45L cory nano

Majsa

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So I am starting a journal...

My holding-quarantine-shrimp tank has had it's better days so I am thinking of replacing it with a 45L low-tech tank for dwarf cories and perhaps otos. I have spent way too much money on this hobby the last couple of years and I need to cut it down a little bit :rolleyes: so I will mostly use the stuff I already have. This will not be one of those beautiful scapes with all the gear, but hopefully an easy setup and a good place for cories...

Here are the plans:
50x30x30cm previous quarantine tank, open top
Aquael Versamax FZN-1 HOB filter (500l/h)
Dennerle nano M led
Sand and Tropica soil powder (don't have a lot of either so we'll see)
Koke stone and some pieces of spiderwood
Various crypt species
Anubias nana & petite
Leaf litter & alder cones

The tank will be in my 8-year old sons room. It maybe a bit optimistic to have an open top tank in a child's room...but the children have learnt a few things along the way, such as no "feeding the fish" or hide-and-seek with grandma's deodorant spray ("follow the scent!"). If it doesn't work I should be able to fit in a glass lid later on.

We have a 100L rain barrel since recently, would it be enough to sustain a 45L tank year round with 50:50 rain to tap water (about one 10L bucket a week)? There is nothing wrong with our tap water, but I'd like to try rain water for the first time. The tap values are about 8 for all KH, GH and PH (EC is ±550 microsiemens). 50:50 mix would cut the KH & GH to about 4-5 and PH to approximately 7.6. Would our 3 horned nerites survive in these values? My son would like to keep his "sea snails" as he calls them.

I had two big pieces of koke (or black lava?) stone, it was a family affair to get those into pieces :)

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Majsa

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The tank is in place and survived the leak test in the weekend. Not a pretty tank with black kit, stains and a temp sticker, but it'll do.
The shrimp tank is running temporarily (with the new filter alongside the old one) on the floor before I start dismantling it. I see we have to move the "dartboard", luckily it's magnetic :p

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I added a black background, not my favourite job to do! Happy that's done. Any tips for the hardscape (if you can see it properly on the phone pictures)? The idea is to have a large sand area in the front, and Tropica soil powder and crypts behind as a background for the fish. I am hoping the children can watch the fish hanging out in the sand area and on the anubias growing on the rocks. The rocks should act as a barrier between the sand and the soil. I have two more pieces of spiderwood to add, but they are still in my planted bowl. One of them has hygrophila pinnatifida growing on it, not sure if it can make it in a low-tech tank.

I have a lot of smaller crypts to add (up to wendtii-undulatus red size), but can anyone recommend me a tall crypt for the background? I like crispatula/balansae, but is it too big for this tank size?

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Majsa

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Some more pictures. I used some of the gravel from the shrimp tank to build up height (don't have enough soil) and hopefully for some nitrifying bacteria. Used filter floss to fill in the gaps.

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Then Tropica soil powder on top.

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The shrimp tank has a lot of crypt lutea and lucens! The 4-year old (?) root structure is impressive, this came out in one piece.

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I was really undecided about the piece of spiderwood with hygrophila pinnatifida on it, it looks so messy. Decided to keep it though. If the pinna is going to make it in this tank then this is the place (under the light and in the flow). If it won't make it, I can remove the wood or replace the pinna with some bucephalandra sp.

I am not 100% happy with the tank yet, I'd like to add some mosses and need more height (taller plants) at the back. The anubias is asking for algae...the snails are waiting for it in a bucket with the old shrimp tank filter, their favourite piece of wood (which is falling in pieces) and a few moss balls.

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I added some leaf litter and two alder cones, and it looks like they stained the water straight away.

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Harry H

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I think your tank has a lot of potential, and so far it looks good!

Is there any specific reason why you placed the light on one side?
 

Majsa

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I think your tank has a lot of potential, and so far it looks good!

Is there any specific reason why you placed the light on one side?

Thanks Harry! Not really a specific reason, I've been thinking about the filter and light placement...This light is meant for tanks of 10-30L so the light can't really reach both ends anyway. I decided to create a "light area" and a "dark area", although the difference is not that big as in the picture. The most surface agitation is now just under the light, I like the effect.
 

mort

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I've done a similar thing with lighting in my cory tank. It's so hard to get the contrast or true lighting look on camera. With mine I have spot lights and angled them to look (or attempt to look) like the sun breaking through the trees. Mine is a tannin rich, lightly planted tank though so lighting is more for effect than plant growth. I'm quite surprised how the cories seem to far prefer the dimmer areas.
 

