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This story starts with disaster, as every good story does. Is it obnoxious to say this will be a great story? Yes...and I am sure it will merely be a mediocre story at best. I digress.

I set this tank up a while back, scaped and planted happily chugging along after a fishless cycle. Added a colony of CRS and everything went great for a further 2 months. Then, much to my horror, the tanks crashed for an unknown reason. After having all parameters measuring steady for the entirety of the shrimps stay in the tank, an ammonia spike caused what I suppose was the beginning of a mini cycle. I could not prove that it was a mini cycle as it did not get that far, in fact, 80% of the shrimp died within a couple days and despite constant water changes, addition of prime and stability, I ended up with only 6 survivors. The story for those shrimp did not end there, they have made their home in my 20 gallon and seem to be doing well.

Picture of the tank prior to its demise.


Well...needless to say that the tank was torn down and now we are here. Starting again.

For fear that a pollutant entered the water, the tank was moved from its location to the bedroom, my wife is an amazing person for allowing this.
Of course this meant that a stand had to be built, or at least that is what the wood worker in me decided. I wish I had documented the build a little more, but it followed the exact pattern as my previous build for the 20 Gallon and came out looking pretty good.

When it comes to setting up tanks, I cannot help but attempt to scape, so the process began. Initially the design was to follow a similar route as the previous iteration, however the rocks took up a lot of space and limited planting. So, I dove into the remainders of my ohko stone and started playing around.

Attempt 1


Not good enough, and frankly seemed difficult to successfully plant the way I want.


Attempt 2


Better, and I can work with it.


A glimpse at the stand as well, sand added. I am aware it does not look overly natural, sand can be easily changed.


Day 1 planted.



Set up and planted. This will not be the final planting style, the aim clearly will be to have a full set of plants rising above the rock line. I do not have the plants I want on hand and cannot justify another purchase for plants that melt away in the post. Over time the narrow leaf java fern behind the rocks will fill out and begin to create a nicer back drop.
Though I am not enthralled by this design and overall appearance, I feel in time and with some additions of mosses, this tank could look quite nice.


Day 2 - cleared up following another water change.



A picture of the bedroom, yep the wife has allowed two tanks to exist in the bedroom. I am a very fortunate man.




The future for this tank is to attempt some successful breeding of my Blue Dream Neo colony. I have had some success in the high tech 9 gallon, but I am wanting to bolster numbers and explore the shrimping world further.

That is all for now, cycle time...again...again.
 

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Processing ammonia slowly.
I don't want to be fooled into a cycle that hasn't completed yet.
Keep adding ammonia to keep it at 2ppm, eventually it will take the whole 2 in 24 hours and I will be satisfied, right now getting about 1.5 processed.

Going to add mosses very soon, fill in the gaps and add some depth to the scape.
Largely unhappy with the planting right now, but I am unsure how to get this where I want without a big outlay of money on more and more plants...have to stop at some point right?
I will keep monitoring and hopefully in a couple weeks it will be ready for shrimp, having the filter being partly cycled already has helped a lot here.
 

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Patience--- did someone say that was a virtue--- Ugh!

Even the most experienced can be fooled by a cycle-- they are tricky, sneaky things.

I am crossing my fingers that that ammonia will be processed in 24 hours soon!
 

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Patience--- did someone say that was a virtue--- Ugh!

Even the most experienced can be fooled by a cycle-- they are tricky, sneaky things.

I am crossing my fingers that that ammonia will be processed in 24 hours soon!
I am learning how to master my need to rush things. "Slowly gets it done safest," that's what I continually say to myself now.

Cant wait to get some blues in this thing!
 

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Still trying to build the cycle. Something odd going on here. But I shall persevere!
I am considering adding some more plants now, I am thinking some swords would look awesome in there behind the rocks. Not sure if the blyxa is going to have the 'reach' as it were.
Otherwise I am thinking I could add some more soil behind and build it up so shorter plants could be used. S. Repens is now in excess due to my high tech churning it out, so that's an option. H. Tripatita would be awesome as well but I'd need to figure something out with a member on here, because I just cant fathom paying a business to send me everything and have it all melt again.

