The Aquatic Gazette

Frank Wazeter’s “Francis Xavier” Single Stone Iwagumi & ADA Philosophy Guide (1)

In Build on April 24, 2011 at 12:21

In this first edition of our first build article, we are featuring Francis Xavier from Aquarium Design Group / ADA USA. He started a new build in late March 2011 with the theme, ‘Single Stone Iwagumi & ADA Philosophy Guide’.

Frank Xavier: So, I had a bit of a growing period in terms of aquascaping, work and so on. With so many new things to learn and try out, it was time to get back in the saddle after about a 2 month hiatus from my apartment. The setups I had going surprisingly grew in relatively fine, no algae or the like – just not very apt towards an aquascape. It was a bit surprising really since they probably went about a month and a half (or likely all randomly ran out of co2 the day I left) without any co2. Lends credence to the plant mass out competing algae theory.

In any event, faced with some scapers block, I decided to focus on technique and the challenge of using a single stone for an Iwagumi.

The reason why a single stone layout is difficult is that you need one stone that, by itself, can stand alone and make your statement. It has no support, no periphery you just have plants and a stone. So you need to pick a stone that speaks all.

For me personally, I wanted a return to the more minimal and to make a more simple statement.

mini s | amazonia powder | ryuoh

Technical Data

Aquarium: ADA Mini S | 12 litres

Filtration: Eheim 2211 | Bio Rio 1 litre | ADA Mini V-1 and Mini P-1 Filtration pipes

CO2:  ADA Advanced System | Do!Aqua Mini 10D Diffuser | 3-4 bps

Lighting: ADA Solar Mini | 27watts | 8,000k bulb

Substrate System: Bacter 100 | Clear Super | Tourmaline BC | Penac P | Penac W | Amazonia Powder Type

Stone type: Ryuoh

Plants: Riccia | Hemianthus Callitrichoides (HC) | Marsilea Crenata | Hydrocotyle sp

Week 1 Fertilizer Techniques: Brighty K – 1ml daily | Green Bacter – 10 drops daily

lily pipe mini inflow & outflow | music glass mini | riccia

Substrate system theory defined:

I’ll take this moment to briefly describe the ADA philosophy behind the substrate system. The keyword here is that it’s all about whole system health, a focus on the entire ecosystem – not just the plants.

Bacter 100 & Clear Super and what they do:

ADA describes Bacter 100 as over 100 different types of microorganisms – but what this really means for the substrate system is that you immediately turn your substrate into a secondary biological filter. You pre-seed the substrate layers (in tanks larger than 20 litres, using power sand is recommended) with this bacteria to help jump start the cycling, but more importantly to add bacteria that help the system stay healthy at large.

By giving your plant’s roots direct access to a strong center of biological filtration, you encourage them to be healthier, more free from algae and increase the health, stamina, vigor and vitality of the plants. This helps enable them to outcompete algae and grow at better rates. This also helps keep the water more “pure” – and the more “pure” the water, the healthier the system.

Clear Super serves as a ‘food’ source for the Bacteria contained in Bacter 100 and enables the bacteria to grow quicker and stay healthy by not having them starved during setup and maintenance for lack of natural food sources.

In a Mini S/M size you should only need about 1/3 of the bottle of Bacter 100 & Clear Super, potentially even less: around 1/4th – which gives you room for 3-4 layouts total. Just gently spread both on the bottom pane of glass. Bacter 100 first, then Clear Super on top of it. Try to get an even spread across the aquarium

Tourmaline BC:

Tourmaline BC is a high purity / quality powder carbon source and goes in roughly the same proportions of Bacter 100 & Clear Super. It goes on top of these in the substrate system on the bottom pane of glass.

Tourmaline helps keep the water pure by absorbing organic pollutants (like plant decay from initial setup or from conversion from emersed to submersed growth forms) and is essentially powder forms of Bamboo Charcoal.

Penac P & Penac W

Before covering these further, let me first state that these are essentially the same as “vitamin” supplements that someone might take on the side on a daily basis. They aren’t exactly necessary and obviously you’ll live without it. For these, it’s kind of a preference thing and there’s not really any ‘science’ to back them up. I threw them in because we had some extra laying around and a little bit goes a long way.

But just in case you are interested:

Penac W is designed to prevent the substrate from becoming anaerobic, it’s essentially just something to throw in to improve the substrate environment as a whole.

Probably the better use of this product, or well something more measurable is that it can be added directly to the aquarium water in the case of an oxygen shortage in the aquarium: for example if you accidentally overdosed Co2. It serves to rapidly oxygenate the water.

Penac P is an additive for ‘improving the soil,’ by aiding in the ability for plants to spread their roots and grow healthier. It’s just an additional supplement for aiding in the growth in aquatic plants.

Again, these two aren’t exactly necessary, they’re just like taking vitamin supplements. It’s more of a “wholistic” thing.

Aqua Soil Amazonia

I probably don’t need to explain much here – very high nutrient concentrated substrate that also lowers the pH. This is by far the work-horse of growing your aquatic plants.

things to do at the next water change

I’ll share some of the techniques I’ve learned throughout this journal, the first of which is during the first week this layout will get a water change once a day with daily dosing of Brighty K and Green Bacter.

After the first week, it will be daily doses of Brighty K and Green Brighty Step 1 and water changes every other day / as needed. Hopefully Amano shrimps and Oto cats won’t be necessary, but if the diatom algae outbreak occurs, then they’ll be added after a thorough water change and hand removal. As you can see, on day one the water is pretty clear, completely avoiding any ‘cloudiness’ issue or anything of the sort while not running any carbon or the like in the filter. This is achieved with a combination of using the substrate additives and very gently filling the water to not disturb the substrate too much.

Thanks for reading Edition 1, Edition 2 can be found at this link:


credit: Frank Wazeter “Francis Xavier”



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