February 2020 Meeting

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020 at 11:32 am

GWAPA welcomed Hiep Hong, a very talented U.S. aquascaper, for our February meeting. Hiep placed 4th in the 2018 IAPLC, the highest ranking of any U.S. aquascaper. Twenty three people came to watch Hiep do a live demo on how he builds an aquascape. UNS kindly donated the tank, filter, light, and plants for him to use.

While completing his layout, Hiep talked us through the process and gave us some tips and tricks for making an aquascape. First, if the tank comes with a cardboard lid, use that as a template when selecting your hardscape pieces. Make sure you fill a good amount of the vertical space with hardscape. Beginners often don’t put enough, only filling the bottom third with rocks and wood.

If you like a piece of wood, but it’s too big for the tank, Hiep recommends breaking the wood instead of sawing it, so the break looks more natural. If sawing the wood is necessary, you can use pliers to splinter the end of the wood, so you don’t have an awkward “hard line” in your scape.

In terms of selecting rocks, Hiep says that he prefers triangle shapes, since they help draw the eyes around the tank. He likes rocks with lines, striations, nooks and crannies. He avoids “plain” rocks and rocks with right angles/flat sides for the main layout. These pieces can be used to prop up wood or to glue plants to for your scape, so they can’t be seen.

When adding plants, think about what’s happening in your tank. Think about a scenario about how a plant might end up where it is. He likes natural wedging areas, where he can place epiphytes without having to glue them.

Finally, he gave us his three key components for a beautiful tank: clear water, clean substrate, and healthy plants.

A video of Hiep’s demo will be available on Alex Wenchel’s YouTube channel, Tank Tested. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the final result: