Saturday, May 26, 2012


From the right side...  which is kinda the front..


from the "front" side

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Move...

I won't be getting my new plants until next Friday..  I'm always impatient with these things.

I pulled out the HC and found why it likely wasn't a success...  looks like there was some salt particles still attached to the roots and settled under it in the substrate..  I didn't rinse it enough clearly...  At least I think it was salt.  Hopefully, the Glossostigma will do better.

The snails are already gorging themselves on the algae that has developed throughout the time the tank was cycling.  And Notch, my beta is settling in.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wo0t! Nearly cycled...

Did a testing of the water - Nitrites have finally dropped!  5ppm to .25ppm ^.^  Soon enough, I'll be able to move the rest of the tank inhabitants over!


In other news, I am planning of pulling up the HC and getting glossostigma, some dwarf sag and some barcopa.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I was excited to see some pearling - evidence of plant exhalation which is a great sign.  It's not excessive, and so in photos it may not show unless I had a super crazy good camera..  but it's pearling none the less...  tiny bubble of oxygen are being released from the leaves of the plants - specifically the HC leaves and the Hygros..

 So, you can see the browned out dead old portions of the plant...  these were the emersed growth from when I first got the plant...  Despite the die back, there are little tiny new leaves and steams starting to grow through...  so, give it some time and it will begin to carpet...  They were certainly pearling as well.

To the left, you can see the regrowth on the Vals that died back...  I've also seen new shoots from the swords both amazon and argentine..  and the Dwarf lilies are just amazing as always.  The most surprise I have had is with the Hygros...  they very rarely have shed any leaves..  and usually they are the worst in replanting.  They've been growing fantastically, and the interesting part is how the new leaves are growing in on top almost in a swirly way...

I'm not sold on the Pennywart still - maybe I didn't plant them correctly, but I'll keep them in for now.

The Lace Javafern has new growth as well as the Anubia I propagated.  If only the tank would finish it's cycle so I could move in the fish/snails and the final anubia...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A few days..

So...  been a few days since I've provided an update on the tank.  I'm still showing high nitrite - and the ammonia I add each day is getting consumed.  I'm still getting nitrate readings, but they fluctuate based on plant consumption...  I'll do another water change tomorrow...  The nitrites and nitrates are showing little to no effect on the pond snails..  they've began to grow - I'm about to surrender, at least until I can get an assassin snail...

Speaking of snails - I've been able to keep track of one Nerite in my 3gallon waiting tank...  the second one is MIA - I've looked everywhere, but it likes to burrow in the sand..  just hoping it didn't happen to die..  I'll keep an eye out.

The oto unfortunately did not make it - likely due to starvation, my attempts to feed him were unsuccessful as the beta decided it really likes anything I put in the tank be it algea wafer or zucchini.  At a later time I may consider another attempt with otos.  The beta however has sustained some tail damage - either biting or harassment of the other inhabitants resulting in biting..  I'm thinking it's likely boredom to be honest - yes beta's can get bored...  The water in the 3 gallon is pristine by the testing, and I'm diligently keeping it that way to promote healthy regrowth and prevent any bacterial infections like fin rot.

A bit of algae is growing on the new tank walls - I'm okay with this as it will provide good nourishment for the nerites once they are re-homed..  but that does signify that I need more CO2..

I'm not liking the pennywort and I will be removing it in place for another stem plant - surprisingly the Hygros are growing like CRAZY!  I'm so shocked by this as they usually drop leaves when replanted due to stress and regrow - I've not seen any leave shedding at all...  They'll make for a nice mid-plant and I may end up getting some other hygros to replace the pennywort.  Maybe some Water Sprite - Also looking at finding a floating plant - not duckweed though..  maybe some water lettuce..   I just want to make sure the HC gets enough light..  I may have to anchor the floating plants to a specific area...  depends on how well the Vals grow back in...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Super Excited!

I recently purchased an additional Fluval light for the tank.  Each light is 13w a piece for a total of 26w of light into the tank.

How much light is good light?

