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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It all started innocently enough... I'd been thinking about upgrading the 10Gal in the bedroom when I saw this on Craigslist:

20 Gallon Aquarium with stand. Includes everything you would need to operate this biosphere from scratch. Just add water and fish. $20

What fish-head could pass that up (if they wanted an upgrade that is)? I bring it home, clean it up and get to work. I already decided to use Fluorite in this one so, after washing it thoroughly, threw a bag in the tank and filled it very carefully.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/528630967/in/photostream/

Once I saw the dust storm I realized it needed even more cleaning so it got rinsed a few more times until it only got a little cloudy when disturbed. The Python helped a lot since I could suck the dust directly from the Fluorite.

Then came the problem of rocks. I can't stand artificial decorations... besides, if I wanted cheesy decorations I would have skipped the fluorite and bought clown-puke for 1/2 the price. I also can't reconcile myself to paying $3-5/lb for rocks at the fish store. I was hoping to build "jagged, very small, cliffs/mountains" in the centre and be planted all around. Well... turned out here in the Niagara Escarpment all my local rocks are limestone. I found some great rocks, just nothing that wouldn't kill my water.

I finally ended up talking to a granite countertop manufacturer who let me pick through their trash/scraps. I finally had some safe rocks, the only problems was that they were all rectangular and 1" thick. So much for "mountains". I eventually took a hammer and broke them into less regular shapes (some of the nicer ones I couldn't do since they were a little too hard). I may not be able to make mountains, but I managed to make a debris field...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/528630977/
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Once the rocks were in it was a matter of choosing plants and improving the lighting. I don't care what the bulb says, 15W over 20Gal and you'll be lucky to grow Java Moss.

Lighting was a challenge. The tank is rimless and the hood has an 18" T8 bulb, a new hood and fixture was needed. If finally decided on a 24", 1x65W Coralife Power Compact fixture. I like these since they don't need to attach to an existing hood.

Once lighting was setup it was time for plants. There wasn't much at the LFS when I went so I'm sure I'll be back for more. So far there's Hygrophilia Corymbosa Siamesis at the rear left, Corkscrew Val in the rear right, Lobelia Cardinalis at the front left and Cryptocoryne Parva in the centre of the rock formation.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/528632049/in/photostream/

There's also a little dwarf hairgrass I was able to salvage from the old tank at the front centre and right, it doesn't look like much though.

I've moved the inhabitents of the old tank across (4 otos, a 2 1/2" royal pleco, a few ghost shrimp and an african dwarf frog)... I'm sure I moved them... they're not in the old tank anymore... I just can't find them in the new one either! I've also connected the filter from the other tank in hopes to kick-start the cycle.

Over the next days and weeks I plan to plant more, and stock it. Looking for suggestions for both, but I'd like to keep it fairly low tech.
 
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