Been 6 Years, Coming Back to Freshwater - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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Been 6 Years, Coming Back to Freshwater

As the title says, I've been away from freshwater for 6 years and it seems like you guys have been busy. I'm starting up a new tank and want to try my hand at some basic aquascaping. Bare with me, I'm no artist. I know threads are usually more exciting when there's a complete story from start to finish, but for now I must disappoint. At least you guys can keep up with it this way though. Comments are welcome of course.

Quick Specs

30g tank
Eco complete substrate
SunSun canister filter
Hydor inline heater (took a gamble here, but I feel like it's working well)
Lighting to be provided by planted+ 24/7 once it's shipped.

So admittedly I'm no artist, I've got no eye for design. Some may cringe at my attempt. Opinions are welcome, as long as we all understand they're just an opinion. Anyway, pictures!



A little cloudy after first setup, I spent a day hiking through the woods to find that rock. I really liked it's geometric shapes, but am on the verge of saying it's too darn big. The very tip of it pokes above the water, though no more than 1/4" when the tank is full.

After staring at it for a few days, I felt that proportionally the driftwood I had in there just didn't give any sense of scale, so I changed the wood and the layout.



Think that's a little better. At this point my thoughts are the cliche "moss trees", and a thick carpet of dwarf baby tears or similar small carpeting plant. I'm looking through other plants for a bit of diversity, but trying to keep in mind the effect of proportion. My goal is to keep a sense of height to the layout.

Livestock wise, I grabbed a small school of 10 neon tetras (I've got a soft spot for walmart fish. The poor things are crammed in under a black light with some glo-danios. Even if a few pass, at least they weren't immediately picked apart by starving danios. I will be adding probably 6 or so otto cats, some pygmy corys, and a pair or two of german blue rams, or appistogrammas. I originally wanted to try some cherry red shrimps, but they could very well end up being food for the dwarf cichlids.

Water flow in the tank is relatively slow. The outlet comes out behind the rock and faces directly forward. The intake is visible on the right hand side, and nicely enough this canister setup came with a surface skimmer (duck weed be-gone!). I know the filter setup is a cheap brand, but in reading the reviews it's gotten and knowing a proper tank does need filter maintenance as much as water maintenance, I feel good about it so far. I also spliced in a Hydor 300w inline heater in the return hose, as I wanted to keep as much out of the tank as possible. So far so good on that. I am a little concerned about it though, as it was only a 3/5 star on amazon and many reviews complained about a short life span. As a safety net, my apartment doesn't get much below 70F this time of year, so not too many worries about a debilitating crash.

Well, other than that, if there's others in the southern MA area who've got plants for sale, or anyone who's got plant suggestions, feel free to speak up. My light is scheduled to arrive on the 19th, so I'd like to begin planting then.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 06:27 PM
kep
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Well, welcome back!! That is an awesome rock, I see why it caught your eye. It's just doesn't seem to work in there for me though, at least not how it's placed yet. Thinking... Is there enough room to move the rock 1/3 from one edge and place the small branch in front of it? It might work out cool once it's planted. I think maybe instead of having it stand out on it's own it would look nice blended in with the wood. It would be cool to get some plants growing on it.

One of the things I have learned and is kind of the key to aquascaping as they say, is the rule of thirds with your placement of hardscape and plants. I think in aquascaping the "artist" part comes after research and trial and error We can all do it if we really want to!

I've only heard good things about the hydor heaters, so I hope it works out well for you.

And props to you for saving those neons! I totally hear you on that. I tend to avoid going to those sections of the store just because I can't bear to see.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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I think the way its set actually helps to hide some of its size, though I'm not against moving it a bit further in. Also considering trimming the long branch on that piece of driftwood in the center, it's a little ungainly. I'm also tempted to lay the rock down flat, but think it may take up a lot of ground in the tank, and take away from the sense of scale I'm trying for.

