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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So after growing up in a house full of tanks and a couple of years of basic experience, I decided to spend what little disposable income I have on setting up the low-tech rimless tank of my dreams. Practically everything that could go wrong has done, Scottish Water supplier is sick of me tweeting them, and my friends think I'm mad (my constantly wet sleeves don't help) but I'm having a great time doing it.

Here's the most up to date pic (06/03/20)



And here's the first pic - 1 month after set up.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Equipment

Tank dimensions are 80cm long x 40cm wide x 30cm high and I ended up getting it custom-made due to a distinct lack of rimless tanks in my area. The stand is also custom-made using reclaimed wood and steel and I've been assured that it can hold the 300lb+ weight of the tank - let's hope they're right!

It's currently very low-tech with equipment as follows:
-800 l/h All Pond Solutions HOB filter
-All Pond Solutions heater

That's it. I haven't been able to source the sort of light I'm looking for yet, so right now the tank is running on sunlight alone. The crypts and anubias seem fine with this, but winters get DARK up north, so I'll be investing in this soon.

I've planted some long grassy plants in front of the filter and heater, so they'll hopefully be less obvious in future.

Updated Equipment List (August 2019)
- Asta Luminigrow Lights x2
- Eheim Ecco Pro 300 with Eheim modular spraybar
- Generic heater
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Stocking

This is where I prove myself to be a bit of an idiot; I've spent the past year or so convinced that my pH is 7.4 as it was showing as the lowest on the "High pH" test and the highest on the "Low pH" test. It turns out that this is NOT the case and that my pH is just too low for the test, at around 6, throwing all previous stocking plans out the window. My kH and gH are also much lower than previously thought.

So current stocking is:
- 2x blue star endler (I'd been at my wit's end trying to work out why they wouldn't breed, now I know)
- 10x pygmy cory
- 4x zebra nerite and 1x ramshorn snail
- An ungodly number of malaysian trumpet snails that I give away en-masse every few months

After the whole water hardness revelation the other day, my planned stocking is as follows:
- 10x pygmy cory
- 10-15x chili rasbora
- 6-8x sparkling gourami
- 6x otocinclus
Aqadvisor tells me that this is pretty heavily stocked, but as the tank has a larger footprint than average, I may skip the otos and extra chilis, overfilter and add another group of something small

If I get chance, the endlers and snails will move to a smaller tank on the bottom shelf with hardness-increasing rock/substrate but that's for another journal.

Plants
I'm an absolute novice when it comes to plants, so I've stuck to supposedly hardy species:
- c. beckettii
- a. hastifolia
- a. nana
- java fern
- mystery dark grass
- mystery reedy grass
- mystery tiny crypt (no longer in state of mega-melt)

Once I've got lights, I'll be adding more hardscape rooted plants, especially on the rocks.
 

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Looks like a nice start :) The tall stuff in the background looks like vallis, and at a guess your reedy stuff could be hairgrass.

I've a feeling sparkling gouramis can be territorial so you might want to double check that - you might find you'd do better with a trio - male and two females.

Best to just ignore ph altogether and focus on the gh instead. Otherwise, as you've found, you can drive yourself crazy. It's very variable and will change just with the lights (or sun) on/off in a planted tank as they photosynthesis.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks! :) Vallis definitely seems right for the tall stuff, the other grassy stuff I was on about is the dark stuff on the left of the cory pic. It seems to be doing pretty well though, so I'm happy with it.

From what I've gathered, they're one of the few gouramis who can be kept in groups - the current plan is either a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio m:f but we'll see how that goes. Original plan was 3 honey gouramis (1:2), but I can't find the wild-types anywhere and am not a fan of the colourful strains.

Do you have any tips on bringing up gH? It's something i'm looking into, but my maintenance schedule is a bit odd right now - more on that in the next post.
 

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How low is your gh? You can use a 'gh booster' lots of brands available e.g. Seachem Equilibrium or remineraliser designed for RO (water with zero harness). Some increase just the GH or KH and some both. You can do DIY options like crushed coral but then it's hard to control exactly how much it's raised and keep it steady during water changes, so my preference is a measured amount.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestions! I've done a little research and Seachem Equilibrium seems like the best bet, especially as I've loved the other Seachem products. Just need to figure out how on earth to use the stuff.

Parameters seem to be:
gH less than 3
kH 3-6
pH 6-6.4

Maintenance has become a weird one recently, after Scottish Water started using Chloramine instead of Chlorine to treat the water supply. Took me a little while to figure out what the heck was going on, and I'd initially attributed the sudden tank-wide fitting and mass deaths to be some sort of virus/neurological issue. Needless to say, Scottish Water were less than helpful and I think they may have blocked me on twitter.

To combat this I'm doing 10% water changes every other day and triple dosing Prime in the new water. So far, so good, and tank water readings are coming through at 0ppm Ammonia, which means no chloramine, which is what we like really. More maintenance also means that I can siphon up all the bits of crud that the wood's shedding, although the corys seem to love the stuff.

