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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Its time for the journal of the next phase of my planted fish tank. I'll start off with a brief history of my aquarium keeping and then get on to the building of this tank.

思い出 Memories:

I started keeping fish when I was about 12. I started with a few tetras, fake plants, a pirate ship and a good old HOB filter. It was then that I received the family 20 gallon, passed down from my father haha.

For my birthday that year, I really wanted a bigger tank. Already I had my sights on glory. So I got a 75 gallon tank and stand and went through an African cichlid phase for the next few years. It was a grand ole time and I thoroughly enjoyed keeping them, but after a while I wanted for something more. That was when I began dabbling in planted tanks.

My first planted tank was a lowtech 75 gallon, basic t5 lighting, flourite black sand with Mineralized Topsoil Substrate. What I learned from this experience is that in order for plants to adequately grow, I really needed higher lighting or else the plants just slowly decayed over time. Not really growing but just barely surviving. Thus my planted tank phase dwindled... as did my plants...

It was at this time that I was about to graduate from highschool and I was getting tired of fish tanks at the time, so I sold my prized 75 gallon and all my tank supplies....

This was a dark time... a whole year without fish tanks. But alas good times were to come.

I then entered college and went through several crazy phases of spending lots of my graduation money. Big lesson learned. However, one of the better options of me spending my money was on a full high tech planted tank setup.

Bringing back my families now 20 year old 20 gallon. I bought a 20# co2 tank, regulator, cerges reactor, and eheim 2217 classic, and I was good to go.
I started off with a Cryptocoryne only tank. They are and will always be my planted tank first love. I went nuts for crypts and had just about every common variety and several uncommon varieties of crypts. Growing in super fertile Mineralized topsoil blend with added root tabs. It was also at this time that I began dosing EI fertilizers.

This was a huge learning experience for me. It is where I first experimented with high tech setups, and learned how to persevere in my hobby. And trust me, after having diatoms for a steady 2 months, you learn to perservere. Having to muck out the tank every other day, and do 30% water changes.... It was rough, very rough. But my tank got through it and bam, took a turn for the better. There was not a crypt that I tried that I couldn't grow.

Ever so slowly, I began having a desire for a larger variety of plants, so I began incorporating stem plants into the mix. From there I had a phase of collectoritis, and eventually ended up with a nice blended tank.

From here, I began a new phase in my tank keeping, with the uprising popularity and availability of Bucephalandras, I started taking a mighty liking to them. My second planted tank love. Beautiful plants with a high price and low demands, what more could a college student looking for a buck ask for.

I loaded up, and eventually upgraded my tank to a 30 gallon long, and stocked up on as many buces as I could afford.

Throughout this entire experience I learned so much. It is amazing the back of the hand knowledge that I now have after keeping this tank. How to best grow and trim stem plants, how to effectively grow Cryptocorynes, how to efficiently deliver co2 to plants, which plants needs co2, which plants need more fertilizers, how to judge a plant's needs based on leaf quality, and a plethora more of valuable planted tanker concepts.

As time would have it, I once again began slacking this summer with my tank and it started to go downhill. Black Beard Algae everywhere. Alot of my Buces melted, and I was just in a depressed tank state. I had no desire to work on the tank in its current state, and to be honest, I really had a hard time looking at it. One day I found the gumption to actually spend the 5 hours on the tank that it needed. I took out all the hard scape and excel blasted each plant. I retied everything to individual lava rocks and completely rescaped the entire tank. Farm mode was established and I planted alot more stems to balance out the tank.


Everything started to get on the rebound.... Then I gassed my fish. Killed over half of my fish. Longfin plecos gone. Brand new Stiphodon Elegans trio Gone! Half of my Green Neon tetras Gone! Half of every other fish gone! I did a major cleanup and well, my planted tank spirit had about had it. My desire to funnel more money into the tank was waning, and I was in the position where I needed to be saving more than I was spending. So I made the decision to tear down my planted tank and sell all the plants. Have no fear! My aquascaping experiences are not over!




