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Old 03-23-2013, 04:18 AM   #1
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AquaTop 2.11g Pico Cube Build

I'm going to break this intro up in to two parts:

Part 1 - Background/ Unboxing
(feel free to skip)
Part 2 - The Build Plan

Part 1:

Disclaimer: I don't work for TruAqua or AquaTop... just wanted to get that out of the way. In fact, AquaTop (if you see this) should give me a free tank or something for this review / tank build! Haha... J/K

I'm not usually an 'early-adopter' for anything but I decided to give this little tank a shot! I hate taking risks and like to dig up as many reviews as possible before buying something. I could hardly find anything (well with the exception of AA member Rcguerra and his latest acquistion a larger version of this cube) on these tanks but for $30 shipped, it seemed like it was worth the risk on a low-iron high-clarity glass rimless tank (see figure 1 for low iron vs. standard glass example). I think I've been spoiled with this whole "low iron" thing by having a GLA 36-L and ADA 60-F in my house -- once you go low-iron, it's hard to go back IMO! Moreover, I've always found interest in those tiny Do!Aqua 2g cubes but didn't feel like spending $56.99 ($38 + 18.99 shipping) for such a tiny cube -- especially when it's normal clarity green tinted glass (no pun intended for those that own Do!Aqua or most of Mr. Aqua's line -- still nice tanks IMO). So a Do!Aqua-like cube + low iron ADA-like glass = "clicked buy" and here we go!!!
Figure 1
So I ordered this tank from TruAqua.com and they shipped it out pretty fast. The site doesn't specify the brand but it is branded as an AquaTop tank (are these the same company BTW?).

Here are some details about this tank (source):
  • High clarity glass for an enhanced viewing experience
  • Low iron glass with a 91% light-through rate
  • Polished beveled edges
  • High-grade German silicone for a seamless appearance
  • For both salt and freshwater systems
  • Dimensions: 7.87" x 7.87" x 7.87"
  • Capacity: 2.11 Gallons

Here's what the site doesn't tell you (or at least I couldn't find it)...
  • AquaTop branded tank
  • 30 day warranty (no 3 year ADA warranty here - but you get what you pay for...right?).

So on to my experience receiving this tank:
  • VERY smooth transaction and speedy delivery.
  • Packaged extremely well with a HUGE box, thick crumpled paper padding all around the tank, and extra padding with foam and cardboard on the tank itself. Man, they spare no expense here which makes sense for a new company IMO, less negative reviews = more potential for future business.
  • Shipping carrier = Here's where they had to have saved money from spending a fortune on packaging. They used OnTrac as the carrier. I don't know about you guys, but this is probably my least favorable shipping company since I've had numerous bad experiences in the past. Luckily this time around, despite seeing some damage to the exterior of the shipping box (see pic below, top left side) I received the tank without a hitch and no damage.

Here's the un-boxing. Just look at all that packaging and the size of the box in comparison to the tank! I removed all the paper used to cushion the top.






Here's some close-ups of the glass, edges, and silicon work. For reference on the glass clarity (tint), I have the AquaTop (right) next to the ADA 60-F (left).




And here is the AquaTop (left) next to my GLA 36-L (right)


I found 1 minute glob of extra silicone on a corner of the AquaTop. This was easily remedied with a razor.



Overall, this tank seems like pretty darn good quality for the lower price-point. Excellent silicon work in which all the edges line-up nicely. As long as this thing can hold water and last, this is a quality looking rimless tank and worth taking a look at if you're in the market for a rimless. They also offer other dimensions to suite your needs. It would be nice to see TruAqua offer the larger AquaTop rimless tanks for shipping as well -- currently they are only offered as local pick-up in California.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:18 AM   #2
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Part 2:

To be quite honest, I'm not sure what I'm doing with this Pico sized tank, but here's a stab at it!

The Skinny (Already Acquired and In-Progress / Planning):

Hardware:
Tank - AquaTop (Dimensions approx. 7.87" x 7.87" x 7.87", 2.11g)
Light - Archaea 17cm Clamp-On type LED lighting fixture
Filter - Azoo Palm Filter

Substrate: Fluval Shrimp Stratum on Floramax
Hardscape: Seiryu Stone and Manzanita
(Big thanks to Dan for the Seiryu and Shrimp Stratum!!!)

Flora:
Anubias Petite
DHG - E. Parvula
Echinodorus tenellus
Hydrocotyle tripartita sp. Japan
Needle Leaf Java Fern
Flame Moss / Xmas Moss
Fissidens fontanus (maybe)
Mini Pellia (maybe)

Dosing:
GLA dry ferts and Excel

And some pictures:

Just messing with the hardscape... got a nice slope to the back right corner.


I was suppose to get my light fixture today, but here's what it's suppose to look like:


More to come!
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:09 PM   #3
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:48 PM   #4
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Very nice Brian! Tell me, are you using my shrimp stratum in there lol? If so, that worked out perfectly huh Gahh now I am tempted to buy one. Lol this hobby is such a black hole - once you go in, you never get out!
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:12 PM   #5
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Hi Janis! I think some of your fissidens might look good in here!

Dan.. Haha... Agreed! That is indeed the shrimp stratum and your Seiryu stone after i took a hammer and chisel to it! Thank you again!

Here are some inspirational cubes to where I'm trying to go with this:


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Old 03-23-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
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Wow Brian those are awesome looking tanks, I bet you could do even better tho
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:21 PM   #7
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Thanks for the vote of confidence. But i might just go low tech with this so i doubt it would look as nice as those. Excel and Glut are going to be my best friend.. I might rig up DIY CO2... Still not sure.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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Nice!

Love those tanks and the prices! Have my eye on a couple... Following.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:34 PM   #9
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Following!!!
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:47 PM   #10
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Im folowing also
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:00 PM   #11
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It will be coming the 2nd or 3rd week of April so hang in there alittle longer!
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:03 PM   #12
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Archaea 17cm LED came in today

Here are the specs...
  • Quantity of LED Lamps: (30x White LED lamp)
  • Color temperature: Blue lamp(12000k) /White lamp (8000k)
  • Luminous intensity: Blue lamp(300mcd per LED) /White lamp (1400mcd per LED )
  • Total Power per fixture: 1.68W
  • Power per LED lamp: 56mW

This should be good for at least low light plants, maybe some moderate ones. However, there is one guy on YouTube (MacAquarium) who has successfully carpeted HC with this lamp on same size 20cm cube. I don't plan to carpet any high light demanding plants... so we'll see how this goes









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Old 03-24-2013, 01:53 AM   #13
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Nice work Brian. This is gearing up to be another exciting build. Subscribed.
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:32 PM   #14
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Light looks good on that tank
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:41 PM   #15
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Following along - definitely curious as to how those new Archaea clip on LEDs do. I would imagine for this application they will be a great fixture.

The glass looks great. Definitely giving ADA a run for their money. I agree on low iron, once you have it is is tough to go back. It really does make for a dramatic difference in appearance.

I used one of those AZOO Palm filters for years. AquaTouch convinced me to give em a try, and I am glad I did. It is a great filter option for a nano or pico tank. Pretty sure Aquatouch carries the archaea stuff in house by the way, for future reference. Back in the day they offered it for the same price as Aqua Forest. Not sure if that is still the case... but it could help you avoid shipping costs.
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:42 PM   #16
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Old 03-24-2013, 03:00 PM   #17
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Thanks everyone for following.

@Justin -i noticed that aquatouch does carry a lot of what AFA has. I haven't seen the LED options though.

I discovered that these Archaea LED lamps are rebranded UP Aqua. Also, these clip on ones are low light, maybe on the cusp of medium if i can lower it some. I knew that buying it because i was going for the esthetic appeal of it with its sleek aluminum finish.

If i wanted higher light, i think i would have opted for the finnex fugeray-R clip light. Also have you seen the 8 watt Wave-Point micro sun LED? It uses 1 watt HO LED. Pretty interesting if you wanted high lighting i imagine on a pico. This one: http://www.amazon.com/Wave-point-6-I...watt+micro+sun


Anyway, i think after i set this tank up on the bar by the kitchen, I'm going to try to lower the fixture somehow. I think it will look better plus enable me to squeeze a little more PAR out of it i presume.

Here's how it looks with the fixture lowered a bit.. much better IMO.

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Old 03-26-2013, 11:14 AM   #18
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Hey Brian awesome job with the scape!! Following along!!
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Old 03-26-2013, 06:03 PM   #19
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Thanks Convict!
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Old 03-26-2013, 06:12 PM   #20
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Okay... Update time!

I planted the tank with plants I already had sitting around in other tanks..

I think I still want to get some mini pellia in here and try it out. I'm also considering using some marsilea minuta as some foreground. I might just save money and try to carpet the hydrocotyle japan.. I just want to try to maintain some scale since the tank is small.

I'm using an AC 20 for now on the lowest setting with some established biomax. It's fairly big so I can't position the LED light the way I want to. I just got bored of looking at it so I just started it up with plans to change things around a bit.

So here it is (for now) with a temporary resident, my female betta, RED SONIA, from when I started the GLA 6g a ways back...







From the back side... my slope is still holding due to the Floramax as the first layer. I believe since the Floramax is rather coarse lava rock, it doesn't really have a propensity to slide as opposed to using all AS or FSS. Also, I like how the reddish-brown crypt and manzanita compliments the dark green needle leaf java fern -- just an observation
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