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Journey to high tech

RPackman

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1 May 2021
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Oxford
Finally, after 10+ years of low tech planted tanks, from my first 30L nano, to my 110L main tank, keeping a max of 3 tanks at a time (currently 2)
I am finally going to try high tech!

I have always loved the amazing scapes that people have achieved in groups like this. I was inspired years ago by Andyh’s tank (he seems to have left now, but I loved his kitchen tank so much I tried to do a tank inspired by that with dragon stone and red moor wood in a low tech form in hard London water - not quite as successfully as I’d like! I have always been nervous about taking that step towards high tech though as my free time is very limited, and my shift work means keeping a schedule of fertilisers and water changes is impossible (plus I am very lazy on my days off!). I have been inspired by some of the midway tanks that people like George Farmer have done with his aquascaper 1200 which he has been able to slightly ignore at times, and feel like if I don’t try then I’ll never do it!


Finally, I have ordered the Aqua V Scaper 900 from Aquariums4Life. My space is unfortunately too limited to go bigger, but this is still more than double my current tank size so I’m happy. It looks like a beautiful tank and I cannot wait for it to arrive. I’ve bought a Twinstar 3 SA 900, a CO2Art Pro-Elite system with inline diffuser, and plan on using my Eheim Professional 5 600T filter with Lily pipes (yet to be bought) and maybe a nano power head which is somewhere in my attic as I suspect I’ll need more flow. I have got an Eheim Pro 3 250 filter I can add on, but with two viewing angles I’m trying to minimise things in the tank.

I plan to add the livestock from my 110L tank
6-7 dwarf chain loach (I never see them all together
3 Neon blue gobies
8+ Amano shrimp
1 surviving cardinal tetra and 1 endler guppy - all that survive from a group after ~5 years. I’m very sad they are alone but don’t want to add to their numbers yet when I’m about to upset everything in their little world!
I’m thinking of adding 4 Pearl Gouramis and a shoaling fish. I used to love my Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish, but worry they are bit big to have a reasonable shoal.

Hardscape will be dragon stone and redmoor wood - reusing my current stuff with maybe a bit of a top up for some bigger pieces.

In general I’ll go mainly easy/medium plants like bolbitus, crypts, buce, anubias with some stems still to be decided. I want a wild and overgrown look with lots of hiding places for my fish. Any tips would be welcome. I’m debating trying a carpet (never successfully done in my low tech tanks) or a sand beach in my swimming areas. The problem is my loaches and gobies who like to dig and move the soil around. They spend their time digging up my attempts at a crypt parvo carpet, and used to like to move the soil onto the beach in my old tank which drove me mad. I suspect a carpet wouldn’t survive them, but I may also get very annoyed with a beach. I have seen people using filter floss between stones used as a break for the soil, but by now I’d assume these fish would somehow still move this! Any thoughts from anyone experienced with these guys and sand/carpets would be appreciated!

Now I just need to wait for the tank and decide on plants!

I haven’t got many photos, but some previous attempts at low tech aquascaping attached
 

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Michael1212

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18 May 2019
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Location
Singapore
Soil on top of sand drives me nuts as well. But i've never been able to avoid a mess when I have both soil and sand in the same tank. Eventually you slip up and that white sandy beach never looks the same again. Right now I'm experimenting with skipping the soil entirely, and relying on tabs and column ferts...
 

RPackman

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1 May 2021
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Oxford
Well I have got bored waiting for my big tank already so I have just ordered more plants for my 40L cube! It has been 5 years since I last did it and while planning my new tank I thought this one looks a bit sad as well!
 

RPackman

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Some thoughts on hardscape layout. It would have been better if the board was the right size, but it isn’t! It is 20cm too narrow, and 12cm too short - but it gives an idea, and of course I want some space around to get to the glass to clean it.
the tank will have 2 viewing angles, from the front and from the left side (as you look at it). I’m toying with a triangle layout, and a two “islands” layout with a “path” up the middle. I worry about the latter layout blocking flow and creating more dead spots though. I will use dragon stone around it too, plus some other bits of red moor which are in my current tank.
 

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RPackman

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Oxford
Well that has thrown a cat among the pigeons. In trying to find my spare nano tank to house my fish for the new low tech nano rescape I found an old 60L one. Excuse the mess of the two tanks, but now I have the option of either a 60L rectangle or 40L cube in the space. Neither tank is particularly beautiful to look at as they are just cheep brand, and they’d both need some serious cleaning. I have filters for either, but only space for one. Which do I choose?!

PS the 60L has a black hood somewhere.
 

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RPackman

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Oxford
That is what I think too. Plus I don’t have to disturb the fish too much twice. I’ll take out some of the healthy plants but leave some of the wood there and then they can be happy while their new tank is settling in.
 

RPackman

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1 May 2021
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Oxford
The nano cube is rescaped! Except it is now a 60L rectangular tank, and I used my layout ideas for the new 250L tank so now I need new ideas on how to scape the “big” tank. I don’t think I can have roughly the same triangular layout for both of them.

Substrate: tropica soil/powder, and play sand

Hardscape: assortment of Riverwood/bog wood and a couple of smaller bits of red moor I already had (a bit cobbled together due to the last minute size adjustment), and dragon stone

Plants:
Crinum calamistratum
cryptocorynes - wenditii green (tropica 1-2 grow and a pot) and brown (from old tank), balansae, lucens, and some others I already had - not sure of the names
Bucephalandra Theia green pot and kedagang (tropica 1-2 grow - tiny!)
Anubias nana, coin, and assorted other small ones from old tank - probably the same ones!
Microsorum pteropus trident
Hydrocotyle tripartita tropica 1-2 grow
Staurogyne repens
Sagittaria sublata tropica 1-2 grow
Limnobium laevigatum Tropica 1-2 Grow! (Unfortunately not the only floating plant - the 1-2 grow Sagittaria want to float too!)

Filtration: Eheim experience 150T
 

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RPackman

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Things got a bit busy at work and I haven’t had much time to get online. In the last 4 weeks my 60L tank is growing in well and I just added the first livestock!

Tank at 10 days old
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Tank at 4 weeks old
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Some new friends
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Diatoms have started which is good for the new Otos and shrimp. I also had a tiny bit of hair algae which I need to get under control. Lighting period is still at 6hrs and 45%. I probably won’t increase the intensity as it is a low tech tank. Unfortunately a fair few snails came over with my plants from the old tank and without any competitors for the diatoms there are lots of tiny ones. Hopefully they’ll be outcompeted for food now my shrimp and otos are there. In a couple more weeks I’ll transfer my ember tetras from the old tank.

My new 250L tank is not far from being here now as well! A4L say it may be with the courier next week! I am still debating layouts and planting lists for this. I’m thinking of an island layout, or maybe V shape with a river of sand up the middle. I still can’t decide! I will still be thinking mainly slowish growing plants as I won’t have time for constant trimming on top of all those water changes at start up!
 

RPackman

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I’ve been worried that there may not be enough algae in my 60L tank for the otos. They ignore algae wafers (even though they were apparently eating these in the shop), and they are not interested in cucumber so I’ve been adding a few rocks from an older tank that has been a bit neglected and have a bit of algae on them. Hopefully this does not come back to bite me!

Today I noticed the water was a bit cloudy too. The first time that has happened. I’ve done a water change and added some seachem stability. I’ll have to keep an eye on this.
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RPackman

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The new tank is here!

I’m calling it the beast! It is huge! I’m going to have to stand on a chair to plant this bad boy!

90cm long and 60cm wide - it is as wide as a 60p!
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I’m not sure I’m completely in love with my cabinet choice. It is very dark. I’m used to the woodlook so it is quite a change for me. I’m sure it will grow on me.
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Much nicer silicon than my Juwel one.