I am going to add some mosses in soon, but the dust off the rocks was still floating around till recently, so they would have gotten disgusting.

Suggestions of how to make this scape more dramatic and plant choices would be amazing. The aim is dense growth with potential overhang over the cliff edge.
 

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Swords or taller crypts (I'm less familiar with taller varieties, so the names aren't handy in my mind) could look nice. Maybe even a large Anubias of some sort.

If you planted three or four small portions of Monte Carlo near the valleys/low points of those rocks, I think it would spill over nicely and be a bit more leggy than it typically is in higher tech environments.

Hydrocotyle varieties, as you mentioned, are another option but Micranthemum may be better suited to produce the scale and look you're going for. Probably cheaper, too, since you'd need less of it.
 

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Swords or taller crypts (I'm less familiar with taller varieties, so the names aren't handy in my mind) could look nice. Maybe even a large Anubias of some sort.

If you planted three or four small portions of Monte Carlo near the valleys/low points of those rocks, I think it would spill over nicely and be a bit more leggy than it typically is in higher tech environments.

Hydrocotyle varieties, as you mentioned, are another option but Micranthemum may be better suited to produce the scale and look you're going for. Probably cheaper, too, since you'd need less of it.
I have some wendtii I could probably break up at this point. But I still dont know if that will be good enough. I'll look up crypts and swords and see what could work.

MC is an interesting idea, I can take it from my high tech and see what I can achieve. Probably in need of a bit more aquasoil to fill up the back a bit.

Hydrocotyle might do what I want, but I'm not worried too worried about scale right now. Honestly just trying to get it densely planted and looking good. Not happy with its bare and decrepit look currently.


Added the mosses, it softened the look a little. Going to try trimming these a decent amount to get them to climb and cling to the rocks. Over time it should hopefully overgrow and just get crazy.

 

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A picture of the bedroom, yep the wife has allowed two tanks to exist in the bedroom. I am a very fortunate man.
Oh yeah! That's a nice room to fall asleep in, in my book.

Did you acid test those stones? Hate to be the one to bring it up but every type of "dragon stone," "Texas holy rock," etc. has raised KH like it was a chunk of seashell. I love the look of them too, so have bought them time and again being told it was inert, and every time they turn out to be less than ideal for Caridina shrimp. Hoping the saying "your mileage may vary" applies here. And if it does, I would love to see where you got them to get some of my own.

As plant choices go, a couple of EI 2009 or similar compact "swords" would be an interesting choice of color and texture. Crypt nurii “Rosen Maiden” is very cool. Eriocaulon sp. ‘Vietnam’ would be the equivalent of monkey grass along those stones and is for sale in the classifieds here. Hard to guess what someone else likes, but I'd be thinking in that type direction. Loving that tank thus far!
 

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What about planting a tiny bit of Monte Carlo around the edge of the rock in the sand in a few places?
That is a very good idea. I very much like that! Not sure how it will go. But I can sure try!

Oh yeah! That's a nice room to fall asleep in, in my book.

Did you acid test those stones? Hate to be the one to bring it up but every type of "dragon stone," "Texas holy rock," etc. has raised KH like it was a chunk of seashell. I love the look of them too, so have bought them time and again being told it was inert, and every time they turn out to be less than ideal for Caridina shrimp. Hoping the saying "your mileage may vary" applies here. And if it does, I would love to see where you got them to get some of my own.

As plant choices go, a couple of EI 2009 or similar compact "swords" would be an interesting choice of color and texture. Crypt nurii “Rosen Maiden” is very cool. Eriocaulon sp. ‘Vietnam’ would be the equivalent of monkey grass along those stones and is for sale in the classifieds here. Hard to guess what someone else likes, but I'd be thinking in that type direction. Loving that tank thus far!
Very nice to have as a light in the room as well. Just so calming and nice!
I never acid tested the stones, but fortunately I wint be bothered with added kh as this tank will have neos.
Honestly I think these ones are inert. But maybe they aren't, keeping them with buffering substrate, could just always be battling each other. Maybe my high tech will have the substrate exhausted soon.
Got them in Gainesville. Had never heard anything about them raising KH until recently on the forum, was extremely surprised.

Okay, I am looking into all of these now. I guess it all ends up depending on whether I can get the look that I'm looking for when they grow in. Thank you for these suggestions!
 

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That is a very good idea. I very much like that! Not sure how it will go. But I can sure try!



Very nice to have as a light in the room as well. Just so calming and nice!
I never acid tested the stones, but fortunately I wint be bothered with added kh as this tank will have neos.
Honestly I think these ones are inert. But maybe they aren't, keeping them with buffering substrate, could just always be battling each other. Maybe my high tech will have the substrate exhausted soon.
Got them in Gainesville. Had never heard anything about them raising KH until recently on the forum, was extremely surprised.

Okay, I am looking into all of these now. I guess it all ends up depending on whether I can get the look that I'm looking for when they grow in. Thank you for these suggestions!
I dont have plant suggestions-- too much a noob for that. But, had to tell you how much I love this design.

I like the idea of the moss growing along the rocks- it softens the vertical lines ( which I do love) of the stone. Giving contrast.

I think it would also look good to have some of that dragonstone crushed and dispersed at base where the white sand meets the rock. The white sand is throwing me off- detract from it by adding some crushed rock to keep it from pulling your eye from the focal above.
 

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@Discusluv @somewhatshocked

Noted! I have a jar for this specifically so I will get into it and try meld in both plants and rubble. The sand colour was because of convenience. Clearly a different colour sand would be better, but hopefully a soft transition will allow the sand to stay.

Need to get on and buy some plants to fill in the back as well. So hopefully I can change this tank around in no time!
Thanks you two. You're both keeping me going on this tank, perpetual improvement!
 

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@Discusluv @somewhatshocked

Noted! I have a jar for this specifically so I will get into it and try meld in both plants and rubble. The sand colour was because of convenience. Clearly a different colour sand would be better, but hopefully a soft transition will allow the sand to stay.

Need to get on and buy some plants to fill in the back as well. So hopefully I can change this tank around in no time!
Thanks you two. You're both keeping me going on this tank, perpetual improvement!
I dont have alot of fancy plants, but if you ever want some Java fern I can send you some - I have the standard leaf, narrow leaf and India atm :)


Yes, you can make that sand color work just fine, just needs to transition a bit more- rubble and moss will do it. It already looks amazing.
 

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I dont have alot of fancy plants, but if you ever want some Java fern I can send you some - I have the standard leaf, narrow leaf and India atm :)


Yes, you can make that sand color work just fine, just needs to transition a bit more- rubble and moss will do it. It already looks amazing.

You're too kind!!! I may have to take you up on that soon!

It is a constant process, I may never be happy with any of my tanks truly...but constant working and reworking until I can say "yeah, that looks good" is actually the most fun in owning tanks for myself. After adding the moss into this tank, I saw new life in it and could see the possibility of the next stage and future of the tank. So I will persist!!!
 

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How's the tank going?
Jake....are you sure you want to know? Really?

Let me say this, I've seen 600lb people cycle faster than this.

In all honesty, I need to water change multiple times and readdress the cycle situation.
I've added some MC around the base, no/little growth as yet so not looking lovely and still need to order more plants. I'd love to say I've got a really busy life and that's holding me up....but it's not true, I'm just a lazy fool.
 

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Pbbbt. That's just life with tanks! We all have those ups and downs.

I keep screwing around with my 25cm cube that's fully grown in and pretty much ready for shrimp. It's on its third cycle/mini cycle because I've tried several different things to combat kH issues. (Now on crushed coral and it's doing the trick. Maybe. MAYBE VICTORY!)
 

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Pbbbt. That's just life with tanks! We all have those ups and downs.

I keep screwing around with my 25cm cube that's fully grown in and pretty much ready for shrimp. It's on its third cycle/mini cycle because I've tried several different things to combat kH issues. (Now on crushed coral and it's doing the trick. Maybe. MAYBE VICTORY!)
Yep... it's getting tiresome my friend.

Well perhaps we will both be nearly finished soon. Water changes being completed and trying to check if this will finally complete the cycle. Who knows?
 
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