• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

Yellow Pebblequarium

Emil.

Member
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Hello Fellow Aquatic Plant Friends,


After several months experiencing all the joys that the planted tank brings, time has come to upgrade the size. I've decided to go from 60 to a whopping 90 liters! I know it's not much by any means but I needed to be reasonable. I'm renting my place and an inevitable future moving would be much more difficult with a bigger tank. I also perform all my water changes manually with a bucket and although I'm young, beautiful and strong, having to hold the bucket high and be careful not to spill anything can sometimes be a pain in the… shoulder.

Despite not having any prior woodworking experience, or tools for that matter, I built my own stand. I learned many things during the process. I learned that I can't cut very straight. I learned that tools are expensive and I learned that my girlfriend loves me tons. Believe it or not, I was allowed to work on it in our living room because the weather outside was unreasonable. I always cleaned after myself but there were many tools and timber hanging around for a couple of weeks. Totally worth it, here's the result:

IMG_20200229_130713.jpg


It's not perfect but it's mine, very stable and yellow! I used 44 x 69 mm whitewood, Base dimensions are 60 x 40 cm. The design is very simple and can be easily found on YouTube.

Leveling was not as easy as one would expect. I had to raise three corners by 4, 12, and 14 mm. That’s more than half an inch on one side. Color me pedantic but that’s one hell of a crooked floor. After initial attempts of making wedges out of wood, I resorted to simply using layers of cardboard taped to the floor with masking tape. I don’t think this solution will last forever but it’s good enough for now.

leveling.png


After all this hard work, it was time for some serious hardscape fun! I took my time and tried several layouts. My initial idea was to create an island on the left side of the tank and have the right side heavily planted. I tried to build this in the tank but I had to abandon this idea. Due to the size of the pebbles used, the created space for soil was inadequate in my humble opinion. See for yourself, what do you think?

l0.png


Many days and unsatisfying variations later, I created the following monstrosity. I liked it a lot but mainly for the comical value. It had a funny looking cave and overall cartoony feel. I left it on for three days to see if I could live with it long term. I could not.

l1.png


Then, I got an idea. Instead of abandoning the island plan, I could just revert it - create an absence of an island and have plenty of space for the soil around. That’s how my final layout came to be.

l2.png


As you can see, it’s not gonna win any aquascaping contests, it’s not gonna get anywhere close but it will be a nice little home for dum-dums (collective name for my 5 ember tetras) and other fish in the future. They’ll have plenty of spaces to hide from the flow and plenty of plants to admire, smell, claim as their territory or whatever they fancy to do.

Here’s how it currently looks. It's been a few days since I planted it. I’m getting a lot of algae but I like the look of it and it’s part of the plan. I want to keep a group of otocinclus catfish later on so I’m “cooking” a welcome feast for them. Please don’t mind the CO2 being too close to the radiator, it’s not heating.

IMG_20200409_193847.jpg

IMG_20200409_194814.jpg



Nerdy stuff

Water: not too hot soft acidic tap water
  • 50 ppm from tap
  • PH less than 6.4. Not sure how low it really is, sadly. None of my tests can detect the low range.
  • 24°C
Filter: Eheim 350T
  • Love it
  • Substrat pro and sponges only
Light: Ai Prime Freshwater
  • the newer version
  • photo period: 10 hrs incl. 2 hrs ramp on each side, full power is set to 21 watts
  • + tons of daylight in the morning for good measure
  • It's interesting to see how the same plant grows much faster when closer to the light
 

Emil.

Member
Thread starter
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Update:

Otocinclus delivery is being delayed, the seller is looking for a new shipping company. The welcome snack I’ve been prepping for them was getting out of hands so I went inside the tank with my toothbrush (a dedicated fish tank toothbrush). As I was scraping diatoms of rocks, wood and plants, I was having the time of my life. Any sort of cleaning in my life has never felt this satisfying. And then it striked me - am I getting old? There are other signs like a bit of gray hair and tiny wrinkles but that’s just from stress and too much smiling. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I bet enjoying maintenance is definitely a getting wise tell. :)

Anyhow, I added bits of trident fern, tiger lily bulb, removed some rocks that were totally out of place - what was I thinking? :rolleyes:

I installed an inline CO2art diffuser and am trying (not too hard) to dial the CO2 levels in. The diffuser seems to work well but I think the jet outflow is unnecessarily harsh so I ordered a glass lily which will hopefully work better. Now I have to patiently wait for it on top of waiting bunch of oto-cuties. In related news, pogostemon erectus is taking forever to grow.

This is how the tank looks now, please excuse the glare and the floating plants, they’re intended for a new tank that's in progress. What do you think?

IMG_20200422_165242.jpg
 

Sarpijk

Member
Joined
11 Jan 2015
Messages
594
Hi, this would make a great tank to go the Asian route and stock with hillstream loaches and some small danios like Danio Tinwini.
 

