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Old 08-14-2009, 08:10 PM   #1
lljdma06
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lljdma06's Nano Dutch (56k beware): August 19th update last post


I have enjoyed my recent "rediscovery" of this forum. The irony is that this journal chronicles the same tank I posted with when I originally joined. In other forums, I'm sort of known for my low-tech tanks, but I have always been a huge fan of the Dutch style of aquascaping. It is so colorful and the idea of keeping many species appeals to me. I also like applying the basic principles of this style on a much, much smaller scale.

Over three years ago, I purchased a Finnex brand 8g aquarium (no longer made in this size :sad: ). After about 2 years of scaping, including experimenting with some Dutch ideas, I dismantled it in December, 2008. It's been patiently waiting for me to set it up again. Over the past few weeks, I've been gathering the equipment needed to setup this tank.

Tank: Finnex Seamless front 8g - 16.5"x10"x11.5"



Lighting: Finnex 24W CF fixture, 6500k bulb, 3WPG, but...The CF isn't very efficient, so I've always considered this tank at best, moderately lit. It hasn't failed me, though.

Filtration: 1 Aquaclear 50. Set to minimum flow. Still gives me more than 10x turnover.

Substrate: --Bottom layer: a mix of coarse sand, fine-grained gravel, and laterite. Yep, good old laterite. I had an extra box from a good sale way back. Plus, I'll add some squeezes from my filter media from my other tanks. This will help establish a nice mulm layer.



--Top layer: A cap of very fine sand to help more delicate species root better.



Not too thick in the front, though, I've got to observe...

"Happy Dutch Principle" #1 - You shouldn't see much, if any, of the substrate above the tank seam in the front. It is unsightly. Of course, you've still got to be able to plant. :lol:

Hardscape: Only a few piece of mopani wood to help create a small path in the tank (leading to the focal point, or acting as the focal point) and act as an anchor to some species. Others will be covered possibility in plants. Because...

"Happy Dutch Principle" #2 - The hardscape should only be of one type. Some of the possible wood choices below.






CO2: 2, Nutrafin canisters connected via T-connector to a Rhinox 1000



I have a chameleon drop checker and will be making my own 4dkh solution and eventually my own ferts with a little jewelry scale I purchased.



Fertilisation: Right now, to get things started, I've ordered some TPN+ and I have extra Seachem Flourish and Seachem rootabs lying around.



Goals: I really want to create the illusion of larger size, yet maintain the Dutch style. I'd like to follow...

Happy Dutch Principle #3 -
Quote:
Fish play a very important part in this style as well. The bottom, middle, and top zones of a tank should be filled with fish to make each area interesting to the viewer. All fish species should be different in shape, color, and size, but the least number of species possible should be used to fill all niches in the tank (so no blue rams in a tank with kribensis, or silver hatchetfish with marbled hatchetfish, etc). Schools must be as large as possible.
Happy Dutch Principle #4 - Create the two tank focal points using the rule of thirds or the golden ratio. Another hard concept on such a small tank. I will settle with one as long as it is roughly 2/3 the length of the tank.

Happy Dutch Principle #5 - Use contrasting colors and leaf shapes. I'll be a bit limited, since I cannot use species with especially large leaves, but I think I'll be able to come up with quite a few. I plan on dividing the tank into 3 main sections and use between 3-5 plant species per section. The usual rule is 3 species per foot, but I don't really have that luxury.

Happy Dutch Principle #6 - The back should never catch the eye. I plan on constructing a moss wall using a method that I thought of.

Rules I'm going to break - The tank is seamless, therefore it is impossible to obscure the sides effectively, so I will leave them alone. My tank is way smaller than the average Dutch. It will not be the main focal point of a room. It's an 8g tank in a family room with a 52" HDTV. Impossible to be the focal point when you're competing with that. :lol: I won't be using some of the traditional "Dutch" species because their leaves are too large or broad for this tank.

I have to make sure that the bunches of stemplants are small to keep the scale correct, and I also cannot overcrowd. I'm going full force on the principle that CO2 is ultimately more important to determine whether a plant will do well rather than lighting. Oooo, I also picked up this to help me trim and take care of my new tank.



This is the preliminary post. The tank is partially planted already, but I'll be adding more details in subsequent posts, as they get very technical, rather than bog you all down with one ginormous post. I hate doing journals like this, as you lose a sense of spontenaity, but I only recently discovered this forum again and I've see some lovely Dutch scapes, so I thought to add mine to the mix.