大河 River Tank in the Making
At the same time, this summer (2014) I began falling in love with Stiphodon Gobies. These beautiful fish primarily hail from Asian countries and are captivating creatures to behold. A plan began to hatch within me and I began researching Stiphodons as well as Hillstream Loaches. Starting with Stiphodons I looked up their habitats as well as their food supplies, and they along with Hillstream loaches had very similar requirements. Flowing water, high oxygen content, loads of light for loads of algae. All in all, not a terrible set of demands. So I proceeded to learn all about River tanks, and how one can best simulate the environments of these two types of fish.

The Build:

Substrate- River gravel - Nice small smooth river stones. Perfect for stiphodons to burrow through
Lighting- Tek 4 bulb t5ho 24"
Filtration- Eheim 2217 classic plumbed into River Manifold
Powerheads- 2x aquaclear 50 powerheads (270 GPH each)
Optional - Koralia nano 425 powerhead.
Filter Intakes - 30 ppi poret filter foam from SwissTropicals
Heater- Inline Hydor 200w
River Manifold- Explained below.
Hardscape- Lava rocks from my man Mike(Ebi). Manzanita from Tom Barr
Tank- 30 gallon long (36" L X 12" W X 16" H)

Flora:
-Anubias Nana
-Fissidens Fontanus
-Algae

Future Fauna:
- 2 male Stiphodon atropurpureus, 3 females
- 2 male Stiphodon percnopterygionus, 3 females
- 5 Sewelia Lineolata
- my surviving cory habrosus
- my surviving trio of rosy loaches

This is my current build setup.

Now let me explain the River Manifold build.

This build stems from Loachesonline forum's design. Essentially, our goal is to make a unidirectional flowing system emulating the environments of stiphodons and hillstream loaches. The way to achieve this is through the use of powerheads in conjuction with pvc pipes that travel underneath the substrate with intakes on the opposite end of the powerheads. Here is a picture of the most common setup.


My design has deviated slightly for a few reasons. First change is that I have 4 intakes instead of 2. I changed out each corner pvc piece with a 3 way corner. Giving me 4 intakes. This was done primarily because I also swapped out one of the corners on the opposite side for a 3 way corner in order to plumb my canister filter into the manifold. I did this so that all water must flow through the manifold in a much more uniform type of way.

Here is the design illustrated in pen. Pretty straightforward. Everything was built using 3/4" PVC pipe. I did not glue anything as all the joints will be underwater and are rather snug. I did have to cut the fittings down in order to get everything to fit. I also did end up glueing the PVC intake for the eheim as those fittings would be out of the water.


Here is how the eheim will be plumbed to the manifold. The intake of the eheim will go on this pvc nipple. The other two pipes will be the intake pipes for each powerhead. I'm waiting on the Krylon Black plastic fusion spray paint to cure before completely plumbing everything up.


So that is the basic premise of this tank. Next I wanted to come up with a hardscape to distract the viewer from the plumbing as much as possible. This also had to fulfill the requirement to be a natural habitat for hillstreams and stiphodons. Now I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.



I replaced the bottom right corner joint with a 3 way.


Beginning hardscape trials


All of the actual plumbing in place not yet painted. All the intakes still need to be drilled.


31 Anubias Nana plants from TPT user, csf. Thanks buddy! Plants are great!


Setup preplanted with replacement pipes while the paint dries on the real pipes.


Post planted full tank shot



I temporarily plumbed up the eheim normally and added in the koralia nano just to get the bacteria started in the tank. The eheim is already adequately seeded, so I'll probably add my few rosy loaches and cory into the tank in the next couple of days.

With this build a few interesting things are also happening with my life. Junior year of college in Electrical Engineering. I'm also currently learning Japanese as a second language studying 1-2 hours everyday. Hence the few Japanese references in the titles. I also just broke and fractured my big toe this weekend. As such, this tank was a good thing at a good time as it will be super duper low maintenance.

The main goal of this tank is to grow algae as much as possible, preferably soft grean algaes, GDA, GSA, anything that my hillstreams and gobies can feast on. This means 14 hour photoperiods if not 16 hours. In order to achieve this type of tank, I'll have to let it mature for a while before adding any of the prospective inhabitants.

I'm very optimistic about this tank and look forward to the fish and plant adventures that await!

