Debincalif's Planted 24g Nanocube - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Debincalif's Planted 24g Nanocube

This is my first attempt at a planted tank. It's been probably 15+ years since I've had a freshwater system; I've been keeping saltwater reef systems in the interim. The JBJ nanocube has chambers in the back to house all of the equipment, which give the tank a nice, clean look. This was most recently a nano reef that I broke down. I sold the equipment, livestock, and live rock to fund this venture back into freshwater. It almost covered the initial "damages". As of now, the tank is cycling and I have not attempted any aquascaping. The rocks and wood are in the tank with the plants and I am getting ideas on just how I want the scape to look.

- Filtration makes use of the tank's return pump. I have an InTank media basket which holds (from top to bottom) a filter pad, activated carbon (this may change down the road), and biomedia (Fluval BioMax Media).

- The temp is set at 78* via a 50 watt heater (Eheim Jager TruTemp) in the tank's middle chamber.

- Lighting is provided via a Kessil A160WE Tuna Sun mounted on a gooseneck over the tank.

- The substrate I went with is CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate, which was recommended by the folks at my favorite LFS. Hardscaping includes about 8 lbs. of lace/bowl rock and just over a pound of driftwood and spider wood.

- Plants include Amazon swords, hornwort, cardinal plants, anubius, microsword, and a small moss ball.

- Livestock has not been finalized, but I am considering Endler's livebearers with threadfin rainbows and dwarf cory cats.

I hope you'll follow along with me on my journey back to the "fresh side"!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Here are some progress pictures of adding substrate and water, and then the hardscape.







Bump: A couple days down the road I picked up my plants. I know the Amazon sword will likely get too big for the tank, but until that time I'll keep it pruned to fit the tank's proportions.





Bump: Plants include the Amazon sword, hornwort, cardinal plants, anubias nana, micro sword, and a small moss ball.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Hardscape finished and plants in!





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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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And after a lot of questions here on the forums and doing some research, I finally decided on the livestock. They will be added in at intervals of a few weeks.

First addition was a few White Cloud Mountain Minnows. This was an impulse purchase (I know - bad, bad, bad!) because the kids loved them. Got home only to find out that they prefer cooler water temps than the rest of my livestock. For the time being, I lowered the temp of the tank and will try to fish them out and return them to the LFS.

Second - PLANNED - addition was a group of 6 threadfin (featherfin) rainbows and 3 oto cats. I think I will add two more threadfins, but the store only had 6 when I purchased them.

More to come in the weeks ahead!


Full tank shot with the rainbows schooling in the back.


Side view of tank. Really hoping the cardinal plant between the two rocks will take off. Rainbows in the background again.


One more tank shot with one little WCMM zooming by in the foreground and rainbows in the back. Need to wipe down the tank... too many water spots!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 11:02 PM
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Glad to see some pictures!

I personally would have recommended against the lace rock since it's basically liquid rock, haha, but I do really like the look of the scape!

Has this tank finished cycling already? If not, you might lose the fish (maybe just the rainbows) to ammonia/nitrite poisoning. Definitely DO NOT add the otos until at least 3 weeks (or even better at least a month) in as those guys seem particularly picky about ammonia/nitrite. And they'll need to be acclimated to the tank quite slowly and carefully, treat them like the pricey saltwater fish you may have been used to while acclimating.

I do love the smaller rainbows. I've got some furcata (forktail) rainbows that are just awesome! Super curious with seemingly no fear whatsoever. If I'm digging around the tank, they always swim near my hand to see what's going on. Great dither fish if you want to pick up a show fish in the future that's shy like a german blue ram.

I would also recommend against carbon in the long run (as at some point you will need to do at least minimal water column dosing and the carbon will strip the nutrients from the water, well many of the micros anyway). Here in the beginning it's ok, just to make sure nothing nasty has tagged along with plants/rock/wood, but I'd remove it after 2 or 3 weeks. The only filter additive I recommend is Seachem Purigen, great stuff to take care of organics that build up as plants die/decompose and the fish poop, haha. I use it in all my tanks.

For a little added color, I'd suggest alternanthera reineckii (or the mini version) which will at least show a sort of rusty color in low-tech tanks.

I also just noticed in the first picture of this most recent post...is the tank on a slant? The water level is uneven. Or is the old rim just on there crooked? If slanted, you gotta fix that on a tank this big as it'll put more water weight stress to one side and could pop a seam in the back of the tank before too long.

And finally, with you anubias nana (big leaves, front just right of center by the rock), be sure the rhizome is above the substrate level or it will rot, you only want the roots buried or it will die off and rot. The rhizome is the horizontal stem-like structure with leaves growing up on one side and roots down on the other. This part should be laid along the top of the substrate. Or better yet, you can even just glue/tie it to a rock or piece of wood and let the roots grow down to give a nice effect!

All-in-all though you're off to a great start! Keep updating and good luck!

Old tanks, all torn down:
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Hope to get a new tank (or two) up soon...
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-09-2015, 04:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great info! I'm sure to be making mistakes along the way... but hopefully I can keep them to a minimum by researching and posting in the different forums here.

The tank does look uneven, but the glass is level - it's just the black frame that's wonky. Eventually I may take it off. I first noticed it when I was setting it up for saltwater, and my husband and I checked the stand and the tank. So there's no uneven water weight putting stress anywhere.

