70 gallon dirt goldfish tank
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:25 AM   #1
Gold Finger
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Default 70 gallon dirt goldfish tank

This is a journal of my first planted tank. I hope it is of interest to someone someday. I think it may be somewhat unorthodox, particularly where filtration is concerned. The filtration, and the tank as a whole is my best effort to achieve the best functionality with the simplest means. I believe that the easiest way to achieve something is the best way. It is my philosophy. It is a goldfish tank, so I have no illusions of creating a beautifully scaped piece of art. The plants are firstly functional. They are there to minimize water changes.

First I found a used 70 gallon tank for $100 (48x16x24x10mm glass). It was old and scratched. I took it apart and glued it back together with SCS 1200. I figure it should be good for another ten years or so, now.

Next I built a stand from an old dresser and put the tank on it.

Then I made a mineralized top soil following Aaron Talbot's sticky thread. Specifically: .75 inches of MTS/ .25 inches of crushed coral/ .5 inches of sand/ .5 inches of Fluorite Black Sand

Here's the tank at the beginning of November.


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Old 11-23-2011, 12:29 AM   #2
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Default Nov 22/2011

I added my two fish (a 4.5 inch moor and a 2 inch telescope). I added 12 scraggly little mini twister vals. I added a few weeds I found in a ditch.

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Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:36 AM   #3
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Default Nov 22/11

I added a cheap 64 watt shop light and two cross braces to prevent it from falling in. I built an overflow (visible in the pic) into the tank which drains into a 5 gallon bucket which sits beside the tank. I call it a "sump" though a sump is, by definition, below not beside a tank. I may move it into the stand someday, but for now I like to see it easily. The sump contains my filter, a large, fully cycled "Hydro Sponge". I consider it the best and simplest filter on earth and will gladly rant and rave about it if you give me an opportunity. If I leave the filter for one month it is packed with mud but still flows well. The bucket also contains some water rooted terrestrial plants which will uptake any excess ammonia the soil may produce. They are temporary.

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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

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Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:44 AM   #4
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I briefly experimented with various floating plants, but decided to get rid of them due to conflicts with the overflow and surface film problems. That and they ultimately proved to conflict with my philosophy. Whatever plants I end up with, they will be easy. After about ten days, the mini twisters are starting to send out runners and new plantlets. The fish are not touching them. I think they taste bad.

My plan is to plant heavy fast growers to consume the nitrate produced by the filter bacs. Another approach would be to use only plants, no filter bacteria. I won't go this route because plants grow in spurts and may lag in their ammonia uptake creating a spike. Ammonia is more toxic than nitrate, so, to my thinking, it is better to convert to nitrate then let the plants convert that. This only works in an anaerobic substrate like mine where root rhizosperes can denitrify the nitrate back to ammonia and consume it.The only low light fast grower I know of which goldfish don't eat is vals, so I will use them. I may also plant something they do eat, but plant so much that they cannot keep up with the growth. It would be great for their health and make the tank more interesting looking. If it works I will call it "Trick No. 2" (Trick No. 1 being Sand to keep the poo out of the substrate and a good filter). I think that tons of good tasting, fast growing fodder plants ("salad") may even protect other plants they might otherwise eat, allowing me to plant whatever I like.
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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

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Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:18 AM   #5
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Noticed my water had a lot of particles in it. I used to run siphon filters which took care of this kind of thing. For this tank I switched to an overflow filter. Now I know why people run a backup power or canister filter on goldfish tanks with overflows. Only surface water gets filtered otherwise. many particles resist the surface and remain in the lower level of the water column. I added a siphon from my tank (in addition to the overflow) to remedy this. The intake is near the surface and siphons directly into the overflow box to limit leakage in case of pump failure. I would only loose a gallon before the siphon would break. My overflow box has about an eighth of an inch of head water.

Still have only mini twister vals and an unidentified stem plant which I found in a ditch. The minis are sending up shoots. The fish don't touch them.
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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

Ver. 2.0 bare bottom same tank another approach (defunct)

Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:40 AM   #6
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I think this is very interesting! I love planted goldfish tanks. I was thinking of trying something very similar with my next tank. Have you noticed your goldfish mixing up the substrate at all? I was afraid mine would dig the dirt out from under the sand.

It would be great to see some full tank shots! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11-29-2011, 02:57 AM   #7
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They only sift the surface trying to get algae. They never "dig" per se. Others do dirt and goldfish. I have never heard of anyone having their dirt dug up. Sorry, but this is the best I can do for pics right now. My crappy cell cam won't take a full tank shot with enough detail to show anything. The tank is still pretty bare anyway. My next step will be to mass plant a bunch of fast growing nitrate eating plants like water violet, water sprite, water hyacynth, Jungle vals, elodea...you know. I want to plant so many the growth will outpace the fish eating it. I want them to eat the plants. Two birds, one stone, you know.


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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

Ver. 2.0 bare bottom same tank another approach (defunct)

Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:05 AM   #8
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Default tech help

ps. Do you know how I can get the link to this thread (which I have as my signature) to read as some other text but still work?
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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

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Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

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Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:12 AM   #9
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Yay for planted goldfish tanks!!
I think im going to start a journal too!!!
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:13 AM   #10
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Do it!
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Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:16 AM   #11
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Lol, now i have to!
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:19 AM   #12
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I'm just waiting for my last shipment of plants to come in, then I think I might start a journal, too. And it's good to know that they won't dig up the dirt, I'll definitely have to keep that idea on the table. Thanks for sharing the photo! My tank needs more plants that my goldfish can eat. I'd love for my eventual upgrade tank be half goldfish salad bar.

As for the signature, you type whatever text you want the link to say, then highlight the text, then click on the 'insert link' icon and put in the address. Took me a minute to remember how I did it.
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: Guppy / anubas hastifolia and nana, wisteria, melon sword, ruffle plant, brazilian pennywort, argentinian sword
, windelov java fern, mystery moss, singapore moss
20 Gallon Tall: 12 Pearl Danios, Longfin L144 pleco / windelov java fern, subwassertang
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:23 AM   #13
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Thanks Squid. Oh, and... DO IT!
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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

Ver. 2.0 bare bottom same tank another approach (defunct)

Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:30 AM   #14
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Ha ha, as for goldfish digging up the substrate/dirt...i think if they know its under there they will go for it....ignorance is bliss, i think of my goldies as puppies or dogs...whatever works, they are just there to have fun and if they know they can get into something they will just for the fun of it!
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:32 AM   #15
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Yup, they're puppies.


I thought I'd post a pic of some nasty algae I grew. I was expecting it when I removed my terrestrial plants, since I am too lightly planted. I left it on the back glass for now.

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Ver. 1.0 80 gallon dirt goldfish tank (defunct)

Ver. 2.0 bare bottom same tank another approach (defunct)

Ver. 3.0 Pool filter sand same tank now

Farming Algae

Goldfish are among the worst fish for beginners.
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