Jvidi's Nano-budget garden - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2015, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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Cool Jvidi's Nano-budget garden

Many people have beautiful tanks with top of the line (and price) equipment, fancy aquariums, rare and hard to find plants and fish. If I had the money for all of those things, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have tanks like that. We all share a hobby that takes true dedication, and can get very expensive at times, but this is a journal meant to showcase the true beauty of DIY/re-purposing/thriftiness. My plan is to set a final budget of $60.00 out of pocket (meaning what I paid for it per setup), and make the most beautiful thing that allows me to, so without further ado here goes nothing Just a warning...this could be a long read. I am going to detail a lot.

Components and prices:

Tank:
Old 5.5 gallon---Total cost: $0
I have had it since I was about 14. It was collecting dust in my closet for quite some time (almost 6 years since it had been put in there). I actually had forgotten about it until just a few months ago when I was looking for some other supplies.

Filtration:
"Custom" Azoo Palm Filter---Total cost: $6.41
This little filter needed some extra oomph for a larger body of water than it is meant for. And I also wanted the benefits of active carbon, so I cut a filter pad, folded it tight and added carbon to the pouch. Then for extra space for bacteria to grow I removed some of the intake tube and added a Fluval prefilter (meant for the Edge series)

Lighting:
Two 13watt screw in CLFs and a LED "moonlight" strip---Total cost: $0
These little beauties are mounted in an old "gift" from one of my high school teachers. I was given it because it was "broken" and he was tossing it, so I asked him if I could take a look at it. Low and behold, I was able to bring it back to life despite the power button being broken to bits. Though I have to unplug it every time I turn it on...it shouldn't be an issue once I get a timer for it. The LEDs were an after thought, but since I am going to have it timed and it will probably be turning off before I am really in my room to relax and look at it I wanted to be able to view it before bed. So I went digging in my extra junk and found this set of crummy Top Fin LEDs. They have no worth other than to gently light up the tank, which is perfect for what I wanted. I finished this off by taping the LED strip to the CFL strip and then cutting out a piece of greenhouse roofing plastic to keep them from getting wet and to help with evaporation.

Substrate:
Fine gravel---Total cost: $0
I had a lot of this in my basement from when my siblings had Betta bowls long ago. My mom used to throw it away every 3 months (makes me cringe). We had a 25lb bag unopened, lucky me.

Flora:
Mystery package---Total cost: $32.50
I recently ordered my plants for the tank from a fellow user: Adam C. He is putting a special package together to fit my needs and was very helpful. Not exactly sure all that is included yet. Should know soon, when it arrives )

Fauna:
TBA---Total cost: <21.09



Obviously it is nothing exciting yet. This was kind of a spur of the moment idea. I had been planning another tank and I knew I wanted some kind of dynamic hardscape. This is exactly what I envisioned, so I definitely think that things are starting out well. I thought this would be a unique idea. Most of my tanks are put together with as little money possible, but this is a special case. I wanted to work on a project where the inhabitants were worth more than all the equipment that went in to making their habitat. I also wanted to make a statement: anyone can enjoy the planted tank hobby, whether it is a college kid ballin' on a budget (ME) or a multimillionaire that pays someone to service his 500 gallon each month. Some people might think $60.00 is a steep budget but compared to a lot of other things out there I find it pretty cheap. Hopefully everyone can enjoy this journey with me. I will be updating frequently.

-Jeremy

Last edited by Jvidi; 02-10-2015 at 07:57 PM. Reason: edit1
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2015, 03:53 AM
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What benefits do you expect from the active carbon?

In a planted tank, or any tank for that matter... carbon is really only useful until it's "at capacity" which can happen very quickly, within 1 - 3 weeks. I would remove the carbon, and replace w/ anything that will provide surface area for bacteria, as bacteria is really what keeps your tank clean.

