January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m a novice aquarist and my aim is to collect examples of beautiful nano tanks, and share the things I’ve learned.

I will be discussing nano tanks.  I enjoy working on a small scale and making microcosms that will fit comfortably in any room.


car audio

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment

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September 15, 2013 Leave a comment

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5.5 Rimless Planted Tank Build

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Current Full Tank Shot:

Filter- Aquaclear 10 HOB
Heater- Rena Smart Heater 50w
Lighting- DIY 24 3Watt LEDs with Dimmer Switches
Dosing- Estimative Index Dosing Regimen
CO2- None yet, maybe DIY yeast reactor.

Narrow Leaf Java Fern
Christmas Moss
Wisteria (future)

Dwarf Pea Puffers (future)


A long time ago, fluval edges were IN.  I got sucked in too.  I owned every shitty aquarium there was.  My first tank was a biOrb.  Bleh.

This was my first attempt at a planted tank.  I knew nothing back then- I used inadequate lights, pool filter sand, and the plants soon died.

Here’s my second incarnation of the Fluval Edge.  Last winter I set up a nano reef tank for my mother in her kitchen.  I upgraded the lights to two 13W 10000K CFL bulbs.  I didn’t last long though:

While it was cycling my mother dropped a glass cup on it and shattered the top hahaha.  It was actually a blessing, since the top is a heinous PITA to deal with when maintaining the tank, and it severely limits your light options.  At last I’m free of the tyranny of that god damned tank.

I took a razor blade and cut off the top, and ended up with a decent rimless tank.   I prefer ADA tanks because of their high clarity glass, but I really do like the dimensions of the fluval edge.

Originally my intent was to make another nano reef, which is why I chose to go with dimmable LED lights.  But then I decided that a low tech planted tank would be much easier to take care of as I finished my last semester at UT Austin.

I also wanted to experiment with Christmas Moss, Narrow Leaf Java Fern and Dwarf pea puffers.

I ordered the DIY 24 LED light kit from Aqua Style Online.  I used this thread as a guide.  I had done some soldering before, but if you’re new to soldering, try looking up some videos on how to solder on youtube- it helped me tremendously.  The most important part of soldering is the concept of heating the metal connections with the soldering iron, and then adding the solder- as the solder melts it will glide onto the heated metal components and cover them.  When you’re heating the connection, a small amount of solder on the soldering iron helps heat up the connection.

I didn’t like the fan that came with the kit so I bought 2 smaller, thinner fans from Fry’s Electronics.  The power supply that powers the fans was too much, and the fans spun too fast and loud, so I added a 100 ohm resistor from Radioshack to the voltage line.  This lowered the current passing through the fans and they spun slower and quieter.  They are almost silent now but spin fast enough to cool my heat sink.

I went to the dollar store and bought a rigid food container as a project box.  I noticed that my LED drivers got really hot after a few hours so I decided to use the fan that came with the kit to cool my project box.  I attached it to the tupperware lid and used an plug from an old servo for quick connect/disconnect.  I used heat shrink tubing for the first time on this project and loved how clean it made all my wires look.

The light bar was made from 1/2″ conduit pipe.  Here’s an awesome guide on how to make an ADA Style Light Bar.  I really liked how clean the setup looked- no ugly hanging wires or power wires.

Next I had to make the cabinet.  I like cabinets that match aquarium dimension exactly.  Here is a good guide on how to make an ADA Style Tank Stand.  I didn’t use a biscuit joiner and I didn’t cover it in laminate, because I knew I wanted a glossy white setup.

I used Euro hinges for the door:

Pictures of the stand with the light bar.  The light bar enters the left side of the cabinet and anchors to a hole in the back.  I used gray pipe fittings from Lowes as plastic grommets.

I ended up using spray primer and glossy white spray paint on the tank stand, light bar and some laminate for cover the ugly side of my heat sink on my LED lights.  I also cut some laminate for a white back drop for my tank.

These are the cabinet feet from Lowes:

Finished cabinet and tank:

While ordering Lily Pipes from Aquatic Magic, I decided to order Christmas Moss and Narrow Leaf Java Fern since shipping was free.

Attaching the moss to the plastic needle point grid was an extremely tedious process.  So was cutting the the grid.  It’s a labor of love.

Does it look better with the white backdrop?

Mein 1.3 Gallon Tank

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I made a tiny tank with an overflow as a way to experiment with planted tanks.  The tank isn’t much to look at, but I learned a lot from it.  I learn so much with every tank I build, so it was a great cost effective way to experiment with HC (Hemianthus callitrichoides).  It used two 13 Watt Ott Lites and DIY Yeast CO2 and ADA aquasoil.  It actually had a sump and a return pump!  Dry start didn’t work well for me- I have no idea why, but growth really took off when I filled the tank.  I bought panes of glass from Lowes and siliconed them together.  I had a pump and a heater laying around, so the whole project cost me under $100.

Mantis Shrimp Kicks Ass, Breaks Glass

January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I saw a documentary, Disney’s Oceans last summer.  I was heavily intoxicated, so naturally, it was incredible.  I saw it again a second time, and was just as astounded.  One of the most memorable parts of the film was a fight between a crab and a mantis shrimp.  Suffice it to say, one them gets his ass KICKED.

Last week I saw a mantis shrimp at the LFS.  It sells for $100 and must be housed in a species only tank.  I knew I didn’t want one, but I researched them later, and found them quite interesting.

Apparently their sense of sight is highly developed, so much that they are able to distinguish individuals of their species.  Not bad considering it’s a gigantic sea insect.


It also has the fastest strike of an animal in the world.  It has a bludgeoning appendage that is used to smash open snail shells.  This appendage moves so fast it creates a weird fluid dynamic phenomenon, where a bubbles and a flash of light appear at the point of impact, and the shockwave lands a second equally powerful blow to the hapless mollusk.  The appendage takes awhile to to ‘reload’, like a sling in a catapult, and the impact is so powerful, the limb actually damages itself.  Luckily, this arthropod can regenerate and repair as it molts.

You can see the TED talk here:

These animals have also been known to strike and break aquarium glass.  I think I’ll leave this one in the ocean.


January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve seen sites on the internet charge exorbitant amounts for jellyfish aquariums.

This one’s $16,000, which to me, borders on insanity.

I can’t imagine it would be too different from a reef tank, with a few exceptions:

1) Very low flow
2) Special shaped tank- Apparently jellyfish have not evolved to master the art of movement and they get trapped in corners.
3) No ‘scape.  Rocks.  Heaters.  Anything sharp enough to tear wet toilet paper.
4) No real lighting requirements, since they’re not photosynthetic.

As far as the tank goes, spherical or cylindrical would be out of question due to the distortion.  As much as hate ReefOne’s Biorb line, I think their Biorb Life would make an awesome jellyfish aquarium:

I think a sump would be an absolute necessity.  This would allow you to do away with the heater in the tank.  Also, you’d want crystal clear water, which would only really be possible with a sump.  Can the Biorb’s stock filter system product clear results?

If you did go with a sump, you would have a toothless overflow, and reduce the flow so jellyfish wouldn’t get sucked in.  This overflow looks like it may work, if the flow was low enough:

And lastly, the fun part- the lights.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I’d want LED strips that would change colors on a timer.

You could get them at IKEA, or oznium.com:

So in the end, you’d have to do some major modifications, and would still have to buy jellyfish every year, due to their life expectancy.

I’m sure the novelty of pet jellyfish would wear off pretty quickly, as they have no colors of their own and the intelligence of a sponge.

Still, it would be pretty useful in seducing women that you invite over for a night cap.  But chances are, if you have enough money to spend frivolously on a jellyfish aquarium, she’s probably screwing you anway.

I doubt you’d get as much action with one of these, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.