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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

I've returned to the aquarium hobby for the first time since college, woo! Doing a freshwater, and a few varieties of live plants is my new challenge :)

The specs (so far):
  • Filter: SunSun HW-302 with included filter foam, Purigen for chem, and Seachem Matrix for bio.
  • Gravel: Flourite, 1 bag
  • Other Gravel: Quickrete Coarse Sand


The empty tank:



The filter and extras:



Filling with gravel:

I used cardboard from the aquarium's packaging to hold the gravel in place. It covers ~22" of the base, 1.5" thick.


And the sand, covering the final third:



The first fill:

Wow, I thought I had washed it all out better than that, but the gravel was still full of mud. So changed out all the water at this point (10 gal)


Round two, looking better:



After one final change:

Alright! I'm thinking that's good enough for the filter to handle.


So I set the system a-running, and checking it the next morning:

Victory!

At this point, the tank is running, and I'm dosing Seachem Stability daily, but I don't yet have a water test kit (will be getting API Master Kit), so just letting it do it's thing.

Unpictured, I do have a piece of Malaysian driftwood soaking over the weekend. I'll be sticking that into the sandy area, as I plan not to have any plants in that space so it's something to fill the space.
 

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Very nice start! I'm also coming back to the hobby and cycling a 20-long. I'll be interested to see how yours turns out. :fish:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Very nice start! I'm also coming back to the hobby and cycling a 20-long. I'll be interested to see how yours turns out. :fish:
Awesome! I'd love to see some comparisons down the road, yeah. My current goal for fish is a school of Tetras, a school of Corys, and one or two German Blue Rams. It's still subject to change, depending on my research over the coming weeks.
 

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Awesome! I'd love to see some comparisons down the road, yeah. My current goal for fish is a school of Tetras, a school of Corys, and one or two German Blue Rams. It's still subject to change, depending on my research over the coming weeks.
Sounds similar to my plan: a school of tetras (thinking serpaes or Bloodfins), small cories (such as pandas or another species whose name escapes me), some shrimp, and some sort of centerpiece pair, maybe A. Borelli.

Great minds think alike. :nerd:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update - Wood and Ammonia!

Not a ton of change to report from the last 1.5 weeks. My tank is clear and cycling quite slowly. My chemistry tests showed it stagnant at 0.25 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrite, and ~5 ppm Nitrate for days on end. So, last Thurs I dropped in some raw Ammonia and brought that to 2 ppm. Now that hasn't changed since, so still waiting to see some action from the biology :frown2:

I have yet to get a heater to speed things up, but I did get the Malaysian Driftwood placed as my first piece of decor!



The way it sticks out into the sand is to provide something for the fish to enjoy away from the plants. I'm also going to get something in the planted area, either another log or some big rocks/fake rocks to make hidey-holes, once I find some that peak my eye.


One issue I'm debating on how to solve is with my filter intake. When I did a water change on Friday, the filter started to suck air when the water dropped below the junction of the back-hook and straight tube, see below, just under the waterline.


I'm either going to try taping it shut with aquarium-safe tape (if I can find some) or take some silicone to it. My only concern with the latter is if I want to one day switch out the tube I'll have a helluva time doing it. Hmmm....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey, I'm still here! I kept a log on my FB page better than on the fish forums, but I realize I shouldn't deprive you all of tank pics just because I've never met ya (and you can probably help me with future problems way better than any of my family).

So, to quickly catch up: Took a total of 8 weeks to cycle the tank without fish. At one point, was getting impatient with nitrites spiking, so over 3 days did a total of 4, 100% water changes (5 gal at a time), but didn't help, so the lesson is never get anxious when stuck in nitrite hell. Built up a slate cave structure with raw slate tile I found at a local warehouse

First fish were 6 tetras (and I can't for the life of me pin down their name! red ___ ___, I think) with cool silver bodies/red fins and very active. Also got two Amazon Swords to hide the filter intake, from which I have since planted two more rhizomes.

A week later, got a Dwarf Sagittari, which will eventually form a wall of green along the back bunch of my tank. That will likely be a long time coming.

The next week (this Sunday), picked up 6 Otos and one pot of Dwarf Hairgrass, which I split into a bunch of little bunches to get the carpet going faster.

I love the Otos, and so do the tetras! They've been swimming around some together even, and the tank feels so much more alive with two kinds of fish. But, the Otos are too good at their job, and my algae has been all scrubbed out! So I'm upping the photoperiod from 4 on, 4 off, 4 on, to 5-2-5 to help the algae get moving. I've also started a little tupperware with rocks, water, and some fishfood to grow my own supply of algae in.

To get the Otos through until that works, I've bought a zucchini and am seeing if they'll take to it. Blanched for 2 minutes, cut into half-circles, and wedged down into the sand.

The tank right now:


Overall, very happy with how the setup is progressing. In two weeks, I'll get another school of small, peaceful swimmers (thinking Mollys or Platys), and two weeks after that, I'll finish the stocking with a pair of German Blue Rams!

And, of course, I'll actually be keeping this log active. I'm certainly eager to chronicle how the Otos fare over the coming months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That slate looks like it could collapse any time. I would advise rebuilding it in a more stable manner. Or if you're deadset on the way it is perhaps you could try glue or silicon to make sure it doesn't fall. This is of course just my opinion. Good luck!
Well-advised. It is definitely unstable and has been slowly collapsing for weeks whenever I've bumped it. I'm not super worried, since if it collapses all that means is it collapsed. I'll get it stabilized at some point, we'll see if I go for silicone...
 

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Add more sand to the sand side, try to get it slightly proud of the gravel.
If you ever add corys or work too roughly in the water column, the gravel is going to be al over your nice sand.

I have to redo my cory tank, as the sand is no longer visible... unfortunately they spawned in it last night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Add more sand to the sand side, try to get it slightly proud of the gravel.
If you ever add corys or work too roughly in the water column, the gravel is going to be al over your nice sand.

I have to redo my cory tank, as the sand is no longer visible... unfortunately they spawned in it last night.
I don't mind the scattered gravel look, nor do I intend to add Corys. I am somewhat debating replacing the sand with pure substrate one day. For now it's fine, but maybe I want the tank to fill out, we'll see.

The Otos (or at least some) found the zucchini this morning and have chowed down! I also left the lights on solid from 6:30am to 9:30 pm to get the algae really growing, so I think food crisis averted for them!
 

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Looks really nice, love the swords! Do you have a closer pic of the tetras? Even a blurry one and we should be able to ID!

I've seen people place several rocks in a jar of water on a window sill or outside, and they swap them out weekly as the algae grows on them.

What else are you planning to add?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Interesting. I originally put in the zucchinis without removing the seeds, and the Otos chowed away at the meaty part of the plant as expected. Yesterday afternoon, the seeds were getting really exposed and the fish seemed to be losing interest, so I pulled the seeds out of the slices.

Now, the Otos seem to be rasping on the zucchini rinds more than the meat, huh!



A possible problem with algae the Otos won't touch: my driftwood is getting a good bunch of brown, web-like growth on it. I'm not sure if it's hair algae or something else, but either way, it seems safe from the fish. If anyone has a better idea, please inform. I might take the log out and boil it to clean the stuff off if needed.



Looks really nice, love the swords! Do you have a closer pic of the tetras? Even a blurry one and we should be able to ID!

I've seen people place several rocks in a jar of water on a window sill or outside, and they swap them out weekly as the algae grows on them.

What else are you planning to add?
I'll see if I can get a pick. Those little buggers are fast! My remaining fish plans are for another school of mid-swimming fish (mollys, platys, barbs, danios...idk) and finish off the stocking with a pair of German Blue Rams. Plant wise, I might get something leafy to put atop the log. Otherwise, just waiting for everything to fill in.

Oh, or maybe some Java Moss on the slate would be cool, hmmm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I boiled the log today and cleaned up a bunch of the algae that had busted off of it. Everything is soo much cleaner!

Oddly enough, now one of the Otos has started grazing along the log. Maybe it likes the dead algae?

Also, found a solitary snail which rode in on the plants at some point. I plucked him out, but now on the watch for further invaders. Maybe I should go ahead and get an MTS...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looks really nice, love the swords! Do you have a closer pic of the tetras? Even a blurry one and we should be able to ID!

I've seen people place several rocks in a jar of water on a window sill or outside, and they swap them out weekly as the algae grows on them.

What else are you planning to add?
Got some pics! If you can figure out just what species of Tetra these guys are, I'll appreciate not having to look stupid in front of the LFS guys :grin2:



 
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