First Planted Tank: 20 Long - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: AZ
Posts: 5
First Planted Tank: 20 Long

This is my first planted tank ever. It is a low tech, low budget setup. Previous to this I had a 10 Gallon, fake plants tank I set up for my step daughter. It housed 10 Neon Tetras. Ouickly though I was interested in moving on to a bigger & better tank with real plants. After 4-5 months of planning, researching, slowly buying 1 item here & there, and most of all, being patient, I was finally ready to go. I set this tank up on August 1 & it has been up & running for a month now. I decided to make a journal to track progress, get feedback, and to try to help other rookies out, of which, I am deffinatly a member.

TANK: 20 gallon long (Got at Petco for a $1 a gallon sale, so $20)
LIGHT: Hagen Glo Single Bulb 24watt T5HO with 6500 Life glo bulb (Amazon on sale with shipping $50. Bulb was $17 from LFS)
FILTER: Aquaclear 50 (Petsmart on sale $30)
HEATER: Eheim Jager 75watt (Amazon on sale with shipping $25)
STAND: DIY all from Home Depot (About $100 in materials. All red oak)
SUBSTRATE: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia (LFS $40 for 9 liter bag)
HARDSCAPE: Malaysian Driftwood (LFS $5-10 per piece)
BACKDROP: Foam Presentation Board (Michaels for $5, tapped to back)

At Home Depot I also bought a $10 Vinyl Mat & cut it to size of tank & put it under tank to support weight. I bought a $12 Surge Protector to plug all equipment into. I also bought a $7 timmer for light. I didnt know where to place the Surge Pro where there wouldnt be a bunch of cords & a big eye sore. So I bought some $4 Velcro tape & put it on back of stand & back of Surge Pro. After I let the tape's adhesive sit for a day I slapped Surge Pro on back of stand & BOOM! you dont even now its there. I bundled the excess equipment cords with Zip ties behind aquarium & then wrapped them around each other so it look like one cord going into Surge Pro... A little effort & money makes a BIG cosmetic difference.

10 Paracheirodon Innesi (Neon Tetra)
2 Caridina Japonica (Amano Shrimp)

Fish & Shrimp have only been in tank for about a week. I gave tank 3 weeks to establish & I used my other 10G tank to 'seed' this tank. When I transferred over Neons from 10G tank I also transfferd over Bio Media Bag from 10G filter into the 20Gs filter. Neons have been hiding like little punks since they came over to new tank but they are slowly coming around a little more each day.

Anubias Barteri Var Nana
Anubias Coffeefolia
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Floida Sunset'
Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Red'
Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis
Echinodorus Parviflorus (Dwarf Sword)
Microsorum Pteropus (Java Fern)
Hygrophila Corymbosa
Ludwigia Repens

All my plants seem to be doing well. The Crypt Retospiralis has only been in tank for about 1 week & the Hygophila Corymbosa has only been in tank for 2 weeks. Everything else has been in since day one. I had a Hygophila Corymbosa 'Stricta' but it just died after about 10 days. I dont know what happened. But 9 outta 10 plants are still going so Im happy. The Crypts went through a bit of a melt. The Wendtii 'Red' only lost a couple of leaves but the Wentii 'Florida Sunset', which I split into 2 plants, melted big time. Both plants were down to a single leaf but after 10 days or so they were both back up to 3-4 leaves each & now are going strong. Ive been rough on my Swords. i didnt really know where I wanted them to go & they both have been moved 2-3 times. But they are doing surprisingly well for the stress Im putting them through.

Im guessing by all the new leaves & roots growing on the back of the large Java Fern leaves that I must be doing something right

LIGHTS run 6 hours a day but I will soon be increasing that to 7 hours now that it has been a month.
HEATER holds at 80 degrees.
FILTER has a Foam block, Water Polishing Pad (cut to size), and 2 Bio Media bags (One that came with filter & one from my 10G tanks filter).
WATER is 100% RO water that I remineralize. I live 5mins from a water store that specializes in selling RO/DI water & I pass it everyday to & from work. I also live in Arizona where the tap is 'liquid rock'. So to me it is easy & makes sense to go with RO water.
WATER CHANGE is 50% once a week.
FERTILIZER my LFS sells Brightwell Aquatic line of products, similar to Seachem, so I said what the hell & went with that. Right now I have a Trace/Micros bottle, Potassium bottle, and a liquid Carbon bottle. I only dose each once a week after water change at HALF the recommended dosage.
FOOD i feed my fish is New Life Spectrum .5mm pellets & bloodworms occasionally.

Right now I have no real problems or concerns. My one plant died but that just opened a space for my Sword. Fish & Shrimp are all still alive & acting normally. Plants are all growing & showing no signs of defficiency. I dont see any signs of any algea. The only thing I would say is kinda poblem right now is my Driftwood is growing this white fuzz almost cotton like growth. According to my LFS & researching the Web it is some sort of mold or fungus but is harmless. And both LFS & Web says it should run its course in a month or two & go away.

Plant wise I would like to get some small forground plants to fill in the foreground. Obviously I cant grow a carpet like Glosso or HC but I was thinking of getting maybe some moss on some rocks or Crypt Parva. Not sure. Have to see what LFS gets in. Fish wise I would like to get a 2nd Tetra school like Bloodfins or Lemons.
Hopefully things keep going well & I can post updates here & there with positive news.

Last edited by bullet_fish; 09-01-2012 at 02:55 AM. Reason: Typing errors
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 09:06 PM
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Very nice setup for your budget and especially since its the first planted one you've done I'll be keeping up with this tank.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 05:57 PM
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I like everything about your setup. It has the clean look.

