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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been really wanting something for my desk at work (besides all of the plant-only terrariums) I thought for a while about a fire-belly newt since the LFS near work had them on sale. Then I considered a dart frog in a cool vivarium, but figured the other cubicle denizens might object to chirping.

Finally I decided to put up a small planted tank and, darn it, I was going to do it right from the get-go this time. No more starting small and gradually spending more and more until it looks like I wanted. I did research by spending a few weeks drooling over last year's ADA catalog. Just in case my wife picked up on my brainwaves (1) and bought me a tank for Xmas, I waited until the 26th then called the LFS to make sure they were open (2).

I think they're starting to recognize me at the LFS, mostly because I'm getting known around my usual haunts as "that guy with the car." I let them know I was looking for a desktop tank, light, CO2 setup and the associated appurtenances (3). They were more than helpful, but I was indecisive and the store was pretty busy so I wandered by myself for a while looking at tanks, comparing lights, and checking out the miniature CO2 setups (4).

The tank:
To ADA or not to ADA? I had been ogling the catalog and really liked the Mini-M, but I knew no-one at work would notice the difference in quality between the ADA, Do-Aqua!, or the economy brand. I also kinda liked the curved front corners on some of the cheaper tanks, and I knew the cost savings could help fund all of the other stuff I would need. Finally the pure white edges and pristine silicone of the ADA won me over and I knew I would much prefer looking at it 40 hours a week.

The CO2:
I bought a Clippard Mouse solenoid from OverStocked for another project several years ago, so I definitely needed a system with a real regulator. That let out the cheaper of the Fluval setups (5). That left the bigger 88g Fluval set, the ADA, and a new one I'd never heard of from a company called Varzea. The store used both it and the Fluval on their shrimp tanks on the counter, but recommended the Varzea. It said right on the box that it "allows for the use of an electronic solenoid." Plus the refills were cheaper, so that settled it. I also picked up a 3-pack of the 95g cylinders because I knew if I didn't pre-stock, I'd end up running out, forgetting to get more and eventually killing plants.


The light:
I really wanted medium to high light. But I also liked the look of the 7W slim LED light they were using on their shrimp tanks (6) and I like the longevity of LEDs. I'm a sucker for form over function, so I ended up with the LED.


The rest:
The filter I wanted was the ADA Super Jet with Lily Pipes :wink:, but that wasn't going to happen. The guy at the LFS recommended a tiny HOB because too much flow would dissipate the CO2. At this point I was getting sticker shock, and the HOB was cheap, so into the basket it went, along with a small Marineland heater, a large bag (7) of New Amazonia, a decent looking piece of wood, some Glosso (8), Narrow Leaf Micro-Sword and a large mat of Riccia.

Enough text, how about a few pics?









I added water and mulm from my 40b and I currently have an extra 100W heater in there to keep the temp around 85 F while it cycles. I am keeping an eye on the ammonia from the Amazonia and doing water changes to keep it below 5ppm so I don't inhibit the bacteria growth. The Creeping Jenny, Hygro and floating Blyxa will come out once the cycle gets farther along (9).

I am really happy with the looks so far, but I'm wondering if I'll need more light to keep the Glosso low. The eventual goal is to host some shrimp (10) and a couple of Scarlet Badis. I'm off work until the 7th, so I'm getting it set up at home and planning to drain and transport it later. Anyone have advice?


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(1) She does that, you know.
(2) Jo-Jo Aquarium for anyone in Sac looking for a great store.
(3) I've been watching the Wheeler Dealer marathon on the Velocity channel and the British slang is rubbing off. Only remotely like how my wife instantly reverts to her southern accent when the person on the other end of the phone has one.
(4) I knew that even a paintball canister would attract too much attention from the HSE department, let alone a full size CO2 cylinder.
(5) And coincidentally steered me away from the Fluval Flora, which would have been 1/4 the price initially, but probably more in the long run if I couldn't turn off the CO2 at night easily.
(6) Their small tanks seemed to be growing HC rather well.
(7) Because, evidently, a single small bag couldn't get the depth and slope I needed. After laying it out, I'd say it would have been close, but better safe than sorry. I cheaped out on my substrate before and regret it every time I trim and replant.
(8) I had my heart set on HC, but the few old pots they had were well past their sell-by date and the new order hadn't shown up yet. I've heard great things about Glosso and a new order had just arrived, so I took that.
(9) When the BB and long term plants can keep the ammonia under control.
(10) CRS or RCS. The cheap ones, I can't remember which is which. I haven't had a lot of luck with shrimp, so nothing expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
very nice!
I like the setup!
Thanks!

I powered the Clippard mouse solenoid with a hefty 12V wall-wart plugged into the light timer and installed the solenoid in the CO2 line. It's working great and should really extend the life of the CO2 canisters.

Then I totally screwed everything up because I got impatient (a common failing for me). I rinsed the filter from my 40b into a bucket and poured that into this poor little 5 gallon tank trying to jump start the bacteria. It worked, the next morning the ammonia had started dropping and within another two days was down to zero. But I had almost half an inch of mulm covering everything. It looked horrible. I tried vacuuming it out without disturbing the Amazonia, but after sucking 2 tankfuls of water I had only cleaned about 1/10 of the tank.

Finally today I got around to doing a real clean up. I pulled the wood/riccia and stirred as much of the garbage up into the water column as I could and vacuumed about 6 tankfuls (vacuum then refill with the Python, rinse, repeat). I sprayed the riccia in the sink to rise the nasty stuff out, then replanted the collateral damage and put the wood back in. I also pulled out the creeping jenny, planted a bunch more blyxa, and relocated the staurogyne that was being shaded by the for wayward anubias that my 40b has become. I kinda liked the hygro in the corner so it stays for now. The glosso and riccia seem to be doing well despite being coated with mulm for a couple of weeks. Guess I'll have to keep my eye on the ammonia again for a while in case I killed all my BB with those chlorine-filled water changes (I only put in Aquasafe when I was all done).

Oh, yeah. I also threw a DIY 20W led fixture on to supplement the 7W fixture that I bought to go with the tank. Boy does it light up the shadows! I'll have to see if that's too much. I may put it on a separate timer and only run it a couple hours a day. I had to take the image below with a 1/1600 shutter speed to keep from blowing out the bubbles on the riccia.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the kinds words, all. I'm really happy with the tank so far. It seems like trying to keep a hi-tech nano is a razor-edge balance or else *BOOM* algae explosion, and I'm not real good at constant upkeep.

The good news is that I tested my ammonia this morning and it's still at zero. I can't imagine the Amazonia has stopped releasing it, so enough BB must have survived the deep cleanse to keep things under control. As soon as the plants take root well enough to survive a relocation, I can move it to work and see about getting some inhabitants.

Where did you get the varzea co2?
They had it at my LFS (Jo Jo Aquarium in Sacramento, CA). It seems like a nice bit of kit, but I'm still a bit leery because I can't find ANYTHING about it on the web. I can't find anyone that sells the kit or the refills (VZA-030) and the company doesn't seem to exist (Varzea Inc, Burlingame, CA). I see someone in a YouTube video has one, but no mention of where he got his.

If worse comes to worse, it looks like it will take Fluval cartridges, but for the same price as 3 Fluval 88g cartridges, I got 3 Varzea 95g cartridges.
 

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i love your setup!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have the same light on my 60-p, it gets a little warm but does the job :)
I was actually pretty disappointed with the amount of light it put out. It made the tank feel kinda dim, so I added a DIY LED light I built a while back for a terrarium, with 2x 10W modules:


Here it is with just the Archaea light:


And with both lights (same settings on the camera, nothing auto):


Are you getting decent growth with the Archaea light?
 

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That looks like a nice setup you got there! I've got a 2x10W DIY fixture as well for my build and its been getting slow HC growth on a test 2.5G tank I have. It will be nice to see how much it helps out your tank's growth rate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That looks like a nice setup you got there! I've got a 2x10W DIY fixture as well for my build and its been getting slow HC growth on a test 2.5G tank I have. It will be nice to see how much it helps out your tank's growth rate.

Thanks!

Unfortunately, I removed the 2x10W DIY fixture because I'm getting ready to move the tank to work and I've heard horror stories of the cheapo DealExtreme LED drivers bursting into flames :confused: and I can't really take the chance of burning down my workplace.

I haven't been happy with the HOB filter either, so I purchased a Hydor Prime 10 from a local dealer through Amazon. Unfortunately, it looks like USPS has managed to deliver it to the wrong city :angryfire . I'll give it another couple of days before I start screaming.

If it doesn't show I am considering other filter options. I have another thread in the "Equipment" section questioning whether it's possible to put a G3 on a Mini-M. Dang, those things look awesome!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, the Hydor showed up last night, so it looks like I probably won't spring for the G3 immediately. The flow from the Hydor seems to be OK, but I did have trouble getting the pump to start. The impeller kept sticking when I switched off the pump and I would have to shut everything down, open the canister, fiddle with the impeller, close everything up and try again. Sometimes 4-5 times. I don't know that I am going to trust this thing when I have fish and/or shrimp in the tank.

I spent last evening and this morning making inflow and outflow pipes. The lily pipe I have on there now is temporary. I didn't like the radius of the bend on this one, so I made another and packed the pipe with sand as I bent it, giving me much better bends at the cost of a bit of "orange peel" finish on the inside. I am happy however that I can get the little vortex from a DIY lily pipe:


I also bent some glass pipettes to use for my CO2 to keep the bend radius small without kinking the hose:


I have been waiting for the roots to settle in before I moved the tank to work. I think they're doing well:



Here's a shot of the tank with the new filter.


And the obligatory FTS (I think I'm going to have to trade the diffuser out for a nice unobtrusive pollen glass or something):


I am extremely happy with how fast the glosso is filling in. The narrow leaf micro-sword looks like it's more algae than plant. The blyxa is very dark. Some of it was floating in my 40b right below the lights and it started turning red, but I thought that would go away...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
do you have a par meter? I cannot find the par values for that light anywhere.
Nope, sorry. No PAR meter. If you do manage to find the info, I'd be interested to hear though.

Well, today was the day I moved it to work and added fauna. Here's a shot of the new lily pipe:


And a shot of the entire cubicle:



The cherry shrimp:


And the Badis:
 

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Your tank is lovely. After seeing the video, I don't know how you can get your work done. :D
 
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