Please let me know what you think about the build.
さようなら
Joshua
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks man! And I do enjoy a good challenge.

Update: the tank is completely cycled as of tonight. Ammonia levels and nitrites are 0 so I added my 3 surviving rosy loaches, 1 Cory habrosus, and 3 ottos back to the tank.

In more exciting news, I just put in an order for 5 sewellia spotted, 5 stiphodon semoni, and 3 stiphodon elegans! Supposed to come in tomorrow. Very excited!
Joshua
 

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Looks nice and I love the concept, but won't algae harm your anubias? Anytime I have had an algae outbreak in one of my tanks, my anubias suffered the worst, presumably because they are such slow growers.
 

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Children Boogie
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Looks great but I would have painted the PVC black so it wouldn't stand out so much, and also thinner PVC. Hopefully the algae will grow on it or you can wrap it in moss. Moss would also look good in a hill stream tank.


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@skoram: hey man. Thanks for compliment. And yeah the Anubias may suffer a little bit, but I'm counting on my past experiences to remain true that they will continue to grow even in te midst of the algae. I actually want them to be another surface for algae to cling to for te fish. I'll keep an eye on them though

@mistergreen: hey brother thanks for the comment and concern. Haha but did you not see the picture of the painted PVC? Everything in the front tank shot is a placeholder for the real piping while the paint cures. I don't actually have the manifold hooked up yet.

In other news, my fish are coming in the mail this morning. I'll post pics later.
Joshua
 

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Children Boogie
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oh I see, Can't wait to see the painted PVC in there.

You should get some river dither fish to make the bottom dwellers feel secure so they'd swim around.
 

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looks like a great set-up! i'm a little worried that adding 12 fish at one time is a lot for a newly cycled tank and you might lose some of the sewellia.... they don't handle ammonia well.

i'm excited to see how it looks when everything is cured and all the living fish are in.

my suggestion, from experience, don't slack on keeping algae off the front glass. i have a few patches that no matter how hard i try i can't get it off.
 

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Your Stiphodon gobies will love that tank. The Anubias may get pretty grungy. Stiphodon gobies are aufwauchs feeders. They won't clean surfaces of algae entirely. They will graze a little off the surface. If things get too nasty, you can add Nerita snails and Amano shrimp to help you clean some of the worst growth, or like me, you can choose not to care. Good luck, I look forward to seeing how your tank develops!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Too much of the tube. Not pretty. Should decorate them to hide from the eyes.
Thanks for the suggestion! I will be hiding them with black paint.

oh I see, Can't wait to see the painted PVC in there.

You should get some river dither fish to make the bottom dwellers feel secure so they'd swim around.
Yeah, I need to wait about 4 more days for the paint to cure, but early next week I should have it all finalized. Well I have my 3 rosy loaches, 1 cory habrosus, and 3 ottos that are all very comfortable in my tank and swim around all the time. So they are good dither fish for the new tankmates.

looks like a great set-up! i'm a little worried that adding 12 fish at one time is a lot for a newly cycled tank and you might lose some of the sewellia.... they don't handle ammonia well.

i'm excited to see how it looks when everything is cured and all the living fish are in.

my suggestion, from experience, don't slack on keeping algae off the front glass. i have a few patches that no matter how hard i try i can't get it off.
Hi Aquatic-Delight! Thanks for the compliment man! I was worried about that too. However, I added in lots of seeded tank material from another tank in addition to the eheim 2217 being completely seeded. I'm also going to do 25%-35% water changes everyday for the next week just to make sure that nothing goes wrong. But I tested ammonia and nitrites today and both read 0. So thats promising. I do my best to keep it clean with a razor blade. Usually works for me.


Your Stiphodon gobies will love that tank. The Anubias may get pretty grungy. Stiphodon gobies are aufwauchs feeders. They won't clean surfaces of algae entirely. They will graze a little off the surface. If things get too nasty, you can add Nerita snails and Amano shrimp to help you clean some of the worst growth, or like me, you can choose not to care. Good luck, I look forward to seeing how your tank develops!
I want the anubias to get grungy. :) I want algae to grow all over this tank. Anubias are just there to reduce nitrate and provide more surface area for algae. Thanks for the tips.


