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Wolf6

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Finally have enough parts to start working a bit on layout and hardscape, so I figured this was the time to start a journal to go with it.
Tank:
Red sea reefer 120x50x50 cm, sump 80x40x40 or close to that size. All plumbing is hidden in dry chamber/cabinet.

Lights:
Chihiros wrgb2

Titanium heater

Still to get:
  • dosing pump
  • 2x twinstar nano
  • dual CO2 regulators/bottles (that is, I have one set currently, need to get a second).

Hardscape:
Beech branch and twigs collected in the woods nearby
River rock collected from my garden and found during holidays last year.

Soil will be aqua soil and sand mixxed with grit.
I'll be dosing EI most likely, but premixxed into all in one from a source I've heard good things about recently, dosing daily via the auto doser.
CO2 aiming for +-20mg/l as I feel fish are more active then.

Intended plant list:
  • Red lotus
  • blyxxa
  • mosses
  • dwarf hair grass
  • crinum
  • anubias nana
  • buces
  • Rotala macrandra
  • aponogeton crispus or cryptocorine crispulata
  • vallisneria nana
Pics this far:
20201113_100352.jpg
The boxes arrived, heavy stuff :)
20201115_204004.jpg
Assembled and positioned next to the tank its replacing.
20210206_173058.jpg 20210206_173126.jpg
First layout tests, this is the general feeling I'm going for, a branch that fell into a stream, being engulfed by plants eventually.
I'm avoiding big epifytes this time round, as I dont want the wood to vanish underneath masses of fern :) I'm open for suggestions!

Fish plans, I'm thinking of these options, not saying I'm getting all of them:
  • panda cory or smaller (15-ish)
  • pair of dwarf cichlids (one that is relatively mild in behaviour) or badis badis
  • Barbs or another energetic group fish (about 25)
  • Serpae tetra (10 from the old tank, plus another 5 or so)
  • Maybe hatchetfish, the tank has a net cover with it (not on it in the pics)
  • kuhlis (from previous tank, about 5-6)
  • siamese algae eater (from previous tank)
  • 8 ottos
  • 15 amano shrimp
  • pair of Pearl gourami
  • pair of livebearers for the kids (molly, swords or platy)
  • 1 male guppy for my youngest
  • 4 green tetra, left over from many tanks ago, still holding on.

Advice on the fish choices is welcome too!
 

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Wolf6

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Temporary solution that may become permanent if it works. I feel the overflow protection has holes that are too wide, so I cut some mesh and attached it. Due to the overflows design I couldn't attach it at the back.
 

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Wolf6

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Still sitting empty, but I did buy some more gear.
 

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Swampymc8

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Following with interest. I've been looking at this tank to upgrade to, interested in what you do
 

Wolf6

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Currently looking into plant choices as the big day nears. Gear wise I just need to buy twinstar nano+ and a large CO2 bottle, soil, sand, and grit, and a few bits and pieces for ease of waterchanges etc.
So the plant choices for the 'A' list are the following, meaning those are as good as certain:
eleocharis parvula
Eleocharis sp. "montevidensis"
blyxa japonica
fissidens miroshaki
fissidens fox
fissidens fontanus
fontinalis
Nymphaea zenkeri
Glossostigma elatinoides
anubias nana
Bucephalandra Theia Red of red dagger
vallisneria nana or spiralis straight
Vesicularia Ferriei 'Weeping'

Now the 'B' listers from which I will attempt to select 4 to 6 plants, no more (hardest part of all) -
Eleocharis acicularis
blyxa aubertii
Hydrocotyle tripartita (sp. Japan)
Sagittaria subulata
hydrocotyle verticalata
Marsilea Hirsuta
anubias nana bonsai
Cryptocoryne willisii
Bacopa rotundifolia/caroliniana
Juncus repens
Cryptocoryne balansae
Hydrocleys nymphoides
rotala macrandra
elodea densa
Fissidens nobilis
Crepidomanes Malabaricum
Bolbitis Thailand

My goal is the appearance of a branch that has fallen into a calm rocky stream, with lots of grassy/long leaved plants to keep a visually calm look, dashed with some colour/contrasting leaves here and there. Surrounding the central area will be sand/grit with lots of open swimming space for cory's. Over time more will be overgrown, but I'll ensure a sizable portion remains sandy. The branch will be overgrown with various mosses and small leaved plants, nothing big. The central focal plant will be the red lotus, leaves allowed to go up to the surface. I havent decided yet if I want it on the left side of the tank behind the big rock, or right behind the higher rocks there. I would like to mirror that red with possibly the rotala macrandra somewhere on the other side of the tank, but keep most other plants green in various shades. Hints of brown/red are fine. I also prefer most of the plants to be not too demanding in terms of light/ferts or require too much trimming. I'm still open for suggestions, although I already need to select a max of4-6 'B' listers and stop there, otherwise will end up with too many plants and not enough space, as happens to me too often XD

Here is an 'artist impression' in paint of one possible layout. Hopefully it will make my general idea a bit clearer.
artist impression.jpg
 
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Wolf6

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A few tanks I have in mind as inspiration:
inspiration1.jpg inspiration2.jpg
1631176024899.png

All three offer open swimming space yet plenty of hiding spaces for fish, feature lots of wood and river rock. They also have very limited plant choices and thats my main worry, maybe I should scrap more plants, but... I loves me some plants :(
 

Wookii

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I really like the rocks and wood you have acquired, it should give a really naturalistic look. The Eleocharis at the rear would be my choice too (as in your third inspiration tank), it'll give it a great sense of depth. Less will probably be more for the rest of the planting. I'd probably go with some more rocks stacked at the rear, so there are lots of caves and hiding places for the fish (and shrimp if you/re having any).

The only plant on your list I'd warn against is the macrandra red - I found it very demanding. It has to have soft water, and disproportionate amounts of CO2 to do well. Ludwigia Super Red might be an easier choice there.

 

Wolf6

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I really like the rocks and wood you have acquired, it should give a really naturalistic look. The Eleocharis at the rear would be my choice too (as in your third inspiration tank), it'll give it a great sense of depth. Less will probably be more for the rest of the planting. I'd probably go with some more rocks stacked at the rear, so there are lots of caves and hiding places for the fish (and shrimp if you/re having any).

The only plant on your list I'd warn against is the macrandra red - I found it very demanding. It has to have soft water, and disproportionate amounts of CO2 to do well. Ludwigia Super Red might be an easier choice there.

I have ludwigia in my other tank, its shape and the 'air' roots are not what I had in mind for this tank. I've kept macrandra before with moderate succes. But you are right and I've scrapped it in my head for now, instead using bacopa's light green as contrast, and having the lotus be the single red plant in the tank. I think this will be the list:
eleocharis parvula - front
Eleocharis sp. "montevidensis" - back
blyxa japonica - middle (multiple groups)
fissidens miroshaki - wood
fissidens fox - wood,
fissidens fontanus - wood
fontinalis - rock
Nymphaea zenkeri - middle/back, single plant
Glossostigma elatinoides - front
anubias nana - wood/rock, shaded areas
Bucephalandra Theia Red of red dagger - wood/rock, shaded areas
Vesicularia Ferriei 'Weeping' - wood
Sagittaria subulata - accents near rocks in the parvula field
Marsilea Hirsuta - accents here and there
Cryptocoryne willisii - shaded areas near the wood
Bacopa rotundifolia/caroliniana - middle
elodea densa - back
Crepidomanes Malabaricum - shaded part of wood

But I might just sneak in fissidens nobilis on a tiny piece of wood somewhere. I just love mosses. Fox and fontanus look so much alike that it should appear as a single species with 2 locations anyways, hopefully I can use it for some perceived depth by placing the fox more to the back of the wood.

Fish wise, looking at my original list I'm happy to conclude I still want most of those.
  • panda cory (12-ish)
  • pair of dwarf cichlids (one that is relatively mild in behaviour) or badis badis
  • Barbs or another energetic group fish (about 25), most likely odessa or ruby
  • 15 embers from the old tank (though I might make it 40 or so)
  • Maybe 10 hatchetfish, the tank has a net cover with it (not on it in the pics), would that suffice to keep them inside? I've never had them so dont know how bad their jumping through cracks and nooks etc is.
  • kuhlis (from previous tank, about 5-6)
  • 8 ottos (5 from previous tank, 3 new)
  • 15-20 amano shrimp
  • 1 bamboo shrimp
  • Pearl gourami (1 male, 2 female)
  • pair of livebearers - swords most likely
  • 3 green tetra, left over from many tanks ago, still holding on (but I might donate those to my kids tank if he wants them)
  • 7 Serpae tetra from the old tank (though I'd prefer to rehome them too)
  • Bunch of cherry and taiwan bee shrimp
Suggestions for dwarf cichlids that wont instantly decimate the cherries/taiwans/amano's? Anyone kept nannacara anomala for instance with shrimp? Its fine if they pick off the occasional one, as I will keep the main breeding colonies in other tanks, but I'd prefer to avoid massacres :) Otherwise I'll just settle for badis badis I think.
 
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Wookii

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I think hatchets manage to get through any gap their body can fit through, no matter how obscure, so if you are happy the holes in the mesh are small enough, and there are no gap around the outside edges, you should be fine. I've always wanted marbled hatchets, I think they look great, so I'll be interested to see how you get on if you get any. What are you doing in terms of floating plants - surface dwellers like those generally need plenty of surface cover to feel secure.

I'm no cichlid expert, but from what I've read on other threads, they appear to be largely a no-go with shrimp. If you put your shrimp in for a decent amount of time before the cichlids, they could well find enough places to hide and breed and to maintain a population, but I personally wouldn't risk expensive Bee's with them.
 
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Wolf6

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I think hatchets manage to get through any gap their body can fit through, no matter how obscure, so if you are happy the holes in the mesh are small enough, and there are no gap around the outside edges, you should be fine. I've always wanted marbled hatchets, I think they look great, so I'll be interested to see how you get on if you get any. What are you doing in terms of floating plants - surface dwellers like those generally need plenty of surface cover to feel secure.

I'm not cichlid expert, but from what I've read on other threads, they appear to be largely a no-go with shrimp. If you put your shrimp in for a decent amount of time before the cichlids, they could well find enough places to hide and breed and to maintain a population, but I personally wouldn't risk expensive Bee's with them.
The bees or whatever shrimp I have dont cost me much as they breed like rabbits in the small tank :) but yeah I heard simular stories about rams and apistos being unsuited, as are killis and bettas. I was hoping people here had experience with nannacara or maybe other small cichlids and shrimp, but guess it's badis badis, which to be fair is no less amazing to look at.
 

shangman

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Maybe dicrossus? They're v beautiful.

I've heard that nanacara are particularly vicious when they're breeding and will go after everything in a community tank.

Tbh I'd forget the small shrimps (especially if you have them in another tank) and get yourself some fabulous apistos, they are so funny and beautiful, still hands down my favourite fish. Basically all fish with big enough mouths will eat the shrimps, especially the babies. You can still keep them with amanos too so you aren't without shrimpy goodness.
 

Wolf6

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Maybe dicrossus? They're v beautiful.

I've heard that nanacara are particularly vicious when they're breeding and will go after everything in a community tank.

Tbh I'd forget the small shrimps (especially if you have them in another tank) and get yourself some fabulous apistos, they are so funny and beautiful, still hands down my favourite fish. Basically all fish with big enough mouths will eat the shrimps, especially the babies. You can still keep them with amanos too so you aren't without shrimpy goodness.
You too make a valid point... it was my original plan to just have the shrimp in the small tank and in the refugium in the sump underneath the big tank, I ought to stick to that plan and just get me some dwarfs. I'm just so used to seeing tiny shrimp all over every tank as part of the cleanup crew, it'll be weird not having them around :) but I can compensate with more ottos, snails and amano's.
 

