Hello everyone, this is my first post here and this is my first time tackling an aquascape.
I have zero experience in this and in any aquarium period. I am here reaching out for any guidance, tips and tricks. I'm looking forward in making new friends here.
I have been reading and watching videos religiously and I have to admit, it's a bit more challenging than I expected but I love challenges so bring it on! I've gotten a good grasps on things and learned many ways on how people set up and handle their tanks and I developed a bit of my own ideas to make this beauty, but since I've never done this, not sure it's any good or not.
I started small to get a good grasps on things and learn to hopefully in the future to tackle a bigger tank.
Here I have a 5 gallon top fin integrated filter tank (14" L x 9.5" W x 9.5"H). My original plan was to incorporate the use of the integrated back piece as a "pre-filter" that has a simple filter floss with carbon in it but every time I played with the hardscape, my eyes kept looking at it and the more I proceed it kept disturbing me more and more and not because it took up an inch and a half of space but it was just awfully ugly no matter how I imagined the layout. So I was like (hmm, let me take it out and paint it black) but once I did that, not only it gave me that extra space but the tank was gorgeous for it's volume size and dimensions and a waaay bigger plus on top of it all, the back glass was already had a black film on the outside of it so everything turned out 100x better to my eyes. Also the water inlet port is fixed in the middle and the outlet was too shallow for the substrate (1/2") from the bottom glass.
Now since out of my way, I can make a beautiful tank.
In addition to the 5 gallon tank, I am also making a regular size 10 gallon tank as a sump for the extra water volume and it will have many layers of filtration in such a small tank so I had to improvise in ideas to maximize it's use. Is it an overkill for a 5 gallon? I don't know but I figured in long term it could be as effective to a bigger tank but that why I'm here. I went to Wal-Mart and got 2x of the small mini 5-drawer and stacked them to have 10 drawers.
From the drawers to the back it's (8"1/4) with the drawer pull out handles cut off to minimize space usage. The 10 gallon tank long inner dimensions is (19"1/2) total so that gives me (11"1/4) of space to work with. From this point I started to measure from the opposite end for the return pump and baffles and here is where I got a bit of doubt, I kept reading 1" gap between baffles but I was considering 1/2". Is this still Good? Baffles in the picture are yet to be installed just set inplace for this posting. The pump is a 264GPH with 1/2" port. I will have 2x ball valves, one for intake and one for return to regulate flow. The pump is 3" in width so the last baffle will be a 1/4" off from it.
Now if the (1/2") baffles gap is good, I will have (7"1/2) of free space in the middle and this is where my ideas come into play.
2-Course foam block
3-Blue mechanical filter with a thin fine course foam under it
4-Two types of fine filter floss
5-6-7 Will be wet/dry with plastic scrubbers
8-9-10 Will be submerged bio media (different types on each)
Now the mid part of the sump will be lava rocks. Now here's where I think it gets interesting, the water is no just going in and coming out the other but "forced" through in layers, Shown in picture.
What do you think?
Also I will have (2"-2"1/2) of top space for the extra water for a power outage.
The water heater will be by the pump and it's a Cobalt 75w. I was in debate on 50 or 75 but I figured 75 could benefit me in the long run. Good or bad choice?
The light that came with the tank is poor in my opinion and if connected to a timer, it does not turn on (only manually) definitely inconsistent so I got lucky and found a global spec thrown in the trash, the tank itself was broken but the light was scratch free!! Bingo!! But this will be my temporary light since I want to get my hands on the Current USA Satellite + Pro (18"-24")
Now as for what I've read everywhere in regards of issues in plant growth or algae, is (the light if too strong or too weak, PAR levels and spectrum, etc.) I'm not saying other factors because I'm just mentioning when the light subject comes up. But in final conclusion to the answers I've seen is too change the light which is true but something I don't really ever seen mentioned is "Distance". So here I am thinking to myself, why not get a really good light to begin with and add an adjustable mount? Wright down measurements on the mount stand by the 8th. And just simple monitor results on different heights while keeping light levels the same(100%). I think that should do the trick on something, am I wrong? If not, I will be using a ball bearing cabinet drawer slider with a clamp to hold height in place. This will give me two things: light density and maintenance room with out having to move the light out of the way.
Now for the fun part, the Tank and hardscape:
First, excuse me for the spotty tank. I was doing a leak test after to took off the back integrated filter piece and cleaned off the excess silicone. Quick question: Whats the best way to clean tank with out the use of chemicals?
My goal for hardscape is not to just throw in driftwood, rocks, substrate, plants and call it a day. I want to make it the most naturally as possible so my goal is to make it seem like it was an old tree trunk and roots grown and formed under and around the rocks and as time passed, everything decayed and it's what's left of it. I know theirs many styles and names for it but I don't know what this setup is called.
I don't have any substrate yet since I'm still indecisive on what to use. In my area their isn't any fish stores other than petsmart or local coral shops and they have very very minimal freshwater stuff so I went to a reptile store and got myself a good variety of Malaysian driftwood to play around and I went to a local stone art gallery(for outside, patios, pools, etc. And hand picked a good amount of rocks. Same type of rock but different sizes and looks (same with the driftwood) but the guy saw what I had and he just gave it to me for free! Woah! Nice guy! I was like, are you sure? He's like yeah man! Cool!! Anyways I got a box full of rocks and wood.
Now for the hardscape, this is what I got going so far. In the pics is 3 pieces of wood and 2 rocks but I will add more as I get into the hardscape once everything is setup and ready to proceed. The big trunk and the small piece going over the big rock is 2 pieces that just happened to fit together like bread and butter! Also the light is temporarily put in place just for demo.
For plants, I have no clue what to put in since it's a small tank and don't want to overcrowd it and for fish? Not sure either but I was shooting for a Betta but not just any Betta, I want a King crown tail Betta. Maybe a small type of plecos, shrimps, non-type schooling community fishes, a snail? I'll let y'all help me out on all this.
Also, pardon me on some of the pictures are sideways. Not sure why it came up like that. If anyone can fix them, I am much appreciated.
Thanks everyone! And sorry for a long post