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My first Journal (And 4th Tank)

6121 Views 37 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  fwdixon
Well, figured I would share my next creation with you all, see what suggestions you may have.


This all started a month ago when my wife's Betta died and, in order to stave off the tears, I rushed out to buy a new one. Well, my little teal/blue/purple Delta Tail "Oscar" is definitely more demanding than his predecessor. I found out the first week he absolutely will not eat any dry or freeze-dried food, only Live or Fresh-frozen (after thawing, of course). Found the second week that he loves his Hospital Tank more than his aquarium, and I think gets sick just to go back. So now, after trying (and returning) and Aquablock, a 2.5 gal aquarium with plastic plants, and my first attempt at live-planting a 12 gallon, he's back in the hospital recovering from a second round of tail-rot and I've completely torn-down the 12 gallon to rebuild.

The Tank (and Other Hardware):

The aquarium I am using is the Acrylic Eclipse System 12 from Marineland. We live in a small apartment and originally I was only authorized to purchase a 5 gallong tank, but after see the 12 was roughly the same footprint, I bought it and asked forgiveness from the Boss when I got home :). Heating is via a REMA 50 watt Filter inlet heater, set to 78 Deg F. The heater seemed to work well on the previous attempt, so I decided to keep it.

Lighting will be provided by the System's compact 13w 5000K flourescent Lamp, 1 Current USA Moonlight White LED Fixture, and 1 Current USA Moonlight Blue LED fixture. The flourescent lamp is set to be on for 11 hours a day, preceded and succeeded by the Moonlight White for 1 hour each. The Moonlight blue will be on overnight.

There will be a few small bubblewands also set to come on at night . CO2 is currently provided via a homemade yeast/sugar system and diffuser.

The Fish:

This tank is primarily intended to provide a low-maintenance home for my Betta, and will also include 10 pygmy Cory Cats, a dozen ghost shrimp, and some Helena snails. I am hoping the shrimp will be able to reproduce faster than Oscar can eat them, if not, then I may have to rethink the algae-eating livestock. I am thinking of adding the Betta last to give the others the best chance. He is not overly aggressive, but I don't want to risk it.

The Hardscape:

While poking around online I came across two things. First, plant retailers want to pack my little tank full, and second, that I wanted to add something other than just plants. I saw pictures of interesting driftwood and rocks and what not so I went out snooping to my local pet shops (I really don't have a fish store in the area, I guess they expect us to just walkdown to the beach for our goods.). Well I found a few rocks I liked and piece of wood, so back home I went. I also knew I want a dark sand substrate to replace my gravel, so I purchased Eco-Complete on the advice of a plant guy.
Well, the substrate will arrive this week so I've been looking for plants and generally goofing off (and spending money).

The Plants:

The plan is to have a relatively traditional plant layout, tall in back, short in front. But I don't like all-green, so I've been hunting for color. I have decided on some Hemianthus micranthemoides between the big rock and the wood, I am hoping it will creep up on the rock in the future. I found some Ludwigia Repens to go on that side as well, I am hoping I can keep it trimmed down to grow into more of a bush. If I can, then I am going to place it in front of the rock, otherwise, it will go to the right of it. For the back I am planning on putting so Apogongeton, not sure what type yet. On the left, I want to plant a short gras of some kind, still digging around for this one. Also, waiting on someone to trim some Purple Bamboo for that side as well. There will also be some Corkscrew Val scattered around, and a small stand of banana plants. The driftwood will be planted with petite Anubias Nana and a Java fern or two around the base. I still want to have a fair amount of exposed substrate to offset the color from the plants, so I have a feeling there will be a fair amount of trimming on my part.

The Rest:

When I got the goodies into the tank last week I pictured the big rock and Driftwood forming a kind of "canyon", the Driftwood leaning against the back of the tank gave the illusion of a root overhang, and then on the left I wanted two "channels" coming out from the back, one wrapping around the base of the driftwood, and one following the Large rainbow rock out to the corner. Seperating the two I am going to put a smooth piece of rainbow rock laying "exposed" from the substrate. I couldn't get the driftwood to stand up the way I wanted, so I flattened out the fun end and adhered it to a 4 inch square of Lexan. This works well, and I am hoping the substrate on the lexan holds the piece in place and slightly off the back wall.

I'll post more as I go along, and welcome any input. I killed my anacharis (sic) in the last aquarium, so i hope I don't repeat the same thing in this one.


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Well, I see you went the expensive.

SeaChem Equilibrium will add potassium. Have read some have an excess of potassium when they use it.

To me the important 1s are:
1. Iron
2. Flourish
3. Excel, which I think you'll only need until you get the Co2.
4. Equilibrium, which I think you'll only need for a month.

How about some update pictures!!
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How about some update pictures!!
Pictures are proving to be a problem. The wonderfully willful fish doesn't want to stay still long enough for one, he's too busy stalking through the plant life trying to sneak up on the shrimp. Although they invariably see him coming, at which point, knowing he's been caught, he simply swims by non-chalantly as if he hasn't a care or conniving thought in the world.
Well, I am more interest in the layout of the plants than the fish. How about a full picture of the tank!

Just realized it hasn't been long since you posted a picture. More interested in seeing how the plants react to your fert regiment, so wait a month.

You just deflated his poor little ego. Oh well, he's got too much anyway. Other than the HC, I think most of the dying has stopped. It looks like there are a few new leaves on my sag, and the Java Ferns have little plantlets all over the leaves.

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Did some trimming today and got rid of most of the dead leaves. Looks like every except the HC has new growth. I also pulled the HC out as it was just clogging up my filter as it died. The critters are happy still and I'm trying to decide if I should get more pygmy cories or fewer panda cories to go in the tank. Also debating snails or otos for the acrylic.

Left Side

Right Side

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Here is something Homer_Simpson sent me, which I thought might interest you:
1 pound of dry fert = x liters of Seachem's ferts
1 lb of KNO3 = 3.7 L of F. Nitrogen
1 lb of K2SO4 = 4.5 L of F. Potassium
1 lb of KH2PO4 = 67.0 L of F. Phosphorus

Rex's price of 1 pound of dry ferts compared to regular price of $26 for 2 liter jugs of Seachem's ferts
1 lb of KNO3 costs $2 = $48.10 of F. Nitrogen
1 lb of K2SO4 costs $2 = $58.50 of F. Potassium
1 lb of KH2PO4 costs $3 = $871.00 of F. Phosphorus

Shipping cost to US:
1-4 lbs $5.25
5-18 lbs $11
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Thanks for the info! I am definitely considering switching to dry ferts. I just have to figure out if it's really worth it for such a small tank to keep bags of this stuff around. One advantage of the Seachem is the bottles fit nicely on the shelf under the tank, but I would reuse them for my own mixes as well, so I guess that's really not a problem. I would be mixing a 250ml batch at a time and I have a feeling that with my current dosing schedule each batch would last me roughly 1 year. We will see if this turns out to be true.
Well, my water parameters have all held steady for a few weeks now, and I still haven't done a water change. One thing that concerns me is that the Bio-filter/Plants are doing such a good job, that my NH3/NH4, NO2, and NO3 readings are all 0. I am assuming that this means there is no nitrogen in the water. I have even been intentionally over-feeding the shrimp with the hopes that the decaying pellets will introduce NH3/NH4 and subsequently NO3. Do I need to start dosing a nitrogen fertilizer? All of my plants are showing new growth, and I'd hate to stop it by robbing them of essential nutrients.
Your dwarf hair grass it would be better to seperate it by little plugs. It will spread fast and fuller like that.
Besides that, everything looks nicely done.
One thing that concerns me is that the Bio-filter/Plants are doing such a good job, that my NH3/NH4, NO2, and NO3 readings are all 0. Do I need to start dosing a nitrogen fertilizer? All of my plants are showing new growth, and I'd hate to stop it by robbing them of essential nutrients.
There is an old say, "If it works don't change it." I have been reading that most people have NO3 at 30 to keep algae under control. You have to gradually increase it or the fish will die. I have been adding it and it is helping me get the chronic BBA I have under control. So if you see algae 1st lower lights, for lights are the engine. 2nd increase circulation, 3rd add flourish excel, 4th add some NO3. This has been working for me. What works for 1 does not always work for others, though.

What about your Gh and Kh readings? Have read that lack of macronutrient in water column can lead to algae problems, for plants will strugle to consume N and P, Joe Faria Aquascapingworld. Perhaps the other nutrients are making up for the lack of NO3.
GH is 6dH and KH is 7dH. As has already been stated by others more knowledgeable than I, this is apparently a low light setup at ~1 wpg (I really want to change this, just can find a fixture that will work). I dose regulary with excel, and add a little extra until I get my CO2 refilled. Unfortunately, I don't know of a way to test for carbon content. So far I've been lucky and the only algae has been a green film on the front acrylic right under the light, nothing a bounty couldn't take care of in about 10 seconds.
there is not much you can do to get a good reading on co2, best bet it to follow the directions on the excel bottle and if you notice slowed growth add more.
It looks to me like you have 2 wpg. Can you improve the reflection in the tank?

Per Hoppycalif I used metal flash, 3 x 7 plates, and painted with very white paint to improve my light.
Ok, engineers should not have aquariums. Wait, engineers should not be allowed to own any mechanical device. I want more light in my little tank, so what I have finally come up with, why the most natural, simplest, cost-effective solution possible, of course :-D. I have a 2.5 Gallon tank that I will set up as an external sump, move the Marineland Filter from the Main tank to the sum, put the heater in the sump, and external power head to move the water, and modify the hood on th Main tank to accomodate my lights. See? I told you it was simple.

Ok, now I know the wife will cut me into fish-food if I even suggest that, so I need help choosing a light fixture. I have a space about 10"x4" that is 3" off the top of the tank, It needs to house a fixture capable of at least 20 watts, pluss 2 white LEDs and a centrally mounted Blue LED. I can figure out the installation part if somebody can point me in the direction of compact flourescent light fixtures that are the required size, wattage, and cost.
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I have seen some use desk lamps that would work for that size at Lowe's. I have seen some use the clip on lamps and put daylight CFL bulbs in. At the back of Lowe's, I was told, they have some for $5.
Have noticed some buy compact fluorescent light kits from:

Perhaps you build a box to house all with metal flash guard, $5. Buy extension cords and splice in the Led's.

How are the vals, thin plants in the back, doing? They look like they need more iron.
So what has happened with the Betta? Did you find a light? Big Al's is good place for cheap lights.
Betta is permanently in the Hospital Tank, He loves it.

The other tank is overgrown with algae and my 2 surviving plants, a few small snails, and 1 lone ghost shrimp. I kinda gave up on it til I have the time to devote to doing it right. (had a new baby, work got crazy, etc.)
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