Been lurking here and reading for a few months or so, admiring all the beautiful aquaria and mining nuggets of knowledge along the way. I figured it was time to contribute something myself, so here goes nothing.
First, allow me to share a little background: I was an avid aquarist up until the early 90's, but dropped out for various reasons. However, I kept up my interest as an armchair enthusiast, joining the AGA, discovering Takashi Amano's books, and reading what I could to keep up with the state of the hobby. In March I ended up with a little time on my hands and decided to set up a small planted tank, just to get my feet wet again, so to speak. It's been a deeply rewarding experience. Reading forums like this one has shown me how much things have changed since I last kept a tank (back then, Horst and Kipper's The Optimum Aquarium
was the cutting edge of planted tank info and the internet didn't really exist). It's so much easier to get a wide gamut of information and opinions now, and it's great to see so many different tanks and approaches to fishkeeping! I've reclaimed something historically very dear to me, and my rekindled enthusiasm for these tiny nano jewels has me already contemplating my next tank.
Anyway, you're probably more interested in the tank itself, so here's a couple of photos and some info about my setup.
Marineland Eclipse System 3 acrylic tank, 3 gal.
Built-in Eclipse Bio-Wheel filter (slightly modded, see below)
Stock 6W T5, 6500K, 10 hours per day
: Excel, dosed daily
Thin layer of peat, 1.5 in. of Flourite and some sand on the right side
Seachem Flourish, Trace, Iron, N, P, K dosed semi-daily per Seachem's recommendations, Seachem plant tabs x3
50% weekly, treated with AmQuel+ and Seachem Equilibrium
Varies. I don't use a heater, but the ballast in the light heats up the water to 78 or so by the evening, cools off to 72-ish at night.
Anubias nana, Anubias coffeefolia, Cryptocoryine wendtii (bronze), Cryptocoryne lutea, Echinodorus tenellus var. micro, Vesicularia dubyana, plus a bit of Microsorum pteropus and Lemna minor brought in as hitchhikers, and one tiny Anubias petit given to me by a friend)
Tracked Nerite snail x2, Crystal Red Shrimp x3, one fast-growing hitchhiker pond snail
I modded the stock filter slightly by replacing the intake grill with a Fluval Edge sponge, then ditching the thin carbon insert and replacing it with a series of fitted foam blocks with a ton more surface area. I don't use any chemicals in the filter, although I've considered adding a small bag of Purigen when I eventually increase the bio-load.
Since cycling the tank I've had reasonably good chemistry, with ammonia and nitrites at zero, minimal nitrates, pH hovering near 7, GH and KH at about 2-2.5. The low light isn't a problem for the plants I've selected with the exception of the micro-sword (it's clearly ailing and I'm planning on replacing it with marsilea). The crypts and anubias are all putting on new leaves and roots and seem happy, growing slowly but steadily. I lost a few crypt leaves in the first couple of weeks, but that has stopped. The java moss has taken off, both on the wood and on the rocks I wrapped. I had an outbreak of brown algae, but the very active nerites have taken care of that, and in fact are so diligent that they have put some minor scrapes and holes in the bronze crypts, so I've been feeding them blanched vegetables and spiro pellets a couple times a week.
I have tried keeping two different otocinclus but neither has survived more than a week (I don't think either was very healthy to begin with). I may try again later, but the main reason I wanted one is to keep the brown algae at bay and the nerites have sorted that out nicely. The CRS's have done very well (after I lost one initially--there were four but I suspect I jumped the gun on cycling). The other three seem to have settled in and have all molted at least once, one of them at least twice. And joy of joys, I have a berried female that should deliver by the first week in May (fingers crossed).
I'm thinking about upping the photoperiod a couple of hours to see if I can't get a little more growth out of the crypts, and I'd like to add some free-swimming fish to make the tank more lively. I was pondering CPD's, but I worry about how they might get along with the shrimp. Suggestions for suitable piscine tankmates would be welcome.
All in all it's a happy little aquarium that gives me a great deal of pleasure. Hoping to do more (I have a 5 gal vintage Metaframe I'd like to do next), and I'll post updated pictures when and if I get CRS babies.