45CM Tank – The Set Up

So last Sunday, just right after I brought home my new ADA 45cm Cube Garden, I immediately started with the tank set up. I was so excited to start with it and I am also worried as I pre-purchased the HC cuba days before and that any longer that I keep them unplanted risks of them drying out.

I also forgot to buy an aquarium mat so I had to improvise by using a kitchen anti-slip mat. It is quite thin so I had to cut out 2 pieces to make a thicker layer for my tank’s base. (I replaced it later on with a Borneo Wild tank mat)

Kitchen anti-slip mat as temporary tank mat
Borneo Wild Tank Mat

Unboxing the ADA Cube Garden

The tank is gorgeous! It is a departure from my old, greenish regular tank. It is quite clear and the workmanship is really good. I’m actually not sure how they glue the tank sides as I cannot see any visible glue on it. There is a set of metal cover holders included in the box.

ADA Cube Garden



Very fine workmanship on this tank




Substrate System

For the substrate, I will be using the ADA Power Sand – S for the base. Amazonia Aqua Soil and La Plata sand for the cosmetic layout.

Substrate System Line Up

I’ve also previously purchased from another hobbyist a mix pack of ADA substrate additives containing Bacter 100, Clear Supper and Tourmaline BC. Really economical instead of buying separate tubs where you only need a few scoops of each.

ADA substrate additives mix

Laying Out the Substrate

Here I just followed the steps I’ve seen on Youtube channels. Pretty standard where you put half of the additives first, then top it off with the powersand and pouring in the remaining on top of the powersand.

Additives spread over the tank base
Powersand poured in with the remaining additives

The powersand were carefully set at the center of the base to make sure they are not seen from the tank display when the aqua soil is poured in. I did this by pouring in the aqua soil on the sides of the powersand first to make sure I don’t unnecessarily displace the powersand.

Next, I poured in enough aqua soil to form the desired depth and layout that I want. I used cutouts of plastic sheet to hold the aqua soil in place, very useful when you have a steep slope on your layout. I then added in my hardscape in the layout, the tree and some ADA stones (I think they are the Koke Stones).

Plastic sheet cut outs were used to hold aqua soil in place

One thing I learned before on my old tanks is to always pre-wash cosmetic sand before putting them in your tank since they will pretty much cloud the tank once water is poured in.

Small stones placed in to hold the soil slope

My layout has a slope so to hold the aquasoil in place, I placed small volcanic stones along the side of the soil, providing support.


For this this tank, I am using HC cuba or dwarf baby tears as carpet. This is not my first time on HC. My first try on my other tank was a failure when my HC melted out when molds grew on it. It could be, because I covered my tank completely during the dry start method. The place I am currently in is pretty humid and I think it somehow contributed to the molds. I am still trying the dry start method, but this time I will keep the tank partially open so dry air can come in and moisture can come out the tank.

HC cuba bed, cut in small cubes

I also replanted some of the dwarf hairgrass from my other tank. I’ve pre-soaked them in anti-algae and anti-snail solutions overnight just to make sure I don’t transfer any unnecessary stuff from my old tank.





Then I added some twigs and smaller stones to complete the look.

DSM Maintenance

My CO2 cylinder is currently out for refilling which may take about two weeks so I am keeping this tank dry for a while.

For maintenance, I spray water mixed with some drops of liquid fertilizers to keep the tank moist and I completely cover the tank with a plastic wrap at night when the AC is on just to trap some heat on the tank and keep it half open during the day when the room temperature is already high.

Day 3 of DSM

Day 3 of DSM


Day 3 of DSM

I will be posting pictures as I progress with the DSM. Keeping my fingers crossed.

***This is not sponsored. The products featured here were purchased on the author’s personal capacity. No link will be provided for product purchase.

Author: Mark Julius

I'm an extroverted - introvert. A solitary wanderer. Quiet most of the time. I think when I stare. I usually have so much to say, but only a few comes out of my mouth. In my silence, my mind is screaming.

5 thoughts on “45CM Tank – The Set Up”

  1. Hey there, I’m about to set up my first planted aquarium, is the addictive necessary? I’ve been in ADA few days ago and they said only the power sand and what I believe to be a liquid fertilizer should be good enough.


    1. hi, it’s okay. the additives is just to jumpstart the bacteria in the new tank. if you are setting up a planted tank, better if you use a good substrate like ada aquasoil as it contains enough nutrients for your plants. i don’t put fertilizer on the first two weeks as i don’t want too much nutrients on my tank and to avoid algae. wait for the plants to develop root system first before adding ferts.


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