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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I recently got back into the hobby after doing some house cleaning, finding all my old stuff, and getting the itch to try my hand at it again.

As a kid(~12) I started my first tank (20 Long) with basic fish like guppies, swordtails, corys, and a couple other fish. It slowly evolved over the course of 6 years and by year 5 it was a heavily planted with all the fish being born and raised in the tank. It seemed to be it's own ecosystem that just needed to be topped off every week, I fed it every few days just to be sure the fish got food. It met it's unfortunate end when I went to college and too much water evaporated for the filter to function. I dabbled in SW too, but failed miserably because I didn't want to go big and the 10 Gallon tank I used was too small/unequipped for me to keep it stable.

A couple years ago I wanted to try making an aquaponics system for cheap. I made a frame to sit over a 10 gallon tank and hold a planting bed made out of a storage container, pvc, and Hydrocoton. It worked to an extent but ultimately failed because of a less than optimal design and too small of a bioload. I was successful in growing an amazing basil plant, the other herbs struggled and the growing bed was overtaken by mold.

I recently dug up that 10 gallon tank and started messing with some ideas, I built a couple of internal sump prototypes like you see on fluval tanks. I decided on one and got to work.

As it stands now the tank is almost two months old, it has a simple scape and a simple stocking. It's also is having a battle with thread algae and staghorn/Clado. I've been successful in slowing down algae growth and am going in for the kill in the following weeks. Still trying to find the sweetspot in my dosing regiment(CO2, Nilocg Thrive, SeaChem Root Tabs, Excel, and lighting)

Plants:
Ludwigia Repens
S. Repens
Dwarf Hairgrass

Inhabitants:
2x Amano Shrimp
Endless amounts of "pest" snails

Hardscape:
Dragon Stone
Eco complete substrade
BDBS

Equipment:
Filter media: Various sponges, Poly-fil, Hydrocoton.
Adjustable 160gph MAX pump(On lowest setting)
Semi-Submersible adjustabe heater
"Custom" CO2 injection using a mini keg regulator and 16g CO2 cartridges
NICrew SkyLED Plus

Anyway here's the reason anyone looks at a thread:

Day 1: No CO2 yet, freshly planted


Day 22: Added ecocomplete to try and raise ammonia for the cycle


Day 44:


Day 57: Today, it's WC and a trim day. This is beforehand, going to do it later along with an H2O2 spot treatment and some trimming on the Ludwigia


The S. Repens has been giving me some trouble after trying to propigate it but most of the mother plant is doing well and some of the smaller clippings are making a comeback.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
So I was doing a water change and trimming some plants. I start doing an H2O2 spot treatment, had fun watching all the bubbles for a minute. Then I decide I should check the temp of the water I'm dechlorinating... SMASH!... the thermometer slips out of my hand as I'm trying to get the suction cup off and explodes the bottom of it off. The little balls fly everywhere, on the floor, in the tank, in the sump. So I go into a panic, I siphon out as all the balls I can see(along with the substrate). Meanwhile my amanos decide to investigate whats happening/taunt me, so I have to keep shooing them away with my tweezers as I'm trying to clean up this mess. This made them start freaking out, which made me start freaking out that I just killed the only livestock that I have. So I start pouring in my new water, after I get the bucket emptied I ran to my computer to see what I potentially just poisoned my shrimp with. Turns out they're just steel/lead balls that shouldn't really harm them too much, especially if taken out within a few day *phew* Had to take a long breather after that. My H2O2 treatment may have to wait until my next WC now since my spot treatment didn't get to soak very long/doesn't seem to have done too much.

TL;DR - I'm clumsy and breaking your thermometer isn't a huge deal according to the 30 forum posts I read over various websites.



Anyway, Ludwigia Repens is now one of my favorite plants. I almost always have my lid on my tank but when I took it off I was greated by this(the camera doesn't really do it any justice)



So many shades of red and green, it's awesome. I bundled all the trimming and put them where my thermostat was. If they survive this and start to grow a little, I might have to start working on another idea for a tank I've had. This trimming will hopefully give my dwindling stem of S. Repens and DH enough light to start to take off.


 

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Discussion Starter #3
Small update -

One of my Amanos was missing a couple of legs when I first got it (I think it's a her due to the spots). I went away for a couple of days, when I came back I noticed a molt in the tank. Couldn't find her at the time but she popped up this morning and I grabbed a couple of photos. She seemingly grew back both legs in one molt, which is pretty neat.

 

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Did my water change and trimming a day late this week. Algae is still there but slow growing. The hair algae dies when treated with H2O2, however there is some sort of algae on the tips of some DHG that just won't die. Theres also a small patch of staghorn growing off of some eco-complete that won't die but it also isn't really growing either. Might just have to wait for the DHG to spread there.

I decided to really prune back the Ludwigia since it was getting unruly. I believe it was also the main reason for my algae, the lower leaves were dieing and I couldn't easily get them out, releasing excess organics. The bush was probably restricting some flow in the tank too. So I pulled a bunch of it out, trimmed off the bottoms, pulled a bunch of lower leaves to get ahead of the bush, then replanted the tops I liked. I didn't realize how much it had grown until I had it all out. I replanted maybe a third of it and filled an entire sandwich bag with the rest since I have no use for it... yet. Hopefully losing all this plant mass doesn't screw up my tank too much, for the time being it looks pretty barren from one side.





On another note, I decided to add another element to the tank. After seeing a bunch of tanks with plants like Pothos growing out of the filter I decided to look into what else could be added. I decided on adding on baby tears(Pilea Depressa), I ordered two pots of it. I used one and have the other sitting in my window to compare growth. I read a million and one ways to plant them and decided on using sponge since it was the easiest thing I could dig up in my equipment.

Before pulling the stems:


Stems seperated from soil:


Soil gently removed from roots in dechlorinated water:


I then cut slits into the sponge and shoved the stems/roots into it using my aquascaping tweezers:


Placed into my DIY sump/filter(Don't mind the mess, I still have to cut down the cover and find a better way to mount my shrimp guard):


Still haven't decided on what I'm going to stock in the tank. CRS seem like fun but I don't want to have to deal with an ever expanding population, even if I could use the unwanted population to help feed my buddy's oscar.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So I did a thing yesterday. I was torn between getting more S. Repens/DHG to help fill out the foreground quicker and stocking the tank with something. I ended up deciding that I should wait for more growth since everything is healthy for the most part.

I ended up getting 6 "Fire Red" Shrimp from my LFS. There were babys in the display tank too, one of them ended up in the bag as well. I've only spotted it once since being put in but it's there. I would've bought their whole stock but he wasn't offering any sort of discount for it, there were ~6-8 more I would've bought if I got like one or two free.





My hope is that they start eating some of the dead leaves I can't get to. That way they'll help get rid of my algae without actually eating it(Thread/Stag).

As a bonus side effect they also seemed to have made my amanos happier. They've rarely been coming out of the back corner lately but are starting to come out in the open again.

Other than that, not much to update, Ludwigia grew back fast, brain storming how I might trim the section I didn't last time. Another week or two and my S. Repens mother plant will be ready to trim and replant. Algae is still here but stunted for the most part.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've been thinking about replacing the Ludwigia with Alternanthera Reineckii or AR mini. I might take out the second rock by the ludwigia to allow for more flow if I do, there's a good amount of thread algae building up there due to lack of flow.

The ludwigia just grows too fast for my liking and from what I've read AR should grow a bit slower/denser.

Anyone have input on how well it might work out in my mid-tech tank? Will it grow just as fast as my LR and need to be trimmed every like 3 days to keep it tame? Is it an algae magnet? Will it work well with Thrive or does it work better with actual dosing?

I've been running without CO2 for a few days while waiting for my cartidges to come in, so algae has been kind of growing more in the mean time. I might start upping it a little more. .5bps during the day gets me about a .5-.7 ph drop might go to 1bps during light and .25bps at night. I don't have a solenoid so sometimes I wouldn't get it running in time to be on before the lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Weeklyupdate, everything is growing nicely. Upping the CO2 is making the S. Repens and DHG really take off. The S. Repens has 3 new side shoots and hopefully I'll be able to cut and replant some next week. The ludwigia is still growing like a weed.

I'm going to look for a nice piece of driftwood at my LFS to replace the larger stones this week. If I find a piece I like I was thinking I might try my hand at AR 'mini' and either Bacopa Caroliniana or Rotala A. Bonsai to replace the Ludwigia. Maybe leaving a few choice stems of Ludwigia just in case I fail miserably with the more "advanced" plants. I'd probably order more S. Repens and/or DHG with those just to fill out the tank quicker too.

Side note: There is a berried cherry shrimp that should be due in the next week or so! She scurries away from me when I get anywhere near the tank so I can't get pictures of her but I'll probably wait for the babies to mature a bit before rescaping.

The juvenile I got in the bunch also only shows up for a few minutes when the light first turns on but has about doubled in size. So I grabbed a quick picture a few days back.
 

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I had a casualty, the CRS that I though was pregnant looks to have failed to molt and I found her curled up in the DHG when I got home yesterday. I thought that maybe what I thought were eggs were actually a parasite but upon taking a closer look are definitely eggs. My guess is that the 20% WC, ferts, and upped CO2 probably lead to the molting issue/shock. At least 4/6 CRS molted within 2 days of being added and the rest over the course of a week. So there wouldn't really be a reason to molt other than parameter changes.

The picture is kind of blurry but if anyone can make out whether they are infact eggs or some sort of infection that'd be appreciated.



When I go to my LFS to look for some driftwood I'll probably grab a nice male or two to help populate the tank since I only have saddled females.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm no longer happy with this tank. I didn't properly fit/seal my DIY sump, so some of the silicone has let go in areas I would rather it not have. It gets dirty quickly and is a pain to try and clean due to space. Basically everything I had in the tank during the start of this is what I've had laying around for years. The plants I chose were random and based solely on the thought that I could keep them alive. This was basically to try the hobby again and see if I liked it and unfortunately..... I do.

I've started building a proper stand for the tank so that I can position it properly. Currently it's on my dresser but I've moved around and taken apart some of the more "dated" furniture in my room and I'm using pieces of an old tv cabinet to 'skin' the stand.

I'm going to get a new tank so I can ditch my meh DIY sump for a Sunsun canister filter that can be put inside the stand, along with a DIY inline heater and maybe a reactor.

As for livestock/fauna I'm going for an Amazon/South American tank/scape
For plants I'm going to keep the S. repens and what I can save of the DHG(Not really SA but it's growing well and still kind of fits IMO). I'm going to get some AR 'mini' along with a small sword(Helathium Bolivianum 'Quadricostatus')
For Livestock I'm going to keep the RCS because I like them but I was thinking I might get a school of tetras, maybe emperor tetras.

I'm still looking for some nice driftwood for the hardscape but it's difficult to find any in my area and I'm hesitant on blindly ordering online. Looking for a nice piece of manzanita that can span like half the tank while keeping the smaller dragon stone in it's spot.

Pics to come of the stand tomorrow after I finish building it and mocking it up. Then I'll be either changing the thread name or started a new thread to follow the progress.
 

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Built the basic stand today, it's not perfect but it's better than where my tank is currently. Still need to add shelving but I'll wait until I have a Sunsun canister and tank to get a better idea of how I'll set it up.

Everything but the 2x4s that make the actual structure and magnets for the door has been repurposed from an old TV cabinet. I did this partly because I hate throwing things away but also because the stain that the rest of the furniture in my room uses is really hard to find. Took me awhile to carefully disassemble it then plan how to use all of it to match the rest of the furniture in the room.

The main part of the stand is a basic 2x4 design but could probably hold way more than a 10 gallon tank:


The sides extend further back than the stand(along with more 2x4s to help attach shelving later) so that I have space to run tubing from the canister up to the tank:


Attaching the door magnets to the frame:


Semi finished product, might add a small piece under the door to keep it flush to the top:
 

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As an aspiring woodworker I must say I'm impressed with your stand!
Thanks, it's easy when the panels are professionally made and just have to be cut to size :grin2: Even if they are just veneered MFD.
 

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Small Update:

Got most of my equipment in today. Going to build my shelves along with a hanger for my light this weekend. Going to start planning my griggs reactor/inline heater as well. I'll make a trip to home depot this weekend to see what I can put together, whatever they don't have I'll have to find online. Still waiting on some hardscape, should be able to start the the transition in a couple of weeks. Still planning out how I'll move everything.



Also I've been looking for a HOB box to put terrestrial plants in, my plan being to hook the output of the canister filter to the input of the HOB unit. I was looking at Finnex and ISTA breeder boxes as well as aquaclear cases but they're all fairly expensive for bare bones HOB plastic. I can't find any other reccomendations online besides people who are actually using a HOB filter.

Anyone have any reccomendations on possible DIY solutions to this?

Side note on my current tank:

Everything is growing fine, I've let the Ludwigia grow wild for a bit. However my amanos are looking sickly, they look smaller(maybe the cherrys got bigger), they're white and acting lethargic. I haven't changed anything in the tank, I don't know how long they've been like this either since they've been hiding for awhile. But I thought I'd make a note of that. Cherrys are doing amazing though, however I still haven't gotten a male yet.

Bump:

Bump:
 

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Why do you need the HOB with the canister? What am I missing here? It sounds like you're putting terrestrial plants in. That's ok, I've done that before in a sump but nitrates may go to zero.

And... I doubt the powerhead on a HOB filter can keep up with the pump on a canister. Now... overflow should keep you safe there, but plan it out, think about parts failing and what happens if that does.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Why do you need the HOB with the canister? What am I missing here? It sounds like you're putting terrestrial plants in. That's ok, I've done that before in a sump but nitrates may go to zero.

And... I doubt the powerhead on a HOB filter can keep up with the pump on a canister. Now... overflow should keep you safe there, but plan it out, think about parts failing and what happens if that does.
The HOB would be purely to put plants in, I wouldn't have a pump attached to it. I would route the canister to the HOB instead of to the tank, then the outflow of the HOB would lead to the tank.
 

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I put shelves in the stand this weekend, as well as mocked up my equipment. I had to order some parts online for my reactor/heater so I'll have to wait another week to get that all sorted/cemented. In the mean time I've been messing around with how I'll be organizing everything in the cabinet to keep it nice and tidy, something I don't usually do.



I also decided it was time to do some major trimming in my tank. I forgot to take a before photo but the Ludwigia was shading everything which was causing my S. Repens to melt. Spent about an hour carefully hacking everything away. Might trim some of it back even more this week. Good news is that the only algae left is the thread/clado, which only reappeared bacause the Ludwigia had blocked a lot of flow.

Not looking great, lack of light stunted my S. Repens, when I switch everything over and replace the Ludwigia with AR mini and small swords it should take off.



The DHG has taken off in this one corner but struggles in the back, probably due to lack of light.



The trimmings from the Ludwigia



And the Baby tears have really taken off, these are so much healthier than the ones I still have in the pot.

 

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The parts for my reactor/heater came today, so I did a mock up. As I was doing it I realized I should have gotten slip reducers, I don't like the look and don't fully trust these threaded pieces. So I'll make a trip to the hardware store tomorrow or saturday to get the pieces I need before cementing everything together.



Not sure how much I trust the Uniseal either. I test fit it with the heater and it seems solid enough but you can pull it up to the lip on the bottom of the seal. Might just put some silicone down between the seal and the outside of the end cap to give me piece of mind. I bought two seals, so I might get another cap and try drilling it again to see if there is any difference.

If anything jumps out at anyone as wicked wrong, please chime in haha
 

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So I have most of my equipment now. I made a stupid mistake at the hardware store and got the wrong size fittings, they were labeled 1-1/2" but that was their OD so they didn't fit. Could've easily avoided this by bringing some pieces with me, too late now though and it's not worth the 45 minute drive to rectify it.

So I ended up just using the parts I had to make my reactor/heater. I have that all cemented and put together:



I found a HOB that fit my budget and minimum size requirements, a Marina Slim S20. It's a little too thin for my liking, but it will work for what I want hopefully. You can see in these pictures what I was trying to describe. Basically just replacing it's intake with the canister's output. It's pretty ghetto right now, I might pick up a bulkhead or something for it:





I plan on just filling it with Hydroton(Hydroponics clay balls), and putting some plants in it like my baby tears.

While at the store I also picked up some universal lava rock to help create a bank in my substrate if needed, as well as anchor some of my manzanita pieces that finally came in.



I'm going to do a leak test of the system at some point soon and then I'll start messing around with the hardscape. I'm trying not to rush this but I really want to get everything swapped over so I can get more livestock.
 

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What's the suction cup thingee next to the filter intake?

Is the coarse foam over the filter intake to keep shrimp out of the filter? If so, babies will still get in the filter. BTW, my wife tells me a kitchen screen strainer can separate many of shrimp from the filter goo!

(And yes, it is a dedicated strainer, we use it for so much!)
 

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What's the suction cup thingee next to the filter intake?

Is the coarse foam over the filter intake to keep shrimp out of the filter? If so, babies will still get in the filter. BTW, my wife tells me a kitchen screen strainer can separate many of shrimp from the filter goo!

(And yes, it is a dedicated strainer, we use it for so much!)
If you mean the HOB intake area, it's just there to secure the output into the box. If you mean the cord next to the canister intake, it's the temp probe for my inkbird controller.

The foam over the intake was just a piece from the S20 kit, but yeah mainly for shrimp safety. I'll look into the strainer idea, thanks. Worst case I might just stuff the other intake piece with finer foam. I'm hoping to eventually get a nicer intake, but probably further down the road.
 
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