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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
New house, new tank, right? Perfect time to start something new.

It's been a while since I've had a new tank and I figure it's time to scratch that itch.

After seeing this thread and watching Rachel O'Leary's videos, I decided to go for an all-in-one that would fit on an unused counter in my kitchen. Enter the most recent version of the Fluval Spec V. It's small, sleek, has a great filtration system, nice LEDs for low-medium plant growth and it won't be a fully open top humidity nightmare this time of year.

I spent the last couple weeks sorting through my hardscape supplies and found the perfect piece of "spider" wood so I could get to work when the tank arrived.

After unboxing, leak tests and functionality testing, I started trying things out.

Option 1:



Option 2:




I like option one the best and decided to go with it. Not sure if I'll trim the wood or not but I'm leaning toward leaving it as it is.

Here's a look from above:





It doesn't interfere with the light and some emergent growth might be nice. Who knows?

There's plenty of space in the rear left corner for planting and attaching plants:




Plenty of hidey holes for shrimp:




Only minor modifications need to be made to make the tank shrimp-safe. Filling this slot that leads into the filter media chamber with silicone:




And a similar slot that's between the filter and pump chambers:




Both are there for less experienced aquarists to prevent the pump from running dry. I'm not having any of that nonsense, though, and am gonna remedy the situation before filling the tank.

Likely won't cover the intake baffle but will stuff some sponge or filter media behind it to keep shrimp out. If that doesn't work, I've got plenty of stainless steel mesh and fiberglass window screen.




As you can see, it'd be easy to attach window screen inside the chamber. A bit of silicone and all would be well. I've got plenty of time to figure something out, as it'll be at least a week before I fill it up to begin the cycle. Then another 4-6 weeks before livestock moves in.

Quickly realized this thing needed a black background and got out a razor blade and some shelf liner.

Here's a look at the hardscape as it stands:





Darker look:




From the end:




The top:




My workspace is to the right of the tank, kind of adjacent to the granite overhang bar. So this will roughly be my vantage point:






Not bad if I may say so myself. Not the fanciest tank I've done but definitely not the worst. (This is, however, the worst counter top I've ever seen. Can't wait to get quartz. And the faucet? Don't get me started.)

I plan to house Taiwan Bee shrimp - have my eye on some Black King Kongs - and am ready to bring in new blood to my existing shrimp colonies. Not 100% set on BKKs but they're at the top of my list at the moment.

Despite having a ton of Aqua Soil Amazonia on-hand, I think I'll be using Extra-Fine Controsoil as a substate. Regular Amazonia just doesn't look as nice as smaller grained substrates in tiny tanks.

Since I want to start fresh, I ordered several different kind of plants. Whether they'll all show up remains to be seen.

The following Buces showed up today:

Bucephalandra:
Bukit Kelam
Mini Boyan
Mini Dark Melawi
Narcissus
Titan Round
Velvet Wide Leaf





They're a bit broken up and some are slightly damaged but I think they'll look great once things get settled.

Expecting a bunch of mosses, crypts and anubias over the next few days/week. One of my vendors told me some of what I want is unavailable, so we'll see what happens. In the meantime, I've got a tub set up to temporarily house all the plants:




Nothing is set in stone but I like the rough plan I've got laid out in my mind. Anubias, Crypts, Bucephalandra, maybe Hydrocotyle tripartita or H. sibthorpioides. Cool, simply-colored shrimp. Slow growth. Easy maintenance. Just my kind of tank.

Will update more as I get things going. Also in the process of restarting my 3gal longs at the same time.

Thanks for reading!


Update:

This journal will also document the progress of my Spec III. Beginning with post #104, I'll be highlighting both tanks throughout their life cycles.
 

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Look forward to seeing updates. Got any photos of your Taiwan bees? From memory, I thought you had a colony of those and one of PRLs but I could be mistaken. Also curious where you plan to source the BKKs, as I've had my eye on those as well for an upcoming tank.
 

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Okay, wait a minute. I was reading through this and saying "How pretty that counter-top is"...
\Now you are just acting like I have really bad taste.
Really, its pretty.

Okay, Ill keep reading: had to just stop there because I was like wait a minute...


Im loving on the Buce. Ive never grown it before, but I may follow your lead and try some in the shrimp tank. I found some on Buceplant that I put in my shipping basket for possibilities.

