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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A lot of you have been very helpful in answering my questions and guiding me through cycling my first tank (29g). Good news is that it finished its cycle a week or 2 ago and so earlier this week I did a major overhaul and converted it to the blackwater layout I had in mind. And now today I finally started adding more stock and got 4 more neons to fill out the school. Here are some pictures


This is just the tank as a whole. Sorry for the picture quality, my cell phone didn't seem to be able to accurately capture the tea colored water with my tank light on


Here is a shot of all 7 neon tetras


And here is the little cave I built. I used a long piece of Malaysian driftwood to keep the slope from collapsing and buried a 2" diameter PVC coupler under the substrate. It has a 45 degree curve to it to make the "cave" curve back into the slope. I read on mongabay that amazon swords occur occasionally in blackwater streams.and creeks.so I added some on the slope to be a little closer to the light. The slope is a layer of sand, layer of fluorite for the swords, then sand on top.

In the process of all this I also setup my 10g planted quarantine tank to get it cycling and ready for new.arrivals. I moved the fake rock cave and the rest of the plants I had had in the 29g to this one. I used fluorite for the substrate (the dust was TERRIBLE, i had to use a brush to clean the leaves of the plants! Wish i had put sand on top. Oh well) My camera phone did a better job with the picture on this one



Obviously both tanks are works in progress not to mention my first 2 tanks so opinions and suggestions are appreciated! Thanks!
 

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very good works in progress if you ask me :)
i really like the cave in the first tank also. great job.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Freash: there are a few ways to make your tank blackwater. Things like driftwood, almond leaves, and oak leaves contain what are called tannins (there are several materials that have tannins, but those three seem to be the most commonly used in aquariums). When you put those things in water the tannins will seap out, staining your water that tea color. This is kind of a rough, probably over simplified, explanation. But I'm sure you get the idea. So the easiest and most natural way to achieve a blackwater aquarium is by adding lightly soaked driftwood (soaking too long can cause all of the tannins to seap out before you get the wood in the tank) or some of those.dried leaves. It will stain your water and also might lower your pH slightly. Some companies also make extracts you can add to your water directly to get the same look. I hope that explanation was helpful. If not I hope some of the more experienced folks on here will chime in.

Willow: thank you very much! I think I have caught the aquarist bug now so I doubtt these will be the last changes I make or even the last tanks I have. Its fascinating stuff already and the only fish I have so far are neon tetras! Haha
 

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say good bye to your wallet :lol:
i want to make some changes to mine already,and it's only
been set up a couple of months.:roll:
i think i want some more wood,but something sticky out!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh yeah! The wallet is already feeling it which is an issue because my other hobby is working on and modifying cars which isn't cheap either. Oh well I suppose. But just like my cars, I want my tanks to stick out too. Normal is too boring. I've got some ideas on a brackish tank as well as a cold water tank :) But those will be way down the line
 

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Looks good!

Any other plant plans? Floaters especially would be like by the hatchet fish you're planning.

Are you planning to add any leaves? Now is the perfect time to collect a year's worth up here in PA. No idea bout down south.

I know you'd like the raphael catfish and have plans to upgrade, but you're also looking for a centerpiece fish. Have you thought instead of the raphael about dwarf cichlids?

You're planning a coldwater or a subtropical tank for the future? I'm actually looking into doing a subtropical one myself. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I have looked at cichlids before, but hadn't really considered them. But I'll look into it for sure. A lot of leaves haven't started falling here just yet, but even then there's not a lot of oaks where I live so I had planned on ordering some almond leaves. And I have actually been meaning to ask about a good floating plant for the hatchets besides duckweed. I've read quite a few horror stories about it :shock: But yes I've considered a cold water tank just for the uniqueness of it. I will probably do brackish first though because its a little closer to me. I grew up spending summers at my grandparents house down on the mobile bay ( a large brackish estuary here in the Alabama coast) and thought it'd be cool to keep a few fish that live in the area. That way I can have a little piece of the bay for myself
 

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I think Apistogramma would look good in there if you wanted a centerpiece fish. Tons of species to chose from, some more aggressive than others. They'll appreciate a blackwater tank. You might want to add more broken lines of sight though just in case.

Duckweed is something I dislike because it sticks to everything. I got it as a hitchiker and it's tough to get rid of. I know others like it, but not for me. Right now my floaters are dwarf water lettuce and Amazon frogbit. Either one, or both, would be good options as both are South American. Pennywort would work as well for purely South American. Wisteria and watersprite aren't South American but are nice plants.

Oak and Indian almond leaves are all I use, but certainly not the only options. I often hear of others like beech, magnolia, and banana. I've been wanting to show you this article and think I forgot. All the leaves are brown

Not really familiar with brackish fish at all. I know thanks to Outdoor Alabama that you guys have some seriously nice darters, madtoms, and minnows. Even some native blackwater species ;)
 

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Looks like you're off to a great start on what is going to be a gorgeous tank!!! Always glad to see people doing the research and getting started on the right foot - and it looks like you've got some great input here! I'll be peeking in to see how this tank develops! Can't wait for the next installment. . . keep up the good work!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
BWG: That article was extremely informative, thank you. And I love outdoor Alabama
Very good source of info on all sorts of stuff

Chesh: Thank you! I'm excited to see where it goes too!

Also had a question for anybody who might can answer it. I went from 3 to 7 neons about 5 days ago and my ammonia and nitrite levels haven't budged from right around the 0 mark. Is there a normal amount of time before a mini cycle occurs? Or is it possible to not ever have one?
 

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Congrats on the new arrivals!

It's possible not to have one that spiked high enough to be testable, also possible that it happened quickly enough that you didn't catch it, or that your plants were able to handle the ammonia before it was a problem (though with swords, this seems unlikey) Depending on how you cycled your tank (I'm sorry, I don't think I saw that thread?), it's also possible that there is enough of a bacterial colony present in there to handle the bioload of the 4 new additions. . . lol, not very helpful, am I? There are a lot of different possibilities!

I would *expect* to see something within the three days, so while it's always good to keep an eye on things in a new tank, I say count your blessings on this one - and it looks like you have seven of them! ^_^

Have your nitrAte levels shifted at all?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I checked nitrAtes this morning and they are right around 5 ppm. Everything else 0. When I started my cycle I made a rookie mistake and tried a fish in cycle (because I couldn't find any pure ammonia at all here in town) with too many fish. I put 6 neons in there with some of the stress-zyme cycle booster and lost 3 fish within then first week. The other 3 made it a few more weeks until the end of the cycle and are alive and well today
 

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Goodness this thread reminds me of how much I loved my FW tank. I love blackwater tanks so much too!
When it comes to FW im a nano enthusiast. I've been honestly thinking of starting a nano tank once again. Such a good looking tank!
 

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Goodness this thread reminds me of how much I loved my FW tank. I love blackwater tanks so much too!
When it comes to FW im a nano enthusiast. I've been honestly thinking of starting a nano tank once again. Such a good looking tank!
don't forget to post pictures when you start :-D
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I actually just added a few magnolia leaves to see how they work (I believe BWG said in an earlier post in this thread that some folks use them successfully). Still haven't water logged yet so they are floating around on the surface. But figured it will help with the over all look. It was funny because I somehow forgot I have 2 huge magnolias in my front yard and all of a sudden it hit me this morning. Haha
 
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