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Discussion Starter #1
As promised to certain members, I shall be creating a journal of my new 12g nano cube on this forum. I'll be updating its progress weekly. I decided to use only easily obtainable, undemanding species for this layout, use only the 2 wpg provided by the JBJ Nano Cube manufacturer, and use DIY CO2 --a forgiving, undemanding setup.

Setup date: March 7, 2004


Out come all the materials! :
Bucket, siphon, glass cleaning wand, tooth brush, tweezers, scissors, and plastic dish are in the bucket. To the right of the bucket is a bag of spaghnum peat moss (base layer), two bags of Florabase, and a box of Ehfisynth (fine filter floss). To the left of the bucket are my mail ordered plants. The cube itself comes with a very spacious filtration compartment in the back, containing three coarse sponges, bioballs, a bag of ceramic rings, and a power head. I decided to take out the activatedgravel and replace it with a big wad of filter floss (Ehfisynth).


Filling it up:
I placed a thin layer of peat on the bottom, followed by a few bits of charcoal, and some crushed Flourish tabs. I used a generous amount of Florabase to cover this mixture. Don't forget to slope the gravel, keeping it deeper in the back and shallower in the front to help create some depth.


The plants I will use for this layout from left to right:
Anubias barteri v nana
Hemianthus micranthemoides (baby tears)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Tropica' (synonym: Cryptocoryne wendtii 'bronze')
Eleocharis acicularis (hairgrass)
Vesicularia dubyana (Java moss)


Driftwood:
Assorted bits and pieces of self-collected mangrove driftwood for this layout.


Arrangement:
I played around with what I had for about thirty minutes. In the end, I settled with this arrangement of three pieces. The two smaller spikes between the two larger pieces of driftwood is actually a single, small piece. I felt that the two larger ones looked too plain and uninteresting by themselves. I found that the branches produced by the middle piece enhanced the impression and accented the two main pieces very well.


Planting:
I cut off all of the enormous leaves off of the Anubias barteri v nana I received in an effort to stunt it. Otherwise, they would have been too large for this layout. I placed one under the branch on the extreme left hand side. The other rhizome was placed under the branch on the extreme right hand side. I then planted the Cryptocoryne wendtii v 'Tropica' in a swath between the two branches on the left hand side. The hairgrass bunch was taken apart into smaller, tiny bunches and planted heavily in the midground and more lightly in the foreground. I then planted tiny bunches of java moss between the bunches of hairgrass. Finally, I planted the background heavily with bunches of Hemianthus micranthemoides (as much as I could fit), planting 4-6 stems at a time.



Finished product:
The water is clearing up quickly after only a few hours.

Carlos
 

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Looks neat. Can't wait to see the progress.

Any reason why you choose Flora Base? I hate mine. Messes up the KH and Red Sea was not real helpful in explain 'how' they are buffering the water since there is no buffer added. Or so they say.

But my LFS has 2 very nice tanks with the stuff, one is a nano. And the plant grow is really nice.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There are several reasons why I chose Florabase:

1) I've already tried Flourite and Eco-complete, so I decided to do a third tank with florabase. Now, I have one tank with flourite, one with eco-complete, and one with florabase. :D

2) Take advantage of Florabase's water softening properties. Since this cube will eventually house a group of chocolate gouramis currently residing in my 20g long and my tap water is a bit on the hard side, I decided to use this substrate material. For water changes, I plan to mix tap water and RO water at a 1:1 ratio. Currently, the aquarium's GH is 6 and the KH is 3.

Carlos
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Quick update:

Not much happened in the first 6 days of the tank's life. A couple new leaves out of the crypts, some new growth out of the hairgrass and H. micranthemoides. Nothing very special. Next time I update the tank will be in two weeks (since I will be leaving for spring break vacation in a couple days).



Carlos
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, after a two week vacation in Miami, I return to this:



A little algae on the glass, some new growth out of the hairgrass and moss. A few more new leaves on the crypts, and a mass of Hemianthus micranthemoides needing a serious trim to encourage bushy growth.

I am thinking of moving around the driftwood... not quite that happy with it at this point.

Carlos
 

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That is amzing growth, and just think your tank has only been running for a month!? you truly have a green thumb.

one thing I'm wondering about, what kind of lighting is that in your cube?
 

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Carlos, do you have any pointers for growing hairgrass? As you may or may not know, I am currently starting an aquabowl with some hairgrass in it. It came in a pot, and I divided it into 4 portions. One portion in each corner of the bowl. I cut the top of the grass off as well as lower half of the wool. Any advice would be helpful; dosing ferts, CO2, lights...

