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Organic Soil 40 Breeder Riparium

Isaac M

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Hello everyone, now that this thread has been moved from the Introduction section to the Journals section, I thought I would take this opportunity to post about how I set up this aquarium. I took some pictures way back when I set it up and will include them here. I hope someone can find this information helpful or at the very least entertaining. 


Tank Size: Standard 40 gallon breeder 

Background: Rocky Background from Universal Rocks

Heater: None (Aquarium is room temperature)

Filtration: Fluval 207 Canister Filter

Lighting: 2 Melpo 15W LED floodlights from Amazon w/ diy pvc pipe stand. Lights are connected to wifi timer and set for 6 hours a day(when I get home from work)

Other equipment: USB air pump from Aquarium Co-Op

Substrate: Sifted Miracle-Gro Natures Care Organic Soil with Cal Aqua Multi-R Substrate Enhancer capped with Pool Filter Sand

Driftwood: 2 Pieces of Manzanita Driftwood from local fish store

Rocks: Seiryu Stone 

Aquatic Plants: Dwarf Aquarium Lily, Bucephalandra Maia Tissue Culture, Cryptocoryne Purpurea Tissue Culture, Anubias Barteri and Heterophylla Tissue Culture

Riparium Plants: Areca Palm and Golden Pothos 

Fish/ Shrimp: 5 Sterbai Corydoras and Red Cherry Shrimp 

This picture above shows the aquarium set up with the 3d background and lighting. You can see that I used 1” PVC pipe to make a light stand for the floodlights. The flood lights are strapped to the PVC with zip ties. I chose to go with floodlights as it would provide shadows in the aquarium and it was very cheap. I can post about how I made the PVC stand as well if anyone is interested. 

Edited by Isaac M
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The aquarium is a dirted aquarium. I bought organic Miracle Gro soil from Home Depot and sifted it through a colander to get rid of any big pieces (wood, stones, etc). The soil is about 1” deep in the back and slopes down to nothing in the front. I sprinkled some Cal Aqua Multi-R substrate enhancer over the soil as I knew I was going to use crypts which are heavy root feeders. That was then capped with pool filter sand that was at least the same depth as the soil below. 

I then added 2 manzanita branches as driftwood. Some of the driftwood sticks out above the water line. 


Seiryu stone was then added to the base of the driftwood as a rock pile for shrimp and to keep the wood from floating initially. This completed the hardscape. 


I then proceeded to plant the aquarium with tissue culture plants. I added the crypts all throughout the foreground and put some stem plants that melted away in the background. I glued buce to the driftwood and glued anubias  to the driftwood and rocks with aquarium safe glue. I filled the aquarium with water and installed an OASE canister filter to the aquarium. This filter was eventually swapped out for the fluval canister filter as I needed more flow. 

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Here is the aquarium after a month. The plants have started to grow in nicely except for the background stem plants that did grow but not very well. They were eventually swapped out for dwarf aquarium lilly bulbs. 

F80B6DBE-B279-4F83-92B6-2854F00DBA34.jpeg.d4e84207dbe782d521fc7b9a7ff6243b.jpegHere is the aquarium 6 months in. The plants have grown in a lot and the lilly bulbs are beginning to reach the surface. 

05253F0F-8324-4059-A52D-E349C3554CF6.jpeg.123bea1b0204c2afe021a665bc47578b.jpegNow this picture is of what the tank looks like today. The plants are large now and the crypts are flowering. Looking back at the old pictures, this aquarium is actually almost a year old. I mistakenly dated it as being 2 years old. I recently added the diy riparium planters with plants. Please let me know if anyone would like to see in detail how I made those. It is very simple and effective. The golden pothos above the tank is actually resting on the driftwood and not in a planter. 

I did not have that many photographs but I hope what I did have helped someone. Please let me know if anyone has any questions. I know I skipped some steps here and there. I will do my best to provide answers to all questions. Thank you all for taking the time to read about my aquarium! 

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Quick update, it looks like we might have a fourth flower! 


Here is a picture of my Sterbai Corys eating some tubifex worms. I have accidentally bred them before and raised 2 of them. However, I would like to breed them intentionally. I was thinking of heavy feeding with these tubifex worms and frozen blood worms. Does anyone have any other tips for me to trigger them to spawn?  

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@Isaac M originally saw this in Introductions, but greatly enjoy seeing your progress through the build thread. 

