â€˜A Simple Plainâ€™ Aquatic Journal By Steve Lancashire Well, we finally managed it, we sold our house and weâ€™ve moved. On the 9th of April we moved into our new house in Hawarden, North Wales. Obviously I couldnâ€™t set up the Aquarium until I was satisfied that â€˜her who must be obeyedâ€™ was happy with everything else. So I waited patiently for two weeks, dreaming every night of how I was going to set up the new tank, what sort of layout, how I was going to plant it, you know the usual stuff. I should add at this point, there was one overriding factor influencing my whole trend of thought on this, and that was the fact that, we are only renting the house for six months until we find somewhere to live permanently. With that in mind, I had to keep it basic, keep it simple, keep it plain. And so the name of the new scape was born, :idea: â€˜A Simple Plainâ€™ The other things that I had decided on was that I was going to invest in some glassware, a glass lily pipe and inlet pipe. Also I wanted an inline heater and an inline CO2 diffuser. The idea being that finally I was going to keep the technology out of the tank and under the cupboard instead. So the only things visible â€“ ish in the tank are the glass inlet pipe, the lily pipe and the glass drop checker for the CO2. I gave my mate Jim a ring at The Green Machine and told him what I wanted and talked about substrate and â€˜stuffâ€™. :? At the first opportunity I drove over to Wrexham armed with my credit card and some cash I had saved up. You can never let her indoors see what you really spend, can you? Once at The Green Machine I got the usual treatment, a firm handshake and as much tea as I could drink while I decided on what I wanted. I left with a 300-Watt Hydor Inline Heater, an Aquamedic inline CO2 diffuser, glass Lily pipe and inlet pipe, a quality pair of planting tweezers, (what did I used to do without them) two bags of Zambezi gravel, a bag of ADA Amazonia substrate, some plants, and a few hundred quid less in my bank account. Keeping with the â€˜Simple Plainâ€™ plan, the only plants I bought were, Hair Grass, Hemienthis, Blyxa Japonica, and a nice piece of rock with Flame Moss on which Jim threw in for free because I had spent half my kidâ€™s inheritance in the shop. I already had some rock for the hard scape bought some months previously. The tank was already full of prepared water and the filter and heater had been running for almost a week. The next job when I got home at 3pm was to re-arrange all the technical stuff, drain the tank, get the gravel and the substrate in, place the rock work, get the water back in with the filter and heater back on. I put one bag of Zambezi, unwashed straight into the tank as the base layer, then half a bag of thoroughly washed Zambezi on top of that before finally tipping the whole bag of ADA Amazonia on as the top layer. Easy peasy â€“ only took me until 2 am. :? I sat and watched the whole tank for an hour checking for leaks, drips etc before I went to bed at 3am. Canâ€™t have 200 litres of water draining out all over some one elseâ€™s carpets! Up the next morning at 7:30am to get on with the fun bit, the bit we all love, the planting. A quick breakfast of cereal and tea and I got stuck in. I re-drained the tank, leaving just enough in to cover the low growing plants. Used my ACE new planting tweezers and finished the job in just over an hour. Job done I refilled the tank switched everything on and sat back to watch the plants grow. Three hours later the plants were already photosynthesising, I didnâ€™t see it though, I had fallen fast asleep on the couch!! Please excuse my spelling of Hemianthis Some shots taken later that day after I had woken up. My verdict on what I used is as follows: Glass Lily Pipe and Inlet Pipe â€“ Very Good. One tip I will give you is, when placing them for the first time in the position you want them, use some bubble wrap to protect them while you are fiddling with the pipe work. You know that bit where you are jiggling everything about trying to get it all to fit and look tidy. Tweezers â€“ Great!! Inline Heater â€“ Great bit of kit. The key thing here is to make absolutely sure you have got the measurements right before cutting any pipe work. I bought 3 metres of brand new 25 ml piping off Jim while I was at The Green Machine. I practiced using all my old piping from the previous tank, and when I was completely satisfied that all the lengths were spot on I used the old bits as templates to cut the new stuff. The only thing I had to do though, was reverse the heater and put it into the intake pipe going into the filter. The reason for this is because I simply could not fix the CO2 diffuser and the inline heater both in the same outlet pipe going to the tank. I had some concerns about this, but there was nothing in the instructions saying that you should not do it and Jim seemed to think that it would be okay. So far I have not noticed any ill effects. If anyone is aware of any potential problems please let me know. Shot inside the cabinet of the Inline Heater Inline CO2 Diffuser â€“ This is a great bit of kit and also acts as an additional biological filter. I am not absolutely sure that the usage and distribution of CO2 is at its optimum level and may need some tweaking, especially if you are using a CO2 computer set to PH levels. So the jury is still out on that one at the moment. I am happy that it is out of the tank though. Shots inside the cabinet of the Heater and Diffuser Zambezi Gravel â€“ As always â€“ Brilliant, I would recommend it â€“ with the right under gravel fertilizer though. ADA Amazonia Substrate â€“ :?: This product is described as a â€˜One stopâ€™ use product, substrate â€“ fertilizer all in one, no washing required, just pour in, add water and plant. I canâ€™t argue that it is quick, easy, simple to use and looks absolutely brilliantâ€¦.but there are one or two things I am not 100% convinced about, and that is the nutrient capability. There is nothing on the packaging listing exactly what is in it or any description of how it works. One thing I did not realise until I got it in the tank and started planting, is how lightweight it is, and how easy it moves about or shifts in the water. It takes a bit of getting used to when planting small and delicate plants like Helianthus for instance. It was difficult to get the plants to stay put especially when the filter goes back on and there is some water movement. The Hair Grass and the Blyxa Japonica seem to be doing very well in it, but not so well the Helianthus. Still it is early days yet so I will wait and see before making my mind up on it completely. One thing I would have done differently is that I would have used a pot and a half of SERA Mineral soil on top of the first layer of Zambezi, and then mixed the Amazonia with the half bag of washed Zambezi and added that as the top layer of substrate. This would have given the top layer a bit more weight and a bit more substance and in my opinion would have given the plants a bit more to grip onto in the early stages. One thing a lot of you will have noticed is that I have not used any other ADA supplement or sub base product such as the Powersand or any of the pre nitro bacteria enzymes and fertilizers. The reason for this omission was purely financial. Not because I did not want to buy them, just because there is the distinct possibility that this tank will be getting dismantled again in October at the end of our rental period and I did not want invest in something, which is only short term. So, that said, when we do move again to the place we want to live in, I will be giving it the full Monty. I have already started putting a few bob to one side for this so that it wonâ€™t be as painful when the time comes. So thatâ€™s it, â€˜A Simple Plainâ€™ for what itâ€™s worth. The fish which were added 10 days later are the fish that I had in my last tank, 2 x Striped Angels, 2 x Marbled Angels, about 20 x Ember Tetras, 8 x Ottocinclus, 2 x Corydoras, a sucking loach and a handful of Armano shrimps. There has been no Algae blooms yet Ammonia spike that I am aware of, some techie details and water Parameters at present are: PH 6.4, GH 16, KH 7, Temp. 26 degrees, Lighting 4 x SERA Tubes on timers with CO2 coming on 2 hours before the lights and off 1 hour before lights go out. Here are the photoâ€™s I took after 3 weeks. As usual if anyone has got any great ideas or suggestions, (remembering of course that this only a short term stop gap until we move again) please let me know. Cheers.