Monday, February 29, 2016

"64.8L Passionately Curious": Background For Aquarium

I have decided to have a background for my planted tank after some consideration. On one hand, I would like to see the transparent beautiful tank. On the other hand, it was mentioned in some of the reference books that it would be better to have a tank background so that the fish can feel more secure. Furthermore, the background can cover those piping and wiring behind the tank. 

I chose simple black Oyama background to create good contrast for the plants and fish later on. In order to have background properly pasted, I followed a guideline from the very helpful Youtube video below to complete the background setup.

The good trick is to spray solution of water with 1 drop of dishwasher to the sticker so that it will not be so sticky and easy to adjust while pasting.  

Tools are ready for background setup.
Using a card to squeeze the air trap out
Waiting for the background to be dried and settled first
I will leave the background to dry up and stick properly to the tank first before trimming the excessive part off. Trimming is easier than I though, just use very sharp penknife to slide the excessive protruded sticker along the tank side.

Slide the penknife against the edge of the tank to trim the excessive sticker off
Put the tank in this position with background on top will be easier to paste the background. However, need to check the air bubble inside carefully and use the card to squeeze the bubbles out.

Tada! Background installation done!
Overall, I am quite happy with the background installation. A pat on my shoulder for the work well done. :) 

"64.8L Passionately Curious": Driftwood and Stones

Here comes the time for sourcing for driftwood and stones, the "spirit" of an aquarium and especially planted aquarium. 

Personally, I don't really like the idea of using fake driftwood or any artificial ornament since it would not look natural in the planted tank. I like seeing the unique of each piece of driftwood and stone and imagine how Mother Nature created its texture and shape over time. :) How to source for nice driftwood and stones? It can be seen that driftwood and stone sold at Singapore Local Fish Shop (LFS) are quite expensive. One good looking piece of driftwood would cost S$20-30 and every kilogram of stones would cost you about S$5. So the budget for those "aquarium spirit" would be quite high and I would have a big hole in a pocket after getting those in Singapore. 

Recently, I had a chance to travel to Johor Bahru (JB) where my friend lives. I asked him to bring me to some local fish shops in JB so that I can "see see look look" and who knows if I can get some good piece of driftwood. He brought me to the LFS nearby his living place at Tun Aminah area. There are 2 shops next to each other at that location. The shops look not as shiny bright as those I visited in Singapore and do not have many high tech equipment but basically good enough for aquarium supply. I was so happy seeing them selling driftwood there. It took me at least half an hour just to choose some pieces that I really like. 

One of the piece that I really like since it has many void and holes for fishes/shrimps to play "hide and seek" 
Some caving ideas should be interesting here :)
The shops at Tun Aminah do sell some pebbles but not big size stones. So, my friend brought me to a plant nursery nearby to choose some stones. Howver, the plant nursery does not have many choices of stones for me to choose. They only have some small stock at the corner of the yard, where I need to practice some physical work hahha to find my favourite stones in size and colour. Finally, after another 20 mins, I could collect all the stones that I need. 

Chosen pieces of driftwood and stones after few hours shopping
I am now very satisfied with the shopping time in JB where driftwood and stones were purchased. Last but not least, the price was surprisingly much cheaper than Singapore's price. It is time to think about some aquascaping ideas with what I have on hand. Very excited now since it is very close to the day I can get my sleeves wet. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"64.8L Passionately Curious": 24-Hour Timer Plug

I have recently received an order of the 24-hour electric timer plugs that will be used for the CO2 and lighting systems. Those plugs were ordered from Qoo10 with cheaper price compared with market price. 
Three timers were ordered
I test the automatic on/off function and it really works well. Very easy to program and I can't wait to test it on my planted tank. Woo hoo! I am still studying about aquascaping design and also will take some time to choose the suitable rocks and driftwood for my future tank. :)

Updates on 20 Nov 2019: Those electric timer were quite good at the beginning. However, it would not last for so long and got some malfunction after sometimes. I have then changed to all wifi smart plugs to all my planted tanks and quite happy with the wifi smart plugs due to the reasonable price and stable in operation. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"64.8L Passionately Curious": Equipment Shopping Journey

Finally, this week I have gathered almost all the important things needed for this project. 

