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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings everyone!

It has been quite some time since I was both active in online fish communities and keeping fish again. I spent the last couple years finishing up a degree in Engineering and doing some travelling. Due to my nomadic lifestyle I was unable to settle down long enough to commit to running a thriving fish setup but that all changes now. I have a steady job where I can see myself committing to my current location for a couple years at least.

My true love are beautifully planted aquariums. For this project as my first foray into fish in nearly 5 years - I have rescued a 36 gallon tall Hexagon aquarium from my parent's place. Now I know that is not the most ideal tank as it is taller than anything else but hear me out when I say I won't be going crazy with this one. I wanted to keep the stocking list simple:

6-8 Neon Tetras
5-6 Corydora Catfish
4-5 Otocinclus
1 Center Piece fish (was thinking a Gourami or a Siamese Fighting Fish, open to suggestions here)

I want to do this tank low-light and easy. No CO2 but I can dose fertilizers. I want some tall plants as this tank is 24" deep.
I also plan to put in some nice tall pieces of driftwood that I will be attaching Java Fern to.

As for other equipment I have/or will have soon:

A heater good for up to 40 gallons
A new LED light set up - It was cheap but not the most powerful. Gives full spectrum which is why I want to try low light plants and see how they do. I can upgrade it if need be at a later date if it is insufficient.
160 GPH Cannister filter and I will also be adding on an older hang off the back filter good for 20 gallon aquariums to add a bit more flow at the surface.
~20 lbs of Seachem Fluorite Black Sand.

Still waiting for a few things to show up before I get this show on the road and a few days of work but I'm sure you've all been waiting to see the tank I am going to be transforming. Well here it is:

hextank.jpg

This tank has probably been neglected for nearly 2 or 3 years. The gravel and fake decorations will be gone, I will scrub down the sides and get it all ***** and span. The under-gravel filter and ancient heater will be getting turfed as well. I'm excited to get this project underway and ready for what the future beholds. It's great to be back!

And yeah if any of you guys could recommend some good low-light plants that grow tall I would be overjoyed. Pictures along with the names and maybe if you an get them online would be sweet. I'm in northern BC so my choices are limited up here as per purchasing locally. Also if anyone has any suggestions on a center piece fish that I can have just one, I'm all ears!
 

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I once saw a tank like that with a big healthy lace sword plant (I think that's what it's called - the kind where the leaves look like mesh/screen).

It was simple and looked good!

Jungle val would also look good!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've been thinking and researching over what I can get where I am and what I am able to order. I have come up with some of these possible options:

Jungle Val is going to be a must have. I want it set to the back and to just do it's thing back there basically doing the work of a background on the glass. I have also been juggling the idea of getting Hornwort and Cabomba for the back there as well.

I want to have one skinnier L or C shaped driftwood so I can raise it higher (around a foot off the ground) and then attach some sort of anubias to the wood most likely Anubias Nana. I want to do 3-5 plants of it and between the anubias I want to attach java moss in 3-5 inch sections between each plant.

One amazon sword on the ground in the middle of the hexagon as a focal point plant. Are there any varieties of this that are ok with low light? I'll check out the Lace Sword plant!

I want to accent the amazon sword with some Crypts on the sides. But any other low light, mid sized plants I would be interested in.

And I want to have another piece of driftwood or two and some rocks which will have Java Fern attached.

Thank you all who have given me some suggestions so far. I hope to clean out the tank in the next week then heading out to search for the perfect pieces of driftwood in the bogs behind my house. Are there any types of wood in particular I should avoid or any types that I should be prioritizing. I am on the coast of BC to give an idea of trees inthe area. Would red and yellow cedar be bad to put in the tank as I know they contain oils, just not sure if those are toxic to fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Cleaned up the tank, took all the old stuff out and added in the Flourite Black Sand. The new light and cannister filter showed up so I hooked those up and have the tank going right now. Dust from the black sand is slowly settling. I decided I wanted a deeper sand substrate so I'm going to pick up another bag and add it in to make it about 3 inches deep of sand. This weekend is about driftwood searching. I am ordering plants from Canadian Aquatics on Monday and they should be here by Wednesday. Then I can finally start checking out what I can find in the nearby towns for fish.

