Here's what I've been up to the past couple months with this multi-tank stand (MTS... haha).
Up top is a 20L grow-out tank of sorts for an Anubias coffeefolia and a couple Java Fern rhizomes I had left over. What we got here is inert substrate, 60W equivalent LED in a shop lamp light, HOB... a quick-and-dirty tank setup to get momentum built back up on this project. Right now it has 11 neon tetras, but it previously held my 6 Torquoise Rainbowfish for quarantine. This tank won't stay in this setup for much longer.
Check out the little Java Fern plantlets growing on the roots off of this rhizome... this is the only one I've seen this happen with.
You'll notice that I have Peace Lilies sprouting out of the tops of both these tanks. That's an experiment I started about a month ago with the suction cup planters I got from Riparium Supply. So far so good. There's new leaf growth and I see the roots growing/working their way through the media. These plants represent 1/2 of the plants I thinned out of a Peace Lilly pot I bought for $8.99 or something from one of the big home improvement stores. I plan to supplement with more planters made with similar-looking clear acrylic suction shower things I found at Meijer in the bathroom section. They're big and are shaped like a fat slice of pie to fit into the corner. I'll have to get some more plant species to try out with this. (I should document this and share if I remember.)
My intention is to have more riparium plants in the top tank to add to the height. I'm going for the most use of the vertical space.
On the bottom we have another 20L with dirt and a Flourite Black gravel cap (kinda silly, but I had the Flourite already). Sponge filter, 50W heater, and two 60W equivalent LED bulbs in some reconfigured spotlight fixtures. I'm not happy with how the bulbs stick out of the fixtures... I don't think I used the appropriate bulb size.
The dirt on the bottom is Miracle Grow Organic Choice Garden Soil (never again... too much wood) with a little less than a pound of Amaco Mexican Red Clay broken into little balls and mixed in somewhat. Tannins leaching were way higher than I expected... needed 2x 50% water changes each week or more to keep up with tannins for the first ~6 weeks and I have reduced to weekly changes. Using RO water at 6 degrees of hardness with Equilibrium, and weekly doses of 2mL Seachem Flourish for micro-nutrients.
I planted relatively heavily in the beginning. I got most of my plants for the bottom tank from Dustin at Aquatic Jungles out of appreciation for his prolific YouTube videos; they include an unidentified Sword, Jungle Vals, Dwarf Sag., Anubias (barteri?), rotala, and some Water Sprite or something that didn't make it. The Jungle Vals are all rotting off at the substrate level and floating away, and I don't know why. I added from my LFS a bunch of crypts that completely melted and are sheepishly growing back, plus a clump of Myriophyllum mattogrossense that melted but is regrowing from the tips of the stems. These last two plant species look like hell, but I'm going to give them their time.
My plants from Aquatic Jungles arrived just before I went on a week vacation back in August. So, I let them float in the top tank because the bottom one didn't even have water in it. While they were floating around up there with the Turquoise Rainbows, the 'bows must have gotten frisky and scattered an egg or two that I must have transferred to the bottom tank. About two weeks ago I found a tiny fry wiggling around while I was removing plant debris and wood bits during a water change. He must be chowing down on all the wee beasties in the newly-dirted tank.
My next steps are to move that top tank somewhere else, move the bottom tank up top, and rebuild one of my 29 gallon tanks to sit down in the bottom spot (notice the gap between the tanks that ought to reduce with the taller 29 tank). I got a submersible sump pump and built some overflow plumbing to tie the tanks together with a hidden 10 gallon tank behind the stand as a sump. The overflow system worked great in my tests, but I'm not ready to tie the tanks together quite yet. I'll put off showing the plumbing for another post.