The Aquatic Gazette

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Project Nanos

In Project Nanos on August 7, 2012 at 00:04

Introduction to Project Nanos

ADA Mini S for Nano I

Ecoxotic LED for Nano I

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Ecoxotic LED for Nano I

In Project Nanos on August 7, 2012 at 00:01

Ecoxotic LED Aluminium Arm

Approx Measurements: 10 inches long | 3 inches wide | 4.5 inches tall
Total Watts: 9 watts, will be increased to 27 watts.
Light Spectrum: 12,000K White

The Ecoxotic LED arm is for aquariums that are around 30cm in size. LED arms for such nano tanks exist, but as LEDs are still not as cheap to produce as the common fluorescent light, some companies have decided to use vastly inferior LEDs in order to price their products cheaply. This has created quite a fair deal of discontentment with aquarists who have used these inferior products, as they expect LEDs to last the usual 50,000 hours and not to lose lighting intensity after 500 hours. The LEDs found in the Ecoxotic are of good quality, able to output optimal lighting intensity for 50,000 hours. With a photoperiod of 8 hours a day, that works out to slightly more than 17 years!

The LED arm comes with one LED strip, and every LED strip is 9 watts of light. Ecoxotic smartly engineered the LED arm to have space for another 2 strips, allowing a total of 27 watts of light. Some aquarists have gone even further and have proven that it is possible to squeeze another 2 strips at the edges for a grand total of 5 strips or 45 watts of light. At the start of Nano I, I mentioned that it will be a low-tech aquascape, however, a high-tech aquascape will do all the equipment better justice. I have thus decided to go that route and have ordered two more LED strips which will boost it to 27 watts of light.

The Ecoxotic LED arm’s main strength is its design. With today’s popularity of rimless aquariums that emphasises a minimalistic and clean look, aided by unobtrusive equipment, a lighting unit which takes the conspicuous spot on top of the aquarium requires an appropriate design to fit into that minimalistic concept.

Some aquatic companies have also hopped unto the LED bandwagon, but they seem to be happy to house them in housings that will hold a compact fluorescent tube. In contrast, the Ecoxotic LED arm is sleek and metal sheet thin, with the advantage of the minute size of LEDs played fully.

When using the Ecoxotic LED arm with the Mini S, the combination works perfectly. The structure and thickness of the LED arm flows with the similar structure of an aquarium and the choice of a curvature, rather than a right angle, takes away the tension in design that is critical as it occupies a conscious space.

At the legs of the LED arm, where the arm grips the tank, Ecoxotic has used good quality rubber to prevent the aluminum legs from damaging your tank wall. The black rubber matches the LED arm perfectly and I didn’t realised the use of rubber till I inspected that area. As, rubber is waterproof there will not be any degradation of the material over time. This is unlike other light units which utlise plastic to hold their light units to the tank wall, as the paint on the plastic often comes off because of its constant contact with the aquarium’s waters. The width of the rubberize aluminum legs have been designed to fit aquarium walls of thickness 6mm or less. On the Mini S which is just 5mm thick, the arm fitted nicer, there is no need to use the provided screw arm.

The intensity emitted by the LED arm is good and it does look brighter than 9 watts from a compact fluorescent tube, partly due to the pinpoint nature of LEDs. When I get my hands on the extra 18 watts of LEDs, it’s going to be dazzling. The combination of a top end LED light unit, coupled with a masterly crafted tank is just spectacular. I can’t wait for the tank to be filled and to have the aquascape shimmering!

 

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ADA Mini S for Nano I

In Project Nanos on June 29, 2012 at 00:01

Aquarium: ADA Mini S
Specifications: 31cm x 18cm x 24cm
Materials: Low Iron Glass
Thickness: 5mm
Capacity: 13 litres

ADA tanks are no strangers to any of us. They are well known for their quality, but more than being the benchmark of aquarium tanks, they are more famous for their seemingly outrageous asking price.

And it’s little wonder. For the price of a Mini S, you can get at least 5 tanks of the same measurements. So why do some of us still willingly pay such a premium for their tanks? It’s a difficult rational to explain if you have never owned an ADA tank before, but I will do my best.

Throughout the year, because of the work I do, I come into contact with numerous nano tanks in every price bracket. Some tanks are decently made, reasonably priced while others are horrible in quality and priced beyond what they are worth.

Purchasing a tank with good qualities is more important to an aquascaper, than it is to the fish keeper. We spend time, effort and finance on our aquascapes and we want them to be viewed in the best way possible. If the aquascape is housed in a tank that causes the aquascape to be visually compromised in any manner, than that tank is less than ideal.

Here are 5 qualities that I feel are essential for a nano tank housing an aquascape.
– Squared edges.
– Neat and minimal clear silicon work.
– Low iron or crystal glass.
– As thin as possible glass walls.
– Ideal tank measurements.

1. Rounded edge tanks sell well because they appeal more to the general consumer than square edge tanks. Because they are good for the bottom line, companies that mass produce aquarium tanks have made them to be available in many sizes. If you’re on the look out for a squared edge tank, they exist, just in a smaller volumes and sizes. I have noticed that rounded edge tanks are usually better in construction and one particular brand has very neat silicon work. However, rounded edge tanks should be avoided as they distort the view of the aquascape when it is viewed through the edges. Also, rounded edges makes it difficult for the aquascape to be framed within the tank, which is important for visual impact.

