#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!

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The Desktop Challenge!

Starting this January 1st, some fish-head friends and I are starting what we’re calling the 2016 Desktop Challenge. We each are designing and building a small aquarium that could be kept on a desk or a strong shelf. The idea behind the Challenge is not to compete against each other, but to challenge ourselves as we practice our aquarist skills and promote the hobby. IMG_7374

The parameters for the challenge are as follows: the tank size must be less than five gallons, and the project must cost less than $100. Other than that, the rest is up to the individual aquarist. Freshwater or saltwater, aquarium or paludarium, with fish or without fish, biotope aquarium or community tank, the possibilities are endless!

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From en.wikipedia: White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Tanichthys albonubes. Photo by sannse. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

My own entry will be housed in a 2.5-gallon glass aquarium. I am researching plants and hardscape for a Southeast Asia biotope aquarium. A biotope aquarium is one where all the plants, fish, other livestock, and design elements come from the same geographic location. White cloud minnows have always been one of my favorite aquarium fish species, and few of them will do really well in a small, planted, unheated tank.

We want to invite anyone who wants to set up a desktop aquarium of his or her own to join us this new year. We’re here to offer advice on equipment, setup, livestock choices, and any other question a beginner may have. Follow us on Twitter, using the hashtag #tinytankchallenge, to find the participants, get updates on our progress, ask questions, and show us YOUR progress!

Happy New Year!