3.5 gallon custom AIO - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 09:45 PM Thread Starter
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3.5 gallon custom AIO

Hello everyone,

First of all, I'd like to introduce myself. I've been keeping planted tanks for a long time now (over 13 years), and recently I've decided to set up a nano planted tank to hone some skills.

This tank started as 35x16x21(H) cm, 11L tank (that would be something like 3 gallon and 14x6x8 inches). It was ran with a small canister filter, no heater (tropical weather where I live) and pressurized CO2 running on an airstone close to the filter inlet. Light was a horizontal 23 or 30W CFL with a very poor reflector.

First layout was a simple Iwagumi with a very fine sand substrate and some flourish tabs. This one went pretty well during the time it was setup. However, the final pic was taken when HC wasn't looking sharp.



The next post will be the current situation.

I got tired quickly because there is not much to do in a iwagumi setup, so I switched to a scape with some wood and stem plants. I also used aquasoil this time because I felt HC unrooted easily in fine sand if I let it grown. Well, all I can say is that aquasoil is definitely worse for the initial planting, but it also works fine.



The third setup had quite a few changes. First of all, I ordered a custom nano tank with a built in internal sump to make filter maintenance easier and hide all equipment. The dimensions now are 35x20x20 cm (14x8x8 inches) and the sump in the back adds more 35x10x20 (14x4x8). The light is the same reflector but with 2 13W CFL, as I felt only 1 light was giving poor coverage. CO2 is being injected in the return pump venturi. This time, I've tried a Brazilian inspired layout because that's what the cool kids do and I felt that it would teach perspective.







Everything was stable and running well until I decide to switch R. rotundifolia with R. mexicana and R. wallichi with R. H'RA. In the 2 following days, all my shrimp died (2 year old colony) and a algae outbreak started. I'm puzzled to why, because I have not touched anything else, just replanted some stuff. What makes me really sad is loosing my shrimp.

(when mayhem started)
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-15-2020, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Now the current situation!

I'm battling some very persistent cyano and hair algae for over 2 years, since I've lost my shrimp colony. I also rescaped the tank during this period.

One of the issues I think I had is that I've lowered the lights too much for a really long time, probably 10umol of PAR or so. I don't have a PAR meter available and was chasing good CO2 like mad during this time. Plants were struggling so I gave up and upped the lights back to what they were (new LED fixture). After a couple weeks, the HC carpeted again. Overall, plants seem OK but definitely not spectacular.

Anyway, here's a picture!



I have a more detailed journal on other forum, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed throw a link for it.

Hope you enjoy the long read
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-18-2020, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Did a very rough estimate of PAR readings with a lux meter app. I've got to say that I'm not really impressed with my 2x CFL or my LED lights. The light is poorly distributed for both of them. I can see that some plants that are in areas of lower PAR (Rotala mexicana, for example) are also struggling a bit. I think I'll change the LED strips I have for 20-25 1W LEDs and see if a can get a stronger light that allows me to raise the fixture and have a better distribution.

4 reds, 2 blues, 10 cool whites and 8 warm whites seems reasonable?

On the left is the LED and, on the right, the CFLs.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Got tired of R. mexicana not looking well in a place that probably does not receive enough light. The buce in front was also growing more than I expected, so went ahead and placed it under the return pipe. It's not premium space and the plant is looking a bit cramped, but buces are supposed to be tough, right? After that, clipped some R. mexicana and placed them temporarily where the buce was (in front of the Cuphea and Mayaca).

Have also grabbed a rough stem of H. zosterifolia and placed behind the staurogyne were the Rotala was. I hope that this plant is better suited for that place. It's an easy plant to shape, just have to see if it will not become too big.

Will also pay some attention to the buce to try to keep it healthy.







On a side note, I've taped some aluminum foil inside the light fixture to see if I can get some better light distribution.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-24-2020, 08:55 AM
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Very lush looking tank! Kind of looks bigger than it is, nice scaling!

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-24-2020, 10:12 AM
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Looks great. Only thing Id change is replace that white pvc elbow return with a clear pvc one, it kind of sticks out and pulls your eye away from the focus of the tank.


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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-24-2020, 01:03 PM
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Love the tank. It's nice seeing a shrimp tank with such lush growth. Looks super healthy!


I would be very proud of that tank!

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-25-2020, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the compliments!

DaveKS: I fully agree! Clear PVC would look a lot better, but it is not regularly available in Brazil. It would probably have to be imported and end up being very expensive after taxes (something like 50 bucks). I rather spend this money on plants.

Andrewss: thanks! Nano tanks really need small leaved plants and it takes some time to find species that are well behaved under your specific conditions. Sometimes it is also hard to have a good variation of texture and color, as most "small" stem plants that I like are are usually green and/or with needle leaves. I've been thinking of adding some Cabomba furcata or R. macrandra, but I'm afraid that their stems are too wide.

Anyways, I'll probably trim the Staurogyne to the ground on the next water change as it is not looking too nice and with some weird branching (lots of branches in different stages of development). After it recovers from that and the stargrass stems get back into shape, will probably do a blackout for a week to get rid of the cyano.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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Here we have it: staurogyne trimmed low and bucephalandra moved to the sump after a H2O2 bath. The buce was too cramped and with BBA all over it, so I guess it will live a better life in a low light, high CO2, high nutrients environment. I've just placed some R. rotundifolia to fill the gap.

You can also see how bad the cyano is. I'll wait until the H. zosterifolia develops some new growth and will try a blackout. Have anyone tried neomycin instead of erythromycin for cyano treatment? It's also a aminoglycoside and it's spectrum should be similar. I'm asking this, because antibiotics are controlled here, but neomycin is sold as bactericide for disease treatment in fish and I don't need a prescription for it.



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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-06-2020, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Today I've started the neomycin treatment. I'm using a little less than the recommended on the bottle, but it probably is close to 80% of a full dose (after discounting substrate, rocks etc). Do you think I should repeat the dose after a water change tommorow?
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-07-2020, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately I had more dead shrimp than dead cyano. I've counted 4 dead (which is not much), but I am sure that there are more casualties that I have not seen. Anyways, I don't want to risk doing a second dose and having more shrimp dead. Just did a big water change and everything seems fine now.

I guess I'll just have to chill for a couple weeks and try a blackout.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-07-2020, 06:40 PM
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Sorry about the shrimp losses, yeah maybe just try blacking out for a bit! Good luck!

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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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About 6 months ago, I've noticed a dip in my CO2 pressure gauge, so I thought it was time for a refill. As I have 2 cilinders, I went to the shop and filled the spare one. Turns out it was only a cold day and the working cilinder was still full and CO2 kept going strong. Fast forward a long time, actions against covid-19 start taking place in my country and I was completely chilling (regarding my tank) because the spare is full. Anyways, the day that my CO2 ran out came and I swapped bottles, but there is a catch: the filled spare bottle was empty

I guess there is a leak in the valve or something, but here I am out of CO2. I've contacted the shop and luckily they will be able to refill the tank on monday, so, until then, I have this beautiful sight in my home:



SUPER EDGY AND MODERN!!!

I've decided to run the blackout until then and I hope that this will give me the edge against cyano. Let's how things go after I hook back the CO2.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 08:24 PM
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Nice idea, take the opportunity to Black out! Hopefully Monday works out for getting co2 sorted out again!

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-18-2020, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Andrew! I guess everything will sort out.
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