Tank and canister filter were ordered from Green Chapter and they were delivered to the doorstep. Eheim Ecco Pro 300 (2036) and GUSH Crystal Garden 60M were chosen. Hopefully, I made the good choice. 

Eheim Ecco Pro 300 and GUSH Crystal Garden 60M
I really enjoyed "un-boxing" the brand new Eheim canister filter. Since canister filter will be the "lung" or "liver" of my future aquarium, I have decided to get a brand new one.  Eheim Ecco Pro 300 package includes: Canister chamber, hose, inlet/outlet tube, suction cups, pre-filters (coarse blue foam, white fine foam and black charcoal foam), mechanical filter media (Eheim Mech Pro), bio filter media (2 packs: Eheim Substrat Pro and Eheim Bio Mech) and of course the user manual.  

Eheim Ecco Pro 300 package
Great feeling of unboxing
I brought CO2 cylinder to Nature Aquarium today for 1-to-1 exchange. It is so convenient that way! Just one minute and you already have the new tank set to bring back home, so I guess no need to have another standby CO2 cylinder anymore. I also took the chance to buy many other stuff today from Nature Aquarium since I found that the prices at the shop are very reasonable, and even cheaper than some of the online stores that I have sourced so far. I will surely go back there for future equipment, tools or accessories. 
Accessories from Nature Aquarium
Some stuff purchased from Nature Aquarium:-
- Amazonia Powder Soil (9L)
- Seachem Prime
- Seachem Excel
- ISTA Snail Remover
- Easy-Life AlgExit
- Water Test Kit: pH, Amonia, Nitrite and Nitrate
- Tank Background
- ANS CO2 tube

I also found that some other stuff could be way much cheaper by purchasing from eBay, especially some glass or acrylic accessories. I have ordered VIV inlet/outlet pipe, CO2 drop checker and also set of curved tweezers & scissors. The only downside is that the delivery time will take quite long, from 2-3 weeks. Anyway, I am ok with that since I am still waiting for the customised cabinet to be ready. The supplier has sent me the sketch design after the long CNY break. Furthermore, I have more time to study about aquascaping before really do the hands-on project :)

Sketch of the cabinet from the supplier 
For now, time to study about the design of my future aquarium.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"64.8L Passionately Curious": Tools & Equipment Hunting

Budget for this project has been much expanded from my initial plan. Hence, I decided to source online for some 2nd hand tools and equipment to save cost. Pretty fun the hunting game, however I got to travel here and there to collect the items. After purchasing some items, quite a good amount of money has been saved. OK, followings are the few stuffs that I got last week.

I got an Ocean Free CO2 system from a member of AQ forum. The set looks pretty new as the previous owner said he only used it for about a year. Well, it includes: Ocean Free CO2 cylinder (empty) + Solenoids Valve + Bubble Counter + CO2 atomizer (freebies).

Ocean Free CO2 system looks pretty new. 
CO2 atomizer diffusers
I have not tried nor tested it yet because the CO2 cylinder is currently empty. I might need to find a place to re-fill or exchange the cylinder. I checked with Nature Aquarium and found out that they do 1-on-1 exchange of CO2 cylinder regardless the system bought from them or not, as long as it is the same type of cylinder. Alternative, there is a place at Boon Keng called Bioplast that does the CO2 re-fill, too. Hope that all will be working well after re-filled. :)

Another important item I purchased last week via Carousell was the UP-Aqua Pro Z Series LED Light Z-20 (60cm). The light is in good condition with all LED works and nice outlook. Can't wait to try it on the tank.
UP-Aqua Pro Z Series LED Light Z-20 (60cm)
Testing the light, all of LED works
Also, got some freebies from the lighting seller. I think it could be useful later, too. :)
Small glass cup for plant with suctions. 
Reference solution for CO2 checker is also the one I need
Last but not least was the Seachem Matrix Filter Media that purchase from Carousell as well. Quite a good deal for a brand new bottle. :)

Seachem Matrix, bio-media filtration material
That was all for last week shopping. This week I plan to hunt for some other items, so excited me. The more I read and learn about aquascaping, the more thrilled I am. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"64.8L Passionately Curious": Customized Cabinet

Initially, I was thinking that the fish tank can just be put on top of any kind of surface like table or side table. After some thoughts, I believe it would be better to take the "tank load" more seriously and I had a plan to just buy a rough iron rack to place the fish tank on. I first tried to source for a second hand rack on carousel website. However, it can be seen that most of the 2nd hand racks are quite tall, about more than 1m which I feel not really suitable to place in my living room. Then I changed my mind to source for the cabinet instead. There are many options of fish tank cabinet on the market and the price is also quite attractive. However, the ready-made cabinets do not have the colour that match my woodwork furniture at home. So the only option left for me is to order a custom-made cabinet.

I have been sourcing on the internet and once again really inspired by the way Urban Aquaria blogger arranged his cabinet:

From there, I know that some suppliers do custom make the cabinet specially for fish tanks. One of them is CR Aquarium. I contacted them for quotation and the price given is very reasonable, however, with additional special customized laminate, the price is quite high. Then I have sourced for another supplier which is Aqua Fishtanks ( The supplier's sale person is very responsive to all my queries and that really make me feel comfortable to deal with them. I have decided just to order a cabinet from them, anyway the custom-made fish tank is quite expensive compared with a ready-made one on the market. Price wise is quite reasonable and I also decided to self-collect the item to save some delivery cost.

Below is my sketch for the design and colour pattern to match the existing furniture. Due to factory closure during CNY, the cabinet is only be expected to be fabricated and delivered by the first or second week of March 2016. In the meantime, I will source for the other items and study more about aquascaping. For now, I really enjoy the process.

Sketch of the cabinet

Simple design with colour matching my house furniture

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Aquascaping Froms Scratches

Some books that I have borrowed from the local library. Really interesting! :)
I really want to learn more about Aquascaping and would like to share my journey here. Everything starts from the scratches. 
I have done some research over the last few weeks on various websites regarding "aqua-scaping". So far, I have found that the following websites are very useful. 
  • Well known forum about aquatic matters in Singapore. From this website, I have linked up to many interesting blogs that share a lot of valuable experience of setting up an aquarium. 
  • Urban Aquaria is one of the best inspired blog, thus I have read through most of the posts and even most of the comments in each post. I really like the way the blogger expresses his clear ideas and knowledge to readers. Thanks Urban Aquaria for sharing and inspiring me to start my journey into the beautiful world of aquascaping. 
There are several online shops for aquascaping materials that I found very convenient to purchase, even I have not really started purchasing any haha. Currently, I have only created a purchase plan. :)
  • First online store that I explored because I was attracted by the package of whole fish tank, cabinet, canister fileter, CO2 system...etc. that they offer at SGD800. That is really tempted to click "Add to Cart" button. However, the more study, the more I would like to explore more on each item rather than one package, even though, purchase as a package might be a cheaper option. 
  • Very good response from this shop. Email shortly received after some queries sent. I am planning to visit the shop in the coming time since everything looks so great from their facebook page.  
  • Seems like a good online store, I will plan to buy some from here since delivery will be free for purchase more than SGD150. For startup, I better save some money for the long run. :)
  • Haven't really tried to explore yet since I have overloaded with other websites's information. But I have seen a good thing that delivery will be free for purchase of more than SGD120. :) Will explore it in the next few days.
  • Haven't explored at all. 
  • Really convenient to surf this site time to time on 2nd hand items. Frankly, my initial plan was just to purchase a second hand set for fun since my wife and my kid would like to have a fish tank. After reading and studying more from library as well as internet, I really want to try to explore this new hobby. Some of my friends have already "warned" me about the addiction it would bring. Nevertheless, I always like to try something I have never done before. And here comes the plan for aquascaping. 
  • Customized fish tank and cabinet.
  • Customized fish tank and cabinet. 
Last but not least, Youtube is surely a great reference source for newbies. I have been lucky to have a chance to watch The Green Machine's channel at my very first search. I am really inspired by the way they demonstrate aquascaping techniques. I have been watching those videos for the last few days and really can feel my hands becomes very "itchy". Below is the link to their channel on Youtube.  

Yes, those are for the first post. I will keep update the progress on this blog.