That tank is so nice- I really like the look of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
@Discusluv: Okay. So they're not ugly but they sure get old when you stare at them all the time. The cut of the stone is also unappealing, as I prefer a more 'modern' aesthetic.

Definitely going to replace them. New range and refrigerator come first, though.
@Blue Ridge Reef: Here are some from my first BKK colony. Don't have updated photos handy at home.







I may end up moving some of my own shrimp to the tank but not until I get some new lines established. Even though I don't want to spend the money, I feel like it's necessary for genetic diversity.

My PRL line is still going strong. Honestly don't even know how many I have. Parted with about 2,000 last year and the colony has already bounced back.

Not yet settled on a source. Depends upon what my usual Bee folks are able to breed between now and when I order. Here's hoping someone will have some for sale when the time comes.
 

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@Discusluv: Okay. So they're not ugly but they sure get old when you stare at them all the time. The cut of the stone is also unappealing, as I prefer a more 'modern' aesthetic.

Definitely going to replace them. New range and refrigerator come first, though.

@Blue Ridge Reef: Here are some from my first BKK colony. Don't have updated photos handy at home.







I may end up moving some of my own shrimp to the tank but not until I get some new lines established. Even though I don't want to spend the money, I feel like it's necessary for genetic diversity.

My PRL line is still going strong. Honestly don't even know how many I have. Parted with about 2,000 last year and the colony has already bounced back.

Not yet settled on a source. Depends upon what my usual Bee folks are able to breed between now and when I order. Here's hoping someone will have some for sale when the time comes.
Wow! Those shrimp are amazing. :surprise:The last picture... is that also a King Kong variety?
 

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My PRL line is still going strong. Honestly don't even know how many I have. Parted with about 2,000 last year and the colony has already bounced back.



Not yet settled on a source. Depends upon what my usual Bee folks are able to breed between now and when I order. Here's hoping someone will have some for sale when the time comes.
Do you sell the PRL's online? Who are your Bee folks if you don't mind me asking?



Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
@Discusluv: I think BKKs are appealing to me because they seem more natural and less forced by the hobby - kind of like Goldens/Snow Whites and wild-type Neos.

Even though they remind me more a natural shrimp, they're obviously not. Wish we could get more hobbyists to focus on wild-types in order to promote habitat protection.

@gjcarew: Check out the For Sale section here on the forum. That's where I source pretty much everything. Also where I list sales threads for shrimp when I have them and for my line of shrimp food. Not keen on discussing sales outside that section (I have to follow the rules like everyone else and inevitably someone will complain suggesting I'm promoting my own sales) but I do offer them a few times per year. Cooler months only because my area of the country is 10,000% Humidity Hot Swamp Central these days.

There are quite a few shrimpers who have my PRL line. Some have decently shrimp sales operations but a couple try to pass my line off as some weirdly-named foreign line. Guessing it's because they know hobbyists would avoid them if they knew mine are usually cheaper than cherry shrimp and often free. Being a hobbyist isn't about making a profit and no one will ever convince me otherwise. So definitely hit up the For Sale section here. Feel free to PM me if you have concerns or need help vetting a potential source before buying.

Whoops. Got on a soapbox for a second. Sorry!

Not yet settled on a Bee source, as there are several on the forum. Could use some of my own colony but don't want to do that until I get new blood going. It's been so long since I've added new Bee genetics that I cringe thinking about it.

I do have a couple non-forum sources but I'm not sure they'd want me to share their names. Both are private hobbyists who only keep tank-raised critters - one in the US and one in EU.

@zmartin: Thanks! There are several other journals linked in my signature that are shrimp-focused. Some of them may be helpful or interesting and some are probably mind-numbing. Here's a taste:

Jake's Mr. Aqua 12gal Long/36" Shrimp Tank

So Maybe I Have A (20L) Shrimp Problem…

Jake's DBP 10gal For Cories & Shrimp

Jake's 45-F - High-Tech Guy Goes Low-Tech

Jake's 5.5gal Tiger & Cherry Shrimp Tank

Jake's High-Clarity Shrimp Cubes

I try to document everything I do in the hopes of making shrimp keeping easier for newcomers. It's been a hot minute since I've updated most of them and my at-home practices have improved. They're still fun journals, though, and you'll get a sense for how easy shrimp keeping can (and should?) be.
 

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@Discusluv: I think BKKs are appealing to me because they seem more natural and less forced by the hobby - kind of like Goldens/Snow Whites and wild-type Neos.

Even though they remind me more a natural shrimp, they're obviously not. Wish we could get more hobbyists to focus on wild-types in order to promote habitat protection.

@gjcarew: Check out the For Sale section here on the forum. That's where I source pretty much everything. Also where I list sales threads for shrimp when I have them and for my line of shrimp food. Not keen on discussing sales outside that section (I have to follow the rules like everyone else and inevitably someone will complain suggesting I'm promoting my own sales) but I do offer them a few times per year. Cooler months only because my area of the country is 10,000% Humidity Hot Swamp Central these days.

There are quite a few shrimpers who have my PRL line. Some have decently shrimp sales operations but a couple try to pass my line off as some weirdly-named foreign line. Guessing it's because they know hobbyists would avoid them if they knew mine are usually cheaper than cherry shrimp and often free. Being a hobbyist isn't about making a profit and no one will ever convince me otherwise. So definitely hit up the For Sale section here. Feel free to PM me if you have concerns or need help vetting a potential source before buying.

Whoops. Got on a soapbox for a second. Sorry!

Not yet settled on a Bee source, as there are several on the forum. Could use some of my own colony but don't want to do that until I get new blood going. It's been so long since I've added new Bee genetics that I cringe thinking about it.

I do have a couple non-forum sources but I'm not sure they'd want me to share their names. Both are private hobbyists who only keep tank-raised critters - one in the US and one in EU.

@zmartin: Thanks! There are several other journals linked in my signature that are shrimp-focused. Some of them may be helpful or interesting and some are probably mind-numbing. Here's a taste:

Jake's Mr. Aqua 12gal Long/36" Shrimp Tank

So Maybe I Have A (20L) Shrimp Problem…

Jake's DBP 10gal For Cories & Shrimp

Jake's 45-F - High-Tech Guy Goes Low-Tech

Jake's 5.5gal Tiger & Cherry Shrimp Tank

Jake's High-Clarity Shrimp Cubes

I try to document everything I do in the hopes of making shrimp keeping easier for newcomers. It's been a hot minute since I've updated most of them and my at-home practices have improved. They're still fun journals, though, and you'll get a sense for how easy shrimp keeping can (and should?) be.
Im loving on my wild- type neo's. They may not be desirable to many- but, I love their variability. Funny, I have one that is quite larger than the others that is brown and has visible orange eyes? It hangs out a lot on my sponge filter so I can usually find it. There are also a couple that are looking noticeably rounder on belly? Maybe will see some babies soon.

Quick question: is the Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra" ta hybridized form of shrimp or does it naturally occur in the wild? These guys are very beautiful. They appear shier than the neo's and cluster more under plants in shaded areas.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Cryptocoryne wendtii Bronze/Brown, Cryptocoryne beckettii and Christmas Moss came today from a vendor on Amazon. One many of us are familiar with. Since we have a policy against vendor reviews to avoid flamewars and shenanigans, I won't identify them publicly. To their credit, they refunded me for the C. beckettii and the moss. (I had a gift card - that's the only reason I went this route.)

I'd rather have the plants than the money. Typical of someone who keeps plants in glass boxes of water, isn't it?!

C. wendtii ($14.99) arrived in decent shape, though I believe it's been misrepresented by the vendor. I'm happy with it either way, as long as it doesn't die tonight. Gonna look wonderful when it matures. Check it out:





C. beckettii ($16.99) arrived rotting, stinking, unusable. Straight-up rancid. Can't even be salvaged at the rhizome. Looky here:





Christmas Moss is about 50/50 - at least some of it is salvageable:




I've shipped moss for nearly 20 years. It doesn't turn brown and die off this much during a day of shipping - not even in heat. It most likely looked like that when they plucked it from the tank. I feel like I get to be picky when I'm paying $19.99 for moss, ya know? Y'all can see the kind of mosses I keep, so it's not like my complaint is unwarranted.

