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Complexity Journal: 2.5g nano / Torn down for now.

27976 Views 53 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Complexity
Okay, I'll give this journaling idea a try. I'll start with my smallest tank, a 2.5 gallon nano that I set up for fun to house some guppy fry.

Current view as of 02/13/2008:

This poor tank is basically a breeding ground for algae at the moment, but considering how it got put together, it doesn't surprise me at all. I'm about to tear it all down and re-do it, substrate and all. I'd like some help with the design and in making it into a real planted nano tank.

Filter: Red Sea Nano. Tank began with no filter, just an air hose. Eventually got an air stone! Then, about two weeks later, I finally got the filter.

Substrate: A mix of black sand and some gray stuff from Seachem that had "onyx sand" on the bag, but it's not actual onyx sand. I finally had to ship in a bag of real onyx sand which is what I'll be switching to now.

Light: Currently has a 27w fluorescent "full spectrum" desk light. I had an aqualight on it, but it was far too hot and there was no way to mount it above the tank. The plants are growing well with the desk light as is the algae.

Plants: Bacopa (growing well, need to trim it down, Vals (being removed so I can use excel), Banana Plants (doing their thing, have put down roots), Micro Sword (doing okay, but could do better).

I bought a small "red melon sword" plant last night (I know it'll outgrow the tank; it'll get moved to the 75g later). I also got some kind of crypt, but can't remember the name now. Tall and thin. I can also move some of my crypt wendtii from my 20L to this tank. I have some small Java Fern and plenty of Java Moss I could add, as well.

Decor: I stuck a piece of wood in it. Real design work! :icon_lol: I have lots more small driftwood; plus, lots of river rocks in all sizes from pebbles on up. So I have a lot of decor I could add if I only had a design sense.

Ferts: You mean I'm supposed to fertilize the plants? No ferts so far, but I intend to use the Flourish stuff I already bought.

Animals: Guppy/Endler mix/hybrid fry that's growing like crazy. Later, I may use this tank for some microrasporas and shrimp.

Here are my shameful pictures of the poor tank. I knew I'd get algae like this, but I also knew I'd be changing the entire tank once I finally got everything in that I wanted.


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I think it just needs to be organized up a bit and it will look great.
I don't think it looks "shameful". Its not too bad except for the algae issues.. like James said a little organizing will help out a good bit. The gentle slope in the middle is cool, maybe add more substrate to the back or slope it a little back to front to give a little depth. I'm far from being decent at "aquascaping" myself though but there are some really awesome 2.5g layouts posted here if you do a little searching.
Thats a good bit of light over 2.5g without ferts or co2... I think thats the reason I'm able to keep my 2.5g algae free (only 8W flourescent).
Thanks! You are both very nice.

I'm going to be ripping the whole thing apart since I finally got the onyx sand that I wanted to use in the beginning.

All of the Vals have to go so I can use Excel. I intend to begin ferts once I've redesigned it all so, hopefully, I can find a balance between the lights, co2 (via excel) and ferts.

I've seen some really nice looking nanos, but I have a hard time figuring out how they did it. Give me something technical, and I can probably do okay with it. Give me something that requires design work, and I'm completely lost.

Maybe I'll play with some ideas on my computer before I do anything for real. Once I rip it all up, I will need to get it put back together with the new design pretty quickly since it already has fish.
I think it looks great - algae. You can fix that no problem. Keep your chin up, looks great!
Thanks! You are both very nice.

I'm going to be ripping the whole thing apart since I finally got the onyx sand that I wanted to use in the beginning.

All of the Vals have to go so I can use Excel. I intend to begin ferts once I've redesigned it all so, hopefully, I can find a balance between the lights, co2 (via excel) and ferts.

I've seen some really nice looking nanos, but I have a hard time figuring out how they did it. Give me something technical, and I can probably do okay with it. Give me something that requires design work, and I'm completely lost.

Maybe I'll play with some ideas on my computer before I do anything for real. Once I rip it all up, I will need to get it put back together with the new design pretty quickly since it already has fish.
That is not too bad. I think that the 27 watt lighting without c02 may be the cause of a lot of that algae. If that is green thread algae you could throw in a florida flag fish, black molly, or even florida flag fish and the algae will be toast. You can also use H202 treatment to attack it. Using a floating plant like cardamine lyrata may well help with the issue long term. But these are all only band aid solutions that do not address the cause.

I don't know if you have seen Tom Barr's low tech suggestion, but it may be worth exploring.

I set up a 5 gallon using this method and dose excel daily. With every water change, I dose a dash of nitrates, phosphates, Seachem Equilibrium, and Yamato Green for trace elements. The Amano Shrimp have double in size and are almost as big now as the 2 Dwarf Aquatic frogs, and the oto is still alive and kicking. The plants that appear to be doing really well in this tank are the apongenton bulbs, cardamine lyrata, ambulia, hygrophilia polysperma, and anubias nana and coffefilia.
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I had full intentions of using Tom's low tech fert idea, but got stuck when I found out I couldn't use excel with the vals. Thus, the beginning of the imbalance, causing the algae. I'm okay with that.

I still have to rip it all out. I never intended on that being the substrate. I want to switch it to the onxy sand. So by the time I change the substrate and remove all the vals, It'll be pretty much starting all over again. And I'm okay with that, as well. In fact, that was always the plan.

I just thought I'd start a journal for the little tank, beginning with its humble beginnings. I've been playing around with some design ideas using the computer so I might have something I could try tomorrow or maybe Friday (my Thursdays can get busy).

I'm hoping I can physically remove a lot of the algae, and for the vals, I'll put them in my 20L with my amano shrimp to clean off. The other plants I can try to kill it out by getting things properly balanced, mechanical removal and excel.
Yeah i would say that's an algae problem. I get a little bit of brown algae every 10 days or so in both my 6 and 10 gallon tanks. Mostly just on the glass, very little on the plants.

The thing I like about my Eclipse is that the substrate ferts seem to be supporting the plants enough for my taste. I have no ambition to do CO2.

I'm still learning the correct plants with the amount of light I have to work with. Don't feel bad, we all learn from doing things the wrong way first. Well, I know I do. I too am trying to figure out what I like and grows well before setting up my 55 I have been piecing together.

Good Luck!
Thanks, Ken! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one piecing together a larger tank while still trying to learn the plants and all.

I pulled out the largest val, cleaned it up, and stuck it in my 75. I'm not using my TEK lights on it yet so I don't think the hair algae can survive there. If it does, there's always my amano shrimp.

I'm thinking of doing some kind of little scene with this tank just to play around. Maybe a winding pathway with small river rocks in the middle with some hills and valleys. My craziest thought at the moment is to consider using java moss as a lawn. It's no different than a moss wall, only on the bottom. The tiny leaves is what I'm thinking of using it for.

Just ideas for now. :)
Regarding your vals and excel, I started overdosing my tank with excel to get rid of some nasty hair algae, and while I lost quite a lot of val leaves, I'd say that 75% of the leaves were fine (I have about 20 val rosettes in my tank). Now that I'm dosing normally with the excel, the plants are fine and growing well. I think they might just need to build up a tolerance, and I think some varieties might be more sensitive than others (mine are corkscrew).

Can I make some suggestions?
1. I'd veer away from a java moss lawn. Something like riccia would look much prettier. For a lawn, you probably wouldnt want to use the more expensive mosses (xmas, flame) either. Were you planning on using screens or typing the moss to slate or rocks to create the lawn? Java just always looks messy to me.
2. I think the little "scenic" scape might be really nice here. Its small enough that you can make a tiny white sand river, rock mountains, sticks for trees, what have you, as long as you're comfortable working on such a minute scale. And its so small with little investment in raw materials, you can just turn it upside down, shake, and start all over if you want to. :)
3. IMHO, small leaved-plants always look best in nano tanks. Large-leafed plants will make the tank look cramped and take away from the "hills and valleys" scene you described.

I think this little tank has a lot of potential. :)
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Thanks for the help, Frosty! I need to update this journal as I have already re-scaped the tank. I did many of the things you suggested!

I have some pictures from when I first re-scaped it (I think) so I'll try to get some of what it looks like now and post them together. I'm happy with some of it, but not all of it. It has been a good learning experience, though. I'm considering tearing it down and re-scaping it, fixing a few basics that I wish I had done the first time around.

I'll try to get the pictures posted either tonight or tomorrow sometime, but no promises.
Definitely post, so that we can learn from your successes and failures.
Unfortunately, it appears I didn't take any pictures right after the new design. I've been busy again the last few days so I had to put them on the back burner, but I'll try to get some pics tomorrow.

I'd like to get some critique on how to improve the design since I'm thinking of tearing it apart and trying again to fix the things I already know can be improved. It would be nice to get some other ideas before I do that.
First Rescape!

I finally took some pictures of my first rescaped 2.5g tank. I'm not completely happy with it, but I like it better than my first attempt.

I need to anchor down the driftwood because it constantly falls down every time I change the water. This has completely destroyed the mounded sand around it. It's also made a mess of the little java fern pieces I had around it. When I first planted this, the java fern created a "cliff" type of sloping around the driftwood which I really liked, but that's completely gone thanks to the driftwood falling down so much.

The biggest disappointment for me is that my "big idea" of making a pathway meander in the middle did not turn out at all the way I had hoped. You really can't even see it without looking almost straight down. It's also very hard to keep clean. The sand covers it very quickly with every water change no matter how careful I try to be.

Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with how well the plants are doing, especially since I don't dose this tank. I've had some problems with algae, but I'm managed to keep it from completely taking over.

I like that the tank has some color, thanks to the crypt wendtii 'bronze'. I took that from my 20L, and that stuff just grows like a weed. The color works nicely with the driftwood. I also like having a variety of plants considering how small the tank is.

There's some foxtail in the back that I originally tried to cover the filter intake, but it's not growing very well. It probably would like some CO2/Excel and ferts!

  • Substrate: Seachem Onyx Sand
  • Light: 27watt full spectrum florescent desk light (Superior 27-Watt 10,000-Hour Bulb Black Desk Lamp)
  • Light Duration: 12 hours, 9am - 9pm, I move the light closer and farther from the top of the tank as dictated by the plants and algae.
  • Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) - Tiny pieces on very small wood in the back. You really can't see them.
  • Silvermist Foxtail (Mayaca fluviatilis) (I think that's the right plant ID) - I intended for it to hide the filter intake, but it's not doing well. I'm sure it needs CO2/Excel and ferts which I'm not dosing.
  • Crypt (Cryptocoryne wendtii 'bronze') - Taken from my 20Long. That stuff grows like a weed! I like how the color compliments the color of the driftwood.
  • Pygmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus tenellus) - This is growing much taller than I ever expected! I had some in my 20long tank that was not doing well so I moved it to this tank. Plus, I bought a couple more to make sure I had some healthy ones. I guess it's they're growing so large because of the bright light?
  • Riccia (Riccia fluitans) - I ended up with some riccia when I saw it in a bag at a LFS. I asked what it was, and they told me it was "another java moss". No kidding! Well, I knew it wasn't java moss, but I thought it might have been one of the other mosses based on their "name". Little did I know until I got it home that it was riccia! So I thought I'd try it in this little tank. It's growing very well! Much better than I expected! Now I need to trim it, but I'm afraid of the mess the trimmings will make in the tank. Otherwise, I really like it. Very nice bright green color.
  • Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) - Tied onto the driftwood to add some depth (a 3D effect) and to decorate the driftwood a little. I just recently trimmed it. It was much longer/larger than what you see now! I do have problems with algae getting mixed in since it's the closest to the light. I tried squirting in some Excel, but it not only killed out the algae, but it hurt some of the java moss, as well. I've learned to move the light further away if the algae becomes a problem. I'm thinking of adding some RCS to this tank which may help.
  • Guppy/Endler Fry - This is what started the whole tank. I didn't know what to do with the fry that got caught in my canister filter so I created a mini tank for my mini fish (fry). As they grow out, I'm separating the males and females in hopes of not having this problem forever!
  • Otto (Otocinclus affinis) - One lone otto. I know they prefer to be in groups, but I needed him to help out with an algae problem. I have more in my 20long tank. If I can ever find a true SAE, I'll switch them out as it's my understanding that a SAE is okay by itself. The otto wasn't too happy when I first put him there, but he's adjusted well since.
Okay, now for the pictures! Please give me any critique, good and bad. I plan to rescape this tank again to correct a few problems, and it would be great to have added ideas when I do it. So I'm very open to ideas and suggestions on how to make it better! :)

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this looks nice! consider me subscribed
wow, that is a NICE nano. it could be the nicest 2.5 nano ive seen, and you get extra points for originality, finally somebody who made a nice 2.5 without using iwagumi style.
Thanks, CL and marko! :)

Marko, I'm in agreement with you. I'm not crazy over the iwagumi style tanks. I wanted this tank to be a true miniature. I didn't quite achieve the goal I had in mind, mainly because the chain swords have grown too large, but it's much better than my first (lack of) attempt.

Does anyone have any suggestions of how to make it better? Since I have to tear it apart to anchor the driftwood down, I'd love to incorporate any ideas to improve things while I'm at it.

I'm thinking I need to raise the rock pathway, but then I'm not sure how I could keep the dip in the middle. The pathway is glued together so it's one piece that I can move. I'm thinking that it might be better if I tried to use it as a terrace instead of a path. I'd have to glue more rocks to the front side of it which would then work as a retaining wall of sorts.

I'm also wondering if I should consider a full ground cover to help keep the sand in place so the hills and valleys won't get ruined. I could harvest the riccia to make it a full ground cover. I think it would be best to plant it on rocks or something I can pull out for trimming. Or maybe there's something else that would be better? I want the scale of the leaves to remain very tiny to continue the "miniature" theme.

Anyone with any ideas, suggestions or comments?
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No suggestions? Anyone?
i would say hc would be your best bet on this one, it has small leaves and remains low and carpets
Is HC and Dwarf Baby Tears the same plant? If so, I have some! It's half dead because I bought it on a whim, but didn't find a place to put it. So it's been sitting in my plant Q/T tank.

If what I have is HC, I would like to give it a try.

How hard is it to maintain? Does it need regular trimming?
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