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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I think it would be nice to have a place to talk about my little project, the future iwagumi betta Picotope. I'll probably use this thread to post updates on the tank, test results and plant updates, silly things Opalo does, and anything else related to the tank. :)

Latest pic: (4/3/14)


Tank:
-3 gallon JBJ Picotope. Very attractive, sturdy, rimless bowfront tank. Has been used as a pico reef, planted tank, and betta tank in the past


Equipment:
-Tetra Whisper filter with an Aquaclear sponge and carbon, and an old Aquaclear 70 that I use as a "sump"
-50 watt Tetra heater
-13 watt 50/50 compact fluorescent (new light coming soon)
-a couple of stick-on thermometers
-Black gravel, pink gravel and sand covering organic potting soil


Current inhabitants:
Fish:
-None at the moment. Opalo is moving in soon!

Plants:
-Water wisteria
-Coming soon: dwarf hairgrass
-Coming soon: moss?
-Coming soon: emersed plants

Here's what the soon-to-be sole inhabitant of the tank looks like. Opalo is a delta tail cellophane male from Petco.




 

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Discussion Starter #2
4/3-4/4
Opalo is still in his temporary .7 gallon tank today. I'm hoping that I can move him soon. I'm sure he'll like being in a bigger, heated and filtered tank. I wish the cycle would hurry up already!

I got a new heater today, since the old one was only heating the water up by a few degrees. The temperature is a nice 78-80 degrees now.

My wisteria cuttings started sprouting roots, so I planted it again. As you can see from the photo, most of it floated out of the substrate shortly afterwards. :p

Current water parameters:
Ammonia: just over 0
Nitrites: .5 ppm (spiked to 2 ppm after I planted the wisteria, hoping it goes back down!)
Nitrates: 20 ppm (as of 2 days ago)
PH: 7.6
Temperature: 78
Tank has been cycling for almost 3 weeks
 

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Lovely looking tank! I'm sure Opalo will be very happy in there!
 

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he is beautiful
 

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Discussion Starter #5
4/4
I moved Opalo into his permanent home today! He seemed excited. When I was acclimating him by floating his cup in the tank, he kept biting at the cup and trying to get out. It was funny. :) He had a little trouble with the flow from the filter, so I reduced it by stuffing the intake with a piece of filter sponge. Once he got settled in, he seemed to like the extra space. His favorite place to swim is in the crack between the rocks, over the pink gravel path. He likes the wisteria, too.

He was swimming so fast, I was having trouble getting a clear photo!


He's a small betta. That tiny white thing by the gravel path is him. :)


Coming up for air:


I don't know what's going on with the nitrites. If I test it at different times of the day, I get different results. It'll be 0 in the morning, 2 ppm in the afternoon, and .25 a few hours later. The ammonia goes up too, but never above .25. I think it might have to do with the soil leeching into the water. I get an ammonia and nitrite spike every time I disrupt the substrate. I'm hoping that they'll stop spiking once the tank is completely cycled and the soil sits for a while. Until then, I'm planning to do small daily water changes to keep the levels low enough for Opalo.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Got a new light today. It's a 20 watt, 6700k daylight, CFL spiral bulb in a clip-on desk lamp. It looks much nicer than the bluish light I was using before. I figure I can probably grow anything I want with such a bright light, though I should probably get a DIY CO2 setup going too. I also got my first filter plant, which is actually a cutting from one of my houseplants. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
4/5
Opalo is doing well in his new tank. His favorite activity is to swim along the side and flare at his reflection. :) He also swims really fast from one end of the tank to the other. I didn't know it was possible for a betta to swim so fast!

Still getting nitrite/ammonia spikes. I'm beginning to think that the tank isn't as cycled as I thought. >.< I had 1 ppm of nitrite today, so I did a 60% water change. I'm going to do a 100% change if it doesn't drop by tomorrow. I also cleaned the gravel and put in some more fine gravel. If I keep getting these nitrite spikes, I may have to either move Opalo out and wait it out a few more weeks, or try to boost the bacteria in some way. Opalo doesn't seem stressed, at least. I swear, he's been about 10 times more active since I moved him. I think I even saw a bubble nest today.

Water test results (after water change):
Ammonia: just over 0
Nitrites: ~.30-40 ppm
Nitrates: 10 ppm
pH: 7.5
Temperature: 77 F
 

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Discussion Starter #8
New plans for the tank...

The lighter green will be hairgrass, and the darker green will be java moss. The wisteria is...well, wisteria. I've been looking at pictures of tanks with moss walls, and moss attached to rocks, and I really like how it looks. I think it would look nice in this tank.

I might be getting hairgrass tomorrow. Depends on whether or not Petco has healthy looking plants.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
4/6
Well, I wasn't able to get hairgrass. They didn't have any left at Petco. :-( I did get a pack of Cryptocoryne wendtii (which contained about 5 small plants) and a clump of java moss, bound together to look like a mossball. I took the fishing line off the "mossball", cut up a plastic mesh bag, and used it to tie the moss around the bigger rocks. I planted the crypt plants and changed the rocks around a bit. Afterwards, I did a 90% water change.

Can't wait for the moss to grow more! :) The rocks will have to be a bit ugly and mesh-covered for a few weeks, I suppose.


Also, Opalo has been bubblenesting like crazy. He made this nest about 5 bubbles deep after I took this picture. It was fun to watch him work on it!


Water parameters after water change:
Ammonia: not tested
Nitrites: just over 0
Nitrates: not tested
pH: 7.5
Temperature: 76 F
 

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Discussion Starter #10
4/7
I got dwarf hairgrass today. :-D I walked into Petsmart just to look around, and saw they had hairgrass packs for $8.99. A bit pricey, but I got a decent amount of hairgrass for the price, and it seems very healthy. It looked like they had just gotten a shipment. So, I picked out the healthiest one and bought it.

I didn't want to damage the roots too much, so I gently broke it into 3 clumps, and worked loose about 20 plants from the sides. I planted the big clumps where I want it to be the thickest, and then scattered around the individual plants. Afterwards, I did a 30% water change (I had already done a 50% change this morning). I planted it without taking any water out of the tank, so Opalo was swimming around my arms and dashing against my fingers the whole time. It felt really cute. :)

The tank is fully stocked now, assuming none of the plants melt or die. I hope the hairgrass doesn't melt too much. It looks like it was grown submersed (doesn't have seed heads), so hopefully it'll work out better than my last experience with hairgrass.

Also, maybe it's my imagination, but I swear the java moss grew since yesterday. The original "mossball" only had a few little bits left on it, and now it has long strands hanging off. I also lifted up the netting a bit, and it already appears to be clinging on to the rocks. :) Maybe I'll be able to take off the netting soon.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
4/8
Not much to report on the tank today. I keep trying to get just the right amount of water flow from the filter. If I make it too low, not enough water gets into the "sump", and the heater doesn't work well enough. If I make it too high, poor Opalo's fins turn him into a scaly sailboat. My short-finned female and plakat bettas used to like high flow, but I suppose it's different for the large-finned males.

Water test results (before water change):
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: ~.10
Nitrates: 0 :shock: (I guess between the plants and the frequent water changes, these are all getting used up?)
pH: 7.4
KH: 5
Temperature: 75
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks! :) I hope it turns out looking nice. This is the hard part for me - waiting weeks (or months) for things to grow...haha.

4/10
Tank is doing well. The nitrite and ammonia levels are staying low even without water changes now, so I think the cycle is stabilizing again. Opalo is doing great too. He's started flaring at me and making loud bubble popping noises whenever I walk by. He also bubble nests constantly. I don't think any of my previous bettas have been so lively! :)

I made a DIY CO2 setup yesterday. It was very simple. I rinsed out a Simply Limeade bottle, cut a tiny hole in the top, added the sugar water and yeast, put in some airline tubing, and sealed the hole with silicone. After a few hours, when it started bubbling, I attached it to an air stone and put the air stone in the tank. I now have a nice, steady stream of tiny CO2 bubbles. :-D

Here's the "CO2 system". Funny how it still looks like limeade!


Here's Opalo guarding one of his huge bubblenests. :)


Water test results (before water change):
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: ~.10-15
Nitrates: ~2 ppm
pH: not tested
KH: not tested
Temperature: 76
Planning to do a 25% water change later
 

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Discussion Starter #16
4/12
Water test results (before water change):
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: just over 0
Nitrates: 5 ppm
pH: <7.4
KH: 6
Temperature: 77 F
 

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Discussion Starter #17
4/12
I cleaned and rearranged my desk today, so the tank looks much nicer. Gotta love desktop tanks. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The tank is still doing well. I removed the mesh from the rocks, since most of it is attached well enough to stay stuck on. There were a few stubborn pieces that were stuck to the mesh, so I left it in the filter. Maybe I'll eventually end up with extra sheets of moss. :-D The wisteria is growing like a weed. I discovered that a single half-dead loose leaf, with no stem or roots attached, was sprouting a new plant. :shock: The Cryptocoryne is doing well too. It's sprouting some new leaves already. I think the hairgrass is growing as well. It hasn't turned into brown mush yet, so I'll take that as a sign that I'm doing something right!

I also had to stop using the CO2 bottle. The top kept leaking. I started up a new bottle today, and it just started bubbling, so we'll see how it goes. :)

I've had a slight bloom of green algae, but nothing major. It's mostly just on the big rock and the filter output. I actually kind of like how it looks on the rock. :lol:

Here's a photo of the tank from today:


And a couple of cute photos of Opalo. :)




Water test results (before water change):
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: just over 0
Nitrates: just over 0
pH: 7.9 :shock:
KH: 5
Temperature: 77 F
Did a 50% water change yesterday

The pH reading shocked me a bit. The only thing I can think of that might have caused it to rise is a rock I added a few days ago. It was a small piece of old, dry live rock from my old reef tank. I tied it to a filter plant to keep it from falling sideways. I forgot about the fact that live rock raises the pH...oops! Opalo and the plants seem to be fine, at least.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
4/15
Water test results (before water change):
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: not tested
pH: 7.6
KH: not tested
Temperature: 78 F
Did 20% water change (one of the Crypts was floating, so I had to replant it, which kicked up lots of soil)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
4/16
The new CO2 bottle is working quite nicely. My problem now is figuring out where to put the air stone. I obviously want the CO2 to circulate in the water a bit, rather than just rising to the top. I have to keep the flow relatively low for Opalo, so unless I put it right in the center of the tank, there isn't enough flow to push the bubbles around. I tried putting the tubing directly in the filter intake, but it kept slipping out - not to mention, I was worried the sponge would fall out and Opalo would get stuck. :shock: So, my current solution is to put the air stone directly in the filter. It seems to be working well. The pH has dropped and I think the plants look greener, so maybe they're getting more CO2.

I'm going to buy a low range pH test kit and a new air stone today. I've been putting off buying the test kit because I thought it was expensive, but I just checked the price and it's under $5. Most of my test kits are leftover from my old saltwater tank, but they seem to work just fine for freshwater as well.

Water test results (before water change):
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: not tested
pH: <7.4
KH: not tested
Temperature: 78
No water change done today
 
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