2G Pico Waterfall Riparium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2018, 05:48 AM Thread Starter
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Cool 2G Pico Waterfall Riparium

This is my latest project, it is a Penn-Plax 1.85 gallon "AquaTerrium" that I have been doing custom plumbing work to which has involved a tremendous amount of tweaking flow rates. I can not believe they market it for housing fish (actually yes I can, the industry is cruel) to add insult to injury they show it with Cardinal Tetra, ADA soil, and dwarf baby tears lol. I will NOT be housing fish in this tank, however I will keep cherry shrimp to keep the scape clean as well as a single "premium" dwarf Nerite snail (the size of a Horned Nerite).




The tank comes with a terrible internal filtration system that is not only poorly designed but is also hard to access especially after planted out the back wall...so this will be my main modification focus.





It has this convenient hole on the top of the back rock wall for I assume your heater power wire. There is also a channel that runs along the top of the back rock wall behind the rock peaks, that I thought would be a great place for a dwarf vine/rhizome to grow along. Carrying a concept over from one of my older tanks with a magnetic planter, this time on the outside rather than inside along the back wall of a normal aquarium since I have a more natural molded rock wall for planting now. This was just an old one I used for sizing, I would have to create a new one without the hole punched bottom...it would help provide additional planting real estate as well as the ability to keep a non-wetland tolerant species, or a species that simply does not tolerate the nutrients of my system such as Venus Fly Traps.





This is the projected level waterline I plan to run which is well above the recommended (plus displacement of new filtration brings me over 2 gallons). My hope is that the split line in the rock wall will have some sort of surface skimming action but I doubt it. This is where the fun began that ended up becoming a long process that went on the shelf for a while. I gutted that internal filtration and sealed up the holes on the bottom of the rock with silicone to keep the substrate out of the rear sump area.





I plumbed the tank to be ran off a mini external SunSun 602B canister filter. Since this tank is unique I had to purchase a second set of inflow and outflow tubes to get enough matching pieces that hang over the rear as well as to drop the return low enough. I wanted a jet down under the water surface to stabilize flow and I still needed to be able to run the waterfall so I installed a "T" fitting and drilled a hole in the side for the jet elbow. To help encourage the stabilized flow I drilled a hole larger than the other intake holes on the opposite side as the jet...and it worked!







The waterfall feature required a total overhaul because the way it was setup was with a tube loosely stuck through a leaking hole that was sealed with some unknown mortar. I cut the bottom section flat and widened the hole so that I could fasten an elbow here, first with PVC sealer for strength then with silicone to seal it. I managed to cut off the quick connector from one of the spare SunSun tubes in the second kit I ordered and seal it to the elbow perfectly with no tolerance. Also you can see the openings I had to make in the top of the back rock work for the inflow and outflow tubes.






I have been running the plumbing for about a week now and have concluded its dialed in. I have way more flow on the back wall than anyone could come close to with the OEM pump/setup, most of them leak around the hole slowing down the flow even further. The jet on the left side with the largest opening being on the right side is working well I can see micro bubbles flowing in a left to right motion very gently. The light the tank comes with is terrible just like the filter, it is a bright light and will grow plants but it does not penetrate the bottom aquarium section well enough and the temp spectrum is around 8000k making for an unpleasant eye strain. So this will be my next phase, I plan to hack up the OEM light mount and attach my own adjustable bracket to it. The lighting will end up as complicated as the plumbing, I need weak rear fill lighting to keep the plants growing straight up preventing them from leaning forward too much toward the main tank light...if you keep the back lit 24 hours a day the plants stay straighter and you get a nice surface shimmer when the main tank light is out. The main light will be a directional mini PAR bulb, bright enough to grow dwarf baby tears as a carpet. Aside from that I will grow dwarf hair grass and either a red crypt or buce. The nice part about running the water level higher is the bottom shelf style planter is now fully submerged so I will likely grow dwarf hair grass off that right out of the water. On the very top of the rock wall I will grow a button fern, with likely buce somewhere on the rock as well as Hydrocotyle Tripartita Japan. I am undecided whether I will grow moss on the wall, I know it would be very easy but I do not want it getting into the bottom of the tank and I know it will.



A review of this tanks cons can be found here: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/22...-riparium.html
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2018, 07:46 AM
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Cool tank that I had my eyes on for a while. Your details really help - thanks much!

