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OVT 03-07-2013 02:41 PM

Lo Tec 10g step-by-step: as told with a ton of crappy pictures and failed logic
About 3 weeks ago I came across a frame-less no-brand 10g at LFS. At $50, my self-control was nowhere to be found - I got the tank. It will replace my neglected 4g.

The specs:
Tank: rimless 10g glass tank with curved front corners (17.5" x 11.25" x 12")
Filter: seeded Finnex PX-360
Light: 2 x EcoSmart 19w CFL
Substrate: ~3l of ADA Amazonia "Milti"
Heater: Tetra 100w pre-set (78F)

The scaping idea was to get away from my usual jungles and do something simple, cheap, and low tech (no co2). Namely: 3 rocks in the center with taller plants fanning out, no driftwood, with the rest of the tank open with some low ground cover.

The stones were generously donated by a TPT friend, talontsiawd, who loaded me with at least 200lb on my last visit to his house. His gift is much appreciated and really helped me to make my idea a reality. Thank you, friend!

I was also lucky with the flora side of the scape as I usually have a ton of plants hidden in various containers around the house. My personal challenge was to keep true to my goal of non-over-planted tank and to resist the urge to 'save' the plants by dumping them into the new real estate.

The idea in action (with the usual self-portrait):

As far as my idea goes, all of my personal goals are now met.

The genius at work (do cover that expensive chair):

The inventive shot, from above:

Just to waste some more time, a shot from some side:

Remembering that "aquatic" has some remote relationship to the project:

Ready for fish:

The whole mess, better visible with the addition of the Finnex light:

Gotta warm that coffee up:

Add a filter to de-caff the ADA's evil brew:

Plants from secret place A:

Add some spice:

Plants from secret place B:

And from one more:

Oh, don't forget this one:

And this one:

Dump and stir:

The back view:

The last business of the night was to move the existing fauna from the de-commissioned 4: 5 Black Molly fry and a motley assortment of snails were moved in:

That's AM and mission accomplished:

I left the tank alone for a week and started musing on my favorite sabject: lights.

OVT 03-08-2013 09:52 PM

The light delema
I was not that happy with the Finnex 26W clip-on light: it was not bright enough for me, covered only ~ 1/2 of the tank and was too close to the surface.

Going back and forth between different options and my PayPal balance, I finally settled on using ZooMed adjustable light stand and ZooMed mini double deep dome light fixture loaded with 2 75W EcoSmart CLF bulbs from HomeDepot. After taking advantage of sales at PetSmart and Amazon, my total hit was just under $50.

Currently, one bulb is on for 10 hours and the second one is on for ~6 hours per day. Since day one, dosing consists of 10ml Excel and my EI dosing on alternative days.

bluestems 03-08-2013 10:13 PM

I really like this, from the rocks to the plants. Not sure how it's not headed toward "your usual jungle setup", but who cares. It looks great!

Chulios66 03-08-2013 10:39 PM

How did you get so many plants, I mean WOW!!! Nice setup btw

OVT 03-08-2013 11:05 PM

Even though I like plants, I do like something moving among them. The 5 existing Black Molly fry and the snails did not satisfy my desire for more fins. That started my predictable search for the additional occupants.

Over the following 2 weeks I jerked around many people and single-handedly propelled the hit count on anything fishy to the new heights on Google. Given that I only had 10g to play with, I concentrated on 'nano' fish: CPD, badis, ember tetras, rasboras of different stripes and colors, Microdevario kubotai, and even glow light tetras were on my list.

Predictably, I ended up with something different: C. pygmaeus and Sparkling Gourami. Even this effort did no go without snafus. The first shipment of fish arrived with some DOAs (for which I was given prompt, no questions asked credit). The subsequent order was screwed up by me as I went long on the previous DOAs and the seller run out of corys.

First Fish Order (recieved 2 weeks ago):
13 C. pygmaeus (including 1 'extra')
2 Sparkling Gourami (+4 DOA)

After 15 mins of acclimation, all fish promptly went into the tank.

