Test Chamber (~30G low-everything open top dirted community aquascape thingy) - The Planted Tank Forum
 10Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-24-2017, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Test Chamber (~30G low-everything open top dirted community aquascape thingy)

I just discovered I'm at 99 posts, total, so I figured I'd celebrate by making my 100th the start of a tank journal! After all, I finally have a proper tank running. I would have started this up during the process of setting it up, except I didn’t really have time.

Originally, I was going to set up a smaller tank (~15G) to keep my shrimp in. I bought it used and unfortunately it turned out to be rather leaky, and I didn’t feel like spending days fixing it up so I got a slightly bigger one (~20G) that was sitting in my basement (waiting to be turned into a paludarium). Then, after I’d put that one in the bathroom and filled it up, I discovered there were some pretty big chips and potential hairline fractures at two of the bottom corners. Back into the basement it went, and I finally got this one (~30G).

Basically, it’s taken forever to get Test Chamber going, and because of the massive change in scope I’ve rethought pretty much everything about it at least thrice. xD

Anyway, for this tank I wanted to try out some stuff to see how it goes before I get started on what will eventually be my main tank (~100G). It’s been years since I kept fish and I’ve gotten older, wiser and also a biology education since then. Oh, and I became a gardening geek, too! ANYWAY. Point is: I’m now into building my own furniture, making my own substrate, culturing my own fish food, etc etc. Also I'm really curious about aquascaping. Not so much with the CO2 and fancy stuff like that, though. I'm very much inspired by walstad-type setups, nature aquariums, semi self-sustaining tanks, that kind of thing.

So here’s what it looks like now, about a week after setting it up:



Next post will contain current specs, and I’ll return as soon as I have the time to give a rundown of the setup process, for those who are interested in that kind of thing.

EDIT: Here's the post on set-up process and initial development!

Comments, thoughts, ideas are all very welcome! And praise, too.
johnson18 and johnson18 like this.

Last edited by hivemindhermit; 12-01-2017 at 08:42 AM. Reason: added link to set-up post
hivemindhermit is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-24-2017, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Current specs, as of 2017-12-01

Tank: Marina glass tank

Measurements: 80x35x40 cm (~30x13.5x15.5 inches)

Volume: 112 litres (~ 30 gallons)

Stand: LECA blocks (that’s what we use instead of cinderblocks in Sweden), lumber

Filter: AquaEl UniFilter 500 (with the case removed to expose the sponges for shrimp to graze on)

Lighting: Two Ikea VńXER LED cultivation lights, the longer versions (will be replaced eventually)

Heating: None. Right now my room temp holds steady at 21C (~70F)

Water: Tap water, usually comes out with a pH of ~8, KH: 3 dH, GH: 4 dH. According to the municipality it’s treated with chloramine, so I add a bit of ascorbic acid before adding it to the tank.

Background: Rock pattern, will be replaced with black cloth.

Substrate
  • 1-1.5 cm of clay from my parents’ garden mixed with aquarium gravel
  • 2-3 cm of a mixture of two different potting mixes (one coir-based, one peat-based), composted bark fines, LECA and a bit of gravel.
  • 1-2 cm of sand (0.5-1 mm grain).

Decor: Anthracite, three pieces of unknown aquarium driftwood (bought used). Oak and beech leaves.


Plants
Echinodorus bleheri (amazon sword)
Limnophila sessiliflora
Ludwigia repens ‘Rubin’
Echinodorus sp. ‘Devil’s Eye’
Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae
Cryptocoryne blassii
Cryptocoryne sp. (unknown, probably blassii or ‘Tropica’)
Cryptocoryne x willisii ‘Lucens’ (confused about the nomenclature on this one!)
Ludwigia sp. ’Super Red’ (possibly L. palustris?)
Lilaeopsis brasiliensis
Pogostemon helferi
Lemna minor (duckweed)
Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce, two varieties, one larger and one smaller)
Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Inverts
Shrimp
~17 x Neocaridina davidi var. 'Yellow Neon Stripe' (four adults and about 13 juveniles)
8 x Caridina logemanni var. 'Crystal Black'
1 x Caridina multidentata (Amano - it’ll get company soon!)

Snails
Lots x Melanoides tuberculata (malayisan trumpet snail)
Lots x Physa sp. (bladder snails)
Lots x Planorbis sp. (flat-coiled snails related to regular ram’s horns)
? x Planorbella sp. (ram’s horn snail - I have one fairly big, and probably a few smaller hiding out somewhere)
1 x mysterious, hard to identify snail!

Other
Detritus worms, copepods, ostracods...


