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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
With all the months of saving money and help from the very awesome members at BCA. My first planted tank is finally completed. I would like to thank the following members to make this possible, Mykiss, neoh, jobber, wsl, and marko. It saved me a lot of time and money when I'm in school with a pt job.

Pat, the mountain fan & amano I got from you survived through 4 days of 90F with 14 tbsps of salt in my 20 gal long. I got ich from not soaking plants i got from king eds in malachite green prior to planting (my own fault). Just something I wanted to say, they are jacked.

the 14 cherries are hiding, and the cardinals are eating a lot :).

Tank Specs:
20 Gal long Framed from Aqueon
heater: Forgot the name and brand...but it is metal, lights up green when it reaches the optimal temp.
ADA amazonia I with powersand M (penac p,w, tourmaline, bacter 100, clear super)
Fluval 106
Vertex Illumulix Dolce Sole 24"
Coral life lighting with 6700K bulb and Actinic 30" [the led alone was enough but I wanted the spectrum at 6700K for optimal growth with control of yellow hue with the illumilux, it also looks a lot nicer] getting HOT5 would be overkill.
Red Sea CO2 Paintball setup - Canister (20oz) (Do!Aqua bubble counter and music glass)
Drop Checker (Glass CO2 Indicator) from amazon.com I use the fluval chemical indicator and it works extremely well. (too much hassle to make a 4dkh or or whatever solution). Also, adding tank water to the stock chemical is stupid. So don't follow the instructions with glass co2 indicator solutions, you have to use the proper 4dkh distilled water.

Fauna:
16 Cardinal Tetras
2 Oto Cats
4 amano Shrimps
1 Mountain Fan shrimp
12 Cherry Shrimps...Two got sucked in the intake...One I saved when I saw it still lingering between the crevices of the intake, it lived when I freed it. After this incident, I did a mod.

drilled holes with a foam. Took away the stock ball check valve


Flora:
Anubas Nana petite
Anubas (normal one)
Dwarf Hairgrass
Micranthemum unbrosum
Pogostemon stellata
Java Moss
The rest I just picked them up from king eds so I don't know their names :S.

Water Parameters:
DKH and GH are set perfectly for cardinals. (Soft) I don't know the exact numbers but the results of the kit indicates ideal soft water.
Ph. 6.5
Temperature: 78F
The others are very ideal for a cycled tank so I won't include them.

evolution





some side shots




My water is still a bit murky. Will take more pics when it clears :D. Hope my HG carpets soon :(
(Jan 31 2012).
 

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Very nice! Lucky cardinals, these.
 

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Nice setup. I really like how you increase the sense of depth by sloping the soil dramatically at the back. It's something a lot of aquascapers (including myself) don't think about, but makes a huge difference.

I like the Vertex. Where did you get it? J&L? I've been wanting one for a while....

2 things:
- I would add a forked piece of wood in the scape to break it up a bit and the Anubias can be tied to that. Either way, I would get the rhizome of the Anubias out of the substrate.
- if you need some replacement cherry shrimp, let me know...jobber can give you the lowdown on that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you guys for the comments and feedbacks :). I got the illumilux at aquariumswest. It is pretty awesome in regards to its performance and effects. I need to hit up charle's place for some branchy wood, I was stumped to decide on adding a manzanita wood. Saw a really nice piece at rogers aquatics but wanted to see what charles got in his collection. I need more shrimps, heard I need to get atleast 20 if I wanted to see them. :p

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Not at all a stupid question. I spent three days thinking on whether or not to grab rocks from a park or get nice ones from a LFS. I decided to head to central park to find the rocks. I didn't want rocks found near residential areas because of the chance to get "non-natural" rocks that may emit harmful pollutants/chemicals/ions you name it. Better to be safe than sorry.
 

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I'm heading to Rogers tomorrow, hopefully that piece I wanted is still there. I might take out my existing bogwood or driftwood that is currently in there and switch over to all Manzanita. Not sure if you guys can tell that I have two pieces of driftwood in my tank already...
I looked again and saw the wood in the back. Going all manzy is something I've done, but not everyone likes it.
 

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Very nicely done! i love these long tanks and the view from the wide sides. Your rock sure adds to the whole scape but are you sure there is no "natural" leeching of chemicals or minerals from them?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thank you :). I picked them up from.central park in the running streams. i think they are ok. so far so good. There is no way i'm going to buy rocks that looks like the ones I can find myself. Plus, more selection in nature :D. regardless, i'm still hoping nothing bad will happen :s

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Those rocks, being river/creek stones, will generally be fine. I can see one piece of granite, one piece of basalt and a piece of maybe shale from what I see in the pics. I would be more worried about chemicals in urban environments. But I think you'll be fine.
 

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I'm always paranoid about taking rocks from public places after someone told me it's actually illegal to remove anything from a city park. Those rocks you scored definitely make the scape though.

I love the look of twisted manzanita. Hope you find the right piece. I've gotten quite a few from AW.
 

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You can check your rocks with the "vinegar" test. Drop a few drops on and if it fizzes when contact occours then it should not be used.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I was thinking about getting rams in here but I dont have enough plants in there to break line of sights. Don't want to risk it haha. I decided to not use manzanita branches in this tank. Main reason is that I feel the way I shaped the terrain is more of a mountain slope for a more *mountain side* effect. having chosen hairgrass as my carpet and having branches across my scape would hinder their growth and the planned outlook that i orginally had for my tank. I would wish to use the branches in another tank. I will however, change the orienation of my existing driftwoods to make it more *coming at you* effect. Please wait stay tuned :D. I also took them out again to use the vin test and they all passed :).

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One way to check local rocks or gravel is to take it and place it in a small glass container and cover with distilled water. The less water you use, the quicker the results. Make sure the rocks/gravel is cleaned and well rinsed prior to this. Write down the parameters of the water when you first put the rocks in, then again in 3 hours and once more when 24 hours has gone by. With a small concentration of water, the results can be achieved quickly and are quite accurate. If the results from distilled water are to your liking, you will want to repeat this with your tank water, especially if the ph is below 7.

If you have a set up requiring soft water conditions, obviously you want rocks that are relatively inert and do not alter the water parameters much from start to finish. If however you have a harder water set up, you can be a lot more flexible with what type of rocks you use.

The only other thing to keep an eye on when selecting rocks from the "wild" is to check that they don't have metal in them, especially more common in conglomerate type rocks. Stay away from any rocks that look like they have sparkly bits (or invest in a much more advanced test kit).

Those are the basics, but worked for me over many years and many rock hunting expeditions.

Good luck and happy hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm finally able to post pictures of my tank. It was infected with bba and staghorn algea. I finally adjusted the time of my lighting to 6 hours and got my hands on some dry ferts. Also got some bba eaters that took care of the remaining bba.
The changes I made are:
- I took away all the rocks, I really like the all green aspect
- I added some Manzanita branches
- New livestock: crossocheilus reticulatus, giant oto
- Added a pine canopy
Future plans:
- More plants
- A glass top
The first picture is my tank in Feburary, before the bba and staghorn came.

And this is my tank right now

The giant Oto

My harlies


The crosso

Scars from BBA 


The conditions of my plants are now terrible, they melted when I took away the coral life fixture. I placed it back, and started dry ferts. Hopefully It will look really good again.
 
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