The Journal of a Complete Beginner! [50 gallons - Now with WATER!] - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-06-2009, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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The Journal of a Complete Beginner! [50 gallons - Now with WATER!]

Hello all!

My name is Gary Hudston and I am not new to fishkeeping by any means. I used to breed fancy guppies and, more recently, bettas (which I intend to return to eventually) and have kept several community aquariums and one pair of oscars in the past.

However, I have never kept a planted aquarium beyond sticking in a few live plants and hoping for the best (then experiencing the worst ).

So once again, I find myself a complete and utter beginner in yet another facet of the hobby which I find myself strangely enthralled with.

Having found myself living in a new, aquarium-less house I figure it's time to get stuck in. I have, sitting right next to me on a (very sturdy, reinforced) desk a brand spanking new Aqua One Evo 100 with 2x39w T5 lights in the hood, which I bought from Chiltern Aquatics for a very reasonable 170!

And... that's about it I'm afraid. It's sitting there, completely empty apart from the filter tubes and heater, which I put in for no reason other than to ease my impatience. I have several bags of Flourite Black Sand and one bag of regular Flourite Black (they didn't have enough of the sand) on order, should be arriving in the next couple of days. Going shopping for some rocks/wood in the next few days aswell; after all that arrives then I'll take some pictures for you all.

As for plans, I'm not totally sure what plants/fish will be going in there just yet. But I'm planning to grow some HC (and/or perhaps some others?) emmersed for awhile, as it will probably be a month or two until I can afford CO2 and other essentials. Once there's water in there and it's all cycled I'll start out with some cherry shrimp, which are the only thing I've settled on so far. As for fish, I'm not so sure. I've got a bit of a list going, but the more I try to research and narrow it down, the more I find to add to the list.

Oh well, that's for later anyway! Wish me luck and I'll update with some pictures when I have something to take pictures of!

Current State

Last edited by GHudston; 02-01-2009 at 08:30 PM.
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post #2 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-06-2009, 03:53 AM
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post #3 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-07-2009, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Adventures in Flourite

My search for hardscape was fruitless. I scoured every aquatics centre in the area and found nothing of use. There was some nice wood in my favourite shop which was reasonably priced, but it just wasn't the sort of thing that I want for this scape. Looks like I may have to resort to ordering.

Aquaessentials has some good ones as far as I've seen, I'm quite fond of the "knife stone". Has anyone ordered their rocks and wood online before? I'm uncertain how much to order; it's all well and good charging per kg, but I have no point of reference for how large a 2kg rock is.

It's not all hopeless, though. My flourite arrived this afternoon and it took me the best part of the evening to rinse it all and put it in the tank! There is one bag of regular flourite piled up at the back where most of the bigger plants are going to go, and three bags of flourite sand on top of that to keep the corydoras happy.

As far as I'm concerned, it has something in it now so it's officially an aquarium; as opposed to a big glass box. I'm quite pleased with how it looks too, can't wait until I get some suitable hardscape and start growing some HC in there.

It wasn't all fun and games though. I heard beforehand that flourite can be fairly messy, which it was, but the sand was absolutely filthy. There is usually a reasonable amount of dust removed from aquarium gravel when you rinse it, and it took a fair while before the water began to clear up whilst rinsing the flourite; the sand, however, turned the water a dark brown/black colour until I had rinsed it about 4-5 times and continued to heavily cloud the water for a long time afterwards. Eventually I gave up at "slightly cloudy", rather than the "crystal clear" that I usually strive for.

I rinsed the substrate in my bath, as it is absolutely freezing outside and using the hosepipe in the garden would probably result in frostbite; and I need my fingers to maintain the plants! So when I was done washing the gravel, I left the filthy water to drain whilst I filled up the tank.

I returned to find this:

The water had drained, and left behind what looked like a ton of excess sand. I was terrified that I had somehow washed away tons of my expensive substrate but I soon realised that this was just a very visual example of how much dust there is in flourite sand.

It was closer to mud than sand and in parts that had completely dried off only a very fine dust remained. This was obviously what had clouded the water so much but I was truely astonished at just how much of it there was. I was tempted to put it into the tank but when I tested it in some water it was so light that it just dispersed.

Managed to clean it before my other half got too annoyed, luckily. Though I think I've been banished out in the cold for any future attempts to wash any substrate...
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post #4 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-07-2009, 10:01 PM
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I am truly excited for this tank! Keep us posted!
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post #5 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Incoming Hardscape

A very minor update for today. I've just placed an order for 20kg of Seiryu Stone and two pieces of Redmoor Wood. Will be interesting to see how this works out as all of the Individual pieces that I liked had been sold, so instead I opted to let the store hand pick it for me and left them a description of what I was after.

Hopefully it will be what I'm looking for, worst comes to worst I'll just take a hack saw and some aquarium sealant to it!
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post #6 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Parcelforce. Parcelforce! PARCELFORCE!!!

I was hoping to have something more to show by today. I had ordered my rocks and wood with express delivery via "parcelforce 24" which I believed would arrive yesturday, so I stayed in waiting for it.

Apparantly not. Parcelforce DO deliver on saturday; but only if you pay them an extra 12.

