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Mr Aqua 3 Gallon Iwagumi

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The Start – January 23th, 2013

I’m doing a dry start in my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon with the HC in hopes that it roots well. I’ve read that Fluval Stratum is light and notoriously difficult to plant in (buoyant plants tend to let loose). And HC is notorious for floating. So let’s hope all goes well in 4 weeks. Thus, the next 4 weeks will be uneventful here, with the occasional growth update.

With everything finally here, I aquascaped it out yesterday and today and got some great feedback from people here. It’s amazing how small of a space 3 gallons is to work with. Just a little under a foot wide, about 1/2 foot deep, and only 8″ tall. I’m happy with how it turned out though, so I planted the HC this afternoon.

Update – January 24th, 2013

So the Zoo Med filter came last week. I don’t need it for another month, but I figured I’d play around with it. It’s rated to 79 GPH, but everybody says that’s not even close and that it’s only good for

I ran a whole bunch of tests on my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon and discovered that mine will pump a “real world 32″ gallons per hour when it filled with it’s provided media and sponge, plus 1 additional cut to size AquaClear sponge, and using 40″ worth of 5/16″ hose on both the intake and output. That’s plenty of flow for this little nano tank, and will turn over the water 10x per hour. I’m happy with the test results.

I tested further because I want to mount the canister filter under my desk. Lots of google searching speculated it won’t work well, but in my real tests it didn’t matter if it was at the same height as the tank, 18″ lower, or even 3 feet lower. It still pumps water at the same 32 GPH rate at any height.

We’ll see how it does as it gets gunked up, but preliminary tests are good for use on my little project here.

Update – February 26th, 2013

Just an update here. It’s been a slow process in my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon, but quite a learning experience. First off, as I mentioned, I killed all of my HC by letting it get too humid and then mold took over. If you want to see what HC looks like wilting away and dying, here is a time lapse video. This video covers a mere 2 week period.

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I took a couple of weeks off from my 3 Gallon after the monumental failure, mainly to make sure that all of the mold was killed, and so that the Fluval stratum could recover.

I replanted on February 26th (about a month ago), and I used roughly 1/3-1/2 as much HC this time. The plan was to take it slow, let the my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon breath much better, and keep a very close eye on how the plants react to changes. I have found that at least in this small of a tank, you really need to leave it mostly open. I have the saran wrap loosely fitted with a 1″ wide air gap, in addition to holes in it. I just wet it down every to every other day and keep the soil moist. It seems to be going quite well. It would be further along, except that I accidentally sprayed a little excel over all the HC, and then it just started shrinking hard and fast within a day. I forgot I had excel in the spray bottle from when I killed the mold. Within a few squirts I could smell it and I stopped right away, but it did NOT like that. I was able to recover it (that was about 2 weeks ago), and now it’s growing like gangbusters.

Update – April 30th, 2013

I don’t plan on filling with water until I have 100% coverage with the HC. It’s definitely slow growing on the right side. I might spritz a tiny bit of ferts over there to see how it reacts. I’ve also seen almost no growth to the left of the big rock. That HC is in the shade. I’ve added a light (not pictured) to hit it from the side, so hopefully that helps. I can aways transplant some of the HC that’s really thick if I need to. If I transplant, however, I’ll have to wait at least 2 more weeks to let it root before I can add water.

I’m not in any hurry though. This is just a fun little science project on my desk at work. It’s fun to see how much people drop in now to check out the plant growth though. One guy is obsessed with me getting water in it. It’s quite funny.

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This is what it looks like right now (April 30th). It really started taking off just over a week ago, and it’s doing really well! The HC is rooting all the way to the bottom of the soil (1″ deep in the shallow areas).

Update – May 9th, 2013

The HC is really taking off now. I’ve adjusted the lighting a bit to help out 2 areas in the Mr Aqua 3 Gallon. I added an external light to the left of the main rock to help the plants over there take off better. There is enough light to sustain them, but they grow incredibly slow. I think they’ll be fine when it fills in. I also took the Finnex light and turned it diagonally and put it mostly over the right side of the tank. Growth has been slower over there.

I’ve also pulled up some HC from the really thick areas and transplanted it to the left of the big rock and over on the right side to help fill those areas in faster. I’m going to be on vacation mid next week, so if it’s filled in good when I get back on the 20th, it might be time to fill it up with water. I’m not in a rush though, as this has been a really fun experiment. The time lapse of the current growth is very cool, and I can’t wait to see it fully completed.

Mention – May 20th, 2013

Fertilizing is unnecessary. All of that growth is without it. That said, it’d probably go faster with some root tabs. Last week I grabbed some ferts out of my fridge and fed them a little. The next day they were melting. If you look at the current pic in the first post, it’s gone downhill fast.

I was pretty confused at first, but then recall that I put excel in my ferts to keep them from getting mold. I’m fairly certain that’s the killer again. I feel like a total idiot for forgetting that. That’s now 3 times I’ve halted progress and killed plants during this dry start. I’m a bit frustrated with myself.

Update – June 4th, 2013

As I had mentioned 2 weeks ago, I was a [curse word] [curse word] and crashed my DSM by not leaving it alone. After 2 weeks, the situation has stabilized (HC stopped dying), so I dropped in some more HC to help fill back in faster. If I hadn’t have killed it off so much, my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon would be flooded right now.

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Anyway, here is the final kill off photo taken this morning before replanting. As you can see it’s fairly substantial:

Update – June 18th, 2013

Now that I’m getting closer to flooding my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon, and the HC is really springing to life, I planted some staurogyne repens. I want one more plant for this tank, but I’m not sure what that’ll be. I’m thinking something grassy in the back. Any suggestions?

Here is how the staurogyne repens looks, and you can see how well the HC is filling in:

Flooded – June 6th, 2013

And… BOOM! Mr Aqua 3 Gallon officially flooded!

Update – June 19th, 2013

Here is an HD time lapse video of the full DSM period and the filling of my Mr Aqua 3 Gallon. It’s pretty cool, and you can see the 2 times I almost killed everything with Excel.

Update – June 20th, 2013

This morning I put 1 layer of fiberglass window screen over the light to cut down the PAR. At just 6″ off the substrate, the Finnex Fuge Ray is pushing out 62 PAR. With no CO2, this is asking for an algae farm in the Mr Aqua 3 Gallon, and with CO2 it’d be faster growth than I want to deal with at work.

Without the screen yesterday, the HC was perling like crazy. See the pic 2 posts above. With the screen in place, it still perls, but it’s far less action… probably 1/10th the bubbles. I cut it perfectly to size and used double sided tape to attach it. You cannot see the screen at all unless you pick the light up and turn it over.

And I must say, it’s just a joy to see this little nano tank next to me at work all day.

I have decided that my aquarium obsession would be best served if I had a nano tank in my office at work. In the interest of keeping maintenance easy to handle and to keep a relatively low profile, something less than 5 gallons seemed like a good size for this. I didn’t want to spend a ton on this project, so Mr Aqua’s 3 gallon rimless at just $34 shipped was a good fit. The goal was to keep it relatively cheap while looking slick, so here are the other equipment selections:

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