Updated March 23, 2014:
Picture as of March 17, 2014:
Goals - setup a low maintenance heavily planted tank for small fish and shrimp. My ultimate goal is to have the shrimp breed slowly and refrain from excessive water changes.
Budget (currently at $650) - my original budget was around $500, but I've quickly gone over that due to the price of the shrimps, and project even more when I decide to buy more shrimps.
What's different with my setup - I want to try using eBay cheapo 5050 SMD LED's for lighting ($30 for 5m), no CO2, and use a potting soil + aqua soil substrate to avoid fertilization.
Plants - I'm not expert I just ask what's easy to grow and doesn't require high light, mostly java family plants, some fast stem plants, and some easy foreground stuff.
Equipment - Tank, Eheim 2213 canister for maximum filtration, inline heater to remove tank clutter, LED lighting, bog wood, rocks, organic potting soil, and aqua soil.
Live stock - Neon tetra's, crystal red shrimp, and blue diamond shrimp, and foot ball looking snails.
The tank 15G Column (13"x13"x20"), the filter that it comes with is a joke, and the lighting is 8w will be replaced when my LED's come:
Designing my hardscape at the local store:
After boiling my bog wood and rocks I setup the hardscape in the tank:
The substrate is about 1" front to 2" back of organic potting soil, and cap is about 1"-1.5" of generic aqua soil (same stuff as the ADA amazonia). Here is a top view to see how much light each of the area will receive:
Planted and filled with water:
Pebbles to hold down the moss:
My filter and heater arrive, time to remove the Aqua Clear 70 and upgrade:
About two weeks growth still with 8W and indirect sunlight, no fish, just a couple snails, letting new filter run:
A few more days later I add 20 Neon Tetra, I cull 3 which seem sick and weak, may need to cull another:
I originally was going to do cheap shrimp, but the store got me too interested in higher grade stuff, 8x Crystal Red Shrimp S/S+ grade, and 5 Blue Diamond shrimp:
Here's a shrimp, they are all 1-1.5cm:
Female Blue Diamond, the males are brighter blue:
To keep my water super clean and stable while the rest of the cycle completes, I'll be dosing 1 vial of Biodigest every 2 weeks:
Added a moss ball, because who doesn't love moss balls?!:
Even with the rubbish lighting (7 hours currently) my plants are doing fine, no algae outbreaks, 3 weeks in the water parameters are nearing 0ppm for both ammonia and nitrites:
eBay Lighting arrived!!:
Cutting the strips to size and prepping for soldering:
Everything finally wired for a dry run:
Removed the double sided tape and attached firmly to cleaned surface, then used hot glue on all the exposed terminals to create a water-proof seal, and add to adhesion:
Colour temperature is much more pleasant and quite good light penetration at the bottom of the tank:
-Install inline heater (bought wrong size, waiting for adapters) current temp is around 23-24c, I have heater just in case of cold spikes
-Continue to monitor water parameters as the tank matures
-Add Crystal Black Shrimp in hopes of cross-breeding to produce more Red, Black, and Golden varieties