The ScapeFu Podcast







March 2015
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Takashi Amano's Underwater Forests - Behind the Scene by Jurijs | SF029

The largest nature aquarium in the world is located at the Lisbon Oceanario. It's a temporary exhibit created by Takashi Amano called Florestas Submerses or Underwater Forests.

Our very own Jurijs was there as one of the volunteers. In ScapeFu Podcast 29, Jurijs takes us behind the scene and walks us through what it was like to spend a week with Takashi Amano and his team.

Questions covered include:

  • What was the typical day?
  • What substrate was used?
  • What equipment is being used to maintain the world's largest nature aquarium?
  • How was Takashi Amano like?
  • What planning did Aqua Design Amano do to prepare for this?
  • And many more

Read more about it and see pictures by visiting the show notes:

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Direct download: scapefu029.mp3
Category:Aquarium -- posted at: 6:00am CET

Direct download: ScapeFuProTip007.mp3
Category:Aquarium -- posted at: 11:06am CET

<a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-1250" src="" alt="Perfect Substrate" width="730" height="350" /></a>



<h1>5 Characteristics of the Perfect Substrate | ScapeFu028</h1>


<h3>What type of substrate should I use in my aquarium?</h3>

This is a question we hear all the time. Perhaps you’ve asked it? It’s a good one because the substrate you use in your aquarium has a lot to do with whether you succeed or fail. Depending on the size of your aquarium and your aquascape, it may be one of the more expensive things to buy as well.



<li>Aquatic Gardeners Association 2015 Convention in Reston, VA April 10–12</li>

<li>Aqua Design Amano’s “<a href="">Largest Nature Aquarium in the World</a>” in Lisbon. The gag order on Jurijs is now lifted! Come back for the next episode of the ScapeFu Podcast where Jurijs will give us all the “behind the scene” details!</li>


<h3><a href=""><img class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-1253" src="" alt="Oliver Knott Substrate" width="150" height="150" /></a>5 Characteristics of the PERFECT substrate</h3>


<li>Appearance suitable for the aquascape. Does it meet your vision for the aquascape? It’s got to look good to you or everything else doesn’t matter. Remember that you’re trying to <a href="">tell a story with your aquascape</a> and the substrate must help you do that. Consider the color, size and texture of the granules and what sense of scale it will give the viewer.</li>

<li>Any good substrate must properly anchor your roots. It’s got to hold them down well. Use too large of a granual size and your tiny rooted plants will have a tough time staying down. Also, it should won’t turn to mush over time. If you use soil, for example, you’ll end up with a mess. Soil + water = mud…</li>

<li>The <a href="">substrate must be capable of functioning as a nutrient storehouse</a>. What I mean by this is that a good substrate will have/absorb essential nutrients and hold them (out of solution or in solution but only in the substrate) so that plants can take them up. A substrate’s Cataion Exchange Capacity (CEC) is one way to measure how good a substrate is at doing this.</li>


<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><a href=""><img class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-1255" src="" alt="PowerSand Substrate" width="150" height="150" /></a>The all-knowning Wiki tells us that CEC is the total capacity of a soil to hold exchangeable cations. CEC is an inherent soil characteristic and is difficult to alter significantly. It influences the soil’s ability to hold onto essential nutrients and provides a buffer against soil acidification.</p>

<p style="padding-left: 30px;">Another way substrates create a nutrient storehouse is by providing the proper home to bacteria and microorganism that convert nutrients to forms available to plants. They also finish certain cycles such as the nitrogen cycle. They are critical for the long-term success of your aquarium.</p>


<ol start="4">

<li>The perfect substrate won’t negatively affect water chemistry. Substrates with limestone/calcium will change the hardness of your water. Pour some muriatic acid (CAREFUL!) on a substrate that you’re unsure of and see if it bubbles, fizzles or melts. Don’t use it if it does.</li>

<li>The perfect substrate won’t cloud the water by constantly releasing substances such as tannins.</li>

<li><strong>Bonus!</strong> The perfect substrate is cheap and easy to obtain. But, should it be cheap?</li>


<h3><a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1256" src="" alt="Tropica Substrate" width="300" height="200" /></a>Question: is a combination of substrates (for example, Power Sand + Aquasoil) better than only one substrate (Aquasoil)?</h3>

We’ve done it both ways and either works.

<h3>What are some of the commercial substrates we’ve used?</h3>


<li><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00025YSB0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=aquaticplan06-20&amp;linkId=HQT3UF6X7V52VV2J">Seachem Flourite</a></li>

<li><a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B0002DH0QM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=aquaticplan06-20&amp;linkId=BNH5OWO42QMSZEXP">CaribSea Eco-Complete</a></li>




<li>ADA Power Sand and Aqua Soil</li>


<h3><a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1258" src="" alt="ADA substrate" width="300" height="300" /></a>HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!</h3>

We would love it if you could please <a href="">share this episode with your Facebook Followers</a>. We don’t advertise so this is the only way we have to get the word out about The ScapeFu Podcast.


If you like what you’ve heard, please go to iTunes and <a href="">rate, review and subscribe to the ScapeFu Podcast</a>. It’s the easiest way to make sure you don’t miss an episode. They will be downloaded automatically to your device to listen to at your convenience.

<h3>Ways to Subscribe to the ScapeFu Podcast</h3>


<li><a href="">Subscribe via iTunes</a></li>

<li><a href="">Subscribe via RSS</a></li>

<li><a href="">Subscribe via Stitcher</a> (Andriod)</li>



We’d love to hear from you about today’s topic or anything else. How can we help you?


