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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So here is the start of my journal. The tank was setup before I moved for a year with EcoComplete and lots of plants (some doing well, some not, some algae problems but not out of control that often).

Tank: 24g JBJ Nanocube with the MSS surface skimmer

Lighting: stock 2x36W CFL (one 6700K, one 10000K). I'd like to get an over the tank fixture (or really a MH-I love the shimmering effect).

Pump: stock 290 GPH. I have a MaxiJet 900 I'm going to try replacing it with for less heat generation and better flow. The stock pump really craps out going through my output. For filtration, it has a large coarse foam filter and a smaller fine foam filter. It also comes with ceramic rings and bioballs, but I'm going to remove them once I have the soil going.

Output: Hydor Flo. I also have some LocLine spray bar parts I've been playing with, but not sure if I want to use them.

Substrate: Scott's Earthgro topsoil (NW regional I'm assuming) covered in EcoComplete. Here is the thread about how I prepared the soil.

Decor:
Driftwood (that hard dark red gnarly root kind--been in the tank before)
Cliff Stones
Petrified Wood (I think...it at least looks like it)

Other: 150W Titanium heater, Ti grounding probe. I had DIY CO2 before, but I may not use it for the NPT tank. Either way, you can make a good cap out of these Fourmost bulkhead adapters and the top to a 2L pop bottle (or whatever). The water here in Portland is around pH 6.4 and very soft. I'm probably going to add some crushed coral to the filter section to raise the buffering and hardness slightly.

Flora: From the old tank, the plants that survived the move are:
Microsorium pteropus (Java fern)
Nymphaea zenkeri (Tiger lotus, red and green)
Cryptocoryne wendtii (Wendtii crypt, red and green)
Cladophora aegagropila (moss ball)

It's a long story of what happened to the rest of the plants, but I lost a huge amount including a nice Red Rubin sword, Rotala Indica, and a ton of anubias. The plants that did survive has all died back to the roots and have now recovered.

I ordered some new plants from AquaSpot World and am waiting for them to arrive.
Alternanthera reineckii 'rosaefolia'
Aponogeton ulvaceus
Crinum calamistratum
Cyperus helferi
Echinodorus tenellus (Dwarf Chain Sword)
Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba' (HC)
Hemianthus micranthemoides (Pearl Grass)
Vallisneria americana var natans
Proserpinaca palustris (Mermaid Weed)

Fauna: All I have from the move are snails. I was removing them like mad until I decided to go NPT, now I'm letting the babies be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Just for Historical reference, this is how the tank look the first time I set it up (there were several rescapes before it got torn down). The tank seems to run the best when I ignored it completely and didn't fertilize or anything. When I messed with it, the algae started. That is my main motivation to go NPT.


And here is how it looks in it's temporary setup while it was waiting to setup. But you can see the rocks and such. Unfortunately, since I put the pertified wood in, the Tiger lotus hasn't been very happy, so I don't know if it is reacting poorly to the stone, or the fact that it got disturbed while crushing, or the fact that nutrients may finally be running out since no dirt and no fish and no real food going in. I've never had that good of luck with the tiger lotus though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here are the plans for the aquascaping:

Background:
Aponogeton ulvaceus
Crinum calamistratum
Cyperus helferi
Vallisneria americana var natans

Midground:
Microsorium pteropus (Java fern) on driftwood
Nymphaea zenkeri (Tiger lotus, red and green)
Cryptocoryne wendtii (Wendtii crypt, red and green)
Alternanthera reineckii 'rosaefolia'
Hemianthus micranthemoides (Pearl Grass)
Proserpinaca palustris (Mermaid Weed)

Foreground:
Cladophora aegagropila (moss ball)
Echinodorus tenellus (Dwarf Chain Sword)
Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba' (HC)

I know it is a large variety of species, but not sure what will grow in my water and in the NPT setup I have. People seem to have had success with most of the species. I'm a little worried about the Vals in my water, but I will have to see how they go. I may add some floating plants, but not sure.

I'm pretty happy with the foreground and background, but the midground is what's leaving me high and dry. Hopefully at least one of the stem plants will work well to fill in around the driftwood and such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Regarding the animals, that is an area totally up for grabs at the moment.

I want to get some Galaxy Rasboras, but I also don't want to further endanger them (plus they cost a lot for their size). Other thoughts are "lots" of little fish or 15+ cardinals or a few bigger fish (like Kribs or rams or some more aggressive pairing fish).

For cleaning crew, I usually use Ottos, but I'm tempted to find some Nerite snails since they seem to be finding good use for algae control and leaf cleaning.

Any suggestions for fish? I'm looking for good color and schooling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here is the EcoComplete over the dirt. It's a little over 1" in the front and maybe 1.5" in the back. Since it's about half of the total EC I have sitting around, it would make it around 20lbs.



