Tinkerpuppets 10gal do-over - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Tinkerpuppets 10gal do-over

I have this little 10gal tank that I started in Mar 2010. Its gone through some changes, I've been really happy with it at times, but then the plants got out of control (java moss and anubias bartari), so I got rid of those, my fish all died off, and I just fell out of love with it. Its got a hair algae problem, green dust algae problem, I added new driftwood a few months ago and I can't get rid of the tannins (I soaked/boiled it for weeks before adding it), my shrimp won't breed and it just looks barren and unloved.

After some encouragement here, I've decided instead of tearing it down, I will redo it. This journal is to document the steps I take and upgrades I make.

So here it is in its sad before pic. My plan is to:
- upgrade the lighting (while still keeping it lowtech)
- take out all livestock and give everything a deep clean
- refresh substrate. Clean sand? Replace with something new?
- add some livestock that will help with algae and interest(need to move tetras to different tank, add rasboras like original plan!)
- add new plants
- new feeding schedule to hopefully take care of overfeeding which has lead to algae and an overabundance of snails
- replace old background

Lots to do, but thanks to some great advice and links from the community here, I think I have a good plan and it shouldn't be to hard or expensive. Wish me luck!

10 gal
Marina Slim10 filter
Tetra 50w heater
sand substrate
no ferts

anubias bartari clippings
dwarf saggitarius

7-10 cherry shrimp
1 amano shrimp
way too many malaysian trumpet snails
dozenish assassin snails who have no interest in the mts

Last edited by tinkerpuppet; 10-21-2012 at 10:15 PM. Reason: add specs
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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First step, which I think is a big one. The lighting.

I've always been unhappy with the lights. The tank has a cheap stock hood with two sockets that only fit the T10 size tube bulbs. When I set it up originally, the best I could find was some 7w 2700k bulbs. The cfl's everyone recommended were simply too big, and we have a much smaller selection in Canada then the US apparently.

But today I was on a mission, I hit up three stores, Walmart, Rona and Canadian Tire. At Canadian Tire I found one brand that finally had a mini spiral with what I hope is the proper light. It doesn't say 6500k, but it does say "Daylight", with the little light spectrum picture showing the highest level, which was comparable with the other brands that said "Daylight 6500K". So I'm hoping its at least 5000k and hopefully 6500k. Either way, better then what I had.

They are small, but it was a pain getting them in. There is a rubber ring around the socket, and the spiral bulb is still a bit bigger then the tube bulb. But I finally managed to get them both in (miraculously without even breaking a bulb!). And wow!!! I can't believe the difference! I know my water is tinged with tannins, but the colour of the old bulbs was always a bit yellow which made it worse.

The cfl bulbs give off such a white light! It looks much clearer and crisper. Unfortunately it also shows the green dust algae off more too. But that's another step I'll worry about later.

So big difference for $11! I wish I had done this sooner (although when I originally looked, I never saw this smaller size, just the larger cfl's which would never fit.

And a funny thing, after I put the new lights in, my dog sat in front of the tank for about 10min staring like she's never noticed it was there before! I guess the new lights caught her attention!

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 08:26 PM
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Haha I like the last photo

Fair play on having another bash at it and cool that you sorted the lights to your liking.

How long are the lights on for? Maybe that is adding to the algae problem? I don't know but if you add that information then hopefully somebody can chime in and say if it's too much, or not the cause etc

Anyway, all the best with it
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2012, 12:24 AM
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I know that feeling of falling out of love with the hobby then having the community here encourage you to start all over again. I like your step by step approach at fixing the issues the caused problems last time. Good find on the CFL's makes the tank look a lot brighter. It actually looks much more lively with just one step.

And as Jedi pizza mentioned what kind of photoperiod are you looking at for this tank? Bright lights are great but also a great algae magnet if used for the wrong duration. I like watching tanks go from neglect to loved and watching the whole revival process so you got yourself a follower
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2012, 12:24 AM
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Daylight bulbs can range from 5000K to 6500K, depending on the manufacturer. Keep your lights on for 6-8 hours only. Any longer and you might develop more algae. Anyways, your tank is looking much better now.

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Last edited by Monster Fish; 10-03-2012 at 12:24 AM. Reason: typo
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2012, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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My photoperiod was around 12hrs/day. Its been much less lately as I've half heartedly been trying to cope with the algae, and we were away and it was off for 5 days. Right now I'm keeping it around 4-6hrs (I have a timer I need to dig out!).

And another huge contributor I'm sure was overfeeding. I've never been good at estimating how much to feed, and with my stock numbers changing (and reducing), I was getting it wrong, even when I thought I was doing better. I've asked a couple questions in the shrimp forum, and am totally changing the way I feed, drastically reducing it. I hope that too will help a recurrence once I get the tank cleaned out!

.Mko. Yay! I love seeing neighbours! I know sometimes being north of the border there is a difference in what we can/cannot do and stock/shipping/availability options. So its nice to have others who might have advice/suggestions!
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2012, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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So I had a hiccup with the new bulbs already. After only 2hrs, my temps went up from about 72-74 (which have been stable forever) to 78-79. Yikes! But now I know the mini cfl's will fit, so after a little searching, I found 9w Daylight cfl's at Home Depot. The closest one to me isn't hugely convenient, so I didn't go there earlier. But I left hubby to put the kids to bed, drove over and was able to pick some up. Hopefully with the lower wattage will come lower heat output. I returned the 13w ones, so its not a big deal if they're not any better. Again, the box doesn't specify 5000k or 6500k, but they seem good and bright, and I like the light quality better then the yellow bulbs I had before.