2. Neat and minimal silicon work are more essential in a nano tank than in a larger tank. In a nano aquascape, space is so limited that a strong attention to details is needed to create a good aquascape. Clear silicon, applied in a sloppy manner will cause a distraction to the nano aquascape. A tank’s most visible lines are the edges of the tank walls, excellent silicon application will ensure that the walls stay as inconspicuous as possible.

3. Low iron or crystal glass should be embraced by every aquascaper. When such glass tanks are teamed with lights of the right colour temperature and good filters, the tank walls seem invisible and the aquascape shines. Even in nano tanks with thin glass walls, the greenish tinge found in normal glass is visible. Another reason to use such glass are for aquascapers who are keen on aquascape photography.

4. The thinner the glass walls, the more optically accurate your aquascape will be. Yet, the walls have to be strong enough to withstand pressure from the allocated water volume. Although 4mm to 5mm thick glass is safe enough for 13 litres of water, local nano tanks are usually found with 6mm to 8mm thick glass because it is easier to manufacture and cut thicker glass.

5. The length of a tank is well established. With usual sizes ranging from 30cm, 45cm, 60cm, 75cm, 90cm and 120cm sizes for aquascapes. However, what is not well establish is the depth and height of such tanks. Tanks that are made for aquascaping need to have measurements that are well suited for housing an aquascape. Only in such tanks can an aquascape truly stand out.

Till date, I have only found one tank that excels in all these qualities, and it’s tanks that are made by ADA. My nano aquascapes usually last for about 1.5 years before I rescape or upgrade them. In that time period, they are placed in areas of visible prominence. The tanks holding the aquascapes need to be strong, of quality and yet be as invisible as possible.

Because of these reasons, some of us have paid, and will continue to pay the premium for an ADA’s tank. Not every LFS carries ADA’s tanks and for those that do, most will only bring them in when you place an order. This is understandable as demand is low as compared to other tanks and stocking ADA products are expensive. But because of this arrangement, some LFS charge an even higher price than what is usual, so don’t fall for that trap. It’s important to shop around and not pay any more than what you have to.

ADA’s philosophy of ensuring that a tank be as transparent as possible and that nothing blocks the aquascapes have made rimless tanks popular for aquascaping and theirs, the benchmark. The true beauty of the Mini S can be seen when light shines through and brightens up the tank from within. The Mini S simply sparkles.

In this close up shot, the care and skill required to construct the Mini S is visibly apparent. The silicon work is of course, not perfect when viewed this up close. But when you take into consideration that those tank walls are only 5mm thick and the size of that ADA sticker, the silicon is as invisible as it gets.

An issue I have noticed that occurs from time to time in our locally made tanks is when a tank’s glass walls are not aligned perfectly together. With the Mini S, all the walls are joined together very nicely. Besides having nicely formed walls, the glass is perfectly cut as well. The quality control at ADA must be extremely strict to ensure that every single tank they produce, meets this degree of standard.

When ADA chose to use low iron glass as the new standard in all their tanks a year or two ago, Takashi Amano did mention that low iron glass scratches easier than normal glass because of its material composition. But after saying that, he confirmed that these scratches are extremely small in nature and invisible to the naked eye. I can attest to this fact because I have a 30cm cube ADA tank in my possession for a year now, no matter how hard I try, I cannot spot a scratch. Of course, this will be true if there has not been any accidents that has occurred to the tank.

Here is another shot of the tank from the top left edge.

We feel good when we partake in the use of premium and masterly crafted items and the Mini S is no exception. Being in procession of such a fine tank to hold the aquascape adds a healthy does of pressure to ensure that it turns out as best as it can be. Even if one is new to the hobby, good equipment is always worthwhile investment. Properly taken care of, the Mini S should last years. With the beauty it imparts on a daily basis, I feel that it is a small price to pay for something that is fundamental to the aquascape.

Besides having all the qualities necessary to hold an aquascape, the Mini S is truly a work of art, and a beauty to behold.

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Introduction to Project Nanos

In Project Nanos on June 23, 2012 at 00:01

Hey all!

[TAG] has been quiet for the last two months and now you’re about to find out why. I have been planning and laying the groundwork for a major new project and the time has now come for me to reveal it to you. I’m pleased to present, Project Nanos.

So, what is Project Nanos?

It will be a journal of several nano tanks that I will aquascape and showcase over the coming months. My best efforts in equipment, photography and information will be placed into the setting up of each of these tanks. Once matured, the tanks will move on and new ones will be featured. I’m committed to a minimum of three different nanos, but I’m challenging myself to see how far I can go.

I’m tempted to give you more details on the set ups right now but I’ll wait till they each come along. That way, there will be more for you to look forward to. But what I can show you right now is a picture of the first set up, Nano I. My next post will give you more information on the equipment I chose for Nano I, the aquascape and my justifications behind all those choices.

As usual, I welcome any comments and questions. I hope that this journal will benefit you more, than it will do for me.

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