Lullafishi's 40 Gallon Adventure
This is the story of my first planted tank and the wild adventure that ensued.
Tank Shot as of: 8/16/13
40 gallon breeder
Hydor 200w in-line
Finnex Fugeray 36"
Black Diamond 20/40 blasting grit with Pfertz root tabs
100% tap water
Hygrophila sp. 'Brown'
Hygrophila corymbosa (Green Temple)
Limnophila aromatica 'hippuroides'
Ludwidgia repens x arcuata
Red Tiger Lotus
Baby Tears (HM)
Java fern: regular, narrow leaf, and needle leaf
Moss: java mixed with christmas
Malaysian Trumpet Snails / Pond Snails / Ramshorn Snails
2x Amano shrimp
1x male guppy, Maki
5x kerri tetras
The Eheim spray bar and intake pieces were painted black using Plasti-Dip rubber spray paint. It took multiple thin coats and cured for a month as I waited for the last of my supplies before filling the tank with water.
The stand was made by a family friend using my own design and dimensions.
My stand is made by a family friend using a design I provided. It is made of 3/4" birch panels and is inspired by ADA-style stands and mid-century modern furniture. I would have liked more mid-century flare to it, but the style's signature hairpin legs would be a disaster with that much weight. Instead of thin legs, I settled for a recessed base that wouldn't compromise the ability to withstand a lot of weight.
The doors use invisible hinges so that when closed, are completely flush with the rest of the stand. The cabinet is divided into two chambers that have pinholes on the sides for adjustable shelves. And that thicker panel on the upper right? Totally a drawer the carpenter made for me. :)
There are semi-circle hand holds on the sides and cut opening in the bottom back for hoses and cords. In hindsight, I would have had the openings at the top as it takes more length of the hose/cord to run to the bottom of the stand and then back up to the tank. Oh well, my hoses and cords are all fortunately long enough.
The doors are currently unstained as I wasn't sure if I wanted to leave them such or have them stained to match. I rather like the contrast, so I may just give them a clear coat for protection against water drips. I'm also debating between installing linear pull handles or seeing if I can install a push-magnetic system.
First Hardscape Attempt
Last time I visited my parents, we scavenged their property for pieces of collected driftwood and rocks I could "borrow" for my aquascaping. We found a reeeeeally neat piece of knotted pine, but when we baked it int he oven it oozed sap and so I wasn't sure if it was safe to use. But my visit produced two other pieces of driftwood along with a variety of rocks collected from Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
Before I had any plants, I went a bit heavy on the hardscape to fill in the empty spaces.
My first attempt received some constructive criticism that it appeared too artificially arranged, which I agreed with and revised.
But then I realized I hadn't really sterilized the rocks, so just to be safe, they got a bleach bath and were rinsed thoroughly before going back in the tank. It was also at this time that I was able to finnnnnnaaally fill 'er up with water! I had also recently watched a YouTube Aquascaping video that recommended going with your gut instinct in 'scaping instead of over-thinking it. So I went with it and stopped agonizing over every little placement. In went the rocks, in went the plants, in went the water!
OMG planting from scratch was so not easy. My plant package had spent too much time in a bucket with Prime-treated water (and also being subjected to a potassium permanganate bath) and the majority of my planting was actually me just sulking and whining that all my plants were dying or going to die and they wouldn't stay in the substrate and this water sprite has no leaves anymore and WHY IS THIS SO. HARD. But I pushed through it and when I was able to start filling the tank with more water, I started seeing the plants as they naturally are (y'know... not all limp and lifeless out of water). Then I went from annoying my husband with my complaining to annoying my husband with cries of "STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND COME SEE HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS IS. My plants! Let me show you them!"
Even my cat wouldn't pay attention. She becomes too preoccupied with water changes because it involves BUBBLES.
Last week I received a very generous variety package of plants from OVT, who is my hero for putting up with (and answering) all my incessant questions about the plants and how to identify them and how to plant them. Huge thank you and shout out, OVT! :D
I also acquired some stems of Bacopa Caroliniana through a RAOK, which promptly went into the tank yesterday.
Which brings the tank to it's current state:
There's a little red tiger lotus hiding between the driftwood pieces that I'm hoping will recover from transplant stress and start poking its leafy head out. Right now, though, my favorites are the dwarf sag and the L. Aquatica. I'm hoping both flourish and fill in with their grassy and feathery goodness.
The pump in the middle is being seeded with the cycling of my tank and will be going into a quarantine tank as soon as my cycle finishes (and I can set one up). So that's just a temporary visual distraction.