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The new light has a blue nightmode as well which I find quite cool.

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Will do my next update when some of the plants show up or I start to get driftwood + rocks going in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Tank finally cleared up and I decided to go into the bog in my back yard and find some drift wood and rocks to start getting some of the hardscaping in place. I was going for height first and foremost with the pieces I chose and some rocks and small pieces to fill in the middle a bit:

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I should have the plants come Thursday/Friday then I will be able to start filling it out a bit. What I have ordered is:

Anubias -> not sure what type
Cryptocoryne Wenditii
Java Moss
Hornwort
Marsilea Hirsuta
Vallisneria
Narrow leaf Java Fern

The anubias, java moss and java fern will be spread over the driftwood. I am going to leave the rocks clear. The crypts ( I have 5 coming) will be planted in the cracks between the rocks and driftwood. Valisneria and Hornwort will be growing in the back and I want them to go crazy and become a backdrop. The front for the most part will be kept clear. I am still looking for an amazon sword to fill in the spot beside the front rock, I might have to drive to another town to find it. The marsilea will be planted on the front flanks in order to get some carpet action happening there. I have another 15 lb's of sand to add in I just wanted the hardscape in now because i'm going to slightly bury it in the sand. At least that's the look I'm going to go for.

I am still planning to stock it with like 8-10 neon tetras, 6-8 corydora, 4 -5 otocinclus and 1 bigger fish (Gourami or small angel or Male Siamese Fighting Fish) still looking for suggestions on the centre piece fish.
 

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Looking good. Make sure to use Flourish Tabs in the Flourite Sand (it is currently nutrient void) so your plants have nutrients to get them going. I would also use Flourish Comprehensive as a water column fertilizer.

Best regards,

Stuart


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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the tip! I'm going to making my own root tabs with Osmocote granulated fertilizer and some empty capsules. As for fertilizers I have on hand:
-Tropica 616 Specialized Nutrition
-Seachem Flourish Excel
-Seachem Flourish
And the aforementioned Osmocote.

I probably won't use the Excel on this tank as I've read it just decimates Vallisneria and since that's going to be a big component of my aquascape I will leave it aside.

The Tropica contains both macro and micro nutrients and since this is a low tech set up I am not expecting to really need to be dosing much more in terms of nitrates, I will have fish to provide those. I have the Seachem Flourish to dose micro nutrients in case they are in too small of a dose in the Tropica.
 

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Thanks for the tip! I'm going to making my own root tabs with Osmocote granulated fertilizer and some empty capsules. As for fertilizers I have on hand:
-Tropica 616 Specialized Nutrition
-Seachem Flourish Excel
-Seachem Flourish
And the aforementioned Osmocote.

I probably won't use the Excel on this tank as I've read it just decimates Vallisneria and since that's going to be a big component of my aquascape I will leave it aside.

The Tropica contains both macro and micro nutrients and since this is a low tech set up I am not expecting to really need to be dosing much more in terms of nitrates, I will have fish to provide those. I have the Seachem Flourish to dose micro nutrients in case they are in too small of a dose in the Tropica.
I'm glad your on top of a fert regime. Osmocote will work and be a lot cheaper. Sagitarria subulata will work with Excel (and is similarly shaped to Val. nana).

Best regards,

Stuart

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Discussion Starter #10
tank1.jpg
tank2.jpg

Plants came in and I got them set up! Starting to get the tall jungle aspect feel I wanted. As it fills in more I'm positive it will look even better. I might look into getting more anubias for the driftwoods and one more java fern to attach as well. Just going to see how everything grows but yeah so far happy with the look. Will be on the search for a cabomba too.