And here is the first fill of the tank. I'm not running the filter yet, but I'm waiting for it to settle a little bit. A but murky but I expected that. It already had some muddy water in it and I also had to add a little more dirt that hadn't been rinsed to nearly the same standard as the other bucket.


My plants should be in the USPS truck today, so I'll be taking pictures of them when they get here. I will probably let them just sit in a tub for the night to space out again and plant them tomorrow (plus, make sure there isn't any thing I don't want hitching a ride.

I'm seriously hoping that this ends up with a lower maintenance tank, because the setup has been a lot of work. Granted, I created a lot of my work myself. I could have just put the dirt in if I didn't care about clearer water or getting the sticks and rocks out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
My plant order from Aquaspot made it in today. I placed the order last Thrusday/Friday. The plants shipping overseas and cleared USDA and were shipped from Seattle to Portland on Thursday. I got then on Sat around 3:30. So from order cut-off to receiving, it was about 8 days.

Here is the box as I got it. Inside the box was a lot of packing material to cushion the plants. The whole order was then wrapped up together and a big bag. Each of the individual plants was also sealed and labeled in their own bag, which I thought was nice. It also probably helps them pass USDA inspection. I don't know if they were bagged in Singapore though, or Seattle.


Here are close-ups of each of the individually bagged plants and their quantities.


And here are the plants all spread out to get some air before getting planted (which should be done tomorrow).


So, here is my quick analysis of my order with Aquaspot:
pro: good selection and generally good prices, individual bagged and labeled plants (which from a previous order from a different vendor can be very helpful if you order similar looking plants), overall good health and root growth, good customer support so far
cons: delivery date can be up in the air since it's coming from Singapore and has so many steps to clear.

Two of the plants had a little problems. The Aponogeton ulvaceus smelled like dead lettuce and lost most of it's leaves when I removed it from the bag. That didn't really surprise me that much since the plant has such thin, delicate, wavy leaves. The bulb looked really healthy and it had a few young study leaves that survived. One of the HC bundles was pretty dead, but the other once came in seemingly quite excellent condition. The bagged plants were off a stem on 2 of the orders, but each one also had a few that "could" count as 2, so no big deal.


Now, the one thing I've now found from ordering from 2 on-line vendors, is that sometimes (usually?), the plants are smaller than you would like. But they are plants and designed to grow, so not necessarily a bad thing. Particularly, the Echinodorus tenellus was smaller than I expected. And for the price, the Proserpinaca palustris was WAY smaller than I expected. I would like to note that both seems in excellent health however.

So far I would order again from Aquaspot again and not from the other vendor. Good job, Aquaspot. For such a young company, you seem to be doing good work.

Now for the hassle of planting a zillion little, itty-bitty plants (HC and E. tellenus).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I want one of those cubes....
Well, the lure of the all-in-one cubes can be great. But they do have some limitations. I personally would not buy another JBJ one. There are others I like better, but all of them have flaws. In my opinion, getting something with standard dimensions is crucial. If you ever want to but things like new lighting later, it can be next to impossible to find anything that fits.

With the NPT tank, I almost want to pop out the back wall and reclaim the extra 3 gallons of space hiding back there. It is really only hiding too much sponge and a powerhead/pump. Of course, I have the rest of the stuff back their like heaters and stuff, but I wouldn't mind the extra space back.

Anyway, now I'm just rambling. They do look very nice though. :)
 

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I'm thinking of placing an order to Aquaspot in the next week or two. It's nice to see how they ship, and what their quantities look like.
We have to pack the plants according to what USDA requires. Everything is bagged in Singapore and trans-shipped in USA.

We always recommend our customers to take the Overnight shipping option, especially if the plant order is going to be significant. Priority can sometimes be unreliable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I would agree with that statement. Since I figured the order would be coming into Seattle and I'm in Portland, Express mail doesn't buy that much in time saving over Priority. Plus, my order wasn't that huge (just to me ;) ).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
We have to pack the plants according to what USDA requires. Everything is bagged in Singapore and trans-shipped in USA.
well, it may be a hassle to do that, but in my opinion, I think it adds a lot to the professionalism of the order. Too bad it can't be bagged at the trans-shipper though. The order I received from the other vendor just showed up as this giant mass of plants all rolled up in a wet newspaper.

I personally much prefer nicely bagged and labeled plants.
 

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well, it may be a hassle to do that, but in my opinion, I think it adds a lot to the professionalism of the order. Too bad it can't be bagged at the trans-shipper though. The order I received from the other vendor just showed up as this giant mass of plants all rolled up in a wet newspaper.

I personally much prefer nicely bagged and labeled plants.
It can be bagged at the trans-shipper's point. But it will be more work and more handling of the plants. We do not stress the plants from excessive handling if we don't have to, so we take care of the individual packaging in Singapore and the plants ship better this way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
i agree...this thread is about the tank, not the shipper per se. Oh, the scape pictures won't be coming until tomorrow. No more hands in water for me today. Plus, I want to let the plants have a little time to breathe before they meet the tweezers. BHWAHAHAA.

