My 55 gallon adventure! Updated 12/4
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:48 AM   #1
drewsuf82
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My 55 gallon adventure! Updated 12/4


OK so I made the decision that when and IF I ever went high tech that I would start a tank journal....

Thanks to an amazing deal on craigslist (and my style ) I scored some awesome deals today and managed to not get into too much trouble...well yet

Anyway here is my NEW setup (upgrading an existing setup and my first foray into high-tech)

My New CO2 Tank (20lb monster I may need to re-work the regulator connection tomorrow since it's not fully installed yet...
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My New Electronic Regulator and Bubble Counter (The CO2 system is not setup right now because in my efforts to re-attach/re-seal I broke a washer and didn't have an extra one, gotta buy that tomorrow )
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2 Curious cats and a nosy dog and my not paying attention and my canisters carbon as well as me all over this will be next weekends project.....
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New Canister Filter - I may be having some questions about these soon, like I said it's my first round with anything more than a simple setup:
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For now I will be using the stock intake cover, although eventually I want this to become a planted/shrimp tank, is this cover shrimp save ?
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In the Water (no tubes hooked up here) BTW it was about this point where I realized that I wasn't in Kansas anymore with this tank...
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CO2 Diffuser, this had been sitting out of a tank for a few months and was quite dirty, there was some media there (not sure why but I bought new to make sure it operated the way it was custom designed (or appeared to be)
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CO2 Diffuser, all cleaned up and ready to be primed
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I got to be a plumber tonight too! Had to change some fittings, and am very proud to say that the setup has been running for ~2 hours now with no leaks, it's all downhill from here!!
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And it was all going great until....the curse of the 9.6v drill kicked in trying to drive the screws to mount the diffuser, I'm not upset though it gave me a beer break
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Here's my temporary water routing setup (well as clear as I could get), I need to figure out how to increase flow a bit it doesn't feel like it's pushing the 350 GPM through -- The Yellow attachment is the PH controller (which I have to get warranty repaired)
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The view from above before attaching lighting (system is running but see what I was saying about low flow?)
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My old lighting system (not sure what I am going to do with them) and YES I sure did use some tin foil to try to reflect more light I'm not really sure if it worked well or not...The green Device is the PH controller digital part (which is the part that I need to warranty replace)
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And the Finished (somewhat crooked end product for the evening) What a transformation!!!!!!!! I can't wait to see how the plants do and I can't wait to start getting some other new plants in this tank (currently only very beat up wysteria, java fern, and xmas moss, ultimately want to moss wall and shrimp this tank)
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The Following is Information about the setup of the tank
Size: 55 Gallon Standard
Light: Coral Life 48" 2x54w T5HO 10,000k bulbs (was 2x18w t8 bulbs)
Filtration: MarineLand 350 Magnum Pro Canister (previously was whisper 70 gallon hob)
CO2 Tank Size: 20 Lbs
CO2 Regulator: AquariumPlants.com Electronic Regulator with electronic bubble counter
CO2 Diffuser: Outbound Powerhead difusement prior to re-entry into tank
Ferts: I've got the specs around here somewhere, I got it from a forum member
Substrate: Standard Aquarium Gravel (planning on adding some type of root tab here soon to improve quality)

Wow that's prob pretty long, if you've stayed this long thanks for looking, I welcome your opinions and suggestions as this is my first go at a high end set up (and I'm pretty stoked and pretty nervous all at the same time, it almost feels like I've started a whole new hobby)

I do know that over the coming weeks-months I am planning redoing a lot of the interior of this tank to bring in more driftwood for ferns and removing some if not most of the large rocks and the one last fake decoration

Last edited by drewsuf82; 12-05-2013 at 03:09 AM.. Reason: Update
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:11 AM   #2
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Great start! Awesome finds on all the parts. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the space
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:44 AM   #3
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To answer your question, the intake isn't really shrimp safe as baby shrimps can be extremely small. However, they might not swim that high up there as it's in the middle of the tank so a lot would survive. To make it extremely shrimp tank, you can just add a prefilter sponge on there (I'd avoid what everyone on the board seems to suggest in the fluval edge prefilters as those are too soft and will get clogged... I'd look for a harder type sponge, ones that aren't squishy but most plasticy).

That's a long ways away though Good start to your tank. The only thing I'd suggest is getting some more hungry plants in there - the ones you have are a bit slower so if there's some stemmed background plants you were going to add later, I'd just add them now.

