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Hello everyone, I wanted to start a journal that was centered around my journey in all my aquariums. I figured this would be a great time to start this as I will be changing 3 of my 5 aquariums. 

For starters, I will begin this by providing an update on my 40 Gallon Breeder organic soil aquarium. The build and journal for this aquarium is here:

I will start with the bad news, I was never able to get the crypts to fully bloom. The flowers would grow up between 8-12 inches tall and then lose their shape. I am not sure if I would have to lower the water line to get them to bloom. I had around 10 total flowers. 

The other bad news is that my sterbai cory fry all developed sort of a bloated belly and did not make it. 

The good news is that I have been feeding heavily still and have another 20 plus cory fry. These fry do not appear to have the bloated belly issue so far. I added gravel to the breeder box as I did notice that the shrimp would pick at the fry from underneath. 

The other good news is that the aquarium is thriving. The plants continue to grow well and I am loving the overall jungle it has become. I even had to drape the pothos over the light as it was in the way. 

Like Cory mentioned in the recent Aquarium Co-Op video, all aquariums are an experiment and I have been learning a lot from this aquarium. I will attach some pictures below. 

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The next aquarium update is for my 10 gallon neon tetra aquarium and 5 gallon shrimp tank. The 5 gallon shrimp tank will be going back with my girlfriend and she will be keeping a pea puffer in there. I will be taking the blue dream shrimp out and be adding them to the 10 gallon neon tetra aquarium. I have already added some and they have done great. 

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The build and journal for these aquariums:

 

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My 29 gallon planted aquarium(my oldest aquarium, maybe 4-5 years old) is being replaced with a 40 gallon reef tank. I will add a picture of the 29 gallon tank in its more prime form below:

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Last time I kept a reef tank was around 10 years ago when I was 14-15 years old. It housed a firefish and blue-green reef chromis. The firefish eventually passed after a few years and someone I knew gave me a maroon clownfish that he had in his sump(pictured below). I find it kind of funny now that I jumped into a nano reef before I even dared try growing a live plant! I only have one picture of it:

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I have been doing a lot of research to update my knowledge and it has been a lot of fun. Given that I like to keep my aquariums as low maintenance as possible, I will be going easy with soft corals only. I have since scaped the aquarium with dry rock that I had bought many many years ago (maybe 8 years ago) but never used. I also filled the aquarium to test for a leak. 

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This aquarium will not have a sump or a skimmer. The equipment so far will be as follows:

Lighting: 2 AI Prime hd lights

Filtration: Canister filter with coarse sponge, chemi-pure elite and purigen

Circulation: 1 Tunze Nanostream 6015 pump on each side

Sand: Dry Fiji Pink Sand

I will be growing some chaeto behind the rocks. It worked well for me in my nano reef back in the day. I will also be purchasing a ro/di unit for mixing my own saltwater. As of now, my projected stocking for this aquarium will be an ocellaris clownfish, yellow watchman goby, royal gramma and a firefish. 

I will be posting the build for this aquarium here so all the other details will come with future posts. 

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My last aquarium is my 55 gallon planted aquarium. Here is a picture of the current setup:

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I will be completely rescaping this aquarium. I will be going with epiphytes only. Mostly just bolbitis and anubias. Above the water I will be growing a lot of plants like peace lilly, pothos and more. My idea for the hardscape is to use 3 manzanita branches as shown in the picture below.

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I will also be using large river rocks. The substrate will consist of pool filter sand mixed with gravel. 

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The aquarium will eventually be home to rainbow shiners and most likely dwarf chain loaches. I will likely be posting about this build in a week or two when I finish it. 

I hope some of you will enjoy my journal. If anyone has any recommendations, comments, concerns and/or questions, please comment below! I would love to have you great people be part of my journey! 

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The materials are starting to come in for all of the aquarium upgrades. 

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I will be adding and eventually painting a wood skin for the metal stands. I will be using magnets to stick them on. Eventually I want to paint some artwork on it but I am still thinking of what to paint exactly! 

