Reset and Upgrade 30 gallon - Ideas welcome
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:01 PM   #1
mangarabster
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Reset and Upgrade 30 gallon - Ideas welcome


Long rambling post ahead.

Hello everyone. I often follow this forum and love the tanks many of you build and maintain and it has inspired me to upgrade my (meh) planted tank to a beautiful plant tank.

I am from India where many high tech stuff are quite rare and expensive. I am also quite short on money. Make that very. So most of the work I have done for the upgrade is DIY (also like it) that I hope comes close to creating a rich environment for the plants and fishes.

Aims of new tank-setup:
Low cost, DIY setp with a few purchases like driftwood and expensive fish
It comes close to mimicking a god natural environment in which fishes and plants thrive
Low power consumption in day to day running (keep total consuption around 20W/h)
Beautiful underwater garden/similar set up
Easy weekly maintenance

Tank dimensions: 30" length, 12" breadth, 18" height, 30 gallons

Lighting & Hood:
Earlier, I had a 8W LED bulb with 250lm that was equivalent to a 40W tungsten bulb. I placed it in the middle and although the tank was bright, plants like Heteranthera Zosterifolia http://forum.aquascaping-store.de/op...d/PICT1904.JPG , Eleocharis Parvula http://socav.com/wp-content/uploads/...s-parvula1.jpg, Myriophyllum_tuberculatum http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/im...rculatum.e.jpgstruggled. The last one even started becoming green. I read that this could be because of low light or high levels of Nitrite. Cabombas really thrived.

Before, I had made a hood out of plywood that completely covered the top with a few holes on the side. The bulb was situated in the middle. I read that if the hood is covered, the exchange of oxygen between the water surface and the air will be greatly reduced. So now this is my newly designed hood (Picture 1), made out of a plastic pipe generally used for plumbing. The caps that are used to cover the ends have been glued to the ends of the pipe and sit on the glass, like a stand. On either ends of this hood, bulb holders have been fitted (Picture 2).

PAR measurements go over my head. I read somewhere that multiplying the gallon size by 1.5 should give you a very rough idea of what amount of watt to use. So, now I am going to buy two LED bulbs of 5 watts each that are in total equivalent to a 50W tungesten bulb. Also, the light will now be more spread.

Filration & Current: I read that creating a current in the tank is good for the fishes, the plants listed above thrive on it and it increases the surface area for oxygen absorption. So I bought a 6W internal power filter the pushes a healthy stream of water inside the water surface. I have created a crude spray bar by attaching a old plastic bottle to the end of a sponge filter (picture 3). While it does not actually spray, the water drops at different points every second and breaks the surface and creates small waves. Also, maybe a bit unecessarily (but cool), I attached an old computer fan that is solar powered, to the middle of the new hood. This fan on it's own disturbs the water surface, but does not break it.

Substrate: I have gone for a dirt subtrate which is nutrient rich, topped of with white sand (which I am told is harmless). The black/brown substrate that many of you guys buy is expensive here, but if it makes a huge difference, I could be tempted.

Carbon: I have put a piece of charcoal along with the sponge inside the power filter.

Aquascaping

Like a kid at a candy shop, I want to have many of the beautiful planted setups I have seen on the internet. I have borrowed ideas to come up with design, but am also awed by an alternate design.

Picture 4 is the current state of the aquarium while I wait for another 10 days to receive my pay and go on a big trip to buy driftwood, plants and fishes. Picture 5 is annotated to help you give a rough picture of what I am hoping to acheive: a live snapshot of a cross section of an forest stream.

However, I came across this picture and now I am really tempted to create something similar: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/yo...&n=Luminescent This tank is larger than mine by 10 gallons. I am also concerned that a castle like that would take up valuable space. However there is no denying the beauty of this "run down castle being crowded out by forest" picture. Perhaps I could create a smaller version? However, this guy has a raised red/brown pebble/substrate that looks a bit complicated.

Fishes:
I love tetras, but in my experience the neon ones disappear one day at a time. Also, big fishes have a bit of character. So, even though a 30 gallon is really modest, I am looking to buy 4 discus fishes, a group of rummy nose tetras, a pair of Ram chichlids, some corys and a few other fishes. I understand that discus fishes would require weekly water changes of about 1/4th of the tank.


So I am still toying with the aquascaping idea. Your ideas/suggestions on this and other things are welcome. If I am doing somethign terribly wrong, do let me know.

I have been waiting for a while to build this. Hopefully, I will be able to come back here and post pictures of the final aquarium.

Note: No direct sunlight comes through the window.
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:22 PM   #2
tizzite
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I look forward to what you can create. I am an avid DIYer, and can really appreciate people who can do a lot with a little.
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Old 10-20-2013, 04:53 AM   #3
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So I bought some plants a few days back. Some were cheap. Some were expensive. I planted them and filled some water in the tank. Each one promplty floated. So i planted them deeper. Hope they start taking root. Will fill it up with water and set the lighting and filters up today.

I blew 1/3 of my budget on treated driftwood. Turns out it was not treated at all. I should have been suspicious when I saw the very expensive Range Rover owned by the Shopkeeper.

So, now I am treating it and soaking it in water alternatively.

Will post back in a few days on the state of the tank.
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Old 10-20-2013, 04:56 AM   #4
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Regarding plants, I couldnt buy a lot. I am hoping that the ones I have planted grow and multiply and fill the aquarium more.

