In the past I've always had larger aquariums but since moving I fancied a real change. So as an early Christmas present from my partner I got an "Aqua one nano 22", a 22 litre tank with built in filtration behind a false back wall and rounded corners which I've always wanted. This tank retails for Â£80 but with Christmas season it was on sale for Â£56 then I had a Â£10 off voucher for being a Petsathome VIP member and won 10% off in a cracker promotion at the check out, in the end I got it for Â£40.40!
While being small owning a Nano tank can be extremely rewarding with less maintenance (if set-up correctly) and very beautiful if your smart and avoid absolutely anything fake from plants to stupid ornaments. The back of the tank is partitioned into 3 areas where the inlet forces water to pass through a fine scrubbing filter followed by bio-media. The water is then forced downwards into the middle section where it must pass through an active carbon sponge filter into the last compartment which holds the water heater and water pump which has an airline to aerate the water while pumping it back into the main tank area.
The tank begins with aqua-soil shaped in a downward slope being tallest at the back, this is then covered with a mixed gravel as a top coat.
My vision is to have a landscape with a "tree", so I carefully picked a piece of mopani wood which when stood upright looks like it has lots of branches, finding one the right shape and that would fit the tank wasn't easy! At this stage I have fully soaked the soil and let it dry a bit to settle followed by soaking it again, this prevents a million floating bits later when the tank gets filled.
I want to hide the back black wall so I purposely picked tall plants that grow fast, starting with Bacopa, all the initial plants are planted without water in the tank which makes life much easier. I did however by accident snap a branch off but I'll come back to that later. Next is the Octocinclus plant which is a broad long leaf plant, typically plecs and shrimp love this type of plant.
For the foreground I opted for Eleocharis grass which if you keep trimming will eventually grow out giving fish somewhere to swim through and hide.
A quick trip to the seaside to pick up some rocks provided the last of the base materials. To use rocks from the seaside I boiled them in water 3 times, rinsing them each time to remove salt build up. After that they got a final rinsing before being allowed anywhere near the tank. Once in place it was time to fill the tank up! At this stage the filter nor heater is switched on to let everything settle properly.
3 days later I switched the pump on and not long after the result was crystal clear water. You can see the beginnings of an idea taking shape but of course only I see the final result in my own mind.
Back to old tricks to boost plant growth and root developments is setting up a yeast co2 generator. The first bottle contains 2 table spoons of active yeast + 1 CUP of sugar (yes a whole cup) , 300ml of cold water followed by 300ml of boiling water to give an average 55c mix. This leads into a 2nd bottle with just water to filter out any particulates of yeast that may be carried through the pipes and finally from there into the tank itself.
As it seems petsathome provided me with snail infested plants (thanks...) I got myself 4 Assassin snails, if you have not guessed by the name yet these are hunter snails that eat other snails thus over time will solve my problem naturally without chemicals.
Assassin snail close up 1
Assassin snail checking the wood for potential meals and by meals I mean pest snails!
Back to the branch of Bacopa I decided to plant it up front on the off chance it might root and begin growing and sure enough because I planted it deep into the soil it has taken and began shooting roots, so nothing wasted!
At this stage its been 16 days since setting up and water tests show my co2, co3, pH, GH, KH and Ammonia are all spot on or within range. So time to help fertilize them plants with the first real life stock. I love tetras but had spotted some Black Phantom tetras which look pretty unique with their "eye" pattern sides and dark colour. At the beginning I had 2 females and a male but the male dominated the entire tank so the females where always hiding. So I returned him in exchange for a 3rd female and now they all pack swim together.
I waited a long time for this to come in stock but its 3 pots of Christmas moss. This will be what completes the final look (In time!) of carpeting the tank bottom and "tree"
Like any moss it will want to float away and end up as a big mess, so to prevent this you have a few options. The most common is to use thread and tie it down, the 2nd is to first grow it on mesh. My method however is to buy chocolate coins in plastic mesh bags.. Eat the chocolate and use the mesh to hold the moss in place!
I want the moss to grow up the tree so to achieve this I added a bulk to the centre area and again used netting to hold it in place. The net only has to stay long enough for the moss to get a footing (hold) to the surface it's intended to stay on.
I cannot have a tank without Shrimp and of course it has to be Red Cherry Shrimp otherwise known as RCS. Although I ended up with a white one and 2 for free because the man in the shop had a right mess on trying to catch them, good for me! These little guys (and girls!) will help keep the tank clean by breaking up large pieces of dirt and food remains into tiny bits which can then be filtered out normally.
To help reduce algae I opted for Octocinclus fish, a member of the cat fish family and otherwise known as "Ottos" these little fish grow to about 4CM maximum and do nothing but eat algae. Generally they require a tank size a few litres more than mine but with just 4 and plenty of live plants and rock surfaces they'll do just fine.
At this stage it has been 8 days since introducing co2 to the tank and the effects are quite clear, most plants are rooting like crazy and the moss is growing super well.
Only 1 week after adding the Christmas moss it already has a good hold in all the areas I want, previously I had removed the netting in place of simple lead weights but now even those can come out to let the moss grow wild.
This is only part 1 of an ongoing project. I will post a 2nd update in 2016 to show the progress of trimming and growth of all areas of the tank :)