So, 2w per gallon is generally okay...  I have a 7.9 gallon tank, so that would be a requirement of 15w by minimum standards and that's more than a single 13w...  Maybe okay for low light plants, but I have some high light starved plants in there.  As the article mentions, 3-4w is best with added CO2..  26w should be a nice middle ground of 3-4w per gallon of water.

I've also started to see some new growth from the HC that was dying back.  Likely due to acclimation and adjusting to the new conditions.  (submerged vs emmersed)

I'll be doing a 50% water change today, the nitrites are high and have been for the past few days with no reprieve.  Though I have sky high Nitrates so that is evidence that the nitrite is being converted to Nitrate...  so the bacteria are there..  just might be more bacteria producing the nitrite than can be consumed...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week One Complete

Week 1 comes to a close.  Ammonia is still setting at about 2ppm.  Nitrites are off the charts at above 5ppm and Nitrates at sitting at 80ppm.

The plants are getting established.  More growth is seen on the HC and the Vals are begining to regrow.  This is good news!  With the nitrates high, the plants will be sucking up that up and I hope to see some nice growth. I've got some new buds on the pennywart and a new growth on the java lace...  the star right now is the dwarf lily..  5 leaves have grown huge and tall..  I'll be cutting those back soon so they don't shade the HC.

I'll have more pictures soon...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Efforts Thwarted

Having shown success in getting Nitrite readings and Nitrate readings, I have discovered that my salt dip did not kill all the possible snail eggs in the plants I received :(

I have at least 4 little pond snails grazing about the tank.

The ammonia is too high still for me to place anything into the tank and I'm still hoping it will prevent the pond snails from surviving.  I may need to get an assassin snail once the tank finishes cycling.

/shakes fist

Well, going to try using bait trap method with a slice of zucchini and one of our clean empty glass spice shakers...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 5 - Nitrite Spike

So, no more dosing of any gluteral product for now...  the vals don't look dead, but I'm watching them to see how things go - between the shock of a new tank after being replanted, the salt dip, and then the gluteral, I'm sure they're just having some time to establish themselves.

HC - I've noticed some die-off, but I'm considering that may be attributed to acclimation in a submerssive vs emerssive state...  there is still green growth, so I'm anticipating some die off and then rebirth...

I've moved the filter up over the water line to help oxygenate the water..  I may potentially add in an airstone pump I have laying around...

But, now for the good news!  Did a test on my this morning...

Ammonia        4ppm
Nitrite        1ppm
Nitrate        0ppm
pH 7.6

I'm still at around 3-4ppm...  always so hard to judge the colors on the test paper...  it's close to 4, but just a touch lighter..., tested for Nitrates and of course 0 as expected.  Surprisingly, I was at 1ppm Nitrite!  Hurray!  Evidence that the cycling has started and soon, Nitrosococcus bacteria will be munching at ammonia and then Nitrospira bacteria will swoop in and start converting that Nitrite into Nitrate.

Feels good to make some headway.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 4.2

After further research, I found that using gluteraldehyde(found in Seachem's Excel and API's CO2 Booster) melts vals like it does with anacharis.

I'm guessing I will need to rethink a tall background plant for that corner.

Day 4 - set backs

So, I think I made a mistake calculating the amount of ammonia placed into the tank for the fishless cycle.  Most of the plants are fine, except the ones I was a tad worried about - the Vals and the Pennywart.

Also, having some issues with the HC staying put in the substrate - rather difficult as the Fluval Stratum is not very fine substrate and so I think the roots really have nothing to cling to.

I've done a water change to correct the ammonia levels, added more biozyme to the tank.  I've cut back the Pennywart - all the damaged parts and left the good parts.  The Vals are...    weeping, but I'm hoping that I may be able to save them - To be honest the condition of the plants I got from the guy in Norwalk weren't in very good condition.

I'll pull them if I see any further deterioration.  The filter is starting to see some detrius and mulm which is fantastic!  Only a matter of time to have the bacterial colonies build.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 2

Added the daily CO2, some API CO2 Booster to the tank this morning.  Tested the Ammonia - went down to about 5ppm - which is where I want it.  The driftwood is leaching tannin a bit..  not a problem, but I increased the filter to max flow to let the carbon clear up the water.

