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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm setting up a new tank, a Fluval Spec V, after having moved out into my own place following a divorce (nothing maudlin about it, just the facts). My ex disliked having a tank around so I put my hobby on hold for a few years and now i want to set one up, I figured I would get something compact to have some shrimp and a few fish and some plants.

The tank will be low tech, using Seachem ferts because they are easy to come by, and I am going to start with the stock light. I've seen some good results with these parameters from other people on this board.

Without further ado, here is picture one. The hardscape. No substrate in the tank yet, Eco-Complete has been purchased, but I anted to get a simple setup. I'm not a great aquascaper, so feedback is solicited before I set up the tank.

Planned livestock is blue velvet shrimp and either Pygmy Corydoras or Celestial pearl Danios. I used to keep CPDs and loved them, pygmy Cories are fun to watch, too, though not as pretty. Haven't quite decided yet. Also considering a kuhli loach but we will see. I know they usually are recommended to have more than one but I have known tanks with only one that seemed healthy and happy.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Last night I boiled the wood and decided to drop the stones on the left and it is looking better. Ferts and Purigen come today, I will replace the charcoal with Purigen for this tank. I ordered christmas moss and some java moss and they come tomorrow. I'll likely scape the tank tomorrow night, tying the christmas moss to the "tree" and putting the tree on a bit of a hill to the left of the tank. Java moss I haven't decided, yet. I was going to affix it to one of the rocks on the left and now I eliminated the rocks, but I love watching shrimp "groom" java moss. Suggestions solicited.

Also considering the purchase of a 20" finnex planted 24/7 eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Flooded the tank and added plants, today. I bought a few more rocks but couldn't find an arrangement I liked better. In addition, I will be getting moss tomorrow and will be tying Christmas Moss to the wood, but for now it's bare.



Plants are:

Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis)
Crypt Parva (Cryptocoryne parva)
Crypt Undulata (Cryptocoryne undulata)
Crypt Lutea (Cryptocoryne lutea)
Marsh Mermaid (Proserpinaca palustris)

I also had a Val in there but it fell apart while planting and I discarded it.

Added flourish root tabs at the bases of the plants, dosed Flourish and Excel, added Seachem Prime to the water, replaced the charcoal in the filter with Purigen, and now get to wait a couple weeks for fauna.
 

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Last night I boiled the wood and decided to drop the stones on the left and it is looking better. Ferts and Purigen come today, I will replace the charcoal with Purigen for this tank. I ordered christmas moss and some java moss and they come tomorrow. I'll likely scape the tank tomorrow night, tying the christmas moss to the "tree" and putting the tree on a bit of a hill to the left of the tank. Java moss I haven't decided, yet. I was going to affix it to one of the rocks on the left and now I eliminated the rocks, but I love watching shrimp "groom" java moss. Suggestions solicited.

Also considering the purchase of a 20" finnex planted 24/7 eventually.
Good call dropping the stones on the left -- I think one "look" or "type" of stone works better.

Careful with the 24/7 -- I think it will be overkill in a low-tech setup in this shallow tank. Expect difficulty with algae. If you do it, Plant really heavily and use Excel.

Shrimp will "groom" other mosses that look better than Java. Another idea would be Riccia fluitans tied to a rock or two... though not sure how it will do without pressurized CO2 (anyone know if it likes Excel?).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good call dropping the stones on the left -- I think one "look" or "type" of stone works better.

Careful with the 24/7 -- I think it will be overkill in a low-tech setup in this shallow tank. Expect difficulty with algae. If you do it, Plant really heavily and use Excel.

Shrimp will "groom" other mosses that look better than Java. Another idea would be Riccia fluitans tied to a rock or two... though not sure how it will do without pressurized CO2 (anyone know if it likes Excel?).
Thanks! Yeah, looking instead at the Current USA Satellite Plus or the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ or maybe the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Clip, the CurrentUSA seems likely at the moment. PAR values are hard to find for these things. :/
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, so today I got some Christmas moss in the mail and decided to attach it to the spider wood. So I tried gluing it, which I did in my last tank with Christmas moss. Unfortunately, it ended up looking like a mess, so I removed the glued moss from most spots and shaved the glue off the wood (cutting my thumb in the process). Then I tied the moss to branches over the shaved spots using black cotton thread. It looks bad but I figured it would grow out and bond to the wood and the thread would rot away.

Then I looked up how long it takes christmas moss to attach to wood and discovered that basically, it doesn't attach on its own. So now I have ugly tied bundles of moss that won't attach.

I saved some of the rest of the moss for the moment and am considering acquiring a different piece of driftwood before I add fish. I like this piece though, maybe I will just remove the moss from the branches and live without moss for the most part except for the little bit glued to the base of the driftwood.

I picked up an Ammonia test kit and a bottle of Tetra SafeStart to help establish the bio filter. Will do that tomorrow. I already dosed a small amount (three drops) of Ammonia to get the local live bacteria's attention.
 

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I really like the shape of your driftwood so I think it's worth salvaging it. Frustrating that the Xmas moss doesn't behave the way you want it to. Wonder if another would. I just blapped some Java on my sticks until I figure out how to get them going properly myself, haha. Good luck with your scape evolution!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Ammonia holding steady-ish at around 5ppm, maybe down closer to 4ppm today? Added the SafeStart yesterday, have been dosing double Excel. Using Flourish twice a week and flourish trace twice a week.

Have decided on Pygmy Corydoras instead of the CPDs just for the variety of the experience, despite my love for CPDs -- I like trying something new. Also decided on the Current USA Satellite Plus for the light. Wish it had a timer but otherwise seems to meet the needs.

Moss is still tied to the wood, I'll likely cut it off before I add fauna but we will see. Marsh Mermaidweed is growing like a weed for sure. Crypt Parva seem to be doing some new growth but also some yellowing. Undulata and Lutea seem to be doing well. Micro Swords are yellowing and browning and might not survive until a new light comes -- I thought I'd get the light this week but the finances didn't work out. I'll replace them if they don't make it.



Thanks for looking!
 

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Nice looking tank. Looks a lot like the one I am starting. I don't see a heater in yours though. One of the perks of living in California I guess.
 

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I want to steal that piece of wood for my spec v.

Drunhellar many people put the heater in the portion of the filter box with the pump. It has also been advised when doing so to poke a hole in the return line to create some circulation around the heater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nice looking tank. Looks a lot like the one I am starting. I don't see a heater in yours though. One of the perks of living in California I guess.
The heater is tucked safely in the pump well, a trick I saw in a youtube video. I need to get a thermometer in the tank, I just hate how they look in a small tank.

Bump:
I want to steal that piece of wood for my spec v.

Drunhellar many people put the heater in the portion of the filter box with the pump. It has also been advised when doing so to poke a hole in the return line to create some circulation around the heater.
Interesting, I hadn't heard that. I'll have to do some reading on it.
 

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Looks good. Somewhat the look in going for. Are those crypts all about the same size? It's hard for me to tell which is which being a noob
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looks good. Somewhat the look in going for. Are those crypts all about the same size? It's hard for me to tell which is which being a noob
The Undulata is a bit bigger than the Lutea. I don't know whether that is usual or not, however. I got the last Undulata of a good size at all in the store.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Day 7 of water in the tank. Ammonia still at 5, nitrites at 0. Waiting on critters, still, apparently. :) I have the top off the tank for full air exposure and there is a small window open a few feet above above the tank. Dosing Excel at 1ml twice a day (beginning of each of two 4 hour photo periods) at the moment based on end3r.P's success with high dosage twice a day, though not going as high yet without light to help the plants use it.

Water is still pretty cloudy, not sure why, maybe from the slowly melting micro swords? I have a bag of Purigen in the filtration system so I wouldn't think it was organic. Once the tank is cycled I'll do a double 50% water change hoping to clear it out.

Temperature probe ordered, going to see if the "holes in the return tube" thing is a myth or not by doing a before and after, a bit nervous about adding the holes in the tube once the tank is full and running, that space is tight and I don't want to accidentally pull the tube off the pump, that would be difficult to get out of a full tank.

Snips coming today to trim back the mermaidweed already!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Day 9 of water in tank, Ammonia STILL at 5(!!!) :mad: , Nitrites 0. Dosing Excel at ~1.25 ML twice a day. Dosed Flourish yesterday, Flourish Trace today.

Micro swords still not doing great, and the mermaidweed is really failing now, leaves browning and falling off. I didn't realize the mermaidweed was a high-light plant. I will likely pull it out and replace when the new light comes next Friday. Wish I had been able to afford the better light this week. I also pulled the tied-on moss off the wood.

Temperature probe came yesterday. Water was 75.9 degrees, heater set at 78. I increased the heater to 80. 12 hours later, the probe was at 75.3. So this morning I poked two holes in the pump outflow tube to see if that makes a difference. Left the heater at 80.
 

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With a low tech tank I'll recommend the Finnex stingray. I have a 20" on my spec v. I heard current satellite plus is also good. Although the 24/7 is adjustable so that might be ok as well
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Finally the needle moved on the Ammonia yesterday, dropping from 5ppm to around 3ppm, maybe closer to 2ppm. Nitrites were at .5ppm. I don;t have a Nitrate test kit yet, but not going to worry about it until the bacteria are zeroing out the ammonia and nitrites in a day.

Mermaidweed died, and I pulled it out. The micro swords are really failing now, not sure a light on Friday will save them and i might just start over with new ones. Also planning on another Parva at least, maybe two, though the ones I have are yellowing now, is Parva a medium-light-requiring Cryptocoryne?

Definitely decided on the Current Satellite Plus, just waiting to order it on payday. Danged alimony, anyhow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Okay, today, Ammonia is around 0.25-0.5, Nitrites are at around 3, I think. Didn't test Nitrates today (so tedious) but I have the test kit now.

I went to LFS to get some more plants but their shipment didn't come in. One of the micro swords melted away, so I got rid of it, the other still has some green in amongst the brown and am hoping it will survive once my new light comes tomorrow, but I will likely get a new one next Thursday when the plants DO come in, here's hoping Micro Swords will do well enough in the light of the Current USA Planted Plus.

I elected not to add a Parva as the ones left in the LFS were not very nice-looking. I also decided on a good-sized Java Fern mat in the back right instead of the mermaidweed as they were out of the mermaidweed except for a few sickly looking bunches. I also discovered they actually stock moss which i didn't realize previously, they are just kind of out of the way, and their christmas moss is a lot nicer than the moss I got previously... But don't want to re-glue it to the wood, so I will live.

I got an aquascaping spade because I was tired of trying to do it by hand. It worked well to help bury the spider wood deeper in the substrate and to get the new Java Fern in.

Anyhow, at least another week of cycling ahead of me. Wish me luck!

 
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