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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Overview

So I've decided to do my first Tank Journal with my planted Fluval Spec III! This is my first and only aquarium as of right now, although I have plans for a larger tank in the works. This tank originally had white gravel, no plants, and a Betta Splendens. It got through the cycle and he lasted about 2 months in the tank before jumping out while I was asleep (RIP: Muertos). I decided to take the tank in a different direction, tore it down, and added the Fluval Stratum, driftwood, and Cherry Shrimp. This thread is to keep track of this tank's progress.

Display: Fluval Spec III (2.6 Gallons)

Pump: Stock

Filter Media: Stock

Substrate: Fluval Stratum

Lighting: Stock

Heater: Marina C10

Flora:
  • Microsorum pteropus (Java Fern)
  • Taxiphyllum barbieri (Java Moss)
  • Elocharis acicularis (Dwarf Hairgrass)
Fauna:
  • Red Cherry Shrimp
pH: 6.6

Plans:
  • Fluval PCL-13
  • CO2 (Fluval 88 with glass bubble counter and diffuser?)
Log:
  • 02/06/2013 - Finally getting over a bad batch of black beard algae
  • 02/17/2013 - Added Red Cherry Shrimp (4)
  • 04/07/2013 - Added Red Cherry Shrimp (2)
  • 07/11/2013 - Moved tank to my office

Flickr Set

Current Full Tank Shot (04/13/2013):



Pictures (02/05/2013):











 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's actually coming along quite well! I keep meaning to post new pictures. When I get home from work tonight I'll take some updated pics of the tank.

A preview of some of the changes:
  • Moved the Java Fern to the back between the two pieces of driftwood
  • Removed the "clump" of DHG, removed all the dead bits, seperated the healthy shoots, and replanted them spread out across the foreground to try and get a carpet going
  • Added Red Cherry Shrimp

One thing that had me completely stumped for a bit was an ammonia spike every time I did a water change. I thought it was from disturbing the substrate, but after seeing it even after I just added water, I was really confused. Time to test the tap water! The results were shocking. My API Freshwater Master Test Kit showed 2.0ppm Ammonia in my tap water. I started researching and read that some cities add Chloramine to the water as a disinfectant and this can register as Ammonia on the API Test Kit. So I poured a second sample of tap water, added NutraFin Aqua Plus (which claims it removes Chlorine and Chloramine), waited 4 hours, and tested again. Same results: 2.0ppm Ammonia.

Long story short, Austin tap water is not conducive to aquarium keeping. I'm using bottled water for now (still treated with the NutraFin Aqua Plus) but I'm going to be ordering an RO system as soon as possible.

Updated Pics tonight!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do you have the java fern in the substrate?
No, the Java Fern is attached to the bottom of the piece of driftwood. The roots like to dig down into the substrate to hold on, but the rhizome is all above the substrate. The updated pics tonight will show that I've had pretty amazing growth on the Java Fern, I have about twice as many leaves now (which is to be expected, those things grow anywhere!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Finally got the camera and took some updated pictures. You can see the distributed DHG planting and shrimp. I apologize for the dirty glass and the somewhat blurry pictures - I still haven't gotten my tripod out of storage. I'm planning on making a run to Austin Aquadome today to pickup some Current USA Lunar Lights in the 12K spectrum so that I have some lighting outside of my photo period. I'll be posting some pics of installing them into the stock lighting fixture later this week.











 

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Really like the way the moss is lush and spreading out
 

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Long story short, Austin tap water is not conducive to aquarium keeping. I'm using bottled water for now (still treated with the NutraFin Aqua Plus) but I'm going to be ordering an RO system as soon as possible.
You'll need to remineralize the bottled water to maintain a GH of at least 4 for your shrimp - any less than that and they can't molt, which will eventually kill them.

There's actually nothing wrong with using tap water (with your cherry shrimp, anyways) unless you are seeing increasing levels of nitrates.. then you might want to use RO water, but the ammonium created by treating the tap alone (which you see on your total ammonia test) isn't really a problem - it isn't harmful to your fish/shrimp and will be handled by your tank's bio filter. If you have enough of a demand for nitrates in your tank those might not even build up of those. I switched to RO when my nitrates got scary and no amount of water changes with tap water brought them down because of the chloramines problem (they'd be right back up within a couple of days - I am north of Austin and our water utility has Chloramine at Chlorine levels (yes, both) at the legal limit.)... but holding/mixing the RO water to remineralize it is a bit of a pain.

On the bright side, cycling a new tank with our tap water is easy - you don't even really need to add ammonia :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You'll need to remineralize the bottled water to maintain a GH of at least 4 for your shrimp - any less than that and they can't molt, which will eventually kill them.

There's actually nothing wrong with using tap water (with your cherry shrimp, anyways) unless you are seeing increasing levels of nitrates.. then you might want to use RO water, but the ammonium created by treating the tap alone (which you see on your total ammonia test) isn't really a problem - it isn't harmful to your fish/shrimp and will be handled by your tank's bio filter.
Well, I bought 5 gallons of RO water from Austin Aquadome for a few dollars. I'll probably mix it half and half to put some trace minerals back into the aquarium. If I didn't use any tap water, does anyone know of a mineral additive I can dose the aquarium with to make up for using RO water only in the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A spec III! Haven't seen that at the stores yet. Looks sweet!
Thanks, I actually picked it up just before new years 2012. The Spec family has a confusing naming scheme, but according to the boxes that I saw at the LFS the Spec II is the original (with the round LED), Spec III is the new, slightly larger Spec (with the rectangular LED), and the Spec V is obviously the 5 gallon. Saying Spec II or Spec III gets a lot of people confused though :red_mouth.

I just installed the Current USA Lunar Light (12,000K) today with the Current 12V power supply. It looks absolutely awesome for this size tank! I'll post some pictures soon of how I installed it and how it looks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update 04.13.2013

It's been a while! I took new pictures after I trimmed the plants and cleaned the glass tonight. The Java Moss is absolutely dominating the tank, it grows slow and steady. The Java Fern has doubled in size, and the Dwarf Hairgrass is slowly carpeting out. I would say the Dwarf Hairgrass has also just about doubled in mass. I still dose Flourish Excel daily, and I added 2 more Cherries.













Finally, the moonlights. These are Current USA 12K LED Moonlights. I installed them under the stock lighting fixture. I really like that they are not "blue" like most moonlights - instead they actually have a silver tint like you actually see the moon.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I haven't updated this thread in a while so I figured I should do an update post. First, I've been really busy working on my first saltwater tank that I won from Innovative Marine. You can see the build thread to that tank over on Nano-Reef forums. It's been up for about 2 months now. Because that tank was taking up so much of my time (and to brighten up my day) I moved the Spec to my office. Here's an updated cellphone pic:



I found a tiny Malaysian Trumpet Snail that's now about half an inch long and I also recently found another tiny Trumpet. Also, my Pond Snails had babies and there are a million tiny pond snails all over the tank. I don't mind, they seem to leave the plants alone. As you can see, I've had this tank up for around 6 months and my Dwarf Hairgrass still has not carpeted. Obviously this is because the stock light just doesn't have much power. I plan on replacing it any day now with the Fluval PCL-13 Power Compact. Now for the question - do you guys think I will have an Algae problem with the PCL-13 on this tank and no CO2? I dose Flourish Excel daily Monday-Friday and my lights are on a timer for 8 hours a day.

I'm also going to start dosing regular Flourish at the recommended dosage and Flourish NPK to try and get the Dwarf Hairgrass to carpet and green up a little.
 
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