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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Marine Depot's liquidation sale was the perfect opportunity to start a third tank. Got the Lifegard 9.6 gallon rimless low-iron tank, an ONF nano, and decided to give the Dennerle soil a shot. Figured it would be a great addition to one of the empty hallway spaces in our home.

Specs:

Tank: Lifegard 9.6g rimless low-iron
Filter: SunSun 603b w/ Dymax lily pipes
Light: ONF Flat Nano

Substrate: Dennerle Scaper's Soil and ADA Colorado sand.
Hardscape: Petrified wood rock, crushed red lava rock, and root driftwood.

Plants:
  • Staurogyne repens
  • Hygrophila pinnatifida
  • Anubias nana
  • Ludwigia super red

First I had to build a stand. I used a relatively common stand design and sized it to my tank. this was my first attempt at doing any woodworking so it was fun to get all the necessary tools and try my hand at putting together a nice looking custom stand.

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The basic frame without any additional support added yet. The finished product has more supports added at each corner. I opted to stain it with a nice weathered gray color and added two coats of poly to finish it.

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My local aquscaping shop has a massive selection of hardscape and a sand test bed available to try out different designs. I pieced this design together with two pieces of driftwood and two differently sized petrified rocks. I really lock the color on these rocks a lot. By positioning the large feature stone in the front corner I felt I was able to create some depth along the hardscape line. The vertical orientation of the wood breaks up the artificial line just enough to bring back a natural look.

I used a new trick that I saw MD Fishtank's use with his hardscape. Since I didn't soak my driftwood I opted to secure it to the rocks to hold it in place. Using a couple of my wife's makeup remover pads I was able to create somewhat of a superglue cement bond between the rocks and the wood. Simply take the size of the cotton pad that you need, wet it, place it between the pieces of hardscape, and apply super glue followed by some sprinkles of sand to lock in the bond and hide the residue.

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With the substrate and decorative pebbles (crushed red lava rock) added in.

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With such a small tank I was able to make only a few tropica pots go pretty far. One pot of s. repens filled the back left corner of aquasoil and one anubias nana was split into two for the wood. Behind the wood I split a single hygrophila pinnatifida into two stems and attached them to lava rock to keep them in place until they root. I added some ludwigia super red in the other corner, but that'll probably get pulled out once the hygro starts to multiply. Unpictured are a bunch of salvinia and frogbit added in to soak up the excess nutrients while the soil cycles.

Lights are set for 6 hours a day on 75% for now. I may reduce the lighting but I think with the light so high off the substrate right now, 75% is a good place to start. The SunSun nano canister is a great design, and its price is hard to beat. In stock configuration the flow is lower than I expected. I think this is because it comes chock full of sponges. I'll take half of those out and replace with higher-flow biomedia. Hopefully this increases flow a bit. With that said, these lily pipes have a huge outflow and that is likely also reduces the actual flow output.

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Looking ahead:

I have a carpet of hydrocotyle japan that's in a wiremat sitting in my 75g show tank. I don't really want to keep it in there and it was only placed in there while I waited to scape this tank. Now that I have this set up, I'm wondering if I want to introduce it at all. I may give it a shot while the tank goes through its start-up fits to increase the plant mass and I can always take it out.

Still trying to decide if I want to add CO2. I am considering taking the CO2 system out of my desktop shrimp tank and converting that to a lowtech tank. This would work since the high tech plants in the shrimp tank aren't really popping anyway and growth rates aren't a concern with a 3.7g cube.

Haven't even thought very much about stocking yet. Initially we were considering pea puffers (even started a ramshorn colony!) but until we see where the pH stabilizes at with a small amount of aquasoil we can't pull the trigger on alkaline fish like dwarf puffers. If those are out of the question It'll probably be a small school of nano tetras or another bright fish. By the end of the week I'll likely toss some of my otos in there to start munching on any algae that appears. Tank will be cycled with some of my long-established media out of other canisters.
 

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Nice looking tank and great job on the stand!
 

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This is a terrific setup. THIS(!) is how red lava rock should be used - as an accent to bring out the reds in other hardscape. It's going to look so great when as it ages. Really great stand, too.

I snagged both the 5.4 & 9.6 gal Lifegard tanks, as well as the ONF fixture, and have been toying with which tank to use it on. Have been leaning toward the 5.4 but your setup has be questioning that plan. Looks great.

Also nice to read your take on the 603B's flow. Have had one sitting unopened for a long time and if it's really got a subdued flow when using the included sponges, then that means it's going to be a great filter for a shrimp tank.

A large group of Danio margaritatus/Celestial Pearl Danio or even one of the smaller Boraras species would look remarkable in a tank like that.

If you already have Ramshorns, I'd go ahead and chuck a few of em in there to deal with algae and all the new tank stuff. Some batches of the Dennerle stuff can release ammonia for longer than they suggest. I like it a lot as a mid-range substrate and it's going to do really well with S. repens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is a terrific setup. THIS(!) is how red lava rock should be used - as an accent to bring out the reds in other hardscape. It's going to look so great when as it ages. Really great stand, too.

