I've been really wanting something for my desk at work (besides all of the plant-only terrariums
) I thought for a while about a fire-belly newt since the LFS near work had them on sale. Then I considered a dart frog in a cool vivarium, but figured the other cubicle denizens might object to chirping.
Finally I decided to put up a small planted tank and, darn it, I was going to do it right from the get-go this time. No more starting small and gradually spending more and more until it looks like I wanted. I did research by spending a few weeks drooling over last year's ADA catalog. Just in case my wife picked up on my brainwaves (1) and bought me a tank for Xmas, I waited until the 26th then called the LFS to make sure they were open (2).
I think they're starting to recognize me at the LFS, mostly because I'm getting known around my usual haunts as "that guy with the car
." I let them know I was looking for a desktop tank, light, CO2 setup and the associated appurtenances (3). They were more than helpful, but I was indecisive and the store was pretty busy so I wandered by myself for a while looking at tanks, comparing lights, and checking out the miniature CO2 setups (4).
To ADA or not to ADA? I had been ogling the catalog and really liked the Mini-M, but I knew no-one at work would notice the difference in quality between the ADA, Do-Aqua!, or the economy brand. I also kinda liked the curved front corners on some of the cheaper tanks, and I knew the cost savings could help fund all of the other stuff I would need. Finally the pure white edges and pristine silicone of the ADA won me over and I knew I would much prefer looking at it 40 hours a week.
I bought a Clippard Mouse solenoid from OverStocked for another project several years ago, so I definitely needed a system with a real regulator. That let out the cheaper of the Fluval setups (5). That left the bigger 88g Fluval set, the ADA, and a new one I'd never heard of from a company called Varzea. The store used both it and the Fluval on their shrimp tanks on the counter, but recommended the Varzea. It said right on the box that it "allows for the use of an electronic solenoid." Plus the refills were cheaper, so that settled it. I also picked up a 3-pack of the 95g cylinders because I knew if I didn't pre-stock, I'd end up running out, forgetting to get more and eventually killing plants.
I really wanted medium to high light. But I also liked the look of the 7W slim LED light they were using on their shrimp tanks (6) and I like the longevity of LEDs. I'm a sucker for form over function, so I ended up with the LED.
The filter I wanted was the ADA Super Jet with Lily Pipes
, but that wasn't going to happen. The guy at the LFS recommended a tiny HOB because too much flow would dissipate the CO2. At this point I was getting sticker shock, and the HOB was cheap, so into the basket it went, along with a small Marineland heater, a large bag (7) of New Amazonia, a decent looking piece of wood, some Glosso (8), Narrow Leaf Micro-Sword and a large mat of Riccia.
Enough text, how about a few pics?
I added water and mulm from my 40b and I currently have an extra 100W heater in there to keep the temp around 85 F while it cycles. I am keeping an eye on the ammonia from the Amazonia and doing water changes to keep it below 5ppm so I don't inhibit the bacteria growth. The Creeping Jenny, Hygro and floating Blyxa will come out once the cycle gets farther along (9).
I am really happy with the looks so far, but I'm wondering if I'll need more light to keep the Glosso low. The eventual goal is to host some shrimp (10) and a couple of Scarlet Badis. I'm off work until the 7th, so I'm getting it set up at home and planning to drain and transport it later. Anyone have advice?
(1) She does that, you know.
(2) Jo-Jo Aquarium for anyone in Sac looking for a great store.
(3) I've been watching the Wheeler Dealer marathon on the Velocity channel and the British slang is rubbing off. Only remotely like how my wife instantly reverts to her southern accent when the person on the other end of the phone has one.
(4) I knew that even a paintball canister would attract too much attention from the HSE department, let alone a full size CO2 cylinder.
(5) And coincidentally steered me away from the Fluval Flora, which would have been 1/4 the price initially, but probably more in the long run if I couldn't turn off the CO2 at night easily.
(6) Their small tanks seemed to be growing HC rather well.
(7) Because, evidently, a single small bag couldn't get the depth and slope I needed. After laying it out, I'd say it would have been close, but better safe than sorry. I cheaped out on my substrate before and regret it every time I trim and replant.
(8) I had my heart set on HC, but the few old pots they had were well past their sell-by date and the new order hadn't shown up yet. I've heard great things about Glosso and a new order had just arrived, so I took that.
(9) When the BB and long term plants can keep the ammonia under control.
(10) CRS or RCS. The cheap ones, I can't remember which is which. I haven't had a lot of luck with shrimp, so nothing expensive.