Hey guys, happy new year! I'm a little ways into this tank already, but thought I should share and hopefully get some feedback/advice on what direction to take it!
I'm combining my 15 gal and 10 gal into this bad boy that I picked up for a song ($40 used with stand!!). My 15 sprung a leak at the seam, so this is kind of an evacuation situation. I've got plenty of plants and lighting, hoping to scape it naturally with all the pieces of driftwood and zebra/lace rocks I've already had in my other tanks without making it look crowded or too deliberately decorated. I want to emphasize that I'm going for a very natural feel with lots of open space, but also densely planted around the frame/walls of the tank. Baby tears carpet for sure.
I'll start with equipment:
Tank is about 36x16x20" bowed front viewing panel
Fluval 206 canister filter
HJ-931 submersible pump rated at 800 l/hr (adjustable)
100w submersible heater (kinda cheap one, might need to upgrade with this cold weather)
Little Whisper 20 air pump with limewood diffuser
Light that came with the tank is 36" 25w fluorescent p.o.s.
I have an Oddysea 20" t5 with 2 x 18w bulbs (I have 2x 6500k bulbs and a 10000k bulb for it)
I also have 2x 30w LED flood lights in the 6700k spectrum that rocked my 15 gal. I got phenomenal plant growth out of them!
Substrate is about 2 gal of medium-size gravel in the back for the slope with eco-complete on top and I capped the whole thing with a mix of black flourite sand and Tahitian moon sand. I'm anticipating some criticism over this, but I've had really healthy plants and critters with this arrangement before. I was tempted to go with the Walstadt method on this tank, but I don't have the accommodations to mineralize the soil.
Plants on hand:
Water sprite (may get rid of it)
Critters on hand:
10x ember tetras
2x peacock gudgeons (mating pair)
~30 red cherry shrimp
1 amano shrimp
1 assassin snail
I plan on dosing Flourish and EI once things get going. I'm debating over whether or not to use osmocote capsules since the sand substrate is relatively inert and the eco-complete is used from my 10gal. They helped in my 15gal with most rooted plants, but I think I was getting some algae outbreaks from them (maybe used too much?)
I use a small 20g co2 tank setup, but it dissolves very efficiently at ~1-2bps with a bubble ladder and minimal surface agitation. Thinking of going DIY to save money and have a larger amount of co2 at my disposal. Can't really afford the initial cost of a tank/regulator right now.
I've got some large mopani driftwood pieces soaking right now, and a medium piece of Malaysian driftwood. Some sm/med pieces of zebra rock that I don't necessarily need to use. I've also got a couple medium lace rock pieces and river stones.
I put most of the established tank water in with about 12 gal of RO to get it cycling, I plan on slowly filling it over time so the pH stays stable.
So my pressing issues
Should I supplement my substrate with osmocote? If so, I need to do it now so I can start planting.
My pH is similar to the 15gal (7.1-7.2) but I'm afraid of shocking the shrimp as they're pretty sensitive. I need to get them transferred asap though, I don't want the tank to explode before I'm able to get them to safety. Should I just start bagging and acclimating them? Or would I need to find a temporary home for now? I dropped the peacock gudgeons in a couple days ago and they seem fine.
Thanks guys, I'll post my progress if anyone's interested. Here are some pics: