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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've luked here for a while, and gotten a lot out of it. Because of this, I decided that I would start a journal since I am starting a new tank in hopes that someone will get something out of it.

So, this is my second planted tank and my first Nano.

The tank is a Picotope
The Light is the HD "robocop light"
The filter is the little one that came with it
Substrate was just sand...

Initially, this tank was set up with some playsand I had laying around. I like sand, but this tank it tiny. Because it is so tiny, I can't think of anything alive to put in it. Like I said I like sand, but I was staring at the tank and thinking: "it's pretty sterile in there, it's no place for a plant to be."

I should take a minute to say, that I have always been cityfolk, I love nature but am thouroughly citified when it comes to my roots. When I able to I escape the binds of urbanity, but my plants won't have that luxury. Furthermore, it has been months since I have been able to thouroughly decompress. I looked into that tank and I knew what it was to be a little bit of green in a hard and concrete world. I knew what it was to be inundated by something alien and unnatural, to be immersed in it. I knew wat it was to feel like you were chained down to something lifeless and cold and dead. I knew what I had to do, and I knew I had to do it for both of us!

But I digress. My 20 gallon uses just sand, but it also has tons of alive things in there. While the sand has worked out well for me in that tank, I have had a hankering to try a tank with a...um... (ert?) substrate. that being said I do not have a hankering to tear down the twenty until I move. I also didn't want to be stuck with most of a twenty pound bag of something or another.

So I quickly looked around the apartment. It was there that I saw "it." I knew it was "it" as soon as I saw it. Out on the balcony in a lonely white bag: dirt! What is more natural than dirt? Plants! Dirt and plants: an unstoppable force!

I know that some people are old hats at this in aquariums, but this is my first try at it. I put about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of pretty firmly packed potting soil under about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of playsand. We will see. To be fair, and to try to be helpful I will do my darnest to keep this updated. The only thing I really gleaned in my rash decision was that the first couple of months might be kind of rough.

enough talk.


 

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i love that tank.. it looks so nice and clean :)
if u are planning on putting any critters in there... im not so sure abou that dirt! but i could be wrong
but if its been fertilized... >.<
 

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Discussion Starter #3
i love that tank.. it looks so nice and clean :)
if u are planning on putting any critters in there... im not so sure abou that dirt! but i could be wrong
but if its been fertilized... >.<
Mirthrius- Thanks, I am hoping that it will grow in a little more eventually. I've never tried potting soil before, so it is a little bit of an experiment. So far I think I will keep the critters out, just in case. I've heard there is a breaking in period with soil tanks and I wouldn't want to kill any fish. Plus this thing is small, I don't know what fish would fit.

In other news, I decided the little filter was too weedy and put an old aquaclear mini that I had laying around. I really like the flow better. The stock filter dumped water straight down and seemed like it wanted to bore through the bottom of the tank. The aquaclear moves the water across the aquarium better. I am pretty happy with the change. I've been changing 90 some odd percent of the water every day or two b/c the driftwood is putting off some sort of horrid snot-fungi.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
There is nothing really all that different. Here are a couple of pictures. There is a little bit of growth but nothing really amazing. I had hoped for a little more. I wonder if I am not leaving the light on long enough. Any suggestions?






 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, I am trying to keep this fairly regularly updated. I feel like it hasn't grown any, but when I look through this I guess it has a little. I initially wanted to update this once a week, but life has been happening at an extremely rapid pace for the last couple of weeks.

I've only changed the water a couple of times. The water is pretty yellow; I am not sure if it is the dirt or the wood. I think it is the wood. I have some microsword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis) in there and some microsword? (Echinodorus tenellus). Therre is some Wisteria (it is like a weed in my other tank) and some pennywort (also weed) there to help avoid some sort of algae outbreak, which hasn't happened yet.:icon_wink

some pictures:







 

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If the water is yellowing, it's most likely the tannins leaching from the wood.
Generally it's a good idea to boil the wood before putting it in the tank to get most of that out, but with water changes it will eventually stop.

I like how the tank is looking so far. I'm actually debating picking up the same tank for myself to put on my work desk with some red cherry shrimp in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Looking good!
Thanks.:)

If the water is yellowing, it's most likely the tannins leaching from the wood.
Generally it's a good idea to boil the wood before putting it in the tank to get most of that out, but with water changes it will eventually stop.

I like how the tank is looking so far. I'm actually debating picking up the same tank for myself to put on my work desk with some red cherry shrimp in it.
I really should have boiled the wood. I had a horrible experience with some "grapewood" once. I think I was just trying to do everything different this time.

If your thinking of buying this tank, think about a filter and a different light. I changed both of those and am happy that I did. I've never had a little tank like this and I am really enjoying it.

I think that because it is so small I feel like there is a lot going on with it. A little bit of growth is really easy to detect and highly rewarding. It doesn't have the build quality of the nicer ADA's, but a few minutes with a razor will help a lot. I have to say that it is quickly becoming my favorite tank. I love the scale. Actually I think I like the dimensions of this better than the ADA's, it is as deep as it is tall. Almost like it is less fishtank shaped and more fishbowl shaped with all the benifits of each.

I think Cherrys would look great in it too.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So I learned something today. If you pull up a plant in a tank with soil and a layer of sand over the top...a small soil explosion happens. It was really messy, for a second it looked like I had struck oil or something.

I hope that this isn't the beginning of the end.

Does anyone know how one should go about removing a plant from a tank with a sand covered soil substrate?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The tank is looking a little gross. I've got some white stringy stuff growing and the pristine sand...well it doesn't look too pristine. I have had a month of being a little too busy to take care of my tanks and I may just be feeling the consequences of that.

of course, it could have been the dirt plume that erupted when I was redecorating. Who knows?





This is the gross growing thing. Yhere is more and this picture isn't all that great.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It's been a month. I let the CO2 die down pretty much completely. I have been a little dejected since the first great dirt geyser incident of '09. I don't think I got much of that dirt to ever go away. I have also been having problems with water changes.

Now, I love water change day and gleefully bound around the house performing fish tank maintenance as a happy unwinding. Because of this, I don't miss it unless I have to...or I'm afraid. This tank is a serious pain to change water in

1. The sand provides only the most delicate of protection from dirtanic eruptions.
2. The tank is so small, even the back flow from the gravel vac tubing (or the python) wrecks total havoc.
3. If I utilize airline tubing, it takes so long (time wise) that I occasionally (only when I've tried it) overflow the tank.

Some of this is just me being whiny, but it can cause me to overlook this tank.

I love how the dirt makes everything grow, but everything being so light makes the tank kind of...dirty.
Does anybody know how much Aquasoil 3 liters is? I'm also really open to other suggestions.

This is the E. Tenellus that is growing quite rapidly


The FTS


My shame


I really like these guys


I really like this wood, but I feel like it is not getting showed off really well
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I got tired of little black specs on top of my pristine white sand, so I removed most of the sand and capped it all off with Flourite. Flourite is very dusty. It is still cloudy after a couple of days.

I thought that I was going to remove the soil and just do Flourite, but when I saw the amazing root system that had developed I decided to keep some soil. I mixed it in with some sand and I think that I will like the eventual de-stratification and mixing of the substrates. I was also able to put all the plants where I wanted them. I planted my tiny bit o' microsword by the blade and hope that I haven't killed it all. The tank is so cloudy I worry that I have made a boo-boo.

Time will tell.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The substrate was changed, some plants were separated. The water finally cleared; that flourite really made the water cloudy. Other than that, not too much. I really had hoped for a little more growth by this point. When I changed the substrate I couldn't help thinking that my plants were growing more down than up.

Any words of wisdom?
Guesstimations?
Shots in the dark?

Oh and yes that is a plant that I just threw in there.





 

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Looking real nice! I love those picotope tanks
A nice trick I do is I use my lil breeder separator thingi for water changes on my small tanks.

You just float the breeder then aim the python in it with little to no disruption.
 

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mott that is an awesome idea, finally something to with my breeder trap since i gave up on trying to catch livebearers before they pop filling my 3 gallon with my floramax substrate is muder that stuff is so porous and lightweight
 

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Discussion Starter #16
@mott I might have to try that, I've actually got one of those cups. For now, I am still a little too afraid to approach this thing with anything bigger than an airline. I have wreaked a lot of chaos in there.

@Chrispar I know what you mean. Those little things will seem all super fat for so long it is hard to tell when to separate them. I have one of those breeder cups too, but haven't even had a clue when to pull the fish out. I don't think my breeder cup has even been in the water before.

I am really happy with the flourite, I even like the color. I started dropping some nitrogen and trace ferts in there and I think I am seeing a difference. I also put some snails so that there would be something producing plant food in there. It seems like the water stays too cool and fluctuates too much to put any fish in there.
 

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Yeah, I had the same experience in my first tank with flourite. No one told me that it would help to rinse it REALLY well before adding it to the tank. Nice tank so far, I love that driftwood!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah, I had the same experience in my first tank with flourite. No one told me that it would help to rinse it REALLY well before adding it to the tank. Nice tank so far, I love that driftwood!

Yeah, I didn't rinse it at all. I heard that it was cloudy, but I figured that since I didn't have any fish I could just let it be a little cloudy for a couple of days. It didn't work out like that at all, there is no telling how many times I changed the water. I even tried some of that clear-the-water chemical. It didn't seem to do anything.:hihi:

I like the driftwood too, but I don't feel like I am using it to its full potential.
 
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