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4.12 Gallons, "The Missing Link"

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He we are again, the beginning of a tank.

The influx of information has at times been overwhelming, but I'm looking forward to the completion of this project.

I have only started putting it together, so that's where we are starting.

Table of Contents

Update #1 - Curse of the Black Water

Update #2 - Let There Be Light

Update #3 - I Got an Itch I just Can't Scratch


Equipment:

4.12 Gallon Aquatop Cube 9.84"x9.84"x9.84".
Hagen Elite Mini Filter
My Marina 10c Heater from previous tank (I realize it is a little underrated, but the heater that I got with the tank is a little unreliable. I will replace it in the future.)





I purchased all this for $60 (plus gravel that I won't use, a thermometer and the aforementioned heater). So it was a pretty sweet deal I couldn't pass up. Craigslist may not be the best place to find your soulmate, but fish tanks are another story. The seller had promised another buyer who bailed on the last minute, and I was trying to avoid letting my husband know about it too soon. So I waited over a week before I picked it up, then had it in my house for a week before I admitted to having it, and it only surfaced last night when I started working on it.

It will also be using the light from my marineland 20 gallon tank, which fits perfect across the top, but I will also be replacing this in short order. This is all just to get it started and running.. I will also need to make or find a top for it, but seeing as my LFS sells aquatop, I may be able to find something there. Otherwise I will do something DIY.

I will be replacing a small 2.5 gallon tank that currently houses my betta, and attempting a nature scape. The idea behind this is someone picks up a section of the riverbed and looks into it.

I picked up this neat piece of driftwood from my LFS when my mom came to visit on the weekend. It has flat ends which will allow me to do interesting things with my scape. I let it sit in water for 3 days and cleaned it. It is independently heavy, so it had no problem sinking immediately. 3 days was just because I was too busy to do anything with it sooner.





Now enter aquarium safe silicone! (Can you find the cat? She kept trying to cover my driftwood in cat hair.)



Before I applied silicone to anything, I spent awhile positioning the flat edge in the tank, where it had the most contact, and also figuring out the proper height. My super professional elevation tools worked out really well for placement.

I placed the silicone on the wood where it touched the tank, and then proceeded to place it on my elevation tools and squeeze more silicone in some of the gaps. I'm leaving it for 24 hours to cure before I remove the elevation tools and begin the rest of my hardscape.





View of the silicone:



I used q-tips while the silicone was just out of the tube, to clean up most of the excess. While it was tacky, I used toothpicks to scrape away the thin film around the adhesion points. I will probably go over it more closely today once I'm sure pressure won't make the whole thing fall.

I plan on using pool filter sand as a cap for a thin layer of soil, and have purchased several plants from tropica. I am planning on a semi dry start because I still need to find some moss before I flood it.

I placed the sponge from the filter into my penguin biowheel when I got the tank last week so it could be colonized when I go to add it to the filter.

The Plants:

Helanthium

Heteranthera

S Repens.

The tank will live on my desk, and House Sterling, my lovely Betta.



That's all for now, more when more happens!
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That's all for now, more when more happens!
What is the silver yo-yo or grinder looking device by the cat food?
I like to lift my driftwood too.
The small but strong pieces of driftwood that spread out about the size of a credit card is what I try to put under the big chunks.
It helps with circulation and dead spots or to find dead fish bodies in the smallest places.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What is the silver yo-yo or grinder looking device by the cat food?
Well, it isn't a yo-yo. I didn't even think about it beyond it being the perfect size for what I needed.

I like to lift my driftwood too.
The small but strong pieces of driftwood that spread out about the size of a credit card is what I try to put under the big chunks.
It helps with circulation and dead spots or to find dead fish bodies in the smallest places.
Do you have any pictures of this technique? I really only plan on having the betta and a snail in there. Maybe some shrimp once it's established. But I'm going to try and have my filter down a little so it will have a lower flow in the tank.

Do you think that will help, or is my theory bunk?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Update #1 - Curse of the Black Water

It looks kind of like an elongated skull.



Anyhow, my silicone job was top notch and I got off all of the excess the night before, so I didn't have to go over it again today. It looks really cool in natural light, and I'm pretty sure it is Malaysian driftwood. There will be a slight tint to the water, but I will be making a charcoal filter with purigen as the media once I have some time on my hands, so I am not too concerned.





From here I washed my lava rocks:



Got some mesh laundry bags from the dollar store, and put the rocks inside. I placed them as a small brace at the bottom of the driftwood because that is where most of the weight will be.



Next I put in a small layer of dirt, then sprayed it down with a water bottle treated with prime, to clean the sides of the tank, as well as ensure I covered up the bag and settled on the dirt. Just enough water that it was soaked and barely start to pool.



Next I capped the soil with pool filter sand, using a small cup so I could have greater control of the flow, rather than holding a 20 lb bag, and ruining it all. I brushed the excess sand away with handy dandy paintbrushes and leveled the sand with my scaping spatula, and wet it all down again to promote settling.









Then I started planting:



By this point it had started raining so I finished my planting inside:





In between this shot and the next one, I had gone and moved the stereo from my desk to replace it with the tank. I tried putting some stuff away, treated some water, and covered the scape with a sliced open plastic bag so it wouldn't disturb the scape to have water poured in.

And then, I turned the filter on.

Now the thing with the Hagen Elite internal filter is the output of water is movable, and it is also adjustable in terms of flow. When I put the sponge in, not only did I replace the limiter backwards, I also pointed it at the driftwood that was planted with s repens... and dirt.

It was my 20 gallon tank all over again.



Yeah. I ain't havin' none of that.

So I drained it, and refilled it. Re positioned the filter and the heater.







 

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Well, it isn't a yo-yo. I didn't even think about it beyond it being the perfect size for what I needed.



Do you have any pictures of this technique? I really only plan on having the betta and a snail in there. Maybe some shrimp once it's established. But I'm going to try and have my filter down a little so it will have a lower flow in the tank.

Do you think that will help, or is my theory bunk?
I'll see what I can get, but for now, most of the tips in the picture are touching the ground to prevent dead spots.
As much "off" the ground is the key for me.




Betta tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I like it.
It's Jane Goodall's Tanzania theme.


Omg, this is amazing. I'm going to name my tank "the missing link"

Thank you.

Thank you.

Also, in regards to:

I'll see what I can get, but for now, most of the tips in the picture are touching the ground to prevent dead spots.
As much "off" the ground is the key for me.




Betta tank.
Your tanks are awesome by the way. I checked out your fishroom album too, and I'm a little jealous. I'm excited to have the tank on my desk again where I can see it everyday. However, do you think that my positioning is alright then?

I believe that I have enough space underneath, and ensured that I minimized the amount of dirt and sand underneath the actual driftwood to allow flow, as well as to create a natural hiding spot for my betta.

Thank you for your input and clarification, it really helps. This is only my second tank, and I have a much clearer idea on how it all works now. I'm glad I started with the 20 gallon first, because there was a lot of stuff that I had to do before I could really appreciate the theory of it versus the application. Doing that on a larger scale brought the minutia into focus.

If that makes sense.

wow, you have a vision that's for sure lol!
If only everything else in my mind came out like this one did! I would be surrounded by beautiful things. Haha
 

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Omg, this is amazing. I'm going to name my tank "the missing link"

Thank you.

Thank you.

Also, in regards to:



Your tanks are awesome by the way. I checked out your fishroom album too, and I'm a little jealous. I'm excited to have the tank on my desk again where I can see it everyday. However, do you think that my positioning is alright then?

I believe that I have enough space underneath, and ensured that I minimized the amount of dirt and sand underneath the actual driftwood to allow flow, as well as to create a natural hiding spot for my betta.

Thank you for your input and clarification, it really helps. This is only my second tank, and I have a much clearer idea on how it all works now. I'm glad I started with the 20 gallon first, because there was a lot of stuff that I had to do before I could really appreciate the theory of it versus the application. Doing that on a larger scale brought the minutia into focus.

If that makes sense.



If only everything else in my mind came out like this one did! I would be surrounded by beautiful things. Haha
I think your nano looks great.
This forum has some studs and 'chikas with planted tanks that smash mine! Thanks though.
I learned it from youtube and the forum.:proud:


I would let it stay close to how you have it, and then learn from the build up or errors, if any that have been made.
Learn from the experience. I think you may be just fine, but will "tweak" the little things in time.
-possibly and Eheim Skim 350 if there is any surface film.

I aimed the Skim350 near the rear back.
If you aim the output at an object, it will not be so crazy of a stream.
Even a diffuser on the output would help.

I purchased the Skim350, and I like it.
It's in the betta tank I posted previously today way over there on the left of the rimless 12long Mr aqua.

As for the pics on the credit card sized driftwood to hold up larger stuff...

The small piece of driftwood (blue square) has a long leg coming off of it, and it holds on to other wood using a black zip tie (red circle).
It all hides well.



I'll PM my Flickr account.
There are more pics and a Youtube channel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Because I am giving away my betta tank this weekend, I have to:

a) set up this nano for Sterling

and

b) set up the other tank for a long car ride.

Normally I would like to let the new tank sit for a week before I added Sterling, but I don't have the luxury at this point.

So I took out about a 1/3 of the water from the nano, and replaced it with water from Sterling's current tank, and put him in it last night.

He immediately discovered the natural hiding place underneath the driftwood and hid under there until I went to bed. I think he was initially a little upset at being moved.

However, this morning...

What a happy little fish he was.



He had discovered multiple ways to access the cave under the driftwood, and was very present while I was getting dressed and ready for work. He didn't eat this morning, but when I first put him in his old tank, he didn't either, so this isn't alarming behaviour for him. He is the exact opposite of every other betta I have had and seems to be a little... sensitive?

Which is odd because when I picked him out, I did so because of his spunk. I think he may just be very aware and curious, but I may also be anthropomorphising. So. There's that.





But now he is home, and I get to sit and watch him, and I'm excited.

Now to find whomever introduced me to aquabid and dismember them...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow, your betta is gorgeous. Nice tank!
Thank you! He has started to have some red show up these last few weeks which is adding a lot to his interesting...ness. Super glad that I have him on my desk now because he interacts with me for hours at a time while I do homework.

I'm glad you find him as beautiful as I do! :3
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Cool tanks, really making me want to start a new tank with sand
I can honestly say that given the choice between the fluorite and sand, for a dirted tank cap, I will now go sand everytime. I may mix some fluorite with the soil moving forward to help with nutrient release, but the cap really makes the scape for me.

Long story short, do it.

One con: you see the debris. But a good cleaning helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Update #2 - Let There Be Light

So, rather than spend $30+ on a nano light, which was a converted desk light, or $100 for a true nano light, I went the cheap route because the Scottish in me just couldn't justify another dollar.

So for a grand $8 and free shipping I bought a cell phone holder to hold the light from my 20 gallon. And let me tell you, I am once again pleasantly chuffed at my ingenuity. It works perfect. I'm going to eventually move it behind my cube, but I wanted to demonstrate my genius. I have a cat who likes to rub her face on things, specifically things that I am paying attention to instead of her and I really did not want to electrocute my fish. (The light was just resting on the glass as the "lids" are not here yet.)

Yes.

Lid(S).



Sterling is beautiful as always, lounging on his moss. Pablo made an appearance today too, although I suspect he may still be having troubles with the sand. Took him a solid hour to make it from where I dropped him into the tank to the moss ball. A grand 5 cm.



That's all I have for you folks. This tank is waiting to grow in, and I am incredibly happy with it, so I don't imagine it will have as many updates. However what I can tell you, is that they will all be beautiful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
whenever my cat drinks out of my tank, I jump up really fast from where I am and smack the **** out of him until he is off the counter.
Jk,
I just shove him off >:)

Lol well she is 17, so I can't be too physical :p It's more when I am not there because she sleeps on my bed, so I know she is just drinking while I'm not looking. I ordered clips and clear plastic plates to cover my tank. They are square, and I can cut them to make room for cords if need be. They will just take awhile to get here :)
 
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