Sunday, June 29, 2014

[EHEIM OPAL] Small changes

Here is a quick update on the Eheim Opal.

I have planted the plants in rows emphasizing their difference in colours. Still think the left side needs some work so I will be replacing the Ludwigia with some more alternanthera mini and moving the Hygrophila to the back of the aquarium.

Since the increase in maintenace in this aquarium I have noticed a subtle improvement in the health of all the plants. Fertilisation currently used is EI. I also dose Seachem Flourish and every week and do regular small water changes to replace minor elements.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Illumagic COMBORAY 30cm

Here is my review on the Illumagic Comboray for 30cm

I am writing up this review because there seems to be no independent review on this light online. When choosing a LED light I had so many different lights to choose from.

For example here is a list of competitors:
1. Up aqua pro Z
2. Aqua zonic leds 
3. Ista LEDs
4. Citii Aqua
5. Aware
6. Kessil 

Why Comboray?
You may be wondering why i chose this light. After all, I did spent over $300AUD on this light and I could have easily chosen a Kessil instead. The DIY light build is approximately $200 if done right but requires a bit of time and effort. Basically it comes down to four reasons:
1. I wanted flexibility to switch and choose my LEDs
2. I wanted something  guaranteed to grow a HC carpet
3. I wanted something that I could upgrade later on. (whether it is to marine or a larger tank).
4. It had low power consumption yet could grow HC to a depth of 1 inch
5. I wanted a light in which the internals could be upgraded later on easily as technology phases out

First impressions 
First impressions were very good. I purchased this light from Dalua and it arrived via a courier. The light was packaged pre-assembled. The first thing i noticed was the way everything was packaged very neatly to avoid damage. The build quality of the light is fantastic. The light is thin and looks very durable without compromising its look. The aluminium housing has smooth curved edges and looks sleek. The screws fit perfectly and is not too tight or too loose. The sliding cover to the LEDs is sturdy and very clear.  Everything just seems to fit into place without being too loose or tight. Even the rail slides in and out with minimal friction. Instructions are very simple and almost too simple (especially with the remote).

The remote control is small, light and quite thin. However it is made of plastic which was a little disappointing. It works out of the box. (I had to install the IR chip but it was very easy). There are three channels to the light. The first and second channels light up odd and even LEDs and can be dimmed separately. It even comes with a day night cycle programmed into it. Just hold the up button for 5 seconds and wait for the beep. The third channel seems to be reserved for something I have yet to figure it out.

I found the lens click into place and is quite easy to lever out using my fingernail. I was able to replace the 2x NW LEDs with CW LEDs easily without damaging the lens. The LEDs are held in by screws that you can loosen and you can easily slip a finger nail under the lens to click it out and push it into the desired lens.

What do you get?
I purchased the freshwater package $290 AUD with the Rotatable Mounting stand $50 AUD.
The package is advertised to come with the following:

6 X 2 watt Cree LED's
Neutral white, cool white, Blue, UV and cyan (green) 10,000k
LED's 390(UV) up to 500nm
300mm x 87mm x 25mm
12 Watt power consumption
90 Degree lenses
One power cord

Here is a more detailed description of what i got
8 X 2 watt Cree LEDs (2 x spare whites)
Illumagic ComboRay LED Bulb - Cyan (500nm) x 1
Illumagic ComboRay LED Bulb - UV (400nm) x 1
Illumagic ComboRay LED Bulb - Neutral White (4000K) x 4
Illumagic ComboRay LED Bulb - Cool White (7000K) x 2
IR Remote  x 1 (battery included)
Power cord / pack with on/off switch
90 degree angle LED lens x 4
Default Stand
Thermopaste (not reusable as there is no lid)
Swivel Stand with silicon scratch protective covers(optional)

Here are some other Light Choices
● 400nm Near UV (SemiLEDs C-35L-U50)
● 420nm Violet (SemiLEDs C-35L-U70)
● 450nm Royal Blue (CREE Xlamp XT-E)
● 475nm Blue (CREE Xlamp XP-E)
● 500nm Cyan (SemiLEDs C-35L-C)
● 670nm Red (SemiLEDs C-35L-C?) - Yes it does. Dalua sells it.
● 5000~8300k Cool white (CREE Xlamp XP-G R5 139lm)
● 3700~5000k Neutral white (CREE Xlamp XP-G R3 122lm)

How well does it grow plants?
I am still testing this light but be sure to check back later.

In summary
The good
- Quality build
- Came pre-assembled
- Good value (when you factor in programmable remote)
- Quite bright (will test plant growth later)
- Easy to build with little fuss
- Day Night function with 2 separately dimmable channels

The bad
No real major disadvantages that i can think of:
- Instructions at times are too simple. The board to the remote is too close to the LEDs. Instructions should clearly give some warning about this.
- Remote is made of plastic. Appears a little flimsy.

Light choice
I have been doing a little research on light choices. Plants use a lot of the red and blue spectrum for photosynthesis. The blue penetrates water a lot better than the red but they also utilise red a lot more efficiently compared to the blue spectrum. Plants also use green but not very efficiently but the inclusion of cyan i believe is to bring out the green colour of plants as well as to balance out the red and blue spectrum. I also read somewhere that too much red can lead to algae issues and should be avoided. If I were to choose my own LEDs i would have probably gone with a similar setup to what was given to me. The only thing i would have done different is included a royal blue or violet instead of UV. The two cool white LEDs came in handy as the overall look of the light looked too much like sunlight without it.

