Posts Tagged ‘sand’

This is not one of those events that have a happy ending. I do not feel like writing too much about it, but essentially, I bit off more than I can chew, & the results were disastrous. The final status of this project is: aborted. There will be no further attempts to revive it. All remaining life-forms were distributed to capable care-takers; most, if not all the equipment involved were either sold, sterilised (for future use), or destroyed (recovery efforts out-weigh the item’s value). What follows, is a harrowing tale that cumulated in one of my most unglamorous under-taking…

Initial setup for this secondary project is a GEX Glassterior Slim 450 low-profile tank. Substrate is GEX Shrimp Soil on top of a layer of Mosura Old Sea Mud Powder. This is coated by a thin layer of ADA New Amazonia AquaSoil (powder-type; to facilitate planting of carpeting soil). Main hardscape is a relatively large pice of driftwood, placed off-centre & binded with Christmas moss, as well as random units of Anubias barteri var. nana ‘Petite’. Secondary hardscape are various small pieces of lava rocks scattered around the substrate to make the surroundings look bigger. Illumination provided by a pair of T5HO tubes from an AquaZonic fixture (cheap, simple, gets the job done; cheap-looking fixture as well). Filtration is provide by an Eheim Classic 2211 containing maximum capacity of BioHome Plus media; output via a rainbar.

Performing some conceptualization of the hardscape…frankly speaking, the GEX Glassterior Slim 450 is a very narrow tank, but I still love it.

Placing the driftwood after it has been tied with Christmas moss & “Nana petite”. The environment has to be keep humid to prevent the moss from drying out. The driftwood is embedded deep into the substrate; even them, it is about as tall as the tank’s depth. Note the cheap-looking plastic light fixture.

As always, filling up a tank using soil-based substrate is always, a messy affair. Though the detritus usually clears up within a day, I may have came up with a way to greatly reduce stirred up debris from Day-0 filling-up…

Top-down view of the tank, showing the spacing between each glosso stalk; as well as the amount of Christmas moss deployed.

The Glossostigma Elatinoides is planted node-by-node to promote spreading. After so many times of using glosso, I still pay too little attention to burying them until their leaves touch the topsoil. The above planting, is an example of shoddy work.

View of the tank from the side.

Too long a photo-period, too rich a substrate & you get hair algae!

Illumination has been upgraded to a Beamwork Model 1300 (1-watt-per-diode LED fixture). A small Totto bubble stopper has been added to provide further aeration. Frogbits (the floating plant) are introduced to cope with the high levels of nitrates; as well as kill off some of the direct light. The colony is introduced after weeks of cycling. Notice the Tubifex worms wriggling in the substrate? Yup, that’s what happen when the worms are not introduced via a tray.

Close-up view of the colony.

Tank has been upgraded to an Ocean Free 2-footer, with a depth of 45cm. Substrate is changed to a sand that is even finer (& brighter) than the usual favourite: Sudo Bottom Sand. Compared to the Sudo, this sand is super-fine. Filtration is amp-ed up to an Eheim 2224; output via lily pipe to produce a large but gentle current. Additional filtration is supplemented by an internal sponge filter (which bubbles the water all the way up above the water level before splashing it down). A pair of Giant Nana is introduced to serve as rallying points for the colony. The Totto bubble stopper is upgraded to its larger iteration as well. The substrate is intentionally laid thin.

Another close-up view of the colony. In the new environment.

The Colony is never heard from again.


This is the first batch of new Aquascape-related content published in the format of individual posts as opposed to the original “Aquascape” single page that details the humble beginnings of my re-visit into an old hobby.

Office tank version 2.0

Office tank version 2.0


Observe the performance of the 3 sets of lights, from underneath

Observe the performance of the 3 sets of lights, from underneath

Things have a funny way of turning out sometimes. A month ago (17th Jan) I chanced upon an absolutely lovely tank at my usual Local fish Shop (LFS) haunt: The GEX Glassterior Slim 450.  It’s such an attractive tank; I thought it’s just the right dimensions for a desktop tank. I am also delighted with its “panoramic” appearance due to its length, 1.5 feet. The only pity was at that moment in time, I have no reason at all, to acquire a new tank.

Certain areas are intentionally left "sand-less". Observe also, how the rainbar is extended & "bent"

Certain areas are intentionally left "sand-less". Observe also, how the rainbar is extended & "bent"

Less than a week later (26th Jan), I was stunned to observe what appears to be signs of leakage from my existing office tank. I tested it by drying the vicinity where I believe the leak is located; & placing pieces of new, dry tissue paper near the leak. The tissue paper got slightly damp & on other days where the water level has dropped somewhat (due to evaporation; not leakage), I can’t reproduce the symptoms. But the risk is too great for me to take the chance (I have lots of electronic equipment on the same desk). & that is the story of how a Glassterior Slim 450 found its way onto my table.

Environment Specifications

Tank GEX Glassterior Slim 450 of dimensions: W45cm * D20cm * H22cm & capacity: 17litres (4.49 US gallons)
Filter Eden 501 (using extended rainbar as outlet)
Filtration Media Sponge (mechanical filtration); Biohome Plus (biological filtration)
Substrate Dennerle Nano Shrimps Gravel Borneo brown, GEXシュリンプ一番サンド2kg (“GEX Shrimp Soil“), generic ceramic rings (from the Eden 501 filter)
Substrate Additives Mosura Old Sea Mud Powder
Illumination Aquazonic “Super Bright” T5 light set (2 * 16W), complimented by 2 sets of “UP Aqua Pro-LED-A-16” at 12 hours per day
CO2 Supply Nil
Chiller Nil
Stand Nil
Hardscape 4 pieces of driftwood + 1 piece of bogwood
Liquid Fertilisers Seachem Flourish Excel (very occasional dosage)

Water Conditions

Temperature 25 ~ 27 degrees Celsius
pH 6.0
Nitrate 12.5mg/L



Unfortunately, during the process of treating my existing plant life for algae & snails (after they were extracted out of my old tank), I have accidentally left them in a Hydrogen Peroxide dip for much too long & right now, all the first batch of plants are dying, i.e. turning white, falling apart, have fungus growing on them. There’s nothing I can do about this, except to wait & see.

Notice the "cordoned-off" filter inlet?

Notice the "cordoned-off" filter inlet?

Along with the new tank, I threw in some new equipment (updated in the table above). But the most important thing is, I finally get to use a piece of bogwood that has been sitting in my house for many months. However, this proves to be a challenge as the colour of this bogwood is significantly lighter than the existing 4 pieces of driftwood that I intend to re-use for the new scape. If I use it in the typical, upright layout positions, it will stick out like a sore thumb. But I really, really wish to utilize this piece of wood. Fortunately, I manage to integrate the bogwood by inverting it so that it imitates the meandering roots of a tree beneath a river surface. This way, the bulkier portion of the big wood is extremely near or even above, the water surface. Which makes the lighter shade of brown more “justifiable”, i.e. closer to the “sun-light”. Whereas the branches, even though they are still light in colour, doesn’t attract so much attention due to their slender form.

View of the 5 small pieces of black Lava rock from the left

View of the 5 small pieces of black Lava rock from the left

The “roots-under-water” scaping-style also lends itself naturally to an appropriate habitat of a new type of species I wish to focus on: the Corydoras Hastatus. To make them feel further at home, I have also changed the “topsoil” of my substrate to a different “type”: the Dennerle Nano Shrimps Gravel (Borneo brown). The micro-granularity of this sand will allow the Hastatus to rummage in it for food scraps without damaging its barbels. Beneath this layer of sand I am still using GEX Shrimp Soil on top of a layer of ceramic rings (low-quality versions that arrive with the Eden 501 filter) & Mosura Old Sea Mud Powder. Other than the addition of a 5th piece of wood & top layer of substrate, I have extended the rainbar of the Eden 501 to broaden the range of outlet flow from the filter. I have also cordoned off the inlet using wooden material to prevent the filter inlet from being clogged up too much. I have also installed a Boyu WaveMaker as I am beginning to see dead spots develop in some areas that are furthest away from any filter outlet.

View of tank from a higher perspective

View of tank from a higher perspective

Currently, I am waiting for the water inside this tank to finish cycling before introducing my Hastatus. This shoal will most likely be transferred over to my main tank (at home) when “the time” comes. After the Hastatus, will come the Celestial Pearl Danio (also another species that caught my eye recently; these were previously known as Galaxy Rasboras), & the Otocinclus, as well as the shrimps. & this arrangement will probably stick until the tank has to be re-located.

Just food-for-thought: I may use this tank for an Iwagumi scape should I ever need to relocate it out of office.

UPDATE: this scape has been de-commissioned as the existing plants never recover from the peroxide dip & algae, as well as fungus, soon overwhelmed the environment beyond any recovery efforts. A new scape has taken its place & the new tank (water) is being cycled right now. However, as that setup was created entirely in a no-imaging zone, I am unable to provide photos of any kind.

UPDATE #2a: the tank has now been fully cycled, driven by an Eheim 2211 external canister filter. It currently houses a school of Corydoras Hastatus, a few Celestial Pearl Danio, Otocinclus, a few Caridina Multidentata, a few Horned Nerite snails, many pond snails, a few Neocaridina Heteropoda var. red, spreading Glossostigma Elatinoides, & insanely-rapid-growing Marsilea Quadrifolia. The original Microsorum pteropus, Microsorum pteropusWindalov, & Taxiphyllum barbieri are doing al right as well. My next major hurdle is to trim the Marsilea Quadrifolia aggressively, & keep the stray duckweeds under control.

UPDATE #2b: 2 months later from date of purchase, I am still in love with this tank, i.e. its perfect dimensions. Maybe, just maybe, 1 day it’ll come home to me…