Hello, and welcome to All About Planted Aquariums. I am Lemuel Sacop from the Philippines, and I am 41 years old. I am an Electronics and Communication Engineer and worked for the last 10 + years in a BPO Company as a Recording Engineer/Administrator. I have my loving and very supportive wife with 3 kids.
A Little Story About Me Starting and Loving This Hobby
More than 4 years ago, I pursued this hobby of keeping an aquarium at home but only for a fish only tank. I started with just a 15 gallons community tank using only gravel substrate, plastic plants, and ceramic decors.
But more than 2 years ago, I was blown away upon seeing a nature planted tank in person, and I knew right then, this will be my next passion and natural progress.
I know 2 years of experience is not something to be over proud of, but I love doing this and spent hours, days, weeks, months in research, and testing. In fact, I am still learning new things everyday. I had lots of downs but came through it all, and I want to help you, fellow hobbyists, in setting up, finding the balance, and maintaining your very own planted aquarium.
My Planted Aquarium – Dusk
Science + Art + Nature
I researched a lot before dedicating myself to this 35-gallon outdoor tank, which is by the way in our terrace, with no direct sunlight shining through but lots of ambient light.
The thing I love about this hobby is that I can apply what I learned from my science classes (Biology, Chemistry, and even Physics) at school a long time ago. I was able to use my Major in Electronics and Communications too. I applied automation for every equipment in my tank. I tried to convert my planted tank into a high-tech one, high energy light and injecting CO2 from a pressurized tank.
Aquascaping is the art of underwater gardening: how you arrange the rocks, driftwood, and plants to simulate an underwater natural ecosystem. It looks different day by day as the plants grow, the scape changes, variables change, and you have to find the balance of everything, just like nature.
As opposed to a reef or marine tank, I find a freshwater planted tank to be more pleasing and relaxing to look at. And you will begin to appreciate how natural systems balance itself out, how even the smallest organism/bacteria can be so important for establishing our planted aquarium/s at home. With your planted tank it is an enclosed system, and there is no running water to do the filtration and replenish the nutrients. It is us, the hobbyist who needs to maintain and balance everything out with our equipment on hand.
A Lot of Downs…
But like I said, just in case if you’re wondering, YES, I fought with algae for months, and those algae are the hardest ones to eradicate. I fought the ambient light on our terrace, I struggled to balance my fertilizers, CO2, and light + the ambient light, I fought 100 ppm + nitrates, I started with DIY CO2 (baking soda + Citric acid) and fought the inconsistencies of it, and I had faunas died on me which results from fighting off those algae, which were really sad.
But I came through it all by researching, thinking outside the box, and help from local Aquascaping Forums. I took risks. I even DIY-ed my aquarium lights and CO2 injection, and a lot of testing to prove my ideas and theories.
My Planted Aquarium August 2021
Why Listen to Me and Why This Site?
The internet has a lot of misinformation, “one size fits all” advice, and I don’t want fellow and new upcoming hobbyists to go through that. Every planted tank set-up is unique. What worked for me may or may not work for you at that moment. As your plants grow and become larger in mass, variables change, even after trimming your plants, even after you relocate some of your plants, even after you uproot plants, and replace it with another one, etc. You have to find your own tank’s balance of lights, fertilizers, and CO2, etc., and learn to adjust it as well as time goes by.
My Planted Aquarium May 2022
My Planted Aquarium June 2022
Learning the fundamentals and science of a planted tank goes a long way. It will help you think outside the box, theorize an idea, and test it. And I gained a lot of experience by solving someone else problems base on his tank parameters and symptoms, not base on my experiences on my own tank, even if it is a similar problem. Be it a friend’s tank or a fellow hobbyist in my local community, solving issues should be on a tank-to-tank basis.
I Want to Share and Help
I am still learning, and I am looking forward to learning from my co-hobbyist as well. I may not have the longest experience in years, I may not have owned multiple tanks to work on or to boast of, but I love this hobby and love to help others and will forever nurture this piece of nature at our home. I want my children to learn and care for a plant or animal and treat it kindly and patiently, for they may get invaluable training in learning to treat and respect people/all living things the same way.
And I want to give it back. I want to help you save time and money and not go through the same mistakes and wrong decisions that I made throughout my journey with this hobby.
Long Term Keeping
This site does not aim for perfect tanks or winning tanks. Even Mother Nature is not perfect (but that is the beauty of it), even in the most natural of systems. Nature has no trimming scissors, she manages with what she only have, she deploys algae when something is not balanced, she does not deliberately limit nitrates for our viewing pleasure nor the judges, etc.
When we humans tampered over her creations, she can recover against all odds, but it may take years to even decades. When we humans are long gone, she will take over. Nature’s secret is having patience and there are no shortcuts.
The site aims for the long-term keeping of planted aquariums at your very own home, not for dismantling after ranking in competitions. A few months is not enough to realize the stableness of the system. Those competition tanks you see all over the internet took a lot of hard work and mostly a lot of money thrown in it – for a short period of time (usually 3 to 6 months). But those pictures do not depict the whole story – still a lot of hard work, knowledge/learning, meeting the deadline, and patience.
The site provides basic to advance best practices in keeping a planted aquarium at home. But there is no stopping you to DIY, thinking outside the box, creating a hypothesis, experimenting, testing, and applying. We all have different situations and differing degrees of unfavorable conditions. Not everyone has the money to acquire good to great equipment but still wants to keep a planted aquarium at home. Your patience and adjustments are the keys to be successful with this hobby, just like Nature. You may have the most expensive equipment but if you don’t know how to find the balance of everything, does not care to do your research, and not be able to keep up with the maintenance of your planted aquarium, it is futile.
My Riparium May 2022
My Riparium June 2022
More About Me
When I am not looking at or maintaining my tank, I love to spend my time with my family and play my guitars. I have some collections of guitars and effects pedals and still not done. Nowadays, I am hunting for vintage Ibanez guitars and Boss pedals. I do my own guitar tech, modifications, set-up, refinishing, and maintenance. I can also DIY and modify effects pedals. I am passionate in everything about musical gears from tube amplifiers, effects pedals, etc. I dreamed of my very own recording studio as well.
I love DIY-ing at home. I started DIYing some essentials for my planted aquarium. I am also into all sorts of electronic gadgets, home automation, and new technology breakthroughs.
So have a look around, and if you ever have anything to share with regards to Planted Aquariums, I would love to hear it.
To your little piece of nature at home,
Founder of All About Planted Aquariums
With Mother Nature & a Swollen Foot After Trekking – Madalag, Aklan – Philippines