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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks!

Its been a while since I started a new journal. That doesn't mean things haven't been happening, only that I have been posting much about it.

A few months back I decided my Spec V days were numbered. I wanted to replace it with a shallow rimless tank so I could emulate all the emersed growth I see in streams when I go hiking locally. With this in mind I went tank searching. I wanted something that was larger then my existing Spec V but it still had to be small enough to fit in the same location (a small kitchen counter). I quickly discovered there were not a lot of options in this size range. The perfect tank was the ADA 60F. It also was completely sold out everywhere! I waited a month or so but there was no end in sight. About this time I realized the DOOA H23 had the identical dimensions but had a taller back wall. The back wall was a bit odd, but I decided it wasn't too odd. I ended up purchasing it from Aqua Forest and shipped to my house. The tank arrived in a box that was easily 3 times as large as the tank itself. It also arrived completely intact so huzzah! And without a pad, boooo! A cheap yoga mat took care of this.

Using wild captured rocks (after a good boiling) and some random bits of drift wood from a LFS (also after boiling) I started playing around with aquascapes. This is what I came up with after a few weeks of very casual design:



For substrate I took the sand and aquasoil that was already in my Spec V and put it in the bottom and back of the new tank. I then covered this with more pool filter sand. The submerged plants are primarily blyxa japonica. I also have some anubias nana petite, and Lobelia cardinalis as well. For emerged plants I am using Brazilian pennywort and eleocharis acicularis I grew from seeds I purchased from prairie moon nursery. I have been growing this stuff all season in a tub outside so it was fun to finally put some of it in an aquarium:





If it looks huge, it is, but that's how it grows when emersed apparently.

I also have some moss I literally scraped up from spots in my yard and a rabbits foot fern for the above water section on the wood.

For filtration I decided to go with an Oase Filtosmart 100 filter. I meant to buy the thermo version but managed to mess that up. Fortunately you can buy the parts to add the heater to the filtosmart essentially making it function as the thermo version does. Here is how it looked initially:



The light is a 30cm Chihiros WRGB 2. I have it tuned so its putting out around 70 ppfd at substrate directly under the light with around 40 ppfd in the corners. Its up this high to keep the Blyxa happy since it needs a good bit of light in a low tech tank.

All of that equipment hanging out was a bit of a mess. I knew this going in and my planned solution was to hide it behind a wood wall. Using some scrap wood I had lying around I glued together 2 oak boards and made a little slot on one side for hoses to go through. This is how it looked:



The Oase filter is rated for a much high flow tank so I needed to turn it down. The supplied intake and return have the ability to turn it down built right in which is pretty nifty, but I also knew I wasn't keeping those black plastic bits. Instead I bought cheapy pvc barbed ball valve off of amazon:



Using this I could tune my flow exactly where I needed it to be and adjust it later if needed.

Since the black plastic bits had to go I went looking for some lily pipes. There are numerous glass options but I absolutely do not want to clean glassware. That left stainless steel. Given how shallow the tank is there was frankly only 1 option. Chihiros Stainless Steel Lily Pipes sized small. They needed to ship from china but it was worth the wait.

As for inhabitants? Well I decided to go with another betta ;P

I also added a handful of blue ramshorn snails, some blue neocaridina shrimp I moved over from another tank, and 6 harlequin rasbora. These latter ones have not been doing well for me in this tank. 5 of the 6 died within a couple of days. I don't have hopes for the last one either. No idea why they are dropping like flies either, I suspect I just got some unhealthy fish.

My betta meanwhile has eaten at least one shrimpy so far which doesn't seem like a good sign for the rest. Other then this things are going well. The snails are having a field day and have already laid several clutches of eggs. So without further ado I shall introduce via way too many pictures to my new male Koi Plakat betta named by my 3 year old daughter,

Mr. Fishy:













I will say this for Mr. Fishy, right away he is smarter and more personable then my last betta ever was which definitely makes for a fun change of pace.

And finally here is a full tank shot of how the tank looks today:



In the future I plan to add some ludwigia to my emersed plants. Plus I want to get some fish to replace my rasboras. I am thinking of going with some small tetras like ember tetras if I can find them locally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Update!

Its been 4 months since I posted this tank and I have completely neglected this journal despite several events happening.

I added a handful of blue neocaridina shrimp to this tank and Mr. Fishy hunted down all but one. I added 3 amano shrimp to the tank and the largest of the 3 climbed out and died at some point shortly after being added. One of the smaller ones went MIA and the last remaining one is still in there somewhere but very much in hiding. It turns out Mr. Fishy is not one of those blasé betta fish.

