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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Setup:
  • UNS 4.1G Nano tank
  • Fluval Nano Plant Light
  • DIY CO2 - Will be installed on 1/7
  • Flourite Black Sand
  • AquaSolum Black Humate
  • Super Naturals Gravel

Plants:
  • Frogbit
  • Alternanthera Reineckii
  • Christmas Moss
  • Java Fern
  • Didiplis Diandra
Additives:
  • Aquarium Co-op Easy Green Fertilizer

Fish:
  • 3 Blue Danio
This tank is a bit of an experiment. I watched some videos on filterless planted tank setups with thick substrate, and this is my first (hopefully last for this tank) attempt.
I did not rinse my substrate. In retrospect, I probably should have, but I used RO water from my LFS, and I was trying to avoid introducing anything from the tap. It is slowly clearing up and pretty quickly given that there is no filter.

My quality readings so far are perfect, and the pH is ~6.8. Obviously, it is very early in the cycle, but I am hoping that my plant to fish ratio is going to make this a soft landing.

I am going to wash down the glass this weekend. I have one more plant shipment (banana plant, java moss mat, anubias nana, and tiger lotus) and the CO2 left to do. Once I am done this weekend, I will clean up the glass. I also recognize that the tiger lotus might be a bit much after looking at the current state. I ordered a bulb, but I might end up donating it to my LFS without even planting it.

Day 1:


Day 3:


Areas of Concern:
I am using the mat that came with the tank but there is a slight overhang. The bottom panel is fully supported, but do we have a problem here?

 

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Nice little setup there! I wouldn't think that little overhang would pose any issues. There is next to no weight hanging off, and all of the water weight is supported on the mat. But someone with more physics knowledge may be able to give you a more sophisticated response 馃
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Checked the UNS promotional materials and they also show the gap on the corner, so I feel better about that.

Added new plants from Aquarium Co-Op yesterday: banana plant, java moss mat, anubias nana, and tiger lotus
Also added 5 amano shrimps because my moss and substrate needed something to pick through it.

I added a CO2 checker and the DIY CO2 with yeast and sugar. Nothing came out unless I squeezed, and then I moved the diffuser up a little more in the tank. The bubbles started coming out a perfect rate. After a few hours I got worried that I overfilled my bottle and I went to disassemble so that I could get rid of some of the solution, it shot straight up in the air and made a bit of a mess. I am switching to citric acid and baking soda in the hopes that it will be less sticky!

I woke up this morning to a green CO2 checker and pearling from the plants! Will post pics later today.

Took readings yesterday before CO2 and adding the shrimp and the results were perfect. Might be too perfect in terms of plants getting ammonia and nitrate. Hoping it is because there a balance for now.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I have been watching my tank for well over an hour, and I had some things to add...

CO2 status: GREEN
My CO2 checker was a yellowish green this morning (almost added too much!), and has darkened as the day has gone on, but it still isn't blue. There are still bubbles coming off just about every plant. The moss is full of bubbles. The AR sometimes sends out a stream of little bubbles. The frogbit is catching a lot of the bubbles in their roots/tendrils and it looks cool.

Inhabitants:
The three blue danios appear to be two females and one male. I am assuming this based on the male being torpedo shaped and having a caudal fin shaped like a boomerang. The females have triangular caudal fins and round bellies. I do not know if it is because they are preggers or if they are well fed. One of the females is quite large and literally, in charge. Both of the females chase the male around at times.

The 5 amano shrimp were swimming around all over the place yesterday. This morning, I didn't see them and got worried that the CO2 dosing was too much, they jumped out, or... However, they are happily hanging out under the rock with Christmas moss glued to it and cleaning under there. This is exactly what I hoped for and why I resisted the urge to add 2-3 ottos. I figured the shrimp could do the same if not better job of housekeeping with a lower bio load.

Easy Green:
Given that I used only RO water, I have my lights on the default "Pro" setting from Fluval, which is 100% for part of the day, and with the CO2, I have been dosing easy green a little more than the medium light settings of two drops per one gallon twice a week. Normally this would be about 16 drops per week, and I think I have added about 22. However, I had way more frogbit that I needed at the start (I think) based on what I read about the plant. So I think a lot of it might have been sucked up by plants that have since been removed.

I have ordered one of these kits after watching a video about it. The plan is to hook it up to the two bottles required for baking soda and citric acid produced CO2. I do not think I will dose again until this is delivered as I want something that can vent if the pressure gets too much.
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
CO2 Status: BLUE - I expected this. I only ran my CO2 on Friday night, but it took two days to go to blue. My citric acid should be here today, and the cap and valve assembly will be here tomorrow.

Plants:
  • Tiger Lily - really perked up within two days of putting it in the tank, but I am not going to keep it. It will be way too big and block too much light, but it is a nice canary in the coal mine right now.
  • Didiplis Diandra - This stuff is really taking off. Lots of new growth.
  • Moss - The christmas moss was sold in little containers like what you get ketchup in at Five Guys. Some of it was brown when I put it in. After the CO2, the stuff that was green has really turned green, but the stuff that is brown is probably a lost cause. The java moss was all green when I put it in, and some of it turned brown, but the rest is green and moving upwards. Conclusion: I really think I was lacking enough nutrients when I put the moss in, but it seems that things are getting better, not worse.
  • Alternanthera Reineckii - This stuff looked a little rough when I got it. My daughter picked it out because she liked the red and pink. I lost some leaves, but the CO2 REALLY seemed to help. I have hope that these are going to do well. I put a root tab down in the soil for them.
  • Banana Plant - Little growth at the top coming in!

Livestock:
The female danios couldn't be healthier. I feel horrible for the male. He hides 90% of the time. So much so that I thought he was MIA and presumed dead yesterday.
Shrimp are really doing a great job cleaning up the substrate.

Water quality:
pH ~7.0 - The water was green
ammonia was 0.0 ppm - The water was almost clear with a tint of yellow
nitrites 0.0 ppm - The water was blue

Lessons learned:
I really need to put grow tabs in the soil on day 1
Less frogbit is more
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Giving my male danio 50/50 on making it through the month. He runs when I try to feed in his area or gets run off when the females detect the food. He is really puny compared to the females.

Forget month, 50/50 making it this week. He swims near the surface, and stops swimming sometimes. I have tried to catch him in the net, but he perks up and swims away when I come to the water.

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I do not want to jinx it, but the plants seem to be doing well.
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The shrimp are working hard, and seem to be doing great. The two remaining danios are happy as ever.

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Expecting a green CO2 indicator tomorrow morning!

Also trading half my frogbit for some ramshorn snails with a friend on Monday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update: Everything looks good, but green algae popping up more, so I took my lights down to below 50% power. Snails and shrimp continue to do a great job. I think I have a baby ramshorn that might have come from a plant I bought because it was too soon and only one to be from any of the snails I added.

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Things are going great!

Livestock status:
5 Ramshorns - But I see an additional 2-3 little ones and 1 trumpet or assassin snail - too young for me to tell. These had to have come in on a plant
10 shrimp - 5 amano and I added 5 new cherries!
2 blue danio - the third in the image below is a reflection
Everyone is doing great. I have gone through a few panic periods of "All my shrimp are dead!" and then later I see them all congregating on the moss where I drop food for them.


CO2:
The DIY injection system is doing great. However, I have tried two different diffusers, and long story short, I have had a hard time dialing it down to where I feel comfortable leaving it running. I might add a bubble counter and see if having a few more stops along the way will give me the ability to regulate the output better. Right now I run it for about an hour and turn it off. I ran it for four hours the other day and my fish were hanging out at the top of the tank, so I quickly ran an air pump to get some oxygen. This leads me to another finding though that might have an impact on how much CO2 is lingering...

Plants:
I have realized that I still had too much frogbit. I removed a bunch today and pushed it to the front over the moss and the anubias nanas. As soon as I did this, all the plants started bubbling, it was almost instantaneous. I started running my lights at 50% a few days ago, so now the location and number of frogbit plants really matter. This might have been causing too much CO2 to build up, so I might try running it longer and see what happens. You can see all the bubble pearls now in the pic. The moss is really getting green and healthy. You can see in the previous pics that there was a lot of browning/melting when it first went in. I really think that my water wasn't full of enough nutrients at the time. Banana plant is growing quickly! AR looks a lot better than it did at the fish store! The didiplis diandra is going nuts!