Emil.

Member
Thread starter
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
I am very bad at writing updates, and "forum-ing" in general, apologies. So much has happened since my first post and I've learned many things Here's a more recent photo of my tank:

PXL_20201123_171653760.jpg


I started dosing EI, got bored of my layout, removed most of the pebbles, added more aqua soil, added more plants, added sponge filter, removed sponge filter, diy'd prefilter out of plexiglass and Porex foam and now I'm in the process of switching light to vivid 2.

Some of my biggest findings:

1) Plants need light - duh!
- I'm one of those people who like to read and research as much as possible. This, while smart approach, can give you a false sense of expertise. After reading so many stories about lights being too strong on this forum, I went down the rabbit hole of making things worse and worse for me by constantly lowering it. 13W on AI Prime Freshwater hanged 30cm above the tank simply isn't enough (that's the low I reached when it finally struck me). For some reason the air between surface and light was an equivalent of vacuum in my mind. Do the math for your light and/or find out what works for others and start from there. I didn't have any useful reference point as the light was new. I started in the middle and went down and down with the wattage. Balancing things out is difficult without experience. My light went from being okay to seriously bad which made any other attempts (co2, o2, more mature filtration, fertilization) useless.

2) Lemon Tetras jump :(
- Sadly I had 2 jumpers and 2 fish stuck behind a sponge. I believe all accidents were flow related. I moved the pipes around and now there's no longer a strong current that can corner them. No accidents since but I've ordered a dd jump-guard regardless because it makes me quite uneasy to watch them when they're establishing their pecking order. I found that one female in particular, especially when she's ready to breed, can be quite territorial. I saw them do it twice. Once inside pogostemon erectus and once on top of java moss.

3) CO2 dialing depends heavily on surface
- With an air stone constantly breaking the surface, I was unable to get enough CO2 in. With no surface movement, it's too easy to pump in too much. Surface skimmer on the inflow works well for me.
- Important observation: surface scum was unable to penetrate the sponge in my pre-filter. I had to cut out a bypass on top.

3) Algae is just an indicator, not a problem
- When I spotted bits of BBA on the rocks, I went to a full panic mode and started adjusting everything. Lowering the light and adding fully cycled sponge filter got rid of the bba but things went downhill from there. After adding new batch of fresh aquasoil (shrimp king), I experienced hair algae boom. I've been fighting it for months now. Things are getting better and I'm no longer scared of algae. Healthy new growth is not affected, some plants are doing better than others but overall things are getting better. Alga is not a monster that's gonna eat you alive despite of what the internet wants you to believe. I doesn't even look that bad. Worry about plants, not algae.

4) Healthy plants look different
- Yet another obvious thing that I had to learn on my own. I now know what poor rotala looks like. I now know how poor pogestemon looses leaves all over the tank. I know how much abuse they all can take and still recover given good conditions and enough time.

Most of these points are obvious and I read about them numerous times but now everything finally starts to click together!
 

Ady34

Global Moderator
UKAPS Team
Joined
27 Jul 2011
Messages
4,872
Location
Co. Durham
Hi, your plants are looking much nicer now. It’s great that you have such a relaxed approach and have been willing to stick with the tank and adapt your approach to discover what works.
Your journal makes for a great read, do you have any further update?
Cheerio,
Ady.
 

Emil.

Member
Thread starter
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Thanks @Ady34! Quite a bit changed, actually. :) I added the jump guard and chihiros vivid 2 light on a stand that I built for it. Two test amano shrimp were added and I also replaced lily pipe with eheim spray bar.

Here's how the tank looks now:
Photo of the aquarium


The amanos have been in for few weeks now and I'm confident enough to add more. I had to remove the home-made pre-filter because they kept sneaking in through the surface bypass cutout. It doesn't really matter because I'm cleaning the filter almost every week anyway and it was acrylic bonding learning exercise more than anything.

Here's one of the trouble makers, looking all innocent and cute.
Picture of innocent and cute looking amano shrimp


The main reason for replacing the lily pipes was to create gentler flow for the fish. Seems to work well, they are more active in the foreground. I am still throttling the filter quite a bit (I leave the flow adjusting lever exactly in the middle) but the same with lily pipe was making them hide. I really don't mind the look and there's no risk of breakage should a suction cup fail. Win-win.

My thoughts on the light? I hated it at first but that didn't last long. Although I do prefer more natural looking tanks in general, I got used to the over-saturation and am really enjoying them for the time being. It's almost like a guilty pleasure kind of thing for me. Happy with the purchase and the plants seem to love it. The fan is audible and I'll probably replace it. But that's only because I do happen to have some spare fans laying around. I wouldn't bother buying new one for it. It's not that bad.

What's next on the planing board? Ferts auto-dosing! Stay tuned.
 

Emil.

