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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My wife and I started Serenity during the first week of March 2014. Serenity is our first freshwater aquarium, and named because it helps us unwind at the end of the day. My favorite part is the gentle swaying of the crypts in the current.

Thanks for looking.

Serenity as of Oct 1, 2014:

image

Equipment:
Tank: 20 gallon
Filter: Fluval AquaClear 50
Light: Finnex Planted+ 24-inch
Circulation Pump: Hydor Koralia Nano 240
Heater: Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm 75w

Hardscape
Substrate: CaribSea Eco Complete + API Laterite

Flora
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green
Cryptocoryne Undulata Red
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Tropica'
Cryptocoryne Parva
Cryptocoryne Crispatula 'Balansae'

Fauna
2 Guppies (2 female, also about 15 fry)
6 Threadfin Rainbows (2 female, 4 male)
1 White Cloud Minnow
5 Otocinclus
2ish Ghost Shrimp
30ish Cherry Shrimp
 

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I could be wrong but that dwarf hairgrass needs a co2 source in order to thrive. I had it in my low tech 55 gallon and completely withered within 2 weeks even with high light. Also I notice the splashing from hob filter on the surface you might want raise the water level in order to minimize that a bit so plants can utilize if any co2 in the water. Overall that's a beautiful scape I love those crypts
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
looks good! i like the driftwood.
Thanks! We were very lucky to get that driftwood. I had gone to the LFS to replace a broken part and the driftwood guy was there making his annual delivery (apparently this one guy supplies the vast majority of driftwood to local stores in the eastern US and Canada!) This piece really caught our eyes.

IMG_2336

I could be wrong but that dwarf hairgrass needs a co2 source in order to thrive. I had it in my low tech 55 gallon and completely withered within 2 weeks even with high light. Also I notice the splashing from hob filter on the surface you might want raise the water level in order to minimize that a bit so plants can utilize if any co2 in the water. Overall that's a beautiful scape I love those crypts
I'm pretty sure you're correct with regard to the dwarf hairgrass. That was the first plant I bought for the tank before I knew anything about CO2 and light requirements. It's never thrived and will probably be removed to make way for something else soon. It's also been a constant maintenance battle as the guppies like to uproot it and watch it float around in the current.

I didn't realize the splashing from the filter would rob the water of significant amounts of CO2. The good news is that photo was taken at the end of the week before doing maintenance, so it was about 2.5 gallons low on water. Maybe I'll start doing more frequent water top offs.

Very nice. The name is fitting.
Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Serenity as of May 10, 2014:

image

Equipment:
Tank: Top Fin 20 gallon
Filter: Fluval AquaClear 50
Light: Finnex Planted+ 24-inch
Circulation Pump: Hydor Koralia Nano 240
Heater: unknown

Hardscape
Substrate: CaribSea Eco Complete + API Laterite

Flora
Anubias Congensis
Anubias Nana
Eleocharis Parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass)
Cryptocoryne, Wendtii Green
Cryptocoryne, Undulata Red

Fauna
3 Guppies (3 female)
3 Threadfin Rainbows (1 female, 2 male)
2 White Cloud Minnows
3 Otocinclus
6ish Ghost Shrimp
6ish Cherry Shrimp
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Serenity as of May 20, 2014:

image

Changes:
  • Removed Eleocharis Parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass). Not only was it not thriving, but the guppies also constantly uprooted it.
  • Added 3 more Threadfin rainbows (+1 Female, +2 Male)
  • Added 5 or so more Ghost Shrimp
  • A ghost shrimp successfully gave birth, but we're not sure whether any survived the initial feeding frenzy.

Other things of note:

Plans:
  • I need something to plant in the space where the dwarf hairgrass used to reside. I want something small (suitable for foreground) that's also low maintenance. I'm strongly considering Cryptocoryne Parva.
  • I'm also looking for something to plant behind the driftwood as a background plant. I also want this to be a slow growing plant that requires little maintenance. I really like the look of Vallisneria Americana Gigantea (Jungle Val), but they grow too quickly and spread too vociferously. Instead, I'm strongly considering either Cryptocoryne Spiralis or Cryptocoryne Balansae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Serenity has been experiencing GH and KH creep. We've battled against high KH and PH since the tank's infancy, but I thought I’d solved the issue months ago once I decided to forego the use of tap water and use only distilled water + Seachem Equillibrium and acid/alkaline buffer for water changes and top offs. After a random test tonight, however, it appears high GH, KH, and PH are back. There’s certainly a chance that human error is to blame for this - I could have erroneously added twice the additives to a batch of distilled water - but there’s also a couple of potential culprits in the tank: a slate tile weighing down the driftwood and a dozen or so brown-and-black striped river rocks.

I’ve decided to remove them both from the tank. I’ll put the rocks in a bucket with some prepared water and make a control - a second bucket of the same water with no rocks added - and test them both after a week. If the rocks are causing the creep I probably won’t put them back in the aquarium. The slate won’t be going back in regardless since it should no longer be needed to weigh down the driftwood.

The most negative aspect of this - or at least the aspect that makes me the most apprehensive - is that to get the slate out I will have to disturb most of the substrate and probably uproot half of the plants. Here's to hoping I don't crush too many (any) shrimp or fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Got a shipment of plants: Cryptocoryne Parva for the foreground (middle), Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Tropica' for midground (left), and Cryptocoryne crispatula 'Balansae' for the background (right).

image


Serenity as of May 31, 2014

image

Changes:
  • Removed brown and black striped rocks and slate tile weighing down the driftwood due to possible GH/KH creep. Did a moderate rescape while the tank was torn apart.
  • Added Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm 75w heater.
  • Added Cryptocoryne Parva to the foreground.
  • Added Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Tropica'
  • Added Cryptocoryne crispatula 'Balansae' to background
  • Added 5ish ghost shrimp
  • Added 5ish red cherry shrimp
  • Added 1 fancy male guppy
  • Added a black plastic background that looks terrible in real life but not terrible in photos ... interesting.

Other things of note:
  • My fertilizers arrived but I haven't used them yet. I knew I was going to be messing with the substrate and figured that would stir up junk into the water column. I'll probably begin dosing fertilizers next week after everything has calmed down.
  • I bought some aquascaping tools and they've already improved my quality of life. I can't imagine how much longer it would have taken to plant all of that without some good forceps.
  • I've been battling slightly cloudy water for several weeks now. I've tried Seachem Clarity and had absolutely no success with it (My filter should move 200gph, but the tank stays cloudy for days after use). I replaced my carbon with Seachem Purigen yesterday. Obviously the water is still cloudy, but I did tear the tank apart less than 24 hours ago. Any tips for getting crystal clear water would be appreciated.

Plans:
  • Thinking about getting a heater controller as insurance against a possible heater malfunction.
 

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I like this tank. The tall crypt in back is pretty cool. The parva I here takes time to fill in but your started with a good amount. Love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Looking good. I used the Purigen as well and water looked amazing a few days later. That's also if you can leave the tank alone and not mess around with the plants too much though.
It's tough to tell but I think the water has cleared up some over the last couple of days. I'm beginning to wonder how much of this is actually the black background that I added.

Thanks!

gotta love crypt tanks! yours looks awesome, and hope to see it truly take off. c.parva takes a little while to establish but slowly will start filling in for you.
I love crypt tanks too. I can't wait to see how these new varieties do.

I like this tank. The tall crypt in back is pretty cool. The parva I here takes time to fill in but your started with a good amount. Love it.
Thanks! That's Cryptocoryne Crispatula var. Balansae. There are a few common thin, tall crypt varieties - Spiralis and Retrospiralis are 2 others. They tend not to have the texture on the leaves, though, and I preferred having the texture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We've moved since my last post here, but Serenity survived and is now thriving again. I finally started a fertilization rotation this week. Going with 1/32 tsp KH2PO4 and 1/16 tsp KNO3 once on the weekend and 1/32 tsp CMS-B once during the week and complementing with a 25 percent water change every 4 weeks. I cut the light down to 8 hours a few weeks ago and am now thinking about cutting it down to 6 or 7.

On the fauna side of things, we had two rounds of guppy babies, but our only adult male died. We estimate that approximately 10-15 baby guppies survived. We lost a couple of otocinclus in the crypts so added 2 more to replace them, only to find the original ones still in the tank the next day (so we're up to 5 otocinclus now).

I continue to be amazed by how little maintenance this tank requires. I scrape the glass, clip a few damaged leaves, and top off the water level once per week (sometimes once every two weeks). The whole process requires about 15 or 20 minutes, and I take my time because its so enjoyable.

Full tank shot:

image
 

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Somebody mentioned something about raising the water level so the HOB filter would not outgas CO2 from the water.

My understanding is that that is only true when injecting CO2. When not running CO2, there is much less CO2 in the water, and the plants use it quickly. Because of this, you actually want a lot of surface agitation so more water is exposed to the surrounding air and more CO2 replenished in the water.

It's similar to how people agitate their water surface so introduce more oxygen into the water.

Anybody want to confirm all of this?
 
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