Hello everybody! My 20L plans...
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:40 AM   #1
Al Slick
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Hello everybody! My 20L plans...


First I'd like to say hello to everybody!

I'm a college student currently and am getting back into the aquarium hobby. I have had tanks for about twelve years or so now and had many tanks from FO freshwater of many sizes to 55gallon and nano reefs! At the moment I have my 55gallon reef at my parents home and a small 2.5 in my room at school that house s some anubias nana and wisteria as well as one male guppy. My reef requires no attention (I don't even feed these fish) and the 2.5 has been running for about two weeks. I love aquariums but one thing that I realized I have never had is a successful planted aquarium.

I have a very busy schedule as I am a full time student and hold a part time job as well as work for my university. I have decided to create a tank that will have a decent amount of stability and self-sustaining qualities. I want a very naural set up that is both very beautiful as well as comfortable for the future inhabitants. I have a lot of details of this setup already planned and set in stone but I come to this community to help me fill in the details to ensure my success!

I am looking to house a group of what I believe to be Corydoras Bilineatus. I also want to add another group of schooling minnows, possibly Inpaichthys Kerri (Blue Emporor Tetras). I want to provide proper space, habitat, filtration, water flow, diet, temp, water params, etc for these fish to survive. You may have notied that both these fish are South American species and they both happen to be from the Madeira River. I would like to create a close biotope for these guys but I am not very familiar with this area of the world. The reaon that I came to this forum is that I want to include a full garden of plants in this tank as well. This is where I am unfamilliar. I want to create two seperate growing areas seperated by a large open sand bed for both species to swim freely.

With all that being said, here is what I have compiled (and already possess) so far:

20gallon long 30"x12"x12"
Hagen Aquaclear 50 power filter
Hagen theo 100w submersible heater
Retrofit 2x28w PC 6500K hood with reflectors
Some light timers and power strips
Misc. items i.e. thermometer, algae magnet, etc.

Now here are my stocking stats:

2 Corydoras Bilineatus
1 Male guppy
1 dwarf oto
2 amano shrimp

Anubias Nana
Hygrophilia
Rotala stems
Cabomba stems (Some silvergreen! Thanks fisherman)
crypts
java moss
unknown stems
Stargrass
dwarf lily
just to name a few!

Last edited by Al Slick; 02-28-2012 at 09:42 PM..
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:18 PM   #2
Al Slick
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I'll be building the light fixture for this tank today! Will post pics of the work as I get it done. Hopefully I can get a finished shot with lights on on the tank.
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:09 PM   #3
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I think you are planning on too many fish for that size tank. And, using two different substrate materials is ok only if you want them to mix. Trying to keep them in separate areas means lots of work for you, if it is even possible, other than for short times. I suggest looking at some of the very simple aquascapes, that use mostly carpet plants, a few rocks, and nothing else. That will at least save some tank volume for the fish. A 12" high, 12" deep tank doesn't have a lot of excess volume.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:08 PM   #4
Al Slick
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Thanks for the reply! The corydora species I am looking for does not grow more than 2" max and it is important to me to provide them with enough of their own kind to encourage their schooling behavior. I did say 6-10 of each species but i am interested to know what you feel is more appropriate? i was under the impression that the wide footprint of the tank would allow for a greater capacity of fish than a 20gallon high tank.

I am actually going to mix these two substrate materials so I will be happy with the gradual mixing that regular tank behavior and maintenance will create.

Thank you for the planting suggestion! I know very little about planted tanks but I am very fond of the thick carpeting look of some tanks that i have seen.


I am waiting for the glue to dry on my light fixture I have been building this morning but here are some pictures of the progress:

Here's a quick drawing I did with the only requirement being that it spanned the inner rim of the tank.


I then transferred my lengths onto a piece of maple plywood that was 7.5" wide.


I made all the cuts on my dad's table saw, mocked up, glued, nailed, and clamped! This lumber was pretty squrrely so hopefully it sits level.


Here is a pic of the orientation of the lighting. I plan on using no reflectors at this point to keep the levels lower while I learn to balance light and fertilizers.


Here's a close up of the inf onfo on the ballast that I am using to fire these bulbs. If I remember correctly believe that I am over driving a couple of 24w bulbs.


Finally here is a pic of lights on, obviously not quite this bright in person, I have no exposure control atm.


