46 gallon build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 05:06 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Iowa City, IA
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46 gallon build

Alright, so this is my second planted tank build after a semi-disastrous attempt in my 90 gallon. I won't comment here on that build.

Alright so I didn't really take pictures as I went along dirting the tank and doing the layout, I got a little antzy because I had planned out the layout weeks ahead of time.

So this tank I bought from a buddy cheap, I mean super cheap, the tank, light, AC 50, and other stuff for $60. Yeah cheap. I had to set up it quickly for some baby angelfish I was getting back in May, and so the planting got put aside for a quick set up.

Since I moved the baby's out, I began to form ideas on a layout and which plants to get. The main theme was to get set up for shrimp, which I love having.
The design is fairly simple, sand beach in the front at the mouth of the 'river' that separates the two hills. Each hill will have its own identity, and not a mirror copy.

I wanted to try and save some money on dirt and not buy some expensive dirty like ADA Amazonia. I started with about 2 inches of Miracle Grow potted mix and topped it with play sand for the beach, river rock I already had for the river area, and used actual river rocks I collected for the walls to hold up the hills. Even more to save on dirt/money I used river rock to fill in the hills and then topped them off with Fluval Shrimp Stratum.

It took nearly a week for the crap from the miracle grow to surface, filter out, or me scoop out.
For the driftwood I took a piece I already had, busted it off the crappy slate bottom and used it as another wall to create more little hill areas, but ended up having to tie it down to a large piece of real slate. Not a big deal though because you can't tell at all.

For the first part of plants I order from AlphaProBreeders, great plants, great service.
cryptocoryne wendtii red x1
Dwarf Baby tears x2
Dwarf Hair grass x3
Vallisneria Itallian corckscrew x5

Added later:
multiple java fern
anubius on rock

can't remember the name of the plants in the back right.
They arrived and I planted them a couple days later as I let them float/sink in the water before that. The dwarf baby tears and dwarf hair grass are what took me hours to pull out of their pots, separate and plant.

In the end it looked okay for stage 1, but after a couple days I noticed the dwarf baby tears melting and the dwarf hair grass suffering too. This was 100% my fault, as that I did not have CO2 ready for them. Once I did get the CO2 running they turned bright green and are starting to show a good turn around.

Stage 2, was taking place over several days as I visited the LFS including petco to figure out what I wanted to fill in blank spots. After several trips, and lots of time browsing the forums, I found the anubius on rock along with a stem plant to take place of the camamba that I had originally wanted in the back right. Once those were place, I decided some dwarf sag will be a good choice to fill in the blank spots in front of the wendtii and the driftwood on the right. (still waiting for that to come) There is also some flame moss on its way to go onto the triangle shaped rock in the back, at which time I'll figure out where I want to place it.

The mopani was an impluse buy from petco, I saw it and decided to try it out. Surprisingly though, I liked how it fit and the color of it, so I decided to get some java fern going on it.

After all that I ran out of the crappy little 45g co2 bottles, and made the switch to DIY CO2. At first I wasn't getting any pressure from the milk jug (which was the secondary jug I was using to scrub the CO2) so I straight lined the CO2 into the tank. Within an hour the diffuser was working full steam, and is still running over 6 bpm. Since getting this high amount of CO2 pumping the plants have really taken off.

To filter the tank, and circulate it, I have a simple aquatop PH-8 with a fiji water bottle cut down and a precycled 2in by 2in filter floss in it. This has proven to be a nearly instant tank cycling process, along with pointing the ouput towards the CO2 diffuser to help dissolve more CO2, and even still churning the surface to improve natural o2/co2 diffusion. And to answer questions before they get posted, no churning the surface as I have it does not negate the CO2 infusion at all. In fact it's nearly required with a DIY system that you can't control so that you don't overload the tank for starters. This can be argued day and night, but this is how I'm doing it
I'm currently doing sea chem comprehensive and iron also. Dosing 4 times a week currently because of the high CO2 output and leaving the lights on 16 hours a day. I have dry ferts in the mail, which will last me close to a year or so.

