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  Topic Review (Newest First)
05-19-2017 06:30 PM
GeoJB Just a link for me to read later.
thanks for your efforts!!!!
08-06-2016 08:23 PM
crazymittens Automation thread here.

Decided my tank journal wasn't really the place for that kinda thing.
07-29-2016 12:45 AM
crazymittens Huh, well, better nate than lever as they say. A year and a half later...I'll pull the montage from this thread...

A walk through time...
Here's the full history of this tank. A few of the shots are from the back it looks flipped.

October 2013 - Start date

January 2014

January 2015

January 2016

July 2016

So...what are the next steps...
Well, for starters, going to start doing water changes. I suspect that once the tank's MTS ran out of steam (assuming that's what happened), the plants gave up, and thus a large drop in beneficial bacteria, thus fish not happy. I think it's still not awful (I would bet basic levels are fine), but definitely needs some attention - the last 6 months have brought a dramatic decline in plants.

So, some replacement parts for my python system ordered! And finally ordered some long scissors/tweezers! Woo!

Immediate plans
  • Start doing monthly or bi-weekly water changes (as often as life permits, really)
  • Looking (seriously) into a drip in/out automation system (constant water changes vs. 25%) - this is going to be crucial to the next few years of this tank's life.

Near-term plans
  • Ferts/ I really need them?
  • CO2 is the answer? (probably not?)
  • Weekly tank evaluations
  • Get a more detailed test kit

Long-term plans
  • Move all fish into the 20G w. XP1
  • Pull all plants, figure something out for them
  • Drain the tank, re-do the soil substrate (not MTS this time, some sort of deeper soil/clay/etc bed)
  • Fix primary siphon issue that's annoyed me for 3 years
  • Fix ghetto return plumbing that has caused multi-gallon floods more than once
  • Build some sort of light hood, or make the light/return line look less ghetto
  • Box in plumbing
  • Build glass top for overflow box
  • Build better anti-fish-escape grating
  • Add one nice big rock, or perhaps two 'tower' rocks?
  • Seal the sump already (in a less-ghetto way)

So what?
So I mention constant drip water changes and how important that is. Why? Well, the first 3 years were all about 'can we truly run MTS maintenance-free?'. I think the answer is a safe 'yes', but now it's time for a new experiment. 'How long can we keep fish alive?' I really would like a large school of cardinals/neons, but they simply didn't last in this environment. So...if we can keep the platies going longer than 6-12 months, then I would say the tank's ready for a large school.

And the constant drip water changes - this would mean no 'big deal water changes'. i.e. to do a water change with the python, it is an event. 3 small boys are very very very interested in things that create messes. So this has to be automated and a non-event.

I work in the software world, and the principle is the same - not-often large events always have problems. Constant small events make it easier to mitigate risk, improve process, and move faster. (manufacturing has learned this a long time ago) SO! Let's learn from folk and try to automate constant water changes. Saw a thread of a guy in the UK who used a Raspberry PI and optical ATO sensor - I will probably pirate those learnings.

So there we go. The next phase of this tank has started. Plus, we can introduce the young-uns to more tank life than just 'watch the fish'.
01-31-2015 12:03 AM
crazymittens I should do one, ya. Been meaning to post up some pictures, too.
01-30-2015 11:39 PM
tylergvolk Nice, I love the big school. Making another video? 😄
01-17-2015 06:35 PM
crazymittens Big Al's had a sale today, neons 10 for $2.99. Noticed in the store tank that there were a half-dozen already looking kinda weak, so got 40 to be safe.

You can see the difference here between new neons, old neons, and cardinals. When I got the old neons, they were this size. (edit: actually, I lie - you can't really see the cardinals here...but they are like 1.5-2.0x the size of the 'grown' neons.

01-12-2015 10:00 AM
crazymittens There we go, videos uploaded. Nothing fancy! It would be lovely to have a decent camera for this kind of thing. In the mean time - iPotato!

Close up

Full tank pan

Feeding the fish
01-12-2015 12:53 AM
crazymittens I feel like these pics are much less potato-cam-ey. I held the phone against the tank to stabilize.



The reds here are quite intense in person.

Nice healthy growth.

Have a few videos to upload tomorrow, too.
01-09-2015 03:04 PM
kzeller Got it. Just wanted to clarify. Thanks
01-09-2015 10:07 AM
crazymittens Yep. I suspect that CO2 would resolve that, but it really doesn't concern me that much.

It's only an issue because the tank is so deep - 22" - where the top ~6" is just water really. That means the light has to be cranked up to get down to where the plants are, so anything in that top 6" is getting wayyyy too much light.

I don't dose or do root tabs or anything like that, so the plants will always be beaten out by algae if the lighting conditions are right. ( I think that's how it works... )
01-09-2015 04:47 AM
kzeller Do you only have the algae issue at the surface near the light?
01-04-2015 02:44 AM
crazymittens Thanks, it's really not that bad now that it's set up, zero effort required. Was worth the up-front effort.