2x Anubias
1x Java Fern
1x Cabomba and my planting regime will be right stocked up.

Going to get some fish tomorrow. Probably start with around 6 neons and build up from there. A week later get 6 more, then get 6 cories, then get 2 more cories and 4 otos. Bring the otos up to 6 total and maybe 1 pearl gourami or something. Then the tank will be complete! If I need more light, I will upgrade that in a month or so. If the current set up gets me some slow growth i'll be happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Added in another anubias and a Ludwigia Palustris. I have decided I am going to get a 12 inch LED nicrew light off amazon to add to the top of the tank as well so i'll be running 2 lights. It will just add a little more light to my tank so I can be sure I am getting enough to sustain my plants. Can't wait for everything to start filling in!

Did some water tests as I finally got my test kits in and they are as follows:

pH: 5.8-6.0
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10

I only have test strips for Alkalinity and Hardness but I can give those values too:

Alkalinity: 80 ppm
Hardness: Frankly looks like 0 lol

Didn't get fish yesterday but I will be getting some Julii Corydoras on Monday or Tuesday.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Alright I finally have test kits for everything. I actually like testing water, it's fun. By the way I was a bit over-eager with thinking I was going to get some fish. I'm finishing the cycle first.

First I decided to do my tap water as there is no info for that. Here are the results:
Tap
pH -> 6.0
Ammonia(NH3) -> 0
Nitrite(NO2) -> 0
Nitrate(NO3) -> 0
Alkalinity(kH) -> 3
Hardness(GH) -> 5

So I've been adding in ammonia to my tank as well as using Stability to speed up this cycling process. And after 9 days of doing that here are my water parameters.

Tank

pH -> 6.0-6.5
NH3-> 0-0.1 (very difficult to make this differentiation
NO2 -> 0.5
NO3 -> 20
GH -> 8 (Pretty awesome since my tap is 5 and I dosed it up 3 as per the instructions. Just nice when things actually work out like they should haha)
KH -> 3

There was definitely ammonia in the tank 2 days ago when I last tested (not reported in here) so to see the ammonia drop off to near on nothing and have nitrites rising makes me very happy as we are getting closer to finishing this cycle! I have to go away for the weekend but I'm hoping by monday/tuesday the cycle will be done nd I can start stocking this baby.

The kH at 3 from my tap is pretty low eh? I guess the recommendation would be to start buffing that with my water changes. Do I really have to buy another product or will sodium bicarbonate work. I feel like I read that somewhere but I can't remember.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So it definitely took a bit longer to cycle but folks this baby is finally done!

pH -> 5.8
NH3 -> 0
NO2 -> 0
NO3 -> 30
KH -> 2
GH -> 8

Been reading more and more on osmoregulation and ph stability and I am going to order Seachem Alkalinity to bring my KH up to at least 4-5 a it currently hovers between 1 and 2. This should probably raise my ph up closer to neutral too which isn't a bad thing.

I will be getting some neons today. Going to start off with 8 today, they are quite small at my LFS so I'm not too worried about a bioload shock. As for the rest of my stocking I am thinking:

12 Neons total
5-6 False Julii Cories
1 Pearl Gourami
5 Otocinclus

Let me know if that will be too stocked but I do 2 20% waterchanges per week and have ample filtration plus it is moderately planted, soon to be heavily planted. I feel like I should be ok.

Also that mystery plant, the saggitaria has converted to submersed growth and is growing like hot cakes.
 

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Hello Ottocinclus.

Your stocking level should be fine (I would opt for a different gourami (Pearls tend to get larger and prefer more surface area). I would suggest several Dwarf Honey Gouramis (Colisa chuna) in a ratio of 2F/1M.

I also would add your livestock over a 2-3 week period. I also recommend using some SeaChem Stability with each WC to keep your BB in check.

Your Sagitarria shouldn’t have as aggressive growth as mine did in a high-tech planted tank.