My thoughts in video form!
(warning: slight language)

Nevermind. It just means that I have to hope it turns up tomorrow when someone is around at home; then I'll have some pictures of the hardscape and possibly the very first stages of a HC carpet!
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post #7 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 08:40 PM
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I can't wait to see the hardscape.

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post #8 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night!

Well, the hardscape arrived today.

I think I'm going to both love and hate this planted aquascape thing. Buying rocks and wood blindly means that I have no idea what I'm going to get, making any prior planning null and void.

That being said, I love everything that arrived. The rocks are beautiful and the wood is almost precisely what I asked for, but not quite; which I'll explain later.

Here's some pictures of what came in the boxes:

This is the lot.
6" craft knife for comparison.

A (terrible) close up of the wood.

I got a laugh when I took this photo.
Reminds me of an easter island head!

All of it is wonderful. The problem, however, is that it's almost trying to not fit in with my plans on purpose. The larger piece of wood is the perfect mirror image of what I wanted and will not fit in my tank in the way that I want it to on the side of the tank that it's supposed to go into. This won't do, as the tank will be viewed from the front and the left hand side; so I must keep that side clear so that people entering my room can see the fish, not a branch.

Looks like I will have to think on my feet with this one and try to do something a bit different.

The larger piece of wood looks spectacular when held upsidedown as if it were a tree root coming down into the water, and I have even toyed with the idea of placing the smaller root underneath the larger one creating a single, larger root; my only issue with that idea is that I need to raise it up slightly to hide the unsightly top part of the wood where it has been cut away. I may have to create a pile of rocks to do this so that I do have a root just dangling into the water. I fear that my lack of substrate is going to be my biggest enemy here.

That's one option. I do quite like how these rocks look when piled up together, though; it's quite impressive.

I will keep playing around with them and see how it goes. Does anyone have any links to aquascapes with "tree roots" like I'm talking about, or any advice on artificially raising a hill or a mound of rocks? (I'm thinking of putting something hollow inside them, or adding some caves (flowerpots?) and hiding them with rocks, gravel and moss; perhaps.)

If you have any other ideas, please do let me know. I'm off to arrange and rearrange rocks like a man possessed now. I'll check back from time to time and post pictures of anything that I come up with.
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post #9 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 07:01 PM
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Those are some nice looking hardscape pieces! I have to agree that lack of substrate might give you some headaches. It always seems that you could have a bit more for sloping or covering up/burying portions of the rocks.

Can't wait to see what you come up with!

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post #10 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 07:19 PM
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Cant wait to se what you come up with.
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post #11 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Couldn't See the Wood for the Trees

It looks like some sort of creature.

Not bad for a first try, I don't think. But what do you think?

What I think is that I am really exhausted; this aquascaping stuff is hard work!

The only part that I'm not really pleased with is the top of the wood, but from most viewing angles it's barely noticeable and I think that I'll be able to cover it up with some sort of floating plant or moss. Speaking of which, I have 4 pots of HC to sort out before they die on me!
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post #12 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 10:31 PM
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looks good, (a lot better than my first attempt) but it's a little hard to tell what's going on in there. a brighter photo might be nice.
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post #13 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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A Little Brighter

Here it is a bit brighter. Sorry for the poor pics; I need to have a good tidy up in here before I can do some proper photography. You can see the rocks a BIT better in this, but the lower rocks are still hard to distinguish because they're mostly coated in flourite at the minute.

You can see the beginnings of a HC carpet in the bottom left. Just 99 million more tiny leaves to go!

More pics to come soon!
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post #14 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Maybe I Have Green Fingers Afterall?

It's a bit delayed, but here is the update that I promised. Hopefully you'll be able to get a better feel for my scape from this.

I set about planting my HC carpet almost as soon as I had settled on the scape as the plants had been delayed in the post and were starting to get a bit dry while they were sat on my desk.

HC planting takes forever.

Took me about an hour and a half to cover the area that I wanted. I mist the tank at least once per day or whenever it's starting to look a bit dry. I'm trying to make sure that there is plenty of water to keep the roots nice and wet, without leaving any pools on the surface for other things to grow in. So far everything seems nice and green and I'm pretty sure that I'm starting to see something happening.

Here is the carpet today.

The carpet is (hopefully) going to cover most of the front of the tank, highlighting some of the half buried rocks in the process and giving me a starting point for the rest of the tank. I'm still undecided as to what plants to put elsewhere in the tank and am open to suggestions; I have moderate lighting and will have CO2 by the time I fill the tank.

Here are some more shots of the carpet. Please let me know what you think of the scape.

From Above.

I'm still amazed how tiny this plant is.

A close up of some of the HC

And an attempt at getting artistic!

That's it for now. Will keep you posted on the carpets growth and any other updates; I expect to get my CO2 within the next couple of weeks and my birthday is coming up so I anticipate some more plants to share with you too!

Let me know what you think!
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post #15 of 105 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 07:57 PM
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Hey, nice scape. If you can maintain the slopes of the substrate and have the HC grow out, it will look awesome once things fill in. For some reasons, this scape gives me a feeling of a scene from Lord of the Rings?! I really like it. Perhaps it's the wood you got it there. Does it....move...or talk...??!!!
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