This is a good time to reiterate that what I say about buying from other hobbyists can be important. They typically do a better job at shipping, take better care of things, enjoy their plants and do the best they can. I'll stick to hobbyists for moss from here on out. Tissue-cultured plants are a different story, though. Okay, I'll also buy tissue-cultured mosses when the price is right, I'll admit. Can't resist.

Sadly, the vendor didn't use ice packs or insulated material despite me paying a fat shipping premium. Lesson learned on that front - don't automatically trust that semi-popular vendors will do what they say they'll do. They were a source of some substrates for me several years ago and were at one point a sponsor of many hobbyist forums. So this plant development is unfortunate. I know they know how to ship properly. They just didn't.

From here on out, I'll pay the premium when I want tissue-cultured plants and go with folks I know will ship properly. AFA, here I come.

Now for a happy note: Have more plants coming Monday from San Diego. Here's hoping the shipping premium I paid this separate vendor actually keeps the plants in good shape. New plants! Yay!

I also took some time today to make a couple quick modifications. First up - I filled in the slot between the main tank and the filter chamber with silicone:



Placed some tape on the slot and filled it in with silicone on the other side. Since it's so thin, I decided it may be a good idea to add some strength. So I cut a piece of fiberglass screen and smudged some silicone around it. Here's a look at it through the back of the tank:



Screen is probably unnecessary but I had little scraps of it leftover from various vivarium projects.

Also filled the slot between the filter and pump chambers the same way:




I'll clean the silicone up a bit before flooding the tank.

Going to try a different source for C. beckettii this week and maybe load up on C. parva and C. lucens. Can a person ever have too many clumps of parva? I probably have thousands at this point and can't get enough of it. Thrives in high light and CO2 but always does well for me without either. Doesn't grow quickly but I certainly don't want it to in a shrimp tank.

Also considering mini pellia/Riccardia chamedryfolia. It's a plant I've never really enjoyed til now and think it may be nice in my 3gal longs. I guess my tastes are changing?

Now I need to finalize the Spec's hardscape and figure out whether or not I want to add rocks or keep it simple.
 

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Im sorry about the bummer plants. And those were bummers! :(
It would seem that this vendor would have the wherewithal to not send product that doesn't show them in their best light. No excuse.

Ive had alot of difficulty growing C. Parva in the past. But, I think this is because Ive always tried growing it in deep tanks with inadequate light- and, I might add, from online vendors. I haven't seen it available for sale from members on here yet. But, I think you have a much bigger network than I do among members to draw from. Those who dont advertise, but will send you some when you need some. :)

Excellent job on the modifications for the Spec-- Im learning all kinds of new tricks lol!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Pretty sure those Babaulti are wild or wild-ish.

My C. parva never really goes bananas in low-tech setups but I think there's something nice about its lanky, tiny appearance. A clump of a hundred of them is only about the size of the average C. wendtii leaf and that makes them ideal for small tanks.

Amateur hour plant mishap aside, I'm pretty excited about all the other stuff I'm acquired. Pretty sure I'm going to take a couple days this week to focus on tanks and avoid work. Are tankcations a thing? I am going to make that a thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hit the plant jackpot today! The following arrived in tissue cultures:


  • Hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan'
  • Riccia fluitans
  • Weeping Moss/Vesicularia ferriei 'Weeping'

Just regular ole plants:


  • Anubias nana 'Petite'
  • Java Moss
  • Mini Christmas Moss
  • Fissidens fontanus

Combined with the Buces, moss and Crypts I've already got and those on their way? I think this is a good start and I need to get to work this evening to at least get a few things going. I can add other plants - especially root feeders like Crypts - as they come in.
 

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Hit the plant jackpot today! The following arrived in tissue cultures:


  • Hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan'
  • Riccia fluitans
  • Weeping Moss/Vesicularia ferriei 'Weeping'

Just regular ole plants:


  • Anubias nana 'Petite'
  • Java Moss
  • Mini Christmas Moss
  • Fissidens fontanus

Combined with the Buces, moss and Crypts I've already got and those on their way? I think this is a good start and I need to get to work this evening to at least get a few things going. I can add other plants - especially root feeders like Crypts - as they come in.
Well I'm glad to see you've had some better luck with the second lot of plants. I literally just threw out a handful of xmas moss as well, but fear of shipping plants keeps me from giving it away to someone. Perhaps I should give it a go one day.
I'm loving this journal already, good work mate. C parva huh...maybe I'll need to get this for my ever growing number of shrimp tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ever been so tired from standing on your feet with your arms down in a tank that you forget what day it is? Haha, nah, not, I'm not old, don't look at me, I'm not the one feeling exhausted. (I am. It's me.)

Think I have things roughly set up how I want them. Here was the tank dry:



And the tank flooded:




A look from the corner:




I don't think it's terrible and, honestly, that's surprising on the first day.

That filter bag filled with lava rock will come out once the wood is more water-logged. I thought having a giant piece of slate glued to the bottom of it would be sufficient. Wrong! It nearly floated out of the tank.

On the wood at the bottom (there's some in back that you can't see) is Mini Christmas Moss. Up from that are a couple Anubias nana 'Petite', a Buce, bag of rocks, Buce, Vesicularia ferriei 'Weeping' (it's the light-ish moss you see in a couple places). Buces really go all the way to the end of the main piece and I need to trim most of their roots tomorrow.

On the substrate is a small piece of driftwood with a big clump of a Buce I can't name. To the right of that is a beautiful piece of driftwood I ruined by gluing a bunch of regular Christmas Moss onto. It'll get crazy and I'll have to keep it trimmed or maybe move it to another tank once Crypts start to mature.

I planted five or six decent clumps of C. wendtii - in the back and to the right. Here's how many I have left over:



Also decided to try out a few rhizomes of the C. beckettii 'Petchii' that arrived in a nasty state yesterday. Here's hoping.

In the rear left corner of the tank are three pieces of Hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan' - with a bunch leftover just in case. It'll grow up quite a bit and will weave its way through the other plants. Thought about adding some Java Fern back there but am not really feeling it. Maybe a tall crypt? Open to suggestions.

Two more Anubias nana 'Petite' will look better. Adding a larger Buce I have at the bottom of the stump is on the agenda once I have time to cut the clump up. Will probably glue it to small lava rocks to make it easy to move.

Planning to add a bunch of C. parva to accent throughout.

I just want this thing to be loaded down with Crypts, bits of nice moss and a ton of epiphytes. Shrimp paradise but not hot garbage, ya know?

I'll get things more finely tuned and arranged over the next week. Left plenty of room for mosses to grow out, Buces to expand (and for me to add more) and some open areas for Crypt growth and planting of others.

What else? Still deciding because I have so much available at the moment. Have plenty of Fissidens and Riccia, though I'm not sure I want to use Riccia because it always ruins everything by getting messy. Maybe in another tank.

Fissidens may look nice on a small piece of driftwood placed on the substrate. Probably a better fit than the Christmas Moss I used on the log thing.

More to come.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
The tank ran for 6-7 hours so I could see how much ammonia the Controsoil released. Less than 0.5 PPM. Needless to say, I like Aqua Soil Amazonia much better in terms of being a planted tank substrate. No need to add ammonia, more nutrients for root feeders like crypts and sometimes cheaper.

Aquasoil doesn't look as good as Controsoil Extra Fine Black in small tanks, though, and that's why I went with Controsoil - even though it's really more dark brown than black. Guess I think of Controsoil as more of a shrimp substrate. I've never used it in a tank with a bunch of root-feeders like crypts.

When I tested this morning, Nitrates were between 5 and 6 PPM, so the substrate is bringing at least a bit of nitrogen to the setup and I'm not mad at that. I plan to dose the tank a tiny bit on occasion and will likely use my DIY clay fert balls I make for crypts if I don't love how things are going after about a month.

Dosing an ammonium chloride solution now to bring things up to 3-4 PPM. Introducing bacteria today to jumpstart the nitrogen cycle.

Edit: Replaced the carbon with a bunch of random ceramic media:



That ought to be plenty.

There's room beneath the sponge filter rig to place a bag of Purigen - as water flows into the pump chamber - should I ever need it.

.....

@Jamo33: You should try shipping plants. It's not that big of a deal - especially when it's not blazing hot outside.

But if it is hot like it is now? All you need is an insulated box, a cheap cold pack you can get at any aquatic/reptile shipping supply retailer and some sensible packaging skills. Priority shipping at minimum.

If you're unsure, just give it a try sometime. Offer it in the Random Act Of Kindness section and tell the recipient it's a trial run for you.
 
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