Planted 3 Gallon Picotope
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:55 PM   #1
MameJenny
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Planted 3 Gallon Picotope


I've been wanting to start a little side project for a while to keep me busy until I can get the 29 gallon I've been planning. A few days ago, I remembered that I still have a nice 3 gallon glass JBJ Picotope that I formerly used for a pico reef. So, I dug it out of the storage room, cleaned out the saltwater decay, and filled it up with dirt.

Here's the tank just after I cleaned it out. It's a nice tank, even when it's empty...very well made.


Here's the equipment I plan to use - a 24w Odyssea PC light, a 25w Hydor Theo heater, and an Aqueon Quietflow 10 filter.


Here's the tank after I added some organic Miracle Grow and water. I've heard that it causes ammonia spikes, so I'm going to let it sit for a few days and then cover it with gravel.


I'm currently planning for this to be a mid light tank. At the moment, the only non-plant inhabitant I'm planning will be a female betta fish. I'd like to also have a few shrimp, but I'm pretty sure the betta would attack and eat any that I stuck in there. As for plants, I'm planning on having water wisteria, dwarf hair grass, amazon swords, java ferns, and maybe a few others.

Here's a simple drawing of my planned aquascape. The orange things are supposed to be small tree trunks - the colors didn't show up well on my phone. It will be sort of based off a small puddle at the bottom of a forest.


I'll be sure to update with pictures as soon as I have gravel and plants in the tank. Just thought I'd share!
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:37 PM   #2
FriendsNotFood
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That's gonna be really cool! I would reconsider your plant choices though... water wisteria, amazon swords, and java fern will probably be too big for a 3 gallon tank. You might want to consider smaller plants like various mosses, anubias nana petite, small-leaved stem plants, hydrocotyle, crypt parva, etc.
Also, is there a way for you to not run all the bulbs in that light fixture? 24 watts over a 3 gallon with no CO2 is a lot of light. I run 10 watts over my 2.5 gallon and I'm able to (slowly) grow many different plants, including stem plants.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FriendsNotFood View Post
That's gonna be really cool! I would reconsider your plant choices though... water wisteria, amazon swords, and java fern will probably be too big for a 3 gallon tank. You might want to consider smaller plants like various mosses, anubias nana petite, small-leaved stem plants, hydrocotyle, crypt parva, etc.
Also, is there a way for you to not run all the bulbs in that light fixture? 24 watts over a 3 gallon with no CO2 is a lot of light. I run 10 watts over my 2.5 gallon and I'm able to (slowly) grow many different plants, including stem plants.
It's a bit late for that, since I already have those three plants in a smaller tank...I'll be moving them to this tank to give them a bit more space. I'll just have to keep them trimmed down.

I forgot to mention that I do plan to have CO2 on this tank eventually. I'm actually still unsure if I will do DIY CO2 or a fancier setup...I'd appreciate any suggestions. I'm also planning to hang the light at least 12" above the tank, partly because I'll have a lot of plants above the water. Hopefully, that will reduce the light a bit inside the tank.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:13 PM   #4
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I've got the gravel in the tank now. I used a mix of sand, Michael's craft store brand pink and white gravel, and a few small packs of gold gravel. The water is still very cloudy...I'll probably need to do a few more water changes before I can even add plants. I'm going to get the small tree trunks today...currently trying to decide if I want to spend 10 bucks on pretty store-bought driftwood or if I want to dig through a cottonwood grove, haha.
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Old 08-11-2012, 02:13 AM   #5
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I decided to just bite the bullet and buy a nice piece of driftwood from Petco. I picked out a big chunk that was a perfect shape to be cut in half. When they say that mopani is a very hard, dense wood, they aren't kidding! Several hours and two very sore hands later, I have two perfect chunks of mopani. I added them to the tank and then did about five 100% water changes. The water is still very cloudy...I'm not sure if it's from the dirt, the sand, or a mix of the two. I might switch to a less powerful filter and see if that helps.

Here's the piece of mopani before I cut it:


This part of the wood has a little rock trapped in it. I tried shaking it out, but it's completely encased. I think it might have been trapped in there when the tree was growing.


