New 30gal tank - The Planted Tank Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-11-2013, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
New 30gal tank

My wife and I decided that our Christmas gift to each other this year was going to be an aquarium. I'd kept aquariums since I was about 8 years old, but when we got married and moved into our first apartment, I was not able to keep my tank. 11 years later, we are finally getting around to getting back into the hobby (especially because our 2 year old son loves watching the fish at the pet store).

We decided on a 30 gallon tank and I set out to designing and building a custom stand for it. Stand turned out great and it matches the design/feel of the existing furniture in our living room. Total cost of the materials for the stand was about $80 and it took me a day to build and then another 3 days to paint/finish it...

Specs for the 30 gallon:

filter: Fluval 206 canister
lighting: marineland double bright LED 36"
co2: 5lb tank with in tank diffuser
substrate: 60lbs of eco complete
driftwood: purchased locally from LFS
rocks: "borrowed" from our backyard landscape.
water: treated tap water

Some of the plants I have were donated from a friend and some I bought at my LFS. Not sure of exact names on some of them.

Current Plants:
Java fern
anubias nana
elodia (too short to see in tank now)
Vals (back corner)
Dwarf sword rosette? (how it was labeled in store)
dwarf chain sword? (how it was labeled in store)
some sort of crypt
christmas moss
unknown stems (the ones in the middle back)
Have some fissidens coming in this week.

Planted the tank last Wednesday and dumped in a bottle of bacteria culture. Added 3 ember tetras on that Saturday and then 3 more a few days later.

Ideally, I wanted this to be a low tech / low maintenance tank as we go on week long trips 2-3 times per year. However, a friend of mine had the CO2 tank and regulator sitting in his garage from a failed beer/kegging veture from a couple of years ago, so I figured I'd add the CO2 since it was essentially free (had to pay $15 to fill it). Still would like to keep it on the lower maintenance side so trying to decide what I want to do as far as ferts go.

The lighting is not ideal and it may need to be replaced in the future, but we got it used for pretty cheap so I thought I'd see how it would work. I am not a fan of the fact that the light itself is not waterproof/resistant and that you have to have a cover on the aquarium.

I've been running the lights and CO2 for about 12 hours a day and so far it looks like there has been a little growth on some of the plants, but at the same time, nothing has wilted yet either so that is good. I've also moved the filter intake to the same side of the tank as the outflow and that seems to be getting a little better circulation in the tank. Nothing in the way of algae yet (knocking on wood) and the driftwood is leeching tannin so the water is a bit tea colored.

Future plans include some cherry shrimp, more ember tetras, some otos and possibly another type of tetra (havent decided which yet).

My biggest problem right now is the protein film buildup on the top of the tank. I've been hand skimming it off every evening but I think I may just drop an airstone in and run it at night to help clear that up.

Happy to have any suggestions/tips anyone wants to offer. I'm a bit rusty on this stuff but have been scouring the forums for weeks now (re)learning stuff.
linnenji is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 03:39 PM
Planted Tank Guru
Hilde's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Mableton, GA
Posts: 6,158
Love it!! Think your light is good.

For ferts the easiest thing to do is do DIY ferts with Osmocote outdoor & indoor plant food. Just buy some capsules from a health food store.

If you start seeing algae a siesta period of 4hrs for the light period would help.

Placing a paper towel on top of the water will pick up the protein. Perhaps after you get more fish it won't be a problem. I don't worry about mine for I can't see it from where I view the tank.

What state are you in? I found 4 states that have a city named Champaign.
Hilde is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
What state are you in? I found 4 states that have a city named Champaign.
I live in the IL variety of Champaign (Go Illini!)...Went to U of I for undergrad and ended up never leaving.

Thanks for the tips! The paper towel trick worked like a charm and I've started running an airstone overnight and that seems to be keeping the film at bay. I found a box of leftover root tabs in my attic box of aquarium stuff, so I'll get those used up and then I'll go the DIY approach.

Tank Updates:

I've added a few more fish in for a total of 9 ember tetras and a tri of Otos. Found someone local selling some cherry shrimp so bought 20 from him (saw later that in that 20 shrimp there were 3 berried females, so my shrimp population should be growing soon!)

Got a big bunch of fissidens in the mail over the weekend and I've got it soaking right now in a bucket of old tank water as a short term quarantine.

I've also added a pack of Purigen into the filter to help with the tannin issue after doing a large WC too. Tea color seems to be drastically reduced, but have a little bit of a white cloudy issue now. Hopefully that will clear itself up in a day or two.

As far as the plants, I've seen a little grown on most of them so I am happy there. The Vals continue to melt away, but new leaves are coming up too so not concerned there.

Will update with pictures when the water clears (hopefully soon!)
linnenji is offline  
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 02:39 PM
Algae Grower
bbrackeen's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Savannah, TX
Posts: 46
You might look into a TOM Aquarium Surface Skimmer. They are cheap on amazon like $10. I LOVE mine, it works really well.

As for algae, don't be upset if you get any, its a part of the journey. Just keep after it and everything will work out.

Great looking stand, you are quite the carpenter! Great start!
bbrackeen is offline  
post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
You might look into a TOM Aquarium Surface Skimmer. They are cheap on amazon like $10. I LOVE mine, it works really well.
Thanks for the tip on the surface skimmer. Had no idea they made such a product. Do you have to adjust the height of the skimmer on a regular basis to account for evaporation and WC? Does it make much/any noise?

Cloudiness has already started to clear up...I wonder if it was just a bacterial bloom after I opened the canister to add in the Purigen. Hopefully in another day or two it will be totally cleared up.

Good news is the Purigen has completely removed any evidence of the tea color from the driftwood tannins.
linnenji is offline  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
Tank Update:

Need to add a new pic, but the cloudiness has cleared up quite nicely. Still a little bit left, but I am more than happy with the progress.

I have seen little growth on the plants, but there are signs of new leaves on the bacopa and a few of the stems. The vals in the back are slowly starting to bounce back but nothing major yet. The slow growth is mainly due to the lack of ferts I imagine. My tank constantly reads 0-0-0 when I test for ammonia and nitrite/ates. I've taken advantage of the pfertz 45% off deal they have going on now and have orders some root tabs, so that should help out when they get here. Anyone have experience with these? Was thinking about going the osmocote plus route (and may do that when I run out of these tabs) but I needed to order online anyway so thought I'd give these a try.

Have not decided if I want to go with a water column fert dosing regiment yet or not. Although I do have injected CO2, I'm pretty sure my light falls in the Low/Medium category and still plan on keeping the tank more low maintenance. Which brings me to a question:

Is it possible to do some EI dosing and such to get all of my plants larger quicker and then taper off the ferts to keep maintenance down on it? Or will the plants die back once the fertz they are used to stop coming on a regular basis? Another question: Is water column dosing even necessary if most of my plants are well rooted? Will root tabs be enough?

Planning on heading to my LFS today to see if they have any new plants in stock. Would like to get another background plant and a floater depending on what they have. Another question regarding floating plants: Do most people just the the floating plants float free on the surface or do they contain them some how in a specific area?

Found out that the local fish group (Champaign Area Fish Exchange) is having their semi-annual auction this weekend. Major bummer as I have to travel out of town and won't be around for it.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on my questions!
linnenji is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 02:26 PM
Planted Tank Nation
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Oak Park, IL
Posts: 888
Co2 drives the need for the ferrs, so once the tank really get goiing you can stop the co2 and do a modified lesser fert dosing plan if you want less maiintenance
mitchfish9 is offline  
post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
Co2 drives the need for the ferts, so once the tank really get goiing you can stop the co2 and do a modified lesser fert dosing plan if you want less maiintenance
True! I had originally been planning on setting the tank up with no CO2, but since I got the tank and regulator for free, I thought I might as well use it. Is CO2 without the use of ferts a complete waste? My thoughts were that even without ferts, by making sure CO2 is not the limiting nutrient can help my plants out compete algae for the remaining nutrients in the tank. Is this line of thought way off?
linnenji is offline  
post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
Updated Pictures: 1/31

Happy to report the tank is doing pretty well! Overall, there has been steady growth on most of the plants. I did a minor rescape and took out most of the big rocks and moved one piece of driftwood. Going to let it all grown in now and see how it looks.

Then dwarf chain swords are not doing that great, but considering the lighting, that is not all that unexpected. It has shown some new growth, so I am hopeful that it will be able to at least survive. The Vals are growing slower than I thought they would, but they have finally started to send up some new leaves too.

Uploaded with

For ferts I've just used some of the pfertz root tabs so far. Not sure if I should be dosing the water or not also, but I think most of the plants I have are root feeders, so hopefully the root tabs will be enough.

Water parameters are staying good with ammonia, nitrite, nitrate all at 0. Would like to see a little nitrate in there so I may start reducing my water changes a bit. Right now I am doing about a 15% WC every week. I've seen a little bit of algae on some of the anubias leaves and a very thin film on tank glass, but nothing of an explosion yet and my ottos seem to clean most of it up off the leaves quickly.

As far as fish go...I've got 9 ember tetras and 10 or so of some other type of tetra I got from a friend who was tearing down his tank. Not sure what they are, but they are mostly silver with black tips on their fins. I'd like to try and add some more fish, but not sure what will play nice with my tetras and red cherries.

Would like to get some more Xmas moss for the Driftwood, but have not seen any more at the LFS after the 1 small bunch I bought last thanksgiving for a little 2 gal that I have. I've been trying to grow more out, but it is taking a long time.

Thanks for looking, feel free to offer any suggestions on fish/plants/scape!
linnenji is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Champaign, IL
Posts: 10
Cloudy water after WCs and a few other questions

A few questions I've got:

1. Seems like I get cloudy water for several days after I do my weekly WCs. The method I am using is running tap water into a 5 gal bucket, dose with conditioner (quite a bit more than bottle recommends as I've been told my local water company uses quite a bit more chlorine that what is normal.) I'll let the bucket sit most of the day to come to room temp, then vac water out/pour new water in. The next morning, the water is always pretty cloudy and takes 3 days or so for it to go away. The last 2 WCs the next morning I've seen a few fish at the top sucking air. Both times, I dropped in an air stone and the fish are fine in an hour or so (have not lost any fish). My drop CO checker reads a dark green, so I don't think it is excess CO2 (especially since I don't run CO2 overnight). Is there a way to change the water that would be less likely to cloud up the tank?

On thinking about it now, I've been opening up my canister filter to swap out the purigen packs every week. (Using purigen to help get rid of a few of the DW tannins. It is working well, but at this point, it needs recharging weekly, so I've got 2 packs of it and just swap every week.) Could the cloudiness be from my disturbing the canister?

2. Regarding WCs. Should I be extending the amount of time between WCs? My testing always comes up 0/0 for ammonia nitrite and basically 0 for nitrate. I'm assuming that my plants are just using up the nitrates as they become available, so should I just let the water be until the nitrate levels push up a bit higher?
linnenji is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome