Vacuuming surface detritus from the substrate- looks tedious, but is actually quite easy with practice. It makes a significant impact on algae issues in a tank. Livestock will be happier with the cleaner environment as well. Detritus as plant food? Yes, but algae will get to it first. Elemental fertilizer is much cleaner and does not trigger algae like detritus will. In slow growing low tech tanks, the organic waste generated in the tank may not build up significantly as microbes are able to keep up with the breaking down of detritus. In CO2 injected tanks, there is often more waste produced than the tank's bio-filter can digest; this, coupled with high lighting become prime triggers for algae. In the tank above, I am keeping vulnerable slow growing plants (Bucephalandra, Trithuria) under very high lighting (8 X T5 tubes over a 90p 47g). Substrate PAR is 200+. However, they are algae free due to the clean environment.
This tank is done by Luca galarraga (my favourite scaper?) at CARAC 2019 organized by Acuariofila Regiomontana A.C. It is a live setup (done within a short time) but demonstrates many high impact aquascaping touches. Here I note down some of my own observations
1. Rocks are half buried which allows them to flush naturally with the substrate line - this is a subtle touch than enhances the natural feel of the aquascape compared to rocks that are sitting flat or above the substrate line.
2. Natural rocks break and wear down with time - this natural progression is highlighted by the gradation of large to smaller rocks to pebbles and fine grains.
3. Point 2 means that you need quite a lot of smaller rock to surround the larger pieces. Many newer aquascapers budget for larger pieces but run out of smaller rocks. Smashing larger rocks to get small ones are an alternative
4. The tallest piece of hardscape reaches almost the top of the tank. Rocks seem larger in person until you actually use it in an aquarium photo. Hardscape shrinks after it is covered by plants. Taking this into account, for most tank designs, the highest hardscape needs to almost reach the water surface.
5. The ridges line up at an angle that accentuates the perspective. A sense of harmony and order comes when the angles are repeat in parallel ridges and the angles match on both sides of the tank.
6. Empty foreground space is given a lot of character with smaller rock bits.
7. Leaning the rocks forward makes them cast shadows visible from front view of the tank; enhancing their 3 dimensionality and textures.
Ludwigia sp red contrasts sharply with Myriophyllum sp. "Guyana". Ludwigia sp red is the easiest very red plant in the hobby, but it really glows deep red with good care. A key way of identifying healthy sp red is stem thickness. It grows wild easily and need to be kept in control by regular pruning. Myriophyllum "Guyana" is relatively new in the hobby - but is generally underused I find. It is an easy plant that makes great bushes with pruning.