I'm a new guy here, and I'm starting my first fish tank in about 15 years. The tank is a curved edge, 10 gallon Penn Plax, which first got filled this past Tuesday. It's cycling with the "stock" filter, a pile of filter pad scraps from a friend (more than I will need for the final custom filter), and a Finnex 16 inch light. I'm prepared to buy a second one and double up if I need it, but I think it will be good. It's the perfect size for the tank. I thought I would document the build progress here for all to add their advice... or jabs
First the design. As I shared in a thread asking for plant advice, the inspiration is an undercut steam bank. I will be attempting to glue gauged slate tiles one on top of another to look as close to naturally laid slate as possible, and carving out the shape of an undercut stream bank. Take a look at the attached sketch. I plan to have 2, maybe 3 species of plants. OVT's advice has confirmed dwarf hair grass for the "carpet", and pointed me to dwarf baby tears for the cliff top. It will grow naturally at the surface of the tank, without needing CO2 as when it is submerged. It will also be home to a few small fish, shrimp (i'm thinking black and blue to go with the slate), and some snails. The heater, filtering, etc will hide behind the slate.
The tank is actually on my desk at work. Since it is away from home, I want it to be a well balanced, low maintenance ecosystem (as much as is possible in a 10 gallon space). No complexity from CO2 or other large support systems, at least
two weeks between water changes, and capable of going every weekend without food or other input from me. Bio diversity is a big goal, for balance, and also, just because it is interesting to me. I want a well established bottom-of-the-food-chain, with daphnia, the occasional baby shrimp brood, and any sort of tiny inverts that aren't parasites. Any advice on getting something like this established without rolling the dice by buying a plant from the dirtiest fish shop I can find will be appreciated.
Work so far: I filled it with straight, untreated tap water (gasp!) on Tuesday afternoon. I knew a day of chlorine evaporating out wouldn't make that much of a difference to my time line. It turns out 10 gallons of moving tap water in an open tank gives a noticeable chlorine smell in a small office. It was completely gone to my nose when I arrived about 7am on Wednesday. The chemistries were completely static for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: 8.2 pH, 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm for nitrites and nitrates. The hardness test kit finally arrived on Friday. 6 for KH and 11 for GH. I plan to bring those down with RO water changes, and then get the KH back up if I need to. I started "dosing" a small amount of fish food on Friday so I can at least look at something new running the chemistries this week. We'll see what they are tomorrow morning.
This week I'm going to take out about half of that ball of filter scraps. I'm not going to need that much. And decide on substrate. It's going to be until next month before I have time to really do the background, hence the "I have time approach" to cycling. I may also add some scraps of slate and see if that changes anything.