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Old 01-07-2014, 04:39 AM   #1
zymurgist
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6g Kitchen Counter Cube Garden


After many weeks of researching, reading, and lurking on these forums, I decided over the holiday break to try my hand at my first planted aquarium. I'm starting out with a 6 gallon low-tech nano tank, with low lighting and no CO2.

I bought the majority of my equipment used from a dude on craigslist, including the tank, lights, and unused aquasoil substrate. I'm thinking I'll upgrade piecemeal as I figure things out.
  • 6 gallon Do!Aqua Cube Garden rimless tank
  • Two Archaea 17cm LED light fixtures
  • AquaClear 2 Power Filter
  • Aquasoil Amazonia substrate

I've set up the tank on my kitchen bar-height counter. This positioning provides solid viewing from three sides (front, back, and left) and creates some interesting challenges for aquascaping.

Here's the hardscape prior to tank filling, with ADA Aquasoil Amazonia substrate and Seiryu stones in a pseudo-Iwagumi layout.



Here's the Archaea LED lights and HOB AquaClear filter. I'm concerned the lighting may be too low for good plant growth, but they look nice and bright when they are both on (although the light is a little on the blue-ish white side for my tastes). These lights will probably be the first thing I upgrade.


Here's my starting plant list.

And some shots of the planted tank. I found it pretty tough to separating the plants, clean out all the bits of rockwool, and get the roots to stick in the soil. Overall, my planting job looks pretty amateur compared to some of the tanks I see on here, but so far its been a lot of fun.

Last edited by zymurgist; 01-07-2014 at 04:54 AM.. Reason: added links
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:52 AM   #2
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I think you got a great start to a good looking tank. I just planted mine today. First one. Can't wait to see your progress.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:47 PM   #3
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Where'd you get your plants at? Can't wait to see the tank grow in more. If that tank goes well you should line that whole counter with them, who needs eating/reading/writing space its tank time! ^_~
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Old 01-08-2014, 03:11 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback!

@AquaAurora - I got my plants at Aqua Forest Aquarium in San Francisco. Awesome store that I'm lucky enough to live close to.

For my next update, I'm fast forwarding a little bit. The tank has been up and running for 6 days now.

Some random notes on water quality and a fun chart:
  • Ammonia readings are off the charts, which I guess is to be expected when setting up a new tank using AquaSoil Amazonia. I've done several 50% water changes but ammonia readings are still really high.
  • Ammonia has been coming down slightly in the past two days and nitrites starting to show up, indicating that the cycling process is starting.
  • Water continues to be visually cloudy with a slight yellow tint. It gets better after water changes but still far from crystal clear.
  • Turns out I have hard water, pH has been hovering between 7.2 - 7.4.


I added another batch of plants on day 4.
Updated pics:
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Old 01-08-2014, 03:36 AM   #5
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looking good! I like how the hardscape is pleasing to the eye from all viewing angles.
the plants look healthy so far.
best of luck!
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Old 01-08-2014, 02:58 PM   #6
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wow thats some high ammonia (kept mine at 3-4 for cycling) are you adding pure ammonia added in, or is it leeching from your substrate?
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Old 01-08-2014, 05:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AquaAurora View Post
wow thats some high ammonia (kept mine at 3-4 for cycling) are you adding pure ammonia added in, or is it leeching from your substrate?
I haven't added any pure ammonia or other cycling chemicals, so the ammonia is likely caused by the substrate. Reading up on Aqua Soil Amazonia, Initial Stage Maintenance it sounds like the ammonia, cloudy water, and yellow tint are all caused by the humic acid in the substrate and are to be expected. I have seen a small snail surviving in the tank that hitch hiked in with plants, but I can't imagine those ammonia levels are too comfortable for it.
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Old 01-08-2014, 09:01 PM   #8
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Tank looks great, welcome to the planted tank world!

Those hitchhiking snails could probably survive a nuclear explosion.
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:19 AM   #9
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Time for an update! The tank is now 4 weeks old and doing pretty well.

Water Conditions
The initial cycling finished up a few days ago. Ammonia levels gradually dropped to minimal levels about 7 days ago, but Nitrites took a while longer before dropping. Here's a lab report on daily water conditions:


Flora
Plant growth over the past several weeks has been good. I've done a few small trimmings and cleanups of the stem plants (rotala and hygrophilia). The rotala in particular was initally very leggy so I clipped off the tops showing new growth and replanted them. Seem to be doing well now. The pennywort has excellent growth. The dwarf hairgrass and dwarf qaudrifolia show only minimal new growth, but no melting. Updated plant pics:


Fauna
With cycling complete, I've been itchy to add some fish to the tank. I brought my wife along to the LFS, and she picked out 4 really nice orange/yellow fancy guppies. They're adapting well to the tank. I've also added two red cherry shrimp, one of which is a 'fancy' varietal with a white band that looks pretty cool. Pics:


Looking for advice at this point on what fertilizers/dosing I should do. Its a low tech tank with no CO2, low-medium lighting, and ADA aquasoil. Will liquid fertilizers or nutrients be good/required?
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:30 AM   #10
The Trigger
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Very cool little tank!!
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:15 PM   #11
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Pretty little tank!
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:37 PM   #12
Ebi
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Nice score! Looks like a rili shrimp!


I would suggest maybe dosing dosing seachem excel weekly.


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Old 01-27-2014, 03:51 PM   #13
helgi125
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Sweet setup are you using any type of heater?
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Old 01-28-2014, 04:35 AM   #14
zymurgist
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Thanks for the replies and positive feedback.

@helgi - I don't currently have a heater in my tank. Water temp is around 72 deg F. I live in San Francisco, and my ambient temperature doesn't fluctuate too much. Do you think I need a heater, and if so, more for the guppies or for the shrimp? Any recommendations on a small heater for a nano tank?

As a side note, today I got home from work and found both the shrimp inside of the HOB filter, in the chamber with the biomedia and sponge. They seemed fine, but I'm worried they are going to crawl into the impeller and get killed. I'm curious if they went up there on purpose to explore and to scavange for food, to escape from the guppies, or if they were inadvertently sucked up. Guess I need to invest in some type of screen for the filter intake...

Another question, can anyone tell from the pictures the gender of the guppies? I'm curious if I have a mix of male and female. I've been reading some threads of people complaining about guppy explosion when they start breeding.
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Old 01-28-2014, 04:41 AM   #15
kman
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Nicely done! Look forward to seeing this progress.
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