Fish
10 x Hyphessobrycon amandae (ember tetra)
2 x Poecilia wingei (Endler's livebearer - fry, soon to be moved)

Fish - PLANNED
? x Hyphessobrycon amandae (ember tetra)
~6 x Otocinclus macrospilus
2 x Mikrogeophagus ramirezi (ram)
johnson18 and johnson18 like this.

Last edited by hivemindhermit; 12-01-2017 at 08:46 AM. Reason: update
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-24-2017, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Before I get into the nitty gritty of set-up, I wanted to throw out a couple of thoughts on stocking. Right now I'm pondering when to start adding fish and what to start with. I'm fairly confident it's already cycled thanks to the dirt; all parameters are looking good. I'm thinking I want to start with ember tetras. Although I'm starting to see some algae, it's nowhere near enough to sustain potentially finicky otos (in case they won't eat vegetables or wafers), and I don't have a system for growing algae yet. I don't want to add rams until I've gotten the pH a bit lower, plus I want the neo juveniles to grow some first.

So - how many embers should I start with, and how many should I aim for?

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- ~30G low everything, open top, dirted community aquascape ... thingy
hivemindhermit is offline  
 
post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-24-2017, 10:41 AM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 45
ember tetras are small so with that tank I think you could get away with 20?
jipan is offline  
post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-24-2017, 01:11 PM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: toronto
Posts: 57
Start with ten tetras and make sure it doesnt throw off the balance of the tank. It's beautiful right now and wouldn't want to see you run into any issues by adding extra ammonia to the tank. It's still a pretty young tank so take it slow! I have subscribed and would like to see how this one carries out. Great job so far.

Fire Aqua 60cm 17 g rimless with 5lb co2
Fire Aqua 40cm 17 g rimless cube low tech
Fluval 7.9g rimless super low tech
5 gallon trimmings tank
Soon to be setup 90g high tech
scrogathon is offline  
post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2017, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Ten ember tetras are now being acclimated - and two bonus guppy fry! The clerk saw one and was like "oops, there's a guppy fry in there, is that okay?" and I said yes. When I got home there were two! I hope they survive. I've absolutely no clue as to their parentage; the store has plenty of fancy guppy as well as endler's, but I can't remember what was in the tank with the tetras. So it would be exciting to see what they grow up to be.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- ~30G low everything, open top, dirted community aquascape ... thingy
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2017, 06:24 AM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 45
Good luck with the embers! They are pretty little fish, I love how they body glitter when they happy.
jipan is offline  
post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-28-2017, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by jipan View Post
Good luck with the embers! They are pretty little fish, I love how they body glitter when they happy.
Thank you! Yes, they're truly lovely, very much deserving of their name. So far, everything's gone swimmingly - they are still fairly shy of me, but if I sit still they come out of the corner they've decided is safest. Water parameters are holding steady, probably thanks to all the duckweed and water lettuce.

I had NOT expected that I would fall completely head over heels in love with the guppies, though! They are SO cute and cocky! Been swimming around like they own the place since the second I let them out of the bag. I went back to the store the day after to get another floating plant, and though there were no guppies in that tank now, it was labelled with two kinds of Endler's livebearer -- a lime green variant and a colour mix. So I'm reasonably certain they are Endler's, which makes the biology geek in me happy, but have no idea what colour.

I really like the way their movement pattern is so different from the tetras, so I'll probably end up keeping a few males in that tank. For now, I'm preparing to move them to the little tank I used to keep my shrimp in. Although the tetras don't seem to be bothering them at all, they're so small I had to turn the filter off because I worry they'd get stuck in it!

I hope to have time to upload some photos/videos later today or tomorrow.

Bump: Oh I'm also currently in the process of introducing a couple of amano females - I have a male that I figure might enjoy some company, and the larvae should make a nice snack for the tetras.

At least I hope they're both female. One is pregnant, so I'm sure of her, but the other... I guess we'll see! Otherwise I'll get a couple more females so the one I know I got doesn't get harrassed to death.
johnson18 and johnson18 like this.
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-29-2017, 12:28 AM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 45
I don't think anything will scare guppies, endlers included, when I put my net in to catch something, my guppy-endler hybrids will CAME to inspect the net. The easiest fish to catch ever XD.

Don't worry about the filter, guppy fry spent majority on surface / near surface, so they are mostly safe from filter intake. But move them to more secure tank, if you like. Once I moved 9 fry to a small bucket because I was afraid my dwarf gourami will eat them.
jipan is offline  
post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Set-up process

WALL OF TEXT WARNING! FINALLY managed to assemble a post on the set-up of this thing. Iím writing this mostly for my own sake, so Iíll have an account of what I did for future reference. But also Iíve found that reading about other peopleís set-up process can be really useful and inspiring, so Iím hoping at least some of you find this useful!


