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21.4 Gallon Long (90x30x30cm) - Name still WIP

cldskt

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22 Feb 2022
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Good day UKAPS community.

Like many people, this is what I call a 'COVID hobby' of mine since I started back in early 2020 and I have been in love since. There are always more things to learn, and the more I read, the more interested I become.

The purpose of this thread is just for me to have a journal for the second tank that I put in more thoughts into, with more planning process than what I would usually do. Many years down the road I can learn from my mistakes and hopefully you guys which are far more experienced than me can impart some knowledge for me to learn too!

No actual build just yet, just set up the cabinet, drawer inside cabinet, pendant light stand (drilled to the back of the cabinet), and of course the tank itself. Everything is procured, except the live plants. You can skip the section below on the parts list if that is not your cup of tea.

Equipment List:
  1. ANS OptiClear Glass (essentially low iron glass) Tank, measuring 90 x 30 x 30cm - Wanted to do something with this dimension tank for 3 - 4 months now, so everything else is considered around this tank.
  2. Custom made cabinet locally (90 x 30 x 80cm) - Had contemplated whether to get 30cm width or 40cm (because of the light stand), but decided to go with the former to make it flush with the tank. Mimicking ADA style cabinet; with soft closing, solid wood, 45-degree mitered cut at the top of cabinet door.
  3. ANS 2L CO2 Tank and locally branded CO2 Regulator - CO2 tank is side-mounted, and the regulator is dual stage with solenoid.
  4. Qanvee 12/16mm CO2 Inline Diffuser - To be placed as near as the outlet output of the filter as possible.
  5. ANS Hydrobar M90 Hanging Bar - This light bar/kit/stand is similar to the ones from Evolution Aqua and/or iQuatics. Zero manual whatsoever in the packaging, but at least I learnt that cleaner drill holes can be made by gradually increasing the drill bit sizes.
  6. OASE Biomaster 250 - Had some issues with leaking from the top compartment. Though usually this is caused by the main gasket, my culprit was the hose adapter. You can refer to here for more details.
  7. SunSun Surface Skimmer - Pretty cheap surface skimmer that will be placed near outlet pipe of the filter. Been using this for another tank for a month and it has been working fine, but time will tell whether the item is durable.
  8. Chihiros WRGB2 Light (60cm) with corresponding Shades and Hanging Kits - Wanted to go the Pro version but I will be growing just carpeting plants, so this would suffice for now. Also made the conscious decision of going with the 60cm version and not the 90cm, simply because I prefer the look of shorter light for a pendant light.
  9. Plastic drawer measuring 34.5 x 25 x 54cm - Perfect drawer for bits and pieces inside the cabinet.

Substrates:
  1. ADA Power Sand Basic S (2L) with ADA Bacter 100, ADA Clear Super, ADA Tourmaline, ADA Penac P, ADA Penac W.
  2. ADA Amazonia V.2 (9L) - Went with the V.2 as it is easier to control over the V.1 at the start.
  3. Tropica Soil Powder (9L) - Wanted to have a 'powder' version of aquasoil on top of the normal aquasoil so that the carpeting plants will be able to root better. Went with Tropica as ADA only has its powder aquasoil as V.1 aquasoil. Also, the price for ADA one is practically double.
  4. ADA La Plata Sand (2kg) - Leftover from another tank build that will be used as a 'pathway'.
  5. Small rocks and pebbles - For hardscape detailing.
  6. Plastic egg crate - For elevation of hardscape.

Misc.:
  1. 31kg of "Manten Blue Stone" from an LFS nearby - Handpicked these over the course of a month, waiting for shipments to come in. Don't think that they are actually Manten Stones though, as they look more like Icelandic Lava Stone sold by Glass Aqua here.
  2. ADA Green Brighty Mineral and ADA Green Brighty Neutral K - Water from tap is generally higher in pH and KH, so opted for the 'Neutral' version.
  3. Small water pump for water change - Will be using the inlet pipe of OASE Biomaster 250 as the outlet pipe for this pump. This allows me to do water changes without lifting buckets.
  4. ADA Amazonia V.2 (9L) - Went with the V.2 as it is easier to control over the V.1 at the start.
  5. Motion sensor light bar (50cm) - Sufficient light to illuminate the inside of the cabinet at night.
  6. Magnet bar (30cm) - To hang aquascaping tools on the inner side of the cabinet door.

