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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
MTS is kicking in, and there's no room in the apartment! Therefore, I'd like to setup a low-tech desktop aquarium. Planned specs so far:

Size
1.5 gallon Mr. Aqua

Equipment
Filter (?)
Finnex StingRAY LED Clip Light
Heater (?)

Substrate
ADA La Plata Sand

Hardscape
Driftwood
Ohko stone

Flora
Fissidens splachnobryoides
Riccardia chamedryfolia (Mini pellia)
Jungermmaia pseudocyclop (rose moss)
Bucephalandra kedagang

===

I'd like to do a DSM for this. I've never done one before, so I'll have to do some research first. The main reason is that I like the look of moss better when it's a DSM. It looks a lot more natural.

[STRIKE]I'd like fissidens, but I have to research which kind has very small fronds.[/STRIKE]

@Ugly Genius helped me narrow this down to Fissidens splachnobryoides. Thanks!
 

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I'd advise strongly against a nerite snail in such a small tank-they are major waste producers which will spike ammonia (or nitrate if cycled). Also they do not eat algae wafers and rarely learn to eat blanched veggies. They need a tank large enough to provide a lot of natural algae-your tank size will not sustain a healthy nerite.

If you get a betta you'll need a heater they are tropical fish that do best at 78-82F range. Many betta owners recommend the hydro theo adjustable heater (25 watt will work fine for that size tank). I'd personally not recommend a betta in your tank with your choice of landscaper though as bettas have extremely delicate fins that will rip very easily on the rough/sharp rock!

If you're willing to do a fish-less cycle and have the tank set up for a few months to age (after cycle) I'd suggest dwarf shrimp as an ideal fauna. Cycling is a must as shrimp don't tolerate ammonia or nitrite, or high nitrates. Letting the tank age a few months with plants and cycle completely allows natural food to grow n the tank for them to forage for (as they forage constantly) so you aren't raising nitrates having to add a lot of shrimp food.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd advise strongly against a nerite snail in such a small tank-they are major waste producers which will spike ammonia (or nitrate if cycled). Also they do not eat algae wafers and rarely learn to eat blanched veggies. They need a tank large enough to provide a lot of natural algae-your tank size will not sustain a healthy nerite.

If you get a betta you'll need a heater they are tropical fish that do best at 78-82F range. Many betta owners recommend the hydro theo adjustable heater (25 watt will work fine for that size tank). I'd personally not recommend a betta in your tank with your choice of landscaper though as bettas have extremely delicate fins that will rip very easily on the rough/sharp rock!

If you're willing to do a fish-less cycle and have the tank set up for a few months to age (after cycle) I'd suggest dwarf shrimp as an ideal fauna. Cycling is a must as shrimp don't tolerate ammonia or nitrite, or high nitrates. Letting the tank age a few months with plants and cycle completely allows natural food to grow n the tank for them to forage for (as they forage constantly) so you aren't raising nitrates having to add a lot of shrimp food.
Thanks so much for the feedback! I guess no nerite or betta then. You're right, this tank is probably smaller than I think it is (it's still on its way).

I do have a heater, but wasn't sure if I'd use one or not. It depended on the plants, but I guess most plants need warmer waters anyway so I'll use what I have once I flood the tank.
 

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MTS is kicking in, and there's no room in the apartment! Therefore, I'd like to setup a low-tech desktop aquarium. Specs so far:
===

I'd like to do a DSM for this. I've never done one before, so I'll have to do some research first. The main reason is that I like the look of moss better when it's a DSM. It looks a lot more natural.

I'd like fissidens, but I have to research which kind has very small fronds.
I'm excited to see how this goes! I just convinced my fiancée to let me get the exact same tank, and it should arrive next week. This one is going on the desk next to my monitor. I'm not sure how I convinced her since I've got a pretty bad case of MTS already, and our living room in our little apartment (I know your pain) is tiny, but then again, so is this tank. Let me know if you're interested in any of the details of my planned setup -- I didn't want to hijack your thread.

I think you will enjoy going the DSM route, as long as you are patient. My last DSM tank was a 9 gal bowfront, and I kept it DSM for ten months. Before that, both of my Marina Cubus tanks were DSM for about 6 months. I love watching everything grow in just the way you want it. Nothing beats flooding the tank after all that waiting. IMHO, I would definitely recommend adding CO2 during the transition period from emersed to submerged. It might not be as critical if you only have mosses, but it really helps to eliminate any die off caused by the transition, and minimizes new tank algae outbreaks. I've transitioned 5 DSM tanks with CO2, and the plants have thrived. Even just adding a DIY CO2 setup in a 20oz bottle will be enough for a tank this size.

I've done DSM with a few mosses. Flame moss and Java moss don't fare very well. You'll hardly see ANY growth at all until you flood. Fissidens seem to do exceedingly well though. The key with the Fissidens is to keep it VERY moist (ie wet) the first week or so, and then slowly dial back the moisture. It will turn a very dark green / brown and will look like it's dead, but don't worry. Also, you can expect it to eventually fill in gaps and grow out VERY slowly (it is fissidens after all), but do not expect it to get very thick or bushy until you flood. It will take a few days to adjust once you do, but after that, mine has colored back up and just taken off.

Oh, and in all of my tanks that I've done DSM with fissidens, I've had it attached to driftwood. I will usually just lay the fronds on the wood and allow it to naturally attach itself over a few weeks, but some folks have had good luck cutting the fronds into fine pieces and "sticking" the bits to rocks and things. <-- might help it fill in faster.

I'd advise strongly against a nerite snail in such a small tank-they are major waste producers which will spike ammonia (or nitrate if cycled). Also they do not eat algae wafers and rarely learn to eat blanched veggies. They need a tank large enough to provide a lot of natural algae-your tank size will not sustain a healthy nerite.
AuquaAurora, I have to respectfully disagree about the nerites. I've had nerites in all of my pico tanks, including both of my .9g Cubus (Cubi? Cubuses?) that are running right now, and I plan to have one in my Mr. Aqua 1.5g as well. In all of my pico tanks I keep varieties of neo's, and the shrimp (being detritivores) thrive along with nerites and their excess waste. That being said, bereninga, you wouldn't want more than one younger nerite in a tank that size, and I would recommend a smaller one at that. If you have horned nerites available, they are a great choice since they tend to not get as large as their olive/zebra/tiger cousins. AquaAurora, I DO agree with you that they aren't very fond of algae wafers or blanched veggies, but they do LOVE certain shrimp food. I feed Repashy gels and Jake's OmNomNom Shrimp Food to my neo's, and the nerites go crazy for it.

If you get a betta you'll need a heater they are tropical fish that do best at 78-82F range. Many betta owners recommend the hydro theo adjustable heater (25 watt will work fine for that size tank). I'd personally not recommend a betta in your tank with your choice of landscaper though as bettas have extremely delicate fins that will rip very easily on the rough/sharp rock!

If you're willing to do a fish-less cycle and have the tank set up for a few months to age (after cycle) I'd suggest dwarf shrimp as an ideal fauna. Cycling is a must as shrimp don't tolerate ammonia or nitrite, or high nitrates. Letting the tank age a few months with plants and cycle completely allows natural food to grow n the tank for them to forage for (as they forage constantly) so you aren't raising nitrates having to add a lot of shrimp food.
I agree with you on the need for a heater, but IMHO, the Hydor Theo is too big and too much heater for a tank this size. My recommendation would be the Marina C10. It's not adjustable, but it does have an internal thermostat, and it's about half the size of the Hydor. 10W is more than enough for 1.5 gallons. I live in a fairly cold climate and I actually have one in a 3 gal picotope, and it keeps it at a stable 78° (which is pretty good considering the tank is only a few feet away from an exterior window).

Shrimp would be my first choice as well, otherwise some of the nano killies might do fine in there. Also, a tank this size should cycle fairly rapidly, especially if it's been DSM for more than a few weeks. I can't imagine you needing to wait more than 2-3 weeks before adding fauna. Just my 2¢!

Good luck, and I can't wait to see how this progresses!
 