It has been planned out in my head since the plant order came. I just have a harder time deciding about the hardscape. I like the 3 rocks I have, but not sure if they all fit. I also really love my driftwood arch covered in Java fern, but it's not that big and I want more driftwood in there. So do I use the bigger driftwood and the smaller one, or try to transplant the ferns to the bigger piece. I do have some plantlets I could attach to the bigger piece, but it would be awhile before it's covered like the smaller arch. Decisions decisions decisions.

The back of the tank is planned: C. helferi along the back left under the filter intake grate and towards the center. The vals along the back wall (to grow up and along the surface. The Aponotogen in the back center and the crinum at the far back right wall under the filter input. It can spread all weird out of that corner of the tank then. C. helferi might get strewn about as a front-back/back-mid layer as well.

The stem plants will join my teeny tiger lotus in the middle land. The plan for the arch is to have in the front left. Behind it would be the crypts (which recovered VERY nicely from all their abuse and growing in an essentially sterile tank (just dead plant gunk and snails for fertilizer). The front of the arch will be the E. tellenus. The front right will the cliff stone surrounded by the HC in a little pasture motif.

Granted, this is what I picture. Who knows what will grow well and what won't and what will spread faster and what won't. I may have to rely on what I can find locally for the little fill-ins.


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tefsom85: no I won't discuss the other vendor publicly. I will praise good vendors and experiences. I don't want to bad-mouth them, as business practices can change (my other order was about a year ago) and it can be isolated instances. Plus, it wasn't a horrible experience, it just left a sour taste in my mouth. PM me if you want more info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
ok...planting is done. yay. It looks pretty good, but a bit cloudy.

I'll have pictures and more text later, but now I'm just taking a break. I was having a "why can't I plant anything day", so my partner got stuck helping (it's "our" tank anyway).

But suffice it to say, I think it looks pretty good right now. Much better than my other setups.

oh, and one quick piece....probably never using HC again unless it grows really well or just looks really great. It seemed ok to plant without water in the tank, but I wanted to move a piece once more water was in it, and they just became a NIGHTMARE.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So, here are the pictures. This was tank as it started in the morning after draining the water. I'm surprised by the mixing of the EcoComplete and the soil. A lot of the little wood pieces have mixed into the EC and sit at the top layer. They aren't floating up. Actually, I kind of like the look. The soil and EC give a very riverbed bottom kind of look that wasn't quit met with the EC alone. However, I still think I like the look of Flourite better. I will probably be using that when I do a total rescape and/or buy a new tank (no in the immediate future for either). The picture won't look much different than the original one of the substrate going in.


Here is the hardscape of the rocks. I really like the little channel between the cliff stones in the front right. The driftwood is lacking in this picture because they are covered in Java ferns and need to stay wet longer. There is a little stump looking piece that has ferns on the top that is newly created and my older driftwood arch that is totally covered in ferns (new leaves do the moving fiasco). anywho, the stump goes in the front left edge angle to "cut off" the bowed glass and the arch will go in the middle of the tank with the arch between the two different stone layers.


Here is the final tank shot. Nice white cloudy water. I'm not sure if it's from a bacterial bloom or not, but that's what I'm guessing. Could just be particulate from the soil. It hasn't shown any signs of lessing by this evening, so no pictures other than this one.


I don't remember if I mentioned it already, but I was having a bad planting day. Only the E. tenellus would stay put for me. Oh well, it's all in now. I have to do a little rearranging tomorrow morning to get some plants more vertical and spaced a little better, but I'm pretty much done.

Since you can't see it very well in the picture (and I haven't done a layout picture, I'll descibe the layout. In the back left around all sides of the petrified rock, I have the C. helferi. Along the back I have the V. americanas var natans. In the middle of that grove I have the A. ulvaceus which is the dead center behind the arch. In the back right is the C. calamistratum with some E. tenellus around it and some of the M. micranthemoides.

For the midground, which was a huge pain and I sat and stared for awhile before picking it out. The crypts are at the left, Tiger lotus bulbs in the middle and the arch slightly behind them. Then comes the A. reineckii and then the P. palustris (ver short and probably not in the picture).

The foreground has the E. tenellus around the stump and the HC around the all but the pack of the cliff stones (because the stem plants are there).

Lessons learned: always plant HC with as little water as possible and leave it alone forever more. :) Midgrounds are the hard part. Also, EC is so nice to plant in, even with the soil. You can just jam your tweezers in and it closes up the hole as you pull out.

However, I forgot to make a slight grade with the EC before I started, so the level is flat across and therefore much deeper in the front than I wanted. I don't know if the roots will make it all the down there for the smaller plants. At least the nutrients should work their way up.

So, that's it for today. Planted and lit.
 
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