Now at the stage of routing existing cables neatly inside the cabinet. Will post pictures of cabinet when I am happy with how it looks.

Hardscape planning to come in the course of next week, hopefully! Very excited to try and come up with something in this 'blank canvas'.

Cheers.
 

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cldskt

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Update #1 (Substrate + Hardscape)

Began pouring substrates and playing around with hardscapes today. Lights are raised way higher to allow space and ease of movement of hardscapes in and out of the tank.

First, a thin layer of ADA Power Sand Basic goes in, and then ADA Bacter 100, ADA Clear Super, ADA Tourmaline, ADA Penac P, ADA Penac W was added.
Power Sand.jpg
Power Sand side view.jpg


Then a little bit of ADA Amazonia soil is poured over, remembering to distribute the ADA Amazonia Supplement (akin to root tabs).
ADA Soil Capsules.jpg


After playing around with the available rocks for an hour, this is what I came up with so far:
Top down shot.jpg


Keeping in mind the golden rule (marked with yellow post-it shown above), I decided on two focal points; the end path (circled green as #1) and the highest point in the scape (circled green as #2):
Golden Rule.jpg

They are not exactly following one-third rule height-wise, but I'm pretty happy so far about the two focal points.

From the scape too, you probably can spot two places where I intend to have 'sand path' marked in red below to lead the eye to the focal point:

- One on the left third:
Left path.jpg


- Another on the right third:
Right path.jpg


I am about 70% happy with how it looks like (more or less set on the right third side of the scape), but some thoughts I had at this point:

1. I want to get one more rock (that I do not have the correct shape for at the moment) to be placed behind the bigger rocks on the left (illustrated in blue below):
Additional Rock needed.jpg


2. I am not sure about the two middle rocks. I kept swapping the order of the two. For easy comparison, please see below the difference:
Top down shot.jpg
Middle rock swap 2.jpg

Grateful if any of you could let me know which one makes more sense. To me the second arrangement may create better sense of depth as the bigger stone is in front, but it is best when viewed directly from the side. For top-side view, the first arrangement makes more sense to me as the front stone is flatter.

3. Thinking if I should get more height with the back corner of the scape. May limit what I could plant though (thinking Eleocharis / Juncus Repens / Blyxa at the back). Currently it is about a tad more than the halfway point seen below:
Substrate height.jpg


4. Lastly, I am not 100% set on the two bigger stones on the left third of the tank. Thinking if I should try and find flatter stone so as to not take away too much focus from the highest peak of the scape.

5. All visible substrate surfaces will be covered with Tropica Soil Powder. This will only be done once I am 100% happy with the hardscape.

If you are still reading this up to this point, I thank you for your time. Please let me know if you have any suggestions/comments/queries, so we can all learn from each other.

I will keep this thread updated for progress but will hopefully take my time to do the hardscape, as to me this part is arguably the most important process of aquascaping which can make or break a tank.

Cheers.
 
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seedoubleyou

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29 Mar 2022
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419
Location
Windsor
Use some thin cut up plastic to help support the substrate.
I’d personally go for more of a concave layout with two structures either side and then open “valley” in the middle, really make use of that wide shallow tank.
 

cldskt

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Use some thin cut up plastic to help support the substrate.
I’d personally go for more of a concave layout with two structures either side and then open “valley” in the middle, really make use of that wide shallow tank.
That is a good suggestion! Not sure why I forgot the cut up plastic trick, used that on another scape.

With regard to the concave structure, I will try to remove the two middle rocks and bank up the two sides more and see how I like it then. Will definitely need more fist-sized rocks for detailing to make the scape look more natural.
 

cldskt

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Update #2 (Hardscape)

Further tinkering with the hardscape today, so would be a short one.

