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Discussion Starter #1
Well as we all know, this hobby can bite hard. When it does, we simply end up with a litany of tanks peppered throughout the house, filling up the empty spaces we can find...or create.
I am creating this tank to prove to myself and maybe some others that you dont need to have a high tech tank to create a beautiful aqaurium. So yes, a low tech tank with the focus being beauty.
As such, this tank and its progression will require lots of advice and help from our lovely community here. There is no point me trying to keep plants that will turn out ratty and die off because they require high co2 and light. So planting suggestions will be highly appreciated, and if some plants made their way to my front door I would be forever grateful.
Whilst I do not have an enormous budget, I have saved some money to make this not a cheap as chips build. However, I no longer have a job as I am a full time international student. So there is no income flow here.

Details
Tank: Ultum Nature Systems 60U - 20ish gal
Light: Beamswork DA Fspec
Thinking about a TC421 to control, leaves the addition of extra colour strips open also.
Cabinet: DIY ADA style stand.
Eheim 2217
Hydor inline 200w heater
Jardli Stainless Steel Lily Pipes

Hardscape:
Tiger Wood x1 (need to decide if I want more)
Black Lava Rock

Stocking
Yet to be decided, but I am most definitely going to have shrimp, probably my blue velvets if they breed.
Open to suggestions.

How it sits right now, in the bedroom.



I know that we have plenty of DIY stand builds on here, so I decided not to write another one. However, if people are interested, I have it documented and can write one up.

That'll do it.

Jamo
 

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For what it’s worth, I would be interested.
My ‘daughters’ tank might not be going in to her room after all so I might need to build a stand soon.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Looks like this will be an interesting build! I'm assuming you are going to be keeping dosing/ferts pretty simple...will you be dosing Excel regularly on this tank? Love the simplicity/minimalism look of the stand, rimless tank and light so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
For what it’s worth, I would be interested.
My ‘daughters’ tank might not be going in to her room after all so I might need to build a stand soon. Tapatalk
I will start writing up the thread, check out the DIY section soon and I'll have it posted up there. I need to create some drawings first to best describe the stand.

Looks like this will be an interesting build! I'm assuming you are going to be keeping dosing/ferts pretty simple...will you be dosing Excel regularly on this tank? Love the simplicity/minimalism look of the stand, rimless tank and light so far.
You are correct, this will be as simple as I can go, whilst also growing plants healthily. Excel will most definitely be a part of the tanks additives.
Thank you for the kind words. I aimed for minimalism, so I'm glad it is appreciated. No need to have a stand that detracts from the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is the way I'm aiming this tank towards.
Let me know what you think about this scape. It will have the typical sand around the rock base.


I'll stare at it for a while and decide if it's any good. Best to let the mind mull, too long and I'll convince myself close enough is good enough.
 

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It’s a bit too far to the left, IMO. What an incredible piece of wood. I’d move the arrangement ~2 inches to the right to where the trunk sits at about 1/3 the aquarium length. The hard straight line on the left side bothers me a bit. It seems to fight with the composition. Otherwise, I like it very much.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It’s a bit too far to the left, IMO. What an incredible piece of wood. I’d move the arrangement ~2 inches to the right to where the trunk sits at about 1/3 the aquarium length. The hard straight line on the left side bothers me a bit. It seems to fight with the composition. Otherwise, I like it very much.
Noted and thank you.
Adjustments made, the aim of this scape was always to make the formation seem as natural as possible. I have shifted the scape to place the wood trunk roughly at the 1/3rd from the left location. Following the golden ratio is always a great rule of scaping and I try to abide by it. Clearly was blinded on my last attempt.
New scape below. Note: it looks odd without the soil in, but many of those spaces underneath the roots will be filled in by the soil, linking the wood to the rocks naturally.

 

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Hardscape looks great so far.

You could maybe add some smaller pieces of lava stone around the base. You always see ADA in their videos sprinkle small pieces around the larger rocks to create a more natural appearance. It's also an easy way to add moss/anubias/buce, just tie/glue onto a small rock and place around the base.

Got a plant list yet?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hardscape looks great so far.

You could maybe add some smaller pieces of lava stone around the base. You always see ADA in their videos sprinkle small pieces around the larger rocks to create a more natural appearance. It's also an easy way to add moss/anubias/buce, just tie/glue onto a small rock and place around the base.

Got a plant list yet?
Bang on, was planning on it after I add the sand.
Well, being low tech I must admit my choices are limited, so this far I am not sure. I wanted to play with the idea of some monte carlo, but I doubt it will pan out as hoped.
Anubis (varied types)
Buce (varied types)
Rotala?
Crypt wendtii maybe?

Honestly I am so unsure. Very open to suggestions and advice.
 

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If you haven't grown bucephalandra you may find them more difficult than you expected. Between the fact there are so many different species with seller-specific names, and the fact they are less studied and familiar to the hobby, it can be difficult to find concrete evidence that a particular plant will do well in a given tank. I have a friend who has very high quality show tanks that he enters in competitions, and he's agreed that bucephalandra can be a tricky bunch, even with good lighting and CO2 levels. I'd pass on them unless you specifically find someone here on the forums that is selling one they are already growing in low tech conditions and they look healthy. Can't beat that.

Anubias are very slow growing, but man are they versatile and easy to please. You can't go wrong putting them in a low tech, and there are many types that are well known in the hobby, can't speak well enough about anubias for low tech.

Rotala can be a bit more tricky. It's generally an easy grower, but it does best with stable water parameters, good gas exchange (which that skimmer will help provide) and adequate water column fertilization. If you plan on regularly dosing water column ferts it should be fine, but will likely be the first plant to show problems. Honestly I try to keep one plant in my tank that struggles but grows fairly quickly. Two reasons for that. 1) It can teach me what I'm missing (like lately I learned my water parameters shifted unexpectedly because my tap water changed dramatically in a few weeks. My rotala stunted and my fish looked pale, so I knew something had changed, thankfully I know what happened now, but I might have missed it without watching things closely. 2) if something is wrong in a tank, a faster grower that is more sensitive will help me know WHAT is wrong by how it behaves. They show deficiency signs fast enough you can correct them before your anubias leaves get pin holes or get warped from not having adequate fertilization.

Crypts are also slow growing but very easy. Feel free to throw them in, just keep in mind that they grow baby plants a few inches away (2-4ish) when they are growing healthy and happy. They aren't dense and bushy very quickly, so don't expect them to fill a space visually unless you give them a few months. They can also get huge over time, but this takes months, even years depending on the set up and species.

If you're going for bulletproof plants for low tech, dwarf sag, and valisneria do really well. They spread via runners and can be a real pain to control as a result. But that's the benefit for them too. You'll never run out of them, and they grow healthy and fairly quickly even in lower light set ups.

Personally, with the hardscape you have there, I'd go with anubias, crypts, and microsorum (java fern species) maybe bolbitis. Some people can't easily grow microsorum species in low tech, but if you can get them to do well they can be thick, bushy, and hardy. You can get a few of each of these that are fairly different from each other to provide variety. Anubias nana petite is very small and round in leaf shape, while anubias lanceolata makes 3-6 inch long leaves that are fairly thin, and those are just two examples. Microsorum comes in at least 4 different leaf shapes as well. Bolbitis (mini or regular) has a very fine leaf texture to contrast.

Lastly, if you want to go with stems, rotala and ludwigia 'red' are a decent way to introduce color. Being that they grow a bit faster than the other plants (valisneria and dwarf sag being excluded) they may help to keep down algae.

You considered trying Monte Carlo, and if you have an extra $10 to buy a pot, why not try it? It can do well in low tech provided that your set up can provide some natural CO2 generation.

To provide a liiiittle extra natural CO2 you'll want to consider substrate. Soil (like from a garden) can help provide this, but that depends a lot on your soil composition which varies greatly from place to place. I have a friend who had a very successful low tech by using Miracle Grow Organic potting soil (careful to avoid any product that has manure in it, that can leach a LOT of ammonia sometimes) and capping it with pool filter sand. As the organics broke down and the peat moss lowered ph, his plants did much better than I would have expected.
My personal recommendation would be to try putting a small bit of soil in the bottom, say the bottom inch, mixed with potting soil. Then cap with something like Aquasoil, but that's just my two cents. Or given how long this post has become, my 10 cents. :grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@Blacktetra

Thank you so much for the in depth reply, truly appreciated. I am pretty much in agreeance with you on everything. Buce have always proved difficult for me no matter what, but seeing as I have them ready and waiting i will use them and hope they can survive.
Anubias is always part of my low tech tanks, I love the variety and honestly love the plant. Will look into some other species, I have nana and nana petite right now.
I have some needle leaf java kindly gifted to me by OVT and a few other plants as well. Some tall vals could look amazing, as could crypts.

Re monte carlo. I am thinking that is my HC in my high tech wont take. I am going to swap to monte carlo, so I may purchase that and keep a bit for the low tech. We shall see.

I love the putting soil idea. I think I have have to do that, anything to gain that bit of extra co2 whilst not making the entire tank unstable.

As for the tank itself, it hasn't made any further progress. I need to build one more thing for it that is completely aesthetics and really not necessary, but I want it. The need to set up all connections and secure the hardscape as that wood will want to float, as will the twigs.

Very excited about this tank. But I'm trying to get things done right and not rush as I usually do.

Sorry if I forgot anything blacktetra, I wrote this after reading and my memory is lacking of late (the baby wont sleep!)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes think tank still exists, an no I haven't been doing much on it.
Things have been hectic at home and whilst dealing with everything this tank just got pushed aside.

What has happened thus far.
TC421 turned up, I am only using a single channel to control this light, no variablilty as RGBs could not be separated without extensive work. If I want to vary colour I think I will purchase some extra lights and strap them on next to this light. It is nice having the variability this unit allows though, right now just have it set for a small ramp up and a short window of 80% strength, the total light period is 7hrs. I would say that leaves the plants about 4-5 hours of photo period (otherwise its just too dim).

Species currently plants.
Narrow leaf java fern
Anubias Nana long wavy
Anubia Nana Petite
Misc Buce (can't identify)
Mini Bolbitis - Baby leaf
Crypt Wendtii brown
Echonidoras Hadi Red Pearl
S. Repens
Monte Carlo (low expectations due to terrible delivery)
Dwarf Sagittarius

Plus some plants kindly donated by @OVT (Thank you sir!)
I cannot remember the names now however...Hydrocotyle misc I will say and pearlweed plus some of the narrow leaf java.

I expect some melting of plants and mostly some complete die off, which I cannot say I am happy about, but that is what happens when plants are sent to florida uninsulated and without cool packs. My own waste of money I suppose.

Here is pic day 1 after planting.




I am still working on a little something to clean up my tank cabinet, but after that is complete I will be officially finished with the building and all focus will be on the tank itself.
Inhabitants are still unknown, just cannot decide what I want. Luckily I have the whole cycle to decide. Suggestions welcome and appreciated.
Christmas moss to be added as well. Just not yet sure where and if it will look how I want.

Thanks all
 

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I have the same exact tank and a DIY ADA stand also. I recently re-scaped this tank from high tech dutch style scape.
Mine are all buces, anubias, and crypts. Most have been growing from my previous setup.. =) Mine still have CO2 but not injecting a lot anymore..



By the way, very nice setup you got there.. =)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
@Mike16T

Very nice thank there mate and thank you for the kind words.
Mostly my hope here is that I don't burn all the plants with the ADA soil during these first few weeks.
I know some melt from some of these plants is normal, but complete melt is just frustrating.

Hoping to keep this a simple set up, just like your tank there. Easy maintenance is key here.
 

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Mostly my hope here is that I don't burn all the plants with the ADA soil during these first few weeks.
I know some melt from some of these plants is normal, but complete melt is just frustrating.

Hoping to keep this a simple set up, just like your tank there. Easy maintenance is key here.
With those plants you don't need aquasoil(I don't have any)



But assuming its already there, add Seachem Stability for quick cycle, and keep up with water changes especially keep up with them daily if Ammonia exceeds 1-2ppm. Keep light period to ~3 hours while cycling.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
With those plants you don't need aquasoil(I don't have any)



But assuming its already there, add Seachem Stability for quick cycle, and keep up with water changes especially keep up with them daily if Ammonia exceeds 1-2ppm. Keep light period to ~3 hours while cycling.
Although I am aware I did have to have the aquasoil, I like it for its buffering and plan to keep some shrimp in here so that will only help.
I will grab some stability and chuck that in there.

I must say, really disappointed with the tissue culture of MC I got from BucePlant. Seriously not good stuff. But then again, it seems I am not a great planted tank keeper and its quality may not have increased success any way.
Melt is going strong.

Love the tank by the way, very nice indeed
 

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Sorry to hear you're suffering some serious melt Jamo.
It may be that you did in fact get a poor quality tissue culture, it can happen. It's hard to know how long it's been between being packaged, and arriving at your doorstep. The tank set up looks nice though, keep at it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Small update here.
Have you ever had the feeling that everything you do and everything that happens in your tank is the complete of what everyone else experiences in their tanks?
You read anywhere on the net that with aquasoil in a new tank you "will" see an ammonia spike. Well, no such event took place in this tank, so whilst everyone else just uses the leached ammonia to seed their cycle, I have to drop the ammonia in. I'm not quite sure why this has happened to me with every aquasoil attempt thus far, but if I were to go by person al experience right now I would say the ammonia spike is somewhat elusive. Regardless, checked parameters and saw a clean slate 0,0,0. Hmm, not good. Added more ammonia and I indeed have a no cycle. Bugger. That's delayed fish introduction a while.
Plants that could recover are starting some new growth, dwarf sag is the worst off...it just is not happy. Fingers crossed. If not, anyone got some spare to lend?
Stocking plans are tentative but im thinking of CPDs, a school of chili rasboras and some otocinclus, plus misc shrimp.

FTS


When's the best time to start dosing?
 
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