For those interested, similar tanks up to 15g: Paludarium Tanks

My LFS owner has a ~30g that he uses to breed his fancy guppies in.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2018, 02:17 PM
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That is AWESOME! Any idea on plants yet?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-05-2018, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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That is AWESOME! Any idea on plants yet?
Thanks, yes I have thought about plants for a long time now. Here is the planogram I have been playing with for the rock wall. All the planters get a constant water supply except for #2. Starting with the top at #1 I plan on growing whats referred to as a lemon button fern. #2 I am undecided due to the lack of water BUT that pocket (against the glass) will accumulate humidity so I am considering a humidity tolerant air plant, or a carnivorous plant. You see from what I understand carnivorous plants do not like nutrient rich substrates, therefor my nutrient rich water would likely stunt or kill them...but if it is only humidity building here than maybe I can grow one out of some peat moss stuffed in here. #3 I am going to try an emersed Buce together with Hydrocotyle Tripartita Japan and let that spread around the top. #4 will be a dwarf table palm for which I can not find the name for, you get them in those little house plant arrangements sometimes found in the grocery store. I am also considering bamboo for this spot. #5 & #6 are undecided, something with color and bush-like. #7 will likely be dwarf hairgrass in 1" of water which kind of blends into the submerged background dwarf hairgrass. Finally I will attempt to grow out fissidens on the rock wall.



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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Talking

Time for a mini-update, I have been holding back on updating to make sure things are going to last while I continue tweaking my scape. I finally took a gamble on a light which was the next step before planting anything, it is not exactly what I was looking for but it was a quick $40 light to get things going for now. It is called the "Asta 20" mostly used on pico reef tanks but this is the freshwater version. The only thing I really do not like about it is the fact it is on a gooseneck mount which is hard to get perfectly straight and symmetrical, the goal is to have an adjustable solid mount like the Kessil slide-bar arm mount. The lamp comes with 2 removable lenses, 180 degree and 60 degree...I installed the 60 degree with a spacer to potentially reduce it to a 50 degree spread.



The spread was reduced from the walls and area surrounding the tank with this lens configuration, so much that with the light at its current maximum mount height there is a cutoff line toward the top of the back planting wall. I have corrected this with an LED lighting bar mounted on the wall above the rear of the tank, I will go into details on that in my next post as I am still dialing it in along with all the plants on the back wall. Aside from lighting, the tank has been dirted with ADA Aquasoil which is a sight that has been a long time coming!




Here are the first signs of life, keeping the diversity down here simplistic. Obviously a carpet of dwarf baby tears (wait until next update I have been holding back and this photo is now dated, the new light is more than enough for a carpet), in the shaded area to the right I have a few clumps of Bucephalandra Red Mini, then in the far rear corners I will be attempting to establish red crypts. Moving upward everything is still in an experimental stage of tweaking plants, the bottom ledge to the right (#7) is all establishing dwarf hair grass and will not be changing. The smaller bottom ledge planter to the left of that (#6) I am experimenting with pygmy chain sword as it is the only thing I can think of that resembles a dwarf val. This is a high return area where water flows forward off the wall so I am looking for that wavy forward motion swaying in the direction of the current without shading submerged plants, the way you see hair algae or grass in a river. I am expecting the hair grass to stand straight up poking out of the water but figured pygmy chain sword has too much density and will lay flat floating on the water surface. Moving upward #5 currently has dragon's tongue pruned into a short stubby form, and #4 also has dragon's tongue but in a tall skinny form with hydrocotyle tripartita japan growing around its base slowly climbing the wall. Onto #3 it is currently 100% occupied by hydrocotyle tripartita japan spreading in all directions. #2 dry space is still unoccupied, and finally #1 is the most diverse with pixie dixie ivy growing along the top in that channel between the rock peaks and back glass wall. This same #1 planter also has a lemon button fern slowly establishing itself in a marsh-like substrate which will fill in nicely over the top of the glass and hiding my outake filtration tube, but wait theres more! The same planter has more hydrocotyle tripartita japan to wander the top of the tank. I had a nitrate crash (hard tank to dial in while establishing) plus my canister clogged and the top planters dried up a little but I caught it just in time, so that is why I am waiting to take new photos while it recovers.