Overall i consider this light a very good buy.
The more i use this light the more hidden functions i find.
Only the following months will tell how well it performs!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

[1ft IWAGUMI] update on scape

As you can see from the pictures below I did a lot of fiddling around to come to the final layout. Although i am not 100% happy with the final layout i believe it is good enough to start the fine layer of substrate. Here are a few quick tips that i learned.

1. Use the rule of thirds not only front on but also from the top
2. Sloping substrate greatly helps with depth
3. Try to make the rocks angle up 
4. Include a focal point for the eyes to rest on
5. Fine layer capping helps improve look and grow HC
6. Use same type of rock
7. Rock should reach 2/4 height of the tank

[1ft IWAGUMI] The beginning

Recently I have been wanting to have a nano iwagumi in my office

I have not really purchased everything yet but I have enough to dry start soon
Hardscape was quite fun to acquire. Spent the day at Canley Vale Nursery in the rain and mud choosing my rocks with a friend of mine
Owner probably thought we were insane. He casually asked if these were for an aquarium. Only Aquarists would be insane enough to come out on a public
holiday to spend an hour choosing the right rocks haha!

Anyway Im currently in the process of ordering the equipment

Here is my plan so far

- Aquarium - 1ft komoda skyclear cube
- CO2 - 3kg setup with ANS diffuser (might switch to atomiser later on)
- Substrate - CAL Aqua normal capped with fine
- Filtration - Eheim 2214
- Heating - Inline DIY
- Fertilisation - EI Dosing
- Hardscape - Honeycomb
- Lighting - Undecided

Plant List
Im trying to keep this simple.
Maybe HC as the foreground with some pogostemon midground and alternanthera for the focal point.
Blyxa or hygro as the background for some contrast?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

[Emersed Setup] - Day 21

Here are some pictures of growth in the emersed setup compared to the aquarium setup (first picture). Top picture is Day 1 and the bottom picture is day 21 (3 weeks). 

Overall most of the plants are doing well. The Eriocaulon did okay for the first 2 weeks but now the outer leaves are beginning to die. I suspect this plant acclimatises much slower compared to the other plants.

Soon i will be moving these plants into a cube. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

[REVIEW] UP-Aqua Co2 Super Diffuser System

I just bought this UP-Aqua Co2 Super Diffuser system and I have decided to write up a review for you guys to consider before you purchase this unit.

First of all the build is quite sturdy. Comes with screw ins on either side to hold the pipes. One major grip i did have was that the unit will leak if you do not take care to screw the cap on properly. Mine leaked even with the cap screwed tightly so i had to use 2 revolutions of teflon tape to seal the cap on. Lucky for me i noticed this leak early otherwise I would have either lost a LOT of CO2 or ended up with a wet cabinet.

It comes with 2 ceramic cylinders built into the system. Having them both twisted on at the same time is POINTLESS. 

Some possible questions:

If you fill the reservoir with water, will it diffuse twice?
The answer is yes but it will be pointless. It will diffuse into the water reservoir and then the water will diffuse into the pipe. However once all the water goes into the pipe the reservoir will fill up with CO2 and again nothing else will happen.

You can either go with the large diffuser (top picture) or the smaller one (lower picture). I took both these pictures today to show how differently they work. By going with either method you may save one ceramic diffuser for later use in case the other one will need cleaning later on.

Using the SMALL diffuser ONLY
As you can see from the picture below if you just use the small diffuser the atomiser turns into a mini reactor. This may be a good idea but there are a few problems with this.
1. Flow rate slows using this method due to turbulence in the pipe.
2. CO2 bubbles rise to the top of the reservoir and eventually form a small pocket. This is wasted CO2 as it has only had a short time to dissolve in the water. The CO2 will eventually leave the pipe by gurgling to the outlet.

Using the LARGE diffuser ONLY
In my opinion this is the way to go as it has shown better results when i have used this reactor. When sealed correctly you will get a VERY FINE mist of CO2 throughout your aquarium. I have a powerhead just below the spraybar that pushes this fine mist throughout the tank.
See below picture

Sunday, June 1, 2014

[Eheim Opal] How to get your plants to PEARL

This topic has been of great interest to me not only because pearling plants look beautiful but also because of the belief (even though it may not be true) that pearling plants indicate a healthy tank. I will try to answer this question as simply as possible. First we have to understand what pearling is:

What is pearling?
Pearling occurs when bubbles of oxygen are formed on the leaves and roots of your aquarium plants as a byproduct of photosynthesis. When your aquarium water is supersaturated with gases, oxygen is NOT easily dissolved thus it forms on the leaves / roots of plants and bubbles to the surface.

My aquarium has high light, balanced ferts and lots of CO2 why is it not pearling?
A healthy aquarium does not necessarily always have pearling plants. Pearling is unrelated to plant growth and plant health. Sometimes the water may be saturated with organic waste products produced by your plants and fish. The most efficient way to remove this is by doing a water change. When you do a water change not only does it remove organic waste matter but it also delivers a lot of dissolved CO2, O2 and other gases. This supersaturates your water and causes pearling.

How do i get my plants to pearl?
1. You must increase the saturation of gases in your water so that any excess gases produced by plants is not dissolved into the water column but is produced as bubbles instead. This not only includes CO2 but oxygen as well. Run a airstone at night and bump up your CO2 during the day to supersaturate your water
2. Do a large water change to remove all organic matter every couple of days (and to saturate your water with dissolved gases)
3. Find the most efficient method to dissolve CO2 into the water. Eg. a CO2 reactor or an atomiser
4. Make sure you have enough light to induce photosynthesis in your plants. Strong light accelerates photosynthesis. (low light plants can also pearl)

I hope that answers the question to pearling plants.

Good luck!