PR's Asian biotope(ish) 40 gallon breeder - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-26-2020, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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PR's Asian biotope(ish) 40 gallon breeder

Hello everyone! I've actually been out of the hobby for a few years, but this is an aquarium that I've wanted to do for years. Yes, years. Depression and loss have kept this from being more than an empty aquarium sitting in my bedroom for too long, so in honor of my fishless cycle being complete, I'm starting a journal and inviting everyone along for the ride complete with ramblings, bad pictures and hopefully triumphs.

With this tank I'm going to try and incorporate leaves and plants for hopefully a forest stream/pool look.



This is the original hardscape done over a year ago and how it still exists now. The wood is manzanita and the rocks are maple stone. The substrate is simply Quikret construction sand. I really like the look of that sand and after testing it previously, mulm stays on top and there is no anaerobic activity that I'd have to worry about. I thought about doing a mineralized topsoil, but as I'm not sure where plants will look best, I avoided it in case I need to move plants. The back and sides have been painted with latex paint.



Also from last year and how it looks flooded. The mesh intake was a failure. I'm using a Rena XP3 as filtration, but i wanted low flow. The mesh intake restricted the flow too much to be functional. My filter was blowing bubbles within a day. It has since been changed to a large Aquarium Co-Op sponge. The scape could probably use improvement, but I'm terrible at that sort of thing. This is the first design I came up with that didn't leave me completely frustrated. I actually liked it, although if anyone has suggestions, I'm open. I do want to try to hide things like the stupid blue intake and where some of the ends of the manzanita are present.



Same scape, although I was testing out a different type of rock in the front that I had gotten from my friend @Serendipity. I really like the color, but there wasn't much height to them, so couldn't figure out how to use them instead. Have plenty though, even if I can't remember what they are called.



I also have unused maple stones, but wasn't wild about there shape.



Using API Quickstart and ammonium chloride I've done a fishless cycle in about a week and a half. I was skeptical of the bottled bacteria, but it worked amazingly well. Would have worked even faster if I had added more baking soda at the start to help with my super low kh.

Still to be added are a new light (a Fluval Plant 3.0 that was kindly suggested by @Seattle_Aquarist two years ago) and C02. The goal is actually a low light, low CO2 system which I've had good results with in the past. I need to search the forum and see where to roughly adjust the light. CO2 will be delivered by a GLA IDEAL regulator and a 20" Rex Grigg style reactor from NilocG. That's assuming I can find a source that is open to get my CO2 filled. A heater is needed, but I'm undecided on which kind to get.



My assortment of botanicals from Tannin Aquatics, that I plan to incorporate. I don't plan to use all of these since I want to keep tannins low but enjoy the look of them.

For plants, I'm aiming for slow-growing Asian species. I really would like to keep some uncommon Crypts, Buces and Java ferns. Other types like Piptospatha, Homalomena and Aridarum are definitely under consideration. It's all just a matter of finding. I am pretty open to suggestions though. For a floater I'm thinking Salvinia due to the short roots.

Stocking hasn't been entirely finalized. I definitely want to keep Pangio semicincta, Boraras brigittae, and Sundadanio goblinus. I know it looks best not mixing too many species, but with these all being so small I may actually have room for another species from the same sort of habitat.

That's probably enough rambling for now, so thank you for reading and if you have any thoughts let me know.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-26-2020, 05:26 AM
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Can hardly wait. Your doing everything right from start it seems. A simple and a AWESOME LAYOUT.

I wouldnít go to full throttle on stones and concentrate as much on the plant selections/layout as the rock layout.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2020, 01:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you. The very first scape had no rocks, but it didn't look right to me at all. As long as I can pull off a somewhat natural appearance, I'll be super happy.

Plant placement is something I've been trying to picture for awhile in my head, with varying degrees of success. Plant selection? Yeah, I won't bore anyone with the rather large list of potential types. I'll have to pare it down to avoid having things look completely collectoritis, although that often happens to me. Availablity will probably help me out there. Cryptocoryne wendtii 'kompact', Furtadoa sumatrensis and Schismatoglottis roseospatha were all plants I had seen in the past, but don't see anyone selling now. I would have liked all of those, the kompact is especially disappointing since I kept it before and think it would have been perfect for the front.

After researching I found the PAR values for the Fluval Plant 3.0 on the Barr Report. 12" is 113 and 18" is 71. The tank is 16" high and I'll just go with the average substrate depth of 2". So I'm guesstimating (probably badly) 100 PAR or so at 14", minus another 10% for the Versa top. I'm thinking to get to good low light/low medium I'd have to use 40-45%. I know the easiest thing would be to go low and slowly ramp up until algae appears, but I'm worried about melt. I've had zero issues in the past growing Buces emersed, but zero luck growing them in an aquarium. I'd like things to be as stable as possible from the start. Hence the cycling and having CO2 from the start.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 03:56 AM Thread Starter
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Not an exciting update, but one I'll make none the less since I haven't in awhile. The aquarium is largely the same. Today I installed and played with the Fluval 3.0. I was unsure of settings so settled on halving the preset for a planted tank with a 1-hour sunrise, 6-hour daylight, and 1-hour sunset. This is largely a guess on my part since I don't have a PAR meter. It does appear brighter than when I had previously used two window screened Odyssea T5HOs, but going by the naked eye means nothing. Good or bad though, I want to cover everything so maybe someone can learn from all my ramblings.



A CO2 refill and setting up the reactor are both on my agenda for tomorrow.

The first plants have been ordered and should hopefully arrive in good condition. The weather has gotten colder than expected at night so fingers crossed. It's a small order of hardier plants. Microsorum pteropus 'green gnome', Microsorum pteropus 'short narrow leaf' and Schismatoglottis prietoi. I'm not sure where to place the ferns, but having smaller forms was something I wanted. The Schismatoglottis is what I'm really excited for, finding them wasn't easy here in the US.

Assuming the CO2 gets hooked up without a hitch I'll be ordering more plants. I definitely want to get Salvinia cucullata, Piptospatha ridleyi and Homalomena sp sp. Sekadau south. I'm also considering Homalomena sp Sungai and Fenestratum mulyadi. The last two I believe I found info about on a Chinese website. Not entirely sure since that site is way too comprehensive for my own good and Homalomena sp Sungai was not listed as such. The Fenestratumwas given a three out of five star rating for difficulty, so hopefully I can do it. Since I've had trouble with Buces before I will only be trying wavy green and red mini. If I suceed with those I can add more. Aridarum sp narrow is another plant I considered, but I can find almost no info about it and none from sellers. I hate buying when I have zero info and Aridarum seem to have debate whether or not they are suitable for aquariums. Definitely shaping up to be a collectoritis tank, partially since I don't know what will work. I'm still looking for Crypts since all my first choices don't seem to be for sale right now.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-23-2020, 12:57 AM
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You may want to check out buceplant.com. They just got restocked and know they have Piptospatha ridleyi and Homalomena sp. Sekadau south and several other Homalomena species. Just put H. sekadau in my cart. Still have to make some cuts tho before final purchase. Liking everything you're putting together here. Will be watching you


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-23-2020, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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You may want to check out buceplant.com. They just got restocked and know they have Piptospatha ridleyi and Homalomena sp. Sekadau south and several other Homalomena species. Just put H. sekadau in my cart. Still have to make some cuts tho before final purchase. Liking everything you're putting together here. Will be watching you
Thank you! That's exactly where I was planning to buy from for this order, although I've been looking everywhere to see what's available (and finding way too many plants that don't seem to be found in the US). I've kept H. humilis and Sekadau south before with mixed results. The H. humilis was a total failure for me. I hope you had luck making your cuts, because I'm definitely not.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-28-2020, 02:20 AM Thread Starter
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Mini update time. I connected the reactor on Friday and things did not go according to plan. I managed to spill a lot of water with a poor connection and even broke a pair of scissors trying to cut the filter tubing. The tube cutting I gave up on. After cleaning the deluge of water I had a difficult time repriming the filter due to an airlock. I eventually figured out to pull the check valve from the reactor and that did the trick. Worked like a charm for two days before the filter woke me at 6 am this morning running dry. I once again reprimed it and increased the flow from the spraybar hoping that will help since it was as low as possible. In the process, I saw that the stainless steel check valve was leaking. I replaced it with a bubble counter with integrated check valve for the time being. In the process of searching for another valve, I managed to lose my permaseal. So I've ordered both a GLA check valve and permaseal. I don't want to trust the cheap metal valves again. That one only lasted two days.

No word on the first shipment of plants. I messaged the seller to see what was up. Hoping they arrive soon. I do have a shipment of plants coming from Buceplant on Wednesday. I had ordered them Saturday thinking the CO2 and filter were going to be working good for me. They will just have to go without CO2 until the GLA parts arrive. I could run it with the bubble counter until then...if I hadn't lost the permaseal.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-29-2020, 04:41 AM
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Mini update time. I connected the reactor on Friday and things did not go according to plan. I managed to spill a lot of water with a poor connection and even broke a pair of scissors trying to cut the filter tubing. The tube cutting I gave up on. After cleaning the deluge of water I had a difficult time repriming the filter due to an airlock. I eventually figured out to pull the check valve from the reactor and that did the trick. Worked like a charm for two days before the filter woke me at 6 am this morning running dry. I once again reprimed it and increased the flow from the spraybar hoping that will help since it was as low as possible. In the process, I saw that the stainless steel check valve was leaking. I replaced it with a bubble counter with integrated check valve for the time being. In the process of searching for another valve, I managed to lose my permaseal. So I've ordered both a GLA check valve and permaseal. I don't want to trust the cheap metal valves again. That one only lasted two days.

No word on the first shipment of plants. I messaged the seller to see what was up. Hoping they arrive soon. I do have a shipment of plants coming from Buceplant on Wednesday. I had ordered them Saturday thinking the CO2 and filter were going to be working good for me. They will just have to go without CO2 until the GLA parts arrive. I could run it with the bubble counter until then...if I hadn't lost the permaseal.

Just go to the hardware store and get a nylon washer that fits snug in the regulator nut. That's what I have used for years.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-30-2020, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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Just go to the hardware store and get a nylon washer that fits snug in the regulator nut. That's what I have used for years.
Thank you! I should have thought of that, although I've never used one. The permaseal shipped already so I might be able to avoid waiting in line to get inside any hardware store. Definitely keeping it in mind though!

In other news, my Buceplant order arrived today. I kicked up sand while planting though so pictures will come tomorrow. I'm ecstatic with some of the placements, unsure of others, and hating on one. Things will definitely be moved, but I'll give my thoughts tomorrow when I can show what I'm talking about and get some advice.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-01-2020, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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Apologies in advance for any bad pictures. Here's the first planting, I'm already thinking of moving things, but left it alone for now.



Definitely sparse, but this was an order of 2 portions of Salvinia cucullata, a mini clump of Fenestratarum mulyadii, and one pot each of Bucephalandra 'green wavy', Bucephalandra 'red mini', Piptospatha ridleyi, Homalomena Sp. Sekadau South and Homalomena Sungai Panjang. I couldn't get a good close up of the red mini due to its closeness to the light, but it's on uppermost right branch. I love the size for that spot, although I'm unsure if it will grow more. Right now it's ideal. Another concern is that it may be too close to the light. I also didn't take a picture of the Salvinia but the roots can sort of be seen. Came with some browning, but I knew that would happen and it should hopefully recover.



Close up view of the right side. Wavy green is wedged onto the rocks and I'm super happy with that look. Behind that is the Piptospatha. Those are small and with barely any roots. I've kept them before and shouldn't have any issues. They get about 8-12 inches so I'm thinking I should move them back. The Homalomena Sungai is in the back. I'm in love with that, although I think it needs moved. I couldn't find much on height other than 4"+ and that when grown submerged the petioles shorten. I'm thinking the left side would be a better placement, either on the extreme front left of just to the right of the left most rock formation. I'm concerned about melt and along with the Buces, that's the plant I'm most concerned over although I've never kept that particular kind.



That rock was moved slightly forward with the Fenestratarum on it and the Sedakau south behind. The Fenestratarum was actually 10 rhizomes, but that job I did placing them is just a hot mess. They'll get about 6 inches long, but I really am not sure where would be a good spot(s) for them. On some of the wood perhaps? The Sedakau south came nicely sized. I don't know that they will grow too much bigger so I may actually move them front bit.

