Life Soup - Evolve 8 Mud Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: 413, Massachusetts
Posts: 97
Life Soup - Evolve 8 Mud Tank

Well hello!
This will be a journal thread for my Aqueon Evolve 8 planted dirt tank. As a disclaimer, Iím incredibly longwinded and will try to keep my ramblings to a minimum Ė I apologize for any walls of text from here on!

Iím a beginner with dirt tanks and although Iíve kept fish in the past itís been a few years since Iíve had anything but turtles Ė so this will be a big learning experience! Iíll try to document my steps as best I can but will be limited by my crappy digital camera and lack of an internet connection at home. Iíll do my best to keep you all informed as things progress.

Tank Goals:
-Low-tech. What do I mean by this? Well, I want a dirt substrate tank that has low/medium lighting requirements, no added CO2, minimal dosing of fertilizers and the capability to be left alone for several days without crashing.
-Aesthetically pleasing (duh, right?). I've spent a lot of time mulling over how I want the tank to look and I'm using this as one of my inspirations
-Fully functional environment for a single Blue Ram. Iím still not sure if thereís going to be enough swimming space for a Ram in this itty bitty little 8gallon once itís fully planted, but this is a goal nonetheless.

Proposed Stock List:
-3 Otocinclus
-2 Nerite Snails
-1 Blue Ram
-To Be Decided: Shrimp?

Proposed Plant List:
-Anubias, preferably A. Nana but Iíll use whatever I can find locally
-Cryptocoryne (lots & lots), preferably Wendtii but again Iíll use whatís available
-Water Lettuce
-Java Moss
-To Be Decided: Tiny carpeting plants? Flame Moss? Java Fern?

* * * *

After weeks of research into various theories, concepts, methodologies, terminologies, numerologies, theologies and several other ďologiesĒ Iím almost ready to take the plunge and set this darned thing up with dirt already.

The tank has been filled & cycling for about 10 days now with two brave & valiant little Cardinal Tetras as my cycling crew Ė so far theyíre going strong and I commend their effort. I donít plan to fully cycle the tank before planting, but my thinking is that getting a jumpstart on bacterial growth couldnít hurt in the long run. Itís also given me a chance to play with various hardscapes and to figure a layout before planting. And, after having viewed the tank in action, Iíve developed plans to modify it slightly before the final dirting & planting begins.

Planned modifications:
-The stock filter media bag is one of those ďactivated carbon wrapped in foamĒ cartridge things (very similar to what one finds in the small Whisper HOB filters), and this morning I purchased new media: One ď40g-70gĒ size pouch of Aquaclear Biomax ceramic rings and a box of Aquaclear foam inserts. (Note: I do not plan on using any activated carbon with this setup)
-The rear portion of the tank is split into two filtration compartments; the first chamber houses the filter media and draws water in through slots at the top of the tank. The second chamber also draws water through a slot located at the top of the tank, where water is then distributed back into the tank via a small pump/outlet. Iíve noticed that the locations of the two intakes (top of the tank & very close to one another) are not conducive to good flow Ė water flows over the media, not through it. This being the case I plan to drill small holes along the bottom (above substrate level) of the first compartment allowing water the flow more freely through the filter media instead of simply bypassing it.
-This isnít a physical modification to the tank itself but Iím considering additional lighting Ė it depends on how well this little LED supports growth after the initial planting.

Materials Iíve gathered thus far:
-Aqueon Evolve 8 Aquarium Kit
-Stock Aqueon Evolve LED lighting (have not been able to find any usable info on the lightís output, except that it seems to be sufficient for lower light plants)
-Aquaclear filter media; a bag of Biomax ceramic rings and several foam inserts
-75watt heater left over from an old turtle tank; Iíll very probably be investing in a new lower output heater
-1mm Clear Silica Pool Filter sand for use in the cap layer
-Generic Petco brand ďwhite aquarium sandĒ for use in the cap layer
-A decent-looking chunk of Mopani wood for the hardscape, previously used in a turtle tank Ė itís been pre-soaked & leeched of tannins but is still in good condition
-Various stones collected from my yard & from local waterways Ė all have been boiled & scrubbed and do not react when soaked in vinegar. I believe theyíre all some type of quartz.
-Seachem Flourish / Flourish Excel (I know, I know, Iím already breaking my ďminimal additivesĒ goalÖ)
-Nets, buckets, rubber tubing, aquarium-grade silicone, scissors, cotton thread, drill, chainsaw, small caliber Glock & all of the other miscellaneous type stuff I can foresee needing with this project.

Still to come:
-Iíll be going to Agway and/or Home Depot later today to pick up a bag of Miracle-Gro and will keep looking until I find their ĎOrganic Choice Potting Mixí.
-Iím still contemplating using Ďwildí clay gathered from a local lake bed. Iíve posted another thread asking about the viability of this idea, and am still going back & forth about itÖ If Agway/Home Depot have a cheapish clay available Iíll probably just go that route. We shall see.
-I'm embarrassed to say that I don't have a clue what my tap water's parameters are. I moved here recently and keep forgetting to buy a test kit, investing in one is one of my top priorities this weekend.
-This weekend I also plan to do the physical modifications to the tank, and may travel closer to the Boston area in search of plants Ė Iím a fan of both Tropic Isle in Natick MA and The Fish Nook in Acton MA, and would love to browse their selections if I can find the time.
-I'm sure there are plenty of things I should be posting but have forgotten about; there'll be more to come as my brain plays catch up

I'll take pictures of the modification process / initial setup and will hopefully have them posted by mid next week. Thanks to all whoíve read this far, please feel free to post comments, and any & all advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!

The Big Sleep

Fraternity of Dirt #101
Evolve 8 - Life Soup
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 02:31 AM
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Given your list of proposed plants, I suspect the stock lighting will do you just fine. It's certainly done just fine for me. We have a pretty similar setup and design going. I opted for the finest particles of eco complete over my mud, but the end result is pretty much the same.

I haven't had problems with the water flowing over the filter and not through it thus far. In fact, when I cleaned my filter just a few weeks ago, they were pretty thoroughly disgusting all the way down to the bottom. The filter is surprisingly effective, all things considered. I've actually had to put some panty hose pieces over the out put, to stop down the flow a little extra, as it was blowing everything around more then I cared for.

Shrimp in with a blue ram seem a bit counter productive, however. Particularly in a tank that small, I suspect they'd just become a delicious snack. That said, if just a lone blue ram lives in such a tank, I suspect he wouldn't be completely unhappy, though it's quite a bit taller then they'll really use.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 02:36 AM
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Location: NJ
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I wouldn't add the ram. There's not enough space for it.

Maybe switch out the otos for 6 chilis? You've got a great algae eater in the nerites if that's what your looking for.
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