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Unfortunately I still haven’t decided on a layout - I change my mind almost daily about what I want to do! I am looking forward to it though. It will have to spend some time being ignored initially as I am working nights this weekend, and have a lot of life stuff happening this month, but I’m itching to start it up now. I might play around with my redmoor wood tomorrow. I am still deciding on my choice of stone so I’ll need to get on with ordering that too.
 

Deano3

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8 Feb 2012
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That is huge, when i got my aquascaper 900 it seemed massive in living room compared to smaller tank but soon get used it it

Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk
 

RPackman

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The plants have arrived, the rocks are ready, the wood still floats….and I cannot arrange it all in the way I had dreamed. Thinking of throwing it all out the window! However, just need to sleep on it. I’ve covered it in clingfilm for tonight as I had already tied the moss on before I couldn’t make it work.

Unfortunately/fortunately a new family member decided to arrive as soon as my plants did so this is delaying the planting. I hope my plants will survive the heat. Thankfully the tank is in a pretty cool room.
 

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RPackman

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It is finally planted! Sadly not al the plants look happy after the heat and the delay in planting due to a new baby in the family, but hopefully they will pull through.

It is very late so I only took a few bad pictures. Once I flooded the tank several of the plants and pieces of wood floated (!!!) so I have weighted them down with some rocks from another tank temporarily until they have really become waterlogged. The JBL version of superglue went mad and squirted everywhere, including on the aquarium glass, and the CO2 kept falling over while I tried to get the filter working so it was quite a frustrating planting session really. Many choice words were spoken.

The plants are pearling like crazy so hopefully it will grow in well and be a happy place for my to explore.
 

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RPackman

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This morning the tank was very cloudy. I did a large water change in the hope it was because I hadn’t cleaned my sand well enough but it is still very cloudy. Surely it is too soon to be bacterial overgrowth? I used mature filter media and some plants and rocks from a mature tank so a small number of healthy bacteria will have come across, and it is very hot, but it still seems unlikely to me that this would occur within 8hrs of flooding the tank.

A few plants have floated up but the wood and rocks holding them down don’t seem to have moved again so that is positive.

I can see a fine mist of bubbles once the CO2 is on even though it is going inline into the intake of the filter rather than the outflow. This may not be helping with the post water change cloudiness but I don’t think it is everything.

Modern technology is annoying me. I’m not at all convinced that having a filter and auto doser controllable by wifi is useful. In fact it is not a all helpful in my case as that function - and therefore all functions - don’t work properly.
 

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Last edited:

Wolf6

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Dont worry too much in this phase, just keep an eye out for decaying plants (remove if needed) and starting algae like hair algae that should be removed right away. You might want to add some floaters for this startup phase to help. I like the look of your tank this far, hope it works out! As for stuff falling over and getting uprooted etc., that made me laugh as I recognise it. Pro's plan all that stuff out and fasten/support it, I just do whatever and swear a lot.
 

ceg4048

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This morning the tank was very cloudy. I did a large water change in the hope it was because I hadn’t cleaned my sand well enough but it is still very cloudy. Surely it is too soon to be bacterial overgrowth?
No, it is not too soon. Continue large (50% or greater) water changes 2X or 3X per week for the next month or so.

Cheers,
 

RPackman

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The cloudiness persists, and so do my water changes. I don’t feel so bad about wasting this much water in this heat wave as the garden plants can really use it! I’m sure a good proportion of of the cloudiness is tiny CO2 bubbles as it got a bit worse once the CO2 came on properly.

I had an issue with the CO2 Art Solenoid not turning off. I contacted the company and followed their instructions but it all looked ok inside. I stretched out the spring a little and will have to see how it goes tonight when it is supposed to be off.

The wood is growing that thin white fungus in places, I suctioned a load out but it will be back again until the clean up crew go into the tank in a few weeks. If it wasn’t affecting the aesthetics it is actually quite fascinating to see with all the bubbles underneath the surface!

Sadly my tropica 1-2 grow pots of cryptocoryne crispatula have completely melted. I hope they’ll come back but they don’t have much in the way of roots to help them recover.
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My favourite view.

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My floaters escaping my ring of tubing.

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Pearling mould!
 

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