Thanks for looking and answering the multitude of questions from my op!
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:23 PM   #5
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i think hoppy's commen about stocking is well made... although i believe if you do plan to overstock adequate filtration will be a necessity, perhaps an external canister.

my 20L is overstocked 185% its size, i keep about 60 critters in there including inverts. but my tank is heavily planted and a 2217 runs the show. my fish are happy.

although be prepared for territorial disputes especially if they start spawning (ie my GBR's got to aggressive and resulted in a atality during spawning) ...nature just takes place.

i happy for your desicion to start a tank in college, i'm sure you'll find the thing that keeps you going is waking up to your tank and taking care of it. for someone like myself with the stress (good stress of course lol) if marriage work family etc, i find it is a source of peace and meditation that helps me make giod desicions in life.

good luck and feel free to pm with any questions (although i'm sure you known more than me lol). i do trims almost weekly and ROAK my plants to hobbyists like urself


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Old 01-22-2012, 06:20 PM   #6
Al Slick
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Ha I kinda thought that my AC50 was over filtering! Shows what I know So please do you have any specific reccomendations for stocking numbers? (Keeping in mind schooling behaviors?)

and fisherman I know exactly what you mean by a source of peace and meditation! I set up this litle 2.5 and simply watching the wisteria in the current and watching my little guppy eat and forage has been very reaxing for me. The feeling really pushed me to set up another tank that I can get serious about. just read your entire thread and I must say I am VERY impressed. I had been thinking that I could create great drama in the aquascaping by only using two species of plants and suggesting the natural battle between them of surviving in natural waters, but the variety of heights, colors, shapes, and textures in your tank is really stunning!

I do not know what species would fit into my little Madeira biotope so if you had any specific suggestions of maybe one type of thick growing stem plant and a smaller showier plant I would be very grateful! I'm really unsure of where to even find this information as well. Thanks!
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Old 01-24-2012, 02:32 AM   #7
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well unfortunately your talking to a guy who thinks the world is ending and must collect every specimen of aquarium plant and animal on the planet to prevent its extinction!! lol

typically i would shove anything green leafy rooty with a rhizome into the dirt... but i think it depends on how much maintenance you want to deal with. i mean you can go along way with a low- med tech planted tank.

i'm only dosing excel and dry ferts and i find myself trimming every 7-10 days ontop of weekly water changes. that unto itself is alot of work but can also be rewarding. everybody is different, some people plant and forget some people are constantly rescaping, some people go minimal and just grow one species, but grow it very very well.... it all depends on you.

personally i find that as much as i love stems, many if them grow like weeds. as a beginner i was totally psyched i could get a weed to grow... but eventually hacking rotalas in half every week (as pretty as they are) gets old.

for instance this past ROAK i thinned out about 26 stems stems or
more. only about 8 stems are left in my tank to date. i've since removed hygro polysperma, chainawords and other fast growers for the same reason, too muh maintenance. especially for an exel only tank. i can only imagine what kind of growth i would get when i start juicing co2!

the good thng about my 20L is its
manageable in size. you can get as tedious and meticulous as you want or not, still manageable either way. downside is also its upside... its 12" in height. stems can reach the top in no time, can't really keep tall large plants like spiralis, vals, swords etc.. yet its easy to plunge your hand in for maintenance and its easy to achieve a high light condition in a shallow tank (cheaper lighting).

so i guess what i'm saying is for plants.... go for the noah's arc and edit as necessary. better to start heavily planted than not. it takes less planning and instant gratification because you get a plant you like and pluck it in immediately.

fir fish however, i think you need to be more conciensous. not all species will do well in a small tank. especially if you plan to overstock. i would give aqadvisor.com a shot to help you figure out some possible combos.

remember imagine them as adults in your tank, not the cute little baby sizes you see them in the LFS. everyone loves corys for instance and i shoved them in my nano not knowing any better. they quickly outgrew my nano and it wasn't pretty. you know they were restless tothe point that they almost jumped out of the tank. i have since moved them to my 30B and now i have cory fry lol.

since your in college its definetely something to think about. if your fish decide to breed lol.

i guess i talked your ear off enough... i have a plant and fish list in my journal thread if you want a reference point. feel free to pm me as well if you want, i'm just a beginner but i can share mu experiences and what i've learned





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Old 01-24-2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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Hey there!