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Last edited by Teebo; 07-29-2018 at 08:33 PM. Reason: .
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 08:17 PM
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Loving this thread. You have me seriously considering buy the large one and attempting the same thing....i already have a zoomed canister filter that would work perfect. Thanks for the inspiration and i cant wait to see where this goes!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 02:47 AM
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Any updates on this tank?
Pretty please and thank you!!


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 04:55 AM Thread Starter
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Any updates on this tank?
Pretty please and thank you!!
Yes sorry about that lol. I kept putting it off until I got it to a stable point because I have gotten very busy, but then it crashed. After coming back from that I had to move...so it came with me getting sloshed around which left me with a thread/string algae problem for months followed by another recent crash. This tank has proven to be very difficult to dial in and I have wanted to throw in the rag many times. I had to break down all my other tanks before the move so I used that as an opportunity to harvest emerged hairgrass by allowing one of my tanks time to populate emerging hairgrass. I thought this would be better for sticking out of the water with more strength, plus I needed more due to a tank crash...the hairgrass is not doing well in this 2G tank potentially due to Excel use.




I added a Tetra "Hidden Light Stick" from Walmart to the wall behind the tank for an additional lighting affect, plus I needed more coverage above the main lights low cutoff line. This also helps the plants up in the back grow straight rather than that unnatural look as everything grows inward toward your main light.



This is at which point I moved for the second time in this thread, you can see the wall texture has changed and the hardware has moved to the opposite side of the tank. I hid everything behind a subwoofer and I now have dual timers to stagger the two lights...I am thinking there is enough room for a mini CO2 system back here as well. I know its only a tease update but I will do a full tank update this week I promise!


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 01:55 PM
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Yes! Totally a tease update! Looking forward to the next one! Thanks!


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 05:14 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Finally!

The moment we have long been waiting for, this is the tank to-date. You can see how everything fits well behind the subwoofer enclosure to the right. This is during peak lighting cycle with both lights on, I only keep the main light on for 5 hours a day lately due to all the constant algae problems...it runs from 6:30pm - 11:30pm.




I built a hood reflector out of project foam board for the rear light and I am running it from 7am - 12pm which overlaps the main light by 30min for acclimation to keep the invertebrates from experiencing sudden pitch black. It runs all day to fight both daylight and the effects of the main light that bend the rear plants either toward the window or toward the center of the tank at the main light. It was never an issue for algae being a weak source of light but I think the general ambient window lighting where I live now may have something to do with my algae issues, I have even decreased the overall brightness of my main light using its dimmer.




This is a lighting sequence the tank is never in, with the rear light off during the main lighting cycle. It demonstrates the main lighting angle and cutoff line though on the rear wall, another reason the rear light was a necessity.



There is a carefully selected variety of plants on the back rock work, which are likely a major contribution to the tanks nutrient consumption. There are smaller species mingling throughout the wall as well as you can see up close, including dwarf hairgrass, fissidens, and sp. japan. I had cut my dragons tongue back several months ago after a string of vigorous growth but it has stunted the plant ever since, no growth what so ever...however there is a larger one established in the background on the left side with the top going strong.







The circulation in this setup turned out to be excellent, with no accumulation of oil slick on the surface. It has a nice circular flow on the top due to both the way the water drips off the back wall into a scoop shape in the rock combined with the mild jet I installed being located under it to the side. You can see my dwarf baby tears burned up pretty bad from above, centered from the source of its light so it was a nutrients crash. Always seems to be triggered after I neglect the carpet and do a hard prune back it begins melting away with signs of a nutrient deficiency.



I have the wood hardscape emerging out of the water just barley above the surface, where I have been struggling to get fissidens to establish itself. Like all the species in this tank carefully selected for their petite sized leafs and growth patterns, I chose mosquito fern aka red azolla as my floaters. They had a nice red color to them when supplied with proper nutrients and they stay very small so they did not block much light but are just enough to pull the picture together and keep everything in a bonsai ratio.



The rotala macrandra was nice and red like the red azolla before I started having nutrient and algae problems, it really is a shame. I still have not been able to get this hair grass to stand up straight and emerge out of the water but it may be from the use of Excel. Down there in the shade of the bottom right I have more "red" plants including buce red mini and a red crypt that is likely yet another victim of excel use in this tank. I had no way of planting it where I wanted back there and they always seem to work okay in heavy shade so I left it weighted down hoping it would root and send runners that way I could cut the weight out but it never took.