Got bits of the HC floating on the top...  likely from when I portioned up the plugs - no big deal.  I'll fish those out with a net at some point. Already seeing some new growth!  It's little, but adds up in the end.  Checked the Ammonia again this evening and it's at about 4ppm.  Tomorrow I'll be testing it again in the morning to see if I need to add any additional ammonia.  4-5ppm is perfect, and as soon as I start seeing some nitrites, I'll know we're in good condition for cycling.

Dwarf Lillies

Best image of the tank as a whole I could get.

Still got some oxygen bubbles from when the tank was filled up...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Forgot about the snails....

So, the new plants I received (vals, HC, Pennywart..  and microswords) were unfortunately showing evidence of pond snails.

They were nice to include a free Nerite snail..  but pond snails are a no no!  Why?  Well, they reproduce quickly if there is food waste and can overpopulate quickly.  They also eat plants, not just algae.  So I'd rather not have those - but if I do, I suppose I'll need to get an Assassin Snail to eat them all up.  Lets avoid that...

So, I did a saltwater dip of the plants..  Using Aquarium Salt, I dissolved that into a bucket of water and dipped the plants in for about 30 seconds.  Then removed them and rinsed them in clean fresh water.  Good thing I did this as I did find at least 2 little dead pond snails.  I'm just hoping that any eggs that may have been laid were also nixed.

Instead, enjoy this video of whiskey!

Substrate, Plants and Snails, OH MY!

Today I picked up the plants I got from some online store which is fronted out of a house in Norwalk.  I would give the name of the website, except I'm not looking to shutting business his way.  Slightly disappointed with his services...  All the plants I ordered ended up in a single bag tangled up.  Apparently he placed a nerite snail in with the plants..  that I didn't order..  but nothing really wrong with that to be honest.  However, I did see evidence of pond snails >.<

Lets cut to today's business:
The tank held up on the leak test.  I ended up picking up the Marineland Duetto 50 submersible filter.  While I like the spraybar concept on the Fluval Nano filter, it vibrates like crazy.

I ended up going to Petco for the buy.  There was another intersting submersible filter for turtletanks which likely could have worked just as good, but it was 10.00 more..  while smaller than the duetto 50, it was not really worth the extra money.

So...  what did I do today when I got back from all my errands in preparation for this project?  Boil driftwood and clean the substrate.

Boiling the driftwood - this makes sure there are no nasties and leaches tannins

That's the fluval stratum being washed by me.

While the driftwood was boiling and the substrate was cleaned, I could then start layering my substrate in the tank!  It's about an inch to an inch and a half thick...  I also seeded some biozyme bacteria into the substrate to help kick off the cycling of the tank.

I'm going to be using a fishless cycle and using 10% Ammonia Hydroxide (Ace Hardware) to feed the bacteria.  The plants will also suck up some of the ammonia and eventually the nitrites that will be produced.  For more information on Cycling check out  this forum post on

So to the planting!  Once the driftwood was ready, I used that as my centerpiece to plant around.  Vals will grow to the back left, my Amazon Sword in the back center, and the Argentine swords in the back right.  I've got Pennywart growing to the left mid and the Hygros just in front of the driftwood.  Some HC in the front to grow into a nice ground cover.  

The HC was hard to plant...  once filled up with water, I'm not sure if they are really in the substrate, I'm hoping that they will grow a bit stronger and root up...  only time!

So, added more biozyme to the filter sponges to encourage bacteria growth...  and placed some root tabs into the substrate for the heavy root feeders.

I don't have a good picture of the tank filled up..  there wasn't much cloudiness - I attribute that to good washing of the substrate...  But, it's filled up - added the ammonia, maybe a bit much... (1.5ml) which after testing raised it to 8ppm. (I think I added too much, so I'm going to keep testing and try to keep the ppm at around 4-5.)  Set up the light and the CO2 kit...  added 3.5ml of stresscoat water conditioner and 3.5ml of Nutrafin Plant Gro.

We shall see what tomorrow brings!  I anticipate the tank cycling will take about 2 to 4 weeks...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Prep

After unboxing my new tank that just arrived by UPS, I knew there was work to be done before we can get plants and fishes in it.

