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Navyblue 01-01-2013 06:53 PM

Navyblue's 22G Custom Rimless
This is my fist attempt at planted tank.

About 2 years ago I custom made a 2'x1.5'x1' shallow rimless tank, with the intention of housing a pair of clownfish and anemones.

However the project was soon neglected after it had started. This is as far as it went.

Anemones, corals and even the lighting were never added. Fast forward to last few months, I have mostly finished filling up my main reef tank which fell into a similar state of neglect. I moved the fishes to the big tank and the tank is left pretty much empty for a while.

The tank was plumbed to the sump of my main tank to share a common filtration system. I wasn't entirely happy with the way it was plumbed. It wasn't loud, but it wasn't dead silent either. I decided to rectify the plumbing or to remove it altogether. I decided with the later.

However, what should I do with the tank after it was disconnected? The easiest thing to do is to turn it into another reef tank, as I already own most if not all the necessary equipments. But now that it is disconnected from my main tank, all options are suddenly on the table. But the two options that stood out the most are a low maintenance soft coral tank versus a low maintenance low tech planted tank.

It took me a while to make the decision but I decided against a reef tank. Having a simpler and smaller reef sitting right next to a larger and more elaborate reef would just make it look lame. With a planted tank, it would at least be something different and provide a nice contrast to the reef tank.

Navyblue 01-01-2013 07:34 PM

I went hunting for a suitable lighting. After looking at a few pretty typical light strips in LFS, I decided that the look isn't quite what I was looking for.

Since I made the decision to go for fresh water planted tank. I thought it is a good time to empty my store room of salt water equipments that are no longer needed. Also I could use them to fund the this tank. While digging out stuffs from in store room I found this.

I was somewhat amused as I had no idea what it was. It looks like my handiwork, but I have no recollection of ever using it. May be it's a sign of age. It might be what I made for the refugium of my reef tank, but it probably never saw action. I am lazy and on a budget so I decided to use it.

I slapped it on a wooden plank.

The plank was unnecessarily large. I bought it for a somewhat different purpose, which is to make the tank lighting when I planned to set up the tank as a reef. I use it anyway so I didn't have to buy another one. I am lazy, and cheap. And of course I also didn't bother to trim it. The distance between the bulbs isn't optimal either, but I can't figure out how to dismantle it, despite I am the one the built it. :D And also I find the prospect of having to pay a visit to a hardware store to get more wires unappealing.

I also slapped together a light stand. The materials was bought for somewhat another purpose too. It was meant to hang a 150W MH when I planned the tank as an anemone tank more than 2 years ago, which never got built. After some measurement/calculation error and finding out I didn't have enough fittings to build the original design. I ended up with this, because as mentioned, I find the prospect of having to pay a visit to a hardware store unappealing. :D

Navyblue 01-02-2013 06:19 PM

Substrate is in. I might have gone overboard with the Seachem Fluorite. If my weighing scale is correct, it is 23kg. :D. Less than 1" at the front, slopes to 5" at the middle of the tank. I planned to get about 3" but I don't know what to do with those extra Fluorite.

I also have no idea on the aquascaping. For now, the slope stays this way. I'll have an anubias on driftwood at the middle of the slope. On the plateau I'll have stem plants and ferns, possibly some emersed plants as well.

Symmetry are frowned upon in all genre of aquascaping. With the substrate sloped this way, I can't think of a way to decently scape it in a non symmetrical manner. I think this is a "rule" that I am going to break. Any advice would be appreciated.

Navyblue 01-02-2013 06:22 PM

This tank will be filterless. To provide circulation I am going to use a Seio M620.

Thanks to the 5" substrate, I found a good place to hide the Seio. :D

The intake is under the substrate. I don't know if this would create problem though. I imagine the substrate particle is too heavy to be sucked in and the substrate is porous enough to allow water movement. But if it turns out to be a problem I can wrap a layer of filter material around the intake. This would also prevent shrimp/fish fries from getting sucked into the pump.

GMYukonon24s 01-02-2013 06:31 PM

Nice SW setup. That will be interesting how the Seio works in the substrate.

Navyblue 01-03-2013 05:54 AM

Thanks, but that SW setup is really a forgotten piece of mess. :D

I filled up the tank half way and fired up the Seio. It works, but the water splashing makes a lot of noise. Filling up the tank all the way would help, but I have a feeling that it would still be too splashy for my taste.

Navyblue 01-07-2013 09:41 AM

The LED light bulbs came in.

I filled it up with water, it was cloudy. I ran a filter on it hoping to clear the cloudiness, and also do a total water change everyday. It is getting better, but still far from crystal clear. Today I even tried one of those water clarifier which is supposed to coagulate the suspended particle into bigger pieces where they then can be removed by filters. I am not sure if it does anything though.

skindy 01-07-2013 10:28 AM

I have no clue why but so far this has got to be one of my favorite tank progress journals. I think it's because you're working with what you've got. It's pretty interesting and I look forward to your updates :P

Navyblue 01-07-2013 11:14 AM

Thank you. :)

I tend to improvise a lot, I think it has to do with my personality. However, in terms of setup, only the minimal are involved, so there is nothing to see here. Basically only the tank, light, powerhead, and the substrate.

Next step would be plants and woods. I visited a few LFS just now but came back empty handed. This is the first time I am doing this and my idea is extremely limited. My current plan is to have a rather large anubias nana tied to drift wood, somehow elevate the wood so that at least some of the leaves emersed at the back of the tank. I plant to place the powerhead underneath the wood, and I'll have some Java ferns cover up the powerhead. I think tubes, pumps and what not are ugly. The rest is rather fuzzy now, but I imagine I need some fast growing stem plants to absorb nutrients.

Any suggestions would be welcome. :)

Navyblue 01-09-2013 06:02 AM

After numerous total water changes over the days and all the precautions that I can take not to disturb the substrate, I finally have what I'd call an acceptable clarity.

I finally got some plants. I did a final (I promise) water change before putting the plants in. I did all I could to minimise cloudiness. I drained the substrate. with airline tube. I use airline tubing to siphon the water back into the tank for the first few inches, then with a small cup cushioned with plastic bag, then with a pump cushioned with a cup. It was crystal clear right from the start, right until I turned on the Seio that is buried in the substrate. :D Water has since cleared up a bit, but still cloudy.

There are two problems. The first is the plants are bigger than I thought. :D I should have gotten the smaller ones. I thought it was a "first stage" purchase, but it ended up as "almost done". This may seem anti climatc.

The light has poor spread, pretty much all the lit area are filled with plants. The unplanted area are what I'd call the "light spill" zone.

The second problem is, I think it is harder to aquascape a riparium-ish tank, since I have to take care that it looks good both from the front and the top. The front view part is basically regular aquascaping. The top view part is more like floral arrangement.

I think the look isn't what I wanted. I don't quite like the jungle look, but I have since learnt that whatever you do with anubias, ferns and wood it is going to have that jungle look. :D And the front view is quite crappy. Since when I stand in front of the tank I actually looked at it more from the top that from the front, so I prioritised the top view. Any advice would be appreciated here.

Also the anubias is in a bad shape. I heard that they are grown emerged at the farm. But I guess being out of the water for too long the leaves are rolled up. The leaves that has shorter stem seems to look better than those with a longer stem, even if those short stem leaves are actually not in the water. I hope it recovers/adjusts.

Navyblue 01-09-2013 05:10 PM

More plants. I don't know half of their names. I hope they would work in a low tech setup.

Still, I think the front view doesn't look as good. I thought the rows of stem plants make it look like some kind of backyard farm (not in a good way). :D

Plant wise, I think I am almost done. Next would be fishes and possibly shrimps.

skindy 01-09-2013 05:53 PM

I think adding the other plants was a good choice. It doesn't look too bad as you think it does. I'm not sure which plant that is on the left side (the long ones) but I feel like it might look better if you pushed it back into the background some more so that maybe it's on the same level as the giant anubias. Same thing with the fern attached to the rock on the left. I think it's a bit weird to me because it's elevated.

Either way, I'm looking forward to you adding some fish and shrimp!

Navyblue 01-09-2013 06:38 PM

I agree that it is unconventional to place tall stuffs in front. However I have a tendency to do that. :D

In my other tank, I also made it a point to have something taller to obscure the frontal view of some shorter things at the back. However they are not completely hidden, by changing the viewpoint, the hidden shorter stuff would become visible. IMHO, this kind of layering adds depth. I think I also read some who advocate this for smaller tank.

To me it kind of gives the impression that there are more stuffs beyond the back wall. However, in this case it might be a bit overdone. As the tank is too small and the plants are too large.

Another reason that I did not put that plant (I have no idea what that is too) further back, is that I want to keep a distance between it and the anubias/java fern cluster. IMHO it looks too similar with the Java fern that it would blend in if placed too close to one another. Or do you mean that I should put it to the left of the wisteria?

As for the split ends Java fern at the right, I do think it is quite a mistake, along with the anubias and the Java ferns at the back. I think they were too large and overwhelming for the tank. I didn't put it at the back because the split leaves look similar to the wisteria on the left, so it would look too symmetrical.

I do think there is a lot of problem with the aquascaping. Firstly, the plant choices made is kind of like grocery shopping, basically making do with what's on the shelves. Not only that I grabbed the wrong stuffs from the shelves. I suppose my inexperience with the plants shows. Secondly, I think the way that I slope the substrate (pleteau+slope) made the choices limited and difficult. I don't really know what to do with the substrate too. I am not sure if flat or a constant slope all the way to the back would be a better idea. I think random hills and valleys would be nice, like iwagumi, but I don't know if the shape would last.

So, I'll either leave most of it intact, or do a total makeover. I hate to disturb the substrate and cloud the water.

My plan for the fishes was 10 neon or cardinal tetra. If I don't do shrimp, I'll have oto as well. But with shrimps, is it better to do without the oto?

Navyblue 01-10-2013 03:13 PM

I tore everything apart and put it back together again, although it doesn't look to different. I kind of took your suggestion to move the tall plants further back. I also removed one of the java fern, I think they are too overwhelming.

I think I'll add just one more small plant and move on.

skindy 01-10-2013 06:42 PM

Ooooh it doesn't look too different but I think it is a bit more visually appealing. This one makes me perceive more "depth" with the plants. I really like it! I like the addition of the smaller plants to the right too. Are those microswords?

If you make it a shrimp tank you can absolutely add an oto in. You just need to make sure there is enough food for both the shrimp oto since they eat the same thing. Otos like company so I suggest two (or one now and one later) but then you definitely have to make sure there is enough food. They're really the only safe fish for baby shrimp.

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