Went out to get another 8kg of hardscape materials, had to lug them in public transport. A number of people looked at me weird but I am pretty happy with the results:
Rescape left and middle.jpg


I think the left side is definitely better and more 'dramatic' with more shadows, both under the big rock and the smaller rock in front of it. 'Endpath' underneath the first focal point (on the third left portion of the tank) has weakened a little but I think it looks more natural and balanced now compared to the previous iterations.

Now I'm not too sure if I should leave the middle 'prairie' as it is or:

a. Try to find a flatter stone: though I think it may weakened the 'Endpath' even more as the current left corner of middle rock provides a nice curvature on the path so that I have a disappearing path which enhanced the depth of the scape.
b. Add smaller stones in front of the middle stone: might help with the balance a little bit, but may cause the tank to be looking slightly overcrowded.
c. Try to have sand path from the 'endpaths' of the two focal points after the hardscape is finalized and +/- 2cm of soil is added on top of the current layer: of course, there will be smaller stones/gravels to soften out the transition from soil to sand (La Plata), and the barrier will be planted with carpeting plants to prevent soil from rolling over eventually. Probably will look something like below, with the soil areas all planted with carpeting plants.
Sand path plan.jpg


Happy to hear your suggestions/comments, if any.

Cheers.
 

Laoshan

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14 Jun 2013
Messages
55
Hi @cldskt,

I think it it’s smart to take your time and consider different options.

Never made something like this, but in your latest iteration I would probably try to tilt the big stone on the right slightly forward, to create a better alignment with the big stone on the left. Now they look very different, I would try to make them more similar, to create a sense of harmony. Just my take on this.

Good luck anyhow!
 

cldskt

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Thanks @Laoshan

I wanted to make the right stone purposefully higher than the left one (if I could, I would bury the left stone even further but it's a chonky one). Regardless, I would try to see and play around with what you suggested tomorrow when there is daylight for me lol.

For the time being, I had fun trying to rough sketch what it would look like in terms of sandpath, either the original plan, only one path, or none at all. If I'm going with the path route, I will probably make the path thinner and more twisted in the actual scape.

Decisions, decisions...

Original pathing.jpg

One path.jpg

All grass.jpg
 

cldskt

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Update #3 (Early Phase of Scape) (part 1 of 2)

Apologies for the lack of the updates since April - life's responsibilities took the better part of my time.

It has been about 50+ days since I have flooded the tank. The following plants were used:
  • 9 cups of Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo';
  • 2 cups of Eleocharis acicularis 'Mini';
  • 2 cups of Eleocharis Pusilla; and
  • 2 pots of Blyxa Japonica.

oriental_tc_eleocharis_acicula_1650690188_7f26f39e_progressive.jpg
oriental_tc_eleocharis_acicula_1650690187_1ed5a98d_progressive.jpg


First Week

Referring to the sketches made in my previous post, I have decided to go with the dual sand paths as I am a little worried that fully carpet would feel a little flat. The first week was a breeze - water change of 50% was done everyday and the tank had virtually zero issues. ADA Brighty Neutral K and ADA Brighty Mineral were used since Day 1.

Second Week

Second week seems to be very uneventful - water changes was still done every other day, but the plants were seen stunted, with only very slight growth. Blyxa Japonica seems to refuse to root, so I had to re-plant them multiple times. No real issue on algae growth yet, but nothing seems to be growing. I thought "eh, probably need another week or so."

Third Week - Fourth Week

Following what is usually done, water changes were reduced to twice a week in 3rd and 4th week. This period is where the problems started to appear; diatoms started to show its ugly face and 75% of my plants started melting. Fortunately it is not difficult to find the culprit for the melt - temperature.

Singapore was having one of the worst temperature in its history around this period (April-May). Temperature outside can go as high as 35-36deg C, with indoor temperature's being 30-32deg C. I thought my case would be different and plants would still grow, but that was not the case.