Again, thanks for looking. Comments and suggestions, if you are not too tired from reading, are always welcome.

llj

Next post: The planning and building of the "moss' wall. Stay tuned!
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:12 PM   #2
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Sweet sauce! I wanted to do a nano dutch one time, but I wound up changing my plans.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:19 PM   #3
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Can't wait to see this develop.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:39 PM   #4
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This is going to be a great tank. Do you have a plant species list in mind?
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:53 PM   #5
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Default llj's Nano Dutch: Planning the Moss wall

Ding! Ding! Ding! Round two! Okay, this post will be dedicated to the planning of the moss wall, which happened about a week ago. Bear in mind, I've already constructed the wall, but I thought I'd keep suspense going for a wee bit. Thanks to the people who have already commented on this thread. It is appreciated.

Planning the Moss wall

The moss wall is typical in Dutch layouts. It creates the natural-looking, darkish, and unobtrusive background that is highly desired. Many use corkbark to achieve this effect and attach plants to that, or make a moss wall. I am chosing a moss wall, as I think the cork will be too bulky for this little nano. I read many threads on their construction and noticed the following recurring problems, especially with moss walls constructed with 2 pieces of mesh and using suction cups for attachment.

1. Fish get stuck and die behind the two pieces of mesh, or get stuck between the mesh and the glass because of the gap left by suction cups

2. The moss takes forever to grow between the mesh. For me, this is because the moss is overly shaded, especially if one uses dark mesh. Or...

3. Lack of circulation between the mesh, causing poor growth because the moss cannot access the same amount of nutrients because of the restricted flow between the mesh.

I'm not saying what I did is a cure-all, but it is what I ended up doing. I purchased this at my lfs.



I've used this to divide tanks before (when I was breeding kribensis and keeping bettas) and in some cases, mosses actually naturally grew on the divide. I'll explain why. There are two sides to the divider, a smooth side and a rough side. The moss always grew on the rough side by attaching their roots on the minute grooves in the plastic. A pain to pull actually, when I was dismantling some of my old breeding tanks.



Another feature that makes this idea interesting. The stainless steel clips, which are harmless.



Unlike suction cups, which leave gaps between the glass and the mesh, these inert clips which came with the divider hold the divider flush against the glass, with no gap. Fish cannot get through. Couple this with the substrate holding the divider in the bottom, you have a gap-free wall that is transparent. Below is a picture of the tank with bare "moss wall" secured in place.



As you can see, there are numerous, finely distributed holes. The plan is to gently "sew" the moss onto the wall by using a needle and fishing line, which I purchased below. It is a lead-free 8lb test fishing line. I decided on that after about 20 minutes in the Sport Section at Kmart. It was more expensive than the cheapie lines, but there was no warning of lead. The cheapie lines have a "contains lead" warning.





It is particularly well-suited for making knots and twisting, which is precisely what I want it to do. It is also strong and won't degrade. It is transparent, so it will be hard to see, yet it has a green tinge, so it will blend with the moss once it grows in. So I was ready to go.

Possible advantages to this method include.

1. Most of the moss is actually exposed to the water column rather than wedged between two mesh pieces and can take advantage of full lighting, circulation, and nutrient distribution that the tank has to offer. This allows it to become established faster.

2. Because I'm using metal clips to attach the wall, there is no gap between it and the glass, and I significantly reduce the possibility of fish deaths or accidents.

3. The wall is less bulky and much more mobile. I can build the wall outside of the tank and then just slide the wall into place. I also don't have to worry about 2 pieces of mesh and the wall does not interfere with tank hardware.

4. The entire aquarium back wall can be covered, barring the space below where the wall inserts into the substrate. That is some thick coverage.

5. The equipment used is very small, and not invasive. No giant suction cups, no bulky mesh, no stand-out plastic. You can see below a tank shot in its eventual location. You can barely see the clips. Great for photography and eventually, the moss will hide the clips inside the water.



Possible disadvantages.

1. DO NOT USE THIS WITH A HEATER!!! The divider is plastic and can melt if put in contact with a heater. My tank is unheated.

2. The moss might never attach effectively to the wall. At any rate, if it is still secured by the line, it will simply be anchored. Maybe not a bad thing.

I ended up using Weeping moss for the wall. I had thought Christmas originally, but liked the finer look of Weeping. I ordered 21 portions of Weeping moss for this project from Aquatic Magic, but ended up having quite a bit left. When I finish adding some to other tanks, I might have some leftover.

This was a tedious job as you will find out later when I make the post of the moss wall contruction. A project to do with a 6-pack of good beer handy!

Thanks for looking and commenting. I apologize for the longish posts.

llj

Stay tuned for Part III, appropriatly titled "Constructing the Moss Wall." Or "Times you need a 6-pack of Beer."
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:04 PM   #6
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Hey, that tank looks awesome- where did you get it?
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrophyte View Post
This is going to be a great tank. Do you have a plant species list in mind?
Yes, infact, I already have most of the plants, but the UPS order was delayed, so they arrived in bad shape. Especially in Miami heat! The order should not have been delayed and I gave the right address and everything. I also suspect the vendor didn't send me quality stuff, as I've received and sent more delicate species with Priority in Summer with no ill effect. Won't be using them again, but it's tacky for me to name names. I cleaned the damaged parts out, and will be planting in various tanks to get a bit of growth before I make the final scape. It's going to be a work in progress for a while, which stinks.

I may make another order tonight or Saturday from a different vendor to round things out, or plant more to my liking. Red indicates plants from that evil order. Right now, the plant list is...

Weeping moss - the wall, already built, in great shape.
Anubia petite nana - Already had so in great shape and attached to the long black wood.
Fissidens frontalis - Got through priority mail (in great shape) and attached to the same piece of wood
Christmas moss - attached to a small piece of mopani, great shape.
Hydrocotyle verticillata - from my own garden! It is native to South Florida. Forming a woodland corner now with christmas moss.
Subwassertag - Will attach to wood as well
Marsilea minuta - Also part of the woodland corner and behind the wood, which you'll see. From the same person who gave me the Fissidens.
Rotala rotundifolia var. narrow - haven't planted yet. accent plant
Myrophyllum tuberculatum - have planted only for health purposes, accent plant
HC - the street front. This arrived in good shape and I'll be constructing the street tonight.
HM - will extend the street towards the back and form a group, in fair shape
Didiplis diandra - accent plant, in fair shape
Nesea sp. red - red plant, I have to get it up to snuff, though. It was in poor shape.
Cryptocoryne wendtii "bronze" - in great shape, it's mine.
Rotala nanjenshan - green plant, in fair shape.
Dwarf hairgrass - wanted to use this, but this plant was not healthy when it arrived and it is emersed. It was supposed to create contrast
Vallisneria nana - accent plant. Again, in bad shape.

Things could change if plants do not perk up, or if I order from another place. I have to convert one of my non CO2 tanks to a CO2 tank to accomodate the sick species and basically do some serious shifting around in my tanks. I just don't have the heart to bin them. They are not dead, just not as robust as I'd like them to be. Lots of work ahead that shouldn't have to be done.

I hope this answers your question. I'll try to finish up the installments of this journal tonight so I get all caught up.

llj
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SearunSimpson View Post
Hey, that tank looks awesome- where did you get it?
I got it from eBay. It is a finnex brand aquarium. They no longer make this size, only a 4g version.

llj
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Old 08-15-2009, 12:35 AM   #9
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Looks like it'll be an interesting tank. I'm not sure about the white sand. I bought the same sand but black opposed to white. It helps everything pop a bit more.

I'm also a bit confused by the moss wall idea. It looks cool right now, but I'm not sure how you're going to attach the moss so it stays on evenly.

Also, I've got a good amount of susswasertang if you're still looking for some let me know, I bet I have all you're looking for.

I'll be waiting for the next update about your wall.

-Andrew
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Old 08-15-2009, 12:46 AM   #10
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lol@skymall. you look very organized, i envy you where did you find the finnex 8G?
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:09 AM   #11
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Default llj's Nano Dutch: Constructing the Moss Wall

Quote:
Originally Posted by A Hill View Post
I'm not sure about the white sand. I bought the same sand but black opposed to white. It helps everything pop a bit more.

Also, I've got a good amount of susswasertang if you're still looking for some let me know, I bet I have all you're looking for.

I'll be waiting for the next update about your wall.

-Andrew
I hear what you say about the white sand. I have very poor vision, and my bottom-dwelling fish is a mottled color and a delicate species. I wanted to be sure I could see it well in the sand. I also already had the substrate. I do agree that black is better for this sort of thing. Fortunately, with like 99.9% of the substrate being covered, I think I'll be okay. I appreciate your generosity, but I am up to my ears in susswasertang. I'll get to the wall in a second, but first.

Quote:
you look very organized, i envy you where did you find the finnex 8G?
eBay, but finnex doesn't sell this size anymore.

Pre-wall

I had done some initial planting before the wall came because I wanted to get used to using the fishing line, so I setup the tank and tied anubias petite nana to old black wood and planted the hydrocotyle from my front yard.



Hydrocotyle shots. This plant is adorable. I selected the smallest, straightest stems and separated them so they could be individually planted with the rest going into my outdoor tub. It's like little umbrellas. Moss will probably be the best constrast plant but I'll see how the subwassertang looks too. I still can't believe this came from my front yard on my lawn.





Constructing the Moss Wall

My moss from Aquatic magic arrived on the 10th of August. I had read mixed reviews, but decided to give them a shot. Right now, I'm liking them better than many other vendors I've used in the past, barring regular hobbiests,who also send great products. The money-back guarantee is great and it is USPS delivering, so I know the plants come in on time or even earlier. The lady who delivered the moss even kept it in the air-conditioned portion of her truck, just because it said perishable and she didn't want it in the heat of the back. This is what I received.





I was expecting the worst, four days in the mail in South Florida heat! But this was the quality of a typical bag of Weeping moss.



The Christmas moss was a little worse, but still very much alive and well. I think it was emersed, and I ended up using it in another tank.

I'll tell you, putting up the wall took the better part of the afternoon and the early evening. It was tedious work, but I was quite pleased with how my idea turned out. It was difficult finding a needle with a small enough eye to pull line through the holes, yet with a large enough eye to actually fit the thread. I went through about 3 needles and just plain threading with my fingers before I finally found a needle that worked well. I fitted a ceramic mister with tank water and was spritzing the moss to keep it fresh as I went along. When I needed a break, I submerged the wall into the tank. Some progress shots. Copious amounts of beer were consumed in the construction of the wall.





The moss is dense and very vigorous looking. I didn't need very much to get good coverage, and you can see from above, that there are places where you can definitely see through the moss. The fishing line performed very well. I was pleased with the rinal result.

Before.


After.


Here's a photo of the wall from the back of the tank. You can see the gaps. I purposely made it a little thin, especially in the bottom.


I love this shot with the anubias, the wall already looks dense, and I didn't even use half the moss. That's insane. Very nice quality, I'm quite impressed with Aquaticmagic right now.



So, I now have a breeder net full of weeping moss, christmas moss, subwassertang, and fissidens fontalis in my 20g. I don't know what to do with it right now. Because it is under light, I'm not too worried and can keep it safe while I decide what to do with it. Tomorrow, I will see what tanks can use some moss. What I don't use, I'll trade out among friends.

Thanks for looking and bearing with me in this really long thread. I'm really trying to be as succinct as possible and still explain things.

As always comments and suggestions are welcome.

llj

Tomorrow, I'll finish up the catching up posts. I'll discuss the fish species I'll use. There are Dutch rules for that too and I'll post some pictures of the completed planting. It's not great, as many of the plants are not super healthy, but I'll see what high CO2 and ferts do for these species. The HC is already pearling. The focal point is also not strongly established. The red plant I want to use isn't strong enough yet to be a focal point and right now, it takes up too much room in the tank in an attempt to give it space to do some growing and it is in the wrong side.
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:13 AM   #12
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instant moss wall = awesome!! i love the hydrocotle too this tank is gona look great.

you think you might wanna sell some of that weeping and xmas moss?
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:11 AM   #13
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I love how thorough you are in your posts. I wish I could start with plan like this but I am still too new. I may redo my 10 though and start with some of your ideas.

I really like the moss wall idea. I haven't ever tried but I really did not like the mesh idea, it seems pretty tedious. I use a HOB filter on my 10 so that makes anything that sticks out an issue. I was thinking about modifying it a bit and use thinner black pastic and just roughing it up with 40-80 grit sand paper.

I can't wait to see where this goes.
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:03 PM   #14
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Default llj's Nano Dutch: Last catch-up post, Fish choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
I love how thorough you are in your posts. I wish I could start with plan like this but I am still too new. I may redo my 10 though and start with some of your ideas.

I really like the moss wall idea. I haven't ever tried but I really did not like the mesh idea, it seems pretty tedious. I use a HOB filter on my 10 so that makes anything that sticks out an issue. I was thinking about modifying it a bit and use thinner black pastic and just roughing it up with 40-80 grit sand paper.

I can't wait to see where this goes.
Thanks. I'm not saying what I did isn't tedious to do, it was, but I think you get a stronger-looking moss wall from the get go, rather than having to wait for the moss to peak out out mesh. All the moss is exposed to the water column too, which is good for circulation and ferts.

Quote:
you think you might wanna sell some of that weeping and xmas moss?
Chase127, once I finish figuring out how much I'll need for the other tanks, I'll let you know and put something up in swap.

The Last catch up post: Fish Choices

Remember this?

Happy Dutch Principle #3 -
Quote:
Fish play a very important part in this style as well. The bottom, middle, and top zones of a tank should be filled with fish to make each area interesting to the viewer. All fish species should be different in shape, color, and size, but the least number of species possible should be used to fill all niches in the tank (so no blue rams in a tank with kribensis, or silver hatchetfish with marbled hatchetfish, etc). Schools must be as large as possible.
Well, I think I've narrowed it down to three strong possibilites based on reading and consulting websites. All images were taken from a yahoo search and are only for illustration, not reproduction.

Upper strata: Heterandria formosa; a cute little livebearer that is native to my mothers home country, Cuba.



Middle strata: Boraras brigittae; one of my favorite microrasboras and the "spot of color" in this tank.



Lower strata: Erethistes jerdoni (formaly Hara jerdoni)



This is the trickiest fish. It doesn't like a lot of nitrate supposedly, so it is a matter of doing a dance between the nitrate needs of the plants and this fish's needs. The challenge of the group. Another option is Corydoras habrosus, but I thought E. jerdoni was too cool and I've never kept this fish before. All three can be acquired from one trusted source, so that makes me happy. If I have surplus, they can easily find a home in my other peaceful tanks. I really don't keep agressive species.

All three would do well in densly planted tanks with either a covered substrate or a sand substrate with wood as the decoration and lots of plants to hide in. Kind of what an old-fashioned Dutch scape looks like. And I liked that many of the images for these fish featured them in planted tanks. Their range of water conditions also conform well to a planted aquarium with CO2 injection. Even the livebearer, which was neat. All of them are also extremely small fish and relatively peaceful, which is a huge plus. This isn't a final list, though, a great top three, but if something comes up and they won't do well, they won't go in. For me, fish are not an afterthought, they are extremely important in tank design.

As always, thanks for looking, and comments are always welcome.
Llj

Yeah!!! You've survived through a bunch of catch-up posts! Now, because you've been so very patience and nice, you'll be the first to get the updated photos of the planted tank!
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:28 PM   #15
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Default llj's Nano Dutch: August 14th Planting, making due

Hi,

Finally, I get to post a reply in real time. This is the most up-to-date look of the tank.

As I said before, I ordered plants and they were supposed to be shipped using next day supersaver air. The plants were shipped on the 11th, and were supposed to arrive no later than the evening of the 12th. They arrived the evening of the 13th.

Needless to say, they suffered being in an UPS truck without airconditioning. I won't be using the vendor again and I'm very disappointed since it is the second major US plant vendor that I've had to stop using because they deal with UPS. I get far superior plants using USPS from fellow hobbiests and overseas, which is ironic, because they are in the post for longer. So for future planting needs, you'll see me at swap a lot. I don't mind, trading amongst fellow hobbiests is very cool.

With what I had, I did an initial planting. It isn't the final layout. I've got to get plants healed up first. The red plants are all in the wrong places, but I had to plant the Nesea where it would be close to the CO2 and far apart from the other plants so it would get ample light and good current circulation. I don't much like the leaf shape either, a bit too big for the nano, but I'm not sure it's because it was grown emersed or what. I'll play "wait and see". I'm going to further thin out the stems today, because I'm hooking up my 10g to have CO2 temporarily while I give the plants time to heal. Once they grow and heal a bit, I'll replant using a final layout. Some of the ideas are there, though, especiall with regard to the foreground. I think I create some sense of depth, which is extremely hard in a tank this size.

One pot of hairgrass was complete mush, black roots and everything. The second pot had some living grass, so I was able to use it in the layout like I wanted.

I have to fix the HC layout and the marsilea, I want a clearer contrast between the two, and two streets are entirely possible. The HC looked great and it was pearling last night. I didn't plant individually, I don't need the low lawncover, rather a more rolling hill look. The hydrocotyle has adjusted very well to being submerged and is growing very well.

Some picture, nothing special, the color wasn't great in my camera today. You can see the texture better live.













Good dropchecker color, I think.



One more shot of the Rhinox 1000 in action. An older shot. I love it, it was a great buy. It is very effective, especially with my Aquaclear 50. The CO2 goes everywhere. There are even more bubbles now.



Thanks for being so patient. I hope you enjoy the threads so far. This tank is going to be a challenge. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

llj
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