20 gallon long dirt tank
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:42 AM   #1
tryank
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Default 20 gallon long dirt tank

This is my first tank journal. The only other planted tank I have had is a 10gallon, which was also "dirted" (for those of you reading who are noobs like me, "dirted" means having dirt as your main substrate so plants will grow better). For this 10g, I had a 24W "daylight" bulb in a reflector I got from walmart. I bought some HC (also known as dwarf baby tears) from PetCo, thinking they'd die after reading how hard they can be to grow, low and behold they grew even with that crappy little light. No CO2, only a little fert. dosing (Seachem Flourish I think). So 6 months later, my wife let me buy a 20g long tank, and for my birthday she upgraded my lighting situation a bit with a T5 HO fixture (it was on sale at PetCo). Starting this tank new, I thought I'd record my experiences for those like me who glean anything they can from tank journals. Here goes...
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:03 AM   #2
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$1 a gallon sale!

There's a lot of stuff out there about how to dirt your tank, but I went as simple as possible. I dug up some topsoil from my backyard (in Idaho). Some people say to put clay down, then other stuff, then MiracleGro (never with fertilizer in it though-always organic). I'm sure that works better than just plain old dirt, and maybe the nutrients will run out in a year or two, but we'll see.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:14 AM   #3
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I should have done this a bit differently, but I didn't. I put the dirt right into the tank, got it a little wet (about the consistency of a lumpy SnakPak pudding) and mushed it around. Kinda fun playing in the mud. Anyways, I thought I would will the tank half full of water at this point so I could scoop out all the little wood chunks and other crap i could see that would float.

The mud stayed on the bottom for the most part, but I'm sure a lot of nutrients were pulled out and into the water. I should have "capped" the dirt right after the SnakPak stage and worried about floaters if/as they came through. (I'll explain "capping" soon. Just for the noobs like me.)

Here's just some of the crap I netted off the top. LOADS of stuff came up.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:56 AM   #4
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Back to the new tank. I siphoned out the cloudy (and probably nutrient rich) water, left with this.

Then I capped, or topped, it with sand. Capped is kinda funny to say. Cap that tank! Are we shooting it?

This is what I pulled out of my other tank. All from that little chunk I thought was hopeless...
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tryank View Post
$1 a gallon sale!
Best picture in the whole thread.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indychus View Post
Best picture in the whole thread.
If I could pick my tank up now and take an after shot, I would.

Spirogyra?


BBA?
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Old 03-22-2013, 03:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indychus View Post
Best picture in the whole thread.
definatly the most fun picture of the entire forum! how can one not grin in solidarity when ya see it!

everything looks great! I too love all the solid orange life, if you want to add a schooling fish I suggest stay with another solid colored fish even if you go with a different color. I have a school of Black Rasbora which are deep purple with shiny orange eyes.
I really like all the texture your rock has, but I still struggle with the placement. they are so tall that scattered as you have them they look "planted" (for lack of a better description)
I would group them mostly touching starting from the back corner of one side (not up against the corner, always leave cleaning, planting and swimming space) and angle your grouping towards the center. hopefully this grouping of rocks you can make nearly reach the center line. Keep your favorite rock (or perhaps two, depending on the other grouping... I forgot to count how many you had) and place it forward and out from center of the other half side of the tank.
I think this will give depth to the tank and help with break the illusion of how you see your tank as divided in half
Just some of my two cents.
over all you have some beautiful and strong elements going onin this tank! well done
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:15 AM   #8
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And don't make fun of my stand. I'm in college and it's all that was around that would hold the tank. I wish I had the cash to invest in a sweet ADA tank/stand, but this old shelving rubbish will do, right?
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:34 AM   #9
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So about Dwarf Baby Tears. Also known as HC, short for Hemianthus Callitrichoides. When I first saw this plant, I wanted it all over the bottom of my tank. In fact, it's what drew me into giving the hobby a serious look. It's a gorgeous plant that, at least from what I saw on Google images, creates a lush carpet that little red Cherry Shrimp play on. So back a few months ago, I bought some at PetCo for like $7 or something. They were attached to a rock and looked promising. So I plopped it into my tank and googled around on how to plant them.
From what I read, HC should have CO2 and crazy good lighting. Not to mention that if you want a carpet like the ones I drooled over the HC should be planted emerged (when your tank has no water in it - just a mini greenhouse or terrarium) so it can take root and send runners. I was like, "Stuff it." So I took it off the rock and tried to tweezer the roots into my sand-capped dirt. The HC clump floated away every time. Then I was like, "Oh... so that's why they do the terrarium thing for a few weeks." So I came up with this idea based on the hope that if the HC is in constant contact with the substrate it should eventually take root on its own. Which it did.

I twist/broke paper clips into little "v's" so I could pin the HC down flush against the bottom. When I first did this in my 10gal I just pinned the whole clump that I ripped off the rock to the bottom. It eventually took root and spread. But I've since read that HC carpets best when it's split into smaller pieces and placed over a larger area, so that's what I did this time.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:47 AM   #10
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Here's what my HC looked like in March, a month or so after initial planting.

Then May, approx. 4 months after planting that chunk from PetCo. You can tell it has already spread quite a bit!

I loved that little shrimpie.

And here is that same tank earlier today, 4 months after that last picture, 8 months after initial planting. I really should have gotten a picture BEFORE I started ripping it up, but you still get an idea...



Last edited by tryank; 09-05-2012 at 08:36 AM.. Reason: Added picture
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:01 AM   #11
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I split up the big chunks into little "starters" and placed them using my paperclip method.


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Old 09-05-2012, 08:08 AM   #12
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I read somewhere that putting a plastic bag down over your substrate when adding water would protect your planting and whatnot. So I tried it. Worked swell!


And here it is tonight, full of water.




I'll try and keep this journal updated. I'm always curious to know what the timeline is for others and seeing their photos month to month. Hopefully someone will get something out of this. I'd love suggestions!
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:17 AM   #13
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ah! when the ground cover spreads it will look as a mini under water Stone Henge! I think I will like this one.
I am a newbie, newbier than you, and will be watching and learning.
(enjoyed the shot of your with your birthday gift!)
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:21 AM   #14
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Dude the look on your face in that picture of you holding that tank is freaken classic!!! I wonder if I looked like that too when I came out of the pet store with my new tank! LoL!!

And on the idea of reuse, with everything being so disposal now-a-days, its nice to reuse something over again!!

That light appears pretty purple, wonder if its the camera thats doing that?
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:43 PM   #15
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Who doesn't have that face on when they walk out of the fish store with goods in their hand?

The light-bulb I have in is a ZooMed Flora Sun (T5). Compared to the 24W "daylight" cfl bulb, it puts out more red light for sure. The pictures I posted totally magnified it. It's not that purple in real life. The light makes all the colors POP though. I put the light over my old tank for the day while I was setting up the new one, and my dwarf coral platys were a deep and vibrant red. Now over the new tank it's making the HC really glow (can't say grow for sure yet, but I'm guessing so). Can't wait to see what a grip of cherry shrimp will look like chillin in there.
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20 gallon long, 20g long, attaching, dwarf baby tears, planting hc

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