This latest BML unit has been fine for...not sure how long. A while anyways. I suspect the first one was just an early-run manufacturing thing, or somebody had a bad day - according to BML their post-mortem indicated a failed solder joint (IIRC). I did have some issues around back-office confusion, but it was quickly resolved. Would buy from them again if that means anything.

I run it at ~50% with two photoperiods totalling something like 7-8 hours (attempt to keep algae at bay).
01-02-2015 08:21 PM
kzeller This really is amazing. I just spent the last 2 hrs reading all 27 pages of this thread. I like DIY but I think I would have tapped out a long time ago. VERY NICE. Congrats on the completion, sorry for the losses and a question. How do you like the BML light and if I missed it whatever happened that casued the light mishap, only half of it to light up?
01-02-2015 01:04 AM
crazymittens Okie dokie, pictures from the pOtatophone.

Full tank shot

I've been trimming the vals quite consistently and it's paying off, runners galore. The crypts on the right might be growing...but not much. I trimmed a few leaves off every plant in that section a few weeks ago.

The reddish stem plants on the left I've started trimming in the hopes of encouraging growth. The moss is growing quite well, too.

Algae growth near the lights (trimmed today)
By 'trim' I mean, 'grabbed a bunch'...

Neons and black skirts
Not sure if I mentioned, got a whole whack of these from a local guy. He bought them from some South American wholesaler or something. Originally bought 60-70, their population has been stable for months now, but probably only.. 30? left. Impossible to count. I suspect the black skirts were eating them, but then they grew too large. Probably have grown 30-40% since I got them.

Neons and platy
The last platy. He's a trooper.

Roseline sharks
These could also be 'torpedo barbs', or a whole pile of different names. Supposed to get quite large - 4-5" - so the LFS staff recommended maximum 3-5 for this tank. I thought that was kinda low...but hey. So we got 5.

My keep-my-nose-insidey-hole
I want to get a pair of rams to live here. Make those good-for-nothing tetras swim a little!! Buncha grumps.

Need this section to grow in

The bottom of this guy started sprouting...

So I took a chunk off the middle, left it floating - anchored by roots

Runners from the vals

This...sword?...has never really thrived, but a 5th leaf!

Anubias finally recovering

Jus' a lil guy...

Bump: Also, I have had a wacky idea to build a custom tank for my desk at work. If that becomes a thing, I think I'll quite possibly build a full-length sump (think 100 gallons) and just fill this tank with neons. Crazy new-year ideas!!
12-30-2014 03:18 PM
crazymittens Huh, guess it's time for an update. June! Yeesh.

The good
  • The jungle vals are really taking off now that I've started trimming them
  • New boxing day fish - roseline sharks (torpedo barbs?), got 5 - very nice fish, acclimating well so far
  • The tank is still pretty much maintenance-free, just top-offs and feeding when I remember

The bad
  • My youngest son is 'a vertical child' and used the outlet piping as a monkey bar, dislodging it from the sump pumps, causing minor flood (~10G on the carpet) - no issues since we trained him to stop doing that
  • That spindly plant that was growing like crazy for a while suddenly died off - I think due to me not pruning it

The ugly
  • A bunch of fish (half dozen) have died over the last 6 months, I presume age
  • The angels all went belly-up - possibly due to the heavy fighting when initially introduced, possibly due to genetic issues, possibly due to water params

Despite the 'mass deaths', we still have 80-90% of the original Tetras going strong, plus the new group of neons stopped disappearing shortly after being introduced. Seriously, the black skirt tetras we got ~2 years ago have not had a single death through all of this. Seems like some fish just don't deal with the water params (i.e. hardness/dissolved solids or whatnot). Ammonia/nitrites/nitrates are 0/0/~10-15 whenever I bother checking them - so considering I do not do water changes, I'd say pretty darn good, and consistent.

Evap rates are something like 5-10 gallons a month, but then I have an open overflow and not 100% sealed sump (95%). So really just 5-10 minutes a month to refill and add a little water conditioner.

Algae grows up near the light (green hair stuff), but I just pull out clumps of once a month or so to keep it in check. I'm thinking that if I can trim/prune to encourage growth, it'll further slow the algae.

More fish?
For Boxing Day sales, the local BigAl's had German rams - standard gold/blue, plus electric blue (plus electric blue balloon!). I'd read they were fine if you had a consistent and established tank, but they did not (could not find?) any females, and the whole parenting thing is kinda why you get them right?

Beyond that, going forward the only thing I'll be adding is neon tetras from local suppliers. The school of 30 or so is the beginning of just what I wanted in an aquarium.

The to-do list
  • Take some updated pictures & video
  • Learn how to properly prune/encourage growth of other plants
  • Reconsider adding shrimp in...maybe this time they won't get eaten...
  • Do (more) water changes to help plants grow
  • Some day make a cover for the overflow
  • Some day seal the sump
  • Some day get into CO2
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