Update:
All 13 of the fish came in alive.
-5 Sewellia sp. Spotted
-5 Stiphodon Semoni (2M 3F?)
-3 Stiphodon Elegans (2M 1F?)
Not sure about the sexes of the gobies yet, they are still pretty small.
All fish seem to be healthy although this next week will be critical as a few of them look a little emaciated and slightly starved.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow!
Joshua
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I like those lava rock, they remind me the river where I caught the butterfly loaches when I was a kid, the river is in the old volcano region, and houses, bridges, ... all made from lava rock.
Glad that you like them man. I really do as well. They are semi smooth, yet have some nice character to them. Where did you grow up?
Joshua
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Time for the promised pics:

These were all taken only a few hours after adding the fish. Everyone seems to be doing great. All of them came in alive. Only one or two out of 13 came in a little skinny. At this time I'm not positive on all the ids of the gobies, but they should be male and female stiphodon semoni and male and female stiphodon elegans.

These fish are incredible to watch.

Sewellia SP. SEWO1








Stiphodon Elegans













Stiphodon Semoni









More Stiphodon pics







Tank Shots











Please let me know what you think,
Joshua
 

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Another great build, looks awesome! Those are some lucky/beautiful fish :D I cant wait to see it with the black pvc. I feel like its really going to help "frame" the scape and really make that your focal point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Another great build, looks awesome! Those are some lucky/beautiful fish :D I cant wait to see it with the black pvc. I feel like its really going to help "frame" the scape and really make that your focal point.

Thanks Duck, and I agree. Once the black pipe goes in and I get the manifold completely plumbed up, I think its gonna look much better. All the fish seem to be doing well. They are out and about much more today. I think they are starting to get acclimated to the tank.
Joshua
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Finally completed the filtration system. Painted the pvc with Black Krylon Fusion Matte plastic spray paint. Let it cure for longer than a week and today, I finally found the will power to attach it all together. School has kept me really busy lately.

So now the flow in the tank is more or less unidirectional. All water is pulled from left to right, goes into the sponge intakes, travels in the pvc underneath the gravel, and then comes back out through the powerheads on the left. I also have a pipe that is attached to my eheim cannister. It is plumbed into the pvc underneath the gravel as well. Therefore, all water must go through the sponge intakes on the right side of the tank.

There are 4 intakes hidden in the sponges. They are Pvc pipes with lots of holes drilled all over them. I suspect that I won't have to clean them for quite some time.

Fish have been doing really well. No deaths that I am aware of. Sewellia are still a little shy, but have been coming out alot more. I hope that the increased current will encourage more active behaviour. All the gobies are very active, perching and doing their goby thing.

Also the algae is starting to grow in nicely in the tank as you will see in the pictures. I've also been supplementing with Repashy algae mix. I pour the mix over some lava rocks that I then place in teh tank. Everyone enjoys grazing on them.

Lastly, the Anubias Nana have been melting back a bit, I believe that when I first set up the tank, they were in the dry air for a little bit too long. Stinks, but there are signs of fresh growth on all the plants, so I'm not worried. Besides, the fish I have enjoy the melting leaves haha.

And without further ado, here are the pictures. Sorry if they are not up to my usual standards, I just got a new Samsung Note 3 and am getting used to the camera settings.





Female Stiphodon Semoni I believe






Here he has a Inle Loach Friend :)


Pretty sure that this is a Male Stiphodon Elegans not showing his colors:


All the loaches crusing around the tank. By far the most active fish.


Female on a rock




Look at that beautiful green algae forming!!


Sponge Intakes, 2 pipes on each side for total of 4 intakes.


Here you can see the 2 power heads, as well as in the very back corner a black pipe that goes up and out of the tank, and down to the eheim cannister. The eheim then returns to the spray bar. So even my cannister is assisting the uni-flow.


I still have one Cryptocoryne plant and 1 Bucephalandra baby left. Can't quite give them up just yet.


Here's the tank with all the filtration and bubbles running:





That's all folks. I hope to update with more fish pictures once the fish settle down more. This was a quick 5 minute photo shoot right after I finished setting everything up.

Cheers,
Joshua
 
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