110g Tropical Community & Sakura Shrimp
55g BN Breeding Grounds, Peacock Gudgeons, Panda, Pygmies, & Smudge Spot Cories, Rili Shrimp
10g RCS and show guppies

MIAPG - Come join us - Plantedtank - MI - Greatlakesaquaria
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2012, 06:02 PM
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Especially for your first planted tank. this is really nice. 20 gallons are a really good starting point, their layout makes it really fun to scape.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2012, 12:19 AM
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wow nice tank

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2012, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: AZ
Posts: 5
First Planted Tank: 20 Long *11 Week Update*

First Planted Tank: 20 Long *11 Week Update*
Decided I'd take some time to post a update. I basically left the tank alone for a month & didnt do anything. In the last 3 weeks I added a Crypt Undulata and a couple Crypt Pontederiifolia (broken up) to the foreground to give it a little more life. I really like the Undulata but Im not sure about the Pontederiifolia. I might make a change there. I decided I wanted to go with Lemon Tetras as my second school but I had to wait 5 weeks for my LFS to get some in. Then ofcourse the week they got them in I was out of town on vacation but luckly they still had 4 left when I came back. And they are GREAT.

Other then that everything is going well. Hygrophila is gonna need to be trimed back. My Ludwigia may need to be spread out & given more room for light cause they are growing sideways & bending all over the place competing for light. I bunched them to close to each other to begin with. Rookie mistake. The baby Java Fern leaves were growing so much they were shading the Crypts to much so I pulled them off to get light back to the Crypts. One of my Amano Shrimp escaped & was KIA on the floor. Ive had a little amount of hair algae growing on the tops of leaves closest to the light but its no real issue & I vacum it up with water change each week. Unfortunatly I some how got Snails in my aquarium now. They must have hitch hiked there way in. They are kinda a eye sore & they are my only real cause for complaint.

Picture quality isnt the best. Sorry.

The Lemon Tetras are AWESOME. They look great and they're very active and very visible... Neons SUCK. They constantly hide. They come out here & there to eat but for the most part they just hide in the back all day & are very skittish.

Last edited by bullet_fish; 10-22-2012 at 06:52 PM. Reason: Adding new image
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2012, 11:46 PM
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I think it looks excellent! Well done. I'm thinking that snails in a planted tank are unavoidable.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2012, 11:56 PM
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I like your stand and plant selection, nice work.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 12:09 AM
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You should get a ram cichlid or an apistogramma; they're the best!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2013, 04:03 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: AZ
Posts: 5
First Planted Tank: 20 Long *5/17/13*


Its been a LONG time since I posted a update (like 6 months). Now you might ask, "Why so long?". Well, really I have been periodically taking pictures and planning on posting them but my camera is SO crappy & the photos are SO yellow and blurry it just looks like crap and doesn't do justice to the tank.
. As you can see the Hygro Corymbosa is gone and has been replaced with Rotala Rotundifolia, which I'll have to say I'm very pleased with. I started to have MAJOR problems with my Hygro. Why? Because I was NOT fertilizing enough. I had not increased my fertilizing amounts to match the plants growth and intake (big mistake) and the next thing I know I didn't really pay attention for a few days and the Hygro is full of holes and yellowing. And it was all downhill from there for the Hygro, even though I started dosing a lot more. It just fell apart with me scooping out a few more dead leaves each day.
Then oh so wonderfully at the same time the Hygro was falling apart my tank got a nice algae breakout of BBA and Staghorn. Coincidence? I think not. So that sucked badly too. But I didn't panic and nuke the tank with Excel or Peroxide. I played the patience game and tried to handle it the natural way. I revamped and retooled my Fertilizing routine. I replaced my liquid bottle ferts with dry ferts from Green Leaf Aquariums and started a EI dosing routine at about 1/2 the frequency due to being low light. I still use the liquid Carbon though. And I replaced the Hygro with Rotala. It took probably 2 months for the algae to go away but it eventually did. Hoorah!!! It was hard times in the aquarium world for quite a while there but I pulled through and now the tanks health is tip top shape (In my opinion).
The lesson kids is, as your plants mature and grow and grow make sure you INCREASE your fertilizer (food) to try to match it.
The Rotala Is doing great. It is my fastest growing plant in the tank now. I've actually propagated about 1/3 of the Rotala in this pic from just cutting the tall stems and planting them back in the soil.

Rotola Rotundifolia was added after the demise of the Hygro. A Crypt Lutea/Walkeri was added and 2 Crypt Parva to the foreground.
I also added Serpae Tetras to the mix. I now have 10 Lemon and 10 Serpae Tetras. The Serpae have been great. They look great and are active and lively and not skittish at all. I also added two Assassin Snails like 6 months ago to help deal with the junk snails I had everywhere. And deal with it THEY DID!!! In like a week or so you could notice a big difference. After a month I had to look everywhere just to find 1 junk snail. Assassin Snails do not mess around. They are all business. Highly recommended if you have hitch hiker snail issues.

There's only one area I'm having issues with or am confused about. And that's some of my Crypts. While some Cyrts like the Spiralis are doing great I'm having problems with my Wendti's and Undulata. As you can see in previous posts the those two Crypts were doing nicely. Then over time they just kinda slowly over months shrunk back to the point that there now just a couple tiny leaves sticking out of the soil. I don't know why. I know Crypts are sensitive to change and I changed to dry ferts but they where already having this issue before that. I have increased the amount of this bottle Carbon and maybe they couldn't take the increase. My water temp is at 80, is that to high for them? In the front there's probably only like a inch of Aquasoil, is that to shallow and restricting them? Any advice on this subject would be appreciated.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-18-2013, 04:20 AM
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Great tank even without CO2

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