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Peter’s Office Space Cube Garden MINI M

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The Start – January 24th, 2013

Hey all, this is my Cube Garden Mini M 5.5g desk tank. It’s going to be low-tech. I am going to dry-start HC and Glosso that I got from Pirayaman. I got a great piece of driftwood at Giant Aquarium in Philly, with great help from a guy there named Troy. Also added a Finnex Fugeray w/ moonlight and ecocomplete into the Cube Garden Mini-M. More coming soon.

Update – January 26th, 2013

Got around to plating the HC and glosso in my Cube Garden I got earlier this week. I made the mistake of leaving them in the sandwich bag they were in with their water this whole past week. When I opened the bag, it reeked like crap. I hope the plants are okay.

I am spraying them with a 750 mL bottle of water from my 20H and a couple of drops of Excel and very tiny amount of KH2PO4 and KN03 mixed in. I’m keeping the lights on for 12 hours, with the moonlights on at all times.

Update – January 30th, 2013

I was away from the office the past two days, so the Cube Garden Mini-M has been completely wrapped up for 4 straight days with no air exchange or spraying. The plants looked good after all that, and I even noticed some new small growth for the glosso. Some patches of HC still looks kinda sad, but some of them look okay.

I also cut out clumps of taiwan moss from my 20H and put them on the driftwood.

February 4th, 2013

small update after planting a week ago

I definitely see new glosso growth as some of them start to die off in the Cube Garden Mini M. Also, as you can see in the 3rd pic, some of the HC bunches look rotted and dead, while the rest look green and lively. There is definitely HC starting to runner out and new small leaves popping up. Should I leave the rotted looking parts there so that they can break down for the bacteria, or remove it so that they don’t rot up the rest of the root system of the other HC bunches?

I have not submerged the substrate in water at all; in fact, all I have been doing is spraying (Excel + tank water from my 20H + dry ferts in 750mL bottle) a good amount twice a day (when I get to work and before I leave work). I know the DSM method calls for submerging the substrate no more than 1″ over it, but I think the heavy spraying I’m doing is working quite well.

Update – February 19th, 2013

This is week 3 of my DSM. The HC bunches have grown a great amount. This week I decided to break some of the clusters up and break them up into smaller pieces to fill in some gaps. I know a lot of you use aquasoil, but I think eco complete is fine too. When I was breaking up the clusters, the roots were clinging to the granules of ecocomplete, which is good; they were getting their nutrients from them and the roots were established well. I broke up the baby tears bunches and replant them.  Hopefully the smaller pieces will bunch up on their own and spread out.

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Update – February 26th, 2013

I cheated a little and bought a small pot of HC baby tears for $6 at my LFS on Sunday for the Cube Garden Mini M. I broke it up in small clumps and planted the gaps so that it will carpet faster. I’m going to give it a week or two to set up its roots, then flood.

The glosso is sending out runners OVER my HC. I had to pick a couple of them out and move them to the side. I can see the this being an issue down the line, but for now I’m going to let it slide.

When I flood, should I flood with tank water I siphon out of my 20g, or use straight up tap? I have the Aquaclear 20 running on my 20g for about 2 weeks now, so that should have established mulm and bacteria. Would that be enough? I also plan on adding some cabomba, anacharis, and sunset hygro as fast growing stem plants to suck up any initial nitrates and ammonia, and maybe even some floaters.

Update – March 4th, 2013

I added cuttings of like 10 stems of sunset hygro, some cabomba, pennywort, and anacharis. Will flood tomorrow and add floaters and the AC20. Then I will let it run, maybe do small water changes before the weekend. I’m going home to NYC this weekend and hopefully the LFS in Chinatown has the Sundadaino Axelrodi that I want. Right now, I have a good amount of those tiny white nematoad looking things wiggling around the glass and eco.

I plan on dosing Excel and Flourish once a week, as well as tiny amounts of KNO3 and KH2PO4

Update – March 22nd, 2013

So it has indeed been a few weeks now. I flooded my Cube Garden Mini M on Friday the 8th. BUT, I had to travel ALL of the following week for work, and it was urgent so I did not anticipate being away from the tank for a full week after flooding. Unfortunately, my co-workers did not know to top off my tank, so my water level evaporated to maybe half. Plus, I did not have the extension tube on the Aquaclear filter; just a sponge at the top of the inlet, so the filter was not taking any water in and thus the water was stagnant for probably 3-4 days. I got back in the office this past Monday the 18th to quite a mess. Lots of different types of algae. I went out and got two large snails, two otos, and managed to catch two RCS’s from my 20g on Tuesday. They have been doing a great job so far clearing the algae. Not 100% yet, but definitely seeing a difference. The bellies of the otos look fat and round, which is great. One of the snails is very active, but the other one is a lazy p.o.s. I also started 1mL daily doses of Excel to combat the algae. Have not dosed any Flourish or KHsPO3 or KNO3 yet. I don’t want to provide the algae with even more nutrients.

Also, my water is tea colored from the driftwood tannins. I have been changing out 1 gallon per day this week to hopefully eventually clear that out. I read the long thread by Frank W. about his Mini-M setup and he mentioned that bamboo charcoal would be the best thing to use, especially over carbon. There is a Container Store by me in Cherry Hill that sells these small bamboo charcoal packs that I will cut up this weekend and put in some mesh or panty hose into my filter and clear up the water.

