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Time for another tank journal.

Recently cashed in store credit to pick up a 9ish gallon Fluval Flex. Originally planned to go with a 5.5/10gal tank but this is a lot nicer in the middle of a living space. Despite being taller than I'd prefer? It's nice to have a covered tank, another all-in-one filter situation and built-in lighting that allows for RGB control. And it can be easily dimmed!

On Day 1:



Discovered there was some missing silicone on the filter compartment that allowed water to seep from the main tank into one of the rear filter chambers:



So I roughly patched that up:



I know silicone won't bond to cured silicone but my goal was only to stop things up. Pretty sure that'll work.

Siliconed some tiny stainless steel mesh into the filter guards to make them more safe for shrimp and tiny fish:



That was a couple days ago. Today I mucked around and came up with a rough idea of how I'd like hardscape to play out:






It'll be raised up an inch or so as I add substrate and rock/wood heights will be tweaked. Additional, smaller bits of lava rock will transition to the substrate to create a more natural appearance. Plan to try to get my hands on some Sera Anthracite (which refers only to color) within the next couple weeks. Gotta save up and try to sell a bunch of things first! It's about the same size as Aqua Soil Amazonia but is gravel... so it's inert and ideal for Neocaridinia, Babaulti and the tiny fish I want to keep: Heterandria formosa.

Plants will include Narrow Leaf Java Fern, Anubias nana 'Petite', Cryptocoryne wendtii, random Bucephelandra, eventually some Hygrophila pinnatifida and bits of Riccardia chamedryfolia. Can't get much more simple than that. Slow growth, low maintenance, basic.

I like to practice what I preach and patience is going to be heavily featured for a while. I've got 95% of the plants I need, none of the substrate and only part of the livestock. The wait makes it all more exciting and I'll be even happier than I otherwise would be once everything arrives and is in place. If you're new to tanking or merely new to the forum? You'll find that I constantly tell people to hold out for exactly what they want so they're completely happy with what they build. That's what I'm doing here and I'm looking forward to the finished product.

Thanks for reading. More to come soon.
 

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Sera products - specifically substrate - are currently available via several US retailers and three or four distributors in North America.

It's quite affordable now when compared to products from Caribsea and other aggregate branding companies.

I like look of that sera gravel but gave up finding it in US. I couldn’t even find a US distributor to contact on their website.

End up getting Activ-Flora Floracor black on amazon. Actually like the not so monotone slight mix of colors and variety of grain size in it.

Activ·Flora? Planted Aquarium Substrate by World Wide Imports Ent., Inc.
 

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They had some Heterandria formosa for sale at the auction last night. Sold for a good price too- 6 fish for 18.00.
 

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Funny-looking little guys, aren't they?

Slow, calm, peaceful. So much different than the Endlers and Guppies I've kept over the decades. I'm looking forward to their lack of color and flash. Will look nice with Babaulti.

They had some Heterandria formosa for sale at the auction last night. Sold for a good price too- 6 fish for 18.00.
 

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Funny-looking little guys, aren't they?

Slow, calm, peaceful. So much different than the Endlers and Guppies I've kept over the decades. I'm looking forward to their lack of color and flash. Will look nice with Babaulti.
Unfortunately, I didnt get a good look at them. :(
I was too far away to see them in bag and the person that bought them was far from me. There were 90 people in a small banquet room for 58 occupants. [was a little claustrophobic]

There were so many bags of items on the tables that it took 4.5 hours to auction off everything. There was only one bag of them, though, and the bid went high.
 

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Of course @DaveKS had to bring up Floracor. Dangit.

I've got an unused bag of it that's been sitting in a tote for the better part of a decade. It looks nicer than Eco-Complete and has smaller grain size.

Now I'm thinking about using it instead of Sera. It could look nice with the larger black lava rock I'm using. Just have to figure out how I feel about the reflectivity of the substrate.
 

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Of course @DaveKS had to bring up Floracor. Dangit.

I've got an unused bag of it that's been sitting in a tote for the better part of a decade. It looks nicer than Eco-Complete and has smaller grain size.

Now I'm thinking about using it instead of Sera. It could look nice with the larger black lava rock I'm using. Just have to figure out how I feel about the reflectivity of the substrate.
I had never heard of this substrate, so had to look it up. Is yours the Lake gems or Floragems color?
 

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Had a few minutes before leaving today and threw this together quickly:





Not bad for less than ten minutes. Definitely replacing that light-colored lava rock in the front if I can't get some of the sediment cleaned off.

A bunch of these rocks will be removed once the manzanita fully sinks:



Lots of plants to be rearranged, things to be planted, Buces and stuff to be added. Have some Hygrophila pinnatifida to place in the rock crevices as I find time and get things settled. Definitely need to lift those ferns up a bit and find better spots for the Anubias. Have more of them (Anubias) but am not yet sure where they'll go.

Will need to add some moss or something for shrimp and fry to hide in at some point. Maybe Fissidens? Haven't yet decided.

All I know is I'm glad to have this thing up and running.
 

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@Discusluv: Thanks! This is hopefully going to be the simplest tank I've got. Ferns and H. pinnatifida will ideally take over everything.

@Streetwise: I'll be stocking Heterandria formosa and ideally Zebra Babaulti. Neither have much in terms of coloration and will tend to blend in with their surroundings. I may add Neocaridina at some point but have no concrete plans for them at the moment.
 

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Very inspiring (after a google search)! Do you get those live-bearers locally or online?

I think you may have suggested that fish to me before.

Cheers
 

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The rock above the wood will all be removed, so it won't be much of a pile in a few days. Just have to wait for the wood to be waterlogged.

Scape will ultimately be wood prominently featured with ferns flowing through it, H. pinnatifida here and there, Anubias nana 'Petite' and Bucephalandra in a few spots.

My appreciation of black lava rock grew from this tank where I pieced together a mountain out of it like a puzzle. But this new tank won't be much like that, as it will hopefully kind of disappear - along with the rest of the black - and only the plants will pop out at you.

I really like the rock pile and may do that myself after seeing it.
 

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The Hygrophila pinnatifida I have is meh but I added a bit of it here and there to see how it transitions.



Things look a bit yellow but that's just the photo. Not about to do color correction at this stage.

Started moving Anubias around and will add more/change things up as I find the time:



Just needed to get them kinda anchored down for the time being.

Here's a better look at where I stuffed some of the H. pinnatifida:





It's weird for me to have a tank that looks decent-ish so early on. Even with rock work that isn't finalized and plants that aren't settled? I'm pretty much content with it. Kinda generic and dark but I like it. WHAT IS HAPPENING?! Heh.

Aaaaaand just like that, I got the urge to break up some Anubias as I wrote this update.

Here:





In that last photo you can see one of the H. pinnatifida nubs I shoved between some rocks. It's being held in by some Anubias and will hopefully take off.

Still more Anubias nana 'Petite' to break up and a bit more to add to the tank. But I like it so far.
 
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