July '02 - Alex Kawazaki's 27 L Planted Cube.
Aquatic gardeners are always looking for new challenges to apply their talent and creativity, and here's an example of a new "category" that's becoming more popular since the publication of volume II of Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium World series. The first few setups in that book are incredible "planted nano-cubes" which can be as small as only 1 liter! The main challenges in such a setup are its limited size and its (cubic) format, which makes the creation of a rich, interesting and natural aquascape more difficult. Motivated by these examples and some others he found on the internet (especially in Asian websites), Brazilian aquarist Alex Kawazaki decided to try his luck and created this little wonder that you can see in the photos. Alex's cube - only 27 liters in volume - was decorated based on a diagonal aquascape, which helps a lot in breaking the symmetry of a cube. It is basically formed by a dense plantation of Hemianthus and Micranthemum in the back, interrupted by an arrangement of rounded rocks in the center, followed by a carpet of Glossostigmas up front. A beautiful Red Lotus amidst the rocks gives the focal point to the setup, and the placement of other assorted species here and there gives the contrast and variety which result in a harmonious and delicate composition. Can you imagine anything better to decorate some un-used corner of your living room?
Setup Date: October/2001.
Photograph Date: April/2002.
Tank: 30x30x30 cm (27 liters).
Lighting: 52 W (2 compact fluorescents PL 26W, 6250 K) for 10 hours/day.
Filtration: Hagen Aquaclear Mini (250 L/h) with sponge, wool and Siporax.
Substrate: 50% fine gravel and 50% laterite (2-3 mm) + Tetra Initial Sticks.
Fertilization: 0.02% Ferrous Gluconate solution in daily drops, and Potassium Bicarbonate during water changes.
Water Changes: 33% weekly.
CO2: DIY with wooden airstone diffusor at the filter exit.
Decoration: Medium and small rocks.
Water: pH 6.4-6.8; KH 2-3°, GH 2-3°.
Flora: Glossostigma elatinoides, Hemianthus micranthemoides, Micranthemum umbrosum, Potamogeton sp., Echinodorus tenellus, Hydrocotyle sp., Potamogeton gayi, Nymphaea sp. 'red', Bacopa myriophylloides, Cabomba pihauiensis, Echinodorus sp., Lindernia sp., Eleocharis acicularis, Marsilea sp., Lagarosiphon sp., Chara sp., aquatic cactus (?).
Fauna: Otocinclus affinis, Coridoras hastatus, Hyperbrycon amandae, Crossocheilus siamensis, Caridina japonica, Melanoides tuberculata.
Owner's Comments: Well, I suffered a lot with this setup initially...it was 5 months of non-stop algae blooms. I tried everything! 50% water change every day...don't do that! I lost a lot of fish. Change only 1/3 every other day. Interrupted light cycle...only made things worse! It was much better to reduce 20% time and 30% intensity. Otos, snails and SAE's...they ate some of it, but didn't like the hair algae too much. Algicides...I tried one and got screwed! Lots of plants died together with the algae, and others paralized. Worse yet, the algae returned even stronger in less than 10 days. When I increased the biofiltration adding another filter (a home-made canister with a weak pump), that's when things began to get better. But the blooms only ended, like magic, exactly when the tank completed 160 days running, and when I restarted the CO2 injection. As the marine people advise: "Cycling may be complete in several weeks, but any tank's maturation will take at least 6 months". The CO2 diffusor is just below the filter exit, which spreads the CO2 bubbles throughout the tank. In the beginning I put the airstone way down deep, but since the tank is small (27 liters) it was getting too acidic. So I lifted the airstone until I could adjust the pH around 6.4 - 6.8.
If you'd like to submit an aquarium for Tank of the Month, just contact me.
Photos taken by Alex Kawazaki, and displayed here with his with permission.