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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings one and all, and welcome to another one of my build threads.

As some of you may know I am a member of several other forums for my hobbies (reptiles, saltwater, brackish water), on one of those other forums there is a contest that starts 01.06.2022. The idea behind the contest is to try and utilise smaller tanks and also to compete in a number of aquascaping and growth criteria's. So for this Pico contest I want to concentrate on a "planted" blackwater set up. Currently I am still debating whether to add a fish to this set up or not, there will at least be some shrimp in here and at least a snail for Clean up Crew Duties.

So the criteria that I want to hit with this tank are as follows. I will go onto each of these criteria in a little more detail later;
Biotope
Limited Species
Growth
Simplicity
Lowest Costs

There are more Criteria for the contest but these are the ones that I think I can easily, or more easily address in the contest as this will run for at least 9 Months.

The first two Points Biotope and Limited Species for this fit hand in hand. I intend to Aquascape this tank with a total of one different plant species. Java Fern, i feel fit in nicely to the biotope category and I will be adding my collected botanicals to also make this tannin heavy or blackwater. Maybe a small handful of floating plants towards the end, or attempt to get the Java Fern to grow Emersed. This should also fit nicely into the simplicity category.

Finally, lowest cost is going to be an interesting category. I actually own all of the hardware for this set up at home if i decide to go without any form of water movement, i do have an airstone that I can add to the tank if i feel that I need some water movement.
 

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That sounds interesting!
Java ferns do so well in blackwater and also come in different varieties, so that gives you a choice🤗.
I‘m looking forward to your set up!
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So was going about the task of finding the items i am going to be using in this set up and for the life of me i could not remember what i did with the tank. So i forgot about it for a few hours and started cooking, decided to add a bit of fresh parsley and viola, i forgot im using it to propogate succulents. So im going to need to move those.
Plant Flowerpot Rectangle Houseplant Gas


I think I have a strawberry pot or something outside, that would be a weekend task but I will be very hungover after seeing MCR 🤘.

I'm still on the fence as far as adding a bubbler/filter, I did start thinking about a micro surface skimmer, but at that point I might as well build a sump out of a milk bottle. 🤷‍♂️
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I decided that i would leak test the tank and also take the time to set, calibrate and ensure that the temperature controller works as I will be using a preset heater for this project. I checked the calibration with a stick on thermometer as well as a seperate digital thermometer to the temperature controllers probe.
Automotive lighting Automotive tire Bumper Gas Automotive tail & brake light

All 3 rear very close to each other (25C stick on, 25.5C digital and 25.3C).

I will be setting the range to 25.5 (lower) to 26.5C (Higher) or 75-80F for those not used to celcius.

Gas Glass Transparency Transparent material Aluminium


And of course the wood snapped in the wrong place when I attempted to break it so will be on the look out for more wood that i can utilise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I have started up the contest tank, below is my entry picture which shows all the equipment that I plan to use, for some reason my Fluval Evo is undergoing a huge Green Hair Algae Bloom at the moment so i am assuming that my phosphates must have rocketed somehow in there. I have done a series of water changes since getting back from Download Festival to try and get the nutrients back under control. However i am out of re agents for my test kits so will have to hope that is the underlying cause until I can confirm this. I could try to resolve this issue with a Vegetation eating small fish Like a Blenny but with the Mantis Shrimps Temperament I am unsure whether that would be a good idea or not without adding a vast amount of rocks/barnacles to provide extra hiding spots away from the Mantis Shrimp

I am still tempted by a small freshwater tank, but with the GHA issue in the reef I am thinking that it might be best that I set this up as a small Frag Tank/ Anemone Spill over tank.

So the Hardware i am using is the below
Tank: 31.5cm x 13cm x 18.5cm (LxWxH)
Light: ASTA 20 Marine LED
Heat: 25W Preset Heater on Nicrew Digital temperature Controller
Flow: 600LPH HOB Filter
ATO: TBD
LID: Condensation Tray cut to fit
Water Light Blue Gas Electric blue


I have ordered roughly 1KG of live rock pieces which should be delivered shortly, I am hoping that I get some nice branch shapes or even (dare I hope) a couple of nice plates that i can use for an aquascape and an easy place to both affix and remove the anemone's as I do plan on selling/trading some of the clones that i seem to produce on a constant basis. This reminds me that I need to anemone proof the filter intake, very similar to how i would do this on a Betta tank, either wrap the intake in a material or my favourite, stuff the tube with a filter material

Water Blue Fluid Purple Gas


The job tonight is to hide all of the cables, drill a few holes and potentially make a small cover for the cabinet to hide my equipment
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So the little tank is coming along nicely, has been holding the temperature of 25.5C for the last two days. So today I looked in the lionfish lair and have sourced some interesting pieces of live rock that I will transport home along with the one remaining Molly in the tank (to go in the Mantis Murder Manor - as long as it doesnt stick its face in the mantis lair should be fast enough to not become food and hopefully assist me in my GHA battle.

Will also be taking some of the sand from the Mantis Tank so that I can establish the beneficial bacteria from two different sources as well as some more live rock segments that I have saved into the all in one section to kickstart the Fluval Evo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have today finally sourced some more live rock for all three of the tanks (Lionfish Lair, Mantis Murder Manor and the Old School Cool Pico) I will have to wait a few weeks for the tank shutdown to happen but I wont have to pay any delivery charges which definitely will help as this is roughly 20KG of rock.

Artifact Fossil Art Natural material Metal


These two large pieces will go into the Lionfish Lair, I can already in my mind see the Lionfish and Hawkfish perching in the nooks and crannies and the Hawkfish especially picking off small invertebrates within these nooks.
Art Artifact Natural material Geology Rock


The two larger pieces below will go into the Mantis Murder Manor which would allow me to create a long continuous spear of rock that juts out into the tank and decreases in height the closer it gets to the glass
Artifact Metal Cuisine Natural material Art

The remainder of the small pieces, which to me look like dead coral skeletons will go into the new pico. I might try and form some sort of aquascape resembling a rock wall for the anemones to gain a foot hold and a place of safety for the crabs and shrimp.

I have also received notification today that I can utilise my remaining anemones within the contest tank as strictly speaking they are sessile invertebrates and not corals, on the provision that I also include some macroalgae within the tank. I have a sneaky plan for this but will need some string LED lights :D

I am well aware that I am far too excited to gain a box of rocks but this will enable the tanks to establish more of a biological filter from the surface area provided to the beneficial bacteria
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ok so this is most likely to be my final long rambling post for the day. Decided that i would make a DIY Automatic Top Off for this little slice of ocean. Fairly confident that I can make this with a bottle of RO water, airpump and some airline tubing. I will have to splash out a little for a float switch (£5) but saves me spending around £50 on a pre made device.
Liquid Bottle Fluid Plastic bottle Solution


To give an idea for the plans
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So I noticed that over the weekend the heater was not holding its temperature consistently so tomorrow amazon will be delivery me a new Pico/Nano heater with temp probe.

Another point that I mentioned was lowest costs, so I am fairly confident that the new heater should last the contest so I have been researching the RRP of the items that I have used for the tank, the most costly is rock and lighting so you are aware. I wanted to aim for somewhere around the £120-150 mark as all this equipment can be used on tanks up to 10 Gallons (4x this volume) depending on the shape of the 10 Gallon. A Cube would be perfect.

Tank: 12 Litre Pets at Home Childrens Aquarium £15.00
Light: ASTA 20 Marine LED £50.00
Flow: 600 LPH HOB Filter £15.00
Heater: 50W Adjustable submersible with temp probe £15.00
Temp Controller: Nicrew Digital Probe £15.00
Rock/Sand from Established tank £35.00

So more or less what i was expecting in terms of cost, but my actual expenditure for this set up was

New Heater: £15.00
Pro Rata of Rock/Sand £20.00
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
New heater is here and connected up.
Automotive lighting Gauge Finger Measuring instrument Gadget

Backed up by Nicrew
Automotive lighting Cloud Automotive tail & brake light Window Automotive exterior

The tank is also coming up to temperature and the lights are ramping up so might as well present some things.

Water Blue Azure Fluid Snow

The Pico as it currently sits, i need to find my lenses for my phone camera to take decent detailed macro images

Blue Purple Azure Fluid Gas
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I’m always excited to see your updates. It’s really fun to learn a bit about the salty side of the aquarium hobby.
Thanks, it really is a simple Hobby just the upfront costs that puts a lot of people off. But as you can see it doesnt need to be a massive tank to be a pretty reef. I am fairly confident I can do 95-100% water changes on this tank on a weekly basis so i dont need to worry about test parameters and keep everything else simple.

I have tracked down and ordered the main occupant for this contest tank, should arrive on Friday
Eye Arthropod Spider Terrestrial animal Arachnid


This is a Spotted Porcelain Anemone Crab (Neopetrolisthes Ohshimai) these crabs share a symbiosis with Mini Maxi Carpet Anemones (which the tank is designed around) feeding off the anemones mucus and waste while the anemone gains a crab that will protect the anemone from predation as well as bring it food that the anemone might otherwise have missed.

I have also ordered a Clean up Crew that I want to split btween this tank and the Mantis Murder Manor (clean up cerew versus snacks really) so the little Pico (this tank) will receive
2x Cerith Snails
1x Rounded Turbo or Astrea Snail

The rest of the snails including more Nassarius (Zombie Snail) will go into the Mantis Murder Manor in an effort to help out the Molly keep the algae down
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I now present my sneaky way of qualifying for this contest, and I have checked been called several rather unflattering names but it qualifies for the competition under the rules as written.

My DIY HOB Filter Refugium, complete with LED strip lights :D
Automotive lighting Purple Automotive exterior Bumper Violet


The person delivering my rock tomorrow has also graciously given me a small amount of Cheato Macroalgae that I will place in the Refugium to remove excess nutrients from the water column allowing me to potentially leave water changes longer in between. But its a small system so I am happy doing those small regular changes.

So thats the technicality that qualifies me for this contest, and lets face it more then likely banned from future ones
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So today is a delivery day for rock and livestock, also one of my fellow reefers has sent me some loose mushroom corals from their tank, these corals move on their foot leaving small pieces of themselves which will grow a new coral. They are also very hardy and we have been playing with shipping methods lately.

Pink Rectangle Material property Magenta Tints and shades

Padded envelope
Rectangle Gas Plastic Plastic wrap Glass

Each coral wrapped in kitchen roll, few granules of activated carbon and kept moist. Overnight postage
Blue Water Marine invertebrates Organism Underwater

The colours and details though on them is fantastic, I got 6 from them and the above is the largest at roughly 1-2cm
 
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