Majsa

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I've done a similar thing with lighting in my cory tank. It's so hard to get the contrast or true lighting look on camera. With mine I have spot lights and angled them to look (or attempt to look) like the sun breaking through the trees. Mine is a tannin rich, lightly planted tank though so lighting is more for effect than plant growth. I'm quite surprised how the cories seem to far prefer the dimmer areas.

That sounds really nice.

I had not realised that the alder cones have such a strong effect, the water was like tea this morning (before the first water change).
 

mort

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Some people boil the alder cones or botanicals before adding them to the tank, so the tannins are diluted more (you can then just pour some of the boiled water in to create the desired colour). This is a good way to do it if you are planning on having lots of botanicals strewn around the bottom but I tend to just add a couple every few days until I get the tannins I'm after.
 

Majsa

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Thanks mort. I think next time I’ll just add one cone and see what happens.

In the meanwhile, the first strings of hair algae have arrived - on one of the alder cones. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea but I have one bottle of Dennerle Bio-CO2 left and thought of using that for a couple of weeks to help the plants to take off. I have some in-vitro pots (crypts and salvinia) coming on Tuesday. Need to figure out fertilising too, I will be using up the half a bottle of Tropica specialised I have and then move on to salts.
 

Majsa

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One week update! No big issues so far. The hair algae did not come back after I removed it, fingers crossed! I have removed some melted crypt leaves, and added in-vitro pots of crypt crispatula, crypt undulatus red and salvinia auriculata. Also added some crypt wendtii (I think) and a little bit of moss from another tank. The bigger piece of wood is maintaining a nice fur of white fungus, even though it was submerged for ±6 weeks before this tank. There is some dirt on all the plant leaves, but I think (hope) it is staining from the tannins instead of diatoms, as it can be easily wiped away (not that I really dare to do that, the crypts get uprooted easily). The bio co2 is now up to speed, it took a few days.

I am planning to add a little bit more sand once the the soil and the plants have settled and there are less soil particles flying around. How do you clean the sand from soil particles? Sieve or just vacuum and replace the sand once in a while?

Fertilising a bit of a guess still, added 10 ml of Tropica Specialized today after the water change. Will keep an eye on the floating plants (hope there is enough light) and the TDS.

IMG_2919.JPG
 

Majsa

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It has been a week of some serious crypt melt :( I've been busy removing the dead or dying leaves, most of the tall leaves are gone and the rest isn't looking that perky either...as a consolation, there is some modest new growth emerging. It will take a while before the tank is full grown! And I hope this won't happen again when the CO2 runs out or if I start using rain water...

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I glued the anubias to the stones with Dupla plant fix but I'm not that happy with it, two pieces have already come loose. Well I'm no good at glueing either, some pieces and moss I just stuck between the branches and stones, hoping they will attach themselves. I have spiky moss in my bigger tank, I attached it to the wood but it grows on the stones :p

The floating plants started to get pushed under water by the HOB filter, so I made a barrier from airline tubing. I need to figure out a better solution, if there is one.

On the positive side, the pinna and the anubias are doing well. I have increased the lights on period from 5,5 hours to 6 for now. I don't think I will go above 8, my other tanks are staying at 7h a day and I feel it's plenty enough.
 

Majsa

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I chopped all the leaves off my crypts only leaving about 2cm of the stalks because most will melt anyway and make a mess, that way no mess and fully submerged growth from day one ;) Just takes a lot longer for them to look good, but I am in no rush!

I saw Jurijs do this, but afterwards of course! I didn’t think this would happen since most of the crypts came from my shrimp tank, but then again it was quite a change so I do get it...
 

LondonDragon

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I saw Jurijs do this, but afterwards of course! I didn’t think this would happen since most of the crypts came from my shrimp tank, but then again it was quite a change so I do get it...
Most plants will need to adapt to the new environment specially crypts hence trying to pay over the odds for very large crypts on forums etc... cause them have been grown submerged already is pretty pointless. The only ones that should fair well is invitro plants.
 