Have you ever seen 1/2” electrical conduit? If you end up having to raise your lights might be a great option. Similar to PVC with couplers and various pre-made parts just metal. Albeit, those PVC mounts are impressive as well as your DIY riparium planters. Those had me fooled. I would be interested in seeing how you put those together.

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On 3/30/2021 at 7:43 AM, Daniel said:

Cryptocoryne are the best. This site has all thing Cryptocoryne.

Cryptocoryne flowers (being in the Arum family) have the characteristic spathe and spadix arrangement.

image.png.eb30252f25a33283037bfa3b5d8c05a9.png        image.png.a7b8dc718a9e7434baee1773bcd71452.png         image.png.234e8591b075c2bf2ee99801aedc5d25.png

Thanks for posting this info and the pics. I love the look of the flowers. I keep Sarracenia and they look very similar although not in the same family. 

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@mikrogeophagus Hi, yes, my intention was to simply introduce myself, this is the first time I have ever been part of a forum even though I have kept aquariums for about 10 years now. It has been moved to this section of the forum so I can keep updating it. 

Yes, I have heard of the galvanized conduit, I used PVC pipe here as it would be easy for me to cut, buy and modify as needed. I am thinking about painting it black to make it look a bit better. Conduit may be something I use in the future if I need to build a stand that is taller where I need to worry about it buckling. 

The planters are very easy to make. I use a plastic sink sponge holder from Amazon made by a company called idesign I believe, black plastic canvas and stainless steel wire. As for the growing medium, I am using expanded clay balls in this case. I have used gravel with success as well. 


In the pictures above you can see the items I use. The plastic canvas is cut to shape of the sponge holder. The pieces that go on the side I cut a little taller as it allows me to add more expanded clay balls and leaves space for the plants to sit right above the water line with mostly roots in the water. The purpose of the black plastic canvas is to help keep the growing medium from coming out of the holes and to also give a darker appearance so that it can blend into the aquarium background. 


The picture above shows the planter with the expanded clay balls from the rear view side. There are holes in the plastic where the suction cups would go. I prefer to not use them as it can get heavy and I do not want to risk a planter falling into the aquarium so instead I feed the stainless steel wire into those holes and hook them over the top of the aquarium. 

This picture shows the stainless steel wires hooked over the aquarium, I have had some planters for over a year now with some large plants and do not have any issues at all. Also, if you only use these planters at the back of the aquarium, you will not be able to see the wires. 

The canvas also still leaves holes large enough for roots to grow through them and into the water column of the aquarium. 

I hope that is helpful, thank you for your comment and taking the time to read my thread! 

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@Fishdude thank you! I appreciate it! I will go and look through the forum tomorrow to look at your aquariums as I always love seeing big aquarium plants haha 

As far as dirted tanks go, I do not have much of an issue keeping them clean. I will sometimes go months without a water change. I can go a few weeks without cleaning the glass. I clean it weekly now but it is mostly biofilm that comes off. For this aquarium, it is only stocked with 5 Sterbai corys and a few hundred cherry shrimp. I have not scraped the sides of the aquarium glass in over 6 months I believe. There is algae there but it is not horrible in my opinion. This is before I added in the riparium plants as well. From my experience, lighting is always the biggest cause of algae. With these floodlights on the aquarium, there is a great balance with the lighting, livestock stocking level, heavy plant load, and feeding. I also have a dirted 10 gallon with jungle val, dwarf sag and lucky bamboo (leaves out of the water) where I never have to clean the glass. The lighting is a finnex light that I ordered from aquarium co-op. Most plants do not appear to need as much light as we think they do. 

For a dirted aquarium, I would recommend a heavy plant load, low to medium lighting and capping the soil with a minimum layer of substrate that is equally as thick as the soil. Fast growing plants, floating plants and riparium plants help as well. 

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Hello everyone, quick update here. The first 2 crypt flowers look like they have gone flat. I am not sure what happened exactly. The 2 new flowers are doing good and are growing. If anyone has any insight on this it would be greatly appreciated. I have attached photos and a gif of the aquarium below. 




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@Streetwise, likewise, I enjoy seeing your updates as well. It is nice to have someone to relate to haha 

I have a 10 gallon and 55 gallon organic soil aquarium as well. I am thinking of making a journal about them as well. I may redo the 55 gallon though just to get a different look so I will make a journal when I start the planning process. Would love to have your input! 

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