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We'll just have to respectfully disagree with eachother. I find a nerite in something that small is instantly grossly over stocked and I'd rather be under than over stocked. I've not heard of them eating shrimp foods, out of curiosity which exact Repashy gels and Jake foods are you using?
 

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We'll just have to respectfully disagree with eachother. I find a nerite in something that small is instantly grossly over stocked and I'd rather be under than over stocked. I've not heard of them eating shrimp foods, out of curiosity which exact Repashy gels and Jake foods are you using?
Respectfully agree to disagree, I'm ok with that. ;)

The shrimp foods were a surprise to me, too. They seem to be especially fond of the Repashy Shrimp Souffle, and to a lesser extent, the the Soilent Green. Their ultimate favorite, however, is Jake's Complete Veggie. They will steamroll any shrimp (or ramshorns in my bigger tanks) to get it. Then they simply sit on top of the piece and bogart it until they've had their fill. *shrugs*
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@AquaAurora I may caution towards the lower end of stocking for this tank then. It'll be a long dry start, so this won't be a thought for a while.
@nomad1721 Thanks so much for all of that information! Do you have a journal or will you start a journal for yours so that I can follow as well? I didn't even tell my wife about this one (yet). But I think she'll find out once the Finnex StingRAY comes in today. lol She's already tired of hearing about the Fluval 6g at home.

I plan on doing DSM for a 2-3 months. Does fissidens fontanus stick to rock as well? I won't be using wood in my tank. I read that fontanus is one of the fissidens that can't be grown emersed, but other types can. I'm also considering triangle moss. Any kind of moss that's compact is ideal since this tank is so tiny. If you have any other moss suggestions, I'm open to ideas.

I will do Excel vs DIY CO2 as I'd like to keep the work tank low-maintenance. I don't want to be doing a lot of tank work while at my real work. hahah With DIY CO2, is it possible to use a diffuser? Is there enough pressure?

Thanks for the heater recommendation. I was hoping that there were smaller options and the Marina C10 looks small enough. How about the Marina Betta one? That looks even smaller. The heater probably won't be needed until way later since I'll be doing DSM anyway.
 

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The marina betta heater at 8 watts heats my two gallon plus tank to 77 degrees, the house is a consistent 69-70 degrees.
 

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Looking forward to seeing this one.

My advice for the Fissidens is Fissidens splachnobryoides. Unexpectedly tiny and would work well to throw off people's sense of scale as the plant is not used all that much, from what I can see. Not too slow of a grower, either, in my experience. (Not fast, mind you, but not super slow. Just slow. Fissidens slow.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The marina betta heater at 8 watts heats my two gallon plus tank to 77 degrees, the house is a consistent 69-70 degrees.
I'm guessing that a 1.5g at 70 degrees would be heated up closer to 80 or more degrees then. That could be too hot. There's also the Hydor slim heater:
Amazon.com : Hydor 7.5w Slim Heater for Bettas and Bowls, 2 to 5 gal : Aquarium Heaters : Pet Supplies

Well, a heater can be researched later on as this won't be flooded for a while.

Ugly Genius Can that one be grown emersed? That type looks very interesting as it fits perfectly for what I'd like to do. Coral moss (mini pellia) actually comes to mind as well. Pellia and fissidens are both plants I'm more inexperienced with. Do you have a suggestion as to which one would be less difficult?
 

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Both are good for what you want. I'm pretty sure that the Fissidens can be grown emersed, but I've never grown it so myself.
I love Mini Pellia as it's so beautiful.
Neither are all that difficult, they're just very slow growers. I would say that MP is probably a bit more difficult in that you really have to nail down lighting -- not too bright to risk an algae outbreak and not too low so as to have them grow loose and stringy.

I would do both as both the plants compliment each other so well, but if you can only do one, I'd go with Fissidens splachnobryoides as it's rarer at this point and to see a full tank of the stuff would look great. It'd probably take you a year and a half to grow it all out, but after that year and a half, man, what a tank it'll be!
 

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@nomad1721 Thanks so much for all of that information! Do you have a journal or will you start a journal for yours so that I can follow as well? I didn't even tell my wife about this one (yet). But I think she'll find out once the Finnex StingRAY comes in today. lol She's already tired of hearing about the Fluval 6g at home.

I plan on doing DSM for a 2-3 months. Does fissidens fontanus stick to rock as well? I won't be using wood in my tank. I read that fontanus is one of the fissidens that can't be grown emersed, but other types can. I'm also considering triangle moss. Any kind of moss that's compact is ideal since this tank is so tiny. If you have any other moss suggestions, I'm open to ideas.

I will do Excel vs DIY CO2 as I'd like to keep the work tank low-maintenance. I don't want to be doing a lot of tank work while at my real work. hahah With DIY CO2, is it possible to use a diffuser? Is there enough pressure?

Thanks for the heater recommendation. I was hoping that there were smaller options and the Marina C10 looks small enough. How about the Marina Betta one? That looks even smaller. The heater probably won't be needed until way later since I'll be doing DSM anyway.
No problem, always happy to help. I don't have a tank journal going yet, but I was thinking about it once the tank comes in. I've done a few journals in the past, but I'm terrible about updating them consistently. I'll do my best this time around!

Given enough time, fissidens will stick to the rock, but it doesn't attach as well as it does to wood.

I've never actually tried a diffuser on a DIY CO2 setup, but I've heard that some people have been able to use one. I'm cheap, so for me the leftover bamboo chopstick diffuser works great.

As far as the heater, I've used some of the smaller betta heaters before, and my problem with them is that they are of the "always on" type. The C10 actually has an internal thermostat and will cycle on and off like the larger heaters. The description of the Marina Betta heater makes it sound like it has a thermostat, but in reality, it doesn't. It all comes down to personal preference in the end.


Looking forward to seeing this one.

My advice for the Fissidens is Fissidens splachnobryoides. Unexpectedly tiny and would work well to throw off people's sense of scale as the plant is not used all that much, from what I can see. Not too slow of a grower, either, in my experience. (Not fast, mind you, but not super slow. Just slow. Fissidens slow.)
I agree with @Ugly Genius Fissidens splachnobryoides would look great! I have actually grown in emersed as well, and it's more difficult than fontanus, but still possible. Just remember that Fissidens looks terrible under DSM! In fact, it looks so bad, I wonder if the people who haven't had success with it have been throwing it out too soon? *shrugs*

@Ugly Genius Can that one be grown emersed? That type looks very interesting as it fits perfectly for what I'd like to do. Coral moss (mini pellia) actually comes to mind as well. Pellia and fissidens are both plants I'm more inexperienced with. Do you have a suggestion as to which one would be less difficult?
Mini pellia would also look great. I was thinking of using some in my tank, but I've never tried growing it before. @bereninga You said that you've kept it, any tips on mini pellia?
 

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Assuming you have your DIY setup done properly, the CO2 will work with a glass diffuser. I used about five different glass diffusers on DIY setups and all worked without problem.

I think the trick is to use smaller bottles so as to have a stronger "working pressure".

If you go the MP route, I'd suggest DIY CO2 as MP and Excel can get a bit wonky. The MP won't melt, but you do have to be careful in how much you dose and where in the tank you dose in relation to the location of the MP as it is a bit sensitive to the stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It'd probably take you a year and a half to grow it all out, but after that year and a half, man, what a tank it'll be!
I lol'd when I read that. A year and a half is a REALLY long time to do a DSM! Wouldn't it be more time efficient to buy more vs growing from a small amount?

Maybe I will do both MP and Fissidens splachnobryoides then. If one fails during the dry start, at least I'll have the other in the tank right? Thanks for the suggestions on the plants!

No problem, always happy to help. I don't have a tank journal going yet, but I was thinking about it once the tank comes in. I've done a few journals in the past, but I'm terrible about updating them consistently. I'll do my best this time around!
I will keep an eye out then. :)

Mini pellia would also look great. I was thinking of using some in my tank, but I've never tried growing it before. @bereninga You said that you've kept it, any tips on mini pellia?
I actually have never had MP before. I've tried fissidens a long time ago, but that trial failed. I feel like I have a bit more experience and knowledge this time around (hopefully) and am willing to try again. I think the dry start will start. Plus, I have great resources right here on TPT. :)

Assuming you have your DIY setup done properly, the CO2 will work with a glass diffuser. I used about five different glass diffusers on DIY setups and all worked without problem.

