Ok! I think it's about time I started to get this journal going. If you're looking for photos of froggies and shrimp, it'll be a week or two before the tank is ready for them.
So I decided one little Spec 2g on my desk at work just wasn't enough, and I wanted ADFs and shrimps. So after much consideration of various rimless tanks, cubes and the space itself, I decided to stick with the well-proven design of the Fluval Spec tanks, but in the larger 5 gallon size, for more room for scaping and critters!
This tank needs to be fairly low maintenance, as I hate staying after hours to do lots of work on my tanks, just to have to go home and do more maintenance there! Probably sticking with low tech. MAYBE Excel if I have to (but I hope not) but I'd rather avoid co2 in a tank with delicate critters.
Plan is for simple plants and mosses, and possibly some Hydrocotyle Japan if it works well with the tank. Maybe some Glosso? Going to be tough to carpet without co2, so that probably won't happen, but if I can keep a nice looking patch going, it's worth a shot. I unexpectedly ended up with a bunch of Glosso for $2 at a local club auction, so if it works out, great, if not, no big loss.
I started out by picking up a Spec V (and a requisite stick-on thermometer). I had a spare Cobalt NeoTherm 50w heater at home (from before I upgraded to inline heating on my bigger tank) which fits perfectly in the pump chamber for a gear-free tank, and a leftover bag of Activ-Flora, which is my favorite substrate. It's a bit cloudy when you first flood it, but it clears up reasonably quickly, especially with regular water changes.
Jan 26, 2015
Next step, of course, is to get the tank cycled. Put the substrate in. Put the sponge in with the ceramic bio-media in the bottom compartment. Throw away, or shove the charcoal into a drawer and forget about it... it's not needed. Then flood that sucker! (Using water treated with Prime, of course... accept no substitute!). Then in goes a bottle of Tetra SafeStart, and some fish food and a couple of "disposable" neon tetras from my main tank to provide an ammonia source. Pick up some simple low light plants (Java Fern and Anubias) from PetSmart, just so it doesn't look like crap on my work desk. They're just jammed into the substrate for now, but I'll get them properly tied onto stuff as we get closer to the final setup.
Jan 28, 2015
I experimented with a nice piece of Mopani from an old tank, but it wasn't nearly as striking as I want this tank to be, so that was short-lived. You can see the tank in it's full setting, here, though, along with my 2 gal Spec betta tank. (and part of my messy desk)
Jan 30, 2015
Over the weekend, I made the trek to the best planted tank store in the greater Los Angeles area, Nature Aquarium, to find a decent piece of wood for my hardscape, and found a lovely piece of spiderwood that should work nicely with my plans. It spent a night or two in a 5 gallon bucket at home, but it was still floaty, and I'm sure it will be a little while longer before the tank is cycled, but a spare rock from an old scape kept it pinned down until it's saturated and stays put.
Feb 2, 2015
Naturally, the stock LED light on the Spec V is pretty low powered. I want something with more flexibility. And as it happens, I have a spare Arduino controller for Sat+ lights, so I can have things as fancy as I want.
I can dim it, of course, if it's too much light, so fully controllable, and the 18" Current USA Sat+ fits like a dream! You can see the difference in the lighting between the stock light and the Sat+.
Feb 3, 2015
I had hoped that the tank would be cycled sooner rather than later (patient? me? not so much!) so I tested the water yesterday. Unfortunately, no... ammonia is still measuring .25. Getting closer, I'm sure, but no more critters yet. It's been a whopping week and a half, so I really shouldn't be surprised.
The good news is the spiderwood soaked up water nice and quick, and already stays put! (albeit barely) So last night I decided to start off with adding mosses to the tank, and tied some Mini Fissidens to the center of the branch, as the first "permanent" scaping for this setup. The spiderwood is tied to a flat piece of slate with fishing line, both to keep it down, and give a little cave-like area for shrimp and/or ADFs to hide.
That brings me current. In the next couple of days, I'll add some Mini Christmas Tree Moss along some of the longer legs next, and leave a few bare. Then I have to figure out what I want to do with larger plants (definitely keeping Anubias in here, and probably some Java fern, although I might change my mind and rotate those into another tank. I'm going to hate the sight of fishing line by the time this is all done...
I stuck the rock on the front corner for now, in case I need it again, but I doubt I'm going to keep it in here.
I probably have at least another week to go on the cycle before shrimp can come in (and the Neons can go back home). The shrimp (red cherries) at home seem perfectly happy in my hospital tank I threw together for them in the interim, with a clump of moss and a big anubias from my main tank, so they're fine for now, but I sure would like something more interesting than a pair of Neons to look at, here at the office! Once this tank is cycled and the shrimp are in for a week and all seems well, I'll pick up a pair of ADFs. Then both the real work begins, and the fun really begins...
Oh! I left out one important mod: Since this is tank is for small shrimp, the intakes (both the skimmer at the top and the emergency bypass farther down) are a big concern for anyone using a Spec-series tank. So I simply bought a small 2"x4" piece of fine Stainless Steel mesh (316 stainless, so truly won't rust) for the top overflow, and a 2x2" piece for the lower one. The lower one will be siliconed in place, and the upper one simply bends over and the filter sponge holds it in place beautifully. Works perfectly, costs little! Kudos to h4n (no longer on his board) at Han Aquatics for the excellent SS mesh, and to jrh in the Spec Mod thread
for the simple yet brilliant idea.