Fishwood's 4.5 Gallon Office Garden Cube - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 05:09 AM Thread Starter
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Fishwood's 4.5 Gallon Office Garden Cube

Hey all, thought I'd start a little thread to chronicle my first true foray into a planted tank.

My background--I've been kind of an "on again, off again" aquarium enthusiast for several years. I'm no expert, but I try to read a lot. The "off again" part has been largely due to moving around a lot and being a broke grad student. Now that I'm out of school, I'm trying to get more in to aquariums. Sadly, I'm still not settled in a particular city. However, I need to scratch the aquarium bug, so I decided a small office tank would be the way to go.

So without further adieu, here's the tank:



I saw this little tank in a LFS here in Sacramento several months back in a faux oak finish, which I didn't care for. I stopped back on a whim after work one day, hoping to find the same tank in black, and I lucked out.

The make is "Aqua Aquariums" (they really reached on that one), and the dimensions are 10 inches wide x 10 inches deep x 10.5 inches tall, for a total water volume of roughly 4.5 gallons.

It came with a glass lid that covers 2/3 of the top, and a basic light fixture which will be the subject of my first issue/question.
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post #2 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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I've spent more time in the past couple of years playing with saltwater nanos than freshwater tanks, so I definitely consider myself a newbie. As such, I'm going to try to keep this tank as simple as possible. My tentative plans are as follows:

Equipment:

-Theo Hydor 50w heater. I have this from a previous setup, but I think I'm going to switch to the visitherm stealth because the black housing will be less visible against the soon-to-be black background

-To be determined HOB filter, probably an AC 10. They seem to be the gold standards for HOBs on salt tanks (though they're typically modded into fugues). I'm going to try to make a lunchtime run to Petco tomorrow to get one.

-To be determined substrate, leaning toward either the aquasoil amazonia or this new black colored fluorite I saw recently.

-CO2: I think I'm going to try a DIY setup, though there's a chance I'll go the Flourish Excel route depending on how the DIY effort goes.

-Lighting: I've got two options, please check my next post to give me some suggestions on what route to go.

Hardscape:

Undetermined yet, I like this iwagumi style people keep referencing, and might find inspiration in that. I'll see what kind of rocks I can dig up in my searching tomorrow.

Plants:

All species TBD. I'd really like a ground cover in the foreground. Can anyone give me some tips on my options? I'm going to try to go with a heartier, taller plant in the rear corners to mask the heater, HOB intake, and the CO2 diffuser if I end up going that route. I'm big on hiding equipment.

Fish:

If it's not too cramped, I think I'll go with 3 of the same species: neon tetras, rasboras, or the like? Just not a betta .

I'm not a fan of freshwater shrimp. If they have some ecological value I haven't read about yet, I'm not opposed to adding them. But barring that, I'll just stick with a few fish.

And now, on to the light issue, where I could really use some help.
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post #3 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, I would really appreciate some feedback on my lighting dilemma (and anything else you want to comment on). Basically, I've got two broad options:

OPTION 1 - A new CF fixture

My initial plan was to buy a separate CF fixture for this tank. I think a CF fixture with mounting legs on an otherwise open top would look good on a little cube like this. Surveying my options, there seem to be three:

1. The coralife mini-aqualight. This is the one with the two 9 watt bulbs. One 10k and one 6.7k, I would assume. Can be found online for $25. Advantage: cheap. Disadvantage: you can't mount legs on to it without modding it, which bugs me.

2. The coralife 12 inch 2 x 18, 36 watt CF fixture. On sale can be had for $35. Advantage: better aesthetics, would be usable for SW if I ever wanted to make the switch. Disadvantage: doesn't come in a freshwater bulb configuration, and would the actinic bulb have any benefit in a freshwater tank?

OPTION 2 - Use a screw in CF bulb in the existing fixture.

This is what I could really use some help with. I've got a 24 watt spiral screw in compact fluorescent bulb in there now. Is that too much/not enough light for this sized tank? And beyond that, the bulb says not to use it in recessed, fully enclosed fixtures--is it an electrical hazard to use the bulb in this way? It touches the glass cover underneath the bulb. But it would be nice to make use of the existing fixture if I could.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation with using a CF bulb on a stock fixture? How has it worked?

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post #4 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 06:15 AM
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I'd go with option 1 with the lighting over your tank, and you can make a diy light bar for it. Look at my ADA Mini M journal for an example. I am using the coralife 2x9watt light fixture over it. The dimensions of your tank is awesome


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post #5 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hey, a local! I'm actually in Sacramento...need to update my profile. The tank is from Capitol Aquarium.

Thanks for the tips, I'll check out your thread.
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post #6 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 07:30 AM
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How much was the tank by the way?

Go with the 24W CFL for now. It's basically a "free" option. See if you really want to or need to upgrade to higher lighting. With such a short/small tank, you're going to find the need to trim quite often if you go with higher lighting.
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post #7 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 12:18 PM
 
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I keep hearing everyone harping and parroting about how in small tanks you really need very high watts per gallon as watts per gallon rules do not apply. I would recommend the spiral compact fluorescent bulb as far as watts take this for what it's worth. In theory, my small 3 gallon tank should require even more light than your 4.5 gallon due to watts per gallon not applying. I think it really boils down to what kinds of plants you want to grow. Below is my tank. The substrate is ADA AS II(I could recommend original), Seachem Excel Dosing(2X daily) and "only" a 14 watt 6500K daylight compact spiral bulb. Do, I need more lighting than this with the results I have so far? You be the judge. Even the riccia tied to rcck and kept in one corner displayed good growth. And it is one that requires a lot of light and c02 injection to grow well if tied to rock. Whether you would need much higher lighting than this with DIY c02 is questionable. I would be more inclined to say yes, if you plan on going pressurized c02 and again go with plants that require higher light intensity to thrive. If you go that route, it is a whole different ball game and the balancing act to avoid problems becomes that more important. I cannot even imagine setting up a high needs tank in my office at work as I just would not have the time to tend to it to avoid issues. Your circumstances may be different.

My tank when first set up in Jan 09


The same tank two months later(present)


You can read more about the above setup here if you are interested.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/lo...-aquasoil.html
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post #8 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions.

So I shouldn't be worried about heat/safety using that CF bulb in an enclosed fixture like that? I guess I'm just worried because it will be put on a timer and be on alone with no one there on the weekends.

I left it on for a couple of hours last night. It got very hot to the touch, but otherwise seemed fine.

In answer to your question, this tank was $30.

To you guys in Sacramento, do you know any good local shops for planted tank supplies. Does anyone stock a black substrate in store like aquasoil amazonia or black fluorite? I'd prefer not to order that online, but I haven't found any stores out here that carry it yet.

More updates soon...
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post #9 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 04:39 PM
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That's a cool little tank. I may have to check out Capitol one of these days.

I'd try it with the spiral for a bit and see how it works out for you before buying a new fixture. You could prop it up off the tank a bit if you feel it's a risk.

Sorry but I can't help on the LFS leads for substrates. I haven't really hit many of them since I've moved here.


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post #10 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishwood View Post
Thanks for the suggestions.

So I shouldn't be worried about heat/safety using that CF bulb in an enclosed fixture like that? I guess I'm just worried because it will be put on a timer and be on alone with no one there on the weekends.

I left it on for a couple of hours last night. It got very hot to the touch, but otherwise seemed fine.

In answer to your question, this tank was $30.

To you guys in Sacramento, do you know any good local shops for planted tank supplies. Does anyone stock a black substrate in store like aquasoil amazonia or black fluorite? I'd prefer not to order that online, but I haven't found any stores out here that carry it yet.

More updates soon...
I wouldn't worry about the heat. It's not all that much.

Jojo's Aquarium sells ADA Aquasoil. Give them a call first, though. Heck, it might be cheaper to get a 3L bag shipped from AquaForest over in SF.
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post #11 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 07:13 PM
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I agree with Homer and would first try a 14w CF twist bulb in there. If you feel the need to upgrade do so after you see the results from the 14w. That bulb is in a tightly wrapped reflector and looks like it is about 1/2" off the water, this is going to make it very efficient. Start small and you won't have to do CO2 immediately. If you do that bigger bulb you will likely have algae issues from day one.

I have 2x27w CF twists on my 10g suspended about 4-5" off the water and if I let my DIY CO2 drop off in production for one day I get an immediate algae battle. If I were you I would do DIY CO2 anyway, but don't force yourself into the position of making it a necessity.

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post #12 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishwood View Post
Thanks for the suggestions.

So I shouldn't be worried about heat/safety using that CF bulb in an enclosed fixture like that? I guess I'm just worried because it will be put on a timer and be on alone with no one there on the weekends.

I left it on for a couple of hours last night. It got very hot to the touch, but otherwise seemed fine.

In answer to your question, this tank was $30.

To you guys in Sacramento, do you know any good local shops for planted tank supplies. Does anyone stock a black substrate in store like aquasoil amazonia or black fluorite? I'd prefer not to order that online, but I haven't found any stores out here that carry it yet.

More updates soon...
Jojos carries Flourite black for 20 bucks a bag?? They always have it in stock, I just bought one last week. If you want half a bag of flourite, just ask them. They always open up the bag and sell half of it to me. They charge 11 or 12 bucks for half the bag.


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post #13 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks DD, I just rang JoJo's and apparently they've got a gravel sized black fluorite and a sand sized.

My inclination is to go with the gravel sized version so that it doesn't unsettle as easily??
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post #14 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 09:09 PM
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I personally like the looks of the sand better. If you want a slope in your tank then get the regular flourite black.


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post #15 of 76 (permalink) Old 03-13-2009, 09:26 PM
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That should make a nice tank. You could probably make it rimless if you wanted to, depending on the glass thickness.

-Chris

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