Moved cross country for fiance's school. She's attending school a few hours away and I transferred to my head office. Since she is going to have the dog, figured I needed something to occupy my time. I looked into aquariums since I've always liked them. Didn't want to do a salt water reef due to the amount of work and cost involved. Looked online and found some of Amano's tanks. After looking at a lot of different styles, decided to do something in the Nature style. Made a budget of $500 for hardware.
After going back and forth over things like canister filter vs wet dry and with a lot of great help from PVAS (local fish club I joined), finally settled on my equipment.
Tank: 29 Gallon
Stand: PetCo Metal Tank Stand
Filter: Penguin Aquarium Power Filter 200
CO2: Flourish Excel
Lights: Odyssea T5 lights (96W)
Heater: Jager Thermostat Heater 150W
Powerhead: Marineland Maxi-Jet PRO 900 PRO
I know that injected CO2 is the best option but money is tight and I can't afford it at the moment. Maybe in a few months. For now, this should get me going well enough. I bought everything around the middle of July and it just sits in the apartment. Between driving 4 hours each weekend and not quite sure where to start, its taking longer than I thought. I learn more about the methods of cycling a tank. Having to do water changes nearly every day seems too much and I'm lazy. Good to know your strengths. Fishless cycling sounds alright but its a lot of testing and still doing water changes. Read a lot on Tom Barr's site about emersed growth and it sounds too easy.
I contact my local fish club again and start collecting some plants. I picked up some Java moss, flame moss, christmas moss, suesswassertang, and riccia. I bought some containers from Target and Miracle-Gro moisture control potting mix. After filling the containers with water, the soil looks like mud but I put the plants in anyway. I snap the clear lids on and put my tank lights over them. The riccia I just let float in some distilled water and put in a small amount of liquid fertilizer.
After about a week, my plants are sinking.
Go back to Home Depot and get Micacle-Gro organic potting soil and move them over. I lost the suesswassertang somewhere in old soil. The organic potting soil is a much better choice.
By now I'm itching to get started and I decide to just do a normal cycle with fish. I put in the eco complete, fill the tank with water, and go to work. When I get home, realize I'm not ready and don't want to rush things. I don't have any driftwood and with only two bags of substrate, I can't make an incline like I want. Also my riccia is not doing well with the powerhead and nothing to block the flow.
I drain the water. So much for the bacteria in the water from the eco-complete. I pull out all of the eco complete and put it in a bucket.
Bought some driftwood from Tom Barr. They look cool in the pictures. He says they will take 8 days to be delivered. They take a lot longer. While I wait, make a new game plan. People say you can fake hills and inclines by using pea gravel in panty hose. Figured I'll do that to raise the back a few inches but nothing dramatic. I also buy some new lights for my collection of emersed plants. They seem to like the new soil a lot better and are looking good.
I'm still researching different fertilization methods and buy basically 1lb each of the various dry ferts. EI sounds easy but so does PPS-Pro. Thankfully since I decided to do the dry start method, I have time to decide.
Went to a GWAPA (another local club) meeting. We went to a few peoples houses to look at their tanks. Very impressive. I'm afraid I will have 5+ tanks like them unless my fiance can keep me in line.
Got back from a long weekend with my fiance after Labor day and the driftwood finally arrives. Try a few different placements to get an idea of the space they take up and maybe a layout. Haven't decided on anything. They are too large to boil so I'm just going to soak them in a bucket. With the driftwood, I now have everything I need.
I start by putting the pea gravel into the panty hose. Be sure to rinse the gravel off. Mine were covered with dirt of some type. Just did a few since I don't want a huge hill.
Mix some time release plant fertilizer (Miracle-Gro something or nother) with my substrate. With the eco-complete having no nutrients of its own, figured it won't hurt. Pour the substrate in place and sculpt the hill. Looks good if I do say so.
Place the driftwood on the substrate. Depending on how I lay it, one piece sticks out a lot. Would need to raise the lights to avoid the wood from touching it.
Take the driftwood out and begin soaking them. Now the fun part, water. Unfortunately I put too much in so I have to drain some of it. I leave one corner beneath the water so I can see how much water I have left and when I need to fill it back up.
I want a carpet of dwarf baby tears and I bought a pot from a LFS about a week ago. Taking it apart is a lot harder than I would have guessed. Hopefully I didn't mess it up and kill all of them. Space them out on the substrate just above the water line.
Take out my plastic wrap and seal off the tank. I'm going back to see my fiance tomorrow night for another long weekend so I wanted to get it started before I leave. Hopefully when I get back, everything will be alright.
Going forward, I need to decide on a few things.
- Driftwood layout. Both pieces take up a fair amount of room in the tank. I might can only do one but I really like the look of both pieces
- Fertilizer method. Need to research these more and decide which one. Might try them out but that won't be for a few months
- DIY components. I want to build a canister filter and yeast co2 with a co2 reactor. DIY doesn't always mean cheap. I bought the components for a canister filter and even though its a bit over engineered, its still at $60 without the powerhead.
- Wait. Thankfully I only really come back to my apartment to eat and sleep but I need to leave the tank alone and just mist it every few days. I might see about buying another pot of HC to speed the process.