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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got this tank for Christmas for my desk at my office. It's my second tank. My daughter has a Betta in a 2.5 gallon tank at home. I enjoyed it so much I got my own.

I've been lurking on this site for months learning the ins and outs of planted tanks. Then I decided to take the plunge.

This tank is a Fluval Spec 3. It has three different types of plants in it. Anubias Nana on the left, Anubias Nana Barteri in the middle, top and right, and Staurogyne Repents in the front and right.

The substrate is Floramax black or midnight. It is the gravel stuff and not sand.

The driftwood has been submerged for 2 months and boiled for over an hour and it still releases tannins albeit at a much slower weight. It's mounted to a piece of slate under the substrate as it still floats.

The big rocks came from the side of the highway near my house. They've been boiled and tested with vinegar. The little rocks came in a bag that I picked up from Michael's for $2.

The pump tube is a custom job. Another user on this site posted a pick and links and for the life of me I can't find it back. In any case they are Zoomed replacement parts for their Nano 10/30 filters.

The rubber elbow is a PTC-11
http://zoomed.com/ecom/ProductDetail...414&category=0

The tube and plug are PTC-13
http://zoomed.com/ecom/ProductDetail...595&category=0

The suction cup and clip are PTC-7
http://zoomed.com/ecom/ProductDetail...559&category=0

The parts are really cheap but shipping wasn't free. I had to cut down the tube some as it would have stuck into the substrate.

I have yet to put a Betta in there as I just started the cycle but I'm hoping that the flow is to his liking.

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Two Week Update

I'm two weeks into my planted tank and it is going well. Using media / bacteria from home this tank has cycled to the point it can chew through 1.5 ppm of ammonia -> nitrite -> nitrate in 24 hours.

The Anubias Nana on the left is just hanging out. It's not really growing but not really dying. The Anubias Nana Barteri in the middle, top, and back (hidden) is going nuts. 2 new full sized leaves on each. The top one had some leaf damage from what I thought might have been too much light. Turns out it just got dry while I was planting the tank. Once those leaves got clipped the whole plant looked better.

The Staurogyne Repens is ok. I'm getting new leaves but not a lot of root growth. If something bumps into them the whole plant will move. The set on the right near the tube got knocked out over last weekend. I'm thinking the jet from the tube was too much flow and a new leaf acted as a sail.

I have two new additions to the tank. Angel (Betta) and Spike (Mystery Snail). I picked up the snail a week ago. Most of the fish stores were completely sold out until yesterday.

The picture doesn't show it but Spike is an Ivory snail. He's kind of lazy. Eats some, falls asleep on some glass, wakes up, takes a dump, and the process repeats. Everything is really clean after I put him in so I'm guessing he's doing his work at night.

The Betta is another story. He is kind of freaked out. I'm guessing he is seeing his reflection and is very agitated with it. He isn't flaring but he is going ape sH!t running up and down the tank. He does this until he gets tired, takes a 20 second break to breath, and the process repeats. If he doesn't calm down after the weekend he may have to go back. I bought this tank to be peaceful and all his movement is distracting.
 

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Looks really nice. For a first time at a planted tank it's good! The Anubis does take awhile to grow IMO. My Anubis is massive now, it has over 40 leaves and I keep trimming it and propagating! If you want to see some more growth you could try adding some fertilisers such as flourish excel ect. I don't use frets so you may have to look into that yourself. The scape is nice and the betta is also cool, it would be a shame if you had to return it.
Good luck...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Flow

The flow coming out of the custom spray bar was way too strong. It was blowing the Betta around the tank. I drilled out the existing holes to be bigger and added some additional holes one both the front and the rear. I no longer have a vortex of water. If the Betta stops moving for a second he will blown around about 1 inch every few seconds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Purigen

The tannins coming off the wood were too much for the carbon to handle. Based on recommendations both here and abroad I picked up some Purigen. It has really improved water clarity. If the lights are on I can't tell the water has any color. If the lights are off there is still a slight tinge to the water.

I wouldn't call Purigen a miracle worker but it does deliver as advertised. It didn't seem to have any affect the ammonia I dosed for the fishless cycle or on Nitrites and Nitrates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Goodbye Angel

Well Angel didn't work out and it was back to Pet Smart with him. After that I journeyed to a locally owned fish store and picked up another Betta. I had tried that shop earlier but their selection was devastated from Christmas. Anyway, the new fish is a Betta named Skittles. He is iridescent with his body and fins going between red, blue, purple, and green.

He is happy and more importantly sedate. He'll surf the glass on occasion but just as part of a leisurely stroll around the tank. On top of that he'll hide in some of the plants around the tank. Angel wanted nothing to do with them.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Algae and Diatoms

I'm have minor out breaks of algae around the tank since it started. My first issue and it might have not even been algae looked like dust. The water is crystal clear but looking at the tank after a while there was a couple of granules of dust on the plant leaves. I just grabbed some tweezers and moved the Anubias around some and it all fell off. Only to be replaced later. It could have been poo from my fish and snail too.

After that I was getting some long hair algae in a few spots mainly the substrate at the front of the tank. This stuff was finer than silk and less than an inch long. Only noticed it because of the water flow. I picked up some flourish excel and dose .1 ml per day (its a 3 gallon tank) and both of the algae have disappeared.

This brings me to diatoms. Noticed today that I had one or two brown spots on the glass and a few of the stones up front had some brown goo on them. Looked it up and yep seemed like diatoms. Excess silica (I've read) is one of the causes and since it only seemed to be affecting the stones perhaps they were heavy in silica? I removed the ones with goo and left the others that were spotless (thanks snail) and cleaned the glass. If I have more spots tomorrow I guess I'll have to look into fixes. It is water change day tomorrow so that will help too.
 

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Very nice looking!

You could add a few ghost shrimp (like maybe 3) to help with general cleanup. Also, perhaps a Nerite snail... I've noticed the Nerite and Mystery snails often have slightly different tastes, so what one skips, the other picks up, and together (also together with the shrimp) keep the tank nice and clean. Some bettas are really hyper-aggressive and may eat the ghost shrimp, but most are ok with them. It's a healthy snack if they do, plus they're cheap (3 for $1 at my LFS), so it's not an expensive experiment... just don't get emotionally attached right away. ;)

The Floramax is a decent substrate (same as the Eco Complete I use but sold dry) but very lightweight. Tough to keep plants in place until they really take root. Just try not to move things around too much and it'll be fine.

I love your spraybar mod; I really want to try that at some point. (I have a Fluval Spec 2gal)

What heater are you using?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
What heater are you using?
I have a Hydor 25w heater. Got it from Amazon. The picture on Amazon shows the 100w but the 25w looks the same. Maybe shorter.

Ghost shrimp are on the agenda. Once the temps get above 0 I'll probably make a trip.

The spray bar needed a lot of holes drilled into it to slow the flow enough to not blow the Betta around the tank. Your mileage may vary. I've been very happy with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Diatoms and Seachem SeaGel

Well the diatoms are continuing to move across the tank. Not quickly but still they are increasing. From all the reading I see that this is a "new tank" issue and should go away on its own. But this being a work tank at the office I want it to be respectable and low maintenance.

I ordered some SeaGel by Seachem as a possible solution. Claiming to be able to remove phosphates and silicates I'm hoping this will be the answer. Did a water change and general cleanup yesterday and popped it in where the Purigen was. Will update on the progress or lack thereof.

Looking at some before and after pictures there has been some major growth. Note I've taken out a lot of the smaller stones just in case they were a source of silica. Diatoms seemed to focus on one particular type of stone.

 

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That's a really nice betta you have in there. I love the Spec's. I really REALLY want a Spec V or one of the III's like you've got. The plants look great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Cleaning Crew

Last week Friday I picked up two Amano Shrimp. I wasn't sure how my Betta would react so I decided a pair would be a good start. If they became food I'd only be out $6. When I dropped them in on Friday Skittles didn't notice them at first. The shrimp started to get to work. At some point Skittles took notice. He wasn't aggressive, just interested. He went in for a closer look and the shrimp flew away. The ended up finding a nice knothole in my driftwood and have only been seen once since.

Well they are alive but I haven't seen them since Monday. I know they are there because the plants and driftwood have patches where the diatoms have been cleaned off. Plus there's poo everywhere. I guess that's what you get when shrimp are gorging themselves on diatoms and algae wafers. Better poo I can wash off a leaf than diatoms I have to scrub.

I'm not sure if the SeaGel is working on the diatoms. Phosphates are reading a 0 and the diatoms seem to be holding steady in the tank. Once exception is right where the substrate meets the glass. Lots on the glass right there. I'm guessing the diatoms are getting the phosphate from the decomposing food before the SeaGel can get it. I need to find some sort of razor blade to get in that nook as my mag float isn't cutting it.

Finally there is one branch of the driftwood that is pissing me off. I may have to drain some water and cut it off. I would pull the whole thing out but the wood is mounted to slate and well it would destroy the whole scape to get it out.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Plants

I just finished my first major hack back of the Staurogyne Repens. They were getting bushy and all the tops were getting covered in diatoms. More so them than the Anubias. I took a few of the longer prunings and replanted them in the brightest of spots. I'm hoping for a little bit of carpeting. A few plants are starting to make child plants so that is making me happy.

I'm thinking I planted the SR wrong. When I put them in I left them as a bundle rather than separating each one out. I think because of that they didn't root all that well. They are better now but I think I'd like the look better if they were spread out a bit.

The Anubias up top is going great. Real tight growth, two new leaves each week, and its roots have found a lot of purchase on the driftwood. The front anubias and one around back are also doing well. Both are making lots of leaves. Longer stems and larger leaves with those. The final anubias on the left finally woke up last week. Since then he has made one new leaf and started another. He is a different variety from the first and isn't getting as much direct light so he is growing more or less off of the lights in my office.

I'm dosing about 0.15 ml of Flourish Excel 5 days a week and Aqueon Plant Food about twice a week but at amounts for a 1 gallon tank. I can't say much about the plant food. Algae seemed to show up once I started using it but as I dialed back the dosing the algae went with it. I'm guessing these plants aren't real demanding so I may cut ferts to once a week. Excel has been a big help. Once I started that everything seemed to kick up a notch.

Excel is hella concentrated so I went to a pharmacy and asked a pharmacist for a 1 ml syringe. She handed me about 2 dozen. I'd say you could measure reliably down to .05 ml. If you care I'd say that each drop of liquid is about .05 ml. So for my .15ml I'd need 3 drops. Said syringes are really helpful for measuring out Prime for my water changes too.
 

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Excel is hella concentrated so I went to a pharmacy and asked a pharmacist for a 1 ml syringe. She handed me about 2 dozen. I'd say you could measure reliably down to .05 ml. If you care I'd say that each drop of liquid is about .05 ml. So for my .15ml I'd need 3 drops. Said syringes are really helpful for measuring out Prime for my water changes too.
The 1 ml syringes are great for figuring out small doses. It gets tougher once the liquid drops below the easy to reach levels, however. You can pour into the cap, fill, and pour the rest back, but that's kludgy.

I highly recommend these:

Amber Glass Bottle 1oz W/glass Dropper

Nice and cheap, and SO much easier to work with! Works great for Prime, at 2 drops per gallon. Also works great for Excel. I use 4 drops per day in my 2 gal Spec.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Diatoms on the Retreat

The diatoms in the tank are on the retreat. It wasn't a new tank issue. There was in fact a cause. My tank has / had two stones in it that I picked up from around my house. I live in the St. Louis area of Missouri and all the rocks around us are limestone. Talking to a geologist friend of mine and apparently limestone is the fossilized remains of diatoms. So the rocks made out of diatoms and their silica were leaching the silica right back into the water column. My diatoms were eating their genetic ancestors.

Anyway, I ripped out those rocks and replaced them with two pieces of petrified wood; which is really hard to break by the way. Since then the diatoms have been in full retreat. Each day I come into the office there are less and less of them. Even a leaf I can't get access to on an anubias is finally clearing up.

So word to the wise those looking to decorate your tank on the cheap, don't use limestone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yes that is the stock light. It is brighter in the pictures than it is in real life. That being said I'm not having any problems with low light plants. Each Anubias makes a new leaf a week. I think the Repens is a bit light starved from the diatoms. I just planted some Bacopa Carolinia in a back corner that gets a lot of light and it is doing rather well for only being in there 4 days. The lights are on from 7:45 in the morning until 5:15 at night. I add 3 drops (1.5 ml) of Flourish Excel 5 days a week (it's an office tank).

This is my first big boy tank (daughter has a betta tank with plastic plants) and I really like the Specs. The built in filter plus the light makes the $50 have a lot of value. I've been nothing but happy with it but I don't have a lot to compare it to.
 

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Yes that is the stock light. It is brighter in the pictures than it is in real life. That being said I'm not having any problems with low light plants. Each Anubias makes a new leaf a week. I think the Repens is a bit light starved from the diatoms. I just planted some Bacopa Carolinia in a back corner that gets a lot of light and it is doing rather well for only being in there 4 days. The lights are on from 7:45 in the morning until 5:15 at night. I add 3 drops (1.5 ml) of Flourish Excel 5 days a week (it's an office tank).

This is my first big boy tank (daughter has a betta tank with plastic plants) and I really like the Specs. The built in filter plus the light makes the $50 have a lot of value. I've been nothing but happy with it but I don't have a lot to compare it to.
Couldn't agree more. :) I have the Spec 2 and simply adore it. Incredible little tank! We have a similar schedule, as well (also an office tank). Anubias, Java Fern, Crypt Parva, and DHG (won't carpet but grows up slowly just fine), with duckweed floaters.
 

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Yes that is the stock light. It is brighter in the pictures than it is in real life. That being said I'm not having any problems with low light plants. Each Anubias makes a new leaf a week. I think the Repens is a bit light starved from the diatoms. I just planted some Bacopa Carolinia in a back corner that gets a lot of light and it is doing rather well for only being in there 4 days. The lights are on from 7:45 in the morning until 5:15 at night. I add 3 drops (1.5 ml) of Flourish Excel 5 days a week (it's an office tank).

This is my first big boy tank (daughter has a betta tank with plastic plants) and I really like the Specs. The built in filter plus the light makes the $50 have a lot of value. I've been nothing but happy with it but I don't have a lot to compare it to.
I just pulled the trigger on a spec 3. Got it at petco.com, it's 25% off and free shipping! :icon_surp
 
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