Oh, and here's some more photos:
I've added a (slightly tacky) bubble wand to increase surface agitation as I was having some issues with surface film
The terrible anglepoise lamp and tannins from new wood mean that the tank's pretty yellow, but I suppose this will sort with time.
I really like the view from the top though, still umming and ahhing over floating plants as my other tank has just been taken over by water lettuce. Looking forwards to having more shoaling stock to watch from above
 

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I like it! I'd enjoy the tannins whilst they are there as a different look, and they'll clear up by themselves in time. Won't cause any harm. It's kinda of a nice effect actually :)

The next step is deciding what you want your GH to be. I'd decide that based on your livestock, so think about what your final inhabitants will be and pick a number, then you can do the maths. For example, I pick GH 6, and I have fish that like softwater, but also cherry shrimp that don't like it too soft, GH 6 is about the minimum for them so that's what I go with.

You might find a TDS pen helpful for mixing water. They are about £7 and give an instant electronic reading. That way you can mix the water up once by measuring powder/testing GH, then check the TDS reading and use that in future to mix it the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks! I love the look of other people's tanks with tannins, but I'm kind of over it in my own tanks. My old fluval flex used to look like it was full of tea!

That's an awesome tip on the TDS pen, thank you! Nice to see someone else here from the UK :)
 

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Stocking

This is where I prove myself to be a bit of an idiot; I've spent the past year or so convinced that my pH is 7.4 as it was showing as the lowest on the "High pH" test and the highest on the "Low pH" test. It turns out that this is NOT the case and that my pH is just too low for the test, at around 6, throwing all previous stocking plans out the window. My kH and gH are also much lower than previously thought.

So current stocking is:
- 2x blue star endler (I'd been at my wit's end trying to work out why they wouldn't breed, now I know)
- 10x pygmy cory
- 4x zebra nerite and 1x ramshorn snail
- An ungodly number of malaysian trumpet snails that I give away en-masse every few months

After the whole water hardness revelation the other day, my planned stocking is as follows:
- 10x pygmy cory
- 10-15x chili rasbora
- 6-8x sparkling gourami
- 6x otocinclus
Aqadvisor tells me that this is pretty heavily stocked, but as the tank has a larger footprint than average, I may skip the otos and extra chilis, overfilter and add another group of something small

If I get chance, the endlers and snails will move to a smaller tank on the bottom shelf with hardness-increasing rock/substrate but that's for another journal.

I've been there...


As a fellow UK hobbyist who spent every year in the hobby dealing with the worst, most fluctuating water parameters, in a developed EU country aka London... Trust me I've been there. But here's the thing, you can stock whatever you want. *IF* you can find it in an Edinburgh LFS you can keep it. The PH thing is slightly distorted as it refers to the parameters of fish's natural habitat. The difference is that our tropical fish are bred in Croatia, Czech Republic, and Lithuania. I've kept and "bred" ornamental shrimp that "require" specific PH and a low TDS in TDS of over 400 with ease.

I found out by mistake that if you can find a species in your LFS then, to a large degree, it's already acclimatized to your parameters. Another example, I found a rare apistogramma a couple of years ago. And by "Rare" I mean I've only ever seen it on sale once here in the UK. Breeding PH was reportedly 5-6. My PH was 8.something. Within 3 days the apistos spawned and I raised the fry through to juvies without issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Glad it's not just me. I grew up in an area with liquid rock and stable parameters so this absolutely blindsided me. You're right, if a fish has survived long enough in an LFS, then it will probably be alright, but I'll be sticking with soft water as I've always liked them but never been able to keep them.

Bump: ...Which brings me to my next update - endler fry!

This shouldn't be surprising really, but I initially bought 2 pairs from down South about 6 months ago and never saw any fry. Lost one of the males very early on, but he hadn't been right to begin with. Out of the remaining 2 females, one was very territorial, wouldn't let the other 2 near her, and was very skinny (will attach a photo below.) She'd body-slap and bite the other much healthier & pregnant looking female and I'd just assumed that I wasn't getting any fry because of these issues. Lost the "healthy" female during chloramine issues, but since then, "skinny" female has mellowed out a lot, is a much better shape, and is now dropping fry!

Currently at 13 fry and have been since noticing them 8 days ago. We'll see how they grow in such soft water, but there's been no predation whatsoever. If they sell well locally then I'll put off the sparkling gouramis for a while, if not, I'll rehome some of these and bring in "population control" before I get overrun.
 

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I always think I don't know what I'd do if I had fry- room to grow? where to put them when they mature? but when a cherry barb fry showed up in one of my tanks, I sure was eager to help that little guy grow. And I'm always enthralled when I see tiny livebearer fry at the pet store. Just stare at them- so small, so perfect.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
They really are very sweet, which makes just finding one dead in my filter pretty brutal.

Just came home to find a dead cory stuck to the filter intake and a fry dead inside the media, both pretty recently deceased. Don't think they got sucked into the filter alive. Tests show tank at 0.5ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite, <10ppm nitrate, so have done a minor water change and dosed prime. Don't want to do too large of a water change as my local water is treated with chloramine and god knows what else and I still don't trust it 100% even after prime.

