90g Cory Jungle River
After years of stockpiling equipment to create a living reef aquarium, I've finally had to face facts--time and money are short since the big financial crash. So I am pivoting toward a low-tech planted tank designed as a playground for Cories and other small fish. I'll be creating a Zen breakfast nook around the aquarium.
I have been reading a lot and assessing how much of my marine equipment I can use or repurpose and what I can sell to pick up the few things I need. Speaking of which, I may have jumped the gun by buying a 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 fixture. I don't have a good understanding of light levels yet. Did I buy a low light or medium light fixture? Either way I will live with it. Nothing wrong with watching plants grow slowly.
While studying up, I've plowed ahead with my aquascape. After looking at many beautiful tanks, I came up with a design that is compromise between natural beauty and my "playground" concept. I made a crude mockup in photoshop (attached).
Black: internal overflow and other equipment:
Brown: Planting substrate
Yellow: Pool filter sand for unplanted area
Light green: carpet area. Probably Java Moss. Not sure if the Finnex light fixture makes other carpet options feasible.
Medium green: Mid-ground plants. Variety of low light favorites.
Dark green: Jungle Val. I do not want to see any equipment.
Reddish Brown: Driftwood
Blue: River rocks
I then went shopping. I settled on some crazy expensive pa-hai stones and some Malaysian driftwood. I bought them over the internet, so I had no idea of what I was getting.
I created a life size printout of my mock up and went to work trying to fit the pieces of hardscape into my vision. I've attached a photo of my progress.
The planted area will be sloped towards the back corner and feature a large vertical driftwood piece. I have one large driftwood piece I would have to cut down to size. Or, as in the photo, I would have to build a Franken-tree out of medium pieces. The Pa-Hai rocks turned out bigger than I wanted, but they are cool and I did not want to break them. So I adapted my design to add a canyon wall feature along the sandy river.
I plan to have two groups of eight Cories. One striped species and one spotted. Maybe C. metae and C. sterbae since they seem readily available. The Sterbae are a little big. I'll key an eye out for a smaller spotted species when the time comes.
I have not settled on what my school of swimmers will be. Any of the three neon species would be fine. I got a copy of the book on nano species so I'll research that too. Otos and Sparkling Gouramis are top choices to add later when the tank matures a bit.
Well that's the plan. I hope to get started on the plumbing in October. I'll post a list of my "parts" next.