small office aquarium ...with plants (update Mar25/09) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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small office aquarium ...with plants (update Mar25/09)

So far this tank has been a learning adventure, involving some hard knocks!

I first started it about 3 months ago with low light and no plants. I used filter material and sand from my African Cichlid tank to pretty much eliminate the cycle. I added some Giant Danios almost immediately in order to give the nitrifying bugs something to chew on. The plan was to wait for some African Shell-Dwellers (small cichlids).

Since I was not willing to wait forever, and the mail-order idea did not appeal, the plan was scrapped. The addition of a small amount of ground shells in the substrate are a remnant from "Plan A".

Plan B included plants. So I upgraded the lights to two 24W T5 bulbs and the filter to a Rena XP1. I also made a DIY CO2 system with which I overdosed my danios and rosy barbs "until dead"

"Before":

The DIY background is brand-new in this shot!

After recovering from the trauma I researched some more and came upon the "grape jelly" solution on this board. I've been using a variation since, with great results.

No picture of the changes (still in the camera) ...but here is a video from last week:

Things have grown quite a bit since then (as has the BGA!)

The specs:
tank: 30" x 13" x 16"
Filter: Rena XP1
Heater: adequate
Substrate: sand
Background: DIY foam/concrete/gravel/paint/roots/epoxy/furry rodents/etc
Plants: Val, Amazon, Cobomba, some "grass"? and water hiazynth from my pond (which is where the BGA started, doh)
Fishes: otos, odessa barbs, black neons, raphael catfish
Temp: 23 deg C
pH: 6.6
Kh: 30 ppm
Nitrate: <5 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Water Changes: 25% 2x/wk
CO2: DIY in 4L bottle. (brewing yeast and replenished syrup solution)
diffusion through Rena Vortex fitting (May work too well!)

The main problem right now seems to be blue-green slime. It's not anyhwere near the choking level yet. With the addition of CO2 and Flourish I seem to be winning the battle. If that doesn't work total lights out is easy to achieve, as my office only gets natural light through the door. Close the door and it becomes a dark room. Over the holidays I can keep the lights off for almost two weeks. I wonder what will be left of the plants?

Future plans:
- trimming!
- get a drop checker (tired of pH tests!)
- diversify / change my plant types (low carpet)
- mix sand with something useful(?) and darker
- re-house fish as they outgrow their accommodation

I've got some more images and video taken today; which I'll upload soon.

Feedback is appreciated
ka NUK

Last edited by ka NUK; 03-25-2009 at 03:05 PM.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 03:33 AM
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Your background is awesome, I haven't seen anything like that before! How long did it take to make?

I just got six odessa barbs in my aquarium, they seem to be somewhat of a rarety on the boards. How many do you have?
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 03:41 AM
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SO sorry to hear about your gassing fish issue. I also love your background. You did a great job!

Just keeping on keeping on....


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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Mr. Wendigo & Tex!

The background took me about a week, including drying time for the glue and various layers of concrete and paints. I coated the outside with marine epoxy so curing time was vastly reduced. I still soaked the entire thing in a large tub for a few days to prevent large pH fluctuations brought on by the concrete. I've built a few of these. My next one will be for the Malawi tank at home.

I've got 6 Odessas also ...looks like 3 males and 3 females. I might see about trading a male for a female. They are pretty rare around here as well. Judging by the coloration mine are trying to increase the population

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 03:56 AM
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I'm actually having trouble distinguishing between the two. I originally brought home three, of which I thought one was female because it appeared slightly paler. A few days ago I brought home three more, and two have almost no red at all. I'm not sure if the first is just a pale male, or if the two that are almost colorless are going to brighten up.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Absolutely! The Odessa barbs seem to color up almost at will. They remind me a bit of my chameleon-like african cichlids. In the above posted video I'd only had them in the tank a little over a week, and pH wasn't totally stable yet. The males are a lot darker now with bright red sides. Except for the one taking most of the abuse by the other two. He looks almost like the females.
I'll post an updated video tomorrow ...the difference in plant growth and fish colour may be startling

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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 05:38 AM
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Wow!! DIY background??? Any more info?!
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, DIY background. I've done quite a bit of model railroad building, using a foam base:


It's a pretty similar process to make a backdrop. Here is one presently under construction for my Cichlid tank:

So far just some layers of extruded foam, glued with silicone and carved.

Here are some more recent pictures of the office tank. (You can see some BGA on the substrate on the left side, as well as parts of the backdrop.)







apologies, "Still Mode" on the video camera isn't that great :-(

Video is still uploading.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 08:03 PM
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You know you could sell these, right?

They look great!





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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 08:13 PM
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nice background, I could see this tank being for shell dwellers. Sorry it didn't work out that way, it looks cool planted also.
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-01-2008, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the kind words

I'm not sure I have the time to make them for cash or barter ...at least not during the school year (...while trying to stay married!). But if the completion date is negotiable I'd be up for doing a custom backdrop or two. Not sure how shipping would work, as they are not all that UPS/FedEx resistant unless well packed.

Fast: I still have a shell-dweller tank on my long term to-do list. ...or even better, a Lake Victoria community tank with occelatus AND plants.

In the meantime vimeo has (almost) finished converting the video from last week:


Cheers
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-02-2008, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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I'm getting really frustrated by the lack of decent photo equipment. Santa has my order for a digital SLR and a slave flash

Here is a picture of the tank about a month ago ...just after the background was installed. (Scroll up to see the fate of the fish )
I made the light fixture with T5 ballasts (2), but still need to find a good flexible reflector material.


Here are a few recent ones:




Used too slow a shutter speed to compensate for lack of an external flash. The reflection? Don't really have an excuse for that

This is the (scratched!!) tank for which I'm building the background shown above. The background in the tank is one of the first backgrounds I ever built (long gone!)

I built the stand a few years ago. The base is mainly fir, canopy is cedar strip with 2 T5 fixtures.
Carving for the door:

Filtration: DIY overflow box and sump:



Some past residents:



the previous two shots were taken with "decent" equipment ...before it was stolen



Thanks for looking
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-02-2008, 07:34 PM
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I think the pictures you've taken are very good... I like your tank! Very nice keep up the good work.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-02-2008, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!




so that's why they say "Don't take photos right after a water change"

Q: I've done some reading about battling BGA ...is lights out the best way? How long? Do the plants care? The left side of the tank has a bit of an infestation.

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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-06-2008, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Looks like I'm winning the BGA battle, for now. Physically removed a whole bunch, then did a large water change. An increase in CO2 and fertilizer seems to be keeping it in check.

Also found my somewhat better camera and external flash. Should be able to get some better pictures of the tank shortly. Here are a couple of "practice shots" from the African cichlid tank I have at home:



(nice scratches, huh? )



Cheers
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