getting back into the hobby - 14 inch cube - updated FTS on first page - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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getting back into the hobby - 14 inch cube - updated FTS on first page

FTS October 19, 2019
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FTS September 14, 2019:
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FTS August 22, 2019:
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It has been about 4 years since I last had a tank set up, which was a 12 inch cube with CRS and a few snails. I am super excited to finally have the time, space, and resources to get back into the hobby. And I am going to do my best to update this regularly.

My wife and I just moved into a new house and I will be working from home which will allow me to enjoy my tank all-day long . It is set up on my desk and has two viewing angles, the front and the side. I will have to travel a few days a month (or more at times) so have opted for a low tech set up that I hope I can balance well and keep the maintenance low as well. That way it will be easy for my wife to take care of if I am gone for more than a few days.

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The stand is a Husky workbench, list of other equipment below.

Tank: Seapora 14 inch cube - 11.4 gallons
Filter: AquaClear 20 - with inTank media basket
Filter Media: inTank filter pad and Seachem Matrix
Light: Lominie Asta 20
Heater: Aqueon Pro 50 watt

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Hardscape: spider wood and locally collected rock
Substrate: Tropica soil powder on the bottom in the middle capped with CaribSea sunset gold sand and a sprinkling of peace river gravel

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I really wanted to go for a natural lake/river kind of look and opted for sand as the substrate with local rock and driftwood hardscape - but also wanted some of the benefits of having a soil substrate. We'll see how it works. In the past, I used fluvals shrimp/plant soil with success but wanted a different look this time.

Eventually, I plan to stock the tank with Blue Dream Neocaridina shrimp and Tiger or Tangerine Tiger Caridinas. I would also love to add a small group of nano fish. Still debating between pygmy cories, ember tetras, or the current front runner a species of micro rasbora like boraras urophthalmoides. Feedback is welcome or if you have any other ideas please share!

As for plants it will be dominated by Crypts. I have a big plant order coming tomorrow (I hope - post office here is closed on Saturdays), and already received a smaller one along with the fertilizer I will be using which is ThiveS from NilocG.

Plants:
Already planted:
Anubias barteri v. nana
Hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan'

On their way:
Anubias nangi
Bucephalandra sp. 'red'
Bucephalandra sp. 'wavy green'
Cryptocoryne becketii 'petchii'
Cryptocoryne lucens
Cryptocoryne parva
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'brown'
Duckweed
Dwarf water lettuce
Hygrophila polysperma 'sunset'
Ludwigia repens
Microsorum pteropus - java fern
Vesicularia dubyana - christmas moss

I know that's a lot of different species, but I haven't ordered very much of some of them - I am really excited for the second shipment to arrive so I can finish planting.

The water is still pretty cloudy but I plan on draining most of the water when the rest of the plants arrive and refilling with new water, which should help clear things up.

Water out of the tap here is relatively soft but has a PH of about 8.
PH: 8.0
gH: 5.6
kH: 3.6

Water parameters about 20 hours after filling and right before first plants went in.
PH: 7.5
gH: 5.6
kH: 3.6
Ammonia: 0 - 0.25 ppm
Nitrites: 0 - 0.25 ppm
Nitrates: 0 - 5 ppm

I am using the API liquid test kit for PH, Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates and the Hagen test kit for gH and kH. Reading the colours can be tough but the colours for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates were all a little darker when testing the tank water compared to the tap water so I am assuming the cycle has started.

I did add some shrimp based fish pellets and fritz stater bacteria, so hoping that will help jump start the cycle.


FTS and two side views

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I have followed so many amazing threads and journals here over the years I am excited to finally be starting my own and contributing to this awesome forum.

Thanks for reading - would love your feedback!
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Last edited by dspin02; 10-20-2019 at 10:45 PM. Reason: added more recent FTS and updtaed plants list
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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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So Canada Post's delivery estimate was off by a day and the second shipment of plants arrived! Unfortunately, it did not include the Cyptocoryne lucens. I must've ordered it right after someone else and before the inventory was updated. Not the end of the world as the rest of the plants filled the tank in nicely.

The crypt parva should create a nice almost carpet in the front corner. The other two species of crypts should fill in the back left and front right, and the Hygro will grow out nicely behind the rock on the right side. The driftwood should slowly disappear as the moss, anubias, and buce grow in, and as the hydrocotyle Japan grows up around it.

This was my first time using super glue to attach moss and anubias/buce to driftwood and I was a bit sloppy. Hoping as things grow in the whiteness of the glue won't be as visible as it is now in places.

Now I get to sit back and watch it grow in as the tank cycles. I have been planning this tank out over the last two to three months and it feels so good to see it planted.

Front view:
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Side view:
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 08:51 PM
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That's a good looking tank. How's that light working out for you? I really like your desk too.
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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! the desk is awesome, might get a second one to actually use as a workbench in the garage lol. I really like it, the way it looks but also the quality. Would highly recommend.

And I like the light so far - the fixture itself looks good, the colour looks good to me, and seems bright enough for this size tank, if not too bright. It has a dimmer and I think mine is around 70% right now. It does run pretty hot, but not burning hot. I have read that others units haven't really dimmed beyond about 60% (i.e. it dims to about 60% then no change until it is off), but mine dims right down as you would expect. So far no real complaints but we will see how well the plants do.
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 10:00 PM
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Love it. The stones and the light sprinkling of peace river just brings it all together. Water clearing up nicely. This is going to look great in a couple weeks. Light looks great too.

Highly recommended some standard Thrive and dose at 1/3-1/2 strength on a daily top off for evaporation. Substrate should handle most the rooted plants needs, you’ll just need a light dose for ferns, mosses etc.
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dspin02 View Post
Thanks! the desk is awesome, might get a second one to actually use as a workbench in the garage lol. I really like it, the way it looks but also the quality. Would highly recommend.

And I like the light so far - the fixture itself looks good, the colour looks good to me, and seems bright enough for this size tank, if not too bright. It has a dimmer and I think mine is around 70% right now. It does run pretty hot, but not burning hot. I have read that others units haven't really dimmed beyond about 60% (i.e. it dims to about 60% then no change until it is off), but mine dims right down as you would expect. So far no real complaints but we will see how well the plants do.
Awe that sucks. At least yours works, and if it starts to do that 60% thing, you could always raise it up higher.


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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Love it. The stones and the light sprinkling of peace river just brings it all together. Water clearing up nicely. This is going to look great in a couple weeks. Light looks great too.

Highly recommended some standard Thrive and dose at 1/3-1/2 strength on a daily top off for evaporation. Substrate should handle most the rooted plants needs, you’ll just need a light dose for ferns, mosses etc.
Thanks! I really love the way it came together too, and the sprinkling of gravel really does make it all work.

Went with the Thrive S as I plan on having shrimp and the standard thrive does have trace copper. Have you used the standard one with shrimp? maybe I'll buy a bottle when my Thrive S runs out.
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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 12:10 AM
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Thanks! I really love the way it came together too, and the sprinkling of gravel really does make it all work.

Went with the Thrive S as I plan on having shrimp and the standard thrive does have trace copper. Have you used the standard one with shrimp? maybe I'll buy a bottle when my Thrive S runs out.
No I totally blew past the shrimp part, carry on as you are.
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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 03:33 PM
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Trace amounts of copper in fertilizer and food won't harm shrimp.

Though, you'd be better off buying dry fertilizer salts when you run out of liquid. Keep the bottle and mix them yourself. Pennies on the dollar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dspin02 View Post
Went with the Thrive S as I plan on having shrimp and the standard thrive does have trace copper. Have you used the standard one with shrimp? maybe I'll buy a bottle when my Thrive S runs out.


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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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It's been almost three weeks since I planted and the tank is starting to settle in. Sorry for the lack of updates, but not a lot has happened yet. Things are going pretty well now and going to try and post regular updates.

Water parameters have settled around a pH of 7 to 7.5 (colour of liquid test is consistent, just hard to pinpoint exact pH), gH is around 6 and kH 3.5. Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates are all at 0. Living in Canada it's hard to find liquid Ammonia so I have been adding some fish food periodically.

Over the last two weeks, biofilm really started to collect on the surface, I have been netting off as much as I can every other day or so, and I am getting a few different algae growing, primarily brown algae on the glass. I realized I don't have an algae scraper so I have ordered one (tried using a gift card, it works ok but takes quite a long time compared to a scraper) and I also ordered an internal overflow box for the AC20 to prevent surface scum buildup going forward.

Yesterday I did about a 30% water change and added some fish food after. will test Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates over the next few days to confirm the cycle has completed. I used Fritz bacteria starter at setup, and after water changes so after three weeks it is possible that the cycle is complete. Would love to add some Amano Shrimp to help keep the algae in check before it gets too bad. How long does it normally take fish food to break down into Ammonia? I know if you are adding liquid Ammonia it should take under 24 hours for the bacteria to break it down into Nitrite and then Nitrate, but wondering how that changes with food. Also, how long can nitrifying bacteria last without a source of Ammonia/Nitrite before the colony dies back? just curious.

Plants are mostly doing well. Hydrocotyle and Hygrophilia are growing well, moss seems to be doing ok, Java ferns have new growth and seem to be producing plantlets, all the crypts displayed various levels of melt but all have new growth now. The exceptions seem to be the Annubias and Buce species, they don't seem to be doing as well. Once the biofilm started to buildup growth did seem to slow down or stall, so wondering if there wasn't great air exchange for a week or so. Also, I cleaned out the filter yesterday and it was pretty dirty so the flow in the tank is back to when I set it up. Hoping the combination of better flow and surface agitation will help some of the plants bounce back a bit.

I did most of my maintenance last night after the lights went out so here are some photos from September 2 before the algae really started to grow. I will take some pictures later today and get those posted as well, but the glass is so dirty I may also wait until I get a scraper.

FTS September 2:
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Front:
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Side:
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post #11 of 41 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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A few more quick questions - I have been editing the size of my photos to make sure they are under 75kb, but wondering if it is allowed now to post larger photos?

and I keep flip-flopping on the stocking.

