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.

Tank Spotlight: 30CM Cube Garden

30cm Cube Garden

This is my Cube Garden tank. My first high tech planted tank. I started this project September last year and it has grown to this.

Tank Specs: 30cm x 30cm x 30cm, regular glass

Lighting System: Nemolight Aquafresh 18 watts and Aquael Moonlight LED


Nemolight Aquafresh 18W

Aquael Moonlight LED 1W

CO2 System: UP Aqua A-138 1 liter, bazooka diffuser


Filter System: Eheim 150 with Gush Lily Pipes

Substrate System: Aquasoil Amazonia and Malaya

Cooling System: Chill Solutions CSXC-1


Chill Solutions CSXC-1 chiller

Hardscape: dragon rocks, tree

Flora: christmas moss on tree, anubias nana petite and riccia fluitans on dragon rock cliff, reineckii mini, japan hair grass, hydrocotyle tripartita, staurogyne repens, fissidens fontanus, hemiamthus micranthemoids, eriocaulon cinerium.

Fauna: siamese fighting fish ‘betta’, sundadanio axelrodi, pygmy corydoras, otocinclus, nerite/horned nerite, assasin snails.

Dosing System: NPK, Iron and trace


Dosing Line Up

Temperature: 26-27C

Photoperiod: 7 hours daylight with CO2.

Cube Garden on moonlight

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

Tank Spotlight: The Divided Tank

Last week my cube garden tank crashed so I had decommission the aquarium which I have maintained for close to 8 months. Sigh.

My Cube Garden Tank

I never liked the tank itself due to its greenish hue which makes my planted tank more green in a very unnatural way. It’s like a dull, sad planted tank especially when the high light is on.

But instead of throwing it away, I’ve decided to upgrade my two betta’s apartment, Blue and Mustard, who are both currently using their own 20x15x15 acrylic tanks.

I’ve initially planned for a transparent plastic tank divider but later on I had to top it off with another white plastic divider due to too much flaring from my two male bettas.

The acrylic tank divider is perfectly sized for my 30×30 cube tank. You just need to put in two suction cups on its two sides to hold it inside the tank.

Acrylic Tank Divider installed with 2 suction cups

Next, I added some bacteria powder to help cycle the tank although I should be having enough bacteria from the two sponge filters running on the current tanks.

Adding Nitripro Biological Bacteria

For the substrate, I decided to use basalt gravel instead of using aquasoil as I will not be planting plants for this tank.

Aquael Basalt Gravel

After pre-washing the gravel to remove the manufacturing dust, I poured in a thin layer of gravel on the two sides of my tank.

Thin layer of basalt gravel

Then I added java ferns and christmas moss and some twigs on each side of the tank.

Java ferns on the right side of the tank
Christmas moss on the left side of the tank

The not so final set up

Then I transferred the sponge filters from the existing tanks to the new divided tank.

Mustard, my active and showy betta on the right side

The tank is inside my room so i had to install a mini heater just in case the room temperature drops too low during when the AC is on at night. Bettas are tropical fish so they need warmer water temperature to make them happy.

External Eheim Filter installed

I also temporarily installed my Eheim canister filter on this tank to keep the bacteria alive in my filter while I have not set up my replacement planted tank yet for the one that crashed.

Mini heater installed at the back.
Blue, my shy velvet blue betta on the left side
The final set up

Overall, I like this tank set up a lot. It reminds me of the set up in one of the fish stores I’ve recently visited. Very neat with a really thin layer of gravel and minimal plants and hardscape.

Neat set up from fish store