Member
Thread starter
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Hello everybody, I hope you're having a wonderful day. It's been almost 4 months since I installed an automatic doser for my fertilisers. My dosing regime is slimmed down version of EI (details in the picture) every day. macros at 8 in the morning, micros at 8 in the evening.
1616947152757.png

I use wifi version of the Jebao pump. The app (android version) is very meh :shifty:, the pump seems to be okay. For the first 8 weeks I was accidentally dosing every other day - half of the intended dosage. Funnily enough, the growth was noticeably slower. :) But other than that the plants seemed okay. Anyway, I have the pump hooked up behind the tank and I use 1.5l acrylic containers wrapped in black gorilla tape and covered with aluminium foil to keep any light away. Ferts travel in black fluval air tubing which is just attached to my intake pipe with a piece of wire that you would find wrapped around cables when you buy something electronic.

PXL_20210123_164148508.jpg


Not having to worry about fertilizers for couple of weeks is awesome! :cool:
 

Emil.

Member
Thread starter
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Hello everybody, it's time to share my recent events, dramas and discoveries.

First, I'd like to talk about a cover for underneath the fish tank that I made out of fabric:

PXL_20210307_132852418.jpg
PXL_20210307_132918830.jpg


I picked the fabric from a fabric shop. I bought about four times more than I needed because I didn't trust myself to get it right on first try with this project. The fabric has a hem on top that I sewed myself using sewing machine for the first time in my life! I say myself but it was under heavy supervision from my better half. 👀🪡 It was way easier than I expected it to be and I didn't even need any extra fabric. There's a piece of elastic band inside the loop created by the hem. The elastic is attached to the top left and top right of the stand and the fabric can slide on it - for easier access to the filter. The sides are just pinned to the wood from the inside. I planned this cover since the beginning - since before I built the stand but never got to it because I was scared of the sewing. Silly me.

I did some plant shuffling. Namely, I moved H'ra to the back because it didn't look as good as expected on the side. With all that free space in the front I struggled to contain it so it had to go to the back. That plant simply likes to grow. 🤷‍♀️ You can see all the drama on the following pictures:

InkedPXL_20201227_174318740_LI.jpg
InkedPXL_20210207_104331720_LI.jpg
InkedPXL_20210220_143036100_LI.jpg


Funnily enough, I moved pinnatifida in the opposite direction but for the same reason. It was difficult to trim in the back where it's hard to see where it's grown. It likes to grow in all directions and I strongly believe that it plans to take over the tank and possibly the whole house. While I admire its ambition, I moved it to the front where I can keep an eye on it and trim it very often.

As you can see on the second H'ra picture, I am playing around with different spray-bar rotations. When it's positioned traditionally, towards the front, my lemon tetras like to surf the glass. I'm 99% sure it's just a play behaviour but it reminds me of stress surfing and I don't like it. When the flow bounces of the back wall, I don't think the carpet gets enough CO2. But now that I'm thinking about it, it may have been due to a gas leak that I discovered recently. Anyway, I'm currently testing the spray bar at the bottom back. Seems okay so far, only time will tell. 🤞

I've been struggling to dial in the CO2 correctly for a long time (and kept finding leaks in various places) so I treated myself to a new CO2 regulator. I went for CO2 supermarket instead of CO2 art this time and I'm very happy with my decision. Much better quality and much more precise needle valve, imho. I lowered the light and left the tank without co2 for few days while waiting for the new regulator to arrive. The plants are recovering without any major issues. Hopefully I'll be able to dial it in properly this time. My only worry is that when that happens, I'll decide to move from inline diffuser to some kind of reactor so I can go through it all again 😂

Before all the CO2 abuse, I decided that I'll try to find the lowest possible light that I can get away with. Immediately, I went too far and stopped the experiment after a week because I didn't like the elongated stems. Instead, I'm currently enjoying highly pink light that my girlfriend loves. What are your opinions?

Low light attempt:
PXL_20210315_172132138.jpg


Pink light:
PXL_20210406_175542173.jpg


I now have an airstone running 24/7 and I've also created a prefilter by drilling hole into a frozen sponge with a diamond drill bit. To my surprise, the drilling worked.

PXL_20210403_095640223.jpg


That is all for now, have a fantastic day!
PXL_20210321_164309446.jpg
 

Tom Michael

Member
Joined
16 Nov 2014
Messages
257
Really interesting read, thanks for sharing- looks great to me😁

I prefer the low light one but it’s a personal preference...I have a solar RGB which is nice but I think my fav light is one of those old Metal Halidide with the shimmer effect!
 

Emil.

Member
Thread starter
Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Looks great! Definitely tempted to try making my own stand. If you don't mind me asking, what was the rough cost for the simple structure?
The timber is around £45, screws are few pounds, paint and primer a bit more than that. The most expensive part is time and effort.
 
Top