46 Bowfront, Goldfish Grazing Project
This is a journal of my journey into the planted tank community. It is full of mistakes as I slowly stumble my way into understanding.
I recently purchased a Seaclear 46 gallon bowfront tank for my girlfriend as a fish tank. I decided to look into having plants in this tank, because it couldn't be difficult right? :)
So to start off, here's a photo of the tank as it first arrived. I got the tank and stand from petco/petsmart, with some crazy 20% off coupons and free shipping. Was a stellar deal.
She arrived and is a beauty. Girlfriend loves it, and so does our cat Render. Something I didn't realize when getting the tank, was how small the holes in the top were. There is very limited space for accessing the interior of the tank. (More to come on this later!)
The tank comes with a light assembly, that hoses an 18 inch 20 watt bulb. At the time, I think this is great. There is even space for an expansion! I could double it to 40 watts! All with no reflectors! Awesome!
Colleen wanted goldfish in this particular tank, a mix of fancy styles. We settled on 6 goldfish. (Don't freak out yet, still writing in journal!). At the time, I was unaware of the tank requirements for goldfish (roughly 20-30 gallons PER fish).
So I decided to get an aquaclear 70, which was higher rated then the tank size, so it should be plenty of filtration! Got some rocks from an aquarium store that looked cool, and a piece of fake driftwood, gravel, and white (ug) pebbles from petco.
Luckily at this time I had started to catch up on my research. I learned a bit about cycling a tank, media types, and tank setup. So I got some seachem prime, and seachem stability and starting using them per directions.
We then began adding goldfish in small increments. Our first two tank mates were two black moors.
I love black moors, they're the closest thing to hammerhead sharks you can buy :).
We then added two orandas. At this point the tank undergoes a small bacterial bloom. The bloom lasts for about 24 hours, then subsides. Yay for seachem stability...probably saved the fish from my stupidity. (That and prime binding excess toxins).
I decide that this is probably a good time to add my first ever plant! I choose an amazon sword because it looks nice. We also add a slight blue gradient background to hide some of the equipment.
Keep in mind at this time, I know nothing about ferts, Co2, or lighting. It's a plant right? It's got light, and fish poop provides the rest!
I soon find out this is not the case, as the poor sword lasts about a week (roughly the amount of nutrients stored in its roots) then dies. :(
So when the plant dies, I try to figure out what might have caused it. (Keep in mind I've yet to test the water (ack). I get a thermometer to see what the tank temp is at. 64F...that should be good for plants right? I go online and start reading like mad, find out the tank is a bit too cold (even the goldfish like low to mid 70's better), and that I might need more light.
So I pickup a 200w fluval heater (it has its own built in thermometer) using a bunch of coupons and deals to get it below a certain price point, and double the amount of lighting in the tank to a wow producing 40 watts (with no reflectors).
I slowly raise the temp 2 degree's a day, until it reaches 74F. The goldfish immediately become more active and seem extremely pleased.
After installing the lighting however, I notice almost no difference in light penetration from the tank...money basically down the drain.
So for anyone with a seaclear tank...throw that crappy enclosure out the window...it's a massive waste of money.
I add two new swords, and two anacharis bundles, hoping that the changes in temp and lighting will help. I also move the cat stand back far enough so Render can't easily put his paws on the top of the tank. It works great. Now he can watch the fish, without actually disturbing them.
Right around this point, I find some articles on wpg and see I should be shooting for 2-3 wpg. I do some web searching, and find ahsupply AND THIS FORUM. WOOHOO!
I order a 96 watt kit from ahsupply. It's amazing. The reflector is absurd. I get the whole kit put together in the enclosure, take the crappy lighting off the tank, and turn it on...it's like going from SD to HD. The entire tank lights up like someone placed the sun over top of it. Lighting reaches every corner of the tank, and it's BRIGHT!!
I'm ecstatic. The tank looks great, and the fellow at ahsupply was very helpful with answering my questions, and the kit was very complete with everything I could have hoped for.
But then something happens. Something I didn't expect. Within the week, the entire tank is packed full of algae.
I start reading this forum, find out about ferts and dosing, and excel. I absorb information as fast as I can. We also add a 5th goldfish (I know I know) a calico with a gorgeous tail.
The algae turns nasty. Black hair all over the swords. I get sad.
It's around this point that I found out that we should really have about 20 gallons per goldfish. We plan to expand to a larger tank in about a year or so, when the goldfish start getting much larger. The 46 gallon will become a tropical tank at that point, and is designated the "learning tank."
I order a 2 liter bottle of excel from dr foster, with coupons that net me another good deal...roughly enough excel for 1.5 years of dosing in this tank.
So I start excel dosing. In just the first day I see something I've never seen before...bubbles everywhere....coming from all the plants. Poor things just needed some carbon!
I add some iron tabs under the swords (I add a 3rd one), and also add two water sprites. The goldfish promptly decimate the water sprites.
We also get a few moss balls as they're on sale. The goldfish love them. They don't actually eat the moss balls, but vacuum them while pushing them around like fluffy ping pong balls. I also removed the large rock on the right. I noticed it seemed to be creating some debris, and was worried it might be effecting tank chemistry...plus it was displacing a few gallons of water just by itself!)