Thought the corys were looking a bit timid last night so was looking about for them, could only count 8 but thought they were just keeping out the way somewhere, definitely wasn't one stuck to the filter then. Had just finished a 12 hour shift so thought I'd be better doing water changes today as less likely to make mistakes. Just goes to show that you really need to trust your instincts and do a water change whenever things are looking off. Counted 7 just now, so could well have lost another 2 without realising.

Not sure if the ammonia spike caused the deaths or the deaths caused the ammonia spike, I doubt a small cory & a titchy fry could take a 25g up to .5 ammonia in less than 24 hours though. Both corpses had minor popeye too, although nothing living does so it could well be decomposition. Life has been busy/$#^t recently so I'd only been doing water changes every 3 or 4 days and my boyfriend has fed the tank some mornings as I leave very early. Need to make more time for them even if life is busy, have learnt my lesson.

Just scared of losing the lot, I lost 6 pygmy corys to fitting earlier this year, horrible drawn out experience over 2 weeks where I had no clue what was going on and couldn't bring myself to euthanise. Turned out that they'd started dosing chloramine and my previous dechlorinator didn't work anymore.

Feeling a bit disheartened right now, will get back into it though.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Spoke to my SO immediately after he got home on 8th and it turns out that he's been overfeeding, which explains a lot, and is easily fixed at least. Have done more water changes and tests since then and all seems fine, but will keep an eye on it.

Aside from this blip, things are going well! My parents gifted me some plants recently, all seem to have acclimatized well apart from the anubias, but that's no surprise. Fry are growing quickly and are still at 10+, some of them are getting a nice blue sheen too. The anubias hastifolia has sprouted a new leaf, mondo grass is doing well after I finally ID'd it and moved it out of the water, and the emergent moss is has some strange little sprouts - excited to see what these become!

Excuse the terrible quality photos, I still don't have a proper light and haven't got round to getting out my camera. Considering that this isn't a particularly ground-breaking tank anyway, this journal is more for myself than anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Note for self:
Aquarium Lab Test-
Tap water pH ~7.5
Tank pH ~7
Tank kH ~2
Tank gH ~4

Test strip-
Tank pH 6.4 (lowest)
Tank kH ~4
Tank gH ~4

Please disregard.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Change of focus around this tank as I wait for everything to fall into place.

Livestock Update
I ended up losing all but 3 of the pygmy corys, once again to sudden fitting. This has happened twice now after large water changes, so am looking into pH/gH/kH but three different tests are giving 3 different readings. Of course I always match temperatures and treat with Prime. Not stressing too much about it now though as I won't be getting any new stock for a while, and certainly won't be trying pygmy corys again.

Fortunately, the endlers are hard as nails and doing great! Juvenile fry are now 6 weeks old and colouring up nicely, I believe I have 12. There's also 3 fry that I'd guess are around 1-2 weeks old. Predation from siblings was pretty heavy this time, but I suppose that's the way nature is - and it stops me from getting overstocked too quickly. I'll be selling a trio later this week, but am still gauging local interest and plan on keeping the best of the juvies a) in case they do sell well locally and b) to mature the tank ready for later inhabitants...

Although not 100% set in stone yet, my mum is planning on raising some of the fry from her breeding group of Gold Laser Corys (CW010) as the current shoal is getting a bit older and no eggs/fry have reached maturity since adding other tankmates a few years ago. Realistically, I won't be taking any fry until after the new year, probably Spring, so this allows for the tank to mature and for me to work out water parameters/additives etc. Hopefully they'll thrive up here as the water is a bit softer, but they've been pretty hardy in the 8+ years that my family have kept them, who incidentally can't seem to keep pygmy corys alive either. Should they thrive, I'll certainly think about setting up a breeding tank as odd corys are popular round here.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Plant Update

Everything doing well enough apart from my largest clump of anubias nana petite, which melted to nothing in less than 48 hours. I had it out of the tank for 20 minutes or so while rearranging some rocks, so perhaps it dried out. Everything else is growing slowly but surely, which is fine by me, although I could do with getting some more root tabs. Thinking about getting a dwarf lily/tiger lotus for the back-right of the tank as I've now got a large space there, but that will need more light than I'm currently providing.

Equipment Plans

Lights
No new equipment as of yet, but I'll finally be getting actual lights for the tank later this month. I'm thinking 2 of these:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075D9N...olid=3VOKG9IJ7ORCR&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

As the tank is in a bay window, I've not wanted to try out new lighting until now, simply because winter's dark enough that I should be able to figure out lighting periods, intensity, etc. without too much of an algae breakout. My plan for the first attempt is to have them on 7am-9am and 4pm-10pm all at 50% brightness, and then work it out from there. We'll see how it goes - I've certainly been wrong before!

Cover
Another plan that won't begin until the new year, but I've starting planning a DIY collapsible cover. The thread is here https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/...lapsible-tank-cover-tell-me-why-im-wrong.html, but here's a very scientific & accurate post-it note mock-up should you not fancy reading it. I'm lucky to have a friend who specialises in laser-cut acrylic, so will be using this, netting, and non-permanent adhesives.
 

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