Wolf6

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I think hatchets manage to get through any gap their body can fit through, no matter how obscure, so if you are happy the holes in the mesh are small enough, and there are no gap around the outside edges, you should be fine. I've always wanted marbled hatchets, I think they look great, so I'll be interested to see how you get on if you get any. What are you doing in terms of floating plants - surface dwellers like those generally need plenty of surface cover to feel secure.
Frogbit and lotus leaves as floaters, but since there is an overflow im not sure if it will work out. Might have to section off an area for the floaters.
 

Wookii

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Frogbit and lotus leaves as floaters, but since there is an overflow im not sure if it will work out. Might have to section off an area for the floaters.

Perhaps better to section off the area immediately around the overflow?
 

shangman

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You too make a valid point... it was my original plan to just have the shrimp in the small tank and in the refugium in the sump underneath the big tank, I ought to stick to that plan and just get me some dwarfs. I'm just so used to seeing tiny shrimp all over every tank as part of the cleanup crew, it'll be weird not having them around :) but I can compensate with more ottos, snails and amano's.
Yeah I think that is a great plan, I keep my shrimps in a nano alone and they're much more active with zero predators. Before I kept them with sparkling gouramis which are really small, and they ate all the babies (I didn't realise and thought it was just cos crystals are harder to keep and that they weren't breeding), now the shrimp are alone they're all over the tank all the time, and hiding a lot less, and the babies survive so I have a lot more. I've also found that amanos are a lot better at cleaning than cherries/crystals unless you have loads - in my nano there was zero algae of any kind when I had amanos, now it's only crystals some thread algaes have started to return.

Also, love the plant list, I also absolutely love mosses. That Crepidomanes Malabaricum is super special. If you're doing CO2, then cameroon moss is really beautiful too (it's quite nice in lowtech but doesn't carpet like it seems to in hightech)
 
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Wolf6

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I think I have nearly everything so its time to get busy. Slowly though as i am also currently busy painting the house exterior and finally doing the front garden. Too little time and too much to do :( anyway I cut my filter spunges to size, black is coarse spunge right past the inflow Chamber, then comes the shrimp refugium with some grit in a glass container with some crypts, floater plants and moss, then comes the medium blue spunge, followed by a section with ceramic stuff, lava split and seachem purigen, followed by fine spunge, and then the return Chamber with heater and co2 bazooka placed in front of return pump.
20211002_222800.jpg

Every week during maintenance I pull out 1 spunge and clean it, sometimes maybe 2 if needed, but since its easily accessed I hope life will be simpler. There will be an acrylic lid on top of most of the sump, and my old scapers light will provide 6 hours of light to the refugium. Not sure yet if I will run this at the same time as the main tank light, or after?

During the removal of the old pond in the garden I found a ton more of river rock. Too much to chose from now!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
and my old scapers light will provide 6 hours of light to the refugium. Not sure yet if I will run this at the same time as the main tank light, or after?
There would be advantages to running <"a reversed lighting period">, the sump will supply oxygen to the (dark) tank and the tank will provide CO2 for the sump plants.

cheers Darrel
 

Wolf6

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Thanks Darrel, I think I will let it come on an hour after lights out in the main tank, and run for 6 hours before all is dark:) in the meantime I found a lot more rock in the garden so I am trying out variations of hardscape. I prefer to do this sort of thing in the tank but I also am a cluts so this way I can enjoy the tank without scratches a bit longer. I went with the suggestion to add more rocks, but perhaps I overdid it. The white boxes behind represent the overflow box in the actual tank and the tape represents 10cm from the front glass, I dont want anything beyond that like. Opinions/suggestion?

20211004_164055.jpg
 
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