By the end of fourth week, I bought myself a secondhand chiller (Teco TK150); a 1/8HP chiller that matches the specifications of my tank well (it is rated for tank size up to 40 gal, but that seems a tad bit overstated). Temperature was set at 26deg C to avoid condensation on the glass from the humidity of local's air and also not to blow up my electricity bill 😅. Setting it not too low also allows it to not 'kick-in' too often, which - although pretty quiet by chillers' standards - is still audible enough (think standing fan sound). As it stands now, the chiller 'kick-in' time is roughly around 25%-30% throughout the day (i.e. total of 8 hours of kick-ins, 16 hours of idle time during the course of the day).

chiller.jpg


I have also added insulation tube used on air conditioning units to prevent further heat gain from emitted heat of the chiller beside the cabinet, near the hoses. This helped roughly about 5-10% in efficiency based on the limited sample of kick-ins/outs data I have gathered.

chiller2.jpg
chiller3.jpg
 

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cldskt

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Update #3 (Early Phase of Scape) (part 2 of 2)

Fifth Week - Seventh Week


Water changes are still done weekly - 40-50% each time. Ever since the chiller was added, plants started bouncing back quite quickly. Light intensity is now kept at R:65% G:75% B:70%, with 7-hour photo period and ramp-up period of 30 mins (sunrise / sunset). This has caused very slight green spot algae in the 6th week. In comparison, I was using the following light settings since set-up:

  • 1st week - 2nd week --> R:45% G:55% B:50%, 6-hour photo period with ramp-up period of 1 hour; and
  • 3rd week - 4th week --> R:55% G:65% B:60%, 7-hour photo period with ramp-up period of 1 hour.

Livestocks were added periodically between 4th week and 5th week, which is now at the current stocking level of:

- 3x Otocinclus sp. (these were added first to deal with the diatoms algae and have been a powerhouse since)
2. oto1.JPG
2. oto3.JPG
2. oto2.JPG


- 7x Ruby Tetra (Axelrodia Riesei): these were from old setup (30cm cube) and has been around for a few months. My brightest male (3rd pic below) is smaller in size than other males in the group, but seems to be the boss of the group lol. Apologies for the quality of the images, they move incredibly fast and I have a very outdated DSLR that is more than 10 years old.
4. ruby1.JPG
4. ruby2.JPG

4. ruby3.JPG
4. ruby4.JPG



- 7x Tucano Tetra (Tucanoichthys Tucano): Bought 10x of these, but 1 didn't survive within 2 days of being in a quarantine tank, 1 didn't survive quarantine medications, 1 developed fungus but could not be cured. The remaining 7x seem to be healthy and eating well. Tucano Tetras are my absolute favourite nano fish right now.
3. tuc0.JPG
3. tuc1.JPG

photo6136450922801377516.jpg


- 5x 'Fire Red' Cherry Shrimps: Also came from an old setup of mine.
IMG_3358.JPG
IMG_3405.JPG


- 10x Crystal Red Shrimps (various grades below, CRS experts please feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken): I know that parameters of Cherry Shrimps and CRS are quite different, but knowing that I have a chiller right now, I could not pass up the opportunity of getting these little guys. My water is actually more suitable for CRS (GH 4-5, KH 0-1, TDS 120) but I'm hoping the two can co-habitate for the time being.

SS-Grade 'Little Lips':
IMG_3357.JPG
IMG_3364.JPG

IMG_3362.JPG
IMG_3407.JPG

IMG_3412.JPG
IMG_3361.JPG

IMG_3409.JPG


SS-Grade 'V-band':
crs - no entry.JPG


SS-Grade 'Halfmoon':
crs - halfmoon.JPG


SS-Grade 'Hinomaru':
crs - hinomaru.JPG
 

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cldskt

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Shots taken of the tank as at Friday, 10 June 2022:

IMG_3410.JPG
IMG_3429.JPG


Green dust algae is present on the rocks as well as sand paths as seen above and below. More thorough maintenance work will be done once the tank has stabilized further.

IMG_3461.JPG


Full tank shot:

IMG_3457.JPG


Blyxa Japonicas on the back corners probably need another month or so to get bigger, Eleocharis Pusilla on the bankground need to cover more of the 'end path' of the two sand paths to add further depth to the scape, and the monte carlo needs to fill in the sides of the substrate near the glass.

Cheers.
 

erwin123

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4 Mar 2021
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Location
Singapore
Good to know that CRS can survive at 26 degrees and nice tip on using aircon insulation, I shall have to go and find some.
 
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