I also get the flourish plant pack, and some standard flourish. Within a day, there is a substantial change in the growth in the tank. Things aren't just surviving, they're finally growing!
The black moors launch an assault on the black hair algae. Within a few days (with the excel) and the moors, all the black hair algae has been eaten and turned into poop.
One of the swords decides to escape, and grows straight up, over an inch a day. I finally trimmed it after it made it out of the tank.
You'll also notice that I added a second filter. I added an aquaclear 50 after reading more about how my tank was overstocked, so I wanted an excess of filtration. Also thanks to this forum, I swapped out the chemical media, and doubled up on the sponges, as well as buying some micron filter media in bulk and cutting it to aquaclear size, providing some much needed polishing.
I should mention around this point I get a full test kit, and find everything happily in the green!
I was starting to get a little pissed off at maintaining the aquaclears. Though the media baskets were setup to be easily removed and accessed, anytime you lifted them, all sorts of crud from the bottom of the filter would come flying out, completely saturating the tank. Thus to properly "rinse" the sponges, required removing the entire filter assembly away from the tank...which was a chore based on the tank placement.
Thus when I come into a lot of side work recently, and learned about the secret "CK" dr foster's code, I picked up a rena filstar XP3, along with an inline heater.
Thanks to this forum, the install of the filstar went a lot better then it could have gone. Those hose connections were absurd! Luckily I just used some light vegetable oil and heat, and they slid right on without issue!
The flow of the XP3 is actually pretty good for the tank. Though I'm thinking of adding a small little power head in the back rear to get some flow in the back. I found an awesome giant prefilter sponge for the XP3. It easily pops on/off so I can clean it, and now I won't have tons of plant debris flying through an impeller. I'm leaving the aquaclear 70 on the tank for a few weeks while some biological colonies get started in the XP3. I've also taken the Aquaclear 70 and 50's bio media and placed it in the XP3, hoping to speed the process.
I also went a little plant crazy, and got some moneywort, and water wisteria, as well as some vals. Oh and some green camboa? I forget the spelling.
Basically I went insane and ended up with this.
Pretty disorganized and all over the place. Also some of the leaves of the swords needed trimming, as the algae had done its damage and they were not doing so well.
At this point I'm doing a full seachem dosing routine. Excel daily, the rest once a week after a water change. (macro's and flourish).
At this point I decide to do some major trimming and reorganizing.
I remove the original petsmart decoration, and add a new more vertical one, along with a uv green killer to see if it helps with algae on the sides of the tank. I trim about 75% of the leaves off the swords, chop the destroyed water sprite stems, and basically move the plants around.
I end up with this.
I was able to tuck the uv system into the corner, and set it up so after it filters, it basically ejects right into the intake of the XP3. The decoration really distracts from the inlet, sponge, and uv device now.
The center of the tank is a lot more open, and the plants seem to be doing quite well, except for the moneywort.
Next up is a change of background to black, and some eco-complete replacing about 50% of the gravel. If the money wort doesn't make it, I'll probably replace it with more green Cabomba.
And now finally, here are some nice photos of the actual inhabitants of the tank. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Swapped out the blue gradient background with a black one. Trimmed some more plants so all the damaged leaves are gone (from the massive algae outbreak), also removed the aquaclear 70, now that the XP3 has had some time to be established.
Well at least people are looking at the journal, if they aren't posting in it! Well happy new year anyway! :icon_smil
Here's a January update. Based on forum threads, I decided to relocate the spray bar for the xp3 on the same side as the intake, spraying towards the opposite end of the tank. The fish seem happier with this configuration...though I still haven't figured out the exact flow adjustment that provides 100% water circulation throughout the tank.
Though I haven't started injecting Co2 yet, the plants seem to be doing really well. The val's are spreading like crazy, with little shoots popping up here and there. After trimming the swords way down (getting all the damaged leaves off), one of them went and had babies!
I've put together a second tank upstairs (20L) that I had laying around from some old hamsters a year or so ago, and am setting it up as a plant only tank, using offshoots from the main tank to grow them up. This second tank (I'll start another journal), is my CO2 learning tank. I'll be starting with a DIY setup for now, and moving eventually to a full GLA pressurized setup within 6 months, which I then hope to hookup to the main aquarium via a CO2 rex style reactor.
I am not a fan of the subtrate, (I know your changing it) but the tank looks really good! Great photography too!
Thanks Jake! I have 30 lbs of Eco complete rdy to go in, just waiting fir the 20 gallon to get settled to use as a temporary holding tank fir the goldfish while I tear up the 46.
I'm also still debating replacing all the gravel and getting another 20 lbs...I know it's bad to replace all the gravel in an established tank, but I'll always have blue pebbles if I don't!
I suggest removing all of the blue gravel before adding the eco-complete for the reason you mention. It'll look much better and probably be more beneficial for your plants.
As long as you have an established filter and you can do some WC's, I think you will be Ok if you change it all. Good luck!
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