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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Okay, I stumbled onto this site a couple days ago, and I've been blown away by the talent and expertise I've seen from the members here. I've just spent the past few weeks putting together (and redoing) my first-ever planted nano tank, and I'm thinking I could benefit from the insights/advice of the experts.

It's a betta tank for my office. Initially, my only impulse was to provide a humane home for my pet fish Indigo, but now I'm getting increasingly interested in making the tank as nice as possible in terms of plants and aesthetics.

Here are the specs:
- AGA 2.5 gallon tank, back painted black.
- AGA 2.5 incandescent hood retrofitted with a 10W CF lamp (5100K); light runs 7 am - 7 pm, except for Saturday and Sunday (7 am - 11 am only, due to heat concerns).
- AGA 2.5 gallon glass cover cut down and fitted with a cuttable plastic flange to allow filter, heater cable, etc.
- Red Sea Nano filter, with 3 Bio-Chem Stars dropped in to increase biological filtration.
- TetraTec 50W heater (a lot of wattage, but it's smaller than the Thermal Compact 25W heater I had previsously and seems to be working well).
- Substrate is 100% Eco-Complete.
- CO2 is Hydor CO2 system, which runs off the mini-CO2 canister; CO2 is fed into the tank by a small airstone and monitored by a Red Sea CO2 indicator.
- Plants: Java Fern, Dwarf Hairgrass, and Java Moss attached to a piece of Asian driftwood.
- Fish/animals: 1 betta splendens only.

Here's a pic.



Any advice/suggestions/constructive criticism welcomed!

Thanks!

Scott
 

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Thats a sweet setup! Puts my 2-liter-bottle-CO2 system to shame! I thought I read somewhere that you can break up the dwarf hairgrass so it fills in more evenly, but I've never kept it and can't say from firsthand knowledge.

It's going to be really pretty.

I wonder if you could use the dwarf hairgrass where it is as a midground plant, and go for an even lower foreground plant in front of it. Also, it looks like when it fills in, it might be taller than your driftwood...

I've seen a lot of people use Glosso for the foreground, although I've heard it grows so fast it might try to climb out of the tank and eat you...

I've got micro swords right now; supposedly they can create a decent lawn, but they grow so slowly they are a major target for algae. I'm wishing I did a different carpet plant, but now that it's growing and spreading I'm loathe to start over again and waste the plant I've already got in there.

Anyways, the tank looks like it's going to be great; very high tech looking equipment -- I'm curious about setting up a legit CO2 system too at some point so I may bug you for pointers.

Good luck!
 

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Very cute nice looking little setup you have there! It looks very nice. The black river rock makes me think of stepping stones across a creek or something.

You might want to direct your airstone to release the bubble directly under your intake of your small filter - it'll help diffuse the CO2 a little more.

I'm not an aquascaper at all, but the hairgrass will get taller than your driftwood so I'd suggest placing it more to the back and thinning it out so it'll fill in quicker for you. In its place you could try an anubias petite cluster. I like an open front, but love what people have done with their carpets out front too, so thats just a personal decision you have to make whether you want a carpet in the front or not.

I'm sure you'll get lots of opinions and I still hold to the fact that if it looks good to me and is pleasing to my eye, thats what matters as I'll be the one looking at it all day. :icon_wink Have fun with it!
 

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nice setup. You can hide that heater and temperature probe or whatever it is out of view a bit lower horizontally behind the driftwood. Can I see a side shot detail of the CO2 rig?

glosso won't do well under such little light, IMHO. Microsword is pretty big for a foreground in such a little tank.

I am not too keen on the river rocks. A few more plants in the back left, and another small piece of wood with some different moss or some pellia would look very nice.

If you want small quantities of mosses, you can shoot me a PM. Here is my 2.5g, so you can see what some of them look like: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/p...-2-5g-moss-tank-updated-4-a-2.html#post410546

very nice tank you have, and welcome to the forum!

regards,
joel
 

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Really nice tank tank ;) But I think those river rocks in the front sort of kill the scape they don't really fit in and draws your attention too much. Otherwise, great little tank ;) Oh and nice Betta!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thats a sweet setup! Puts my 2-liter-bottle-CO2 system to shame! I thought I read somewhere that you can break up the dwarf hairgrass so it fills in more evenly, but I've never kept it and can't say from firsthand knowledge.
...
Thank you so much for your comments; the feedback here is wonderful. It raises the hobby to new heights.

