunnels and it is fun to observe.  This wood is also extremely natural, and makes a good natural aquascape.  And having used it for over a decade, it is very slow to decompose.  And I have never had issues with toxins or fungus.
 
Which brings me to a question...what sort of aquascape are you looking to achieve?  I prefer natural, somewhat close to the habitat of the fish.  Some like more artistic scapes (one member mentioned an island grouping), and there are so many variations of these.  You also need to consider the intended fish; if they have needs (like the loaches and such I mentioned earlier) you must build these into the aquascape; any fish that is not placed in a natural setting is going to be stressed.  And by "natural setting" I am not meaning a strictly authentic biotope.  But the aspects of the fish species' natural habitat must be understood and provided for in some format if the fish are to be healthy.
 
Moving on from the above in general terms...two large chunks of wood will draw attention to the space, and this to most people seems "unnatural" or out of balance.  I would thus get a third chunk of this wood, no smaller than the two you have.  With three you can really open up the visual space.  I would also get a couple of smaller pieces, something to represent sunken tree roots.  Once you have the three main pieces placed, you can then use the smaller ones to tie it together.
 
I will be able to offer more when I know the sort of effect you want, and the fish planned.  I will sum up the above with a photo of my 70g which I put together two weeks ago.  This photo was taken after the hardscape and plants were in, before the fish went in next day.  [It looks more established because all the plants came from existing tanks and are several years old, but new plants will grow in as another member noted.]  You can see I used a lot of Malaysian Driftwood, and a couple branches collected from a local forest.  This is a "natural" aquascape intended to represent an Amazonian stream.  It is certainly not a biotope in the strict sense of the term, because you would never see this many plant species together in a stream, most of which are devoid of aquatic plants anyway.  But the plants and fish intended are all Amazonian, and the tank was specifically designed for my corys, hence the wood.  Now that the fish have been in this setting for two weeks, I can say that it has worked; the corys are having a field day.
 
I hope this has provided some assistance, and feel free to ask.
 
Byron.
 

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cooledwhip

cooledwhip

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Thanks but I really was thinking about getting a piece of manzanita drift wood with some java moss over it. I want the piece to take up most of the tank, I just don't really want  a lot of open space like I do on the right side of my tank. I want a LOT of amazon sword and fat leave plants all around the edges around the manzanita.
 
I want some rocks around the stem of the driftwood.
 

Byron

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cooledwhip said:
Thanks but I really was thinking about getting a piece of manzanita drift wood with some java moss over it. I want the piece to take up most of the tank, I just don't really want  a lot of open space like I do on the right side of my tank. I want a LOT of amazon sword and fat leave plants all around the edges around the manzanita.
 
I want some rocks around the stem of the driftwood.
 
I'm a bit confused here, but I would not recommend Manzanita with what you have.  Different types of wood will be obvious and draw you attention to the space, making it appear smaller and depending upon the wood, more un-natural.  Same holds for rocks.  If you look at phnotos of natural habitats, you will see how uniform all the wood, or all the rock, is; this is how you create a sense of more space in the tank, plus it looks "natural."
 
If you spread the two existing pieces apart, and added a third, you would create an expansive space and probably come closer to what you are after.  
 
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cooledwhip

cooledwhip

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Byron said:
 
Thanks but I really was thinking about getting a piece of manzanita drift wood with some java moss over it. I want the piece to take up most of the tank, I just don't really want  a lot of open space like I do on the right side of my tank. I want a LOT of amazon sword and fat leave plants all around the edges around the manzanita.
 
I want some rocks around the stem of the driftwood.
 
I'm a bit confused here, but I would not recommend Manzanita with what you have.  Different types of wood will be obvious and draw you attention to the space, making it appear smaller and depending upon the wood, more un-natural.  Same holds for rocks.  If you look at phnotos of natural habitats, you will see how uniform all the wood, or all the rock, is; this is how you create a sense of more space in the tank, plus it looks "natural."
 
If you spread the two existing pieces apart, and added a third, you would create an expansive space and probably come closer to what you are after.  
 
 
 
I understand what you mean but I just want a piece of drift wood that went all around the aquarium. I'll post some pictures of inspiration that I've been looking at:
 
http://imgur.com/a/WjtI4
 
The top picture I really like, IDK about a piece that large but I really do like the funky odd twisted shape of manzanita driftwood.
 
I want to put some stones/rocks around the drift wood like the bottom picture. I just think I need some really bushy plants to keep around the driftwood.
 
Ooooh man the bottom picture is just gorgeous af to me, it's clean, and when my hair grass grows out all around my bottom I'll have a nice carpet going.
 
 
I also like this design a lot: http://imgur.com/slEJDEV
 
The red manzanita and the stones..
 
I came here for help, regardless I want to try the manzanita wood because I took this up as a hobby to get rid of my somewhat winter-spring depression and to have something to work on in my spare time.
 

eaglesaquarium

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Those are professional set-ups and would be nearly impossible to replicate on your first attempt.
 
 
A few points that have been mentioned but bear repeating:
  • Do it however you want it to look. ¬†Its your tank. ¬†You have to look at it more than anyone else. ¬†Find what you like and go with it.
  • It appears that you are currently fishless, which is good. ¬†Move about the hardscape until you have it where you want it.
  • Get a backdrop for the background. ¬†
    A 3-d background can have a tremendously 'softening' effect on the entire scape and add remarkable depth to the appearance.  (look at some of the set-ups that our member "Alasse" has put together for some examples of this)
  • Alternatively, something as simple as black construction paper, a black trash bag (or any color that you choose... black, green, brown, or some combination... will be good too!)

[*]Find what makes you happy. I'm a fan of the 'natural' that Byron is discussing.  But, remember no 'natural' set-up is the same.  The key is that in nature... it just kinda falls where it lays.  ;)
 
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cooledwhip

cooledwhip

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eaglesaquarium said:
 
Those are professional set-ups and would be nearly impossible to replicate on your first attempt.
 
 
A few points that have been mentioned but bear repeating:
  • Do it however you want it to look. ¬†Its your tank. ¬†You have to look at it more than anyone else. ¬†Find what you like and go with it.

  • It appears that you are currently fishless, which is good. ¬†Move about the hardscape until you have it where you want it.

  • Get a backdrop for the background.
    A 3-d background can have a tremendously 'softening' effect on the entire scape and add remarkable depth to the appearance.  (look at some of the set-ups that our member "Alasse" has put together for some examples of this)

  • Alternatively, something as simple as black construction paper, a black trash bag (or any color that you choose... black, green, brown, or some combination... will be good too!)


[*]

[*]Find what makes you happy. I'm a fan of the 'natural' that Byron is discussing.  But, remember no 'natural' set-up is the same.  The key is that in nature... it just kinda falls where it lays.  
wink.png

[*]

 
 
 
Thanks. I understand it's my tank and it's however I want it. Also, I wanted a natural themed setup  as well.
 
I hope this can be explained, but how are these professional setups? I understand lots of other aquascapes are very in-depth and stuff but the two I linked (not including the third one with the petruding leaves), were literally just a piece of manzanita drift wood with some stones around the edge and plants at the edge. I know that's kinda what an aquascape basically is but it seems very simple, nothing too special.
 
If I were to attempt this my first attempt would probably be to find a piece of wood to work around?
Would you think a larger piece like in the first picture would look better or a small piece like in the second picture would look better? Just trying to collect some info from people. 
 
Yes it is fishless
 
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cooledwhip

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Mark Z. said:
This is tricky because everyone's tastes are different, but since you don't like what you have, you should redo it!
 
Personally, I like to have my driftwood, plants and rocks in the center, looking like a little island with the sides clear. That's just me and most of what I see on YouTube is the opposite. If you did this, you'd have to slide your filter over.
 
I just purchased some manzanita branches from  http://manzanita-driftwood.com/default.html. I JUST purchased them, haven't received them yet, so I can't say one way or another if I'm pleased with the place. For my taste, that piece of driftwood looks a little big for that tank. That's just me. Have you tried it on its side? Maybe cut into a smaller piece it if you really don't like it?
 
I like to use a few big flattish rocks and lay some driftwood on top, creating little interesting caves and passageways for the fish.
 
Good luck!
Mark did your manzanita ever come in? I went on the website and they have some nice pieces I might buy.
 

Mark Z.

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cooledwhip said:
 
This is tricky because everyone's tastes are different, but since you don't like what you have, you should redo it!
 
Personally, I like to have my driftwood, plants and rocks in the center, looking like a little island with the sides clear. That's just me and most of what I see on YouTube is the opposite. If you did this, you'd have to slide your filter over.
 
I just purchased some manzanita branches from  http://manzanita-driftwood.com/default.html. I JUST purchased them, haven't received them yet, so I can't say one way or another if I'm pleased with the place. For my taste, that piece of driftwood looks a little big for that tank. That's just me. Have you tried it on its side? Maybe cut into a smaller piece it if you really don't like it?
 
I like to use a few big flattish rocks and lay some driftwood on top, creating little interesting caves and passageways for the fish.
 
Good luck!
Mark did your manzanita ever come in? I went on the website and they have some nice pieces I might buy.
 
 
I'm supposed to get it on Thursday! I will let you know.
Another thing that you may think about is what I have done...I have gradually built my aquascape. You don't have to complete it all at once. You can start with a few things and keep adding as you go. 
 

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