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Old 07-19-2014, 06:52 AM   #1
kwirky88
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25 Gallon Nano Journal


I left the saltwater reef hobby 6 years ago. I was a fresh university grad spending way too much of my meagre money on an expensive hobby so I bowed out and got rid of most of my stuff. Fast forward to now and I was bit by the bug again, but this time around with what will hopefully be a cheaper approach yet just as rewarding!

So far my goals are thus:
  • Small. Space is severely lacking for us. I know a bigger tank is the same amount of work as a smaller one but we just don't have the space
  • heavily planted "dutch style" with grass on the bottom and some "show-case" plants that stand out.
  • small "community" fish, such as sailfin mollies, ram cichlids, zebra danios, a beta, an ornamental pleco when the plants are more established, and possibly shrimp if they won't get eaten
  • I'm a real keener and want to learn how to run a heavily planted tank well. With reef aquariums it became intuitive for me. I want the same to happen for a planted tank.
  • Finally, sustainability and ethics are important for me. I worked at a saltwater LFS store and became bitter towards the saltwater hobby due to how much livestock dies, coral, invertebrates and fish, in transit, at the store, and in hobbyists tanks. I'm going to keep hardy fish that are bred in captivity with a preference for local fish breeders and plant propagators. No wild fish. I like the idea of plants compared to coral because coral are living animals that die in transport and should remain in the wild! I want to limit such problems with my hobby!

And now for the meat and potatoes, here is my setup thus far:
  • Do!aqua 60x45x45 cm aquarium (~25 gallons)
  • 65W power compact fixture leftover from one of my reef tanks when I was last in the hobby
  • Eheim 2028 Professional II canister filter (overpowered, I know. I'm going to limit it. According to Eheim it won't hurt it)
  • DIY Plywood stand



We're very strapped for space at home due to a home-based business that leaves us only 300SF of living space on the ground level (retail art supplies, custom picture framing, large-format photo printing, for those curious). Obviously I can't set up a 90 gallon so some compromises are happening. I really like the proportions of the 60x45x45 cm aquarium. It's not your typical cube and it's not your typical starter kit. It has a depth to it that is aesthetic and will look nice once there are plants and fish in there. I just noticed the aquarium is backwards! the logo is at the back!



This is the DIY plywood stand I whipped up tonight. We had 24" wide lengths of plywood kicking around which was perfect for the tank. Every joint is glued and the screws add a bit of sheer resistance. It should be plenty strong for this tank.


The Eheim 2028 Professional II is rated for 600L. My tank is 100L :P. I'm going to have to restrict the output for a while until it's thick with plants. I read a forum post where Eheim told somebody that's ok for this model so things should be fine. "I read it on the internet so it's gotta be true..."


It's a fixture I still have kicking around from when I last was in the aquarium hobby. It works out to 2W/gallon which should be enough for most easy to keep plants. I'm probably going to end up getting a CO2 system so I can reach the goal of the heavily planted dutch aquarium. I don't know if this will be enough light at that point. I may end up getting one of those Kessil Amazon Sun pendants in the not-too-distant future. Those things are nuts!

Bump: Aaaaand my power compact fixture is dead. I'm not surprised. It was kicking around at the inlaw's acreage for 6 years and I was surprised to see it still around a few months ago. I'm going to start researching LED systems.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:24 AM   #2
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I just ordered a Finnex Ray 2 dual 7000k fixture to replace the dead PC fixture. I found a Canadian distributor and $140 with tax and shipping sounded good for me based on what I read in the forum and youtube.

Tomorrow I'm picking up a CO2 regulator/solenoid and tank. I'm getting the tank from a fire extinguisher recharge company for a pretty good price and the solenoid will be from a local LFS (Pisces in Calgary). I'm stopping at a hydroponics store to source out dry fertilizer chemicals tomorrow, too.

Oh and I had a long talk with my wife. It kind of needed to happen, being married and all. We discussed why I left the hobby last time (money and lack of it) and why I'm getting back in. I've had a lot of health issues and lately I've been focusing on what makes me happy. Not the arbitrary spending of money, but what truly makes me happy. I used to bring aquarium books to class in grade 9 and I was thinking "why don't I have an aquarium?" It feels good to move forward with my wife knowing exactly why I'm doing what I am and what things will cost with 100% honesty . I don't want to have the mindset of "it needs to be in a smaller box because she'll think it costs less." It's unhealthy .
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Old 07-20-2014, 05:06 AM   #3
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Tank setup looks good so far! Can't wait to see it once everything is put in and set up.

What type of Diffuser are you planning on using? Or are you going to use an In-line setup for the co2?
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Old 07-20-2014, 07:23 AM   #4
kwirky88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonxflare View Post
Tank setup looks good so far! Can't wait to see it once everything is put in and set up.

What type of Diffuser are you planning on using? Or are you going to use an In-line setup for the co2?
I'm using an Atomic inline diffuser, along with an Atomic CO2 Regulator V3. They're both on their way via UPS from the States. I ordered a drop checker from Green Leaf Aquariums, too. I'm fairly confident I'll be able to get my CO2 in order

On another note I just finished filling the tank. I've read the substrate leaches ammonia so I figured I'd get that cycling while I wait for the lighting & CO2 equipment to show up.

This isn't my first rodeo so I not only used a plate to keep the substrate from clouding the water, but I laid down a garbage bag across the surface as well.



I dumped the water straight from the 5 gallon pail on to the plate at full force and the water just barely clouded!



Once it was about 1/2 way full I used some heavy drift wood to keep the front portion of the garbage bag from drifting around while pouring in the pails of water.



Once it was full there was barely any cloud!