Please keep us posted with pictures.

Best regards,

Stuart


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Discussion Starter #15
Oh yeah don't worry. The stocking is going to be done in 4-5 batches. I am lucky that I can't be tempted to get all the fish at once as there's no way they will all be in stock at one time. The joys of living in the North :p

I've been using Stability all along and plan to keep dosing it for the next week or two.

The plants I am calling aggressive growth because I can see the growth on a day to day basis. I usually just put anubias and java ferns in my tanks so something growing and filling in like this is awesome to see! :D

I'll post up some pics in a bit. There is some diatom build up on the glass that I am not getting rid of because the otos I put in this tank will just love it. Pictures will be not as clear as a result.
 

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It looks like you have things in order. The only thing, that is a little concerning, is your PH of 5.8. I would try and get this up around 6.5 sooner then later. If you have baking soda, add 1/4 tsp a day until you reach the 6.5 mark. It will dissolve quickly and you can test 1/2 hour later.

Best regards,

Stuart


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Discussion Starter #17
Got the Neon population up to 12 now, 3 (false) julii corydoras and 2 otocinclus. I plan to get more of the cories and otos the LFS just didn't have any more in stock. Will be getting more on Friday and I will let those live there for a week before I go and pick them up. So maybe 2 weeks from now I will finish off my stocking with 12 neons, 5-6 corydoras, 4-5 otos and 1 more centerpiece fish. Basically have some ideas in my head for what that could be but will go into the LFS and just choose one day of.

I had a nasty oily film on the top of my tank and couldn't for the life of me figure it out but I found the culprit. In my hang on back filter (I have a canister and a hang on back), I had taken out the carbon packet and didn't have anything to replace it with so I used a new kitchen sponge. Well that sponge was starting to disintegrate, causing that film I guess. Anyways no fish were lost and I learned a lesson there to not cheap out/ half ass it heh. Sponge was replaced with some poly filter media and the water is looking clear!

Also got the Seachem Alkaline Booster in and I am slowly dosing it with each water change. I have the alkalinity at 3 now and the pH is consistently above 6. I am aiming for alkalinity of 5 and a pH of 6.5. I think that will be perfect for all the amazonian fish I am keeping in the tank.

This dark and dismal weather we are having up north is making we think I need a tank in my room and set the light to turn on at like 5:30-6 so it's easier to get up for work haha. I used to keep shrimp and I'm thinking a nice 10-15(I have both these sizes in my basement waiting to be used) gallon on my dresser would be an ice addition of light. Let me know what you think. I have been putting off photos because I wanted the oto's to clean up the glass a bit. They have not disappointed in that respect. Maybe tonight i'll get some new photos up.
 

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Hello Otocinclus.

It sounds like you have gone through the breaking in period and your tank has cycled. I honestly don’t believe the kitchen sponge has contributed to the oily film. I have it regularly and usually is byproduct of fish food and other organic breakdown (fertilizers can also contribute). Carbon will remove the impurities that cause this, so it’s removal probably instigated the film’s formation. I haven’t used carbon for years, but periodically used Purigen (as it is more effective and rechargeable).

Best regards,

Stuart


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Discussion Starter #19
Naa the oily film problem is gone since I removed the melting sponge. I never had Carbon in this tank, I don't see the point if I'm dosing fertilizers as it's a bit counter productive. All is good with my water, no issues at all! Anyways as promised a few updated pics. I will get an algae scraper to take pics in the near future for clearer pics - at least for one frame of the hexagon :)

update1.jpg

update2.jpg

The Hornwort is going to have to be chopped down to about half the height. My valliseria is sending out runners galore. It really makes me want to start that shrimp tank and I could source a quarter of the plants with the reproduction of this tank heh.
 

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Looking nice!

Totally go for a shrimp tank! Get a flex! it's pretty much silent, perfect for the bedroom. Added bonus, RGB LEDs (Mood Lighting) -wink-
 
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