I snagged both the 5.4 & 9.6 gal Lifegard tanks, as well as the ONF fixture, and have been toying with which tank to use it on. Have been leaning toward the 5.4 but your setup has be questioning that plan. Looks great.

Also nice to read your take on the 603B's flow. Have had one sitting unopened for a long time and if it's really got a subdued flow when using the included sponges, then that means it's going to be a great filter for a shrimp tank.

A large group of Danio margaritatus/Celestial Pearl Danio or even one of the smaller Boraras species would look remarkable in a tank like that.

If you already have Ramshorns, I'd go ahead and chuck a few of em in there to deal with algae and all the new tank stuff. Some batches of the Dennerle stuff can release ammonia for longer than they suggest. I like it a lot as a mid-range substrate and it's going to do really well with S. repens.
Thanks!

I think the ONF works fine on either tank. But this one is definitely not capable of getting high light in the front of the 9.6g. I actually scaped this with the light's limitations in mind. With the smaller lifegard tank you'd have significant light coverage on the entire surface area of the tank. In hindsight I should have upgraded my shrimp tank with the 5.4 rimless!

Good to know about the Dennerle substrate. It didn't have any isntructions for water changes so I was just going to assume I could use the usual ADA schedule during start up. Ramshorns will go in along with the otos once I have a chance to add some cycled media to the canister. I always hate opening those things up and messing with media once they're up and running but in these cases it is a necessary evil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Plants are beginning to settle in nicely and the snails have kept any initial algae at bay for now. My biggest gripe has been an overwhelming amount of snail poop. The surface skimmer in the back is just a temporary item that runs an hour a day while I deal with an annoying bout of surface scum. I'm not sure if the plants or wood are causing this, but ammonia remains zero and regular water changes continue.

I added some hydrocotyle "japan" in the foreground in the hope that it'll loosely start to fill in the sandy areas with some light foliage. I also added a bunch of val to the back to create some contrast with the hygro (which is starting to branch out nicely and will probably explode in the next couple of weeks). My biggest success has been snagging to rhyzome of bucephalandra "godzilla" for $8.99 total. I'm tempted to go back to the store and get a couple more. What do you think?

I tossed in ten chili rasboras as the first real stock. I haven't decided if I'll add another ten of these or perhaps look for some galaxy rasboras around me. I'm leaning toward the latter but first I want to see how these ten chilis warm up to the tank. Ordering neocaridina shrimp on Monday to add some more low-bioload activity to the tank. Leaning toward black but may opt for something more colorful like blue. I have a tank full of red neos but their numbers took a hit during a rescape and I don't want to risk nuking that colony.

Also mulling over a single male apisto. I think the wood provides a good amount of cover and territory for a solo apisto. Unfortuantely, most stores near me only sell pairs.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Went back the next day to double the size of my rasbora school :ROFLMAO: They just looked so nice that I had to get a full school of 20. I"m skeptical as to whether these are chili rasboras or phoenix rasboras. They're commonly sold under the wrong names and these guys don't have the typical long black stripe that chilis have. But until they've settled in for a few weeks it'll be hard to gauge their coloration properly. Nonetheless, it made all the more sense to round out the school with the same fish while I could.

Also took advantage of their sale on buce to get three more bucephelandra gozdilla and two pots of spiky moss. Since I've committed (for the time being) to a species only tank I wanted to add additional greenery for the potentially skittish nano rasboras. They seem to be fine without the additional cover but it can't hurt to add more.

Ordered a starter colony of sunkist orange neos to provide some ground action. Very excited about how this tank is turning out.

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Plants are beginning to settle in nicely and the snails have kept any initial algae at bay for now. My biggest gripe has been an overwhelming amount of snail poop. The surface skimmer in the back is just a temporary item that runs an hour a day while I deal with an annoying bout of surface scum. I'm not sure if the plants or wood are causing this, but ammonia remains zero and regular water changes continue.

I added some hydrocotyle "japan" in the foreground in the hope that it'll loosely start to fill in the sandy areas with some light foliage. I also added a bunch of val to the back to create some contrast with the hygro (which is starting to branch out nicely and will probably explode in the next couple of weeks). My biggest success has been snagging to rhyzome of bucephalandra "godzilla" for $8.99 total. I'm tempted to go back to the store and get a couple more. What do you think?

I tossed in ten chili rasboras as the first real stock. I haven't decided if I'll add another ten of these or perhaps look for some galaxy rasboras around me. I'm leaning toward the latter but first I want to see how these ten chilis warm up to the tank. Ordering neocaridina shrimp on Monday to add some more low-bioload activity to the tank. Leaning toward black but may opt for something more colorful like blue. I have a tank full of red neos but their numbers took a hit during a rescape and I don't want to risk nuking that colony.

Also mulling over a single male apisto. I think the wood provides a good amount of cover and territory for a solo apisto. Unfortuantely, most stores near me only sell pairs.

View attachment 1031834
Hi there! I am selling my chili rasboras if interested!
 

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Any updates?
 
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