All in all, it's a start. Pretty plants I can hopefully keep alive (bad luck with Buces) and a mixed bag of placement. I'd definitely like to see it fuller, but other than 2 pots of Schismatoglottis prietoi and 1 each of Microssorum 'green gnome' and 'short narow leaf' I don't have anything ordered. Those will arrive in a couple weeks it turns out out (hopefully). The sparseness was partially by design to see how things fared, with the Salvinia hopefully covering for that fact in any possible algae battle.

Another thing that might have been noticed is the wood is once again growing biofilm. It's been submerged for a year, but still likes to do that. I'm not bothered by it and it's easily wiped off if I was. The botanicals will do the same thing.

Not the best, but any feedback is certainly appreciated.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2020, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Update time since I haven't rambled in awhile. CO2 was added a week ago and other than a semi-sporadic bubble rate things have gone super smoothly. I'm not sure what the issue is (too many check valves?), but I have about 7 seconds of bubbles, then 3 seconds of none which just repeats itself. I'm still able to achieve a nice level of CO2. Ph drops by .7 when the CO2 is on, which is a level I'm happy with given the lighting and slow growers. I'm not sure that aiming for that 1.0 drop is worth it at the time. Multiple plants pearl (there's also been streaming), which is something I wasn't expecting. I'm loving this reactor!

Melting has been minor, some yellow leaves were also removed, but all the plant types are growing new leaves which makes me ecstatic. I've also started using Thrive all in one ferts at half strength low tech levels for the time being. I got tired of dealing with dry ferts.

The second (well original) order of plants still has not shipped. Hopefully soon. With the plants I have seemingly doing well I'd like to add more.

One last random note. I briefly noticed a pond snail, but haven't seen it since. Snails are something I thought about adding (I had been thinking ramshorn and MTS), but I wasn't sure how they would fair with the injected CO2. If anyone knows if they work with it, please let me know.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-09-2020, 08:14 AM
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Looks good! Any update about what live-stock you think you'll be going with?

my 20 gallon journal:
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-10-2020, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Looks good! Any update about what live-stock you think you'll be going with?
Thank you. I'm still thinking kuhli loaches and chili rasboras. I raised the Gh and kh a bit, so not entirely sure Sundadanio will be ok. I think I'm still within an acceptable range though for them. 4 degrees hardness. Other than that I'm not entirely sure. The placement of the branches rule out anything too active. I did see some Malaysian spiked tailed trumpet snails for sale that I need to research.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-23-2020, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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So far, so good. I haven't lost any plants to melt (surprising!), although the Fenestratarum took some hits. It's growing though, with some of the rhizomes producing a second new leaf. That sounds slow because it is. This is definitely a slow growing tank. The Buces have seemingly been growing the fastest, then the Homalomenas, with the Piptospatha bringing up the rear. All of which is the opposite of what had previously occurred when I tried some of these species. Even the Salvinia grows at only what I'd generously call a moderate rate. It's growing, but much slower than I had expected.

Filamentous algae has begun to occur on the uppermost branches under the light, it's restricted itself to the wood, except for one Buce red mini. I'm thinking I may need to move that Buce, but I'm unsure what to do about the algae on the leaves since it won't brush off. As for the wood I'm removing the algae with a toothbrush and have increased water changes. I probably need more plant mass, but the glass and areas lower and not directly below the light remain algae free.

I have gotten some new plants this week, but have not had the chance to do more than just plop them in for the moment.




The Schismatoglottis prietoi. I'm not sure if I planted them too close. They can grow as epiphytes, but I chose to plant them in the substrate. They should look nice there once they fill out. I'm hoping anyway. They are said to get a maximum of 6", so that spot might not work longterm. We'll see. Some places have them listed as a foreground plant.



The definitely plopped in and still on a coconut fiber mat Microsorum 'short narrow leaf'. The seller said these get about 3", usually smaller. I'm not sure how true that will be, but if it is it'd be amazing. I can't wait to find out.



The also largely tossed in (well I at least removed the rockwool) Microsorum 'green gnome'. I thought this was the same type as Microsorum sp India, but later found sources saying they are different but not how. I thought this would be smaller, but seems they grow to about 6", which is the height I've gotten them. India might be slightly shorter. I'm leaning towards placing these on the far left behind the S. prietoi.
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