May 9, 2009

May 2009 Meeting

On May 9th, 2009, the New Jersey Aquatic Gardeners Club took a road trip into New York City, Queens specifically to see Irwan’s 2 very large and very planted aquariums. In attendance were:



First to be shown was Irwan’s standard 6’ long 125 gallon “Rule Breaking”, Dutch style inspired tank. At first glance it is a very large nicely balanced planted aquarium, however upon closer inspection I got caught off guard by number of various species of both Flora and Fauna. The plant list is fairly extensive and includes:

 Luwigia Sp. Guinea
Ludwigia Glandulosa
Ammania Sp. Bonsai
Crinum Calamistratum
Pogostemon Helferi
Hemianthis Callitricoides
Byxa Japonica
Hyptis Sp.
 Anubias Coffeefolia
Anubias Batteri var. Batteri
Rotala Sp. Mini type 1
Rotala Sp. Mini Type 2
Limnophilla sp. Mini
Polygonum Sp. Ruby
Cyperus Helferi

According to Irwan he trims his stems by just cutting the tops. As a result, the man has some very dense stands of stems. Now in order to sustain that kind of plant density, one needs light, and Irwan provides light in a big way.


Sitting on top of this tank was 4 96 watt PCs & 4 39 watt HO T-5s. That is 540 watts of strong light that are on from 11 am until 9pm at night. Now with that much light, you would expect complicated Co2 delivery system. Here is where the rule breaking starts.

What I saw truly stumped me, he has 1 large corner diffuser, with a very low bubble count, no way to monitor CO2 levels, and yet there are small bubbles throughout his tank, and lots of healthy growth. Plant nutrition to this aquarium is provided by ADA Aquasoil (first put in back in July of 08), and otherwise only dosed with SeaChem’s line of liquid fertilizers (including Excel) as per their dosing instructions.

Now New York city’s water is very soft from the tap, so the large water changes are supplemented with Baking Soda for alkalinity, and Epsom Salts for Magnesium. Filtration on this long tank is accomplished with 3 separate filters: A Cascade 1500, A HOT magnum, and a magnum 300 with micron cartridge. Fauna included: Apistos, White clouds, lamp-eye tetras, Cardinal tetras, some pencil fish, Red Cherry Shrimp, Olive Nerites and some very interesting crabs, that unfortunately for us refused to come out to play.

Next was Irwan’s 140 gallon custom built square discus tank. For this tank, Irwan said he wanted to go for a natural style aquascape. The stand for this aquarium was custom built by friends and utilizes quite a few 4 X 4s to support this heavy aquarium. While the list of flora in this tank is fairly long for a “Natural style” in my opinion they do tend to work well with each other. The list includes:

 Crypt Wendtii Bronze
Crypt Wendtii Green gecko
Crypt Spiralis
Crypt Cordata roseanvieg
Fissidens Fontanus
Java Moss
 Utricularia Graminifolia
Eustralis Stelatta
Hygrophilla Corymbosa Var (unknown)
Poaceae Purple Bamboo
Nymphaea Micrantha
Eichhornia Diversifolia

Filtration on this tank is accomplished by 2 Cascade 1500s. Other than the stunning discus, probably the most prominent feature of this aquarium is the amount of mossfissidens covered driftwood.

It truly resembled a section of root strewn Amazon river. Dosing for this aquarium is again delivered from ADA AquaSoil Normal, and powder types and SeaChem’s line of liquid fertilizers.

The custom 140 Gallon Tank

Once again keeping true to his form, Irwan has a Catalina Ultrareef straddling this aquarium. It has a 400w 10k MH with electronic ballast, and 4 x 39w 10k T5HO. The 4x T5HO comes on at 11 am, the 400w MH goes on at 12noon. Then the MH turns off around 6pm, and the 4 T5HO turn off at 8.30. This fixture provides tons of light and some great shadows, but, Irwan said that the 10K bulb washes a lot of color out of his plants, and fish. He turned off the MH, and I think everyone there had to agree, that with the MH off, the colors really popped.

Jens, ?, Paula and Irwan

The fauna in this aquarium is dominated by some large and stunning discus, and while it took most of the meeting for them to get comfortable enough to come out, they worth the wait. Some of the smaller denizens of this chuck of the Amazon are schools of Harlequin rasboras, glass catfish, cherry barbs, and more algae eating Nerites. While Irwan does strive to keep this tank temperature at over 80 degrees, he heartbreakingly lost an entire lawn of Utricularia graminifolia when we recently had a heat wave in April.

When we prodded Irwan for details on things like his CO2 levels, or tap and tank water chemistry, he just didn’t know. He knows how to ‘feel’ his way around his aquariums, and tunes them without getting dragged into technology or gadgetry letting the plants tell him what they need.

And, here are a few other photos I didn’t work into the recap…

Walter, Paula, and Jay

The view from the top

Thanks to Irwan for hosting!

Since I couldn’t make this meeting, thanks to Walter for the great write up, and to Jay and Ingo for the gorgeous photos!

Until next time,

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