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toddg 02-26-2010 09:45 PM

Todd's 55g Planted Journal
After starting a 5g planted aquarium last month at work I got excited to start up a larger one at home. A donor 55gallon tank from a friend got the process going.

I'll utilize this thread to keep track of my setup and ask lots of questions as I try and learn enough to keep everything alive and growing.

Current Tank Photo 03/21/10:

My setup:

As of 3/21/2010:


Tank: 55g
Filter: Eheim 2217 classic
Lighting: Catalina 3x54 T5 HO with moonlights
Co2: GLA complete setup with 5lb bottle
Controller: ReefKeeper Lite with Net Module for computer monitoring.
Subtrate: Eco-Complete black. 120lbs
Heater: Stealth 200w
Nutrients: Base package from GLA as well as Fluorish / Fluorish Excel.



5 neon tetras
9 rummi nose tetras
4 zebra danios

First Steps:

I spent a couple weeks building a stand and am currently finishing a hood.

Stand in progress:

Working on the hood:

Goal is to have the first water test fill this weekend. Still need to make cutouts in the back of the stand to run filter hoses and accessories.

toddg 02-26-2010 09:53 PM

Started a rock wall for the background based on the DIY information posted.

I would have preferred to use the blue core solid foam instead of the white stuff but our home centers don't seem to stock it. What a mess carving the white stuff!




After one coat of concrete:

NOTE: Test fitted the background last night. Learned very quickly that the concrete on the backround will EASILY scratch the glass badly when installing. So, what was going to be the front of the aquarium is now the back. I'm glad I'm learning all this on a free donor aquarium instead of a $$$ acrylic show tank. Need to inspect the rest of the tank during daylight tomorrow and see if I did any more cosmetic damage. From what I'm spend on the equipment already, if it's bad, another $100 for a LFS 55g tank wouldn't be bad as opposed to always staring at scratches.

Going to put the 3rd coat of concrete on the background tonight and it should be dry and ready to install on Sunday.

foster400 02-26-2010 09:57 PM

cant wait to see this one finished. Im hoping to upgrade to atleast a 55

what other fish are you planning?

toddg 02-26-2010 09:59 PM

This is the controller I'm ordering.

I was originally going to go with the Neptune Systems Aquacontroller Jr but the DA unit looks like it's much more supported by the mfg with firmware updates and such. I almost passed on this unit as it didn't have any external outputs. However, with the latest firmware the computer interface module is now supported by the lite version. Yay! My main purpose for this is gathering the tank information to computer. I'm big into home automation and love to have things monitored for the geek factor.

toddg 02-26-2010 10:04 PM


Originally Posted by foster400 (Post 1009512)
cant wait to see this one finished. Im hoping to upgrade to atleast a 55

what other fish are you planning?

Undecided on stocking yet. I figure I've got lots of time before everything is setup and cycled to decide. I'm going for the easier Cherry shrimp in this as well as the at-work 5g tank for sure. Will browse through other's posts here to find other fish ideas. We've had Neon Tetra's for years in the non planted tanks and I really like the colors in the schools of them. I was originally going to go with a non/semi planted tank and a single Oscar, but realized even a 55g was small for them. So, now it's the fun of learning about planting and tech tanks. Going to get our 6 yr old son involved as well as it's a good introduction to chemistry and such.

toddg 02-26-2010 10:30 PM

Just ordered the Co2 system parts from GLA online. Saw their ad for 10% expiring Sunday so went ahead and picked out what I think I need. Didn't need the 'complete' system as I am using the controller mentioned above instead of the SMS122. They are east coast so was already past their business hours so I ordered without calling to get more information. Basing solely on reviews and information gathered from other posts.


Ultimate Regulator
Brass Check Valve
Clear Co2 resistant tubing
Brass Permaseal
5lb Co2 cylinder

Also added one of the Green Fertilizer Micro/Macro packages.

Credit card statement is going to be -brutal- this month.

toddg 02-27-2010 12:46 AM

Just received my Catalina 3x54 Solar light today! Perfect timing for the weekend.

The light included an acrylic splash guard. I haven't checked it yet, but does this fit into a channel on the light to hold it in place?

VadimShevchuk 03-02-2010 11:35 AM


toddg 03-02-2010 05:09 PM

More photos tonight.

Going to go with a black background for now with this tank. Checking the LFS's today for the glossy black vinyl. If I can't find that I'm painting it on with coats of Latex paint as a) I plenty leftover from the stand construction and b) it comes off easily with a razorblade if want to change. Once setup I think I'll pick up a second tank and work on a nice 3d background and create a non/less planted cichlid tank. The main focus of this one is going to be high tech planted with smaller schooling fish.

Figured out the splashguard, there's a slot in the right hand side of the cover that it slides into. The fixture puts out a LOT of light, really nice! Cant' wait to see how the setup looks when the tank gets filled, substrated and the moonlights on.

toddg 03-03-2010 07:26 AM

Started putting in the substrate tonight. Still one or two bags short but supposed to arrive tomorrow. Also picked up some Zebra Rock at the LFS today. Not sure yet if it'll work well for the layout, gonna post out for comments and suggestions. I'm going to build up the back slope in the corners the highest (either left highest sloping towards the lowest, or left highest, lower middle, mid height right rear corner) so it will give more of a depth difference.

A shot in the dark with the moonlights on, although the camera had such a long exposure time it looks like daylight in the room.

Open for any and all suggestions on placement / additions of the rocks. Most likely will not end up with all of them, just set to get feedback and thoughts based on what is available. I need to bring home a piece of driftwood to see if that's going to look decent with the contrast between the current all black/white setup.

Will post some updates on my initial planting thoughts tomorrow for feedback as well.

TwFG2 03-03-2010 07:54 AM

Looks good! Always good to get a free tank!

Driftwood always compliments a tank IMO.

accordztech 03-03-2010 08:07 AM

taps plastic has the slightly glossy black background that i just put on today. its like 2.50 a foot and is 36'' long.

but its more like 20 percent tint, still static cling. it is transparent but with the lght on it looks black.

Maybe its something your looking for.

cost me a total of 10 bucks with leftovers

toddg 03-03-2010 05:13 PM

I ended up going with a black / blue two sided background from the LFS so that part is done. Hoping the remaining EcoComplete arrives today so I can continue forming the bottom layout.

HEINEKEN357 03-04-2010 04:45 AM

Hey Todd that's going to be a nice setup you got. I would ditch the heater with them lights your tank will be around 78-80 with are temps around here :). As for plants I have 3 leaf clovers I would hook you up with I just dumped around 2pounds of it lol grows like crazy with 216w. Btw how far are you from henderson?

toddg 03-04-2010 05:16 AM


Originally Posted by HEINEKEN357 (Post 1013381)
Hey Todd that's going to be a nice setup you got. I would ditch the heater with them lights your tank will be around 78-80 with are temps around here :). As for plants I have 3 leaf clovers I would hook you up with I just dumped around 2pounds of it lol grows like crazy with 216w. Btw how far are you from henderson?

Live up on the north side of town, but work near 215 & S. Durango so Henderson isn't far.

I didn't know if this tank would need a heater or not. The 10 gallon one we've had for our son has never had one on it and hasn't ever had a cool temperature problem. Wasn't sure if they're be more evaporation from the larger size causing it to stay a bit cooler. Kinda like the pools here...Everyone from out of town thinks they'd be 100+ degree's in the summer.

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