I added a handful of blue ramshorn snails but most died after a few months. I think because there wasn't enough algae in the tank to keep them alive. There is still one small one loose in there and realistically my only algae eater other then one very scared amano.

Mr. Fishy himself has gone through some changes as well. When I bought him he was labeled as a 'premium koi male betta' by my local fish store. Turns out he is definitely more of a marble betta. Here is how Mr. Fishy looks these days:





Definitely a wonderful fish and also the betta with the most color of any I have owned (even the fins near his gills have pigment). But in no way can he be a Koi betta with such a drastic change in his patterning. Good news is that he seems to have settled into this current color pattern.

The plants in the tank have grown very well with the pennywort going through periods of taking over and then being cut back etc. Here is how it looked before a big trim:



The pennywort even flowered a couple of times:



But after 4 months I grew tired of the scape and decided to redo it ;P

So here is how it looks now:





All the same plants and inhabitants, a few different rocks and one less piece of wood. I'm pretty happy with it now, it should last another few months at least ;P

Mr. Fishy approves:

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Small Update:

Things have been going pretty well with the tank itself. Plants are growing well and I have even been able to keep 1 (possibly 2) blue neocaridina in this tank without my betta eating them. Huzzah. A couple of pictures:





In the less then great news category my betta has over the past 3 or 4 months developed what I am calling a tumor on his side (but really it could be any kind of aberrant growth). It doesn't appear to bother him so I am not going to do anything about it (I don't think there really is anything that can be done about it in a fish this small anyway).



I've enjoyed this scape and how easy it is to care for but I think I will be changing it up relatively soon. I don't like how flat it is on the left side of the tank. I think Instead I will use rocks throughout the tank to create more of a varied elevation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update!

Its only been a few days but things have happened. Unfortunately a couple of days ago I had some contractors over to give me some quotes. Shortly after they left I discovered Mr. Fishy on the floor near his tank and very dead. I don't know if all the people in the house spooked him enough to jump or if it was just a coincidence but there ya have it.

At this point I have been through several bettas in the last couple of years and despite my near constant desire to own a betta, I'm going to have to swear them off for a bit. My maintenance standards I know are fine, so I don't know if its my water, or I'm just unlucky, but I'm just going to move on for a bit.

That brings me to the current situation. I have an empty tank (Mr. Fishy having finally tracked down and eaten the last few shrimp before shucking off his mortal coil) and a desire to rescape.

After a bit of thought I decided to change things up pretty substantially and make a scape that is reminiscent of grasses growing between rocks at a beach.

Here is the tank before I rescaped it:



And here is the new hardscape I eventually settled on. I added some fresh pool filter sand on top of everything to fill in some bits.





And here is the tank after planting:





You will notice that I have essentially no hardscape above the waterline. This was a very deliberate choice on my part and mostly done because I wanted to enjoy the weird dimensions of the tank when I crouched down next to it, and also for purposes of trying something new. The Wife typically takes absolutely no interest in my tanks beyond a couple seconds of appraisal and then saying "it looks nice". But she definitely had feelings about this design.... she did not care for it at all ;P So its definitely not overly long for the world. But I will give it a go for a couple of months at least.

Anyway when it came to inhabitants I already knew what I wanted to do. White Cloud Mountain Minnows and shrimp. I have actually never kept the former and I've been itching to try them out in a shallow tank with relatively fast flow. For shrimp I moved some blue dream shrimp over from another tank to this one.



That's all I have for now. Next up I will add some snails and probably an amano shrimp or three to the tank as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update!

Two months have passed since the last update and significant developments have occurred.

For one thing I decided to take this tank high tech with diy co2 and higher lighting. Why?

Well my darn Chihiros WRGB II died on me. Pretty sure the control unit burned out and there was no ability (for me) to repair it. Additionally neither Chihiros or Aqua Rocks Colorado even bothered to respond to multiple emails or Facebook messages asking for a way to buy replacement parts. Soooo yeah, no longer recommending their lights.

Anyway I needed a new light and since I was already using a 30cm unit I decided I could certainly keep with that plan. Looking at the 30cm units on the market and they all tend to be pretty close in price to each other. Thus I decided why not go for one of the lights with a better reputation? Enter my new 30cm Twinstar S III.

I also bought a manual inline dimmer for it since I was at the time planning to keep this tank low tech. Using my par meter I dimmed the light till I got about 30-40 ppfd at substrate directly under the light and 20s in the corners. And... hated it.

The twinstar really produces nice colors but only when turned up past say 60 or 70%. When I turned it down to 30% it really didn't look great (too red/magenta).

Enter my sudden desire to take this tank high tech so I could crank the light up and get a much better look.

From there I decided I really didn't want to mess with a whole other co2 tank regulator setup (would by my third) but I thought maybe I could find a way to do diy co2 in a good way?

Basically I wanted to get a month to two months out of a diy co2 setup with reliable and consistent co2 the entire time. This is a bit of a tall order but I started investigating.

I quickly set on the idea of having jello with yeast for a long lasting slow release of co2. In another thread I started thinking about basically making beer and using that to make the co2 since beer creates co2 anyway...

I got really excited about this and dove in head first... the results when the beer exploded into my tank were sub optimal.



I think it took around 8 water changes at 80% before I got things back under control.... forgetting to clean out the filter before turning it back on certainly didn't help. Fortunately all the livestock lived but my pennywort definitely took a hit with many of the larger leaves showing holes.

I decided that I would keep my beer brewing in appropriate containers going forward and use more traditional recipes for diy co2.

Anyway there seems to be a wide variety of recipes for jello co2 all the way from 1 part sugar to 1 part water to 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. I decided to go on the lower end with 3 cups of sugar in 13 cups of water to make 1 gallon total of fluid. To this I added 5 packages of knox brand plain jello. I cooled the fluid, added it to a plastic container, and chilled in the refrigerator for 6 hours. Then I added some warm sugar water with 1/8 teaspoon of yeast (yeast is SA-05 from my brewing kit).

This worked a treat. It's been a week and I am getting a nice slow release of co2 (around 1 bubble every minute which is perfect for my purposes).

Why is this perfect? Because I am not using a traditional diffuser or even a reactor. I am using a bell diffuser. The great thing about the bell diffuser is that its a much gentler method of getting co2 into the water. And this works REALLY well with diy co2 because when I get more co2 then I need it just overflows the bell and goes to the surface in a 'big' bubble that doesn't diffuse much at all before it escapes the tank. Thus co2 is nicely regulated and largely determined by the diameter of the bell (bigger bell means more surface area of water in contact with the co2). For my little 8.6 gallon tank my bell is 4cm in diameter.

This is all a bit of an experiment but so far... it's working!!





 

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Very interested in seeing how it plays out throughout the month. I didn't have much luck past 3 weeks with consistency on dennerle's bio co2 gel, though I haven't tried making my own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Very interested in seeing how it plays out throughout the month. I didn't have much luck past 3 weeks with consistency on dennerle's bio co2 gel, though I haven't tried making my own.
Using the bell diffuser was pretty key for this reason. I didn't care if the co2 was going at a rate of 1 bubble a second the first day and then 1 bubble a minute by day 6. Either was more then the diffuser could 'diffuse' so it was just overflow into the tank and out before it could be absorbed. I haven't been very careful in tracking the bubbles per minute or second with this experiment. The only thing I care about is if the bell is full or not. So long as its full I know its working.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Update!

Tank is still ticking along. Honestly there is very little to report for the most part. I moved the pennywort around and trimmed some ludwigia and replanted it. None of that is worth an update. But I wanted to report back on my diy co2 experiment after a month.

So I am very pleased to announce that I still have enough co2 flowing into the tank to keep the bell diffuser full even after a month since filling. No idea how long it will last but anything at this point is essentially just gravy.

Pictures of the tank today after water change.





 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So you have a link to the gel recipe? I'm very interested in giving this method a shot with my low tech
I kinda went in the middle between several other recipes. I used just under 1 gallon of water (took a gallon and subtracted one cup). Boiled it with 3 cups of sugar. Added 5 packets of knox brand jello (probably could have got away with 4 but it was my first time), and then let it cool till it wouldn't melt my plastic container. Once cool enough I poured it into my plastic container and then refrigerated it for about 5 hours (until the jello set). Then I added a little sugar to 1 cup of luke warm water and added 1/8 tsp of brewers yeast. The specific yeast I used was US-04 but there are many good brewers yeasts out there. Once my yeast proofed I added the cup of warm water into the container with the jello and screwed on the top. Tada. I had bubbles within 8 or so hours.

This works with a bell diffuser. I do not think it would work nearly so well with a regular diffuser. If using a regular diffuser you would want more sugar and more yeast and it probably wouldn't last as long. Good luck!! Let me know how it works for you.
 

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Once I'm back at my house for the winter I'll be giving this a shot for sure!! Thank you so much!!

*Edit- think I found bell diffusers on amazon when you first posted you were trying it 😉👍 will post my results once I get it up and running. Hopefully it's a good as yours!!
 

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I kinda went in the middle between several other recipes. I used just under 1 gallon of water (took a gallon and subtracted one cup). Boiled it with 3 cups of sugar. Added 5 packets of knox brand jello (probably could have got away with 4 but it was my first time), and then let it cool till it wouldn't melt my plastic container. Once cool enough I poured it into my plastic container and then refrigerated it for about 5 hours (until the jello set). Then I added a little sugar to 1 cup of luke warm water and added 1/8 tsp of brewers yeast. The specific yeast I used was US-04 but there are many good brewers yeasts out there. Once my yeast proofed I added the cup of warm water into the container with the jello and screwed on the top. Tada. I had bubbles within 8 or so hours.

This works with a bell diffuser. I do not think it would work nearly so well with a regular diffuser. If using a regular diffuser you would want more sugar and more yeast and it probably wouldn't last as long. Good luck!! Let me know how it works for you.
I used to use a method similar to this on my last tank. Its been so long I don't remember the exact recipe I used but I do remember that I had good luck using normal flavored gelatin in place of the knox gelatin. Makes for some funky colored bottles and smells interesting but was cheaper at the time.

Another random side note. If you take the gel after its "used up" pour into a freezer bag and freeze it you'll end up with the best ice pack known to man. The alcohol lowers the freezing point so it gets colder and the ones I did it with stayed soft and flexible. It also seems to stay colder a lot longer but that might just be due to being much larger than normal ice packs. It works so well its still in use at my parents for sprains, twists, etc more than five years later. Its also florescent orange so even more fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Once I'm back at my house for the winter I'll be giving this a shot for sure!! Thank you so much!!

*Edit- think I found bell diffusers on amazon when you first posted you were trying it 😉👍 will post my results once I get it up and running. Hopefully it's a good as yours!!
I bought this one off of amazon. It is for reasons completely unknown to me, setup as an air bubbler. I have no idea why anyone would want this as an air bubbler, but as a result of this purpose it has a 'feature' that needs to be dealt with. It actually has a very small pin prick sized hole in the glass bell near the top. If used for co2 this would let the co2 out pretty regularly. Fortunately the fix is easy. I used a toothpick to grab a very very small dab of clear silicone and put it over and into the little hole plugging it. This worked great and the hole is so small and positioned in such a way that you don't know that either the hole or silicone plug are even present.
 

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I bought this one off of amazon. It is for reasons completely unknown to me, setup as an air bubbler. I have no idea why anyone would want this as an air bubbler, but as a result of this purpose it has a 'feature' that needs to be dealt with. It actually has a very small pin prick sized hole in the glass bell near the top. If used for co2 this would let the co2 out pretty regularly. Fortunately the fix is easy. I used a toothpick to grab a very very small dab of clear silicone and put it over and into the little hole plugging it. This worked great and the hole is so small and positioned in such a way that you don't know that either the hole or silicone plug are even present.
Thank you- adding to cart!! Noted that patch is needed. Appreciate all the info!!
 

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I know it sounds hokey but I've been using a similar bell in a shrimp vase that I suspected was a bit low on the oxygen front but couldn't handle much surface agitation. At least not without driving me crazy. I'd remove the airstone and they'd hover near the top of the tank. Add it back and they'd be fine. Rinse. Repeat.

But with the bell, I don't hear the annoying bubbles and there's just enough surface agitation for gas exchange to occur. Works well.

These CO2 bells were really popular in the early 2000s. Especially with DIY folks. Kind of fell out of fashion when high-quality diffusers started hitting the market but I still think they're useful, as @minorhero has demonstrated. Makes me want to try the DIY thing again just for the heck of it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update!

A month and a half since starting my diy co2 recipe and its still going! Actually its going so well that I decided to change up the scape. Before I get into that here is what the old scape looked like just before I took it apart:





My last scape was really designed around this being a low tech tank. But with the addition of co2 I decided I could go for something a little more advanced and try to grow a full carpet in this tank.

This isn't my first carpet but it is my first carpet on diy co2. Also I'm trying out some new plants which is always fun.

The overall design is somewhat iwagumi but I have some wood in there (can you have wood with an iwagumi?). Anyway the below the waterline plants are my blyxa and anubias nana petite being reused and new plants are baby tears and lilaeopsis brasiliensis (micro sword). I'm trying for more of a meadow look then a lawn look.

The above the waterline plants are a big ol' bromeliad pup and some local creeping plant I found in the woods. I have absolutely no idea if the above the water plants will make it, actually right now I'm not sure I like the aesthetic of the brom but once it gets a little bigger the leaves will curl down and it won't look so weird. So hopefully that shakes out in time.

And here is how the scape looks now:







The bell diffuser was of course emptied as a natural result of draining the tank. It took about 10 hours to refill completely. So the diy co2 is definitely not fast at this point but also.. who cares? Its still filling the bell faster then the bell can empty. Not bad for some sugar and yeast after more then 6 weeks.
 
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