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Arctic 02-13-2012 12:25 AM

55 gallon freshwater aquascape
I purchased a 55 gallon fish tank, 60 pounds of Seachem Flourite (50% Black and 50% Red), and 2 pieces of Mopani driftwood. As far as equipment goes, I am just about set. I have a Fluval 305 filter set up under the stand with the default filter media (bio-tubes and activated carbon). I bought an Aquatic Life T5 HO light fixture with 1 6000K spectrum light and 1 650nm spectrum light (almost 2W/G). I have a 300W Jager heater coming in this Friday (2/17) along with an Aqueon aquarium water changer. I also should have a 10lb CO2 system being delivered in the next two weeks or so.

I soaked the Flourite in 10 gallon tubs using a hose to remove the extra dust. Once the water in the tubs appeared clear, I spread out the gravel on a tarp and let it dry for the entire day.

The mopani driftwood is already dense enough that I don't have to water-log it however I was still concerned about excessive tannin leaching. I left the wood in a 10 gallon tub for 2 weeks, changing the water twice a day as time allowed. I also got a big turkey fryer and boiled water with the wood in it for 2 hours.

When it comes to the plants that I am putting in to the tank, I am a little uncertain as I've never kept any before. I'm trying to emulate a Dutch-style aquascape. My tap water's pH currently sits at 7.0 but I know that will change once it is added to the tank with the wood and CO2. Here is the rough flora plan that I put together:

Rotala nanjenshan
Anubias congensis
Hygrophila corumbosa
Anuvias nana
Ludwigia repens
Bacopa monnieri
Lobelia cardinalis
Sagittaria subulata
Hemianthus callitrichoides

Imgur album with a (grainy) picture of the aquarium hardscape, the Flourite drying on a tarp, and my aquascaping plan (layout):

How does the layout look? Are there any suggestions about my plant placement or grouping? As you can see from the picture, the gravel is higher in the back than it is in the front. I think this helps to give an illusion of depth. I really like the difference in leaf shapes between the two Anubias plants and the Lobelia cardinalis. From an aesthetic point of view, the Sag and the Anubias nana could be switched although I think that the Anubias would flourish better than the Sag if the Hygrophila begins to provide more shade.

Regarding fauna, I anticipate having 2 Otos and either a shoal of 10 Tiger barbs or a group of 10 Harlequin Rasbora and 10 Bleeding Heart tetra.

Arctic 02-16-2012 03:33 AM

Great news! Both the plants and CO2 will be arriving on Friday! The heater arrived today and the Aqueon water changer comes in tomorrow.

Hopefully I can get some better quality photos for you all.

biogenetic40379 02-16-2012 03:44 AM

looks like it will be a promising build. I am about to get my co2 up and running myself. Good luck with the build

Arctic 02-16-2012 04:09 PM

Thanks! I'm looking forward to developing my green thumb.

Good luck to your build as well.

Arctic 02-19-2012 01:23 PM

Sorry for the delay -- the weekend started to take over! :)

Let me start by giving kudos to the store that shipped my plants. I didn't (but wish now that I had) take any pictures of how the plants arrived but I was very impressed. The stemmed plants and potted plants were bundled together. Each bundle had wet newspaper surrounding the plants, inside a clear plastic bag (NOT the kind that you get at a grocery store or superstore). Both bundles were then wrapped together with packing paper.

For the most part, the plants looked great! Some of the java fern leaves have holes or black spots in them. I hope they go away once the plant starts growing.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the Ludwigia renens planted (and stay planted) in my substrate. The flow from my Fluval 305 appears to knock some of the plants out of the substrate. Now going on the second full day of operation, I haven't had to spend as much time re-planting plants that started floating.

I have three Anubias barteri var. 'Nan' in the tank. One can be seen tucked between the Mopani wood and the java fern in the first picture. The other two I have attached to the wood using dental floss.

The CO2 system was delivered on Friday, the same day as the plants, but I only had time to put the plants in the tank. All of the CO2 system components were excellently packed and shipped. I got the 10lb CO2 tank filled up at a homebrew store for $30. For the drop-checker fluid, I went to Walgreens and picked up a 10oz bottle of mineral oil (intestinal lubricant).

I currently have the CO2 at about 2 bps, 30 psi and operating while the lights are on. The CO2 system came with a pH controller but I am going to wait until the plants have "taken off" and I have fish in the tank before I set that up. The diffuser is Green Leaf Aquariums' Atomic CO2 Diffuser which boasts a 100% dissolution rate. It is currently sitting behind the ludwigia and spitting out tiny bubbles.

I want to close with a full tank shot from yesterday afternoon.

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