I also got a polycarbonate greenhouse panel to make aquarium lids for 2 quarantine tanks and the new 40 gallon reef tank. I will be doing them similarly to Dean with hinges and the cabinet knob. 

I bought some PVC fittings and a 10 foot PVC pipe to construct the stand for the floodlights going on the 55 gallon. 

I also received quite a few packages from the Co-Op. This was mostly filled with sponge filters and the whole air pump setup along with the new auto-feeders. I will be switching the 55 gallon to 2 sponge filters instead of the canister filter it has now. 

The auto-feeder barely fit on the rim of my 55 gallon and I had to use tape to not overfeed with Xtreme Nano pellets. I only have it set for once a day and one barrel rotation. I will be feeding live baby brine, flakes or frozen food later on in the day. 
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Quick update on the Sterbai fry, this batch is definitely doing a lot better. They are much more brave in leaving the shadows of the Catappa leaf and show no signs of bloat. 
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A very large order from Bulk Reef Supply will be arriving later this week as well. Lots of fun stuff going on, my love for the hobby has not gone away thats for sure! 😂

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not the greatest picture due to glare but finished up the planting. Now all I have to do is add the sponge filters. The aquascape looks very dramatic and makes the aquarium look much bigger compared to before. The underwater portion is planted with bolbitis and anubias species (nana, nana petite and coffeefolia) that I have been growing in other aquariums for years. The emersed plants include peace lilly, pothos and a grassy plant with a bulb that I forgot the name of. This aquarium will eventually be home to a school rainbow shiners and possibly dwarf chain loaches. 
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@Guppysnail thank you! I am a huge fan of if as well, what you see there is actually 3 pieces of manzanita. I got them from a local fish store that mostly sold corals. They actually transitioned to only selling saltwater stuff now and sold me the manzanita branches for maybe $10-$15 each which is an incredible deal haha 

They are the ones that also sold me the 2 pieces of manzanita I used in my 40 gallon breeder tank for a great price as well (you can see to the bottom left of the picture below how I was storing extra manzanita too haha). 

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@Guppysnail I am in California so it is fairly common around here. Sometimes I go to the mountains for my work and I see manzanita trees everywhere, all I think about is how great they would look in my aquariums 😂 they are beautiful little trees though haha I have ordered manzanita before as well though and you can get some really beautiful pieces online.

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Quick update on the 40 gallon breeder reef tank. Currently curing 10 pounds of aquacultured live rock from kp aquatics in a 10 gallon quarantine tank. The rock is beautiful and has a few hitchhikers on it. This pencil urchin for instance is extremely cool but is not reef safe unfortunately so it will remain in the quarantine tank. The reef tank will get its official start a week from today however. 1C1F141A-F806-489A-B045-29F8DE3E2BA6.jpeg.c16243c48f2ad84dcd9f57f50222313d.jpeg

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40 Gallon Riparium update: Pothos is growing wild and crypts keep growing larger and larger. Debating if a trim is needed, I really love the jungle look so I hesitate to trim. Sterbai cory fry are doing great. They are much more active throughout the day and during feeding time. I cannot wait until I get to release them so I can have a school of 10-15+ Sterbai Corys. The adult corys continue to spawn on a weekly basis. Much easier to feed more with the Aquarium Co-op feeder as well. 
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@Koi it really was a steal, the people I told this to but do not have any aquariums did not understand my excitement 😂

@Johannes thank you! I still have a lot to update on this journal as I have been very busy working on my aquariums as of late. Stay tuned! Haha 

I think the 55 gallon will look a lot better once the plants begin to grow in, especially the bolbitis. I am hoping some of the bolbitis leaves will be able to grow emersed as they can get huge haha

Yeah growing the chaeto behind the rocks worked really well for me in the 10 gallon reef I had. It stays back there and is easy to remove unlike caulerpa or other macroalgaes. I would like to do a saltwater planted tank one day though! I will be waiting and seeing how my nitrates and phosphates are in the 40 gallon reef, if they become high even with regular small water changes, then I will get some chaeto and/ or a internal protein skimmer. 

