This is my second real attempt at a planted tank. My first attempt was with a SeaPora 12" cube and while that one looks alright and is surprisingly stable (i.e. very little algae, water params great, betta is super happy), it feels cramped visually.
Our daughter has been doing really well in SK and so my wife and I surprised her with her own tank. I took this as an opportunity to get something a little wider and ended up with an ADA 60-F. I wanted this to be a somewhat heavily planted tank but ironically didn't spend much time planning it out. (I apologize for the cell pics.)
The initial scape looked this this:
I made the light stand by hacking up some $10 metal sign posts from HomeDepot; I cut the arms off of it to suspend the Satellite+ Pro, which seems to work well. Put some screw protectors on the ends and screwed some cable clamps in the back of the dresser, which allows me to raise and lower the light. It actually turned out pretty clean:
Then I got to planting Eleocharis sp mini, Athernatha reineckii mini, Staurogyne repens. I quickly realised that I probably used too much soil.
Because of the limited space in my daughter's room, the relatively small size of the tank, and the lack of patience to wait for an order from the US, I ended up buying an Ista 1L "Pro" CO2 kit. This is a refillable tank with what seems to be a decent enough regulator. After setting up the CO2 kit, I set the flow to 1 bubble every 3 seconds. Also stuffed some HC into the nooks of the driftwood:
After a week I quickly realized what everyone was talking about with ADA Amazonia and ammonia, which was through the roof at 8 ppm and forced me to delay my plan to add fish. I made the mistake of not doing any water changes for the first couple of days and I think my reinecki and s.repens suffered some ammonia burns!
I also ended up changing the ADA Spin pipe to a Mini P2 (jet style) which improved flow dramatically. Due to the shallowness of this tank, the Spin pipe was really disturbing the soil underneath it; the Mini P2 works much better in this tank.
Since it's really hard to explain the nitrogen cycle to a 5 1/2 yr old and why you shouldn't put fish in a tank with really high ammonia levels, I figured I'd kickstart things with a bit of Fresh Colony bacteria. To my surprise this seemed to actually work and within about a week ammonia dropped drastically.
With the ammonia level under control and nitrites starting to drop, I added a few more plants to give the future fish/shrimp some cover. Ended up going with Anubias nana, Anubian nana "petite", Pogostemon helferi, and some small crypts:
It was around this time that I noticed the start of some beard algae on the AR leaves/driftwood and hard algae on the glass. Unfortunately, being new to all of this I'm still learning about proper dosing of ferts, light levels, etc. I think having the Sat+ Pro on for 12 hrs a day @ 100% intensity and only 12" from the substrate didn't help matters either!
Once nitrites dropped to under 0.25ppm, I introduced the fish waiting in my daughter's 12" cube to the new tank. The Danios seemed really
happy about the new tank; the panda corydoras love the grass but don't seem quite as comfortable; the crowntail betta didn't stop exploring for the entire day and seemed quite settled.
My wife wanted some more fish but since we didn't want to go too crazy, we added some ember tetras, pygmy corydoras, an amano shrimp, and some RCS...LOL so much for not overdoing it. We had to move the betta back to his 12" cube because after a couple of days he decided the shrimp tasted much better than bloodworms.
The danios might also need to be relocated, as they have WAY too much energy for a nano tank and their scale is all wrong. We're considering putting a 40x18x18 in the kitchen, which may become their new home.
Anyhow, three weeks later and the tank now looks like this:
I had to pull out the HC as it wasn't doing well - RCS love the now open crevices in the driftwood
I've got to say that with the light and CO2, the eleocharis mini is growing exceptionally well, to the point that I need to trim it every couple of days it seems. I feel like I'll now have two lawns to mow this summer.
Tank break down:
ADA Amazonia "new"
ADA Amazonia powder ( 1/2" layer on top )
ADA Power sand - small
ADA Mini P2 outflow
ADA Mini V1 inflow
Hydro ETH 200w 12/16mm
Current USA Satellite LED Plus Pro 24"
DIY light stand
Ista 1L refillable "Pro" CO2 Kit
Ista CO2 diffuser (will be changing to an Atomic inline diffuser)
Ista metal bubble counter + check valve
Ista drop checker (have a Cal Aqua nano drop checker on the way)
Water parameters (as of 04/15/16)
KH - 2.5 to 3
GH - 5
PH - 6.3 to 6.4
Ammonia - 0ppm
Nitrites - ~0.125ppm (in between 0 and 0.25ppm on the colour chart)
Nitrates - 20ppm
Temperature - 25.5c / 78 F
CO2 rate - 1 bubble every 3 seconds
12 Ultra red cherry shrimp
1 Amano shrimp
10 Ember tetras
8 Pygmy Corydoras
2 Panda Corydoras*
4 Danios (pink and "green slime" coloured)*
*these fish will likely be moved to a different tank at some point
Eleocharis sp mini
Alternanthera reinecki mini
Anubias nana petite