New to the hobby and just finishing my first tank. This forum has been tremendously helpful in learning about everything from substrates to plants to co2.
The tank is a UNS 60S
which measures 23.6 wide x 14.2 deep x 7.1 tall. I had originally bought an Aqua Japan and an Aqua-something (forgot the name) tank but returned them because of quality issues. The Japan one wasn't too bad, it had decent seams with a moderate amount of visible silicon while the Aqua-something(forgot the name) was absolutely terrible. The glass in the seams didn't even touch and the silicon was gobbed in there with reckless abandon. The UNS on the other hand is an absolutely stunning tank. The seams/corners are all mitered at 45 degree angles and they fit perfectly together. The seam is so tight that there's literally no visible silicon anywhere. The glass is also twice as thick and incredibly clear. I'll never buy a tank that isn't UNS going forward.
Substrate ended up being the most challenging decision for the tank. I couldn't find a reliable consensus on what the best substrate was let alone how to properly mix them. I ended up with a combination of Fluval Stratum and Eco Complete. I put the Eco Complete on the bottom and Stratum on top because planting in Eco is next to impossible. Eco Complete is also longer lasting so substrate changes will be easier if I can just scrape the surface layer off sometime down the road.
I went with an Iwagumi layout using Petrified Wood. Luckily being in Arizona it's fairly abundant at most rock stores and at a relatively good price ($2 a pound). I chose pieces which were heavy in red and gold hues to compliment the red accent plants that are growing between them.
For filtration I went with a SunSun 603B canister filter
. I've read mixed reviews on this but it's hard to beat for the price at $25 and one of the few canisters that works in small tanks. So far I'm very happy with it and it runs absolutely whisper quiet. I used Jardli Glass for the out-flow, in-flow
, and co2
pipes and replaced all the tubing with clear to make it as invisible as possible. I bought this
co2 checker because it's a bit smaller than all the others like it on Amazon. It also came with the testing liquid.
Co2 is pretty daunting for someone with my experience but I think I found a pretty good setup at a good price. I found a 5 pound tank on craigslist for $25 and bought a DoubleSun regulator
. It's a dual regulator that comes with a bubble checker, needle valve, and solenoid. It seems to compare better than a lot of the name brand ones but time will tell. So far, so good. Easy to adjust and I'm basically trial and erroring to figure out how much co2 I need. Right now it's about 1.5 bubbles a second.
I went through 3 different lights on amazon before settling on this one from NICREW
. It's much brighter than the other two I bought and is made specifically for planted tanks. It has white and blue led's and really makes the tank pop. I've had the tank up and running for 3 days and already have plants pearling so I'm guessing things are good in the photosynthesis department. I wasn't a fan of how the light mounted to the tank so I threw together a custom holder for it out of some scrap Mesquite I had laying around. Initially my wife was fairly against having an aquarium because she thought they were ugly so I'm trying to create something which blends in with our decor. She approves.
For plants I used the following..
- Glossostigma Elatinoides (front left) - Easy to grow and should provide me with a fast carpet. I plan to keep this trimmed very short (half inch if possible) once it fully carpets that area.
- S. Repens (front right and just behind the first rock on the left just past the Glossostigma) - The substrate is a bit lower here giving me more room to keep this carpet a bit thicker. I've heard this plant is harder to grow and carpet but my options were limited for carpeting plants at my local fist stores.
- Alternanthera Reineckii Mini (between the large rocks, back middle, just in front of the large stone on the right/middle, just to the left of the large stone on the left/middle) - I'll try to keep this just below the water surface and keep it a bit thin to allow some Tetra to move between them. I'm hoping these plants become the focal point and should compliment the petrified wood colors.
- Helanthium Tenellum 'Green' (back left and very back right) - 2 individual plants in the back left along the class and a single in the back right corner to partially hide the outtake pipe. Even though this is an Iwagumi I think the thin airy nature of this plant will work in the back.
- Marimo Moss Ball (small patches glued to various rocks) - I had plants to glue flattened moss ball to all of the rocks but pulled back quite a bit and used it very sparingly in small cracks or depressions on the stones as more of an accent. I'm happy with how it turned out though for some reason some of the moss/algae isn't looking too hot right now.
I'm very happy with everything but plan on making a couple small changes. The front middle rock is a bit too tall and the overall height of the front substrate needs to be lowered a bit. I'm taking the large rock to my lock rock store tonight and they're going to slice about 1-2 inches off the bottom of the stone so it will sit lower allowing better visibility to the focal stones and plants behind it. I'll remove some of the substrate at the same time. Overall it should look exactly the same but provide a bit more visibility and depth viewing front to back.
Ill post pics after I cut the stone and thin the substrate as well as progress pictures as the plants carpet and grow (hopefully). I'm not sure if i can swing multiple tanks so it's likely this tank will go through multiple redesigns once everything has grown in and I get bored. Soon as I get the co2 indicator to a consistent 'green' ill add fish. Originally this was for my son's betta but I think he's a little too large and will throw off the scale of the tank. May buy some tetras or something but I know almost nothing about fish so I'm open to any suggestions.