I really appreciate your time and your feedback! Don't worry because there are too many cool things in the world for it to end this soon

Thanks for the site reference, this is what it told me:

Recommended temperature range: 75.2 - 80.6 F. [Display in Celsius] Recommended pH range: 5.5 - 7.5. Recommended hardness range: 1 - 15 dH.

You have plenty of aquarium filtration capacity.

Your aquarium filtration capacity for above selected species is 274%. Recommended water change schedule: 19% per week. Your aquarium stocking level is 55%.

That was six of each. That does give me some confidence, however I heed your warning. Whatever I do I always take stocking very slowly and will never let my fish live uncomfortably!

I want to answer the test of your post as soon as I get some time.

Thanks!
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:10 PM   #9
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from here:
"Corydoras bilineatus
was collected in Bolivia, Departmento Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Beni, system of the upper Rio Marmoré. 14°-18°S and 62°-68°W at an elevation of 161-327 m above sea level. The typus locality was a large standing pool in October 2001 with dense floating plant cover of Pistia stratiotes, Eichhornia, and Salvinia. The roots of Pistia serve as substrate for egg laying. C. bilineatus from the typus locality live in relatively cold-water temperatures of only 18-22 °C (64-72 °F). In contrast, specimens from the Northeastern low lands (Trinidad) live in temperatures that about 3° C/F higher. The pH ranges from 6.04-8.40 with 20-1000 mS depending on locality. C. bilineatus occurs in rather large groups that contain hundreds of individuals."

If you want to simulate this habitat, you'll have to forgo your original plant choices in favor of floating plants, but it will be a very easy tank to maintain and the dense floating plants will help remove nitrates from the water.

I would recommend a substrate of fine sand, a few rocks and nice pieces of driftwood, fallen leaves if you want them (but not tons). and a dense canopy of floating plants. Eichornia and Pistia get too big for a 20L, so I'd go with Salvinia natans.

Last edited by kuni; 01-25-2012 at 06:06 PM..
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Old 01-25-2012, 02:16 AM   #10
Al Slick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thefisherman View Post

typically i would shove anything green leafy rooty with a rhizome into the dirt... but i think it depends on how much maintenance you want to deal with. i mean you can go along way with a low- med tech planted tank.

i'm only dosing excel and dry ferts and i find myself trimming every 7-10 days ontop of weekly water changes. that unto itself is alot of work but can also be rewarding. everybody is different, some people plant and forget some people are constantly rescaping, some people go minimal and just grow one species, but grow it very very well.... it all depends on you.

the good thng about my 20L is its
manageable in size. you can get as tedious and meticulous as you want or not, still manageable either way. downside is also its upside... its 12" in height. stems can reach the top in no time, can't really keep tall large plants like spiralis, vals, swords etc.. yet its easy to plunge your hand in for maintenance and its easy to achieve a high light condition in a shallow tank (cheaper lighting).

fir fish however, i think you need to be more conciensous. not all species will do well in a small tank. especially if you plan to overstock. i would give aqadvisor.com a shot to help you figure out some possible combos.

since your in college its definetely something to think about. if your fish decide to breed lol.
After reading through your thread I was very tempted to just forget about my (loose) biotope goals and obtain a huge variety of plants! I can see why maintaining several different species would be fun, but for now I really want to stay committed to my fish for as long as I can resist all of the plants. I want this tank to be natural and comfortable for them and I don't want to overgrow their house! I am glad to see how successful you've been by simply dosing excel although I am tempted to get a small canister and generate my own co2 gas.

I actually do have hopes that I may be able to breed both the corys and the tetras eventually, plus it will give me another reason to start a new tank! I felt pretty comfortable about my stocking plans until the aquaclear filter arrived in the mail today and let me tell you it is so much smaller than I thought it would be. This thing is tiny and I'm not used to having such a small filter on a tank!! It's rated for a 50gallon tank and the flow rate is 10x turnover per hour but still...

Thanks for your help so far !

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuni View Post
[I]

If you want to simulate this habitat, you'll have to forgo your original plant choices in favor of floating plants, but it will be a very easy tank to maintain and the dense floating plants will help remove nitrates from the fish.

I would recommend a substrate of fine sand, a few rocks and nice pieces of driftwood, fallen leaves if you want them (but not tons). and a dense canopy of floating plants. Eichornia and Pistia get too big for a 20L, so I'd go with Salvinia natans.
Wow thanks for finding that information! Salvinia Natans is beautiful and would look really neat floating on the tank with the roots hanging down, I'm sure the fish would appreciate it too. I want to do more research on their natural environments as I'm sure they don't only live in small ponds like the ones collected in the article you linked to. Perhaps I can find them somewhere with some more beautiful plants that will root in my substrate!


