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Libba's 30cm Cube

Libba

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12 Jan 2021
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Location
Australia
As this is my first post here I'll begin with a very brief intro:

I have recently decided to get back into planted tanks after having a break for a few years. My first planted tank was 40L in which I began to learn about how to keep plants alive under water. My current circumstances will have me spending more time at home so I've decided to delve a bit deeper into this hobby.

I picked the 30cm size because it requires less upfront financial commitment. The goal of this tank will be the experiment and learn about how to grow healthy plants and to avoid algae. I'm less interested in the aquascaping side of things and more interested in the science. Since the majority of the research material I have consumed has been from Dennis Wong's excellent website I'll first be attempting his method (rich substrate, lean water column dosing). It's going to be a reasonably high-energy system because I want to be spending a lot of time on the maintenance and tinkering and I want fast results. Equipment and plant list as follows:

Gear:

30cm low-iron cube
Chihiros WRGB 2
Sunsun603b with glass skimmer
Cheap unbranded CO2 regulator and 2.6kg gas bottle with twinstar diffuser
ADA Amazonia version 2

Plants:

HC Cuba
Staurogyne Repens
Pogostemon Helferi
Rotala sp. Green
Rotala Bonsai
Rotala Colorata

I'm currently dark-starting the tank while I wait for my plants to ship in about 3 weeks. The plan is to hopefully use tap water which is 7.2pH, 3dgh and 3dkh. The Amazonia has buffered the water down to 6.4ph. I bought the Amazonia before doing any research and have since read that the version 2 is lacking in nutrients. Once the nutrients from the Amazonia supplement sticks run out I will try to enrich the soil with osmocote while dosing APT complete.

If anyone has any suggestions about how I could do things better please let me know. I'll update in a few weeks once plants are in.
 
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jaypeecee

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21 Jan 2015
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Bracknell
The goal of this tank will be the experiment and learn about how to grow healthy plants and to avoid algae. I'm less interested in the aquascaping side of things and more interested in the science.

Hi @Libba

Welcome to UKAPS! It's good to have another member from 'down under'.

You and I presently share the same current objective - "to grow healthy plants and to avoid algae". The science is fascinating. My background is in the physical sciences but I'm thoroughly enthralled by the Life Sciences embodied in the aquatic world. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I'm doing.

JPC :)
 

Libba

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Something interesting happened with this tank in the early stages. I originally had a sand substrate in the tank before deciding to switch to a soil substrate. I'd been cycling the tank using ammonia and had about 1ppm of Nitrite in the water. When I changed out the substrate I kept the water because I didn't want to lose the presence of nitrites. This water was heavily stained with tannins from the driftwood. Within 24 hours of adding the ADA Amazonia the tannins were completely gone and the water was crystal clear. I'm not sure about the mechanics of how this happened but my only guess is that the Amazonia "absorbed" the tannins from the water.
 

Libba

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So there was a mix up with my plant supplier and they were sent to me while I was away on holiday and consequently were in a state of decomposition when I got home. My supplier is inundated at the moment so I decided to source my plants from somewhere else for now. I've changed my plant list to the following:

Monte Carlo
AR mini
Limnophila sp Mini Vietnam
Rotala H'Ra
Rotala green
Hemianthus Micranthemoides

The plants are coming from two different sellers and unfortunately I received the first bunch a week earlier than the second. So far it's just the H'Ra and the HM planted at the back. I've been running CO2 24/7 and doing daily water changes of 50-90% depending on how patient I'm feeling. I've also been dosing with Excel heavily as the rotala had some green thread looking algae that has me a bit spooked as I know how hard that algae is to get rid of. For nutrients I'm just dosing APT Zero for now. Light is running on 60% for six hours daily with 30 minutes ramp up/down. I've also changed my piece of driftwood to one I find more aesthetically pleasing. I have a vision for what the tank will look like once everything is grown in and trimmed so hopefully it all goes to plan.
 
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Libba

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Hi @Libba

May I ask - what's the rationale behind that?

JPC

I just find it easier to leave it on 24/7 for now to be honest. When I have more time to tinker with it I'll probably set the timer up. For now I just want to keep the CO2 as stable as possible. With such a small tank the CO2 used is negligible anyway.
 

jaypeecee

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I just find it easier to leave it on 24/7 for now to be honest. When I have more time to tinker with it I'll probably set the timer up. For now I just want to keep the CO2 as stable as possible. With such a small tank the CO2 used is negligible anyway.
Hi @Libba

I suspect that your plant(s) may find it challenging to adapt to a continuous supply of CO2. But it would take a plant biologist to confirm my hunch and in what way it may affect the plants.

JPC
 

Libba

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The rest of the plants went in last night. Also got some small Buces which are stuck in the wood. I'm going to call this day one.

IMG_20210218_125017_942.jpg
IMG_20210218_125014_173.jpg
 

alto

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24 Dec 2014
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I suspect that your plant(s) may find it challenging to adapt to a continuous supply of CO2.
I always end up running my kitchen nano this way: at ~0.3bps it’s just easier
Any higher bps and my poor shrimp end up distressed (and that’s with gentle surface movement)

I often run my larger tanks this way for the first few weeks (old Amano interview) - there’s an old ukaps journal with photos (not mine, 1 of the Ian’s I think)
Note my aquariums are in rooms with significant ambient (sun) light
 

Libba

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I've done a lot of mucking around with it but I can't seem to get enough flow from the 603B to get good CO2 distribution around the tank. I've tried taking off the glass Lily pipes and taking out all of the media but it's still insufficient. At the moment I've got a 4w 400lh power head in there doing a great job moving much more water for me. Any advice on a good filter with the right amount of flow for a 27l tank? I'm currently looking at getting the Eheim 2215.
 