Here is the box, they were about $10 for a pair. Good deal!

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2012, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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.Mko. I just checked out your youtube channel, I LOVE your 15gal Christmas video. You have a great tank, and with the snow we got today, the Christmas song felt timely!
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2012, 02:33 AM
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Haha thanks! I took that tank down recently unfortunately but a new project is starting up I'll have nice videos of that tank too. I can already feel the snow comming around the corner. Us albertans know winter.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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I'm getting excited about this! I went to a planted tank seminar last night at my LFS, so while I was there, I did some shopping!

I picked up some flourite which I will use as a base and top with some gravel (I like the riverbed look). I picked up some new plants, although now I can't remember the name of two of them, but the third is some bacopa. I got 5 oto's, 3 more amano shrimp, and in the excitement of it all, I stupidly changed my order for 6 emerald eye rasboras to 6 neon tetras. Oops, I realized when I got home why I had rasboras on my list, the neons will eat my cherries. But I also picked up a new 29gal kit which I will now get up and running sooner then I had planned! And a 5.5gal tank that I will use as a temporary tank for the tetras as soon as I'm done rebuilding this 10gal.

So because of putting the tetras in, I decided to put in the new plants as well to give my shrimp some cover. I was going to keep them separate in quarantine, but oh well, I'll be cleaning all the plants anyways.

And you know what? I'm so much happier with my tank already! A little extra green (in the way of plants and not algae this time!) and some new life and wow.

I literally just plunked the new plants in with the weights and everything, so this is not scaped, and I also threw in a pvc pipe I had for a shrimp cave. But even still, better then before!

Last edited by tinkerpuppet; 10-04-2012 at 03:47 PM. Reason: typos
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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So today I'm cleaning my house really well in prep for the giant mess I'm going to make tearing everything down. Today is prep day, tomorrow will be the big tear down/set up day.

I need to test the water today. I haven't done that in ages, and I want to see where I'm at and compare it to after.

I need to get everything I need organized and ready to go for tomorrow.

I need to get some new water prepped to use tomorrow.

I need to make a definitive plan on just how I'm going to treat the plants and driftwood to deal with the algae. I'm not too worried about all the snails as I'm going to replace the sand and the few I'll miss I'll try to manually remove.

Hopefully I'm not missing anything too obvious that I need to do!
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, it took me all freaking day, but I have redone the 10gal. It all went pretty much without a hitch, but I think it took me so long because lots of little things popped up. Like, I didn't realize how long it would actually take me to net everything! And I have a bunch of assassins and assassin babies that I wanted to save as many as possible, so I was picking through for them. But all in all it went well!

Here's my helper Emily. She watched them for probably half an hour!

I boiled my driftwood for hours trying to get rid of tannins, algae and pest snails. I then dried it in the sun and then scraped off the algae I could. But hopefully whatever I couldn't get is dead.

My son set up his Ninjao to supervise

My boys learning to take water samples (ignore the pjs and bedhead!)

It took me forever to scrape off the old algae from the glass. Nothing was working, until I pulled out a really old sponge cleaner thing I had buried in my tank gear. And then I forgot I needed to rinse the fluorite and gravel. But got it all done in the end. And I put the old sand substrate under my raspberry bushes. Maybe some extra sweet raspberries next year?

I almost only used the black flourite as substrate. It was pretty striking

But then I thought with the black background it would all be too dark. I like bright tanks, so I used the gravel I bought to cap the fluorite. I could've used another 1/2 bag, but its fine. And I put the driftwood back in. Very happy with how it looks!

And here she is all filled up and planted. I'm not 100% happy with this. The plants behind the driftwood should grow taller which is what I want. Not sure if I should move the bacopa to the left side of the driftwood? You also can't really see the anubias, but I just stuck them where there was a gap in the driftwood. And I didn't know where to put the little river stones. I could just take them out, but they do have a little algae on them that my shrimp and oto's have been eating.

But its still amazing to see the difference between the sad, yellow, barren tank, this one seems so bright and colourful already! And I'm loving my oto's (although I one didn't make it last night ). So well worth a full days work (and my permanently pruny hands). And my boys liked they got free rein on the computer and Wii today!

Constructive criticism is welcome!! Please!!

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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 05:29 AM
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Anytime you do a hardscape layout, you want to check where the dominant lines are drawing the viewers eye and make they work in your favor.

In this case, that chunk of driftwood is the dominant piece and it's line is a diagonal from the center of the tank out the left hand side. So, your eye is most immediately drawn to the bare center of the tank (blah) then pulled up and out to the left where it'll notice... well, something other than your fish tank!

I'd play around with the positioning of the wood to get the dominant line to lead into or across the tank. Easiest fix would be to leave the wood in the same orientation, but slide it over to the far right side.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 05:40 AM
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Is that a full 5 gallon balancing on a 2 step with kids and a dog? .... You are very brave. Lol. Looks good.
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 05:43 AM
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Hagen makes 15w glo cfls in 6500k if your ever looking for new bulbs again.
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