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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all - I'm setting up a Riparium and wanted to post here to get tips and possibly help others.

Initially wanted to setup a simple tank (el natural) but ran into inconstant information on the web. In the end I didn't want to try out different methods for months until I figure it all out.

While researching planted tanks I stumbled on to a few pages on Riparium's and decided to give one a try because the concept is straight forward.

Tank Details

Tank: Mr. Aqua 17.4.
Stand: Aqueon 06531 Essence 24-Inch Aquarium Stand, Black
Lights: Finnex Fugeray 24"
Misc: Riparium Package #2 (6 hanging planters, 6 trellis rafts) from Riparium Supply
Plants:

Zephyranthes Rain Lily
Willow hygro
Hypoestes
Bacopa
Pilea Aluminum Plant
Alternanthera
Bacopa
Colocasia Fallax
Zephyranthes Rain lily
Lysimachia
Penny Wort

I also added a few fish and seeded bio material:

Fish:
9 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Corydoras trillineatus
1 Nerite Snail

Substrate: Eco Complete
Heating: None
CO2/Ferts: Seachem Flourish and Laguna Plant Grow Sticks
Filtration: Cascade 300
Wood: Manzanita branches
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I originally began my tank search looking for a ADA/Do!Aqua/GLA tank but could not find one locally. I eventually settled for a Mr. Aqua for less than $90 shipped. Ive owned 'generic' tanks my whole life and was really impressed with its clarity and overall quality.




I had a tough time finding a stand that matched. I was afraid to use "cheap" furniture without knowing if it had dense particle board or how it was made. I eventually gave in and purchased the Essence stand for a number of reasons: It closely matched the tanks dimensions, cost ~$120 shipped, pre-assembled, and arrived within 1 business day. The quality of the stand isnt anything special but it will fit the bill. I braced it just in case. Long term I plan on building a better one. Link: Amazon.com: Aqueon 06531 Essence 24-Inch Aquarium Stand, Black: Pet Supplies




Now on to the build!

Back of tank painted flat-black:





Products from Ripariumsupply:


Plants arrived in bad shape because I missed the package on Friday and they had to wait out the weekend. Hydrophyte sent a few replacement plants (which have not arrived yet).






The plants in a temp tank immediately after delivery:



The tank will stand directly next to my sofa



This presented other problems regarding light/glare which has me considering other lighting options.



I found that if I use material to block some of the light towards the sofa - its bearable - but still very bright.



I went to home depot to make a "DYI" light shield using white gutter material. I dont know how that's going to turn out....



Here is the tank where it stands today:



I'm still in the 'mock' phase because i'm trying to figure out lighting before I make this space the permanent location.
Questions:

Considering that the tank will be viewed at a quarter view most of the time:

http://i.imgur.com/O3DNrK3.jpg?1

I was considering design changes to optimize the view from the sofa. For example: Paint the right wall black so that it blocks the view of the air-conditioner, or move 2 pots on the left to the right wall so that they are not visible. Another idea would be to add a plant underwater on the left side to hide the planters. Do you guys have any thoughts on this?

I'm still torn on the substrate. I'm considering 2-3 submerged plants. Would substrate such as CaribSea Eco-Complete + even fert tabs do the trick for low light plants or should I try Walstead/El Natural?
 

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I don't think you should paint the side of your tank. Once you have the submerged scape and plants in there and your riparium plants fill out you won't notice the ac. I assume you will be raising the water level and hanging your light back up, right?

If you're someone that likes to rescape like I do, I would not recommend a dirted tank. Been there, done that and it can become very messy. Some cheap sand with root tabs will yield good results and make it easier to plant. Hydrophyte sells really good root tabs. I also like the Seachem ones, but I'm not a fan of the osmocote type because the little balls escape into the water column when you move plants.

On the other hand, there are people that love MTS (mineralized top soil) and other "dirt" substrates and have beautiful tanks using them. Check out the substrate section. There's no one "right" way, so it's whatever you think will suit you best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the insight! Yes, I will raise the water level soon!

Playing around with gutter to create some shade:




I cant tell how well it works until I hang the lights. I have another peice that can be used to extend one side.
 

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Looking good so far!

Those plants look a little rough, but most of them should come around. And there are a few more in the mail :icon_wink So long as the base of the plant is still firm that Colocasia dwarf taro should resprout and start growing.

I wouldn't recommend a topsoil substrate for most kinds of riparium setups. Because of the shade from the riparium plants there is only room for underwater plants up in the foreground area and they will likely be more limited by light than by ferts. As rocksmom says topsoil will just complicate rescaping and servicing later on. I would instead just use a few easy low-tech plants, such as crypts and Anubias underwater.

Somebody should manufacture a light shield kit for that fixture. That glaring light is a common complaint. Have you tried looking in the hobby sheet metal rack at a local hardware store? You'd have to figure out how to attach it, but I like the idea of neat strip of aluminum maybe 1 1/2" wide hanging down in front of the LEDs.
 

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Great looking tank! The few non-generic tanks I've seen have been quite nice! I may have to give in and purchase a nice tank some day.

I probably wouldn't paint the side of your tank unless you where going to place hanging planters on side and back. I might use submerged plants to hide the ac unit and planters. Although, if you planned out the whole aquascape to incorporate both the back and side, I think you could easily create a very impressive riparium. Maybe some of the people with more experience then myself would be able to help if you went that route.

There is some great info in the substrate section stickies, I read a couple long threads yesterday. I too would recommend staying away from dirt for something like this, though I'm sure someone might disagree. I'm currently using blasting sand and osmocote+ root tabs with success for med-low light plants. I know a lot of folks like the root tabs Devin sells, gro-soil, I believe(?). They seem to have worked well in my planters.

What is your plan for a hard scape & submerged plants? Are you trying to achieve a very natural look, like some of Hydrophyte's and others tanks?

Good luck reviving your plants! I have had mixed results with reviving some of my riparium plants that were in similar condition, due to my own mistake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Hydrophyte, the Colocasia dwarf taro has already sprouted a new leaf so maybe we're ok. The Ruellia has also opened up well. I cant tell what's going on with the Bacopa they seem limp and fall out of the potter often.

merritt1985: I'm not entirely sure how well the Finnex will perform here. I wish there were more Riparium specific forums out there to help give guidance. I have read hundreds of Terrarium/Vivarium threads and the overall focus is very different than Riparium.

Johnson18: No one will ever view the tank from the right side which is why I considered painting it. I think utilizing the right wall may add some "depth" at the primary viewing angle. This doesn't appear to be a popular concept. Here are some quick examples:




From the main viewing area utilizing the right wall adds some depth. The cluster of trellis rafts gives a fuller effect. I'm not sold, just toying with ideas.

As for the overall design, I wanted a simple setup: high plants in the back, a carpet of smaller foliage plants in the middle, wood in the tank aiming upward, dark substrate and a few plants down there. Going for a natural look but not trying to re-create a specific biotope or region.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update:

Used zipties to connect the Finnex to the chain. Will have to order a better solution but this test mount was crucial.



As you can see, the DYI light shield made out of gutter is in place and gives the light a very directional effect.
 

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That looks good with the plastic gutter! Just watch that the top of the fixture isn't getting too hot and melting the plastic.

I think that light will be fine for riparium plants. Most riparium plants grow very well with moderately-bright light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I stopped by Pacific Aquarium in NYC and was blown away. Huge inventory in such a small space! I've been shopping at big name shops (and local breeders) for over a decade and was caught off guard. I picked up a cheap heater and Cascade 300 filter.

Hydrophytes second package arrived today! I guess he noticed that I have two empty planters because he sent 2 plants free of charge, extra substrate, and another bunch of Bacopa. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I added pitch black sand today and immediately regretted it. The light brown substrate in the planters fell on the floor and it looks pretty bad. I haven't had much luck keeping the Bacopa in the potter with all the adjustments and movements lately so the soil is bound to spill. I may have to revert to a more natural colored floor bed. I will buy Eco Conplete and use it in tr planters and do it over.

I don't think the Ray 2 is working out. I was hoping that the black substrate, angling the light, and a dyi shield would help.... But it's still a bit much.

I may have to go with the Fugeray or maybe something else? Open to ideas.
 

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Hey cos, glad to see you setup now. instead of hanging the fixture, try getting the window screen from home depot and cover the bottom to diffuse the light. it will dramatically cut the light intensity down quite a bit...

also, instead of painting the side of the glass, you can get window film. ADA sells the stuff for the background in shades of green, blue as far as i can see, but there's no reason why you cant use window tint for cars. they are sold on amazon for $10ish a roll. The lower the number, the less light it will pass through the film. the best part of this approach is that its reversible. Always plan ahead ;)
 

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I've got black diamond sand in my 20L, I quickly learned to only pull the planters out of the water in the very back of the tank making sure the the planter substrate only falls in the back directly under their mounted location. My submersed plants are thick enough to hide most of the light colored planter gravel in the shade of the planters.

I know if I had a sweet looking tank like you I'd probably be a little pickier. ;) haha....

Good Luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
acitydweller, good suggestion with the tint. I may just try it out!

johnson18, LOL! In this case, the black sand I used was very fine and polished looking. The copper substrate flecks didnt mesh well. I purchased eco-complete and replaced both the sand substrate on the bottom and brown substrate in the potters. It helped hide the planters tremendously.



Hydrophyte, I gave up and replanted everything. This time shoving the Bacope all the way down. Now I can move things around without stems falling out:



Here we are today:

 
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