Regarding the CO2, I bit the bullet and bought the cartridge-style system as opposed to the fermentation style setup. I bought it thinking that I would need to be able to regulate the CO2 to avoid overdosing the tank: but I quickly learned that's not much of a concern. If a fermentation setup were producing too much CO2, I could've always bled some of the CO2 off with a valve or increased the inefficiency of the diffusion, or increased the surface agitation. The one plus is that I'm trying to make this setup as straightforward as possible since it's in the workplace, and changing a little tank seems easier and cleaner than periodically mixing up a yeast batch. One downside is that the tank is very small, so it'll have to be changed frequently, on the order of every 3 months or so, I believe. I've ordered a more efficient glass/ceramic diffuser that whoudl allow me to slow down the bubble rate and stretch out the time between new canisters. But I definittely wouldn't go with this Hydor system for anything bigger than a 5 gallon tank. (I've also heard that the regulator cannot be used onlarger tanks, so it's not like you can upgrade and save the investment if you find the small canisters too small.)

Regarding the dwarf hairgrass, I just swapped that into the tank in place of a dwarf acorus, which I bought without knowing it wasn't a true aquatic plant. I'm not sure how to use the hairgrass at this point: more than anything, I'm curious if it'll grow! This tank is so new that I haven't had a chance to see much growth at all yet--and part of me (the skeptic) is thinking everything's going to turn brown and rot.

I like your idea of a ground cover. I have no experience with them at all, though. I'm concerned that most covers would require more light than my systems has. Hmmmm. I did read somewhere about people making a ground cover/lawn out of some kind of moss.

Thanks you again for your thoughts and comments. They are much appreciated!

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Very cute nice looking little setup you have there! It looks very nice. The black river rock makes me think of stepping stones across a creek or something.

You might want to direct your airstone to release the bubble directly under your intake of your small filter - it'll help diffuse the CO2 a little more.

I'm not an aquascaper at all, but the hairgrass will get taller than your driftwood so I'd suggest placing it more to the back and thinning it out so it'll fill in quicker for you. In its place you could try an anubias petite cluster. I like an open front, but love what people have done with their carpets out front too, so thats just a personal decision you have to make whether you want a carpet in the front or not.

I'm sure you'll get lots of opinions and I still hold to the fact that if it looks good to me and is pleasing to my eye, thats what matters as I'll be the one looking at it all day. :icon_wink Have fun with it!
Thank you so much for the thoughts and comments. Regarding the black river rocks, I'm wavering: they do look like stepping stones, as you describe--which ... hmmmm... is cute, but not particularly natural-looking. I put them in because I didn't have any idea what to do with the foreground. Maybe the best thing after all is what you mention, an open front.

I tried feeding CO2 into the filter intake earlier, and it was making a KUSH! noise every time a bubble went up, which would be a problem here in the office. But now that I'm making smaller bubbles (with a better airstone) perhaps that wouldn't be such a problem. I'll have to give it a try again.

Anubias petite sounds like an interesting idea. I believe that's a low-light plant, and smaller than a regular anubias (which would dominate the tank too much, methinks). I'll look into that--thank you for the idea!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
nice setup. You can hide that heater and temperature probe or whatever it is out of view a bit lower horizontally behind the driftwood. Can I see a side shot detail of the CO2 rig?

glosso won't do well under such little light, IMHO. Microsword is pretty big for a foreground in such a little tank.

I am not too keen on the river rocks. A few more plants in the back left, and another small piece of wood with some different moss or some pellia would look very nice.

If you want small quantities of mosses, you can shoot me a PM. Here is my 2.5g, so you can see what some of them look like: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/p...-2-5g-moss-tank-updated-4-a-2.html#post410546

very nice tank you have, and welcome to the forum!

regards,
joel
Thanks, Joel. I agree that I need to hide the temp probe and heater better. (I'm only slowly catching onto these things!) That TetraTec heater, which I was so fond of because it's very short, let my temp fall down to 76 degrees: and the thermostat is preset, so I can't bump it up a couple degrees. The result is that I'm now planning to replace it with a Thermal Compact--longer, but thinner, and that should nestle down horizontally behind the wood pretty well. Once that new heater arrives, I'll make the adjustments.

Here's a photo giving a better view of the Hydor CO2 system.



I have mixed feelings about it: it was too expensive (I don't want to even tell you what I paid!), and the control valve doesn't give you as much control as it should: setting the bubble per minute rate at 4, 5, or 6 bubbles, for example, is a challenge. The full range from 120 BPM to 2 BPM occurs over about a half-turn of the valve. On the other hand, if you want a bonafide CO2 canister system that's small enough to sit beside a nano tank on an office desk, this system certainly fills the bill. I give it 2.5 stars out of 4, or a B-.

Points taken re: glosso and microsword. Thank you for your expertise. Here's a question: If I were to increase the light substantially (say, using a Coralife Aqua Mini, I think it's called), to something using two 13W power compacts, would that (a) allow me to grow riccia or glosso; and (b) be so bright that it would harm the java fern? I really want to grow the java fern because my betta seemds to enjoy swimming around in it a lot.

I'm leaning toward removing the river stones. And I like your ideas regarding additional plants and a second small piece of wood. I'll have to see what I can do along those lines....

I'll have to research the other mosses you mention; thank you so much for the offer. Your 2.5G looks amazing. That moss wall is to die for!

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Really nice tank tank ;) But I think those river rocks in the front sort of kill the scape they don't really fit in and draws your attention too much. Otherwise, great little tank ;) Oh and nice Betta!
Thank you! I've just started and have a lot to learn, but I'm glad to hear I'm not headed down the completely wrong path!

Per my previous posts, I think you're onto something regarding the river rocks. I'll be pulling them soon on my next revision. I can't tell you how much I value the insights and guidance offered by the people on here.

My betta is a pleasure. I've never seen a fish with so much personality; he puts a smile on my face every day. Whenever I return to my cubicle, he swims right up to the glass to check me out, then returns to getting lost in the java fern. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A couple quick follow-up questions:

What's the opinion of the experts/experienced on this board: Would I be better off upgrading the lighting on my 2.5G tank to a Coralife fixture that has two 9W CFs? Or should I stick with the retrofitted striplight that has one 10W CF?

The Coralife fixture produces substantially more heat, but I think by making a tank cover that has mesh on either side of the light, evaporative cooling might keep it from being a problem.

Also, bear in mind that I'd like to grow both java fern and java moss. Would the more powerful lighting be a help with those or a hindrance?

Thanks!

Scott
 

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I don't consider myself an expert, and neither should you, but I've had a similar tank up and going for about 3 months now, so some of my observations may be useful.

My tank dimensions are 16" long x 8" tall x 6" deep. Most 2.5 tanks tend to be similar to this, just not quite as long. I'm guessing your tank could handle similar lighting to mine.

I used a traditional incandescent aquarium lighting fixture, but added a second incandescent socket to the other end of the fixture. I did this to avoid having my plants grow to one side (the side with the bulb) rather than straight up. The socket cost about $2.00 and took about 3 minutes to install!

Instead of incandescent bulbs, I use the regular old spiral fluorescent bulbs from OSH or Home Depot that are slowly replacing the old incandescents.

I currently have the problem of too much light, as I have two 15 watt bulbs in the tank. Although the plants are growing well and pearling constantly, the leaves of my taller plants are all reddening, even ones that should stay green!

However, at this light level, the microswords I have as a carpet are growing well and spreading across the bottom. They stand about 1-2 inches off the gravel, and generally are filling in like a lawn. However, they grow slowly and have been a target for algae.

I've found some 9 watt spiral bulbs which I'll probably swap in during the week, for a total of 18 watts over the tank. I'm hoping this will be perfect, as I've currently running just one 15 watt bulb at at time, alternating them to keep plant growth vertical. This seems to be a good amount to keep the swords growing yet not burn my stem plants. 18 watts, I'm guessing, will be just enough to redden the plants I want red and leave the others green and happily pearling.

I only suggest this option because these bulbs are very inexpensive; I'm only using "bright white" bulbs which are not a special aquarium bulb, and not a grow light. However, I've experienced extremely rapid growth in my tank, and haven't seen any reason to spend more for a more expensive bulb.

Also, if you decide on a bright light foreground plant, there may be other tall background plants your betta would enjoy, such that you're not treading a thin line between killing one plant or the other...

Don't take this as pushing either way, I've just been considering the same issues myself!

Here's a photo of my tank; the picture is from about a week ago and the rotala bush on the left is now completely touching the surface of the water, to give you an idea of how fast the "cheap" lights can get a plant going.



Good luck!
 

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Thank you! I've just started and have a lot to learn, but I'm glad to hear I'm not headed down the completely wrong path!

Per my previous posts, I think you're onto something regarding the river rocks. I'll be pulling them soon on my next revision. I can't tell you how much I value the insights and guidance offered by the people on here.

My betta is a pleasure. I've never seen a fish with so much personality; he puts a smile on my face every day. Whenever I return to my cubicle, he swims right up to the glass to check me out, then returns to getting lost in the java fern. :)
You are welcome :) Yeah, I've heard of how each Betta has their own distinct personality that's really cool.:fish:
 

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Scott,

Nice C02 setup. And I'll refrain on asking the price even though I'm curious. ;)

For what it is worth on lighting, I have a single bulb 20w on my 2.5g. You can see it here: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/p...28-2-5g-moss-tank-updated-4-a.html#post368232
It is a "Lights of America" and I got a 2 pack for $10 @ walmart. Notice that it is not a 'spiral' compact, so less light lost to restrike.

I was able to grow riccia fine, but I hate the stuff now...maintenance is hell. Most go through a 'riccia phase' and grow out of it (pun intended). I went through a glosso phase too, stuff goes crazy-fast...hard to keep in check. HC is all the rage these days, never tried it personally. I tend to avoid foreground carpet plants in my tanks. I just choose nice looking substrates.

I've actually stepped back to a single 13w bulb because I don't have any high light plants and the moss was growing too fast! 10w is definitely doable, but limits your plant selection, IMHO.
 

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Hey Scott, Welcome!

I'm jealous. I'd love to set up a 2.5g at work, but they don't let us plug anything in. So my betta just gets a bowl with some java fern and moss. He loves the fern too, always swimming between the leaves. He comes out to say hi and beg for food.

Anyway, I had some thoughts on lights for ya. I'm using a Current USA 18W Satellite over my 2.5g at home and its nice. I love the way it fits over the tank with the mounts (sold separately). It looks really clean and hi-tech. It is very bright and the bulb I have is 6700K/10000K, so its a nice full spectrum. A variety of plants are growing well in there; moss, rotala, blyxa. No filter, no fish (yet), small doses of Flourish and Excel.

Although, if I was going to set up a tank at work, I'd probably go for a low light set up just to keep it easier to maintain. Start putting more light over it and you'll run a greater risk of algae.

Another option is the AH Supply 13W retrofit. (www.ahsupply.com) I've never used them, but I've heard wonderful things. It might be a good compromise: instead of higher-wattage lights, put in higher-quality lights and reflectors.

There's a lot of options out there and they'll probably all work. Just pick one and go with it!

Hopefully you found my ramblings somewhat useful... :)

-Ken
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I don't consider myself an expert, and neither should you, but I've had a similar tank up and going for about 3 months now, so some of my observations may be useful.! ...
Thank you, Erodstrom. Your tank is beautiful. I very much like the stem plants you have growing--they are clearly thriving. It's hard to believe your tank is as small as it is with all that vigorous growth.

All your information regarding lighting levels, light bulbs, and plant growth is great. I'm in the stage where I'm trying to mentally digest all the great information I've received on here and choose my next step. At this point, a lot will depend on what kind of growth I see in my plants. To date, I've seen very little: and if that remains the case, I'll probably bump up the lighting since it seems a shame to have a CO2 system that's not making much of a difference due to the low light.

On the other hand, there's a lot to be said for low light in terms of maintenance: less pruning, less algae. Since the tank's at work, I can't spend much more than an hour a week on maintenance without feeling like I'm slacking. :)

If I do decide to go with more light, I'm thinking I might be able to place some dried tropical leaves, or even some coralled floating plants, on the water's surface on both sides of the tank: that might create enough lower-light areas to grow the java fern my betta likes so much. Hmmm... that last idea has more and more appeal to it, the more I think about it.

Thanks for sharing your ideas and insights!

Scott.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Scott,

Nice C02 setup. And I'll refrain on asking the price even though I'm curious. ;).
I hesitate to state the cost only because I'm afraid everyone on here will think I'm a chucklehead. But here goes: I was in the aisles of That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA and I bought it on impulse at *choke* $160. I'd been thinking, on and off, of getting a bonafide CO2 canister setup, and I was tired of thinking, thinking, thinking: so I just caved and bought it.

For what it is worth on lighting, I have a single bulb 20w on my 2.5g. ...
The info you provide is really useful: I was concerned that having 18W of light (2 9W CFs) would be too much and kill the moss--but it sounds like that's definitely not the case.

I was able to grow riccia fine, but I hate the stuff now...maintenance is hell. Most go through a 'riccia phase' and grow out of it (pun intended). I went through a glosso phase too, stuff goes crazy-fast...hard to keep in check. HC is all the rage these days, never tried it personally. I tend to avoid foreground carpet plants in my tanks. I just choose nice looking substrates.
I guess everyone sees the Amano books and develops "riccia lust"--the more I read about it, though, the more I can see where you're coming from. Apparently it makes a mess in your tank and requires constant pruning. And it's pretty contrived at that: taking a floating plant, submerging it with thread and weights, and pumping it with CO2 to keep it growing. Looks lovely, but it's hardly natural. I say this even though I may still not be able to resist the riccia siren call! I saw a website that suggests makign a "riccia sandwich" using two layers of needlpoint screening, with the idea being that you can lift the entire thing out of yoru tank when you need to prune, to prevent the mess. And, yes, I'm tempted!

I've actually stepped back to a single 13w bulb because I don't have any high light plants and the moss was growing too fast! 10w is definitely doable, but limits your plant selection, IMHO.
As I've said in an earlier post, right now I'm trying to digest the information all of you are providing and come up with a next step. I really appreciate the insights. Incidentally, your tank is gorgeous--your use of the smaller pieces of driftwood is inspiring me to do the same. The wood at the fish stores is generally oversized for a 2.5G tank, so I went out to a creek yesterday and gathered my own pieces, each with the diameter of my thumb or smaller. Question: If I put that wood in my tank, will it be a mistake? I was thinking of coming up with an arrangement, then gluing it in place with aquarium epoxy and using some glued-on stones for ballast. I was also thinking of sealing the wood with polyurethane to keep it from softening or degrading any further in the tank. Would that be a mistake? John Tullock, an aquarium expert who I respect a great deal, advises against collecting and using your own driftwood (on the basis that it can decompose and foul your tank)--so I'm reluctant to proceed. But all the commpercial driftwood in the stores is just too darned big and clunky for the look I want. Any thoughts?

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey Scott, Welcome!

I'm jealous. I'd love to set up a 2.5g at work, but they don't let us plug anything in. So my betta just gets a bowl with some java fern and moss. He loves the fern too, always swimming between the leaves. He comes out to say hi and beg for food.

Anyway, I had some thoughts on lights for ya. I'm using a Current USA 18W Satellite over my 2.5g at home and its nice. I love the way it fits over the tank with the mounts (sold separately). It looks really clean and hi-tech. It is very bright and the bulb I have is 6700K/10000K, so its a nice full spectrum. A variety of plants are growing well in there; moss, rotala, blyxa. No filter, no fish (yet), small doses of Flourish and Excel.

Although, if I was going to set up a tank at work, I'd probably go for a low light set up just to keep it easier to maintain. Start putting more light over it and you'll run a greater risk of algae.

Another option is the AH Supply 13W retrofit. (www.ahsupply.com) I've never used them, but I've heard wonderful things. It might be a good compromise: instead of higher-wattage lights, put in higher-quality lights and reflectors.

There's a lot of options out there and they'll probably all work. Just pick one and go with it!

Hopefully you found my ramblings somewhat useful... :)

-Ken
Thanks, Ken. Your response is incredibly useful: there's a lot to think about there.

Regarding work, sorry to hear your workplace has such a strict policy. My company's a little more relaxed--but I still think I may come in some morning and find a note from Facilities or Security telling me to take the tank home. So far as I know, I'm the only person with an aquarium in the building. At night, I actually hide the tank with a cardboard screen just to avoid drawing any unwanted notice.

Question re: your 18W light at home: do you have a glass top over the tank, or do you keep it open? I need to have a glass top (or at least screening) over the water since bettas have a habit of flinging themselves from one puddle to another (i.e., jumping).

Your idea re: the AH Supply retrofit is golden. I'll be giving that serious thought in the next few weeks. Increasing the light over my tank by 30% (from 10W currently to 13W) may be just the ticket: more light for more growth, but not so much as to greatly increase the maintenance or algae growth.

Thanks again!

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I say ditch the betta and make the 2.5g nano a shrimp tank. ;)
As much as I admire your lovely shrimp tank (and who knew a tiny crustacean could have such personality?), my betta ain't going anywhere. :smile: He's my buddy. Perhaps what we can do instead is you can ship some of your shrimp to me, and I can dice them up and feed them to my betta for a snack. How's that grab you? ;)

My priorities are:
1. Make a good home for my betta; and
2. Learn as much as I can from the people on this board so that, while keeping with the goals of #1, I can make the plants in the tank as healthy, attractive, and easy-to-maintain as possible.

Scott
 

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As much as I admire your lovely shrimp tank (and who knew a tiny crustacean could have such personality?), my betta ain't going anywhere. :smile: He's my buddy. Perhaps what we can do instead is you can ship some of your shrimp to me, and I can dice them up and feed them to my betta for a snack. How's that grab you? ;)

My priorities are:
1. Make a good home for my betta; and
2. Learn as much as I can from the people on this board so that, while keeping with the goals of #1, I can make the plants in the tank as healthy, attractive, and easy-to-maintain as possible.

Scott
I understand. :) I'm just pulling your leg. My girlfriend actually wants to get ANOTHER planted nano tank just so she can get a betta. :hihi:

I really like where you're going with this tank. Post more pictures once things get going or if you make any changes. :thumbsup:
 
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