Carbon's useful in certain situations (brand new tank, will grab some toxins/impurities, will help absorb tannins, etc), but adds very little "benefits" to your aquarium. If you want it to be effective, you'd need to pretty much change it out weekly. However, if you're dosing... carbon will grab onto macros/micros and not release them back into the water. Plants should be using what the carbon grabs onto. But again, it only works til it's "full," if you will. Essentially, if it's carbon in foam, the foam is far more useful than the carbon and doesn't need to be replaced all the time.

tl;dr:
Carbon's almost useless in planted aquaria.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-08-2015, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. I will just take it out and leave the filter pad piece in as a medium for the bacteria to grow on.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2015, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Well my plants arrived today. They were in great condition and they are in the tank. I can't wait until they fill in a bit more thanks goes out to Adam C. I am in class now but I will post some pictures later tonight. I also built a little cave with some rocks and super glue. It looks as natural as possible using what I had. I made it because I have decided in adfs and a betta. I'm going to wait until the plants fill in a bit more before I even think about the fauna though. I cannot wait.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2015, 10:54 PM
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Looking forward to more pics! Can you also include a shot or two of your day cave? This may seem dumb, but what is adds?

"The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship." - William Blake

... and I'll take a tank or two.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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I was too busy last night to post anymore pics but I will have more time tonight. And adfs = African dwarf frogs.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Update:

So I finally had time to upload my pics. Here is what I received yesterday, thanks to Adam C. The plants were labeled and packaged perfectly. The heating pack was doing its job. When I received the plants the temp outside was 19F. The plants were nice a toasty inside their box.



Then I planted up...which was difficult with such a small tank, but I like the layout of what I ended up with. the Hyrdocotyle is my favorite plant so I am trying to make a carpet out of it...we will see how that works. Plus I think that the frogs will enjoy hunting in it for the live brine shrimp I am culturing and the frozen bloodworms (don't tell them they are dead)



And here is my favorite part of the tank so far, the little cave I made in the side of the "hill" it looks so peaceful in there. I just hope that the frogs can find it and enjoy being in there once I get them. It gives really nice cover from the lights and it is roomy enough for both of them to chill in. I also really like the moss next to the opening, it makes a little bush and in time it should grow bigger giving even more cover.



I have been debating on whether or not I want 2 or 3 frogs, I guess I will decide when I go to get them...usually I pick animals with the most personality so if I see three I really like, then I know I will end up with them. I am planning on letting the plants grow for another 3-4 weeks first though. I am also still looking for a Betta for the tank. I really want a "mustard gas" or something very similar to really make the scene pop with such an exaggerated color difference.

You can see my young female in there right now. I let her enjoy the new plants and eat some detrius eaters while I was vacuuming hers out because she gets really stressed usually.

All in all the tank is coming together nicely, now it just takes some patience and root tabs + excel. Hopefully I have an update of success in the next couple weeks.

Last edited by Jvidi; 02-10-2015 at 08:12 PM. Reason: edit1
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-12-2015, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Well some of the plants have been melting a bit, but I am almost positive this is just from the transition. Hydrocotyle seems to really be happy as it has tons of new leaves already. I am hoping my lights are enough to help these plants thrive. I really want to stock the tank but it will be a few weeks still. For now I left my female betta in there because she seems to really like the cave and she is much more active than her little 3.5 gallon.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Almost ten days since my last update, and things are looking really great in the tank. Last night I had a bit of extra time to really figure out how to diffuse my CO2 the best way. I fed the line straight into my filter's intake and today ALL plants in the tank are pearling. They don't just have beads forming on their leaves, but there are trails of beads coming out of all leaves in the tank. Since the last update all of the moss in the tank died. That was the only plant that didn't make it, and I am not sure why. I have been growing java moss in another one of my tanks though so I am just going to replace it when I get the chance.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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It has been a few weeks since my last post...in comparison to my last picture taken the growth is very evident. My carpet of hydrocotyle has filled in gorgeously, and all the other plants are growing very well too. I am going to be removing the sag soon, to put in another one of my tanks...but I am waiting for the new plants that it is growing to develop enough to cut their runners. I am also hoping to remove the blyxa and propagate it to other sections of the tank once the sag gets moved. Sorry it is a bit dirty...I am combatting a bit of algae growth, but it is under control for the most part now. The glass also needs a good wipe down. Thanks for looking!





Also sorry for the awful quality on the pics. Just snapped them really quick to get this posted.
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