How Not to Plant a Tank
I've got about 3-4 months of catching up to do w/ this journal. I feel the need to explain myself before I even get started on the tank. I will try to keep it short, as I am sure no one cares, so, feel free to skip the first couple of paragraphs. :-)
I love all kinds of animals- except slugs. Slugs are creepy. I am especially partial toward cats and reptiles, mainly turtles. I've had all kinds of reptiles and several red eared sliders. After I spent a long time doing research, I finally was able to keep one RES alive. His name was Tuffie. When I was 18, I moved out, and got a 55 gallon aquarium for Tuffie. I got a Mississippi map turtle, Murtle, who I kept in the 29 gallon where Tuffie spent the first few years of his life. I had Tuffie for nine years and Murtle for two...Something happened... I couldn't keep them anymore... If anyone asks, I had to get rid of them because they took too much time and money. I contacted a wild animal rescue place I found on the internet. The guy said he would keep Tuffie at the college nearby, I could come see him whenever I wanted; he assured me it would be fine. It was not fine. I cried when I gave them away, it was like putting up my kids for adoption. A couple of weeks later, when I contacted the rescue person, he told me he had given them to someone else and he couldn't give me their contact info. I asked him to give that person mine but I never heard about them again.
Their tanks and equipment stayed in my parents basement for a few years. I started working for them in their office, and my dad mentions something about keeping a fish tank in the office. No problem, I think. I have all the stuff for it already. This will be cheap and easy. (November, 2011)
I was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. I set the 29 gallon (30 x 12 x 17) up using the larger rocks that I used for the turtles and their old filter (Fluval 104). I go to the LFS and buy some tetras and some aquatic plants. I get home and realize: the light I have isn't strong enough to grow plants. The plants won't be able to grow in the rocks I am using. The plants I have aren't even aquatic (except one annubias nana)...
After doing some research and asking around, I decided that a T5 AquaticLife HO fixture with the 5600K and Roseate bulbs that came with it would be sufficient enough for plant growth. I got some Ecocomplete and switched out the substrate. Added a few more plants (brazilian sword, or peace lily which may not be aquatic either, but it's gotten a couple of new leaves since I've got it so we'll see how it goes) and removed the large decoration. Also got two angelfish at some point. Things were fine for a few weeks, until I started noticing this green slime forming on the substrate.
Then it was all over all over everything. I would vacuum it out, scrub everything down, and change some of the water - and by the next day, you couldn't even tell that I had done anything. I tried blacking out the tank for a few days, but that barely made a difference. I got four otocinclus to help eat the slime - they didn't touch it. So I nuked it with Erythromycin, as I read that the slime was BGA (cyanobacteria). I bought all new media, since I didn't have anywhere to store the media I was using, and started the cycle over. Within a few days, the BGA was gone, but the water was murky, swamp-like. It was disgusting. I tried doing some partial water changes and I couldn't even tell a difference. I figured maybe theres so much dead BGA that it's murking up the water. I tore everything apart, put the fish in buckets, rinsed the substrate for a couple of hours and set it back up. I added a small in-tank filter that I had lying around for circulation. The order I placed for brazilian microsword came in and my neighbor gave me a java fern and a wisteria plant. The water was crystal clear. For about a week. At most. Back to the swampy murk. (January, 2012)
I spent a couple few weeks on this forum talking to very helpful people who are much more knowledgeable on the subject, and doing 30% water changes daily. There are also ugly diatoms all over everything. I come to learn that not only do I still have poor circulation, but the filter is too small. I had a larger filter (Fluval 304) in the basement that I attempted to re-use. I bought a pump that could be used in circulation mode or as a powerhead and put a more appropriate background on it. I scrubbed off the diatoms, trimmed the dying leaves, removed the non-aquatic plants, and drained as much water as I could. I tried the pump in circulation mode at first. It was definitely circulating the water. The plants were sideways from being pushed over from the current and the fishies couldn't swim. I go to unplug it and switch to powerhead mode and realize there is water all over the floor. The larger filter was leaking.
So I put the smaller filter back up and plan to replace it soon. I suppose I will go with another Fluval, just because I am comfortable with them, I have used them for years and they are quiet. I will just run both for a few months, until the bigger one has gotten enough bacteria in it.
As of now, the water is cloudy, and still somewhat resembling the murky crap I have been at war with for almost month now. I have two otos left, the two angelfish, and five tetras. I hate the way the tank looks. I want to actually have a design in the tank, as opposed to random plants being thrown in there wherever they fit. But I have to get control over the water quality first. And upgrade the filter. And the heater.
I might have missed a few details, or put the details I do have in the wrong order, but, basically, that's the gist of my first adventure in planted aquarium keeping.
I have gone to a place far below up above and in between the middle.
Last edited by mommabear1007; 04-17-2012 at 04:21 AM.