Here's the tank right now. It's actually cleared up quite a bit since I first added the gravel. I plan to move the small piece of wood back a bit and add some more "roots".
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:48 PM   #6
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I moved some water wisteria, bamboo, mondo grass and mini palms over from another tank yesterday. I'm still getting off-the-charts ammonia test results, so I'm hoping that the plants will help a bit. I'll be adding DIY CO2 today as well.

Here's a photo I just took today:
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:12 PM   #7
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Bowfronts are lousy for photography.. any chance of a sligthly better pics the next few days?
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:40 AM   #8
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Yeah, it's tough to get a good photo of a bowfront. It doesn't help that I'm using a cell phone camera. I love the effect the bowfront has in person, though.

I got the DIY CO2 system working. I think I might switch to a larger bottle, though - the 20 oz bottle I'm using doesn't produce much CO2. The cycling is going along nicely too - the ammonia has dropped from 8+ ppm to about 3 ppm after just a few days. I'll be adding some more plants in the next week as well.
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:26 PM   #9
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I added another wisteria plant and a small amazon sword plant yesterday. They're doing great so far - I think they like the high light and the CO2. I wish I could add some livestock now, but I'm still waiting for the cycle to finish...ammonia and nitrites are still off the charts right now.

Here's the tank as of yesterday: (please excuse the dark photo)


Here's my attempt at a close up. The dark spots on the leaves are little floating pieces of wood and dirt. I'm still working on scooping all of those out.


I like desktop tanks.


Some people don't like the distortion on this type of tank, but I think it adds character.


My to-do list for this tank:
-get dwarf hair grass, anubias and banana plants (a bit crowded, I know, but I like lush tanks)
-get a plant bulb and some sort of stand for my Odyssea light
-switch to either a 2L bottle for CO2 or find a cheap pressurized setup
-get a pair of male endler's livebearers and some shrimp
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Old 08-17-2012, 08:49 PM   #10
dubels
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Skip the 2L soda bottles and go with an ocean spray bottle, they handle pressure a lot better and can run some of the ceramic diffusers
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Old 08-18-2012, 01:53 AM   #11
MameJenny
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How about a plastic Welch's grape juice bottle? My main concern is that the top won't be suitable for keeping in the CO2. I've heard that it's better to use bottles that are made for carbonated beverages.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:09 AM   #12
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I use a plastic juice bottle (Ocean Spray, but I am sure Welch's are the same!) It works very well, so I would encourage you to go ahead and give it a try.

I drilled a hole in the lid just a little bit smaller than the diameter of the airline tubing, and then used pliers to pull the tubing through the hole. It works well (I bought new tubing so it was still pretty flexible). I just make sure to tighten the cap very well- the only problem I have with the setup is me forgetting to refill it
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:03 AM   #13
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I absolutely agree about juice bottles being better than soda bottles. At least in my experience. They can hold some serious pressure.

I use a 3 bottle setup on my 55 gallon and for a long time used a glass diffuser. It worked great until it finally clogged somehow. It took a day or so for me to notice and then when I finally loosened a lid on one of the bottles there was a LOT of pressure in there. So the lids definitely hold pressure.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:37 PM   #14
MameJenny
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Well, the good news is that the tank seems to be almost done cycling now, so I can finally add fish soon. The bad news is that my plants seem to suddenly have a bad case of green spot algae (none on the glass or wood though, it's strange), and they're also suddenly getting lots of rotting leaves. I'm not sure what's causing all of this, but I've read that both of those problems are signs of low phosphate levels, so I'm going to pick up some fertilizers today and see if that helps. I'm also going to set up the 2L juice bottle for CO2 today.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:27 AM   #15
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Well, upon closer inspection, what I thought was algae seems to just have been three unhealthy wisteria plants. Not sure how their leaves got dark colored, but I removed them, so hopefully whatever it is won't spread.

I got two new plants today: dwarf hair grass and red foxtail. I don't think the dwarf hairgrass had ever been trimmed - it was about 6 inches tall when I got it. I trimmed it to a much more manageable 2 inches and put it in the tank. The foxtail is a nice plant - the leaves remind me of pine needles, and the brownish orange is a nice change from the rest of the plants. I also added my female betta, Splendens, who will probably be a temporary resident.

Here's the tank:

(the plants are not in their permanent positions - I'm still not happy with the aquascape.)
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