Newbie 180 Gallon Iwagumi - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie 180 Gallon Iwagumi

Iím about 2 months into this project, and just now have something to show for it, so Iíll start a journal to document my Ė hopefully -, beautiful aquarium, and not have started a thread about the folly of hubris. In another life (before children) I was something of a hobbyist, breeding rainbows and rams on the freshwater side, and becoming a disciple of Julian Sprung on the saltwater side (go UF!). I am planning to buy new water additives after having stored my old ones in the attic for 15 years.

Plan: a small dual husband/wife office/retreat with a smallish 90P rimless Iwagumi planted tank.

Reality: the same small office with a Craigslist offer I couldnít refuse: a Marineland 180 gallon stand + canopy like new, 2 Fulval FX5ís, and 2 LED strip lights for a silly almost nothing price (gotta love Boca Raton!) The front of the tank has lots of scratches but I'll be flipping it around to a very clean backside. If I fail, at least Iíll have plenty of extra Sansui stones!

We started from scratch with the office, going for a standard minimalist look. A 180 degree from the hundreds of books, dense memorabilia, dark wood bookshelves, and hunter green walls of the cluttered old office. (Everything got moved to our ďformer tenentísĒ i.e., childrenís rooms). Now we will be black, grey and white, with blue and green (plants!) accents. The custom desks were ordered 2 months ago and are expected in a couple of weeks. The desks were reduced in size to accommodate the larger tank Ė so now there is no going back!

I really have no idea what I am doing, having just used anarcharis as a filtration/oxygenator/spawning bed for my tanks in the past. So how hard can an Iwagumi be, right? Letís do a 180 gallon! Hence my newfound attachment to this forum. :-) Thank you to all.

This will not be a rapidly evolving thread, but Iím getting it started. I eBayíd a dual stage Concoa regulator build, but have not built my CO2 reactor yet, nor finalized my lighting. Iíve decided to try my (almost free) Fluval FX5 to start, just for the fun of it, although Iíve always used sumps in the past.

Respect goes to Aqua Forest. Steven worked with me and listened to my specs and plans for the tank. He picked out stones to my exact specifications (no pictures from him, just faith on my part) and shipped 170 lbs of ADA Sansui stones which I am delighted with. Iíll be using Amazonia, and I think Iíll build up the vertical height with lava rock in nylon(?)

So, on to the pics. Iíll try and build a relatively step soil height for the left side of the tank, the stones on that side will be in the foreground with the carpet in the background (built up with lava stone?) Carpet in the center - no sand river but a green valley Ė and large stones in the background on the right side. Anyway thatís the first draft. Weíll see how it turns out in a few months.

Thank for any comments. The stones are very roughly placed. The drawing may be more indicative.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-11-2018, 07:13 PM
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The fourth attachment is spectacular!! Excited to see where this heads. The 180 has my all time favorite dimensions.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-16-2018, 09:27 PM
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Any updates of this beautiful tank?

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-02-2020, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, OK! I’m the original poster, but have been having a hard time logging in, so I created a new account cause it seemed easier! I had some major distractions last year that put this project on hiatus, so after arranging the rocks and substrate, the tank has been rather disappointingly a very boring tetra tank for the last 12 months. There is only one rainbow tetra remaining, and I won’t be adding further stock until and if I feel comfortable with the maintenance of the tank.

I just planted my tank yesterday – by no means a perfect job, but boy are Hemianthus and Micranthemum a pain to remove from the 10x10 mats I bought them on. I hope this photo I took immediately post-planting will not be best the tank gets! �� The center “valley” area is dwarf baby tears, the ground cover along the foreground sides is monte carlo. Dwarf hairgrass in in the mid/background, with various other small leafy accents here and there. Obviously, the wires and plumbing will be cleaned up!

Question: The CO2 system and reactor seem to be working well, but after running it all afternoon and evening yesterday, the CO2 concentration steadily rose to about 150ppm+ according to my drop checker and stayed there overnight, even with the CO2 tank turned off all night. This morning I hooked up my pH controller and it seems stuck at 5.6. My dKH = 2, so the calculation tells me I’m at 150ppm CO2, which confirms the drop checker results. I left the CO2 off, lights on for several hours and the pH didn’t budge. I turned it on and 4 hours later still pH 5.6. With the CO2 on, the dwarf baby tears are pearling nicely, but not the monte carlo. Very little pearling on the dwarf baby tears with the CO2 not bubbling, even though my indicators are telling me 150ppm! If anyone has any clues what’s going on, I would love some wisdom!
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-14-2020, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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6 week update. The monte carlo turned out to be pearlweed :-( So while I'm letting it go crazy in the middle of the tank for now while I figure out how to get the algae down, I'll be cutting it back substantially and letting the HC Cuba slowly work it's way towards the middle. I also planted some Microsword last week in a couple spots. It's been a fun ride learning about lighting, ferts, CO2, tiny critters and big filters etc, and I think now I've got it under control for the time being.

I'm very happy with the critter selection. Schools of 30-50 CPDs, Ember Tetras, and Emerald Eye Rasboras, and lots of amano and ghost shrimp. This fish move around the whole tank, sometimes all together but usually grouped together by species. I really like the ghost shrimp as they've grown, surprisingly cool little guys. Looking to add a similar number of pygmy corries next.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Well, it didn't take me too long to realize I love trying out as many different plants as I can, and seeing as how this is my only tank, I think the Iwagumi dream is out the window for now. I guess I aiming for more a jungle valley at this point. :Right now I think there are 15 varieties of plants, and 6 more will arrive tomorrow. I ripped out all the pearl weed that was sent to me instead of monte carlo, and I hope to fill the central part of the tank with some variety instead of just a solid carpet. No plant or fish/shrimp losses so far, and although I thought I may have lost 7 of my 8 ottos, because I've only ever occasionally seen just one at a time during the last month, they all made a brief appearance during today's water change, and they're all fat!

I was originally going to just have 2 species of fish besides the ottos, but they same rule applies: if you have just one aquarium, don't make it minimalist! So far I have schools of CPDs, Emerald Dwarf Rasboras, Ember Tetras, Emerald Eye Rasboras, and Pork Chop Rasboras with a few Green Neon Rasboras thrown in as well. All are really cool, and the CPDs, Emerald Dwarfs, and Pork Chops make such excellent bottom feeders I may not wind up getting dwarf corys (who am I kidding)? The shrimp are holding up well with the fish, and my first batch of baby ghost shrimp born in-tank have made it and are doing well with the fish, so I'm going to ramp them up the shrimp count soon. There's 30 Amanos in there now along with the ghosts and a few Black Crystals and Green Jade.

Also last night I caught a couple of Pork Chops in the act. The eggs seems to make it to the tank floor OK, so who knows?

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 11:53 AM
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what are those schooling fish can you please name those
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-31-2020, 03:19 AM Thread Starter
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Of the fish I listed above, by far the tightest schooling fish are the Emerald Eye Rasboras. The others all join in with them from time to time.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 02:17 AM Thread Starter
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OK, now I have about 25 varieties of plants in the tank. Did I mention I'm a newbie? The idea is to see how things grow out and look in the tank, and winnow it down to the handful of major players, and many minor accents. Right now I've got 5 or 6 favorites, all different than the 4 I had picked out before I set this tank up!

I'm amazed at the dwarf hygrophila, Hygrophila pinnatifida, the ones I ordered came as tiny bare sticks, but have turned into amazing purple ferns! They will cover probably the main stone in my tank as well as it's smaller counterpart to the right, and possibly another, as in this ADA aquarium, which I just discovered and am in love with.



An enveloping wreath of Mermaid Weed, Proserpinaca palustris, will spill up and around them in the crevice of the main stones. I'll be phasing out the HC Cuba in favor of the Staurogyne Repens which I'll let take over as the only ground cover. This will be the focus of the tank and I'll base all my other groupings on these 3 plants. I'll probably wind up with about 20 varieties. I just wanted to mention this because as experienced PT folks, you all take for granted knowing how each plant relates to one another. I for one have discovered that I can't learn that from pictures! Thanks for the amazing wisdom of this forum and I hope to post a picture, as soon as the tank isn't just a nursery for all the tiny plants I'm growing out!
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 09:52 AM
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The tank looks great! Current photos?

my 20 gallon journal:
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. As I said, right now it's a hodgepodge, but ideas are starting to come to me as I see the plants do their things. I'll attempt, for now, to cover the main stones with Hygrophila Pinnatifida as in the ADA aquarium above, possibly the others too. I just have a bit of mermaid weed now, but I can see it filling the main stone's crevice and curving around and behind the top and back, hopefully framing it nicely. I may keep a little HC Cuba, but I'll let the Staurogyne Repens take over ground cover duties.

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-27-2020, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, it's hard to believe just 2 months ago I still had Iwagumi in mind! I will simplify over time (maybe!) but for now I'm still learning the finer points and letting the plants do the talking.




Much to my dismay, all my Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp died off (although the first generation of the Caridina offspring grew a bit before dying during their 3/4 inch molt). :O So, going with the flow, I decided to turn my Iwagumi Shrimp/Nano fish tank into a Rainbowfish ecosystem! As stated above, I'm having trouble with the Cuba ground cover at the front, but I am trying some higher light alternatives, my Kessil 360X's arrive next week. I used to breed rainbows 30 years ago, so why not do it again, but this time with a little more capital?

I'm converting the 24" X 84" folding-door closet adjacent to the aquarium into a mini "fish room" consisting of 5 10gs, 2 20 Longs, and a 75g, and trying my hand at breeding some rainbows (this hobby's vicious). Of the Rasboras, Danios and Tetras I started with for my "nano tank," I'll eventually move most of the Ember Tetras, Lambchop Rasboras, and Emerald Eye Rasboras into the smaller tanks in the closet, while keeping the CPDs, Emerald Dwarf Rasboras, and especially the Neon Green Tetras (amazing fish!) in the 180 gallon along with the many Rainbows. The Emerald Dwarf Rasboras are remarkable snail-egg eaters, and I fear with them and the rainbows, I may need to restock the thousand or so bladder snails I had before I introduced the EDRs to the tank!

Anyway, for now I'm overgrowing the tank, overstocking the tank, and overfeeding the tank! I'm getting the hang of the CO2, ferts, and water changes, still a little too much hair algae, but only the the shady spots and hopefully the Kessil's will help with that.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 07:44 PM
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Pics from posts 11,12,13 not showing for me.....

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks I hope I finally fixed it!
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