Here's a side view:

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Old 07-20-2014, 07:41 AM   #5
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Great start and as far as planted tanks go I wouldnt consider a 25 gallon tank a nano tank haha. Also kudos to you for your ethics/thought on saltwater fish/coral keeping!
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:56 PM   #6
kwirky88
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I splurged and ordered an Apex Jr aquarium controller. For the first few weeks I'm going to use it for lighting. Once I figure out the CO2 and nutrient needs of the tank I'll add dosing pumps for macro & micros and put the CO2 on the controller. I plan on breaking up the lighting into two portions with a siesta in the middle. This will let me appreciate the aquarium in the morning before I go to work and in the evening when I get home, plus supposedly help with algae. The controller will make this easy, adding the capability of turning on the CO2 30 minutes before the light is turned on each time. I'm sourcing out some 1.1mL/sec peristaltic pumps which will be used for the nutrient dosing.

It's also going to act as a fail-safe for the heater. I've run into problems where a heater becomes defective and stays on, cooking the inhabitants. This should prevent that from happening and it can also send me an e-mail if the heater fails and the temperature drops too low.

I'm very excited!

Oh and I created a blog for the aquarium which is where I'll put more frequent updates, so I don't spam the forums: http://aquarium.seanesopenko.ca/
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:22 AM   #7
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I have plants and fish! Currently I have 12 cardinal tetras and an algae eater. I think he's a genuine SAE but I'm not 100% sure.

I'm working out some problems with my macro dosing. The nitrates aren't really being consumed so I'm testing my nitrates daily and performing 50% water changes when required. I found a site/online-calculator that recommended a specific dose of dry ferts for my tank size, estimating it to increase the nitrates at 8ppm per dose. The increase is happening but nothing's being consumed so the nitrates are building up to unsafe levels before the 50% water change at the end of the week. I'm tweaking the dose and testing nitrates daily plus debating whether I have enough light.

I'm dosing Seachem Flourish Trace 3x weekly at double the amount on the bottle, and Iron once a week at the amount on the bottle. I'm pretty sure I have plenty of nutrients, I know I have plenty of CO2 so I'm suspecting my lighting isn't up to PAR, pun fully intended.

I think I'll add another finnex unit on there. The tank is 18" from front to back and the rear top portion of the tank doesn't get any light. Plus I think the foreground plants at the front could use more. I posted on the lighting subforum for some advice.

Oh and I have tweaked my live feed. I'm no longer using an android phone because it was rebooting and screwing up. I'm now using a little Utilite computer running shell scripts I wrote that operate the feed.



That's a LIVE feed from a camera pointed at the side of the aquarium but the finnex lights are only on from 2pm to 10pm Mountain Time. I have a little PC light on for 40 minutes before and after the lighting cycle, and when I feel like watching the fish earlier or later in the day .

Oh yeah! I'm recording a one week time-lapse video of the aquarium. I want to see if the Pogostemon Stellata have enough growth over that period to be visible in a one minute video .
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:07 AM   #8
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So it's been 1.5 weeks since I first planted the tank and things are going OK for the most part. I finally have the CO2 dialed in for 30ppm (based on the drop checker) but It's a crazy 3 bpm at 30psi which supposedly is VERY HIGH. Tomorrow I'm going to try to determine if I have a leak somewhere because something seems off for the CO2.


I've set up a 10 gallon quarantine tank and I have some german blue rams (4) and fancy guppies (2 males, 1 female) in there. Hopefully I sexed the rams right and have two females and two males. The goal is to have them pair up and keep the best pair for myself and trade off the rest down the road. The idea behind the guppies is to constantly keep the quarantine cycled and never take it down. I'm using Cupramine in the quarantine right now because I think the fish guppies have gill flukes. I'm monitoring the progress.


I also got some African Dwarf Frogs and threw them straight into the tank. I assumed they won't carry diseases transmissible to fish and I'm hoping that won't bite me in the ass. The plan is to spot feed them with a pair of Eheim tongs and blood worms, and try to wean them on to pellets for better nutrition.

Algae is starting to develop so while at the LFS I figured I might as well get more plants. I added some Cabomba to the rear of the aquarium because when I last had a planted tank I found it grows quickly. I want the plants to out-compete the algae for nutrient export. Plus I think I'm going to like it more, visually, over Bacopa.


Oh and this little guy was a little tiny sliver of Hygro that hitch-hiked in a bag with another plant. I didn't want to waste it so I shoved it into the substrate and left it alone. It grew roots and multiplied in size tenfold! I know it's hygro and it grows fast but it's fun to watch. It reminds me of watching frags when I had a reef tank. Waste not want not!
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:49 PM   #9
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Nice job. What are your plans for the plywood stand? Are you planning a door, or to paint it? I've made a couple of stands myself using plywood and they're extremely strong.

Also, what substrate are you using? Looks like ADA africana or malaya?
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Old 08-10-2014, 04:14 PM   #10
kwirky88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exv152 View Post
Nice job. What are your plans for the plywood stand? Are you planning a door, or to paint it? I've made a couple of stands myself using plywood and they're extremely strong.

Also, what substrate are you using? Looks like ADA africana or malaya?
Thanks. I'm maybe adding a door to it but I don't have much for plans. The tanks are in a partial dugout, unfinished basement and it's pretty dingy down there so I'm not motivated to make the stuff outside of the tank look nice. In 2 years we are buying a place and when I get a big tank for that place I'll be getting it with a nice stand, possibly from a finishing carpenter.

Yeah it's ada africana. I thought it would be more red like flourite but it's still not bad. It screwed with the water parameters like mad for the first 3 weeks, too!
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