Tiny Tank Trials and Tribulations

I’m having some challenge with my tiny tank. No, not managing water quality in such a small space. Not even the budget (although I think that will get blown due to the problems listed below). Other things.

Like the filter. I set up this nice filter, worked great, then I tried to add some crushed coral to help harden our very, very soft tap water. Well, that slowed the filter down to a trickle. I’m going to have to re-think how I’ve got this set up, maybe take out some of the coral? I’m not sure yet. It’s a project for next weekend.

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Then, the light. The one I had in the basement wasn’t working (it’s only about 20 years old) so I broke down and bought a new one. I very carefully chose one that was pictured on a framed glass tank.

Got it in today and, yeah, it’s not designed for a framed glass tank. I was able to carefully cut away some of the framing to fit the supports (with only 5 gallons I’m not worried about weakening the integrity of the tank by making the “frame” thinner). But then I tightened the screw that is important for bracing the light and…

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Dammit. The tank cracked. It’s not leaking (yet) but I guess I’m going to have to buy a new one.

Did I say dammit yet?

And, of course, this happens the day I get my plants. Which look great! I’m thrilled with how this looks but replacing the broken light and the broken tank will push me over budget.

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Should have bought one of those kits off Amazon…

Can I start over?

Cuttlefish Update

So I woke up, checked the tank, and found eggs this morning. I count at least 3 but they’re all tucked away in the back, so it’s hard to see. There may be more. She’s not quite 5 months old, but I noticed one of the 4 acting differently this week; much more shy than usual, and then actually observed what looked like mating, so clearly I was wrong about having all males.  

#TinyTankChallenge — Ethan Update #1

I decided to take a calculated risk today. Since I used substrate, water and rock from an already established tank, and I’ll be doing frequent large water changes weekly, I decided to just go ahead and add a few TINY frags from my big tank. If I have a big ammonia spike I may lose them, but everything I keep is pretty hardy and has already endured some of my stupid mistakes.

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A snail hitchhiker. Those zoas opened up about ten minutes after being introduced to the tiny tank. There’s some bubble algae in there, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

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Also, speaking of hitchhikers, I have no idea what these tentacles belong to, but it came in on that rock and I’ve never seen it before. Some kind of anemone maybe?

 

 

#TinyTankChallenge – Brian Update #1


The tank is filled, the filter’s pumping, and the hardscape is all in!

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To start, I tested the filter to make sure it worked. I hung it on the side of an operating tank for several days to help seed the filter media with beneficial bacteria. To continue cycling the tank, I added a couple of sinking food pellets to serve as a source of ammonia. I also tossed in a small handful of gravel from the existing tank to help seed those beneficial bacteria even more. The filter is nice and quiet, and is creating a nice gentle current across the tank.

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I acquired some driftwood from an LFS. I knew it was going to be too big to fit, so I cut some of the end off with a coping saw. I then soaked it in dechlorinated water for a couple of days to make sure I leached out any excess tannins from the wood. When the water was all clear, I added it to the aquarium. I scrounged up some river stones from an old aquarium I have in storage to help add to the riverbank feel of the scene. I may tweak it a little more. I’m not entirely happy with the depth of the gravel, so I may change it once the plants are here.

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I changed my mind and decided to use a lid on the tank to help reduce evaporation and to retain some heat. I made the lid out of a leftover acrylic sheet I had on-hand from another project. I cut custom notches in the lid to fit the filter and the clamp for the light, so the lid sits flush on top of the tank.

Finally, I was able to locate (on eBay) one of the location-specific plants needed to make this a true biotope setup. I’ve ordered the first batch of plants (some Blyxa japonica, sometimes called the bamboo plant), and they should be here by Tuesday!

s-l500Running total:

  • Previous spent: $53.48
  • Driftwood: $12.00
  • Bamboo Plants: $6
  • New total: $71.48

Wish me luck finding the rest of my plant list. Finding the right species is trickier than I thought!

Liz’s Pico Reef…?

Howdy!

(Sorry, I have to say that as a student at Texas A&M)

I’m joining the #tinytankchallenge because I study the intersection of science and leisure. Basically, keeping an aquarium is a leisure activity that is all about SCIENCE! I’m a grad student at TAMU and while I have limited time nowadays, I used to be HUGE into aquarium keeping! That’s how I got into studying it!

Anyway, as a cheap fish nerd I always look for found items that I can use in or as an aquarium. When I was bicycling down the street to last year work I saw a small glass tank and tiny HOB filter sitting in someone’s trash. It looks to be home made and is an 8″x8″x8″ cube. ADORABLE! So, I took it home.

I didn’t know what to do with it and was having motivation issues. I set up a 10g marine tank for a frogfish we caught in the gulf but when she laid eggs and croaked, the tank went to he11. I was not so sure I could maintain a marine aquarium during this point in my life. I’ve kept several before (20L reef, 58g reef, 100g tub reef), but never a pico.

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Kermitta the frogfish laid eggs then croaked. 😦

I’ve been a bit indecisive about doing a marine tank… I’ve wanted to do a nice little planted FW tank with shrimp… but SW is calling…


So, I’ve taken Ethan’s advice and started looking at http://www.nano-reef.com (where I used to be very active, actually; I’m “Six”). Inspiration is stemming from my strange preoccupation with species-only aquaria as well as my interest in making things well… interesting. I read Anthony Calfo’s books on greenhouse reefing and I distinctly remember him using a concrete item in his reef that he grew fire coral on as a joke. That concrete item was a peeing boy:

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So I’m leaning towards a single coral species tank, probably metallic green star polyp (gsp), that is trained to encrust on something funny (but it would have to be TINY!). Or, perhaps I’ll make a bonsai-looking treescape? Or a farm scape with little goats and chickens on the GSP? The possibilities are endless!

  • 8x8x8″ cube tank = $0.00
  • small HOB filter = $0.00
  • ridiculous ideas = priceless

Thanks for reading! Follow me on twitter for more updates! @LizMarchio