Hello all, I'm new to the forum. This is my first dirted and planted tank project. I'm moving from a 29g non-dirt to this new 75g. Advice, comments, criticism is all welcome because I'm learning as I go.
Here's the progression:
I finished my DIY stand and got the tank on it about 2 weeks ago.
I used MG organic garden soil, not potting soil. From what I researched it seems people had their own opinions on why to use or not to use either, but I opted for the garden soil. I triple-rinsed it to try to get a lot of the smaller sediment particles out of it before I put it in the tank. Seemed to work pretty well. I've got anywhere from about 1 1/2" in some places to over 3" in others where I wanted it to be built up a little more.
Below is after I put the gravel cap on it. In this pic you see about an 1 1/2" cap, later I went back in and added another 1" - pic not shown here(approx.) on the entire cap and also built up some of the corners a little more for my own personal likings. I thoroughly rinsed the gravel prior to putting it in the tank. I also began to add some hardscape, some Mopani wood pieces, and I built a cave area for my 8" long pleco out of fieldstone. He's outgrown the plastic rock-looking cave I have in the 29g.
I had to do about 5 complete water changes over the next week to get the water to clear up to what you see above, and that's while also running my Eheim 2217 (with carbon for now). The swords (mounds) were from my 29g gravel tank I've had them in that tank for about a year. They just mounded and lost all height in the gravel-only tank. Within a week of being transplanted to the new dirted tank they are shooting up new vertical growth like crazy!
The pic below is also after adding most of the plants I'm going to put in there for now. I also added an interesting driftwood piece I ran across at a LFS, sort of "cave" looking I put it in the back left corner.
So that's where I am at the moment. That last pic is from today about 2 weeks after putting the first water in the tank, and I put the other plants (the non swords) in a few days ago. The water had become a little cloudy but a day after putting the plants in it had cleared up a lot. Now it is more of a tannin-color probably from the Mopani, but it is pretty clear. I did 5 days of biozyme, I've never used it before but thought I'd give it a try. I'm also running a Hydor Koralia 425 on the right hand side and I have my filter return on the far left because it was less noticeable. I'm running the tank at 80 F, same temp that Ive been running my 29g.
I've got one large piece of Mopani in my 29g. I boiled it for 2hrs changing water about 6 times before putting it in my tank and it still took 6 months for it to stop leeching into my tank and making it look iced tea color. This time I boiled each piece for 5 hours and did about 15 water changes during the process. So hopefully i'll get clear water in less than 6 months (fingers crossed).
Side note, I tested my water parameters last night with 6in1 strips and was at: 0 nitrate, 0 nitrite, 25GH, 0 Chlor, 120KH, and about 6.8pH. Which actually blew me away as I didn't know what to expect this early but figured something would be off, but it wasn't so far. Taking a chance I put one new fish I bought (dwarf gourami) that was getting picked on and chased by my other gourami into the new 75g setup. Yes, I know it's early but I was afraid he wasn't going to make it much longer in the 29g being bullied as much as he was. So far the little guy is doing great, swimming around, eating... stuff he wasn't doing in the smaller tank. Will have to see how he does over the next few days.
Still to come:
1] Waiting on some weeping moss to arrive from the UK. I want to put that on some of the Mopani as well as some of the rocks.
2] Been researching DIY CO2 as well as paintball CO2 setups with solenoid. Pretty sure I'm going with the latter as soon as my budget will allow.
3] Higher light output? I have a stock single floro on there now. At first I thought I would def need more lumen output but the plants are doing remarkably well as is. Guess I'll just wait and see on that.
4] Timer to auto control the light, a small airstone to run at night, and the CO2 auto system during the day that I know I will break down and buy anyway
Anyway, that's what I've got. I spent weeks on the net and forums like this doing research, learning, and searching for ideas of what to do and not to do before setting this tank up. Of course I had to consider my ever shrinking budget when starting this project. Sure I would've loved to go high-end high-tech but the $ wasn't there. Hope I am doing ok so far. Feedback is more than appreciated!