I'm currently pleased with thelayout on the right side, but the rocks and plants need work on the left. I'm thinking I may let the plants recover and fill in a bit before 'scaping it, unless someone has some ideas right now? Oh, just to note, a few of the rocks on the left are currently weighting down the driftwood until it becomes fully waterlogged.
(his shell is minty green! love it!)
A trip to the LFS resulted in some free malaysian trumpet snails, so my tank HAS FAUNA, YAY. The long-nosed little guys are much more endearing in person than online photos led me to believe, and now I find myself singing Barry White to them in hopes that they breed. They are much too occupied with escaping my horrible water conditions at the moment. Sorry, little guys, I want my nitrites to come down and the cycle to be finished as much as you do.
I gave the tank a huuuuuuge water change that brought my nitrites down from 5.0++ to .50 ppm. But I bet they'll be just as high again tomorrow. The BB can handle 4ppm of ammonia in 24 hours, so I'm just waiting on the nitrite-munching bacteria to catch up.
wow that's a great start! love the wood layout!
Looks great! Agree about the left side, let it grow out and something will come to you.
Love the kitty chasing the bubbles, too cute!
Aren't snails wonderful? Hope they do well for you.
Loving this tank so far, the hardscape looks amazing! Also enjoyed the kitty pics, she is gorgeous!
Beautiful set up. So my cat isn't the only one out there chasing the bubbles through my python hose? lol What fauna will you be housing in this tank?
I just don't know what to look at first: the tank, the plants, the furry girl, or the driftwood. Hate to admit, but the kitty cat steals my heart :).
The driftwood is epic, it would have pushed ME to the edge if insanity with all the endless permutations.
Plants? Um, they did take a beating but do seem to be on their way to recovery.
Are some of the stones on the right Marble? I can't remember of the top of my head if that's good or bad.
Overall, I am a bit lost for words (not that common). I get that feeling if serenity..
That strange sense if peace and of inner calm. Weird, especially from a tank that young. Somehow, with so few plants, the visual balance is just there. I just can see this tank a month from now.
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Thanks for the kind words, everyone!
This is my current plan for stocking, subject to change and learning of course:
10-15 rummynose tetra
10-15 harlequin rasbora
8-10 corydoras habrosus
a few other cories (maybe sterbai or adolfoi)
some centerpiece, non-schooling fish... pair of rams if I can pull it off
I'm also open to suggestions. I definitely want a swarm of cories.
I am so ashamed of the beating the poor plants took, but I'm much more confident they'll recover now (as long as they like my lighting and params). The ludwigia and hygro are in great shape. The dwarf sag managed pretty well overall by the time I got it planted, but it has some spots of melting now. I'm hoping it's just from adjusting because I love this plant.
The stones are a mixture of conglomerates with a lot of quartz. I don't think there's any marble in there (which, you're right, often has calcite in it) but now that you've mentioned it, I'll ask my dad if he thinks any of them are. We did a very basic white vinegar test on them, but I think it was pretty weak because I tested it on limestone and the fizz bubbles were very slight. I avoided any rocks that were chalky or had rust stains.
Thank you! I was really surprised and pleased that it didn't feel too empty to me. I was expecting it to look pretty sparse starting out, but I owe so much to your lovely plants. :)
I pursued visual balance by tackling the layout as I might with a 2-D art composition.
Just tested my water params and the results are in:
Nitrites: 0!! (had to test twice because I didn't believe the first one)
Nitrates: 5 ppm
The nitrites were off the charts yesterday, then dropped to 0.5 ppm after I did a 95% water change. I was expecting them to be high again today, but they're at 0. I'm thinking this may mean my cycle is complete!
I'm dosing the ammonia back up to 4 ppm and will give it the 24 hour test to see if it's truly cycled. I'm so excited. :)
Wheeee for being Cycled!!!
Got another package of beautiful and healthy plants from OVT! :)
Unfortunately my stocking schedule has been set back due to a possible outbreak of Neon Tetra Disease in my quarantine tank. I'm waiting to see if my remaining two neons (culled one) and three guppies exhibit symptoms. In the meantime, I'm wondering if I can set up a spare 5 gallon tank with my seeded, uncontaminated sponge filter as a quarantine tank so I can start the process of acquiring and quarantining new fish that I actually want to stock my 40b with.
O.o nice new plants, what all did ya get? I notice a few different plants added, but unsure on all the names.
I hope your fish are fine/recover... that sucks, But least they are in the qaurantine tank and not your main. I'd go ahead and set the 5gal up if I were you. Why not if ya have it.
More ludwigia repens x arcuata
Java fern: regular, narrow leaf, and needle leaf
I'm still working on identifying the pink plant, the broad leaf plant in the back right, and the tall lily-pad shaped plant on the left.
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