Well the components of my tank are quickly coming together. The 100 watt hydor Theo heater came along with the aquaclear 50 HOB. I got a 50pound bag of pool filter sand from a local pool supply place, a small rickety table from goodwill, and managed to set it all up with water! I've got one 15 pound of flourite ordered that I'm going to mix with the sand. Anyhow, here are some pics! Sorry that they suck and are from my phone, as soon as I have livestock to photograph I'll do a better job!

I got this table for less than $8 at goodwill. It was very rickety but I took it all apart and reassembled it with better hardware and wood glue, adding supports into the design. Now it is absolutely solid, I danced around on it just to make sure and I weigh a good 170.


I then took it outside and refinished the entire thing in plastidip, waterproofing the entire table in a coat of rubber and helping it match the color of the rest of our furniture.


I hung a power strip as well as a digital light timer on the back of the stand to keep all of the cords out of view and just when I finished setting up the tank, sand, lights etc. the UPS guy walked in and delivered my filter and heater. I hooked them up and before I tidied up the cords I snapped this pic of lights on. The background is krylon fusion black and blue that I did this morning.


Lastly I filled the tank with water, placing a plate on the sand to help keep it all in place. Even after spending thirty minutes rinsing the sand outside today I still get this cloud!


Well my roommates and I are excited to see it lit up and in its place in the living room. I hope that being next to a cold window doesn't present a problem but it's the only place it could go!

I am running the filter and heater to help dial in the temperature and make sure that everything is working. I am going to place some detritus from my 2.5 into this tank to hopefully help seed it, in a few days Ill add some plants after I test the water. Then over the next couple weeks I'm going to try to stabilize the ph using some peat in the filter to see if I can get it around 7.0 or lower.

Once the flourite comes in the mail I'm going to distribute that throughout the tank, then go searching for good pieces of slate, as that's the only thing that I can find around here without buying lfs stock.

Hopefully within four weeks if everything is looking great then I can get my hands on some corydoras bilineatus and introduce them into their new home. We shall see how everything pans out.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:20 PM   #11
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i think the stand and setup so far looks great man lookng forward to see how it develops!


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Old 01-26-2012, 12:56 AM   #12
Al Slick
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Quote:
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i think the stand and setup so far looks great man lookng forward to see how it develops!


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Thanks !

I picked up some Salvinia auriculata today from my lfs! Also found a source for Salvinia Natans although I want to see how these do first. (upon a closer inspection it appears that these may be two different species of salvinia. Although the leaf shape and texture appears to be the same, the darker brownish green ones grow linearly while the bright greens seem to be spreading radially...)


Tank's been running at a constant 78 degrees for twenty four hours and I have been adding waste from the filter media of my smaller tank. Hopefully in a week I can put a fish in here. Tomorrow a bag of flourite is coming in the mail and I'm going to add it to the tank. I'm also going to go on a mission to find the perfect piece of driftwood! I'm also going to collect some local slate as I don't have a clue what else to use.

Last edited by Al Slick; 01-26-2012 at 03:39 AM..
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:59 AM   #13
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Flourite is really messy. You might want to consider setting up little "planting containers" using cheap sandwich storage plastic boxes, then sinking those into your substrate and hiding the border of the boxes with rocks/driftwood. It'll make your flourite go much farther and keep your substrates from mixing*.

*until your cories start playing in it!
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:14 AM   #14
Al Slick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuni View Post
Flourite is really messy. You might want to consider setting up little "planting containers" using cheap sandwich storage plastic boxes, then sinking those into your substrate and hiding the border of the boxes with rocks/driftwood. It'll make your flourite go much farther and keep your substrates from mixing*.

*until your cories start playing in it!
Wow thanks for the tip! I thought about making some small dividing boxes out of some spare acrylic that I have but I decided against it until now! What exactly do you mean by messy??
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:59 PM   #15
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Well I had some spare time between classes today and I decided to make this up!



and here it is retaining the sand! A bag of flourite is on the ups truck right now and it'll be here around five.



I went out into the woods today to find a cool piece of wood! I took this picture just to show how cool TN is.


found a really neat stump that ive been working on today, hopefully it will become water-logged soon.
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