The easiest way to reach us is via email. Art is at <a href=""></a>, JJ is at <a href=""></a> and Jurijs is at <a href=""></a>.



Direct download: ScapeFu028.mp3
Category:Aquarium -- posted at: 6:00am CET

<p>This Wednesday Pro Tip comes to us courtesy of Giuseppe! It’s using pumice as a base layer in your substrate and it makes a lot of sense.</p>


<p>If your aquascape calls for a thick substrate and you’re wallet is starting to hurt because it’s going to cost a lot to use 100% expensive substrate, think about using a base layer of pumice to build it up. Then cover this layer with the substrate of choice.</p>


<p>This is a great idea because:

1. Saving money because it’s <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00IIUCZH0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=aquaticplan06-20&amp;linkId=GKDU5QNP7GN5JYCZ">cheap and easy to get</a>.

2. It creates a great environment for the <a href="">microbes that are necessary in the substrate</a></p>


<p>It doesn’t have to be pumice. You can also use <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00F4NAHXS&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=aquaticplan06-20&amp;linkId=RMKW2VC2LSPJJS25">ceramic rings</a> like the ones you put in filters. Really almost anything that’s inert will work.</p>


<p>Thanks, Guiseppe!</p>


<p>If you have a tip that you want to share with your fellow hobbyists, pay it forward and send it to us at <a href=""></a>. We’ll share it with the world!</p>


<p>If you like what you heard, please subscribe to the ScapeFu Podcast. It’s free and easy. All you need to do is use <a href="">iTunes</a> or <a href="">Stitcher on Android</a></p>

Direct download: ScapeFuProTip006.mp3
Category:Aquarium -- posted at: 12:02am CET

Dry Start Method - 7 Tips for Success | ScapeFu027

What is the Dry Start Method?

Popularized by Tom Barr back in 2007, the Dry Start Method is intended to solve a problem people have with setting up an aquarium with tiny carpet plants. The problems are:

  • These plants, like Hemianthus callitrichoides or HC, have tiny roots that are extremely difficult to plant.
  • There’s a tendency to float when you flood the aquarium with water.
  • HC also needs a lot of light and CO2 to grow well and carpet the aquarium bottom. Pressurized CO2, strong light and clear water are needed to get it established well in the aquarium. Not everyone can start with the right equipment and frequent water changes needed for clear water.
  • Algae is a risk until HC really takes root.

From Tom’s article, the benefits of the dry start method are:

  • No algae
  • No water changes/loose pieces floating around/being pulled up
  • No replanting
  • No cycling the aquarium
  • No dosing
  • No fiddling with CO2
  • No having to buy a lot of plant material initially
  • No transition from emergent to submersed states(some plants will, but with good CO2, this is greatly minimized)
  • No extra electrical cost running other equipment during the dry phase.
  • No labor
  • Can do it outside in a tray even………

Dry Start Method: 7 Tips for Success


  1. Light for full 10–12 hours to power photosynthesis and growth.
  2. Cover with cling wrap or glass or plastic. 100% for a few days then slowly peel corner.
  3. Hills are OK but you may want to pre-saturate. In fact, always pre-saturate. No puddles!
  4. Inert substrates will require liquid fertilizer. Dilute foliar fertilizer
  5. Patience! Resist the urge to flood! Wait 3–6 weeks at least
  6. When flooding, do 3–4 large 80%+ water changes to flush out substrate.
  7. Mould or fungus - H2O2 1:4 with water or Excel straight up

Not everyone thinks the dry start method is the bomb. Niko’s post on APC for example. He suggests an ebb and flow system.

Focus on You

  • Five star iTunes Review! Yay!

The Best! by A_single_non from Australia “Art has come a long way since starting the podcast. He does a good job and is the only current podcast related to aquascaping. Keep it up! I really enjoy them and have listened to all of them.”

  • Barry from South Africa

    Hi Art. Thank you for allowing me to become a member of ScapeFu. I’ve been an avid ’scaper for about ten years now and find your site to be very informative and easy to navigate around. your articles are not only relevant and packed with good practical advice, but easy to understand as well. I found the WabiKusa article very informative and a few tips that I will definitely try on my next one.

  • Rob

    Hi guys, Just wanted to drop you a note and thank you for all of the work you do to share your experience and wisdom. I know the podcast/website is a ton of work to keep going, and is more of a labor of love for you instead of a revenue stream. One thought for topics - let’s help a newbie segment


We would love it if you could please share this episode with your Facebook Followers. We don’t advertise so this is the only way we have to get the word out about The ScapeFu Podcast.

If you like what you’ve heard, please go to iTunes and rate, review and subscribe to the ScapeFu Podcast. It’s the easiest way to make sure you don’t miss an episode. They will be downloaded automatically to your device to listen to at your convenience.

Ways to Subscribe to the ScapeFu Podcast


We’d love to hear from you about today’s topic or anything else. How can we help you?

The easiest way to reach us is via email. Art is at, JJ is at and Jurijs is at

Links Mentioned in This Episode and Additional Resources

Direct download: ScapeFu027.mp3
Category:Aquarium -- posted at: 6:00am CET

Shownotes are at

Direct download: ScapeFuProTip004.mp3
Category:Hobbies -- posted at: 6:00am CET

Shownotes are at

Direct download: ScapeFu026.mp3
Category:Hobbies -- posted at: 6:56pm CET

Direct download: ScapeFuProTip005.mp3
Category:Aquarium -- posted at: 12:48am CET