Tank Diaries: Guitarfish’s Aquavas Aquascape 1

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It’s back! We’ve received a ton of requests to continue our Tank Diaries series which we first published back in 2013 with an awesome 180 Gallon Reef Build here.

After all the requests, we’ve decided to bring it back and we’ve got a special one today too.

Introducing Kris Weinhold from Guitarfish.org’s Aquavas Aquascape.


Guitarfish’s Aquavas Aquascape

Yup, I did say it’s a special one didn’t I?

When we decided to bring this series back to life, this aquascape post from Guitarfish was the first that came to my mind.

So, I dropped him a note asking if it’ll be ok if we featured him here and my surprise he said yes. He even agreed to answer some of our questions, which I think you’ll all enjoy.

Let’s get to him know first, shall we?

Who Is Guitarfish?

I’ve kept aquariums since childhood, and have always had an appreciation for nature. I setup my first planted aquarium in 2003 after being inspired by Amano’s Nature Aquarium book.

I soon after found the Greater Washington Aquatic Plant Association (GWAPA), our local club in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, which linked me to other hobbyists to learn from.

Since then, I’ve help to run GWAPA serving as president, web admin, and various other board duties.

I started my blog, Guitarfish.org, in 2006 and have been speaking at club throughout the U.S. and Bermuda for the past several years.

I’m currently working with GWAPA and the AGA to host the next AGA Convention in Washington D.C. on April 10-12, which is the premiere aquatic plant convention in the U.S.

I studied Amano’s work, and am fortunate to have a number of other talented aquascapers locally that have shared their tips and tricks.

I’ve participated in some of the AGA’s aquascaping contests, both as contestant and judge, and try to setup a new scape every few months to continue my practice.

The Story Behind This Aquascape

Now let’s take a closer a look at the tank and what Kris has got to say about his work of art.

We’ll let Kris walk you through how the Aquavas Aquascape came about
(This was originally posted here)

The hardscape consists of two large pieces of spider wood and several locally collected rocks made up of quartz and slate. The substrate is Mr. Aqua and pool filter sand in front.

I used a selection Aquainnova plants that I got in Chicago at Aquatic Experience. These are beautiful plants, some still in tissue culture and others were already transitioned to nursery growth.

I used some beautiful Elatine hydropiper in front areas under the spider wood overhang. Otherwise, several different Cryptocoryne species were planted.

I also used a super glue gel to attach Anubias barterii ‘nana’ directly to the wood.

After everything was planted, I filled it up, but did have to place some temporary rocks on top of the wood to keep it from floating up.

Later I tied some weeping moss to the wood to soften it a bit more.


Most of my aquascapes are not preplanned ideas. I’m a big believer in acquiring high-quality aquascaping materials (hardscape, plants, substrate, sand, etc), and letting those materials lead you to the final aquascape.

In this case, I won the spiderwood in a raffle at the Aquatic Experience show, and it just so happened to fit nicely in the tank, and mesh together.

The initial conversion period of some of the in-vitro plants was a little rough. I had a lot of melting, particularly in the stem plants, but I just kept with them over the first few weeks and replanted as necessary.

Also, the sand and substrate lines are not 100% distinct, which does cause blending. Personally, I like a little bit of blending, as a 100% sand foreground does not look natural to me, but in this aquascape, I’ve had to spend some time during water changes to clear out excess substrate that pollutes the sand.

The equipment is the full AquaVAS system (http://www.aquavasaquarium.com/), which includes the filtration, lighting.

My CO2 rig is a 10# tank with a GLA regulator. Since most of the plants are crypts in this scape, I mainly dose with Seachem plant tabs and miracle-grow spikes.

I’ll occasionally dose liquid ferts (Seachem Flourish / Brightwell Aquatics FlorinMicro) as needed.

The Aquatic Experience show is a tradeshow featuring hundreds of aquarium vendors on a single huge floor, plus additional speakers and events going on through the day.

The Aquatic Gardener’s Association hosted the Aquascaping Live competition, featuring a large tank team competition and a small tank individual one. Two teams from GWAPA participated in the large tank contest, and we took first and second place. More info and pictures here.

One of our members also won first place in the small tank challenge. Otherwise, I helped to promote the planted aquarium hobby by answering questions at the AGA table.

Word Of Advice For Newcomers

First, if you have an aquarium club in your area, join it, and find others who are interested in growing plants. These clubs are the life blood of the hobby, and members challenge one another to continue to learn, grow, and challenge yourself. If you don’t have a club, consider starting one, and if that isn’t possible, participate in the various online forums.

First, focus on growing various types of plants. Start with the ones in your local aquarium store, but seek out new and different plants. Don’t get hung up on easy or hard plants, just try them. Put yourself in a position to be successful with these plants, and make sure you inject CO2.

Don’t get the brightest light on the market, but instead, find one that gives you about 60-100 PAR at the substrate, and preferably an LED light with dimming capability so you can adjust it.

Start with a commercial line of fertilizers, and follow their dosing regimen ratios, but as you increase light and CO2, you’ll need to increase your dosing. Once you get the hang of it, switch to dry ferts for macronutrients.

Once you can grow plants, setup a new aquascape every 2-3 months. Invite people other when you do so, and ask their input on what rock/wood placement looks good. Your scapes will improve. Study the aquascapes in the AGA/ADA/IAPLC contests for inspiration.

Do your water changes, and keep up on tank maintenance. Finally, have fun, it’s a hobby!

Share Your Thoughts

And there you have it, folks. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of the Tank Diaries Series.

Hit us up if you have a tank that you’d like to see featured in the Tank Diaries series and if you have any other suggestions for this series.

And of course, don’t forget to tell us what you think of the Aquavas aquascape in the comments section below.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

One comment on “Tank Diaries: Guitarfish’s Aquavas Aquascape

  1. Pingback: Guitarfish’s Aquavas Aquascape | Fishandplants

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