I think the trick is to use smaller bottles so as to have a stronger "working pressure".

If you go the MP route, I'd suggest DIY CO2 as MP and Excel can get a bit wonky. The MP won't melt, but you do have to be careful in how much you dose and where in the tank you dose in relation to the location of the MP as it is a bit sensitive to the stuff.
Eek, could MP be grown without CO2? Not sure I'd want to set up a DIY CO2 setup at work. heheh

All this talk is getting me excited and I don't even have the tank yet!
 

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It will be fine without CO2. You can do Excel, just be sure not to dump it right on top of the stuff too often. Get reasonably good flow and that should take care of that problem.

According to wikipedia, MP's a terrestrial plant, so the dry-start should be relatively easy.

I should note that the first time I grew MP emersed, it went great. The second time, it failed. And every time I've grown it submersed, it grew very slowly initially, and then it hit a point where it grew very quickly. (Actually, I just checked an old tank of mine to check how long it took me to get a carpet of MP and I saw that I used Fissidens (Fontanus, though) and MP almost exclusively in that tank. You might want to check that one out as it can give you an idea of how growth went for me with the MP. I used a 13W CFL, ZooMed 501, and DIY CO2. Check that tank out here.)

I should say that the Do!aqua Glass Cube20, while just a tad over two gallons, was always my favorite tank. Meaning, be prepared to fall in love with that little thing you're building there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It will be fine without CO2. You can do Excel, just be sure not to dump it right on top of the stuff too often. Get reasonably good flow and that should take care of that problem.

According to wikipedia, MP's a terrestrial plant, so the dry-start should be relatively easy.

I should note that the first time I grew MP emersed, it went great. The second time, it failed. And every time I've grown it submersed, it grew very slowly initially, and then it hit a point where it grew very quickly. (Actually, I just checked an old tank of mine to check how long it took me to get a carpet of MP and I saw that I used Fissidens (Fontanus, though) and MP almost exclusively in that tank. You might want to check that one out as it can give you an idea of how growth went for me with the MP. I used a 13W CFL, ZooMed 501, and DIY CO2. Check that tank out here.)

I should say that the Do!aqua Glass Cube20, while just a tad over two gallons, was always my favorite tank. Meaning, be prepared to fall in love with that little thing you're building there.
I will make sure to be extra careful w/ the Excel. Also, thanks so much for linking to that journal. Seeing the photos and reading about its progress made me extra excited to try MP. I've never seen the plant IRL, so I'm hoping that my expectations of this tank are met and that I could keep the plant as well as in that journal.

===

After some research, I've settled on the idea (once this tank is flooded) of using a HOB filter like the Azoo Mignon 60. It's extremely small, and a sponge filter would look unsightly in the tank. Plus, w/ the design I have in mind, a sponge filter wouldn't be able to sit flat. I thought about a mini canister like the Zoomed 501 or KollerCraft TOM Rapids Mini, but even those are too big. I want this tank to be as small as it can get. A filter won't be needed for months, so I'm in no rush to get one.

Some good news: the tank arrives today! :) I'm hoping there were no mishaps from shipping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Low-tech Mr. Aqua 1.5 desktop &quot;Untitled&quot;

Aw yeah!





The clip light is way bluer than I'd like. But not sure what other options are out there that wouldn't make this tank too bright. I hope that this isn't too bright for my cubicle.

There are good things and bad things about this tank.

I like the tank size. I was on the fence for this or the Deep Blue Professional 1.5. I didn't like the black corners of that one though.

However, the silicone job is so-so.





Granted those are the corners and the back bottom which would be covered by substrate anyway, it wouldn't be that much more trouble to do a neater job.

I had no idea that Mr. Aqua tanks were Taiwanese. Not that it matters. But some really nice scapes of the AGA contests have come from Taiwan, so now I feel more inspired. Lol Yes, irrational and a non-factor, but I'm a nerd.
 

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After some research, I've settled on the idea (once this tank is flooded) of using a HOB filter like the Azoo Mignon 60. It's extremely small, and a sponge filter would look unsightly in the tank. Plus, w/ the design I have in mind, a sponge filter wouldn't be able to sit flat. I thought about a mini canister like the Zoomed 501 or KollerCraft TOM Rapids Mini, but even those are too big. I want this tank to be as small as it can get. A filter won't be needed for months, so I'm in no rush to get one.
We seem to be on the exact same page. I've got an Azoo Palm filter / Mignon 60 sitting unused and I thought it would be perfect. I had a TOM Rapids Mini on a 1.5g before and I really had to dial down the flow to keep the plants and critters from being overwhelmed.

Aw yeah!

The clip light is way bluer than I'd like. But not sure what other options are out there that wouldn't make this tank too bright. I hope that this isn't too bright for my cubicle.

There are good things and bad things about this tank.

I like the tank size. I was on the fence for this or the Deep Blue Professional 1.5. I didn't like the black corners of that one though.

However, the silicone job is so-so.

Granted those are the corners and the back bottom which would be covered by substrate anyway, it wouldn't be that much more trouble to do a neater job.

I had no idea that Mr. Aqua tanks were Taiwanese. Not that it matters. But some really nice scapes of the AGA contests have come from Taiwan, so now I feel more inspired. Lol Yes, irrational and a non-factor, but I'm a nerd.
Very nice! I'm glad it made it! Mine came in Monday, but unfortunately I've had to work late the last few nights, and I haven't made it home before the apartment office closes. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up tomorrow. *fingers crossed*

I know how you feel with the light. I have one of those on my chrome-rimmed 5 gallon, and if it were on the same table as the rest of my nano's it would like out of place with how blue the light is. You do get used to it though, and IMHO I do think that the shrimp look better under a higher Kelvin light. BTW, it was also pretty easy to remove the splash guard and cover up the blue LED's with some electrical tape.

TBH, the reason I didn't go with a Stingray on my 1.5 is that I was afraid that it would be too much light for that shallow of a tank. With how well all of my plants are doing in the much deeper 5 gallon I think it is a much better light than people give it credit (especially for under $25). Originally I wanted to use the Mr. Aqua clip light on the tank because, well, ... Mr. Aqua. *shrugs* After a lot of research I found out that it had 9 white leds and 3 blue. I couldn't find anything about the spectrum, and I was afraid that it would be too blue as well.

I run a DBP SolarFlare Micro on my two .9g pico's and it is an amazing little light. 1 3W LED @ 6700K and it has been strong enough to grow DHG, HC, glosso, and others. I also like how minimal it is. I was going to use a couple of them on my Mr. Aqua tank, too, but since I was going to paint the back panel, the suction cup mounts (the light's only downfall) wouldn't stick.

This time around I'm going with two Azoo Nano LED's off of fleabay [Item# 200947183704] They're about the same price as the DBP LED, but they attach to the rim of the tank. I received mine today, they're 3W each @ 7200K, and they seem to be solidly built. I haven't come across anyone on TPT using them, so I don't know how they'll be long-term.

If you don't like the Finnex light, my suggestion would be to look into the Deep Blue Professional SolarFlare Micro. If you can deal with the suction cup mount, it is an amazing little light.

/soapboxrant
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@nomad1721 Once you get the Azoo going, let me know what you think. A filter won't be for a while for me. Are you also doing a dry start?

Good luck on your tank arrival!

Now that I think of it, I didn't do my homework to see the par levels of the clip light! Do you happen to know where to find a chart?

I thought about getting the SolarFlare but it sounded like there's not much spread and it's also quite strong... But only in the middle! It's nice to have many options though. I'll prob find out if the clip light is too bright after the flooding. I want this tank to be very low maintenance. I'd be interested to see how those Azoo LEDs work out for you.
 
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