As for my livestock I kept it simple and as humane as I could because you have to keep in mind the swimming volume is probably right around 1 gallon. I needed something to keep the glass and rock surfaces clean so as I always do I went with a Nerite snail. I will always go with a handful of these over Plekos in smaller tanks, you would be surprised how much a Nerite can eat which was my concern from the start with this tank. I have always wanted one of these "fancy" red Nerite snails which are quite rare in the hobby, and I finally found one which would be show pieced in such a small tank but it was a complete challenge to keep from starving. I tried feeding it everything my other Nerites used to eat including carrot and bottom feeder tabs, even organic baby spinach this thing will not eat anything but algae and try leaving the tank several times a week. I finally did get it to eat cucumber but I got rid of it because the whole point was I did not want to have to feed my cleanup crew unless I needed nitrogen. I have since been looking for a "horned/spiked" Nerite, which is a specific species that only come in one color (yellow/black) with a few spikes on their shell. They are very small and they stay the size of a baby Nerite for their entire life, and one would not out-eat itself in this tank. I never see them anywhere other than PetSmart, not any other big box or LFS.



Other than the Nerite I have dwarf shrimp to keep the plants clean, and trickle along the nitrogen cycle. I have one Amano (Caridina) as you can see enjoying this carrot I tried offering my Nerite. I also have two Neocaridina shrimp, a jet black which is a variant of a high grade deep blue species I found at a LFS, and a high grade red cherry also found at a LFS I think it was labeled as a fire/blood red but I can only get the black and clear shrimp out for a photo...look closely for the black one. They had tons of other colors but I just wanted a few select shrimp to showcase in such a small tank, I figured red and black were natural looking. The single Amano was to help with the algae and its blends in just as well as the solid black shrimp. Yet they still can not keep up on the green string algae between the 3 of them, not even close!

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Last edited by Teebo; 03-20-2019 at 03:54 AM. Reason: .
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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The end is near

So after battling this tank for over half a year I have finally come to the conclusion this tank was a great idea but full of failed logic, so I am discontinuing it and selling it off. It has become too high-maintenance and is going against the principals I built it for; small easy to maintain tank with the best of both worlds (riparium/aquarium). My life has become too complicated and busy, and I do not enjoy the tank or have time to appreciate it...I was much happier at the beginning of this hobby years ago with a simple planted Betta tank. The hobby started as a way to get me through northern winters with some green nature inside when everything outside was dormant and appeared dead, I had a lot more time on my hands and now I live in FL where very little goes dormant...so I would rather put my time into enjoying real nature rather than trying to harbor a piece of it inside.




My main problems are BBA and certain plant species are not working together. If I was to continue moving forward with this experiment I would have to revamp the lighting as it is too bright in the center, playing with the dimmer has not helped with BBA. The second thing I would have to do is implement a mini CO2 system to battle algae and allow my dwarf Baby Tears to thrive. A major problem I have recently realized is that growing dwarf Baby Tears with dwarf Hairgrass using Excel is a catch-22. The baby tears will not thrive without Excel they just stay stagnant and I have confirmed this over the years, if you do not have good lighting, good nutrients, and Excel they will not thrive without CO2...if those 3 things are present it is totally possible to have thriving baby tears without CO2. However a steady supply of Excel will completely stop hairgrass in its tracks, so this was poor planning on my part. After multiple nutrient crashes my baby tears had enough and quit on me, causing massive die back which in return has caused BBA outbreaks for months and months that I can not beat. From my understanding the main cause of BBA is decaying plant material so I removed tons of dead baby tear framework last month and stopped using Excel, the baby tears stopped dying but also stopped growing due to the absence of Excel. I have done nothing but constantly manually remove the tons of clumps of BBA from the bottom of the tank you can see in the photo and I am am totally over it. This is when I started seeing my hairgrass take off finally, so I decided to swap my layout and I planted hairgrass in the center of the tank where the baby tears had burnt up. The new plan was to let the hairgrass spread out from the middle and take over the substrate, and the reverse I decided to throw a little baby tears up at the water surface on the ledge planters seeing how they need high lighting and I figured closer to the water surface would have more exposure to natural CO2. You can see in the photo below the hairgrass is standing straight up tall in the center planter without Excel, and the baby tears are also standing straight up too! The huge problem though as you can see is the planter is black; full of BBA due to the strong central point of lighting, and this is the only place that green slime algae likely hair/thread algae thrives and needs constant removal by hand. Noting the Dragons Tongue plant to the right, it has a massive root system behind the wall but has not grown a single new leaf in nearly 4 months its like a plastic plant it never dies or grows!




Another problem is the algae on the glass, this is what I have ALWAYS kept Nerite snails for and they have always done a great job but this is a difficult tank to size a single snail to without having to provide it with a side diet of prepared foods. The fancy premium Nerite I had in here had too big of an appetite and kept leaving the tank in search for food, it was always spotless and after constantly putting him back in the tank he finally vanished one day and I looked for a week straight. I finally gave up trying to locate him after a week, I felt bad and creeped out of the thought of a dead snail being in my room somewhere but I ripped my room up looking for him. After 2 weeks I finally found him but it was too late, and he had died not long before I found him. So I spent a while being patient looking for a "horned/spiked" Nerite which is the smallest species of Nerite staying dwarf sized its entire life which I thought would be a perfect balance...so I cleaned the glass for a few weeks with a toothbrush until I gave up trying to find one and caved in on the smallest healthy baby Nerite I could find. It has been happy and never runs out of algae but he is not keeping up with the glass so I give up haha.




I finally caught one of my shrimp above the water surface cleaning the moss on the back wall, unfortunately they only eat green algae and I am still always left with the BBA. You can see all the black under him, so for the past few months I have been spot treating the BBA with a syringe. First I turn the pump off and hit it with hydrogen peroxide, just enough not to cause a bacteria crash, after that cooks for a minute I then follow it up by hitting it with a small amount of Excel. This one-two punch knocks it out effectively turning it red...but it always comes back!






I am pretty sure there is a lot of back-wall decay happening at the top fueling this BBA. For a while I broke my dosing up into two days, Sundays and Wednesdays. I would dose Flourish comp, phosphorous, and nitrogen on Sunday. Then on Wednesday I dosed iron and potassium so that the tank was never overrun by nutrients allowing algae to run wild, supposedly high nitrogen at the same time as potassium can fuel algae so I wanted the plants to absorb them separately. Did not really seem to help so I recently went back to dosing everything once a week. Just like the Dragons Tongue the Pixy Ivy has also stunted and stopped growing, I kept topping it to make it bush out the same way I was doing with the Dragons Tongue but I think they both had enough...refused to bush out and stopped growing. On a positive note the Lemon Button Fern has been doing well and continues to send runners looking for new real estate, which it has recently found. Both down on the right side of the wall where the molded rock split seam is as well as following the water channel horizontally across the top to the left.







Finally last but not least with the absence of Excel I found that my crypt in the back corner has started to come back from a near death, as well as the unexpected return of an unidentified macro algae that I believe is likely common in saltwater. I bought it a while back at the LFS as it was in one of their freshwater display tanks, I asked for a piece they were cool about it since it was not for sale and I forgot it had melted away. Now intertwined in the crypt it seems to be making a good comeback with the low light provided. One last thing I wanted to touch on upon closing this tank down is my top-off water. As previously stated I have always been a fan of running my tanks borderline Walstad doing a WC roughly every 10 weeks. The theory was maximum plant nutrient uptake, very minimal invert feeding and low TDS water. I never actually test TDS which is a downfall on my part, but for a while I had access to a 5-stage RODI system that I used for topping my tanks off. For about 4 months after moving I had been buying gallons of distilled water from the store to top off with, never considered pH but turns out it is very low and drives my shrimp nuts when I topped off. I also drank nothing but distilled water thinking it was better for me being more pure...but never considered a deficiency of trace elements both in my body and in the tank such as calcium, etc. Turns out people die from drinking nothing but distilled water so I converted over to a more neutral pH filtered spring water by the gallon for both my body and this tank. So I may have had micro nutrient crashes as well further complicating this tanks battle.



With all this being said, I am taking a long break from this hobby and I am probably going to leave my apartment behind, buy an RV and do some traveling...surround myself with nature where it belongs, in the wild The End


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