I have been testing the water to track its cycle, and the ammonia and nitrites both registered zero when I added the first fish, but then it jumped up a little bit, so I've been doing daily water changes of about 20% and testing. I'll continue this for another week and then skip a day of water changes and see what the tests show.

So the carbon will strip out anything I may be dosing? I bought Flourish and Flourish Excel. Am I being counter-productive here?

Lots to learn still!
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-09-2015, 05:57 PM
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Haha, well making mistakes is part of the learning process. We've all made our fair share, even those who don't admit it. When I first set up my CO2 system, I nearly killed off all my fish cause I didn't remember to turn it off at night.... I immediately bought a timer that next day, but still. So it's unfortunate, but it really is a way to learn, cause if you're really learning, you'll never make the same mistake twice.

And good to know it's just the black frame.

Hmm, were you adding any sort of organic material or just straight ammonia to start your cycle? If there was nothing for the bacteria to feed on then the "cycle" never really began when you filled up the tank, so you would be reading zero pretty much the whole time until the bacteria find something to consume. So I would definitely keep a close eye on things now that fish are in. Depending on the pH of your water, the ammonia might not be a problem, but once nitrite begins to build up you could have problems for your fishy friends.

Carbon can remove some metal ions, organic contaminants, and oxidants like chlorine (from untreated tap water for example) from the water column. Carbon is useful or maybe even essential in a fish-only aquarium where there are no plants around to consume these metal ions and organic material, but with a well-planted tank, the plants perform similar functions as the carbon so it is unnecessary. Others have also reported "leaching" of formerly trapped material in old carbon filter media, but I haven't seen much on that other than hearsay. Though I admittedly haven't searched for it either. So basically, as long as you are properly treating tap water, then the carbon can typically be left out in the future.

Supplements like Flourish contain some of these metal ions (the micro nutrients) intended to feed your plants that if not immediately taken up by the plants will be stripped from the water column by the carbon in the filter meaning your dosing may not go all to the plants and they could become malnourished. I don't believe carbon will do anything to Excel, but I'm not sure about that.

The only time I would suggest putting carbon back in the filter is after performing a chemical treatment. Either for pesky algae with an algaecide or treating illness in the fish. After a successful treatment, I like to put some carbon in to make sure the chemical additives will be stripped out of the water to bring things back to normal again.

Don't hesitate to ask questions on this forum. It's been a great resource for myself and plenty of other enthusiasts/novices. I've found the people here to be generally pleasant and always willing to offer an opinion even when none was requested.

Old tanks, all torn down:
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Hope to get a new tank (or two) up soon...
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-12-2015, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Ethan. BTW, that part of SoCal are you in? I grew up there, still have family down there. )

Tank update: All fishy friends are alive and well, plants not so much. The cardinal plants aren't doing too well, kind of melting into slime. Hornwort looks good, but some of the fronds look kind of brownish. | The others all look great - Amazon, micro sword, anubias.

Been doing daily water changes, and yesterday I skipped. Tested parameters today before doing a change, and I think I'll go back to daily for another several days and then skip a day and re-test. Ammonia is at 0ppm, Nitrites high at 20ppm, Nitrates <5ppm, and pH is at 7.4.

Took a couple fun shots of one of the otos doing its thing.

Bump:

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-17-2015, 03:07 AM
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I'm down in Irvine. Not from here originally though, just trying to finish up my PhD and get outta here, haha. Not that it's a bad place to live by any means, just not for me. Though I'm sure I'll miss the easy access to plants and other supplies here in the area...

If the cardinal plant was one of those petco/petsmart gel packs then it'll likely melt since it's more like an emmersed grown plant than submersed. Hopefully it'll bounce back.

Fish still doing ok? 20 ppm nitrite is quite high...

Keep us posted.

Old tanks, all torn down:
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Hope to get a new tank (or two) up soon...
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-17-2015, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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All fishy friends are doing fine; haven't lost anyone!

Cardinal plants have all kind of melted away (not from Petco/mart... from a local LFS), but other plants are doing well. The hornwort still has that kind of khaki/brownish coloring on some of the fronds... but otherwise seems to be fine.

I have family in Irvine - wave to them for me! LOL!

I'll post some more pics this weekend as well as water parameters.

Last edited by debincalif; 07-17-2015 at 05:51 PM. Reason: edit
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-21-2015, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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I have babies!!!

Just a quick update because I'm excited. LOL. I'm sure some have gotten eaten, but tonight I counted at least 5 little guys swimming around. Endler's hybrids.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-26-2015, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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All is going well in the cube! Plants are growing, fish are doing well, and the babies are out and about more now that they're getting a little bigger. Water parameters are all good now - ammonia & nitrites are at 0, and nitrates are under 5ppm.

Here are some update pictures.


One of the oto cats on the larger anubia


A baby finally was still enough so I could get a picture. This is one of the lighter colored and smaller ones; some of the others are a little larger and darker in color. Not sure if they're from the same drop or not.


Somewhat blurry pic of one of the male green cobra Endler's (K class). Pretty little fish!
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-10-2015, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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All tank parameters are good... plants are growing like crazy... fish are all doing well and the babies are getting bigger. Too big to be eaten now, so they're out swimming with the big fish a lot. Looking forward to them getting bigger and seeing just what they look like. Here are a couple updated pics.



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