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I put in some sunset hygro cuttings since they are fast growing stem plants and I wanted them to out-compete the algae from the start. Plus, the red looks really nice. They don’t turn anywhere close to this red in my 20g, and that is with a Ray2 suspended 8″ above the top. Remember, this is just a 14″ Fugeray.

You can see the floaters at the top looking kind of ugly. They are there to suck up any ammonia in the water that maybe has outgassed form the soil, without competing for CO2 with the HC or glosso.

So yeah, this is after 8 weeks. Trying to do little changes, nothing drastic and will adjust accordingly. I think it will look good eventually.

Update – March 26th, 2013

Nothing much new here…just an overall picture of the Cube Garden Mini M on my desk. I put in a sack of bamboo charcoal yesterday. I plan on just leaving it in there for a couple months, then recharging it in sunlight, then putting it back in, instead of the tiny ceramic blocks that came with my AC20. I’ll also put my Purigen back in after I recharge it.

Shrimp and snail(s) and otos are doing their thing. The algae is still there, but on some clumps of HC. Will hold off on the daily water changes for now, since I have the bamboo charcoal in place, and since I have started daily Excel and alternating-days Flourish and KNO3-KH2PO4 ferts. The HC and glosso leaves are yellow, and some of the sunset hygro leaves have small holes. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the leaves to see the effects of my dosing.

My boss kept asking me when I would be getting fish and he printed out all those goldfish and put it behind my tank to prank me.

Update – April 5th, 2013

So the bamboo charcoal I got from the Container Store was a dud. Had it in for a week and it didn’t do anything. I got activated filter carbon and it cleared up the water significantly overnight, so stick to what’s out there! I pulled out a lot of clumps of algae, and am seeing slow rebounding by the HC and glosso. Been dosing Excel every day, and dry ferts and Flourish on alternating days. I’m seeing some early signs of algae on the glass, but I’ll be away from work all of next week (so no ferts or dosing). Curious to see what condition the plants are in after I get back on the 15th.

Up to this point, I have been taking pics with my cell phone. These photos below are now with my experimenting with my Canon PowerShot SD1000 from 2008. Was able to get some cool and interesting shots. Enjoy!

Info – Taiwan Moss Lustness

Story of my taiwan moss:
January 2012: I got that moss from someone I bought RCS’s from. It was a golf-ball sized clump. I stuck it on my driftwood in my 20H low-tech tank. I dosed Excel and dry ferts and bi-weekly water changes for the rest of 2012.
January 2013: Cut some pieces of it out and laid it out on the driftwood in the Cube Garden Mini M at the very beginning of this DSM.
March 2013: Flooded the Cube Garden Mini-M after ~6 weeks of DSM.

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So the moss was dry-started with the glosso and HC. First two weeks it kind of spread out a little, but the next two weeks it just took off. It’s still taking off now, after being submerged for weeks. I don’t have any secrets as to why it’s so lush and green. I will have to trim it very soon.

Also, I’m strongly considering just taking out the glosso and HC because they aren’t growing and it’s a losing battle to try and get them to grow; little by little, I see more small clumps of sad HC at the surface. I’m really leaning towards a spread of Cryptocoryne Parva and Marsilea Hirsuta for the foreground and Anubias Nana/Petite Nana with some rocks to fill up the middle triangular space in front of the wood. I know none of those plants will grow much at all, but that’s fine, since it’s a low-tech tank anyway.

Update – April 26th, 2013

I pulled out the HC from the Mini-M, it was slowly dying/straggling. I went back home this past weekend and got a good amount of Anubias and some RCS’s and 7 Purple Rasboras. I also went to the park/trail nearby (Shuylkill River trail) and got some good rocks from there. Put the rocks in the middle with the Anubias and voile! Looks more natural now.

I spread out some glosso to hopefully carpet out over the front. Might even get a pot or two of marsilea hirsuta to fill out the front, but I like the look of the bare black substrate. I think it contrasts well with the anubias and moss on the wood.

Update – May 15th, 2013

Just a minor update – added some marsilea minuta and Nymphoides sp. Taiwan from H4N into the Cube Garden Mini M. The minuta will grow slow, but that is fine. The glosso isn’t spreading much, but the leaves on each plant look pretty green. I think they’re done acclimating to being submerged, after ~2 months, so hopefully their growth will pick up in the next couple of weeks.

Been dosing 1mL Excel M-W-F, 1mL of Flourish on Tues, and 1/16 tsp KNO3 and a tiny tiny pinch of KH2PO4 on Mondays. I used this dosing calculator to figure out my dosing amounts for EI Low Light/Weekly. I do water changes on Fridays. I think the moss sops up most of the ferts I add, because it grows so quick and dense. The moss is also a large majority of the plant mass in the tank, so I’m not surprised if this was indeed the case. Kind of concerned that the glosso and MM would not get as much nutrients because of the moss. Maybe up my ferts more? Time will tell.

Update – June 20th, 2013

Not much new; growth is slow for the marsilea minuta, so carpeting will take forever. The moss is freakin dense as heck! Since I am Asian and I can’t grow a beard, I am living vicariously through the moss. I will let it grow out a bit more, I think it adds some depth to the tank and it just looks like a moss mountain.

The CPD’s like to swim down along the moss, which looks really cool. Also, my berried RCS popped, and I now have ~20 little juvies. They look really cool crawling through the moss all day.

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