Isaac | It is with great excitement that I embark on [TAG]‘s first aquarium. I have a small school of C. sterbai that was perviously featured and this new project is a good opportunity to house them in a new aquarium.
The aquarium that I will be using is the ADA 30cm Cube. ADA Cube Gardens are well-known for their clarity and they achieve this by using glass that contains low amounts of iron. Low iron glass do not have the typical greenish tinge that are found in normal glass aquariums and are similar to, but not as clear as acrylic aquariums. Although many of us have seen pictures of ADA Cube Gardens, their clarity cannot only be really appreciated until viewed in person. I was pleasantly impressed when the aquarium was first filled.
Name | ADA 30C Cube Garden
Dimensions | 30cm length x 30cm depth x 30cm height
Material | Glass
Thickness | 5mm
Capacity | 25 litres
This macro shot shows the high standard of silicon work found in an ADA Cube Garden. The work is extremely neat and clean, with only as much silicon as needed to hold the aquarium walls securely together.
Besides the high standard in silicon work, the aquarium walls have been machined cut to precision. It’s gratifying to use such a carefully crafted aquarium.
I will not be going into details on the equipment, nutrients and feed that are being used, but will cover them in the next article.
Filter | Eheim Classic 2213
Filtration Media | Eheim Mech Pro | Eheim Substrat Pro | Carbon Pad | Fine Filter Pad
Filtration Pipes | BorneoWild Stainless Steel Inflow / Outflow
Filtration Accessories | 2x Eheim Double Taps | Eheim tubes
Lighting | Ecoxotic Aluminum LED Arm | 12,000K 9 watts LED | 10 hours
Substrate | ADA Rio Negro Sand
Hardscape | BorneoWild Numanuddo Malayan Driftwood S & M | Black Lava Rock
Flora | Java Fern on Wood | US Fissiden on Lava Rock | Anubias Nana “Petite”
Cycling Agent | Seachem Stability
Carbon Dioxide | Seachem Excel | 3ml Daily
Nutrient | ADA Green Brightly Shade | 3ml Daily
Water Conditioner | Seachem Prime | 1ml per water change
Fauna | 5 Adult Corydoras | 4 Juvenile Corydoras
Feed | Hikari Sinking Wafers | 4 pellets Daily
Test Kits | Sera Ammonia | Sera Nitrite | Sera pH
Temperature | 24 – 28 degree Celsius
My requirement for a tall green background flora that does not grow in substrate meant that I was largely limited to the choice of the Java fern. The good news is that the Java fern comes in a few varieties and sizes, aiding in the establishment of a balanced layout when solely using it as a background flora.
Not everyone is gonna be a fan of the Java fern because of its distinctive leaves. Lucky for me, I am a big fan of this incredibly hardy flora.
I brought in 5 bunches of Anubias bartei nana “petite”, these Anubias nana originally came tied to their own lava rocks, but I cut them from their bindings and will place them in the crevices of my hardscape for a more natural look.
The Anubias bartei nana “petite” is another example of a very hardy flora. It grows best in a shaded part of an aquascape as its light requirements are not high. One good way to position them is under a taller flora, enabling them to stay out of direct light and to add depth to that area.
The aquarium is placed on a side table that is more than sufficiently constructed to hold its weight. When placing aquariums on tables or stands that are not designed for such a use, one must be careful to ensure that the support is capable of holding a filled aquarium over a long period of time.
We chose an Ikea cabinet made of 3cm thick chipboard. This thickness will ensure that the cabinet would have no difficulty holding up the 30kg aquarium over a long period of time. As chipboard expands when exposed to water, care should be taken to prevent such an exposure and all spills should be wiped out immediately.
ADA’s Rio Negro sand substrate should not be washed, unlike the usual advice given to other types of aquarium sand. I found the Rio Negro sand to be extremely fine and compact, and if washed, becomes difficult to scape with. I also found little dirt in it, when compared to other aquarium sand substrate and thus will not recommend any prewash when using the Rio Negro sand.
A close up of the ADA sticker shows how fine the Rio Negro sand is.
For my planned aquascape which does not involve any flora being planted in substrate, I poured just enough Rio Negro sand to establish a minimum level. Substrate can easily be added at a later stage, but difficult to remove if there is too much, so it is always best to add than to remove.
A hole is cleared within the substrate for the placement of my medium-sized Java fern. The Java fern is attached to a piece of wood and is placed in the far right corner of the aquarium. This corner will house the filtration pipes and the tall leaves of the Java fern will aid in hiding these. If utilising glass filtration pipes, the need to hide them is less of a concern.
I am using BorneoWild’s steel filtration pipes. In a nutshell, they are of good quality and of respectable design.
The biggest piece of wood that we have in our selection is the first to be placed in the aquarium. Always start with your biggest pieces and work down to your smallest. After you are satisfied with the placement of your biggest piece of wood, build the hardscape around it with the other wood pieces. This flow of placement will better enable you to create a balanced hardscape.
After I am sure of the placement of my medium-sized Java fern, I will cover the wood that it is anchored on with substrate. This hides the wood from view and gives the impression that the Java fern grows from the substrate. When doing this, be careful not to cover the Java fern’s rhizome as it is through this that the Java fern gets its needed nutrients. Covering the rhizome will lead to its poor health or death.
After the first rock goes into the aquarium, subsequent rocks are placed according to their form, shape and how they will fit in the overall aquascape. Besides forming a visual component of the hardscape, rocks also play the important role of weighing down or securing pieces of wood in their place.
I am pleased with the aquascape that has been achieved on the right side of the aquarium and have proceeded with the insertion of the Anubias bartei nana “petite” into the crevices of the rocks. I have also started on the scaping of the left side with the addition of a small-sized Java fern.
My complete rock hardscape consist of two layers. The first layer is made out of black lava rocks, and their purpose is to provide a foundation and to secure my wood hardscape. The second layer is made out of brown lava rocks that have US fissiden tied on them. Their purpose is to add a sense of depth to my hardscape. As a 30cm cube aquarium is deep in depth when compared to other 30cm long aquariums, I am using this space to my advantage with two layers of different rock contrasts.
Smaller pieces of wood are inserted into spaces that are found within the rock hardscape. This creates more depth and breaks up the surface of the generally flat rock hardscape.
The aquascape is complete! Water is slowly poured into the back of the aquarium, using the hardscape to break the falling water. This prevents the stirring of substrate as the aquarium is being filled.
As mentioned earlier, ADA’s Rio Negro sand is extremely fine and compact. When the aquarium was being filled up, none of the sand floated and there were no air bubbles spotted in the substrate. If a substrate can be described as being ‘designed’, the Rio Negro is a superbly designed sand-based substrate.
The first ammonia and nitrite tests was done 3 days after the aquarium was filled. Ammonia levels were still high and nitrite levels were negligible. 5ml of Seachem Stability have been introduced to the aquarium on a daily basis but it is still too early for the Nitrogen Cycle to start.
9 days after the aquarium was filled up, ammonia and nitrite levels have dropped to zero. The Corydoras were introduced and here is the first full tank shot!