Setting up a 3 gal hex
A buddy asked me to "dispose of" an old 3 gal hex for him. The box is now sitting in a corner in my office. My plan is to set it up as a low tech/low maintenance planted tank. This weekend I'm going on a 2-week driving vacation, so I won't be able to get to it before August, but I'm sure I'll be thinking about it during the long hours on the road. I would appreciate any input you could give me up front to help guide my thoughts and plans.
As far as I can tell, although the box says "Just add water and fish", I'll probably want to put a little more into it that that! Essentially, the only thing really worthwhile is the container itself, which seems clean and unscratched. The tank is 6.5" across, and 16" tall. On my trip I'm going to be on the lookout for a long thin piece of driftwood I might stand up on an angle in the tank.
It comes with a clear hex piece of plastic for the top. Would that be desireable to reduce evaporation? On the other hand, given what I anticipate to be lighting limits, I might want to avoid including this somewhat cloudy cover.
For plants, I thought I'd just cannibalize some hardy specimens from my current tank - most likely anubias nana in the substrate, tie some java fern to the wood, and plant a clump of crypt balansae in the back. So you can see where I am going in terms of low maintenance!
Substrate - most likely, I will take what I need from my well established planted tank - a mix of medium and fine gravel and laterite, with several years worth of mulm. Figured I'd make up for whatever I take by adding new gravel/lat to that tank.
-Another possibility is, I might be also setting up a 55 gal in the very near future, which would require buying a bunch of new substrate - probably either flourite or eco-complete. If I buy enough for a 55, I could just make sure I get enough for this little hex. The biggest pro to using my present gravel is that it is not dependent on setting up the other tank.
Lighting - the setup comes with a little plastic 3" tall canopy that covers approx 1/2 of the top of the tank. Inside it has 1 teeny little nightlight-type bulb with a small (candelabra) base. It says to use only a 4-7w bulb. So I could see what happens if I just stick a 7w in there. Whaddya think? A guaranteed recipe for failure?
-Another alternative would be to try to put a different fixture in the plastic enclosure, to accomodate a larger bulb. Doing so would undoubtedly require drilling vents to vent heat, and probably painting/lining the currently black inside of the enclosure for reflective purposes. And I wonder if such a jury-rigged approach is worthwhile, or if I'd do better getting completely away from the existing canopy.
-Finally, I could just look into getting a desk-style lamp, and have it pointed down over the tank. Might even be able to find one lying around the office. Any thoughts on what kind of characteristics I should look for should I go that route?
Filtration - the setup came with a little pump, branded "Longlife," that fits under the tank's base. It has a single outlet to attach airline tubing. It also has two little cylindrical containers, about 2" tall and 1" across. One is filled with charcoal and the other is empty. I imagine I could fill it with media. I'm no engineer, but It seems this would only work as a bubbler, shooting air into the tank.
-Could I just go with the smallest sponge filter I can find? I plan on keeping the bioload simple, so I don't think filtration should be a huge concern. Do I even NEED a filter?
-I see a lot of nano HOB filters - Red Sea, Tetra, etc. Don't those pose the usual concern @ surface agitation?
CO2 - necessary? If so, what sized container, and what kind of exchanger?
I guess that leaves me with the inhabitants - my initial thought was a betta. I used to breed them when I was a kid, and they sure are beautiful. If I go with a betta, what and how many other inhabitants could I use? Maybe Endler's, cherry shrimp, or otos?
-Another alternative would be to go with just shrimp or Endler's. If so, how many should I figure? Will either Endler's or Cherry shrimp reproduce in a tank this small?
-Any other fauna you think would be striking for this office showpiece?
Thanks in advance. As I said, I really appreciate any thoughts you are willing to express.
Last edited by eds; 07-13-2005 at 01:16 PM.