The foam backing.
The tank is a 7.9 glass tank that comes with a styrafoam type molded rock background.  It's actually very nice looking.  However, I had been doing review research and quickly realized that this would not be something to keep in the tank.  Many people had experienced the background coming loose from the back of the tank and shooting upwards (because styrafoam floats) towards the glass top and causing major damage.  I also noticed that it's about a half inch thick, I can use the extra room.

The kit also comes with a Fluval Nano filter, Mini CO² kit with a passive diffuser, Compact Florescent Lighting, Fluval Plant Stratum, and a small bottle of Nutrafin Plant Gro (which I already use in my 3gallon).

9 sealant circles.
So, I got out my paint scraper, Exacto knife, nail polish remover, and my hair drier.  Made my hands cramp up and worried about scraping or damaging the glass..  but, turns out, it's pretty simple to remove aquarium silicone sealant!  Thing is, the foam is so porous that the sealant does not really stick to the foam.  Not a good surface really.  But it sure does stick to the glass.  How to remove?  Warm up the sealant using the blow drier on low heat.  This makes the sealant pliable.  Then you get to scraping.  I got most of the large chunks off, but there was still a thin, very thin layer of sealant still on the glass.  To remove that, I soaked some paper towels, 9 pieces per spot, in Nail Polish Remover.  The acetone breaks down the sealant.  Then, letting that sit for 2-3 minutes, I removed the paper towels and took out the Exacto knife..  It was as easy as scratching off waxy crayons that you've layered onto a sheet of paper.

All removed!

The final thing before I can put anything in the tank is making sure it's leak-proof!  So, I fill up the tank and it will remain filled up with water for 24 hours to make sure it's completely leak proof and the edges of the glass on the bottom and on the back are sealed properly.  (never trust manufactures with this, there is always a possibility of defects or degrading based on shelf life.)  Better safe than sorry...  I can deal with a leaky tank with nothing except water in it, but not a leaky tank with plants, substrate and fish.  Also a great time to test the filter!  

You can see three gallon to the left.  Ignore the dirty dishes in the sink >.>

Tomorrow I'll be picking up some new plants to add to the plants I have in the 3gallon - then we'll be washing sand and the Fluval stratum.  Then once we get the planting done, I can start cycling the tank!

Friday, May 4, 2012

In the begining...

Ah, the intro.. Let me break it down: 

  • Reason: I'm starting a new tank and I want to photo journal it's journey into becoming awesome. 
  • What you'll find here: Success, Complications, Resolutions, and Pictures. 
  • Who I am: Just someone who got into Aquascaping! 

 Okay let me get into a bit more about that actually...

Once I won some goldfish at a school fair.  Begged my parents to keep it.  We got a bowl and a filter, and one of those little castle decorations.  When we had to move, we gave them to our neighbors.  Then in college I got a Betta since we were allowed to have fish.  Lets be honest, I knew nothing about bettas and had it in a horrible not even half gallon thing...  needless to say, I was a betta torturer/murderer.  It died of course...  

I started getting into going to aquariums.  You get to see some cool things there.  Most awesome thing seen?  Sea Dragon.  Those things are awesome.  

Years later, a friend of mine got into aquascaping, showed me pictures of his tank and the plants.  That's pretty cool I thought.  Sadly, no funds were available for me to get into it.  Then I got a job - a real job...  a Co-worker got a betta for her desk.  I originally considered getting a shrimp - or doing like an eco-sphere thing.  Well, I ended up with a betta and a 1 gallon tank...  I started doing a lot of research on bettas and aquariums and aquascaping and aquatic plants.  Soon after I upgraded to a 3 gallon tank with more natural plants. (wanted a larger tank for more plants and something enclosed so that mishap with someone dumping a ton of fishfood into my tank and nearly killing my fish would not happen.)  

When some things changed in my life, I needed to take the tank home, were I have cats..  cats and acrylic tanks are not a good combination..  So I decided to upgrade to a glass tank.  And thus I purchased the Fluval Flora Aquarium Kit.