Planning the scape

At first I spent some time playing around with my collection of driftwood in the spot where the aquarium would be, using the box the aquarium came in with one side cut out. I have a whole bunch of driftwood that I got with another big tank I bought used (not set up yet), and settled for four of the pieces that I felt were similar in aspect and could be used for an interesting, sort of dramatic hardscape.

Along with these I decided to use anthracite, which I know thereís mixed opinions of as to whether itís suitable for fish tanks, but Iíve never had an issue with it and itís a common enough sight in Swedish pet shops. As long as you scrub the coal thoroughly before you stick it in the tank, it wonít even stain the water. I wanted anthracite partly because I already had some at home, and partly because I think it looks really cool and would go well with the dramatically spiky driftwood.

Here's a few iterations of the scape:




Substrate

I fetched dirt from my garden (well, technically my parentsí garden, but Iím the chief gardener), aiming for mostly clay. This I put in a bucket and filled with water, dissolving the clumps and getting rid of various organics that floated to the top, as well as a bunch of small rocks. Then I let it sit for a couple of days so most of the clay would sink, and poured off the water.

The clay was mixed with aquarium gravel (5-10 mm), to add some height, and spread over the back two-thirds of the tank, banked up slightly against the back. In retrospect, I wish I had used more gravel.

For the organic portion of the substrate, I used a mix of composted bark fines and two brands of potting mix. One is a peat-based mix for cactuses (i.e. only lightly fertilised), the other a peat-free mix with coir. I wanted some nutrients to start off with, but not a lot, so I didnít want to use just the coir mix. The cactus mix had the issue that peat tends to float, so using only that would have been impractical. So I used a bit of each and diluted the mix further with bark fines, because itís awesome and I have a truck-load of the stuff. (Literally!) I mixed all of this in a bucket of water, skimmed off the stuff that wouldnít sink, and removed chips of wood I found too large.

I wanted to avoid the soil getting compacted by the sand cap, so I mixed it with LECA, which I boiled until it sunk and then crushed a bit (because I couldnít get hold of the small kind, only the 8-15mm stuff). I also mixed in some gravel for good measure. My idea is that the non-organic components form pores where decomposition can happen without getting squashed.


Scaping

After spreading the organic mix on top of the clay, I went to work on the hardscape. Here I made one mistake that I regret: I wanted to raise the large piece of wood on the right up a bit without piling up substrate underneath the rock that itís resting on, and decided to use pieces of an old bedroll. The mistake was not gluing it to anything. I suspect that if I remove the driftwood, which isnít anchored to anything and hence a bit wobbly, the rock underneath it is going to get shifted as the bedroll tries (and maybe succeeds) to float to the top. Definitely going to fix this if/when I rescape. For other parts where I wanted to raise the hardscape and not use up all the substrate, I just added a few handfuls of gravel. Far more stable, and easily adjustable to boot.

Anyway, now it was time to cap the substrate with sand. For some reason, I donít remember why, I ended up pouring some water into the tank before I did this; just enough to get the substrate wet. This was kind of silly. I wanted the front and center of the tank to be free of substrate (sand only), but now obviously a whole bunch of dirt flowed into it, which I couldnít really do anything about when I capped the rest. I donít know if this made the tank even murkier than it otherwise might have been, though - I suspect it would have looked pretty dirty either way, due to clay escaping into the water column when I filled it up.


Planting

I had originally planned to get the plants in place before filling the tank up, but I was worried Iíd get interrupted and plants would dry up an die on me. So I filled it, and quickly realised it would be impossible to plant now because the water was pretty much opaque - I wouldnít be able to see what I was doing at all. xD

Because I was running out of time and didnít feel like emptying and refilling the whole thing repeatedly, I decided to set up my Fluval 306 canister filter. Only it broke on me! So I ran to one of the local shops and bought an internal filter instead. (I did not have the best afternoon that dayÖ) This I rigged to pump the water through a half litre bottle filled with LECA and then through a couple of bags of activated carbon, to speed up the process.

The day after - monday the 13th of November - the water was a fair bit clearer, so I removed about half of it and put the plants (many of which had been sitting in a bucket for almost a week now) in place. My mystery crypt dried up a little during the planting process, but otherwise it went smoothly. Obviously a whole lot of clay and debris got stirred up, so I let the filter rig stay in place for another day or so after I filled up the tank again.



Chessie (one of my ragdolls) certainly didn't mind that the water was cloudy!