I'm probably going to cave soon and buy some xmas moss from my LFS of choice (it's not walmart, I promise).
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-30-2015, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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Picked up some pygmy cory's today, and since the tank has been running for about a week I checked water. 7.0ph perfect, 0 nitrates/trites/ammonia, fairly soft water (only did general hardness test today, 3dh or ~54ppm. So far so good, just need to lower the pH a little (shooting for 6.5) over time. Also grabbed two small balls of xmas moss, once I get hardscape set that will go to the "trees"
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-30-2015, 11:48 AM
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Has your tank cycled already? Pygmy corys are the best!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-30-2015, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemananana View Post
Has your tank cycled already? Pygmy corys are the best!
Cringe if you like, but it's cycling now. I'm doing twice weekly water changes for the month at about 40% each.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-30-2015, 04:02 PM
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It is stressful for the fish and I'm a big advocate of the 'fishless cycle', but I don't see it as being cringe worthy to cycle it with fish. Many people do just that but without plants and have many deaths. I also think the home you have is FAR superior to a super market chain. So even if you do cycle it with the fish in there, I think it is better than some of the other alternatives.

Rant over.

Where are the shots of the corys?! They are my favorite little guys. Also, if you need some floating plants, send me PM. I'll give you some frogbit to start off some of your plant mass.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-30-2015, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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I definitely concede a fish involved cycle can be stressful, especially (and here's the key) if they're exposed to massive spikes in NI/NA/AM. That's why I'm testing water weekly and doing two changes per week. The beneficial bacteria will still grow in, but there won't be massive spikes of poisonous compounds. I've got little time now, but when I'm home I'd probably get into a bit of a rant regarding water change "wisdom" (the kind of thing that goes along the lines of the watts per gallon rating for plants).

Pictures of corys will come tonight when I'm home!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-30-2015, 05:23 PM
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Absolutely. If you are doing regular water changes and keeping levels down, it might not be too bad. I've seen people run without filters and do only water changes, so you are inline with that. Any plant choices beside the moss?
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-01-2015, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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So basically with the water changes and cycling the tank, because I'm doing such an increased volume of water changes the bad chems will never get to the point where they harm the fish, but still allow for the beneficial bacteria to grow. What causes fish stress/shock in water changes is if there's a big swing in water parameters like pH or hardness. My water is currently stable, comes out of the tap at 7.0 with very low hardness, akin to whats in the tank. Aside from a hose being in the tank to drain it, it's a low stress environment.

That being said, 1 of the pygmy's seems to have kicked it. I floated them for an hour, adding 2tbsp of tank water to the bag every 5 minutes or so, and when released just that one sank to the bottom and stayed still hyperventilating. The other 6 were all fine and schooling/playing among themselves and the 10 neons (no casualties from them surprisingly) within minutes. That one ended up passing not overnight, but this morning.

That aside, I spent a bit of time trying to capture a picture or two of them, but they would not stay still long enough for me to get anything decent.





Plants I've been trying to decide, my thoughts were going to be dwarf baby tears for carpet plant, and possibly some red wendtii around the large rock. Not sure about that though as it'd remove from the sense of height with larger leaves. Had not considered floating plants, aside from I DON'T WANT DUCKWEED. Despise that stuff when it's not called for. It can be beneficial at times though, if in case you wanted nutrient control that stuff will pull nutrients out faster than a lot of algae in my experience.



For reference, that was about 8 or so years ago, a 55g tank I did way before aquascaping was such the phenomenon (and rightfully so it is now)

That was all on T8 lamps, 80w and I picked the bulbs specifically for the color spectrum output they had (spikes in red and blue, go figure). Plant growth was absurd then, as you can see by those amazon swords. No color enhancements or any doctoring of the photo. That was simply dosing excel and seachem iron supp.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2015, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Beginning to thread some christmas moss onto my driftwood, that's also shown signs of growth, and oddly enough a little bit of pearling in spots. The LFS only had two small clumps, so I'm having to grow it out in little containers on my window sill until I get my light in. That's actually working well.

Now, I had to double check my math in this as uncommon sense dictates that I must be wrong. I counted my corydoras today and only got 5. Counted my neon tetras and got 10.

How am I down 2 corydoras from a good quality LFS (background is I actually worked with the owner when she was employed by another LFS, neither one of us cared to work for that owner, she finally left there and opened her own place, I left there years ago when I got a full time job), yet somehow the 10 neon tetras are still around and doing better. The tetras at least are starting to bulk and color up nicely.

Can't figure it out, readings are 0 for na/ni/am, ph 7.0, soft water. The corys should be more than happy in that. No outwardly visible sign of stress on the one I lost last night, just passed quietly.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Lighting is in, let it begin!


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