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Office Tank 2017

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Decided to have a tank at my office desk. Funny thing is, initially I wanted to keep it simple with just some moss and shrimp. But then I started thinking about just how cool other plants I wanted to grow would be and how hard it would be to grow them well without CO2. So I decided, I'm gonna figure out a way to go all out. I hope you guys enjoy some of the pics and the many tribulations that are sure to happen! Happy growing!

Specs:
Tank: AZOO FLEXI-MINI
Light: AZOO FLEXI-MINI LED Light
Filter: Dennerle Scaper's Flow
CO2: Custom regulator w/ GLA atomizer

Accessories:
- Pinpoint pH Probe
- Hanna Alkalinity Colorimeter


Hardscape:
- ADA Amazonia Powder type
- Seiryu and Ryouh Stone (FYI, KH is not stable with these stones. Not sure which one, but it sucks having KH go 4 -> 7 in a week)
- (Technically I tried out some ADA substrate additives but I don't like admitting to it lol. Shouldn't be needed)


Fauna:
Some mix of PFR, cherries, 3 amanos, and 2 OEBTs (per request by coworkers)

Flora:
Almost all of the plants came from tissue cultures since my shipment arrived dead :(.
- HC
- Staurogyne Repens
- Anubias nana petite
- Rotala Green
- Rotala H.Ra
- Hydrocytle Japan sp mini
- Mini pellia


============ MOST RECENT PIC AS OF: 8/7/2017 ============



After Planting:

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The next 4 weeks are critical to establishing the plants in a planted tank so I water changed 50% each day for 2 weeks. Then I reduced that down to every other day for another 2 weeks.

Given the low plant mass initially, I followed a very lean EI dosing regime for the first few weeks. Most of the plants in the tank are from tissue cutures since the plants I had ordered from our trading area arrived dead. So I decided to give them a try and they are pretty neat! The rotala tissue cultures are pretty small so it took a while for the plants to grow tall enough to get light above the rock.

The Dennerle filter has been awesome. Super quiet, I literally don't hear it unless my ears are an inch from the filter. Perfect for the office.

CO2 goes on 2 hours before the lights
Lights go on @ 2PM and runs for 8 hours with a 30 minute siesta in the middle of the photoperiod.
Water changes are all performed using RO water and remineralization with Bee shrimp GH+. Given a tank of this size, RO water is very simple to do at my desk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Filter adjustment!

Around this point in time the shrimp were about to come in, but I noticed surface scum was a problem. I had no room for a skimmer and the lily pipe vortex simply did not provide enough. Also, the lily pipe requires a specific water level to work properly which sucks since there is a ton of evaporation in the tank. So I modified the filter a little bit to enable a few things.

1. Custom flow adjustment
2. Surface agitation and flow direction
3. Custom acrylic tank cover for evaporation

I achieved this using a simple flow valve and using a part from an old Rio powerhead. Now this is the current filter setup and I have a nice amount of ripple. And I don't have to top off the tank as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Plants filling in!

It has probably been about a month now and thing are starting to grow. I had some diatoms on the rocks and some tiny hair algae, but once the plants started going, I knew it would be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So this is about where we are at now, the tank is in stable growth mode. I swapped out my CO2 atomizer for a GLA one since the white one just couldn't keep up with the levels I needed. I have trimmed the tank once and am now waiting for the S. Repens to grow back.

Bump: Ill need to trim the Hydroctyle on the left soon, but for now im just going to let it grow out. Kinda cool. I mowed down the S. Repens and its coming back now.

Something that unfortunately did not work too well were my substrate support system I tried to make using corrugated plastic board. It's simply not strong enough to hold all the aquasoil in place. At least not in the way I placed it. As you can tell, the substrate is falling into the HC from the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Something I am working on now is learning how to "shape" the background stems. Im going for a nice dense bunch of rotala in the background. From the things i have read and seen, seems that I just need to keep trimming stems that get too tall and let them produce more tops.

Overall health is alright, I see some very thin layer of BBA on the rocks. Im probably just going to let it chill there and ill hit it with some H2O2 when I water change. We'll see how things go, but I probably could also bump my CO2 up a little. For now, things look alright.
 

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Great aquascape, the amount of detail is impressive for a small tank. I will be doing a shrimp tank of similar size soon, and although my layout will be simpler, you're giving me a lot of inspiration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Very cool, looking to start my own desk tank soon.

edit: what are you using for CO2?
I run pressurized CO2 as you might have expected. Regulator is custom built from someone here on TPT but it was near the cheaper end of them so about $250 or so. Diffuser is a GLA atomic diffuser which i recently switched to and it can output much higher levels than my other white one. Just look at the previous photos and you'll see the diffuser in the tank changed. I monitor CO2 using the pH probe and the Alkalinity colorimeter but I also record the value on the metering valve handle so that in case I bump it with my foot or something I know what it was at.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Are you running a paintball size tank or something larger?
No I run a 10 lbs CO2 tank. Less refilling needed.

Bump:
I like how you let the mini pellia grow out and cover up more hardscape in the last pics - very natural look. How long did you dry start the tank?
I dry started for only 1 week. Actually the only reason I dry started was since I was afraid the tissue culture plants were going to die since I had them chilling in their plastic pots for a week prior. But totally, dry starting longer would have allowed for roots to develop more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update 6/8/2017:

SUMMARY:
- New Apex Aqua Controller installed
- Temperature now hovers from 74-76
- Added a Fan and ATO system
- Added some Pseudomugil luminatus, or red neon blue eye rainbows


So a few weeks ago I stocked the tank with some fish. I got about 7 chili rasboras and they were tight! But about 2 weeks ago, disaster struck the tank. I came into the office and none of the fish were there. I found a snail outside of the tank in his shell and immediately started wondering what happened. When I turned on my thermometer, I realized what had happened. The tank was reading 89F. For sure the tank was probably over 95F during the weekend. The air conditioning in the office had malfunctioned and is also switched off during the weekends.

So what I think happened was the tank temperature rose too high. As the temperature of water increases, the solubility of oxygen decreases. I believe that this coupled with the high CO2 injection caused inadequate aeration in the aquarium and essentially suffocated the fish. I also lost some really nice shrimp :(.

Plants were also affected a bit, a lot of the mini pellia started to decay so i had to reattach some and remove some.

It has been 2 weeks since then and I think it's time to bring out the big guns! The tank has now been upgraded with an Apex Aqua Controller! I've had one for a bit just waiting for a larger tank in the future, but i figured this would be a good time to put it to use. As far as cooling the tank goes, I got a small hang on back fan to blow over the surface of the tank. It works well enough. It prevents the tank from exceeding crazy temperatures which should be sufficient. Problem is, it increases evaporation and also cools the tank too much. Hence the need for some monitoring tools to keep things stable. I gotta say, its pretty cool. It was pretty simple to setup and now I can monitor the tank constantly and even switch things on or off remotely.

To solve the evaporation issue, I have simply used a float switch hooked up to the Apex to trigger a pump to bring water into the tank. Cool thing about the Apex is I can write some code to control how the ATO functions such that overfilling the tank in case the switch fails is less likely. I'm not willing to add a backup float switch for redundancy in this tank so this is going to have to do until I learn a lesson hehe.

Here is the tank as of today. Some new fish went it yesterday after things have been stable for the past 2 weeks after the apex installation. I hope that they do well. Pretty overgrown but sorta diggin' it right now so ill get back to trimming the hedge properly later.



 

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Oh man sorry to hear that - hopefully this is the only bump you run into! Your tank still looks amazing and even better than the last pick, cool solution for the evaporation issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update after 2 months of inactivity. Things are going strong! Apex is constantly showing me why it's so cool. Love the ability to see history of my tank and keeps temperature super stable. No changes to the aquascape, but BBA came but as you can see in the recent photo has been dying back with a small dose of excel for 2-3 days. Pretty crazy since last time I had BBA, it lived with the tank forever and was super hard to kill even with spot treatment. But this time around, spot treatment worked very effectively.

Fish are doing well, and shrimp seem pretty happy! Now Im trying to get the HC to move more the to left.

Overall, things are great and super low maintenance right now. All I do is a water change a week, and feed + dose. Lets see how long I can keep this up.

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Update from the grave:

Back toward the end of 2017, I tore this tank down, as I was let go from the company the tank was at and I moved it back to my apartment, but then a few months after that I moved.

Moving the tank was pretty fun, I built supports out of cardboard to keep the rock in position as I drove with the tank drained. Basically it went offline for around 30 minutes only hehe.

Everything was going pretty well though, the occasional algae would pop up, but generally the tank was pretty healthy. I even went on a 2 week trip to japan and literally did nothing but dump an excess amount of ferts into the tank before I left. Thank you Apex and the Auto feeder haha.

Since then, I havent been in the hobby as I wanted the next time I got back into it, to do the larger tank that I have always wanted to do. So stay tuned for that journal!
 
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