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TheRiverRat 02-13-2013 05:33 AM

New life in an old 55

So long story short and probably like many others, I have a tank that was sitting without anything really in it (gold belly piranhas bit it after a decade) and decided hey I love plants why not try to grow them underwater.

So without really knowing all too much I went out got a t5 and some eco-complete I capped with my old gravel and was off. My old driftwood which I swear to god sat outside for months and was completely scrubbed magically sprouted java fern lace and java moss that a friend had given me years back and I pulled an anubias out of my viv. I am redoing. I was then off to the races!!!

Here is how it has progressed so far.
This is a couple months after I set everything up. Not a full tank shot but you will see what it looks like here in a second. I like the floating wood but it had nails that held on the suction cups that I thought were stainless steel but pretty sure I was wrong, leeching heavy metals = no good! Also my leftover gravel I think is a tad big and not so good for plants with more delicate roots and my cardinal plan and ludwigia (i think) were not doing so well (have been moved). Bottom containers are full of riccia and other goodies for my viv.

After I removed the floating wood and my java moss carpet really started to grow
Shot of with bamboo shrimp and anubias i took out then re-added

This was taken yesterday. I took out the cardinal plants and moved some hygrophila, also added a Madagascar lace plant which is absolutely stunning and a florida sunset crypt.
Close-up of lace

I looked empty though and since my LFS has been having a half-off sale I went back again today!!! Picked up a red rubin sword, another florida sunset crypt and some jungle val. I think it is finally getting there!
By section

This is where I am at now, still needs work/growing esp. right side. Other than plants the tank houses 2 bambooo shrimp, 3 amano shrimp, 1 SAE, 5 otos, and a small bristlenose.

Questions?- I feel my hygrophila shouldn't drop leaves like it has (note ones on left have long empty stem) it this lack of nutrients or just from being old and stretching (not enough light?- I have 108w), kind of like the bamboo look though. Also may move crypts by madagascar lace- through my research have heard this may be beneficial (for substrate?) and I though it may look cool/ add contrast.

What I have learned- Avoid metals (duh!), use smaller gravel to cap next time.

Any advice and feedback is welcome! Thanks for looking, will keep updated. thinking of adding new livestock soon (red fire shrimp, dwarf cpos, and maybe some small fish) and of course plants (fisseden, anubias petite, maybe blyxa japonica to name a few)

Also will have a journal on my pico when I get the plants out of it and into my vivarium! and decide wtflip I am going to make it look like. Looking forward to carry what I have learned in my short time into the next project.

Note to self: research plants before you buy from LFS to make sure you are getting actual aquatics- learned after getting cardinals- lost cool purple color, and mondo grass- just plain wasn't gonna make it, at least they will thrive in my viv I am setting up.

iter 02-13-2013 06:04 PM

Pretty good so far!!!

I just have to say:
Trim the moss so that they don't get too messy, if you know what I mean :)

It would also be nice if the stems plants in the back was denser, that way we won't see the actual stems of the plants, which can give an "empty" feeling.

Overall, the crypts and the java ferns are looking great, and it would be better to have more plants on the right side to balance things out; but not too much.

Keep it up!

TheRiverRat 02-14-2013 05:17 AM

Thank you for the comment! I feel ya on the moss, it is due for a little trim- I need to get some of those long curved scissors, it sucks to use just normal scissors hahah.

I have also been thinking about trimming (probably will tomorrow) those couple gangly hygrophila to make them the same length as the others I recently trimmed and lined the middle back with, they just seem to always lose their bottom leaves (I suspect due to low nutes and light/shading from upper leaves. I kind of like the bamboo look of the stem though and think if I had a whole bunch all really tall it might look kind of cool.

Right side definitely needs some more green. I am open to any cool plant suggestions. I might also move the crypts to flank the madagascar lace in the middle and add a little more contrast and dimension. On a side note anyone see any problems with planting somewhat in/under the moss, just seeing if anyone would think I would have problems with bulbed plants.

I did add a black background and hung my power strip on the wall with velcro tape today (awesome invention). Here is a pic, I really like how it makes the plants pop!
Will be gone this weekend, but will probably order some new plants while I am gone- something cool to put on the driftwood on the right and some other plants to fill in that side.

Got wood to build a stand today too! Almost forgot.

TheRiverRat 02-15-2013 02:22 AM

Here is the video/plans I am using for the stand, I just changed the dimensions to make the stand 30" instead of 24". Will post some pics of the work when I get back in town.

Also saw a sweet thread on diy CO2 using paintball tanks. I have a few of those sitting around, do you guys think it is worth it to diy with paintball or just take the plunge and buy a system?

Should be ordering some new plants tonight or tomorrow too, was planning on going with a more sparse look at first but every time I add one plant I have the urge to add 3 more hahaha.

TheRiverRat 02-20-2013 02:37 AM

Just did a little movement of stuff in the tank in anticipation for some new plants I ordered. Trimmed up the lanky hygrophila I get all of them in the back to the same height and cut of some ugly leaves on the madagascar lace.

Crypts were moved and were showing good new growth and roots, hope the move doesn't affect them too much.

Madagascar lace is also popping out some new leaves.

I am getting some petite anubias, blyxa japonica, and fissidens which I think I am mainly putting in over here.

I plan on getting some root tabs for the hygrophila because I think the leaf loss may be due to an iron deficiency

Saw all three amanos finally, were brought out by all the movement an here is also a shot of the bristlenose

I think I am going to put a suction cup on the little piece of driftwood in the middile to put it up on the glass on the right now and just have the lace as a centerpiece with crypts around it.

Also, I am becoming unhappy with the java moss carpet in the middle so thinking about getting a new carpet. Any suggestions for a lower light no co2 carpet.

Stand is started to get assembled until both drill batteries died (need to buy new ones one was supposed to be fully charged)

Think I am gonna rip up the java moss tomorrow and cover the rocks over the cave or something. Should look different tomorrow and ill post some new pics.

TheRiverRat 02-26-2013 03:25 AM

First off a question, I have been getting some pretty bad green spot algae- any good recommended fixes? I have heard upping phosphate and reducing lighting time. Also can someone tell me if this anubias I already had is a petite, I ordered a bunch of petite and am now thinking the one I had may be a petite but the leaves seem different and I swear that when I had it emersed way back when it grew bigger. Here are two pics of the anubias in question, followed by one of it with my new anubias petite on the left.
I think this last pic makes them look different, leaves seem more pointed.

Other than that some pretty big changes in the tank. First was removing most of the java moss. This was only about half of what i took out, I made a little clearing/ depression in the middle where I plan on putting a white holey rock on the left and sand flanking it on the right.

Also hung up that piece of driftwood that was in the middle (with stainless steel screws this time and got some watersprite and crypt parva (which i now want about 10 more plants of it)

Then I got some plants in I ordered from H4n, great plants all really healthy looking! Here are some pics of the petite anubias, fissidens, and blyxa japonica I added in. Have a lot more fisseden to tie onto rocks and attach to wood still- poking in cracks hasnt worked to well so far.

An extras bin I have below, might have to do my first RAOK on here soon and figure out paypal- I have already given away about as much as I can to my two other friends who have tanks.

TheRiverRat 02-26-2013 03:59 AM

Forgot to post a final pic of what is looks like from the front now. I think it is gettin there...

TheRiverRat 03-05-2013 04:39 AM

Just got new filter, filter tubes, master test kit and hardness test for the aquarium, not that I am having any problems but thought it would be nice to know all my parameters. So I will be doing a little maintenance before I leave for spring break this weekend. Also, decided I am going to put down some landscaping fabric down before it op my one little area with sand to deal with the mixing problem.

Going to get some more substrate to put below my tank to do an emersed set-up in one of the storage bins below my tank and hopefully get some cool crypts and maybe some bucephalandra.

Hopefully going to find some good rocks and driftwood up in Michigan when I go up there. Probably gonna collect my sand when I am up there too. I hate paying for stuff hahahah.

TheRiverRat 03-07-2013 06:48 AM

Well not much news, will have pics of my stand here soon since it is nearly complete. One of my Amanos is berries though, which I though was kind of cool. Got a decent pic of it on the lace. I know that it requires brackish water for the eggs to hatch and survive and so on, maybe I will try it in the future but I am leaving for a week this weekend and don't have time or any supplies at the moment. Also I think she molted too (is this common?). Also do any of you guys know how to tell when bamboo shrimp about about to molt? I think one of mine may have just done so too and think the other might be going to soon. He just looks a little different. Some pics for ya.

*The java fern got burned when i was cleaning my tank and dropped my water down low and left it there for too long. Got a little side tracked hahah

kclone 03-07-2013 12:15 PM

Very nice tank. I'm starting to think about changing up my 55 and am curious about what others are doing. I have to wait until summer to get plants in Iowa as there aren't any good plants at LFS.

TheRiverRat 03-25-2013 05:58 AM

Been a while since I updated, ended up up not collecting much on spring break due to tons of snow and ice up in northern michigan. Did snag some sand to put in my tank but ended up with play sand because of ease of cleaning since the sand I collected came from a kind of a mucky spring on the lake shore (only thing not frozen). Would have liked a more natural look but its cheap and easy.

Made a little hill on top of my cave with some extra eco-ecomplete and put some chain swords, a dwarf sag plant, and some blyxa japonica, which doesn't seem to be doing so hot in my tank) on top of it. Also added a big anubias bateri, a random aponotegon (I think) from a friend and some bacopa monnieri I won in a RAOK from bluestems! Split up my crypt parva (into like ten nice little plantlets!) and put the extras down below in a bin with some other crypts and what not I am growing out.

I am fairly happy with how things are looking right now, just started root tabs and dosing some micro nutes and plants seem to be doing well, looking at getting some more (nurii and some downoi are on my list) really want to get a jungle look with some overgrown plants! Here are some pics!

Random Plant from friend

The Beach


bluestems 03-25-2013 08:10 AM


Originally Posted by TheRiverRat (Post 2933226)

Your tank is looking great! I like the beach addition. It divides the scape into a nice composition. :smile:

TheRiverRat 03-30-2013 04:33 AM

Thank you for the comment! Think I am getting some crypt nurii here soon. Pictures of my diy stand to come tomorrow. It is finally one hundred percent done and stained, took awhile but a good feeling to build it yourself.

TheRiverRat 09-16-2013 10:20 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Longtime no post but I am back from spain and my tank made it through my absence thanks to my pops. The plants were growing out of the tank when I got back but I forgot to take a picture of it. Here is what it looks like now. Added crypt nurris, bucephalandra, moneywort, pennywort, and some narrow leaf chain swords. Took out the madagascar lace but might add it back on the right side and take out the bacopa.

John Simpson 09-16-2013 10:43 PM

this is a really cool style very jungle feel, nice

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