Even if you know that the fish is tiny, you are still unprepared to how tiny. Very tiny indeed. Hard to believe that you can 'loose' 15 fish in a 10g.

After watching the fish for about a week I decided that more is better and that I'm missing that all-elusive 'center fish'. That lead me on another chaise that was not without it's own set of issues.

The sale at PetSmart was my downfall: against my better judgement and experience I decided that saving a $1 per fish was too hard to resist. I was going to get 4 German Blue Rams but after examining the PetSmart's stock I took home just 1 pair as they did not have another male to my liking. Back I went the next day (when they receive new fish) and home I went with 1 more.

Why 1 M + 1 F were not good enough for me? First off, the rams are max 1", even when wet. Second, my experience with a single pair of cichlids or with 1 M + 2 F are not that great: either the pair does not like each other and fight for the rest of their lives or one F kills the rival F. Blah... So, the common wisdom is to get around 6 juvies and let them sort things out. Right, it's all logical but no one told that to the rams.

Initially, my 1 M + 2 F decided to make the other 1 M's life difficult. Like chasing him around and pushing him in the side. Once that game got stale, 1 M + 1 F decided that there will be more romance in their future. Now the previously persecuted M is left alone, but one F is chasing the other F. Reminds me of the HS. The only good news here is that if the current state of likes/dislikes holds, the 10g will be left to the lover birds and the other M+F will get moved to another tank. IF I can catch them... and if I do ... the right ones.

The Subsequent Fish Order (received today):
7 C. pygmaeus (ordered 12 but the seller run out)
4 Sparkling Gourami

All alive. The 7 corys promptly went into the tank and do what corys do the first 1/2 hour: swimming all over the place :)

Now, everything is well but do I really want/can have 6 Gourami in a 10g? Scratch head here, scratch head there. Damn if you, do damn if you don't. My mistake - gotta find a solution. After some fuzzy soul searching and self-lynching I add 1 new Gourami to the 10g and (gasp) add the other 3 to my 17g.

What's wrong with that brilliant solution? The new Gourami is being chased by the other 2. Crossing my fingers that they will work things out, helpd out by me moving some plants around. Gotta watch that now and hope for no dead bodies.

The 17g for the other 3 new Gourami was a panic-driven compromise. It's a great, established, over-planted and under-stocked tank:

It houses 12 ottos and 2 and a half Black Mollies. BUT it is also home to 4 Dwarf Puffers... Oh my. Did I just fed some young, innocent fish to them? It's not even the $$. It's that feeling of dread when your stupid actions are likely to result in something bad and irreversible. 15 mins after my 'dinner served' action I brave a peek into the 17g: one Sparkling Grourami is calmly swimming right between 2 DPs that are an inch apart. Um, I have no idea what is going through the DPs murderous brains... They have been leaving Black Molly fry alone for the last couple of months but this!?! Another tank that needs close watching and some prayers.

As they say: "The worst enemy of Good, is Better".

OVT 03-08-2013 11:27 PM


Originally Posted by bluestems (Post 2769426)
I really like this, from the rocks to the plants. Not sure how it's not headed toward "your usual jungle setup", but who cares. It looks great!

Thank you, all. And that's soo true. So true it hurts. I swear, 'empty tank' was the goal. Still is. Wish me well, I just might overcome my plant addiction.

But then, I do have an excuse, to be explained in a bit. An excuse I just might be able to hide behind. Maybe.

Brian Mc 03-08-2013 11:28 PM

Nice tanks! You are cracking me up here. The Petsmart ram sale got me too. F+F doesn't work either, long story lol.

OVT 03-09-2013 12:09 AM

Dwarf Puffers with Sparkling Gouramis
I have to admit that I am scared to take a closer look at the tank. Not looking insed of the tank is a hard taks as the tank is strategically located. It is right in the middle of my most often-traveled routes: between my office and the kitchen and the office and the nearest bathroom. Maybe if I just give up on the fridge I could avoid the bathroom. But that goal is not achivable in my lifetime.

Anyways, I see 3 fat puffers. I see no 3 gouramis. Today the puffers have been feed every hour or so with handfulls of snails (I have a separate bucket for snails). Maybe they will associate the arrival of gouramies with unlimited supply of live food.