Water:
The tests look great! No nitrites and 20 ppm nitrates, which makes sense because of the Aquarium Co-Op fert I am using. I put a Wonder Shell in (white mass in front of the buddha), but might switch to egg shells if it doesn't work. If I keep using them, I will move to the back, but this one is in the front for now in case I have to remove it quickly.

Algae:
I have some green hair and green spot algae. I am OK with this. Based on my light situation, the inverts, and how well the plants are doing, I expect this to taper off. None of the brown or black hair stuff (knock on wood).


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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
All my pictures look cloudier than they really are. I think is because of the angle and the frogbit roots. I am happy to report that a metal check valve and bubble counter did the trick with slowing the flow down to something I am comfortable with. Hoping to see my fish breathing well tonight.
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Hiya! I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the 5 scarlet badis you've added has definitely overstocked your tank. Scarlet Badis need a minimum of 5 gallons, and a group of 5 needs 20. Your 4.1 gallon is definitely under and with the deep substrate, you effectively only have maybe 2.5-3 gallons of swimming space to work with. In addition, scarlet badis are predators and will most likely hunt your shrimp. Maybe someone more experienced can chime in but the 2 danios, shrimp, and snails are probably the limit of what your tank can handle. Generally it's about an inch of fish per gallon of water.

I'd also recommend against the CO2 if you're trying a filter-less setup. You won't have any flow to move the water around and you have no agitation of the surface to promote oxygen exchange, which might be why your fish were gasping earlier when you had your CO2 running for longer than an hour. Normally people can run their CO2 for around the same amount of time as their lights. Except for the AR, everything else should be fine in non-CO2, just not grow as explosively. Also at night, plants can use up oxygen in the water, further suffocating your fish. Might be good to run your air pump overnight if you notice gasping.

Also, you shouldn't bury your anubias' rhizome in the soil, it'll rot if it's buried, especially if you don't have flow from a filter. You can glue or tie it to a rock or wood. Epiphytes like anubias get all their nutrients from the water column.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi @geraldk,

Thanks for the response.

Regarding the badis and the shrimp, based on what I read, it was my understanding that grown shrimp are safe and it is the baby shrimp that will be a target. Is that correct? As for the load, that makes complete sense. I am probably going to take them back for another reason as well, their finicky eating habits.

Regarding the CO2, so as long as there is agitation on the surface, I should be good? So a constantly running airstone, or at least one that runs at night?

As for the Anubias, they are attached to the sides of a rock that the moss is also glued to. So the rhizome is sitting on the surface, but not buried in the substrate. My ferns have the rhizome on the surface as well. Only my AR and DD plants are planted below the surface. In the case of the anubias, since they are tucked in the moss, but above the surface, is the moss going to do the same thing to the rhizome as if it was buried?
 

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Regarding the badis and the shrimp, based on what I read, it was my understanding that grown shrimp are safe and it is the baby shrimp that will be a target. Is that correct? As for the load, that makes complete sense. I am probably going to take them back for another reason as well, their finicky eating habits.
Hmm, your amanos are probably OK but your adult cherry shrimp might be iffy. I don't have any personal experience with scarlet badis, have just read that they're generally not a good shrimp companion.

Regarding the CO2, so as long as there is agitation on the surface, I should be good? So a constantly running airstone, or at least one that runs at night?
If you're constantly running an airstone, that's probably better. I found this article really helpful in understanding CO2 and gaseous exchange. So even though the bubbles will make it less efficient, it makes your CO2 available for your plants only when they need it and makes it more comfy for your livestock. You won't get the spreading of CO2 like a filter would give you but in a small 4.1 gallon tank maybe it doesn't matter much. Like you've found before, having it collect below your floating plants will make it tricky, they probably act like bell diffusers.

As for the Anubias, they are attached to the sides of a rock that the moss is also glued to. So the rhizome is sitting on the surface, but not buried in the substrate. My ferns have the rhizome on the surface as well. Only my AR and DD plants are planted below the surface. In the case of the anubias, since they are tucked in the moss, but above the surface, is the moss going to do the same thing to the rhizome as if it was buried?
You're doing it right then! About the moss thing, I'm not sure. I guess just keep a close eye on it. If you notice rot, it's best to quickly cut it off with a sharp knife before it spreads to the whole plant.
 
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