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A Fresh Start

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by Beagle, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hello everyone,

    After a long break from having tanks up and running (due to finishing school among other reasons), I am finally going to get back into the hobby! With a very different approach... lots of planning!

    I'm planning on starting small since I'm still a super beginner -- with a 5 gallon cube Mr. Aqua tank. Long term goal is something along the lines of a low-tech jungle/natural type tank, focusing on healthy plant growth.

    Basic Specs:
    5 gallon cube tank
    Light: Finnex LED 10" (4 watts/7000 K)
    Substrate: still undecided, was leaning towards something by ADA because I've never used anything aside from sand/pebbles
    Fauna: most likely a single betta -- nice and hardy, good for the small tank size (and have never gotten shrimps to live for me)
    Flora: I really enjoy anubias species, and aside from that I'll be aiming at easy-keeping beginner plants (duckweed to maybe help cut back my light, java fern, maybe some ludwigia for a pop of some color?)
    Filter:

    Below I have tried to share a few pics of the basic set up and the pieces I have to play with (I also have some additional seiryu stones aside from ones pictured, but was planning on making the driftwood the majority of the hardscape).

    I guess my main reason for sharing at this point it to get some input on 1) any suggestion for substrate, 2) thoughts on what plants I talked about in combo with my light/low-tech plan and combating algae (has been a big problem for me in the past), and 3) general thoughts of hardscape for something more natural/jungle? aka mix of these two items or just stick to one?

    Appreciate any and all input. Glad to be getting back into this hobby!

    http://imageshack.com/a/img923/6118/xCRlvc.jpg

    http://imageshack.com/a/img924/2882/iOvDRB.jpg

    http://imageshack.com/a/img923/4561/AOGCtS.jpg
     
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  2. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Hello Beagle welcome back

    Having a look at your previous tank photos you are certainly not a super beginner. You have a good eye for Aquascaping which is a massive help.

    This information from TheGreenMachineLtd might interest you.


    What are the measurements of the cube tank
    I cannot find your tank the closest being the 7.5gal tank

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  3. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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  4. Culprit3

    Culprit3 Aspiring Aquascaper

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    For substrate on a low tech tank I would suggest something like akadama or kitty litter. High CEC and the right shape for plants. Filter, you could either get a mini canister filter if you don't want to see the filter, or just get a little 10 gallon filter (10 gallon so you get good water flow. In my 5 bowfront I have the filter that came with it and it has next to none).
     
  5. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome back!

    You can't go wrong with aquasoil from ADA. Their new Aquasoil light might be just the thing to get started.

    The first photo's hardscape has the height you need for this tank, the other two are way too undersized. Is it a wood piece? If it is wood you could use the stones as a base for the wood piece for an even better hardscape.

    I would skip any types of ferns for this tank unless using the piece from photo #2. It is undersized for a nice scape and you will want more pieces of similar looking wood to go along with it. The ferns would obscure the nice features of option #1. I envision #1 with some bits of moss (riccardia, fissidens, or mini Christmas moss) used sparingly in places along the vertical sections. Around the base you could use various anubias and bucephalandra species. This type of a minimalist planting wouldn't require soil and you could use a nice decorative sand (I do like ADA's sand the best for its color and texture).

    You could also create a small center island using stones around the borders fill the interior with soil, surround it with sand, and then plant some other things like your ludwigia behind it and maybe a small crypt or two. Small anubias and buce towards the front sides (anubias nana petite, anubias bonsai). Small stones wrapped in moss could serve as a way to fill gaps and create a bit of a carpet in the planted area. For this mini Christmas, Christmas moss, java moss, or willow moss would do nicely.

    You may not need to dull the light as long as you have some good flow and plenty of healthy plants. If you decide you don't want to do sand you could carpet the surrounding portions of the tank with either micranthemum monte carlo or eleocharis parvula. Plant it VERY densely at the start since it will grow slow without CO2. It will want a decent amount of light even in a non CO2 tank and getting the carpet to grow well will be important.
     
  6. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I suppose I talked more about the type of scape I would do with what you have.

    If you want a jungle looking low tech. Do soil everywhere. Get more wood, bigger pieces than #2 although you can still use #2. I wouldn't use the stones or the tall piece with the other piece of wood in a jungle type layout. The plants you listed should work fine. Trim the fern when leaves get too large. I'd add crypts and use E. parvula as a carpeting plant or use small flat stones (or slate tile broken into small pieces) wrapped in moss as a carpet between planting groups.

    If algae was a problem in the past you will need to learn why and how to correct it. Some floating plants might not hurt if you have too much light, but good plant growth comes before reducing light to a point where plants grow poorly.
     
  7. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Filter: I was hoping to get by with a filter I already have: Marina L25 (rated for up to 6.6 gallons). It might be lower flow than what you were talking of, but assuming I'm still going to end up with a betta in here I'm sure he would appreciate not being blown around in there too much.

    Substrate: Didn't know you could even use kitty litter... odd! I'm leaning towards one of the other substrates just based on personal color preference, but good to know I can switch it around depending on what plant choices I end up with.

    Hardscape: I had similar thoughts shawn in that if I went with driftwood #2 to place smaller plants (anubias) around the base to keep it simple, but yes it might be a touch small for the tank. Driftwood piece #1 I've actually tried to use already in this tank previously (and I've attached a photo of how that setup went). I found it ended up being tall and sticking out of the water after putting substrate underneath. Didn't think about using just the stones as the base and maybe making a raised ring... so I played around with that tonight and took some pictures.

    Previous tank setup: http://imageshack.com/a/img922/382/8tw5RZ.jpg

    Play hardscape with stones: http://imageshack.com/a/img923/4626/Xe3exF.jpg
    This one I'd be using smaller/shorter plants in the middle, then maybe a thin line of thinner/taller plants in the back?
     
  8. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Tried switching back to good old photobucket!

    Play hardscape with stone:
    [​IMG]

    Previous tank setup:
    [​IMG]
     
  9. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Nothing wrong with pieces of wood sticking out the top. My 7.5 gallon cube has wood and emergent growth out the top.

    Yes, the betta will not like too strong of flow. Mine gets a little annoyed when I trim things back and the flow gets stronger. He does have some nice places to hide though. This photo is after a recent trim.
    [​IMG]
     

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  10. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Beagle

    Tank Capacity:
    Litres: 15.2
    US Gal: 4
    UK Gal: 3.3

    Don't even think about it as a very long time cat lover it can range from sented crystals, clay base, to saw dust and who knows what is in that. I would certainly stick to the ADA products always a safe product to use.

    I can honestly say I have never seen an Aquascape like that, its original and very different.
    After looking at your previous Aquascapes I am sure you can do an Aquascape far more pleasing to the eye. Eg a few rocks and your DW.
    At the moment all the rocks lack height, it might work if you can build a tall rocky cliff effect.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  11. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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  12. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    It has to be the unscented clay based cat litter. Its a very cheap alternative to a substrate with high CEC, no plant nutrients of course, but a great capacity to bind and release them. I'd agree aquasoil is better, but not everyone wants to spend money on substrate. Its been done by planted tank keepers for a very long time, but fell out of favor with the emergence of commercial soils.
     
  13. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    @Beagle , I think you misunderstood what I meant by an island of stone. Remember, you won't see the stones in the back when planted. Here is a photo of more what I mean.

    [​IMG]
     

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  14. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Ooooooh, yep, completely misinterpreted your earlier suggestion! I've always liked the look of those, I'll have to give it a try.

    Hopefully I'll share more pictures/options tonight.
     
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  15. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    More ideas....here is a photo of a great low tech betta tank

    [​IMG]
     

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  16. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I've seen many pictures of that second tank, and that's basically a dream of mine! So beautiful!!! Would be so happy if mine came out looking like either of those two that you had pictured. :ROFLMAO:

    Here are some other hardscape options I played around with tonight -- two are attempts at the stone island (which I don't think translates well in hardscape photos...) and one with the smaller DW built up on stone.

    Thoughts?

    Option 1 for stone island: [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Option 2 for stone island: [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Option 3 DW/stone combo: [​IMG]
     
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  17. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Beagle

    I like the last photo it has great possibilities.

    I would only make one change possibly two.
    The small front centre rock is not required, it looks like its been placed there to fill the open space.

    Just a check keep the substrate the same depth across the front.

    Keith :cat::cat:
     
  18. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Option 3 gives you some nice height in your hardscape. That is my pick. You will need to decide how you want to plant and substrate choices.
     
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  19. Zeus

    Zeus Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Option 3 (y)
     
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  20. Beagle

    Beagle Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Thanks for all the input everyone! I will work on getting some good substrate (one of the ada options) and then work on getting a good layout similar to option 3 above. I'm thinking Anubis's around the base... And I'm having a hard time convincing myself to add anything more. Trying to keep it simple! :rolleyes:
     
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