Shrimphaus!

Shrimphaus is a ‘low tech’ (no injected CO2 gas) shallow tank designed to support shrimp and also both submersed and emersed plant growth.  The aquarium is an ADA Cube Garden 45-F model made from ultraclear low-iron glass with near invisible silcone seams.  The tank measures 45 cm wide by 27 cm deep by 20 cm high for a nominal volume of 22 litres.  The overall ecological philosophy is informed by Diana Walstad’s classic text “Ecology of the Planted Aquarium”.

Hardscape base and passive filtration system

Placed on the bottom floor of the aquarium is a removable polypropylene grid 15mm thick consisting of individual squares just smaller than 20mm x 20mm.  A cut out a hole lets the pump sit flushly on the aquarium bottom glass, and notches several millimetres deep were cut into each side of all the grid squares to allow water communication in all lateral directions, at least to some extent.  Each square in the grid was stuffed with a pre-wetted 2cm x 2cm x 15mm cube cut from a medium density air filter foam sponge originally designed for motorcycle engines.  The idea is for beneficial bacteria to colonise the foam squares and for water to be drawn slowly through the gridded filtration system by the pump.  The actual flow of water through the foam may be very low and so passive diffusion might be the most relevant means of exchange between the water column and the foam grid base.

The aquarium rests on a 4mm thick Aquael safety base mat.  Inside the aquarium and resting on the polypropylene grid filtration system, the hardscape is the better part of 10 kg of slate pieces and fragments.  In some cases large slate pieces were broken down to size using a sledge hammer.  Two centrally supportive slate columns are formed from slate pieces that fit well together naturally and are additionally held stable with Gorilla brand Contact Adhesive Clear.  The contact adhesive is completely waterproof but does take on a whitish cast after exposure to water.

Water circulating aquaduct

In order to achieve gentle water circulation across the entire aquarium, water is drawn into an Oase OptiMax 300 pump set on the lowest pumping speed situated in the bottom back left corner of the aquarium.  The water outflow from the pump enters a vertically oriented clear PVC tube (13mm ID, 17mm OD) and is transported up to a slate water race style aquaduct that sends the water across the top of the aquarium with final deposition in the top front right corner of the tank.  The base of the water race was constucted from a slate cheese serving board cut using a Dremel rotary tool equipped with a diamond cutting wheel. Rails on the aquaduct were similarly cut from the same slate serving board and glued into place with waterproof contact adhesive.  The PVC pipe coming up from the pump passes snugly through a 16mm diameter hole that was drilled in the slate using a diamond drill bit and is secured in place, perhaps unnecessarily, with a 3mm thick 16mm diameter nitrile rubber O-ring.  The water race sits stably on the slate support structures without needing to be glued in place and can be easily removed if necessary.  The entire aquaduct slopes very gently from left to right and directs water flow even if the entirety of the aquaduct is under water.

Completed hardscape and planting strategy

Additional slate fragments are situated around the main slate supporing columns.  Tropica Aquarium soil rounds out the hardscape design.  The planting strategy is to have underwater ephiphytes such as bucephalandra mounted in the slate fragments.  A variety of cryptocoryne species will be planted in the aquarium soil.  The aquaduct doubles as a platform for emergent growth plants including mosses and anubias although keeping humidity levels sufficiently high may prove to be an issue.  Starter plants will include various bucephalandra species: Kedagang, Red, Mini Catherine, Dark Theia and Sintang; cryptocoryne species: Green Gecko, Affinis and Walkerii; Java moss, Christmas moss and Anubias nana Coin Leaf.

Lighting

Dedicated lighting is provided by an Asta 20 nano LED aquarium light on a timer.  There is also considerable ambient room light but no direct sunlight.

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