Check out the video, I know it's kind of crappy. Bare with me. I'll do another, better, video in a few days as plants really take off.
Comments, criticism, and ideas are always welcome.

Lastly, RCS don't have an arrival date yet. Current fish: 6 neon tetras, one albino bn pleco. I had a golden gourami in there for several days also, but just gave her away because she's got a nasty tude on her. RCS in the next week or two.

Last edited by Nestle_; 09-17-2013 at 05:31 AM. Reason: Added info and fixed a few spelling errors
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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stage 1

stage 2

Here, pics for the lazy

The co2 diffuser is now in the very front of the tank, I didn't like how close to the surface it was in the back. I'll probably move back once everything gets going. The powerhead is just a little farther left pointing straighter at the front glass.
The bag has peat granules in it. Not really sure the peat is actually doing anything, but the bn pleco loves to eat off it.

Last edited by Nestle_; 09-17-2013 at 05:43 AM. Reason: Added more info
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 01:08 PM
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Your tank is coming along nicely. I like the different substrate colors.

110g Tropical Community & Sakura Shrimp
55g BN Breeding Grounds, Peacock Gudgeons, Panda, Pygmies, & Smudge Spot Cories, Rili Shrimp
10g RCS and show guppies

MIAPG - Come join us - Plantedtank - MI - Greatlakesaquaria
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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thanks, I like it too. The only problem I've had is keeping the fluval shrimp stratum up the slope, its very light. So a bunch of it rolled through the tiniest spaces in the walls, and over the rocks onto the sand and the river rock pebbles. I've tried to pick them up and move them. But my hand movement blows more around and negates what work I've done. It's crazy how light it is lol
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-18-2013, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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Just tested the pH, and its somewhere around 6.8 or 6.6, its hard to tell the difference. Either way, the buffering of the fluval shrimp stratum alongside the peat granule bag have done a huge amount of change for the water. My 90 gallon has no buffering agents like this, and its easily running 7.8 or 8.0
Highly recommend fluval shrimp stratum if you can't get ADA soil.

Been dosing iron from seachem very highly, trying to get the ludwiga and wendtii its color back. Starting to see some improvement in them. I'm now seeing how [censored][censored][censored][censored]ty these bulbs are, and that I need to replace them quickly. One is 10k full sun and the other is some horrible color enhancing BS. I got them with the tank from a buddy. I'm even contemplating making another 2xT5 DIY build just so the dwarf hair grass and dwarf baby tears can grow better because they seem to still be struggling a big.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-24-2013, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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A little update before the first RCS shrimp arrive Wednesday, along with some Tiger shrimp. Saw them on sale on alphaprobreeders.com

Did a clean up, and got the neon tetra's out. Also got some plants in, a few regular val's, along with 12xdwarf sag which aren't really dwarf? They're almost the same size at the val's, which I had thought were some of the tallest aquarium plants out there.

Here's some pics. Click them for a bigger view. Don't mind the random roots sticking out, the fluval stratum is so light its hard to plant them at all.

I have new lights coming in the next couple days because I've decided the ones I have now are definitely not strong enough. So I have this coming
LED 36" HI 6500K
It has 129x 6500K LEDs

Anyone see this as to much light maybe?

Last edited by Nestle_; 09-24-2013 at 02:06 AM. Reason: edit
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-26-2013, 03:13 AM Thread Starter
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First shrimp are in. 10x RCS and 10x tiger shrimp
Acclimated and into the tank quickly, got them from AlphaProBreeders. The pictures show just how well they traveled, and that their color is going to be fantastic.

I have abour 30 more RCS arriving tomorrow from a different breeder, I want to keep the bloodline strong, and I'm even considering getting some fire red's in a few weeks to help improve color. Not sure if I'm going to get more tiger shrimp yet, we'll see how things are in a month or so. I might be busy with some tanks I'm getting soon, should be getting 3x55 gallon and a 45 gallon. That'll keep me busy
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