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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have this 30 Cube and have decided I want to take my time and do it completely right. I want to think this through and then take actions.

I rarely end up with an opportunity like this because I usually need the tank for one reason or another and set it up immediately then mess with it. So this is something new and a new experience for me.

So, here is where I am at and I'm open to ideas.

For a hardscape I want a nice piece of driftwood that can separate the sides. Either split it in two or split it in 3/4 areas.

The reasoning for this is the fish I want to give a home to are 2 (maybe 3?) Breeding pair of German Blue Rams.

Along with these rams I would like a few catfish or other bottom fish and possibly a dither fish, but I'm uncertain on both.

For a Substrate I've decided I want to try Miracle Gro Organic capped by Black Diamond Sand, but if BDS won't cap well I would be ok with Silica Sand.

For Co2 I was thinking Paintball, but I want this to be a heavily planted tank w/ carpet and I'm not 100% sure paintball size is going to be big enough to not become frustrating.

My next thought is lighting. I enjoy the Finnex Planted Plus 24/7, but I'm concerned about a 20" x 20" tank w/ only one 20" fixture on it. I'm wondering if I am going to need two fixtures. I also want a carpet on this tank.

For filtration I have a few options, but the biggest one is deciding between a canister or a sump. There is about a 1" dip in the back of the tank. I will be building a small box to attach to the back in this area that I will build a PVC intake into. This way I can fill the tank to 1/2" to 1" from the top and not worry about spillage. Building the intake into it puts it out of sight as well. I also figured I would build the return into the side and PVC Spray bar.

I've been contemplating a sump vrs canister in this situation. A canister may be the best option based simply on the stand since it won't hold a standard 10 gallon underneath. I could get away with a 7.5 gallon sump, but that isn't very big.

So, the only things decided for sure are the substrate, carpet planting, and GBR's.

I'm looking for input and advice on the rest. :)
 

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Carpe Diem
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Isn't it a pleasure to set up a new tank and have the luxury of doing it slow?

Some random thoughts from my personal experience:

- finding good GBRs is getting harder and harder
- plan on this being a "hot" tank, 82F+ - this will somewhat limit your plant and other fish selection
- plan on taking your time to age the tank, you want it to be rock solid before you add GBRs
- I would stay away from any kind of cories if you want the eggs to survive. Same goes for snails and all nocturnal scavengers
- the foot print narrows your dither fish selection even farther. Cardinals mix well with GBRs and I had great experience with Amber Tetras
- I would add 3 M and 3 F and expect to get 2 pairs. Be prepared to re-home the remaining 2 fish (your community tank seems to be a good candidate)
- I bet you will end up with at least 2 LED fixtures if you place the lights right on the rim. The light spread from a single LED fixture will not cover 20", especially close to the surface. On my 18" cube, 2 x Current USA Planted Plus + 1 x Current USA Planted give me a good balance between tank lighting, light spread, plant selection and growth in a non-CO2 cube
- filtering a cube is another challenge: you want reasonable surface agitation and decent circulation from top to bottom and side to side. Even though I do prefer sumps, a canister filter with adjustable flow should provide more flexibility to fine-tune the circulation. If you do end up using a canister filter, consider using an in-line heater
- dwarf hair grass would be my top choice for a carpet in a non-CO2 med light tank. Regular baby tears and dwarf pennyworth would also mix in well as accent plants.

Best of luck and, above all, enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was planning an inline heater and this will be a CO2 tank. Using excel or API CO2 Boost with my tanks is getting expensive.

I'm planning to order the pairs as pairs so there won't be a split off, which is why I was debating on how many pair. :)

You validated my concerns on lighting. Unless there is a good single light option it looks like 2 fixtures are going to be necessary.

I want things hidden so I was considering the box w/ the intake plumbed through it and putting a full length spray bar across the back, all in Black PVC. I'm not sure about the height of the spray bar though. My other thought was amazing bringing it in to the middle and T-ing it off so I could adjust then flew up, down, etc... on each side. I was kind of thinking I would either need a higher GPH canister or pump to run this. If it's a canister I figure I can always plumb a valve in to help adjust (lower) the flow rate and go with a bigger than necessary canister. :) My thought is this let's me pick up a sunsun or something else inexpensive and free up funds for other stuff. If I go canister I can always upgrade it later.

Are there any catfish that would do well in this combo?

As for having it run a while that is my plan. I know it could take a while for the Miracle Gro to stop seeping. It's one of the reasons I'm considering an emersed start. If I do an emersed start I figure I could run the canister on one of my other tanks to seed it while the tank is growing. :)



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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
After a lot of thought I've come closer to what I want for an Aquascape and as that it became clearer how I want the tank to look has become clearer.

And I would like input as well. :)

As I've stated above I want to try out a dirt + sand cap tank using the Miracle Gro Organic. I've decided to try the Black Diamond Blasting Sand route since there is a Tractor Supply Company not to far away.

For the hardscape I'm thinking of a large piece of driftwood coming out from the back covered in plants to essentially divide the tank. Something roughly 10x10x3 or so, or larger if it's due to roots coming off.

Around the edges to about 2/3rds of the way to the front will be carpet plate. Around the front will be rounded river rocks encircling the front area of the driftwood.

I'm considering a moss wall background as well. Depending on the plants that go on the driftwood I may do vals at the back flowing out, but doing a moss wall really appeals to me.

Inhabitants I'm thinking of are German Blue Rams (Primary), school of tetras (undecided what kind), oticnculus, cherry shrimp.

I'm going Canister, just haven't decided which one but I'm thinking SunSun. There is limited space in the stand and I want pressurized Co2 and the equipment all in the stand or behind it (i.e. heater/co2 diffuser inline).

I'm still leaning towards the Finnex Planted Plus 24/7, but I'm looking at other options also. The carpet is my concern here and a 20" high tank.

I have no clue for plants though. I'm leaning towards anubias on the driftwood (leaves look) and dwarf hairgrass as the carpet. I thought about mixing the anubias with some java ferns. Also, up around the river rock part of the hardscape I'm thinking some short plants, small crypts, etc... scattered a litte. Just nut sure what kinds. Any input here?

Thanks :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I researched that and although it isn't a bad option, it's more than u can really spend.

I was also reading and reviews on the current USA pro series.

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Carpe Diem
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Personally, I had pretty abysmal experience with SunSuns and their ilk but they are hard to beat for price / gph. If you do end up with a higher gph cannister, placing a spray bar vertically in a corner is another interesting option.

Plant wise, you have a ton of choices and Calestus's picture shows a good selection: Amazon Swords, Cryptocoryne pontederifolia (invasive), Java Fern (regular / narrow leaf / needle leaf), ludwigia repens and friends, Rotalas, Water Sprite, Blyxa Japonica, Limnophila aquatica are all good for taller tanks and will do well in a med light tank with no c02 required. Make your aquarium a success - Tropica Aquarium Plants is a good site to read up on plants.

Moss walls are notorious PITA, for more then one reason. Check the forums for other people's experiences before going in that direction.

For whatever reasons, I could not keep Italian Vals alive in a 18" cube but they did great in a 24" cube. I think they do much better in taller and / or longer tanks.

I would avoid catfish, but if you must, check out dwarf cories (C. pygmaeus / hastatus and habrosus). Farlowella (like vittata) and Loricaria family are another cool choices, but they do need a higher level of oxygen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, I was starting to lean towards RCS or a colony of PFR instead of Cory cats.

The more reading I do my stocking gets more solidified. :)

GBRs are the primary and won't change.

RCS/PFR is what I'm kind of thinking, but I'm not sure about the heat.

I'm leaning towards a school of Ruby Tetras as the secondary fish.

Finally otocinclus for algae.

For plants the only thing I'm sure of is I want a carpet plant (dwarf hairgrass?), and Anubias or a plant with similar leaves that I can attach to the driftwood.

And I've read and heard both sides of the sunsun debate. I know I'm taking a risk if I go with a sunsun but if I go with a more expensive filter I end up having to cut somewhere else which I'm trying to avoid.

I'm actually considering starting it only partially submersed to get the carpet growing and help with soil leachage. Basically I'm thinking about ordering lights the end of the week and whatever carpet plant along with the driftwood the beginning of next week. I believe I can find the rocks I want locally. Figure if I run it with 3-4" water over the substrate the carpet will get more light. After a couple of weeks I could add additional soil plants and raise the water for a couple more weeks then attach plants to the driftwood, add background plants, and fill it the rest of the way.

Other than in the back in thinking no plants higher than 6-8". In this tank I don't want the jungle look. The height will come from the driftwood to separate out the tank so each pair of GBR haS its own area. :) I also don't want them to be able to hide all the time. ;-)

I do like the idea of corner spraybars. That got me thinking. If I run the intake in the center at back then run plumbing to our a spraybar in each corner it might alleviate dead current spots.

And yeah the Moss wall is just a thought. I've also contemplated using the same canvas craft mats and T-ing Anubias to them. But I think 2-4" of Vals at the back might be a good option as well. :)


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Okay, first I now know what I own. It is a CurrentUSA Solana 34 Gallon Cube w/ the Internal Filter removed.

I'm ordering 1 Finnex Planted+ 24/7 today. This will be used to start the Dwarf Belem Hairgrass I want in the tank. Since I can't afford 4 or 5 2x2 patches, I will be just getting one since I haven't found a larger amount on the board either.

Do to this I am going to start the tank with only a few inches of water to let the dwarf hairgrass growout and do the carpet.

If everything goes right next week I will have the Filstar XP3 and a SunSun to choose between for a filter on this.

I'm leaning towards no tetras in this tank.

Stock - 4 x GBR (2 Breeding Pair), a small colony of shrimp (probably RCS, but we will see), and a small school of oticinclus (not sure how many is a small school).

Plants is Dwarf Hairgrass, Vals, and Anubias so far in my mind. I originally was thinking a piece of driftwood but I have a bunch of small to medium river rocks that were in the guppy tank when i bought it. I've been thinking about using them to build a mountain to divide the two sides and then cover it with Anubias.

I do want a couple of medium height plants somewhere along the sides, but haven't decided what. I don't really want anything to grow over 6" to 8" in height.
 

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Can rams and cherry shrimp be in the same tank, I was under the impression the red cherry shrimp make good ram food?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Give the shrimp enough places to hide and introduce them before the Rams.

Yes some become food along with some of the babies, but overall you can still have a decent colony.

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I always find a spot for Blyxa japonica in most of my tanks and it mixes well with DHG.
For some leaf viriety, regular baby tears are my favorite as you can keep it at any height and trim to any shape.
And regular or narrow leaf Java Fern is highly under rated - a healthy clump can be gorgeous and a good place to lay eggs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I always find a spot for Blyxa japonica in most of my tanks and it mixes well with DHG.
For some leaf viriety, regular baby tears are my favorite as you can keep it at any height and trim to any shape.
And regular or narrow leaf Java Fern is highly under rated - a healthy clump can be gorgeous and a good place to lay eggs.
I've thought about Blyxa and it will probably end up with Java Fern since I have to many now. lol

I'll have to research the baby tears. And yeah, leaf variety is going to be needed.

Where it's a dirt tank I was thinking a couple smaller swords, maybe oscelots, melon, etc...

I'm also thinking of Crypt Balinsa (?? the one that grows tall), coming down a little on the side of the rocks.

This is just a concept. If I keep it this way it will be anubias nana petite on the sides, or maybe a moss, with a larger anubias up top.
 

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I am like you and built a lot of tanks out of parts laying around. Good for you designing a system to support the livestock instead of saying "OK, I have this tank. Now what can I put in it?" Then never having a tank look nearly as good as I envisioned because nothing was planned out properly, and I saved money where I could instead of getting something that I was truly happy with. So having said that. If it was me, I would run 2 Ehiem canister filters to achieve the customization of your flow from side to side that you are looking for. for lighting I would either have buildmyled make me a box, or, for that kind of money, I would roll with a Kessel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The tank is large enough with a divider for two pair. The divider is going to be a natural formation and part of The Hardscape. And that is one of the reasons I decided no dither fish and I'm leaning towards just Otocinclus shrimp and the two breeding pair.

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