Greetings and welcome to my first planted tank.
I have been to hell and 1/2 way back with this 55g started in December 2012. That awful feeling of being able to grow only the most vile and putrid algae, witnessing in horror as your plants go from perfect healthy green to sickly pale yellow and finally to a pile of brown mush, vomiting a little in your mouth as you realize the amount of money wasted on idiotic ideas and purchases.......
I joke (kind of)
Seriously have to thank TPT, I never would have stood a chance without this site
I hope you will laugh at and/or learn from my mistakes; as my hindsight is fairly good, I can now see the humor and lessons in most things I've done with this tank.
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I set this up (hence the name), today I am only slightly closer to getting a clue. With that I'll say I am planning to tear this sucker down, probably within the year, replace it with a bigger tank with more depth and I can do a lot more things correctly from the beginning.
I took some pics as I went with the best intentions of starting a journal, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with? So you will just have to deal with seeing the progression from December til now (mostly) all at once. I am not a photographer, if you can't stand looking at poor quality photos my suggestion is to leave. apologies
Here's the ealiest pic I can find, note the awesome equipment in painful view
Ok so it's a feable attempt at placement using some cheap lace rock, I know it's not great, but for my first attempt ever at "wannabe-agumi" the rock layout could have come out looking worse imo,
Here are some more earlier photos
Here's when I masterfully planted some dhg, see it thrive?
At this point I started some diy co2......... I wasted so much sugar on this! I started with a one 2L bottle, then 2....then 6! Lol, 6 bottles of hangover wine all daisy chained together, the worst part was that for a month or so, I naively thought I could get away without using check valves on each bottle, this resulted in nearly all the co2 being wasted as rotation of new bottles would just pump the co2 into the old bottles!
Also I made a pathetic attempt at a reactor, and when I couldn't get it primed when connected to the eheim, I decided I should make a separate
dedicated line with its own pump, and I figured an eheim intake strainer would work for the output! And all this pointless effort just for some
crappy diy co2!
Needless to say, these efforts got me nowhere except for some exp. points I guess:
Like a pro, with no research I confidently "planted" the java fern:
At this point, as many do, I decided this wasn't working because I needed more light. So I got some rain gutter and 4' t5hox2 ballast from hd, crammed it all
in there, sat it right on top of the tank and fired it up. Here's the results:
Look at all the pearling tho:
I didn't take pics of the worst of it, but you get the idea, imagine this just smothering the entire tank. Thinking back, I was so stubborn about the light. I just convinced myself that the tank needed so much light and I deserved to look at the tank as much as possible given the amount of money spent, so I kept the light right on the rim of the tank and ran it for 12-13 hours a day for over a month.
So, then I got it into my head that my water was too hard, the plants weren't doing well and cardinals are soft water fish. I bought the stupid water softner
"pillow"...what a joke, it did nothing. I then read you can put peat in the filter to soften water. So I put two small bags in the 2215.
I realized it did nothing and read that you have use a lot to see the effects.......so I figured I would make it work. I emptied out
the entire 2215, completely filled a pillowcase with peat and crammed it in there, no soaking or anything.
A week or two later, I confirmed that it was working.....it was also leaching massive organics and nastiness into the water, combined with the excess of light and little co2, and only flourish, it was the perfect algae storm. For the next month the tank just suffered:
The more everything died, the more I obsessively read until I was finally convinced I needed less light. I raised the light several inches
and reduced photoperiod to 8 hrs. The rain gutter "light" was getting so hot I found an old T12 grow light from the 70's, it had a decent
reflector. I put the t5ho guts in there and it stopped overheating.
I scrapped the pillowcase of peat idea, put the 2215 back into proper operation. Can't confirm this, not being a ninja turtle, but that sack of peat smelled exactly like the worse part of the sewer when I pulled it out of the eheim!
Spent too much money on a poorly concieved reg and hd needle valve, found a 20# tank for $40, did a large trim and cleanup and tried a minor rock rescape. I would say it was the turning point of my first planted tank: