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Discussion Starter #1
In the past 8 months I have kept a 2.5g tank on my desk at work. The setup doesn't allow much more space so this tank is about as big as I could get. To allow low maintenance and appropriate stocking, the tank will only have CRS and snails.


Here is the tank as it was originally set up:



We stocked it with two false amanos (unknown type), one tiger nerite, and eight CRS. The substrate was eco complete. Filter is the Dennerle corner filter and the light was the Cobalt plant light that came with the rimless 2.5g tank. It had a piece of malaysian driftwood, monte carlo carpet, a hardwood leaf, s. repens planted on the wood, and a anubias nana petite. The shrimp never thrived. We had two females become berried and then fail to hatch out the eggs. Over time they were dying off, I believe due to failed molts. The pH was not where it should be for CRS and so they always struggled. The plants also did terribly. The monte carlo barely grew 50% in 6 months. the s. repens grew maybe 25% in that same time. The anubias did not grow at all. The plants all became covered with a stubborn algae, which contributed to their poor growth. With all of those problems the tank started to look pretty poor. The plants weren't very green, and the few shrimp that did survive were always hiding behind the large driftwood. I was dosing excel daily and flourish from time to time.



So, it was time to start from scratch learning from experience. Starting with new substrate. Due to price and availability, I went with Fluval Stratum as a buffering substrate. Same tank, same light, same filter. I plan to stock it with the same livestock. CRS and snails. This time I went with less hardscape to allow the shrimp to be more easily seen. Plants will just be the same monte carlo, flame moss on the wood, and marsilia hirsuta as the background plant. I set it up and planted on Saturday night. I put API root tabs under each plant throughout the substrate. This time around I will not be dosing excel at all, and will be dosing Select Aquatics Rapid Grow Fertilizer. I have begun using it on my 40g and have been pretty impressed so far. I am the type that wants an all-in-one fertilizer and it seems to be a pretty good value and is working well for me. I think many of my issues before were nutrient deficiencies.


Here is the tank. Don't worry, I thoroughly cleaned the filter prior to adding water. Water is still cloudy and plants need to grow in. The wood also needs to soak for a while to sink.





The shrimp are sitting happy and healthy in their 10g with the snail, waiting for the tank to mature some and to cycle again. Seeding from cycled filters to speed the process up. I look forward to this tank growing in and bringing it back to my desk at work for everyone to enjoy.


Since I keep nano fish I have often been tempted to add some, but decided not to due to the increased maintenance and complication. As a work tank I want it to be as low maintenance as possible.
 

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Great looking scape, I have that exact same tank and also had trouble keeping cardinias, probably parameter fluctuations in such a small tank, I now keep a mix of tiger shrimp and they are doing much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great looking scape, I have that exact same tank and also had trouble keeping cardinias, probably parameter fluctuations in such a small tank, I now keep a mix of tiger shrimp and they are doing much better.

Could definitely be parameter fluctuations, but I know in the old setup pH kept creeping up (7.8 at its highest) and kH was never ideal. If it fails with the new scape I will plan on rebuilding a third time with neos and eco complete.
 

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That's a nice looking tank. I'll be following this as I was debating on setting up a small shrimp tank myself. I have an interesting 2 gallon bowl I was thinking of turning in into a diy biorb kind of thing. (Undergravel filter with air stone).
But from your comments about water quality, maybe I'll be better off using a 5 gallon instead....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's a nice looking tank. I'll be following this as I was debating on setting up a small shrimp tank myself. I have an interesting 2 gallon bowl I was thinking of turning in into a diy biorb kind of thing. (Undergravel filter with air stone).
But from your comments about water quality, maybe I'll be better off using a 5 gallon instead....

Water quality was actually pretty good for most types of shrimp and fish, it just was not within the parameters CRS need. I feel confident that I would have been more successful in the small tank with neos. It is true what they say though, smaller tanks are harder. Even a 2.5g looks to big on my desk at work so I am really limited by space. If this were at home, I would go with a 5g, or even a 10g. With the 2.5 I try to do everything low and slow. No heater, good aeration from the filter (having it spray above the water line), small water changes, lower light. Nothing in the tank was catastrophic. The false amanos and nerite always did well. Even many of the CRS lived for 4-5 months. The issue was more that the CRS did not have what they needed as far as pH and kH goes, ending in failed molts over time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Minor update. The tank is producing ammonia without being fed. Likely from the substrate. The wood is growing fungus, which I understand is typical with this wood. The monte carlo is rooting well and the hirsuta is sprouting some new runners. Definitely slower growth than my high-tech tank, which is good from a maintenance standpoint. No serious algae so far, waiting for the diatoms to hit.

Five days later, ammonia is still high. I am surprised that the plants are not doing more to combat it. I know it will take time to cycle, but I did not expect high ammonia with just Fluval Stratum.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Tank is looking cycled, so I added in the false-amanos to keep things running. The next day I did a rough drip acclimation on 8 CRS and added them. The parameters are looking good for CRS. TDS is on the high side, but otherwise things are looking good. Once everything has been happy for a week I plan to bring it back to my office, its permanent home.

 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Today the shrimp made the 45min trek to work where they will live on my desk. Everyone seems to be doing well. Already have had several compliments on the tank from my coworkers. Last time around the driftwood was far too prevalent and due to improper parameters the shrimp always hid under the wood, rarely moving. Now they are out and about and the plants are looking good. Since it is closer to the light, the taxiphyllum spiky is growing fastest, but the monte carlo also shows some good growth. The s. repens has a new leaf or two, and the hirsuta has a couple new shoots as well. I hope to keep this growing slowly so that I don't have to constantly trim. The red clip in the photos is temporary to give the cable some memory and sit tight against the tank.

The desk:


View from the front:


View from where clients sit:


View from where I sit:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That looks great!

Thanks. It has been nice to have it back at my desk. This is the tank I watch the most since I sit two feet from it 9 hours a day. The shrimp are pretty active and fun to watch. Definitely better than the previous setup. I want to possibly add snails but need to be careful this time around. I do not want to add any "pest snails" because in an office environment they make the tank look dirty with the little snails dotting the glass. I would prefer something like a nerite or mystery snail but had issues with the last nerite in the lower pH. I just think that the pH and snails may not be very compatible. I am not going to add fish due to size constraints and increased maintenance.



Any other inverts that would be worth adding?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I add gammarus to all my tanks. They are active little swimmers and they help eat detritus.

I've never dealt with scuds before but from what I read they are very prolific. I am somewhat worried about them out-competing CRS. Have you kept them with shrimp before? It would be nice to add something that swims more, but I don't want to end up with dozens of them in this little tank.
 

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Looks really nice-- I like your plant choices and design.
Im sure that this is a very relaxing addition to your office. It would be for me!
 
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