Hairgrass was so expensive so, I couldnt buy it. I have a few that I had brought previously. Hopefully they will thrive in the tank.

I keep hearing that black mollies are very good at cleaning algae from plants. Why is it black mollie in particular. Why not white, yellow or orange mollies?
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Old 11-02-2013, 09:20 AM   #5
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[Picture 1] - My aquarium so far. The drift wood has been treated and added to the tank. It has made the aquarium look so much better. I love the look now.

It has been more than two weeks since I planted the plants. The plants have been struggling. The red lily withered within a few days. The red cabomba has really struggled. There is only one left and that is floating around. Even leaves of green easy to grow plants like cabomba are falling away.

I would really appreciate your help in helping me grow the plants.

I have thought of three likely causes.

1) Iron deficiency - The iron supplements at the fish store are really expensive, so I am thinking of buying some iron tablets and powdering them and putting them in the tank. If this is a bad idea and the iron supplement is really necessary, I could buy it.

2) Thick gravel topping - I read in one of the threads here that when you have a dirt substrate, it is advisable to have more than an inch of gravel topping. I did that because, previously i had a thinner topping and it would get dirty within a week. Now, I feel that the roots are not able to get to the dirt substrate because the topping is too thick. [Picture 2]

3) Lack of co2 - I came across this wonderful article http://www.qsl.net/w2wdx/aquaria/diyco2.html and thought that a lack of co2 might be a reason. I havent introduced the fishes yet, so the deficiency would be even more. I followed the instructions in the article and I have attached a picture of the DIY co2 system i made. [Picture 3 & 4]. It has been more than 48 hours, but no co2 yet. I have tried to seal the gaps as much as possible and have only used airline tubing. I dont think it is hundred percent airtight, but if you look at the picture, it seems that the yeast has not formed. Maybe I need to try the mixture again, with more of everything?

Your help would be much appreciated. Already I have lost many of the plants I bought. Any I buy in the future will also not thrive unless I make it right.
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:19 PM   #6
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I had a similar CO2 system set up. Your bottles seem very empty to me. Your reaction bottle should be 3/4 full, and your separator bottle should have very little air in it, should be almost completely filled with water. What kind of yeast are you using? I used the dry type because I couldn't get any of the type that needs to be refrigerated. I added about two cups of sugar and a tablespoon of the dry yeast that I had dissolved in water previously. You should see CO2 being generated in less than an hour.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgesd View Post
I had a similar CO2 system set up. Your bottles seem very empty to me. Your reaction bottle should be 3/4 full, and your separator bottle should have very little air in it, should be almost completely filled with water. What kind of yeast are you using? I used the dry type because I couldn't get any of the type that needs to be refrigerated. I added about two cups of sugar and a tablespoon of the dry yeast that I had dissolved in water previously. You should see CO2 being generated in less than an hour.
Thanks for your reply. I will fill the seperator bottle with water now.

I am using dry yeast. I activated it using luke warm water and followed the recipe of 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar and 1/2 tsp yeast. I realised now that my mixture might be too little. So, i topped it off with water, sugar and more yeast a few hours ago. No change. I am not sure the yeast has activated. Is there a visual sign? Maybe if i open the cap, i can tell from the stink?

Either the yeast has not yet activated or there is a leak at the joints. I am thinking of adding a layer of silica gel to cover the openings further. Right now, they are covered by plumbing sealant.
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Old 11-02-2013, 06:32 PM   #8
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You should be seeing some foaming by now. Maybe the yeast was past due. Did you dissolve the sugar in the water?
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Old 11-02-2013, 08:27 PM   #9
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No foaming. I will check the yeast and try a new packet.
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:24 PM   #10
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I think you will find the use of one way valves and less restrictive diffuser will give you a better result with the DIY CO2. I run 2 2liter bottles and it still is not enough pressure to push co2 through the glass diffuser I tried. I am using a "fine" bubble air stone but I just got some wood air stones I am going to try next for hopefully even better diffusion.
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TekWarren View Post
I think you will find the use of one way valves and less restrictive diffuser will give you a better result with the DIY CO2. I run 2 2liter bottles and it still is not enough pressure to push co2 through the glass diffuser I tried. I am using a "fine" bubble air stone but I just got some wood air stones I am going to try next for hopefully even better diffusion.

Thank you for your reply. I have put a one way valve. Today, I saw bubbles in the gas seperator and so i figured that the line from there to the tank might not be sealed well. So i re-sealed it and I read your post and i removed the glass diffuser and connected the tube to the air intake of an internal filter. It works!

My only concern is that the bubbles rise up pretty fast. However, they are tiny and are pushed across the tank, so it shouldnt be ineffective.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:57 AM   #12
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Latest on Tank:

So, I have been letting my tank run for a couple of months to see how it will stabilise and the plants will grow.

In summary, I have a DIY CO2 system running fairly decently with a healthy amount of bubbles every minute. I have two LED bulbs with 6500K rating and equivalent to 40W each. I have a dirt substrate topped with some inert gravel.

Some of the green plants are growing well. The christmas moss has fastened itself to the driftwood and is growing slowly but steadily.

However, some common easy to grow plants like cabomba are struggling. Red coloured plants usually die within a few days of introducing them to the tank.

I dont have the lush plant growth I am striving for. I even top up some plant food now and then. Despite some of the plants growing, the tank looks sparse.

I have attached some pictures of the tank and some fuzzy pictures of my neons.
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