You also seem to be high tech with low tech substrate... not something I'd recommend. Do yourself a favor early and consider getting some better substrate that has nutrients in it like ada aquasoil, flourite, eco-complete, or akadama (there's a lot more taiwan/japanese brands out there that I'm sure are great but I haven't tried them). If you're on a budget, the price of the substrate can be daunting but it's worth it in the long run. Also I'm not sure how deep your substrate is right now, but it looks shallow and you may want to make it deeper if you're going to have large stemmed plants in there. I feel like decorative gravel could look alright but it's just not a great place to house plants and you've gone to the trouble of adding c02 so you'll want a beautiful carpet of some type of plant and some stemmed background plants I imagine (otherwise ditch the c02 and go low tech).
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for your thoughtful reply, I hope it's ok if I ask you a few questions in response to yours

Quote:
Originally Posted by fusiongt View Post
The only thing I'd suggest is getting some more hungry plants in there - the ones you have are a bit slower so if there's some stemmed background plants you were going to add later, I'd just add them now.
I was doing Wysteria in the tank for forever and a day, however since that is more of a "low light" plant what suggestions would you have on me getting at the LFS or looking for to fill up the background?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fusiongt View Post
You also seem to be high tech with low tech substrate... not something I'd recommend. Do yourself a favor early and consider getting some better substrate that has nutrients in it like ada aquasoil, flourite, eco-complete, or akadama (there's a lot more taiwan/japanese brands out there that I'm sure are great but I haven't tried them). If you're on a budget, the price of the substrate can be daunting but it's worth it in the long run. Also I'm not sure how deep your substrate is right now, but it looks shallow and you may want to make it deeper if you're going to have large stemmed plants in there. I feel like decorative gravel could look alright but it's just not a great place to house plants and you've gone to the trouble of adding c02 so you'll want a beautiful carpet of some type of plant and some stemmed background plants I imagine (otherwise ditch the c02 and go low tech).
This was on my to-do list just more in the future. The Substrate currently is about 1/2" above the black plastic on the tank. I don't want to push my luck but will changing the substrate along with my filter (which I replaced already) cause my tank to go into major cycle mode? I currently have livestock (fish) that I really wouldn't want to endanger. How quickly should I add the new substrate, will it be alright now with the mulm and the ferts that I am adding (man I still gotta find that info to post) how soon should I switch it? Can I have a hybrid of two different substrates using the current as a base, removing some and covering it up with more?

(wow I guess that was more than a few questions)
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Old 10-11-2012, 09:22 PM   #5
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So I got some plant substrate and am in the process of changing out about half of the old stuff and mixing it with about 40 lbs of the new stuff and I'm running my old HOB and the Canister right now to try to help with water circulation and to help clean up the mess that I just made...back to washing gravel
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:33 PM   #6
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Wow I'm making a ton of mental notes on how I want to setup my next tank as I have now started to add 40 LBS of the Floramax that I just got.
Here is a picture of the bag, the guy at the store swore by it and it matched my color scheme.
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So I wanted to give a little bit of an update to today's activities on my now 2 day project

The New Substrate (to be added to approx 50% of the old stuff) Only two helpers today, the dog didn't want anything to do with it I think he knew the impending doom coming to the tank which has been running for approx 3ish years as you'll see in the next photo (included with some new plants REally excited about that! )
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Time to go fishing!!!!!!
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He has to watch the entire way. I am currently running my canister and the HOB filter together to try and clear up this water a bit while I work on the CO2 setup and lines (also to dry out a bit, I've been washing substrate and laying it for ~2 hours at this point)
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More to come later tonight including initial layout and plant placement!!!

Last edited by drewsuf82; 10-12-2012 at 12:05 AM.. Reason: fixing a few errors, adding content
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:38 AM   #7
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Default Last Update for today

OK End of the all day marathon!

So I have everything all set up although I know that I am going to be doing some tweaking in the future (things like cable management, hose management etc...)

So here is the setup CO2 system showing operational, the magic number for it to put a puff of CO2 into the system seems to be about 6 PSI
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Now we have the tank setup, the water is clearing, the fish seem to be OK and I think I definitely like how it's set up now better....
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Wow the last two days have flew by!!!!!!
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:23 PM   #8
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Looks better and I think all your stemmed plants will benefit from the better substrate
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fusiongt View Post
Looks better and I think all your stemmed plants will benefit from the better substrate
Thanks, all of those plants are new with the exception of the moss ball (which I don't really think is a moss ball because i broke one of the two i had apart in an effort to split it and it just disintegrated), the xmas moss and the java fern

I have also now officially reached my goal of only natural in the tank there's only substrate, driftwood, rocks and plants now!!

Here's this mornings update after it had time to cycle the water through overnight

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Old 10-13-2012, 07:51 PM   #10
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Update ---
Tank appears to be going through a mini cycle even with using the old filter any idea on how long I should expect it to have upped levels (I'm figuring its because of all the new substrate)
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:25 PM   #11
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10/15 Update....

I wanted to add some close up shots of some of the plants (already getting growth) and I wanted to kind of have a starting base on things such as the xmas moss and the java fern and to see if it improves

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I also got a Coralife digital powerstrip/timer (with the eventual plan of adding LED moonlights that would go on when the main lighting goes off)

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I also performed some MUCH needed cable management

I also had to exchange the CO2 when I went in the guy looked at me and said "How long have you had this tank? We haven't labelled tanks like this in forever, I can't refill your tank, I have to exchange it" which may explain why I had no pressure he said that the tank was several years since it's last fill.

So I guess I will see how the new tank does today while I'm at work

Any comments are very welcome and appreciated (as well as suggestions)

New Light Schedule:
2PM-11PM (my normal viewing times when I am home)
7AM-2PM - (some ambient indirect sunlight, nothing major but there is some)

I could use some help figuring out a CO2 Schedule...
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:56 PM   #12
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Good job...
Wise decision to add plant soil.

IMO you could cut down the photo period a bit, except if during those hours there s a period of dimmed lighting or moon light. Keep an eye on the plants behavior, and for any algae bloom. That will be your main hint that your tank is doing or not doing well...

As far as CO2 is concerned, I would suggest that it turns on half to an hour after lights on and turns off about an hour before lights out, or dial a low bubble rate and start it with the lights letting it build concentration while plants increase their photosynthetic rate.

Bubble count, well you can start with a couple of bubbles per sec and monitor it for a few days to see if you need to dial it a bit up or down. Be careful not to have too much CO2 by the end of the photo period...ideally you will want very little.

Keep in mind that inline reactor tend to be quite efficient in dissolving CO2.

Hope I helped a bit.
If anyone else disagrees or has something to add please do so.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Good job...
As far as CO2 is concerned, I would suggest that it turns on half to an hour after lights on and turns off about an hour before lights out, or dial a low bubble rate and start it with the lights letting it build concentration while plants increase their photosynthetic rate.

Bubble count, well you can start with a couple of bubbles per sec and monitor it for a few days to see if you need to dial it a bit up or down. Be careful not to have too much CO2 by the end of the photo period...ideally you will want very little.

If anyone else disagrees or has something to add please do so.
Thanks for your reply! I have been turning on the CO2 when I wake up, while there's a good amount of ambient non direct sunlight, you figure that I am wasting CO2 during those times ?

Thanks for the tip about turning it off about an hour before, I have been turning it off right before picking up another digital timer for the CO2 controller, I'm just waiting to see if the PH controller is an easy fix or not first.

Currently I am at ~17 BPM and the drop tester on the side of the tank shows GREEN and I am not seeing any lethargy from the fish or the shrimp, I am seeing good growth on the Hornwort (I think that's what my little ghost shrimp is happily chillin on)

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I really can't wait to see where this tank is in a few weeks! I'm pretty excited to see if I can grow enough plants to cover up all of the equipment behind the glass (filter tubes, cords, etc etc) I have yet to be able to get a tank to do that
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:21 AM   #14
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Glad you have already found a CO2 value that works for you. Don't know what drop tester your using but if I am not mistaken most have the green as indication of an ideal level of CO2.

I see no reason why to turn it on during ambient light periods. You fauna and flora have been breathing CO2 out all night long so there is already some in the water. Not much if you have a good water agitation but still some.

If you want you can try Seachem excel. Its liquid carbon source which can supplement your CO2 injections so you have a bit more CO2 in your tank during ambient light (don't use the full amount suggested for your tank size- you will want to supplement not increase). It is also claimed that it helps with algae too, but I don't know how your critters will react...Do a little research on the matter just to be on the safe side.

It takes patience and a lot of asking and reading to grow them tall and thick.
I think you are off to a good start..
You are at a good place. There are a lot of knowledgeable ppl on this forum you can really help you as long as you ask and you show interest.
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:32 AM   #15
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So I thought that I would throw in a small update

I was getting some good growth here but they were coming in all different sizes all over and growing oddly so I re-arranged and replanted most of these:

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My Moss has been taking off, in fact with the tank maintenance I was able to ease enough off while doing a slight movement that I was able to cover the rest of the top of the rock....getting ready for my plans to move the moss over the rest of the rocks.....

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