Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Freshwater Journals (
-   -   Finnex 4 g nano tank - natural planted (

demonr6 04-18-2011 07:35 PM

Finnex 4 g nano tank - natural planted
This is my first nano tank I have designed. My other tanks are 5 a 6.6 gallons respectively. I wanted to try something different with this tank, something smaller but with some visual appeal.

It is my first attempt at a low tech nano tank and it is still a work in progress. I do have a stump of Mopani wood that will be the focal point. I did set it up both dry and partially filled with the stump in place but it was removed as the moss I have coming for it has not arrived yet. I am hoping to have that sorted in the next day or so.

The look I am going for is medium planted with some carpeting in the front. Fauna will be shrimp and some micro-*insert fish here* that I can hopefully get via the forum as the local LFS deal mostly in saltwater. Currently I have ghost shrimp in there because A. they are only $0.43 and I won't be attached to them when B. they may die while this tanks settles in due to my using soil.

The tank canister was seeded with media from my oldest tank, I had a bag in there with bio material for a couple of weeks collecting 'stuff' to help speed things along. Day three and everyone was alive, active and seemingly going about their business. I may come home though this evening to find everything dead but I am hoping otherwise.

Tank: Finnex 4 gallon
Filter: Zoo Med 501
Heater: n/a
Lights: Finnex Power Compact Fluorescent w 13 W PC Daylight 6500
Substrate: MG Organic Choice topped with combo of Carib Sea Moonlight Sand and Tahitian Moon
CO2: n/a
Dosing: n/a


1 - Olive Nerite
4 - Ghost shrimp - i.e. victims
fish TBD

Planted -
Hemianthus Micranthemoides (Dwarf baby tears)
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Red'
Aponogenton Crispus
Bacopa Australis
Echinodorus tennellus (Pigmy Chain Sword)
Dwarf Anubias Nana

All the plants came from Planted Aquariums Central except for the Anubias which was in another of my tanks waiting for a home.

I will keep this thread to initial setup pics and some comments but I will start another thread with my journal entries. Although I am mostly complete I am open to some suggestions not requiring a complete tear down of the tank so feel free to make suggestions. I am always open to them and it is appreciated.

I hope everyone enjoys, this being my first nano and choosing soil there is a learning curve, I just hope it turns out well and I don't come home one day to find out there was a huge spike sending the shrimp to leap out to their deaths and everything else pretty much done for.

Link to web player that I will continuously update as pics are added.

ImageShack(TM) slideshow

Tank fresh out of the box. The supplied filter will never see the light of day in lieu of the Zoo Med 501

Clips for lid. These were a separate purchase. The tank does not come with a supplied lid so this will be a DIY most likely will purchase glass cut to size. This would fit on these lid clips nicely.

Profile frontal of Mopani stump - the side I will be using

Profile side of Mopani - back side. It has character, I just don't think this is the side that should be shown.

Frontal shot after soil added

Tank with soil added

Close up shot of the rounded tank edges in front. For the most part the finish work is very good. I was impressed with the quality of this tank.

Full frontal with tank light

Another full frontal shot

Stump placed in the location it will eventually reside. For the final I did slope up more to that side, as much as I dared considering I am using soil.

Another shot of the above

Profile of the other side as it appeared, I just wasn't feeling this much although it has character. I don't think the coloration would be as visible. Wet it does not show it at all sadly.

Full frontal with the Mopani in place. The last version I worked on I replaced the white background which was just a sheet of paper with a piece of white rice paper material used for window covering. It really looks interesting and not so plain as simple paper. I am not sure though if that is the right color/look, up for debate still.

This was a layout that I chose after some planting. I eventually filled the tank, looked at everything to make sure I was happy with it then lowered the water level in order to remove the stump.

This frontal of the tank was what I chose as the final layout for the stump. The Anubias made it in after this.

This was taken later after adding the plumbing for the Zoo Med 501. See the spoon off to the side? Yeah, that is how I filled the tank. More details in the next thread on this.

Tank filled with ghost shrimp acclimating prior to release. You can see the canister off to the left of the tank.

This is a full frontal of the tank with the house lights dimmed. The tank on the right is the feeder tank where the plants were until I moved them over. This was a test soil based tank that will be decommissioned soon.

Another frontal of the tank

I took a series of pics of the ghost shrimp foraging & exploring about. The camera is a POC p&c that is giving me fits when I try to use the macro on the shrimp. It focuses on them fine and when I snap the picture it refocuses and drops out to what you see below.

Ghost shrimp foraging

Dueling shrimp, this was a battle royale!

Mine, all mine muahahahaha!!

Look, food! Run for it..

aunt kymmie 04-18-2011 10:11 PM

Really nice build thread! I love the looks of that nano. Great job. :-)

demonr6 04-18-2011 10:18 PM

Thank you.. I am jockeying for a better camera. The p/s has a macro but when I get the image in focus and shoot it refocuses losing the clarity. The ghost shrimp are not showing as nice as I would like and they are amazing little critters although I intend to upgrade to something else. I have a tank journal I am adding after this too.

demonr6 04-18-2011 10:19 PM

Here is what I learned in the process..

Soil.. boy that was fun. I spent a good hour sifting that Miracle Grow Organic potting soil making sure it was debris free. It looks like fine ground coffee and smells great but.. when sifting soil for something like this, go out and buy yourself a vegetable sifter and a tub from Wal-Mart or wherever else you can find a cheap one that you can use again in the future. Why? Well you don't want your wife coming out to the garage asking what happened to her kitchen sifter only to find you sitting on the garage floor with a mess and there is the sifter with a pile of dirt and sticks in it. Oh, her tub she uses for soaking her feet, yeah, finding that with a pile of dirt in it organic or not is not going to make for a fun evening for you. A small bowl so you can dump the debris is a good thing to have, I tossed all of it into the garden so as not to waste it. Also use gardening gloves to help force the good soil through the sifter.

Laying the soil down in the tank was pretty easy except for me deciding to do this indoors and in a room with carpet. I left it unattended on the floor and when I came back our spaniel decided it was cool to dig around in it. I followed the dirt trail to where she was hiding and subsequently cleaned her muzzle which was covered in dirt. Luckily my wife was working on Saturday and I was able to wash the dog, clean the tile and was able to get most of the dirt out of the carpet. Mercifully this threw down in my office and my wife did not see it.. till this morning.

Now laying out seems like a breeze and I have watched a few videos on YouTube with planting tips. Let me tell you those people are highly skilled because I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I was when I tried using that technique to simply pop in that plant and bask in the glory of my aquatic gardening skills. I was ready to pull my hair out when the plants would inevitably pop right out of the soil and float to the top making a mess.

Filling the tank without making a mess is quite a mission. I initially filled it with the stump in place. Being that it is a small tank there is not much you can get in there but a small cup. I first started gently filling in by pouring water on to the stump letting it make its way down the side and gradually wetting the soil enough to get me to where I could take a better approach. Well that made a mess. The sand cap is white for the most part except for where the stump is placed. For some reason unbeknown to me I got this brilliant idea to use the black sand under the stump, well the black sand ended up bleeding all over the place causing a mess. Little black grains peppered all over my beautiful white sand cap! GAAAH! Luckily more experimenting on my part since the water level was still low I took some white sand on a spoon and gently let it fall on the offending black sand. For the most part the problem was solved.. until of course the plants decided to float up on their own causing another set of problems. I took a different approach to raise the water level once it was high enough. I took a plastic spoon, laid it right at the water level and carefully poured the water right on to it. This technique worked and once I raised the water to a couple of inches I was able to pour the water in more liberally speeding up the process greatly. The saucer on the bottom is a great idea but you still get kick up of the sand and when you lift up the saucer the suction caused makes a huge mess.. huge, epic, like oh crap I have to do this all over again because I don't know how the heck I am going to fix this!

Everything else pretty much fell into place. The shrimp are still alive which is more than I can say for the red cherry shrimp that I received on Friday who were supposed to inhabit this tank. When I got the package I should have known something was up. Although they were packed great, the box looked like they were playing kickball with it. One side was crushed pretty bad which means they did not have a smooth trip. Although they were active when I got them and I did my best to acclimated them to the temporary QT tank they did not make it through the next 24 hours. I was really bummed, these were juveniles and I really hoped for the best but when the one bit the dust that evening I should have seen it as the dark cloud on the horizon. The next morning they were history.. hence the reason for the expendable ghost shrimp. I feel less bad about five shrimp leaving me two dollars out than I do six shrimp leaving me sixteen bucks in the hole that lasted me less than eight hours.

I had Celestial Pearl Danios planned for this tank in addition to shrimp but someone beat my auction at the last minute by swooping in and leaving me empty handed. Unfortunately for me the auction was over in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday which is horrible timing might I add for anyone to end an auction. Weekends, afternoons in particular are spent running errands and doing yardwork so keeping tabs on an auction is not happening. Especially if you are already in the dog house because you ruined your wife's vegetable strainer and foot tub.

As of this morning all five ghost shrimp were alive, I did not notice any killer gas bubbles forming under the surface of the soil, at least not that I can see around the edges but surely that is always a possibility that I can come home to find everything dead. That is why I have the ghost shrimp in there... If all goes well and it does not happen then great, they will be moved to one of my older tanks and will have to deal with my bettas. Every ghost shrimp that has ever spent time in those tanks has gone missing or we find them outside the tank after leaping to their death for some reason.

I will keep updating with new pics and what I learn along the way and I would be happy to offer my experiences with anyone who would like to know more.

demonr6 04-18-2011 10:22 PM

Tank Journal
Tank was established on 04/16

Day 2:

Day 3:

Tank params -
Ammonia - 0
pH - 7.6
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0

I threw in a floater today as additional help to suck up any excess ammonia that is bound to rear its ugly head soon. Also there is a small olive nerite I moved from one of my other tanks. It seems like they have been busy under the mopani log in my larger tank and I woke to find a colony of little baby nerite snails all over the place.. not something I was counting on.

I am trying to get my hands on some lily pipes to replace the stock Zoo Med inlet / outlet. I also have a new background that I will be trying out tomorrow.

aunt kymmie 04-18-2011 10:26 PM

LOL, your wife sounds very patient. Celestial Pearl Danios would look awesome in that tank, with RCS. I have a tank with RCS and if I could find some CPDs I would get them. I think they are probably the only fish that wouldn't eat the RCS and they are such beautiful fish.
I'm loving this thread and your sense of humor!! :lol:

Romad 04-19-2011 04:33 AM

Great looking tank. :thumbsup:

I'm still chuckling over your set up stories :)

demonr6 04-19-2011 06:45 AM

I just seem to have interesting situations present themselves that routinely end up being funny once I sit back and realize what happened. If you heard some of the things that happen at work when my boss comes to me with computer problems you would fall over laughing..

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:38 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome