Hey! I should have posted this earlier in the process, but I'll fill this first post in with some of the details from my offline journal, then I'll try to keep this up to date going forward.
This is my first attempt at a [iwagumi] planted aquarium. I spent a lot of time researching, which seems to have paid off. Not that it's been easy, but I've been pleased with the results so far.
I don't know if this is high tech or low tech. Maybe it's somewhere in between ... mid tech? Hah
- Mr. Aqua; 22 gallon; low iron; 36x12x12"; ADA mat
- PetSmart / Marco 30 g stand
- Satellite LED+ Plus "PRO" (important distinction there)
- Eheim 2215 (350); ~163 gph
- [ebay] lily pipes; acrylic!
- Inline Hydor heater; 200 watts
- Inkbird 306T thermostat
- ADA Amazonia normal AND powder
- [ebay] Seiryu stone
- Pressurized CO2; GLA regulator, solenoid, bubble counter; GLA inline diffuser
- GLA EI fertilizers
- [ebay] drop checker; GLA indicator solution
- Eleocharis sp. Mini; tissue culture; aquariumplants.com
- Lilaeopsis Brasilensis; tissue culture; aquariumplants.com
- 8 grade AA red cherry shrimp (+ ~10 babies); theshrimpfarm.com
- ...Fish in a week or two
I played a lot on this cardboard that came with the aquarium (same dimensions). I marked thirds on the bottom and back for reference as I was placing things.
Then I kept playing with the hardscape arrangement in the aquarium as well. This is basically the final hardscape, minus a few tweaks.
Based on everything I saw and read, I was really trying to focus on thirds, a slope from front to back, the mid-ground, and good contrast among the rocks and between the hard and softscape.
I wanted a really pronounced hill on the left, so once it looked good I piled on more in case the soil compressed. I could have wetted the soil a bit to build it up even more, but it seemed like it would be hard to make adjustments with wet soil, and it's my first time. So I opted for keeping it dry in case I made mistakes. Anyways. I wish the hill was a bit taller, but I'm alright with it as is.
I took my time planting over three days. It's more work than I thought! Eleocharis in the foreground and Lilaeopsis towards the back, left.
I did a dry / emersed start for one week with a 10-12 hour photoperiod, so the roots could take hold a bit (not sure if it made any difference).
I flooded the tank with air tubing (no newspaper or plastic) on Friday, March 4th. Overnight I ran the filter with Purigen and a fine white pad to clear the water some, but it wasn't too cloudy to begin with.
This is the day after flooding, Saturday, March 5th. I redid the filter with all of the media, hooked up the CO2 and set it around 4-6 bps (just a guess; impossible to count). I started with a six hour photoperiod, 40% daily water changes (first week), light ei-type fertilizing.
A few days after flooding I noticed the plants yellowing a bit, so I turned the CO2 down to 3-4 bps, increased the photoperiod to 10 hours, and went right into the full ei dose for 20-40 gal aquariums. I don't think they were getting enough light or fertilizer. The plants started to do much better after that adjustment.
This is one week after flooding, at which point I went to 40% wc every other day.
» Video of Shrimp - Mar 16
A bit of algae was growing after the first week. I was monitoring the water params closely, and things looked pretty good, so I added some shrimp at 1.5 weeks (2.5 weeks including emersed); possibly a week early. Right as I got them I noticed the nitrites were a bit more than I wanted, so I've been doing small, daily water changes, and the shrimp seem to be doing well. They arrived with some baby fry, and those seem to be good too. Next time I will probably wait at least another week, though, or until I can verify the nitrites are trailing off.
Fast forward: here it is two weeks after flooding (minus a couple days since I took the photos two days ago). You can see one of the shrimp swimming past the primary stone. The shrimp cleaned the rocks really well and fast!
I'm pretty happy with the aquarium so far, and I can't wait to see how it progresses. I'm thinking I need to do some trimming soon, but I don't want to pull anything out accidentally.
Let me know what you think or if you have any feedback. Thanks!