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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I dug this little fella out of the closet not too long ago and decided I'd give it a go. I really didn't have a great place to put it or, a stand to put it on, so this project has been on hold for quite some time. The glass itself looks nice, but is awfully soft and quite scratched, it's also got a few hard water stains, which is sort of remarkable considering how soft my water is.

This is the first tank I've ever set up with ADA Aquasoil. I put some crushed lava rock in the back to help give it a bit more of a slope, but I notice that it's already flattened out considerably over the three weeks it has been planted. A lot of that was my fault though, I bought a new stand, so I had to move everything after it was planted, and I may have gotten a little excited when the rocks first came in, so I ended up flooding it a bit prematurely as I was making a giant muddy mess w/ wet rocks and dry soil. I'm also using a hob Aqua Clear Mini, which due to the placements of the rock on the left and the lightness of the soil will dig right on through to the lava rocks given half the chance. I'll have to be kind of careful with the water levels. I'm hoping once the plants take root that they'll help out a bit & maybe I'll even be able to correct the slope a little, but I'm not sure how possible that really is.

Equipment:
Do!Aqua Mini-M
Azoo Flex Mini
archaea co2 regulator & a little glass diffuser from my old picotope (running this at a very generous rate).
Aqua Clear Mini
Amazonia powder substrate



This is the day after I planted. I used three pots of Micranthemum tweediei 'Monte Carlo', one of Lilaeopsis brasiliensis, & one of Hydrocotyle tripartita. Going for sort of a mixed lawn look.

I trimmed the snot out of the Monte Carlo & Hydrocotyle Tripartita and tried to space it out as much as I could and sprinkled in a bit of Lilaeopsis brasiliensis here and there with most by the filter inlet. I'm pretty impressed with the Aquasoil's ability to grab onto little plantlets. I put it under water before I planted and haven't really had much trouble with plants floating up. The planting itself was pretty painless as well.





 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
My 40 has been set up for so long, I've forgotten what a new tank was like. This Aquasoil lets off a LOT of ammonia. I'm pretty sure it blew out my api test kit one or two days. I've been doing 50+ish% water changes daily after the lights go off. Sometime during this week I started to notice that nitrite slimy feeling and was able to confirm it with a test kit. It had a bunch of nitrites and ammonia. I'm too unfamiliar with aquasoil to know if that is being leeched out as well (or nitrates for that matter) but I noticed some of each in the tests and would like to think the cycle has started.

I also forgot what a pita water changes on little tanks like this can be, especially with the aquasoil being so light. I've sort of got a system now involving an old filter inlet attached to my python and just dribbling in the water, but I've considered buying a ladder (to get a little height) and using a bucket and some airline. That's how I used to change my pico, but I had a shelf right above it.

This is after two weeks (one week ago). Some growth, some conversion, and some melting. The Micranthemum tweediei seems to have taken some hold, it had a bunch of emmersed growth, but I feel like I can sort of see a difference. The Hydrocotyle tripartita seems to be in pretty good shape here. The Lilaeopsis brasiliensis was basically all emmersed growth. I've used it before and can't quite remember if it dies back or not, but it's such an easy plant I think it'll be ok.





 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, it's been pretty much three weeks. It's definitely filling in a bit. These pictures are a little reassuring. If there was a war between the Micranthemum tweediei & Hydrocotyle tripartita. I believe the Hydrocotyle would be winning. I can definitely see some growth in the Micrathemum tweediei though. I've had to pick off a few of the Hyrocotyle tripartita's leaves that looked like they weren't going to make it and were developing some algae. They look healthy enough that I think it won't be a problem. I've even seen a couple of runners from the Lilaeopsis brasiliensis pop out here and there.

I'm hoping the Micrathemum tweediei starts laying down some more roots soon. I'm happy to see it creeping along the bottom. it looks like everything in there has melted/converted probably 90% of what it is going to do, though I'll have to keep an eye on the lilaeopsis brasilensis as I believe it should be the slowest plant in here. Overall I think I'll have to yank out a few various leaves and bits here and there, but the order for the day seems to be to wait.

I've thought about stocking very little, I may not even put anything in there tbh. I'd love a betta, but I think this tank would have a little more flow than they seem to like and I'm not sure how they'd feel about this sort of open space with nothing to hide under. I may well do some shrimp, but I'd need to figure out a way to keep the filter from sucking them up somehow. I don't really like the thought of little shrimps getting impellered. I think they'd like crawling around all over the place with no fish though. In my larger tank, I feel like baby guppies and baby shrimp reach maturity by their wits and mettle Either way, this tank has a while before I think it would be stable enough for livestock.

The ammonia has dropped to zero on the test kit, so it's definitely cooking some bacteria. I feel pretty certain the aquasoil is still leeching ammonia. The nitrites are way high. I'm not even sure. I've never really been able to tell the difference between 2 and 5 on those little test kits, so I'm just taking it as: a bunch of nitrites. It may be a little less slimy feeling... though I have had my hand in there a bit more too. I feel like nitrates are the last to leave in a cycle, and the last to show up in a boo-boo. I'm guessing the bacteria that eats ammonia must be a little more boom and bust and the bacteria that eats nitrites must be a little heartier. I'm also seeing some nitrates, but I don't think I could pin them down to being a byproduct of bacteria buffet.

Between the growth and the cycle, I have to say that I'm a bit more impressed with the aquasoil than I wanted to be. I believe my bag (which was a little old, this project has been on hold a while) was a little dried out and may have given me a little grief. Barring anything else though, it'll be hard for me to not think about using it again, despite the cost and shipping. I've been putting a little boop of Easy Green in there (it looked like it had some phosphate & potassium that I understand aquasoil to be a bit lacking in, but other than that, it's just sort of going right along.

I've been experimenting a little with water levels and co2 (because if things are going well, you should fiddle until there's a problem). I did pick up a little bubble counter though, so hopefully I'll be a bit more precise in my fiddles. I do think my drop checker is a bit slow to respond due to its size and may eventually try to come up with a better system than the ebay glass diffuser that I'm using now.

We'll see. They've recently bumped my city back to stage one quarantine, so it's nice to have a little project.





 

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Discussion Starter #4
Chugging right along...

I really like the light color temperature on this little light. The hydrocotyle tripartita is still going a bit nuts. I have had to take off a leaf here or there due to some algae (pretty sure, it was brown) I expect that those are leaves that didn't quite make it to their immersed state, really just on the hydrocotyle tripartita & lilaeopsis brasiliensis. The micranthimum tweediei has been a bit melty in some places, but seems to be shooting off little leaves wherever it can, still not real good roots though. My technique for moving the dirt has improved a little though. I now just comb it a bit to try to unearth the plants that get covered through my various filling-the-tank boo boos. Sorry for the long names, just trying to memorize them.

THe hydrocotyle tripartita is pretty aggressive tbh. I may have to cut that back a bit but I figure, for now, the more plant mass the merrier, but it sure likes growing.

The nitrites have dropped a good bit, kind of everything has. So I'm sort of thinking that the aquasoil is leeching a bit less than it has in the past. I'm hoping the nitrite eating bacteria have a chance to take hold though. They've always taken a bit longer in my tanks for some reason. I'm sort of leaning towards shrimps now. I think there's just a bit too much flow for a betta. I feel like i'd want it to sit for a while after it cycles (like a month or two just to iron out any of that other new tank stuff). I'm a little concerned about the biological stuff in that case though, and wonder if I should... like drop a fellet or two of food in there in the mean time. I've got some little powdered shrimp food (bacter ae) maybe that would help out to keep the bugs going, until the bigger bugs arrive. Though, in the likely event that i can't source some shrimp locally, it'll probably be a few months before temperatures gets warm enough to ship again.

This is at week four.





 

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Discussion Starter #6
The tripartita is an absolute weed. I think I'll give it a haircut this next little while. I'm kind of thinking I'll just trim it and see how it goes (maybe start off with just half the tank or so). I do like the mixed lawn look, but I realize I have a mixed lawn of three radically different growing rates lol. I guess you live and you learn. I think a little haircut may help give the micranthimum tweediei a chance to continue coming in. I noticed a little more brown algae in here. I guess it is diatoms, but it's not quite as dusty as I remembered it being, more hair like. I'm thinking that is just new tank stuff. I've just been picking at it for now.I had recently backed up on my water changes, maybe that was a bit premature.


Didn't do quite as good with my camera angles this week. I'm a terrible photographer, but I figured I could at least be consistent lol. Also, are these too big?





 

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Discussion Starter #7
The joy of cycling an aquarium: I think we've completed the nitrogen cycle. Now we've got that new fish tank smell, oh and the water is got a wild film. It is sort of interesting to watch a tank break in, well one without fish at any rate, so much has to come together to create a little habitable glass box. To see a little ecosystem come together in the living room and to realize how fragile, but how natural it is. It's like taking some little piece of something older than history itself, something genuinely ancient, and stuffing it in something as modern as glass and watching it come together and figure out how to exist. It's a bit magical... or something.

Still plucking out some algae leaves, and i gave the tripartita a little trim and wiped off the algae from the front and side glass. I'm not sure why i left it on the back, but I surely did. For some reason the green algae seems better than the brown algae and I guess any algae means that it's a little further along. I'll take what I can get. I need to get in ther and give it another little spruce up already.

If you look closely you might be able to see some mildew (I guess, the pink stuff)





 

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No real update this week. The smell has died back a bit, it's still a bit oily, but I think that's starting to clear now too. Brown Algae is sort of on right now. I spotted some cyanobacteria in there too. Ammonia/nitrite is super stable, but I'm not too sure how much ammonia is being leeched off any more, there's still some nitrate, so I think a bit is still coming off. Everything is growing like gangbusters so I gave everything a big ole' haircut to give the micranthimum tweediei some light under the hydrocotlye tripartita carpet.







Bump: No real update this week. The smell has died back a bit, it's still a bit oily, but I think that's starting to clear now too. Brown Algae is sort of on right now. I spotted some cyanobacteria in there too. Ammonia/nitrite is super stable, but I'm not too sure how much ammonia is being leeched off any more, there's still some nitrate, so I think a bit is still coming off. Everything is growing like gangbusters so I gave everything a big ole' haircut to give the micranthimum tweediei some light under the hydrocotlye tripartita carpet.





 
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