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On 6/26/2021 at 2:15 PM, Isaac M said:

Currently in the process of redoing the 55 gallon. I have spent the morning removing everything from the aquarium. By far the worst part of having an organic soil aquarium for me so far! Currently taking a lunch break and decided to update this mid-build. Really liking how the hardscape is looking so far! 
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That's a beautiful branch.. branch envy!  

Edited by Trish
Are you running co2 in your tanks? @Isaac M
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@Trish haha thank you so much! The 3 branches definitely came together well to make one big statement piece. They are so big that even if they float, they are so tightly packed in the aquarium that they do not move! 

About the CO2, I do not currently run any CO2 on any of my aquariums. I think I have about 3-4 CO2 systems safely stored in my aquarium stuff container but I do not run any right now. I do not run any as of now as I do not want my tanks to grow plants at the accelerated speed due to increased maintenance. I usually only run CO2 when I just set up an aquarium and want the plants to fill in quickly. 

The new 55 gallon only has epiphyte plants, just some bolbitis and anubias so I do not think injected CO2 will be needed. 

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Another quick update on the progress for my aquariums. I have added a “skin” to the metal stands using wood underlayment panel that has been painted black. The panel sticks to the metal stand with the help of a single magnet that allows for easy removal. 
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Underneath the metal stands I have my “quarantine system” which is basically just spare 10 gallons with aquarium co-op nano sponge filters. I have also made a small shelf that is sized to allow access to the 10 gallon aquarium with a diy cover below. The 10 gallon with live rock pictured below has an extra piece of the greenhouse panel for extra support of the temporary AI prime light. This allows me to have storage, a quarantine tank and the display tank all in the same footprint. 

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I have a similar system for my 40 gallon planted Riparium where I have a shelf, live baby brine shrimp hatchery and a 10 gallon quarantine tank but only took pictures of the reef as I was in the process of doing a water change on the 10 gallon live rock tank. Also, I wanted to share something that I thought was cool. The aquacultured live rock came with a brittle starfish hitchhiker that spends all day in the rock. I decided to try to feed him today for the first time and captured his first meal on video. A sinking carnivore pellet by Hikari.

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On 6/28/2021 at 10:40 AM, Isaac M said:

@Trish haha thank you so much! The 3 branches definitely came together well to make one big statement piece. They are so big that even if they float, they are so tightly packed in the aquarium that they do not move! 

About the CO2, I do not currently run any CO2 on any of my aquariums. I think I have about 3-4 CO2 systems safely stored in my aquarium stuff container but I do not run any right now. I do not run any as of now as I do not want my tanks to grow plants at the accelerated speed due to increased maintenance. I usually only run CO2 when I just set up an aquarium and want the plants to fill in quickly. 

The new 55 gallon only has epiphyte plants, just some bolbitis and anubias so I do not think injected CO2 will be needed. 

Thank you @Isaac M I still prefer low maintenance and low tech so your information inspires me that you can grow so many varieties without co2.   I stick to the easiest.. Anubia's, Crypts, the Java Ferns, Buce, Hygro and Subwassertang.   I don't do swords as they would break the bank keeping up with root tabs with my inert substrate. :classic_blink:  Seachem root tabs work out to be a dollar each for the largest bag of 40.  I can go through a bag each month for all the tanks not counting Thrive All-in_One.  I have seen a difference in plant quality and growth using them regularly.  Wish it was possible to order from Aquarium Co-op.  Maybe one day.... 

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@Trish yes root tabs can definitely add up for sure. I use organic soil as a nutrient rich layer for my aquariums so that I do not need to purchase root tabs. I also usually use root feeding plants, riparian plants, floating plants and epiphyte plants rather than stem plants so I do not need to dose liquid fertilizers either usually. I find it much lower maintenance and cost that way. I would recommend to you to try organic soil as an alternative to root tabs which would allow you to grow more crypts, swords, bulb plants(dwarf aquarium lilly, red tiger lotus, aponogetons, crinums, etc), dwarf sag, vallisneria, etc without additional fertilization. You can also try mosses and bolbitis in addition to the plants you have now. 

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