Early Development

Water cleared up fairly quickly. The wood piece on the left quickly grew a thick layer of bacteria for inverts to graze on. Over the first few days I added some oak and beech leaves, and put in a few more floating plants.

Here's what it looked like on day 4:



I checked water parameters every other day or so in the beginning, though I was lacking a nitrate test for the first while. I got some ammonia and nitrites during the first couple of days but since then levels have been undetectable. I got a nitrate test around day 9, and levels are very low (liquid remains yellow with the slightest hint of orange).

On the 19th (day 6) I moved some shrimp over from my little tub in the kitchen. Initially I had intended to watch them for a while before moving the rest, but then I learned that the flatworms I'd observed in the shrimp tub can actually attack and kill adult shrimp, so I moved the rest the day after. One of my juvenile YNS died within a day, but the rest seem to be thriving.

Plants are doing well. The faster growers started off immediately, but even the Pogostemon - which looked really battered after planting, and which I'm really not expecting to survive, considering the low light - straightened up after a day or so. The dried-up parts of that one crypt are obviously dying, making the shrimp happy.

More photos coming soon! I hope.
johnson18 and johnson18 like this.
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-02-2017, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Welp, seems I must be doing something right - since wednesday, three of my eight CBS have gotten themselves berried! Here's the first one showing off the goods, as it were:



The fish are all doing splendidly as well. They've been eating since day one, and no longer disappear into a corner when I sit down in front of the tank.

I was a bit worried about one of the tetras initially. I noticed it hanging out in a dark corner quite a lot, and upon closer inspection it appears to have a bit of a bruise on the side of its abdomen. My guess is it happened in the shop, as the clerk was rather stressed because the store was about to close. Anyway, it moved normally and would join the others to feed, and now it doesn't hang back as much anymore, so I think it's going to be okay.

Though the tetras definitely prefer feeding in the water column rather than from the surface or the bottom, here they are checking out a piece of a pleco tablet intended for the shrimp...



Speaking of which, the other day I caught them feeding on tiny scraps of pea as they were discarded by an amano shrimp. Did not expect that! Will try to get a video uploaded at some point...
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
Here's the tank as of right now. Looking a bit cloudy cause I still haven't moved the guppies and so the filter's still not on, and I'm getting a bit of algae on the glass. I clean off the front now and then, but otherwise not too bothered.



Bump: Oh, and, I would apologise for the photo quality, but honestly it's pretty amazing what one can do with a phone these days!
d33pVI and d33pVI like this.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- ~30G low everything, open top, dirted community aquascape ... thingy
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
hivemindhermit's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sweden
Posts: 149
I've been rethinking the ram thing. I absolutely adore rams, but I had a long discussion with someone fairly experienced with them, whom after a lot of observation has come to the conclusion that they're really at their best and happiest in groups. And although I could probably fit six of them in this tank, it would make the tank far busier than what I had in mind.

Sooo... now I'm thinking maybe a couple of redbreast acaras (Laetacara dorsigera), or umbrella cichlids (Apistogramma borellii). Both south american dwarf cichlids, both seem very friendly and cute. If anyone has experience with these and would like to weigh in, please do!


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- ~30G low everything, open top, dirted community aquascape ... thingy
hivemindhermit is offline  
post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 03:40 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
d33pVI's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 370
I have a trio of Laetacara curviceps that are quickly becoming some of my favorite fish. Seeing the development of coloration on them as they mature is really neat, and their behaviors are very entertaining to watch.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
d33pVI is offline  
post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 06:23 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 2,228
Tank looks awesome! I love the larger rimless tanks. So much more dramatic. I finished my BS in Biology not too long ago and I can tell you it made the C02 and ferts aspect so much easier and enjoyable. Somewhere during that time I went from big tanks full of big African cichlids to big tanks packed as full as possible with smaller fish. I have never personally done it but from what I have seen it looks to me that Rams would be slightly easier to maintain in a small group versus Apisto's. I love both, but I would have electric blue rams if it weren't for the 80* temp requirement. I've never seen the Laetecara, but Apisto's haven't been easy for me. If your parameters are good a trio would be really cool. Borelli, Panduro, Mcmasteri, there are so many awesome Apisto's. I would bring that school of embers to 30 at least though. My Apisto's were very shy until I started getting my dither fish stocking up there. The more that are in there the more the Apisto's are out. Most dwarfs also like more acidic water which can be indirectly accomplished by C02 injection. You would probably get enough C02 to make a big difference by doing 2 2 liter yeast sugar reactors and a hagen mini elite or pvc reactor with a canister filter.
Really looks good.

Twin high tech 75's -
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
The Dude1 is offline  
Reply

Tags
aquascape, community, nature, open top, walstad

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome