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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Planters,

I’m back on to the scene. It has been almost 15 years since I last had an aquarium. I started way back as a kid with a small hexagon tank in my bedroom, visiting the LFS after piano class, and dreaming of my next big tank. It cultivated many iterations (a 10-gallon succeeded by a 12, 20, 30, 46, and finally a 110). In that time, I kept many types of fish until I finally ended up with a full-blown reef tank which would later be precipitated by a catastrophic loss. I resetted myself and changed it into a planted aquarium. However, over time it became too exhausting to maintain and I needed to take a break.

As I step back into the hobby it is interesting to see the progression in the industry. Gone are those clumsy metal halides, VHO, and power compacts lights, now replaced with LED and Bluetooth. I noticed we have slowly moved away from the black frame aquariums to rimless which is much more minimalistic. Some things have noticeably become a lot cheaper (I remember my crude wavemaker which was a power bar and a timer on steroids) and are more easily automated through apps. On the flip side, there seems to be more premium products like ADA and Waterbox which are interesting to look at. Anyways enough of my ramblings, let’s show some photos of my work in progress.

First, a tribute to my 110-gallon planted tank which was documented here back in 2004!
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And here we are today... with the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyday is a WFH blur and if you are like me, in a full lockdown. Shipping is a muck with long delays and out-of-stock items everywhere. In the spirit of trying to keep things simple and easy to maintain (this time around), I was able to get a good deal on a prepackaged box kit – the Fluval Flora. Living now in a condo has its convenience but also space limitations. Plus, it’s a good time to test the tolerance of the wife - who didn't exist before.
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Kijiji'd the AquaClear and Fluval Co2 Kit.

Endless packages arrive. Oddly, I spent too much time researching glass Co2 drop checkers (eBay, Alibaba, Amazon, etc.) when the LFS Seachem product was quite reasonably priced when you factor shipping time.
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After deliberating for days, I opted for a 24oz paintball tank versus using my old CO2 tank (not wife friendly). The paintball tank looks nice, like a bottle of wine sitting on the floor. I picked up a single regulator with solenoid from AAA Aquatic - build looks really great and more importantly has a two year warranty. They are a local manufacturer in Canada and cheaper than Co2 Art - though strikingly similar. Filling up the Co2 paintball tank on-the-other-hand was a rip off as expected - $14. Good thing is that I plan to convert my old Co2 tank (from the previous aquarium build) into a fill station via installing a dip tube. More to come on this...
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Picked up a slightly used Fluval 207 off Kijiji for an incredible price. I've always been an Eheim kind of guy but this time around I wanted to try something different versus ye'old plain vanilla 22## canister filter. I'm actually quite impressed with the Fluval and I like how it disconnects from the top. It seems really robust too!
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And here we are today. Added some Mini Pellia (Riccardia Chamedryfolia) and Hermianthus Callitrichoides 'Cuba' as a starting point. As I bought the plants off another aquarist, I made sure to quarantine and dose Alum (1 TBSP per Gallon) for 3 days. Each day I would change the water with new Alum to ensure all those pesky snails, eggs, and those whatchamacallit's didn't make the transfer. I remember my old tank was overrun by snails. Arrg... what a headache.

Not really aquascaped - placeholder, as I'm still waiting for more stuff in the mail.
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Will update as I figure things out and next steps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Surprisingly my bonsai driftwood finally came in today after waiting for close to a month for it to ship. The 'bonsai' concept sparked my interest in getting back into the hobby one late winter evening.

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After pre-soaking it for less time then I should, into the aquarium it went. I haven't decided how I will aquascape it... but just showing proof of execution that the Pellia will work well. I will need to source more or let it grow out.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Got some rocks from a box (supposedly seiryu but unlikely)
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and added some tissue cultured plants... Eleocharis sp. 'Mini', Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini, Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba', and Staurogyne repens.
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I'm going to let the plants grow for a a bit
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
An update.

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Can't stress enough about the importance of quarantining and not introducing things you don't want. I found at least 12 ramshorn snails of varying sizes (some the size of a pinhead). Bought the Christmas moss and Phoenix moss off a local aquarist who assured me there were no snails. Highly recommend alum dips over multiple days.

Unfortunately, alum dips don't kill algae. I had a bit of an algae problem (green dust algae and thread algae) in addition to a diatom bloom. The hair algae tagged along with the Pellia that I received from another aquarist. Currently experimenting with h2o2 and algaecide dips. Also, removed the wood in the tank as it was contributing to the bloom - I will add it back at a later time. The tank nitrite level was 5ppm last week but has since went to 0.

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Studying the effects of the dips.

With the algae, I added an algaecide, UV sterilizer, Seachem phosphate/silicate remover, polishing filter material, changed the water a few times (>60%), bumped up the Co2, and adjusted the light schedule. Everything seems under control again.
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I was on the fence if this was the UV for me. I didn't like the fact you couldn't switch out the bulb. After running the numbers and assuming the UV LED bulb doesn't degrade in effectiveness as traditional bulbs, it seemed like a good deal. The bulb is expected to last for 33,000 hours (manufacturer suggestion) or 3.7 years if you run it 24 hours. However my intention is to run it only for 4 hours a day, that's 1460 hours a year. Hypothetically in a perfect scenario that would translate to 22 years, however, to be conservative let's cut that in half to 11 years. Looking at other manufacturers, replacement bulbs cost anywhere from $30-50 and last about 6 months on a 24 hour cycle. So I think from a cost perspective it is reasonably cheap insurance. Most people also don't run UV's that often once the tank is stable. It's also a lot cheaper and smaller than the UV I had for my reef aquarium which cost me ~$400.

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.Mounted on to the wall using 3M picture hanging tape.

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Before with the algae issue - I think I cleaned the tank the day before.

…and now. For the last few days it has looked promising. One thing I like is not having fish or invertebrates to worry about (i.e. killing them) as I tackle the issue. I found the algaecide somewhat effective on the thread algae, not so much on the GDA. UV was probably the game changer in killing the spores floating as a result of fragmentation through cleaning the tank. Every time when I do a cleaning I leave the UV on for 4 hours (shortest setting) to help eradicate anything floating. Light is set up for 8 hours a day and nutrient dosing have been cut to zero for now.

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Excuse the yellowish phoenix moss. I left it in the quarantine container with alum for over a week. Let's see if it will recover or die.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Time for another update. What has changed... my tank is not really a fish tank but now a cyclopoid copepod tank. Noticed these copepods have been multiplying feeding off the algae and detritus in the tank. There are no other inhabitants in the tank. Interesting to watch their spasm like movements.

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Went down a rabbit hole reading discussions about dissolved oxygen in water (Barr forums). Built myself an oxygenator using spare parts and H2O2. I ended up getting 29% H2O2 and diluting down using distilled water. It's more cost effective to dilute.

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Built with random components lying around one starless night.

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You can see the various iterations which failed (not air tight). The last one being the most successful and is currently in operation. I plan to get a DO test kit to see the difference.

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I used plumbing putty to guarantee the seal and also allow me to reclaim the hose adaptor back versus gluing it.

... and this is today. The tank I estimate will be completely full edge to edge in about a month's time. I'm beginning to think I need a bigger tank and am looking at a 65 gallon as being the ideal size (48" x 18" x 18"). Big enough to have a good set of schooling fish, not big enough that it becomes cumbersome to maintain. However, that won't come until I move maybe in the summer.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Short update, I needed some help!

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Stopped by the LFS to recruit some Otocinclus Catfish to help control the algae.

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You can see how algae spores can transfer from one plant to another in their holding tanks. A discussion for another thread.

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Picked up 3 as they prefer to be kept in groups. I would have picked more but the LFS tank didn't look so good. There were a couple dead but I know how fickle and fragile these fish can be since they are likely wild caught.

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they have been adapting well so far...

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turning algae into green :poop:. How awesome to see!

On a side note, I got the green light to get a larger tank (in the future) so I've been looking around for ideas ...🙃
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Hard to believe that the tank is only six weeks old...

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If I can't find the Oto's anywhere in the tank, I can guarantee they'll be on the driftwood eating the white biofilm.

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I've also weaned the Oto's on to zucchini as well as shrimp pellets. However, they become completely dysfunctional and unproductive and sit there eating it all day.

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Changed out the lily pipe for a spin pipe. I like it a lot better, less obtrusive and a smaller profile, but the caveat is not a lot of surface moment. I was a bit concerned about dissolved O2 at night and fish being caught up in it. A few times in the beginning a fish would swim into it and get spun around a few times before being kicked out with no ill effects. They have seemed to learn to avoid this magical waterpark ride.

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The plan is to use Coral moss to cover the driftwood in the forefront and use Christmas moss to create a nice background wall. However, it will take some time to grow enough moss based on how small my specimens are.

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I had a lot more coral moss but they were pulled out from the tank when they showed signs of thread algae. The moss in the tank are void of any thread algae, so I'm reluctant to re-introduce these samples back in to the tank again.

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Also picked up one of these doodads during my rabbit hole of reading, it's a Sochting Oxydator. In a nutshell it uses H2O2 to add dissolved oxygen in to the water. I'm not sure exactly how but presumingly the catalyst reacts with the H2O2 to create oxygen which pushes out H2O2 out the pinholes at the bottom of the unit. The H2O2 reacts with the aquarium water to create oxygen. There's a huge debate on the topic on one of the reef forums that's 62 pages long! The photo beside is a dissolved oxygen test (not highly accurate) which allows me to see improvements.
 
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