If you go to Aquabotanic, under Picture Gallery, you will see a journal I recently made. Thanks!



Paul
 

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Thanks, Dennis! You can check out the journal as I will periodically post new pictures. In fact, I just did more today.

The same question goes to you, too, if you have any experience with hairgrass.

Oh yeah, about the Chinese articles, if you have any more specific questions then let me know. Actually, those people posted further details regarding their tanks in extra links(it's actually asked by other members of that forum; asking the same things we are asking now:)


Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Paul,

Hairgrass is fairly easy to grow. I just tease apart the bunches that I buy into bunches of 3-4 plantlets. I planted in ~1 inch intervals where I wanted growth the be dense. Then, I just watched and waited. Keep the CO2 high, keep it directly lit, and keep the water crystal clean for best results.

Lighting is with a 24w power compact flourescent w/ reflector (the bulb that comes with the cube) for 2 wpg. I am considering upgrading it to 3 wpg with a spare 13w bulb from AH supply. I am rescaping already... I can't keep my hands out of it. :)

Carlos
 

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Sweet tank Carlos! What diffuser are you using for your C02? How do compare Florabase against it's more popular substrates(Flourite, Eco-Complete)? Any new updates?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
In those pics, I was just feeding the CO2 into the powerhead. Now that I have a reactor a big reactor for the 20g, I have transferred my mini-reactor to this tank.

As you can see, growth was pretty good for just being set up for a month! I'm afraid I have changed the aquascaping a bit, however. Now, I have Rotala wallichii, Ludwigia ovalis, Anubias barteri v petit, and working on an Eleocharis parvulus foreground.

Florabase, I find, is very dusty when you're working through the tank but it clears up rapidly. However, that doesn't mean mosses and fine leaved plants don't get clobbered with silt every time you do a water change. Other than that, so far so good. I like it more than Flourite, but still prefer Eco-complete hands down.

Carlos
 

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Carlos, I am just curious as to how you think would be the better way of growing hairgrass. You see, I am sorta having algal problems in my aquabowl now. The hairgrass is growing steadily with roots and leaves developing. I orignally a single pot and just divided it into 4 portions like I said before. However, do you think it is better for me to buy another pot and further plant them among the ones already in the bowl?

A little spec about this bowl:

Light is 13W over a 2-gal for about 10hrs/day. Substrate is 1 inch potting soil with 1 inch gravel on top.

Or, maybe I should just leave it alone? Just do periodic water change? It is kindda hard to describe but lately there has been this weird, 'smokey' fume in the bowl. It appears to be suspended in the water; looks like some sorta gas/cloud. I have also posted a similar question in Aquabotanic, but I think I see you more often here:)

Thanks!


Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Paul,

I don't have any experience with soil substrates.

Usually, I resolve all algae issues by controlling nutrient levels (NP, Fe/micros) to keep the plants in optimum shape. As for keeping hairgrass in shape, I just treat them as I would any other light loving plant. High light, lots of PO4 (2 ppm), NO3 at 5-10 ppm (keep it closer to 10), and plenty of Fe/micros (1mL of Flourish Iron and 1 mL of Flourish Trace daily into this aquarium), plenty of CO2, and good current.

Are you providing any circulation? Are you adding any CO2? Managing non-CO2 tanks is out of my expertise, I'm afraid. I would think that you are adding too much light and don't have enough (any) circulation for the bowl.

Maybe this is a better topic for the General Plant board. We're getting off topic. :D

Carlos
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's a good idea, Raul... for Paul's bowl.

I don't believe Excel would be very dependable/stable during the day for my high light 12g nano cube. I don't think I'd get the best plant growth either.

Excel was aimed more for the hobbyist with the moderate-low light tank who didn't want to fiddle around with CO2.

Carlos
 

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Carlos,

I've had significant results from Excel in an 80g with 4x65w PC over it. Before that I said the same thing you have. Now, I don't put anything past Excel. In fact, after seeing the tank at work Diana W bought a bottle of Excel to try out. Of all people, I'd never expect to see her with it! Used sparingly it's a good suppliment to a CO2 gas or DIY yeast system. Used as the sole source of Carbon it works best with the rest of the Flourish line, but isn't bad mixed with PMDD.

Best,
Phil
 

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Would using carbon in the substrate work as a small supply of C02? I remember that Amano usues carbon in his substrate, but is it for a C02 supplement or to "purify" the substrate?
 
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