Ray

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I chopped all the leaves off my crypts only leaving about 2cm of the stalks because most will melt anyway and make a mess, that way no mess and fully submerged growth from day one ;) Just takes a lot longer for them to look good, but I am in no rush!
I reccomend doing this for high tech, as it does save a lot of messing about, especially in larger tanks, but my experience of doing this in low tech is that you end up with bonsi crypts that take months to recover and contribute almost nothing to the plant biomas in the meantime. The ones where I just snipped leaves off as they started to melt rather than giving them the "Jurijs hair cut" are easily twice as big and much more robust in my Betta nano.
 

Majsa

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A quick update. The tank is now 4 weeks old. The good news is that the crypt melt stopped right after my last post. The crypts and the anubias are doing fine, both are producing new leaves. Hygrophila pinnatifida isn't doing bad either, although it has some brown spots on old leaves, developing into pinholes. I trimmed it back after taking this picture and dosed a little bit more ferts, hope that will help.

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The bad news is that there are all kinds of things growing on the biggest piece of wood, including staghorn :( It has also spread on the bucephalandra growing on it. The new leaves of the buce are a little twisted, is that normal? I spot dosed EasyCarbo today and invited two amano shrimp from my other tank to do some maintenance, they seemed to be happy to accept the offer.
 

Majsa

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Some drama with the amanos today. This morning I found one of them on the floor. She looked dead but when I touched her, she moved her legs so I plunged her back in the tank. After a few seconds of rest hanging in the floating plants she quickly swam to the bottom and lost a few of her eggs/larvae on the way. I don't know how long she'd been on the floor, but thinking back it may have been anything between a few minutes and half an hour, but not much more.

It's been a hot day (water temperature went up to ±27C) and she spent the rest of the day just resting, moving as little as possible. I did a slow water change with a bit cooler water, hoping to make her feel better, but it didn't make any difference. I saw the other amano attacking her a couple of times, but she'd get away. She started turning pale and by the evening she was dead. Sad really, she was one of the group of amanos I bought three years ago, a huge female. I don't know why she climbed out of the tank, maybe it was too hot, too little oxygen in the tank (bio-CO2 still running), or she just went to find a place to release her young? I've now disconnected the CO2 for the night, just in case.

There are now several amano larvae swimming in the tank, despite the water change and feeding some to the fish in another tank. Strangely they all seem alive, apparently they can live in fresh water for a while (in their own tank the larvae would be eaten straight away). I put one under a microscope to be sure...quite amazing to see, they are hardly visible to naked eye and with 100x magnification you see all the bits and pieces, moving and spinning...

The amanos had done a great job by the way, the wood was perfectly clean after just one night (poop everywhere over my light sand) and even the staghorn is almost gone (assisted by some EasyCarbo).

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Majsa

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The other amano climbed out too! I found it under my son’s toy car...Are they notorious climbers? I had disconnected the CO2, also done 3 water changes in the past 5 days. I tested the water just in case, NH4 is 0 and NO2 0,05 (but I don’t trust this test really, it is out of date and always gives the same result, also on tap water). TDS matches the tap and the temp is 26,5. Nothing alarming I’d say...

I’d like to keep the tank open but don’t want to find livestock on the floor...Do cories and otos jump?
 

mort

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Cories make occassional mad dashes to the surface for oxygen and have been known to get it wrong but they don't normally end up on the floor. I have heard of otos jumping but I think its few and far between unless you run the water near the brim. So you should be ok with those two species but it's better if you have some surface cover to deter them a little as they could potentially leap.

Shrimp are famous for escaping and it sometimes doesn't make sense why. I've lost shrimp in heat waves but equally found a crispy shrimp when it was winter. It could be a reaction to reduced oxygen but 26.5c, while on the higher end, isn't that high (I don't have amano but my unheated tank hit 29.5c last night and the cherry shrimp still seem ok).
 

Wolf6

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I've never found an otto on the floor, but I did have one go missing that I never found. Shrimp occasionally jump out, both amano and cherry, but rarely, like one every half year or so, and the cory's (back when I had them) never jumped out. Of course with an open top any fish or shrimp can startle and jump out. But I've also got kuhli loaches in the open top, lost 2 of those over the couse of 5 years due to climbing out. We found the siamese algae eater on the floor once too, managed to rescue him in time, never jumped out again.
 

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