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alto

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FWIW I always end up running my kitchen nano ADA 30cm cube, with an Eheim mini up filter EHEIM miniUP and Tropica diffuser (I keep saying I’ll buy some proper glass diffusers but these are unbreakable :p )

Though if you create those aquascape designs where half and more of the glass box is hardscape, “good” flow is much more challenging ... I like to keep livestock in even my nano, so leave lots of room for “water” and “space”
 

Libba

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Day seven. Decided to dose APT complete rather than APT zero. I will experiment with starving my plants of nitrates later but for now I'm just doing everything I can to maximize my chance of success. Daily water changes of 50% for now. I'm planning to do this for at least the first 2-4 weeks. I still haven't decided on the filter so just a powerhead and a skimmer at the moment. I'm leaning towards a 2215 with the spray bar at the back. Increasing the light intensity by 5% this week.

IMG_20210224_181124_219.jpg
IMG_20210224_181124_232.jpg
IMG_20210224_181124_260.jpg
 

Libba

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The leaves on the Bucephalandra have started turning brown and some of them are turning black around the edges. Has anyone seen this before and maybe know the cause? There has been some new growth coming through so hopefully the plants recover and it's just a transitional thing. For now I've trimmed off all of the unsightly leaves.

20210228_145100.jpg
 

Libba

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I think I've finally solved my flow problem. I'd thought about buying an Eheim 2213 or 2215 but it did seem like a waste of money when I really just need a bit more flow. I also didn't want to have an ugly powerhead in the tank given that it's already a really small tank. I read a post on this board talking about the Sicce brand pumps so I decided to try a Sicce Syncra Silent 0.5 pump which is rated at 700l/h. I took the impeller out of the pump on my SunSun 603b and installed the Sicce pump in the outlet hose. It works great and the flow seems just right now. I've also employed @ceg4048's spray bar method so I'm eager to see how this goes now. I'm hoping I can get away with not having a skimmer now but that might be optimistic.

20210302_160246.jpg
20210302_161055.jpg
 

Libba

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I'm thinking about getting some Paratya Australiensis soon to stock the tank but it's awkward. To buy 10 shrimp would cost me around 60 dollars including shipping. To buy 20 would be 80 dollars. To buy 50 is 60 dollars. But could this tank handle 50 shrimp thrown in at once? The Paratya are a similar size to Cherry shrimp.
 
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Libba

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Day 14

The new pump and spray bar seems to be having a positive effect on plant health. I'm now getting much more pearling in all plants. Everything is growing steadily. Lights are still at about 60% intensity but I have increased the photoperiod to eight hours total with a 1 hour ramp at either end. I think I'm going to keep the lights at this intensity for a while and slowly increase the photoperiod out to 12 hours.

20210304_125546.jpg
20210304_125649.jpg
20210304_130327.jpg
 

alto

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I'm thinking about getting some Paratya Australiensis soon to stock the tank but it's awkward. To buy 10 shrimp would cost me around 60 dollars including shipping. To buy 20 would be 80 dollars. To buy 50 is 60 dollars. But could this tank handle 50 shrimp thrown in at once? The Paratya are a similar size to Cherry shrimp.
I’d not hesitate to add 50 shrimp (did so recently for similar reasons)
BUT
  • soil was well established (tank was an overgrown mess that I quickly rescaped when opportunity for shrimp came up)
  • left a reasonable amount of (really quite ugly) MC carpet undisturbed for its plant mass

Another factor was that shrimp were small - medium juveniles (some were even smaller than small - that was unexpected, but all seem to be growing well)
I did lose a few but that’s expected after long distance shipping (and rather different water even if GH, KH, pH etc are similar)
I do suggest juvenile shrimp as then you’ve some idea of shrimp age (relevant as some species only live 1-3yr depending)

With fish it’s usually fine to do quite large daily water changes, with newly purchased shrimp I’m much more conservative - you don’t really want to trigger a moult in newly arrived shrimp, as they are very sensitive to water parameters for 24-72h (again depending) as new exoskeleton hardens
You also don’t want to trigger more than one moult in a short time (especially in newly arrived shrimp that may’ve been fasted for shipping)

Feed shrimp sparingly for the first few weeks (better water quality if conservative water changes, and limit moult)
 

Libba

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Location
Australia
I’d not hesitate to add 50 shrimp (did so recently for similar reasons)
BUT
  • soil was well established (tank was an overgrown mess that I quickly rescaped when opportunity for shrimp came up)
  • left a reasonable amount of (really quite ugly) MC carpet undisturbed for its plant mass

Another factor was that shrimp were small - medium juveniles (some were even smaller than small - that was unexpected, but all seem to be growing well)
I did lose a few but that’s expected after long distance shipping (and rather different water even if GH, KH, pH etc are similar)
I do suggest juvenile shrimp as then you’ve some idea of shrimp age (relevant as some species only live 1-3yr depending)

With fish it’s usually fine to do quite large daily water changes, with newly purchased shrimp I’m much more conservative - you don’t really want to trigger a moult in newly arrived shrimp, as they are very sensitive to water parameters for 24-72h (again depending) as new exoskeleton hardens
You also don’t want to trigger more than one moult in a short time (especially in newly arrived shrimp that may’ve been fasted for shipping)

Feed shrimp sparingly for the first few weeks (better water quality if conservative water changes, and limit moult)

Thanks for the advice! Much appreciated
 
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