Option 1 no fish:
Blue Dream shrimp
Tiger shrimp
a couple Amano shrimp and snails

Option 2:
Blue Dream shrimp
10 to 15 ember tetras or pygmy cories or micro rasboras
a couple Amano shrimp and snails

Option 3:
Betta
a couple Amano shrimp and snails

water parameters are:
pH of around 7 to 7.5 - it is stable just hard to nail down exactly what it is from the liquid test kit - tap water here is closer or slightly above to 8, so figure it is probably closer to 7.5 than 7
gH of 6 and kH of 3.5
temperature of around 25 C for now - should I lower this slightly? had read that higher temperature helps the bacteria colonies get established

would love your thoughts and advice!!

thanks!
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post #12 of 41 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 02:08 PM
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I'm a mod/super-mod and... have no idea about photo size limits. But you should have no trouble posting something waaaay larger than 75k. You're only limited to 10mb of storage for attachments with a regular account, so that's the only real problem you'll run into. And then? Use a free image hosting site like Imgur so you have more control over your photos and can do what you want with them without limitations. (I prefer using an off-site solution for photos and roll my own solution. Lots of others like Imgur and it seems to work well.)

My preferred shrimp temperature is in the range of 20-22c (68-72f) because I've found that I've encountered fewer bacterial issues, fewer parasites and shrimp seem to do better in cooler temperatures. Neocaridina will be fine in 25c/77f but Tigers will definitely do better in cooler temps. Since you're open top, a computer fan tilted to blow across the surface of the tank would provide all the evaporative cooling you need.

Higher temperatures can help get bacterial colonies going but the bacteria that thrive at cooler temps - which you'll be using - likely aren't going to benefit from heat. No sense in rushing a shrimp tank (or any tank, in my opinion) if you can help it.

Stocking... what about Blue Neos, Tangerine Tigers, a couple Amano, snails and maybe some Otos once your tank is well-established/a few months down the road? You'd have to supplement their feeding but 6-7 Otos would be great in a tank like that.


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post #13 of 41 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
I'm a mod/super-mod and... have no idea about photo size limits. But you should have no trouble posting something waaaay larger than 75k. You're only limited to 10mb of storage for attachments with a regular account, so that's the only real problem you'll run into. And then? Use a free image hosting site like Imgur so you have more control over your photos and can do what you want with them without limitations. (I prefer using an off-site solution for photos and roll my own solution. Lots of others like Imgur and it seems to work well.)

My preferred shrimp temperature is in the range of 20-22c (68-72f) because I've found that I've encountered fewer bacterial issues, fewer parasites and shrimp seem to do better in cooler temperatures. Neocaridina will be fine in 25c/77f but Tigers will definitely do better in cooler temps. Since you're open top, a computer fan tilted to blow across the surface of the tank would provide all the evaporative cooling you need.

Higher temperatures can help get bacterial colonies going but the bacteria that thrive at cooler temps - which you'll be using - likely aren't going to benefit from heat. No sense in rushing a shrimp tank (or any tank, in my opinion) if you can help it.

Stocking... what about Blue Neos, Tangerine Tigers, a couple Amano, snails and maybe some Otos once your tank is well-established/a few months down the road? You'd have to supplement their feeding but 6-7 Otos would be great in a tank like that.
thanks for all the info ... not sure where I got it in my head there was an image size restriction. going forward will post larger photos so people can actually see what's going on lol.

would love to have tigers so will likely reduce the temp and I also love your stocking idea - I've always loved otos but thought this tank was still on the small side for them. Really like the idea of having multiple shrimp species, they are just super fun to watch.

I'll try and resist the urge to add livestock and wait a few more weeks before adding anything so the tank can mature and stabilize.

It's been a while since I've had a tank, but are mystery and ramshorn snails both plant safe? still trying to decide what snails I would prefer. I really like some of the varieties of nerites but saw a post on here not too long ago about how much longer they live in brackish water and feel a little guilty subjecting them to pure freshwater. Are there any nerite species that are more suited to freshwater than others?
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post #14 of 41 (permalink) Old 09-12-2019, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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so my AC overflow box arrived yesterday, hopefully this solves the surface scum issue. Forgot to take a photo before installing, but its the version made by Pico Aquariums. Basically just a black acrylic box with holes in the bottom, slits in the front and a gap in the side for the filter to fit in snugly, would be relatively easy to make one and next time I may try myself.

It has definitely has made the aquarium louder as you can hear the water spilling into the overflow, but it's a nice water feature/fountain kind of noise, I can get used to it and kind of like it.

once my new algae scrapers arrive and I am able to clean the glass a little better I will post some new photos.

view of the overflow box and filter from the surface:
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Last edited by dspin02; 09-12-2019 at 03:00 PM. Reason: added photo
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post #15 of 41 (permalink) Old 09-12-2019, 03:56 PM
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Maybe putting a little bit of filter floss inside of the overflow box or a sponge might help with the noise? I have no experience on this, just an idea that popped in my head.
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