Maybe they will even start worshiping the gouramies as "Snail Gods" and co-exist peacefully in their bloated state. I can only dream.

Meanwhile, I'm going to take the dog for a really long walk to avoid my usual route and hope for the best on the return home.

The 60-P, view form the back. Can you see a puffer? I certainly don't see a single gouramie :(

OVT 03-09-2013 03:35 AM

I am a hoarder when it comes to plants. I just cannot bring myself to throw healthy plants away. All 3 LFSs in the area quickly learnt to slam the front doors in my face. The current For Sale/Trade is hit and miss and I also get too easily annoyed with people who PM "are the plants still available?" and never reply back. Or reply back with a bunch of questions, for a week, and then just disappear. A simple "Thank you, but now is not a good time" is perfectly acceptable. Not getting back to me at all is not. Therefore, my "Ignore list" and my collection of buckets is growing.

Current Flora:
Blyxa Japonica
HM (just because I had some)
Brazilian Pennywort
Rotala 'Bangladesh'
Rotala roundifolia (a couple of stems I had no other place for)
Clinopodium Brownei
Ludwigia repens x arcuata (3 small cuttings I could not bring myself to toss)
Red Tiger Lotus (from the old 4g)
Banana Plant (from the old 4g)
Water Sprite (hey, why not?)
Limnophila sessiliflora
Sagittaria (was laying around)
Hygrophila corymbosa/'Siamensis'/'Kompakt' (need to grow them out)

Did I miss anything? LOL

Call it a blessing or a curse, but when I have 'kitchen sink" RAOKs, or give Nesaea Red to other people to try, or can ship enough plants to fully plant anything from 5g to 240g, I certainly have enough plants for my new tank. Every time I try to thin out my 65g I end up with something like this:

I am telling you, it's a disease. No wonder I have 5 more tanks overflowing with plants. That was one reason why I wanted to keep this 10g simple and low-tech. I will fail, unless you help out ...

hisxlency 03-09-2013 04:07 AM

the tank looks great. If you ever ROAK that plethora/pile o' plants let me know. My little 20L pales in comparison!

OVT 03-09-2013 04:31 AM

Flora - lame excuses for an over-planted tank
I really like the Iwagumi (sic?) look - open, bright, and calming. Some stones, some ground cover, a small shoal of fish and, BOOM! - a finished tank. And that's exactly what I had in mind for this 10g (and for the 17g, and for the 40B before that.., and for the 24x24x12 I cannot find).

Once you fail to reach your own goal, what is the next step? Exactly! Start blaming everything and everyone for your personal shortcomings. As they say in the business world after a project bites the dust: fire the uninvolved, punish the innocent, and promote the guilty. In that spirit, here is my list of excuses for an over-planted tank:

Excuse 1: New Tank: we all know that the best way to avoid future issues is to over-plant the tank from the get go. This also happens to be the only advise of many that I give that I actually follow.

Excuse 2: Tank Looks Empty: this one reminds me of the "pickle jar effect". When we buy a jar of pickles we expect the jar to be full. Full means that the pickles are stuffed end to end, side to side, top to bottom - if you shake the jar, the pickles are not supposed to move. If they do, you get another jar. The full jar certainly looks worth our money. A jar with pickles moving around like s**t is disgusting. To me, a fully planted tank is a tank that you cannot see behind the first row of plants touching the front glass. And the back glass, and the side glass. If it still looks empty, then there are always floating plants. If you see the fish moving around, the tank is only half-planted. Enough said.

Excuse 3: Fish Needs It: that's an excuse that make you feel good. I did a diligent search on the requirements of the fish I was going to keep in this tank. Statements like "requires a densely planted tank", "requires the cover of the floating plants", "aggression cut down by the broken line of sight, best accomplished by plants", etc etc etc bring joy to my heart. (Statements that fish cares less if the plants are real of fake get overlooked, dismissed, and laughed at).

Excuse 4: Natural Filter: The plants act as the natural filter. The plants will suck up all of the unwanted, dangerous, algae-promoting chemicals. A tank full of healthy plants is the best algae prevention. A planted tank is a healthy tank. True or false, I want to *pay* people for more comments like that.

Excuse 5: I Got Plants: this excuse is right up my alley. It is inhumane to put the extra plants through the blender. It's illegal to dump extra plants into your local water supply (use the water supply in the next county). Rotting plants gross out your SO. Too many plants (WHOA!) kill the other plants in your tank. SnS sucks. Hey, that plant is looking red and healthy. This is a perfect excuse to hoard more plants. This is a pefect excuse that drives 97% of the new tank sales in the US and Canada.

Excuse 6: Equipment: I personally do not like seeing heaters, in/out flows, diffusers, pumps, etc in tanks. It just discracts me from the 'natural' illusion. A bunch of corys sitting on top of the heater makes for a cute pictures, but still rubs me the wrong way. Even if I use everything in-line, I have no idea how to drill a tank to hide the filter pipes. I use stem plants to hide them. More excuses for more plants.

Excuse 7: Bad Karma: I'm sort of running out of excuses here, but I'm sure that given enough time and inventiveness I'll get to Excuse 73. If you have never had an addiction, you just cannot identify with me. We just speak different languages and we have 0 connection. The plant addiction should be finally recognized by CDC, should not be grounds for discrimination, and should be covered by your health insurance.

This tank of mine NEEDS MORE PLANTS:

Nolan 03-09-2013 06:03 AM


I like the wild underwater jungle look more than the clean and serene scapes myself.

OVT 03-09-2013 01:33 PM

First WC and plant clean-up
The tank is now over 3 weeks old and it's time for the first WC. I take the opportunity to weed out some of the plants in order to get to me original vision. The L. sessiliflora gets the first haircut and is moved all the way to the back to partially hide the filter pipes and the heater. One medium water sprite, one Vesuvius, most of R. roundifolia and Sag get the boot.

Full front:

Top front:

The back:

The prisoners:

talontsiawd 03-10-2013 07:02 AM

Glad you found a use for my rocks. Even though it was quite a bit of rocks, I think you got about $8 worth lol. Pretty sure I got the better end of the deal.

Suggestion for the foreground...blyxa japonica can get pretty big, even in a low tech tank. The little bit you gave me is actually taking over my little 6 gallon and is about 4-5 in tall. I have found that Echinodorus tenellus is a good low tech plant but can grow tall as well. It's easier to maintain though. When you trim, it grows small at first and only gets tall over time. Belem is another option but will take a long time to fill in if you don't start with a lot. Very well suited to low tech though, no color change or growth habit changes, just slower growth. I have a small amount of each if you don't already have some, like a tiny bit but you can throw it in your other tanks to grow out, if you are interested and have a bunch of patience. Looks good regardless.

Glad you decided to try a low tech tank. You know that low tech nano's are right up my ally. I really suggest that you throw in some of your red plants that most would swear are not for non co2 enriched tanks. Some may not do as well as others but you will be surprised by a few. I know you have like every red plant so if you want to experiment, it's interesting. You may not get reds as vibrant as you would in your other tanks but you may get some results that surprise you, assuming you find the right balance.

I3raven 03-10-2013 03:38 PM


Originally Posted by OVT (Post 2769306)
I was not that happy with the Finnex 26W clip-on light: it was not bright enough for me, covered only ~ 1/2 of the tank and was too close to the surface.

Going back and forth between different options and my PayPal balance, I finally settled on using ZooMed adjustable light stand and ZooMed mini double deep dome light fixture loaded with 2 75W EcoSmart CLF bulbs from HomeDepot. After taking advantage of sales at PetSmart and Amazon, my total hit was just under $50.

Currently, one bulb is on for 10 hours and the second one is on for ~6 hours per day. Since day one, dosing consists of 10ml Excel and my EI dosing on alternative days.

If 26watts for a 10 gallon isn't enough, how many watts would you recommend for a 15 gallon? I'm planning to start a 17 gallon planted tank and I'm trying to find enough light for HC growth, but minimal algae growth.

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