In the midst of building my first-ever greenhouse aquaponics system, I found myself being drawn back to a long-ago hobby again. I grew up in a house full of aquariums, with a dad who was an avid fish breeder, so I've had lots of aquariums in my own lifetime, but mine always had undergravel filters and plastic plants, and a pretty standard variety of easy-to-keep fish, so they wouldn't die while I was busy changing diapers or running Mom's Taxi Service. The aquaponics thing got me thinking about the plants. Again. I'd secretly always wanted a planted tank, but there were kids to raise, and moves every couple of years, and it just never happened.
But now the kids are all grown, and we've finally ended our nomadic lifestyle, bought a house in the country, and settled in. (Yay!) Thanks to Craigslist, I'm now the proud owner of a 130 gallon 48"W x 24"D x 28"H aquarium with a wet/dry sump and a PowerCompact light hood with 2x65W 6500K (I think) and 2x65W dual actinic bulbs. I haven't really decided yet whether that's a lot of light or not, due to the depth of the tank, but I'm hoping it's just about right for the low-tech variety that I want.
(The tank came with a 14" plecostomous, who is temporarily living in a 30-gallon tote in the spare bathroom while I figure out what to do with him. If it weren't so cold, I'd stick him in the 275-gal aquaponics tank, but it's at 54 deg F and I don't think he'd like it out there right now.
I've been reading forum threads until my eyes cross every night after work, and things are (very slowly) starting to make sense, although I still really have more questions than answers...
I started with substrate consisting of 75lbs kitty litter, 30lbs Fluorite, and 75-ish lbs aquarium gravel that came with the tank (the other 25lbs is in with the pleco). Then I scrounged around in the back yard and found two rocks that weren't too buried in frozen muck to pull free, and soaked them clean. (Fortunately, we live on an old lava flow, so pretty much any old rock I grab from the back yard is bound to be visually interesting, and these two didn't disappoint me.)
Then I had to wait to fill the tank, because all the hoses were frozen. Argh.
Finally, I went to my LFS (my first aquarium-related acronym, yay!) and got overwhelmed with plant choices and finally just gave up and started pointing at plants until it seemed like I had a lot.
It felt like a lot.
I keep forgetting just how BIG this tank is.
But I really want more rocks anyway, so I just stuck the two rocks in one end, and then planted the plants all in that end. I don't know any of the aquascaping methods, so I just stuck things in where they looked good to me, and I've probably broken at least 47 design rules, but I'm okay with it, for a beginning.
I'm a complete n00b at this, so any suggestions, advice, etc. are welcome. I want to learn, preferably as much as possible from OTHER people's mistakes!
This is the planted half:
My granddaughter approves: