55 gallon Low Tech soil sub grow out tank (56K warning)
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Old 04-23-2009, 02:01 PM   #1
wkndracer
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55 gallon Low Tech soil sub grow out tank (56K warning)


The plan is to NOT fill this tank to display standards. Rather a nice place to grow out baby angels. Used tank, old lights, old HOB emperor 400 (reinstalling the bio wheels), power heads and UG filter.

DIY 'algae' kit for the back round. Using 3 green acrylic enamels and sponge painting the back glass. Installing the tank under a kitchen counter just above floor level. 3 1/2" above to be exact. Just enough the glass won't get hit sweeping the floor.


1st color just peppering the glass for shading. Using natural sponges.

Second color Heavy patting to dominate color.

Third coat completely covers the glass.










Until I get it flooded I wont know how the effect actually pulls off, may need four or five colors, maybe not. All the greens have umber in the mix which grays or to muddy the color dulling it. So the natural greens of the live plants should really stand out.
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Last edited by wkndracer; 05-07-2009 at 02:03 PM.. Reason: change title
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:29 PM   #2
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Looks pretty cool. I like the idea!
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:55 PM   #3
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Default Things getting wet in the kitchen.

Well,,, finally made some progress last night. I was waiting on a Drs. web order that included UG filter plates that arrived Tuesday and now I’m not even using them LOL. (Maybe there is another tank in my future)
Started assembly Tuesday night with the on hand hardware but when I filled the tank and installed the Marineland Emperor Bio-wheel 400 it leaked water all over! The filter housing was cracked under the right return tray and back of the basket housing. Ugh!!! So no HOB! After toweling the floor and cleaning up my mess at 11:45 pm that filter box skipped across the back patio at a rather high rate of speed. (Picked up the pieces the following day)
So now I have changed my master plan yet again.
el natural, Diana Walstad type tank as of today. Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix 32 Qt. (dry) bag was $8.00 and I used nearly Ĺ the bag for a one inch layer. It’s full of organics as the name implies but no chemical ferts. Very little in the way of sticks or bark pieces in the bag I bought. Capped the soil with 2 bags of Flourite original as I like the color.
I dumped the idea of a pool filter sand layer over / under / between the substrates. Reading strings it can limit gas exchange, CO2 out and O2 into the biomass. Lighting changed also as >2wpg is recommended.
Lowes has hanging dual T8 48” 32watt fixtures, silver w/ black end caps for $29.00. I bought two and went with 2-6500K, 2-5000K bulbs labeled as daylight and sunshine.
GE daylight 32w, 2700 lumens, 6500K, cri 78
GE sunshine 32w, 2800 lumens, 5000K, cri 86
2.3 watts per gallon.
Lights are set 6 Ĺ” above the tank covers as we plan on rooting terrestrial plants through the tank top as well as having floaters. Based on posts at the APC site to help control nutrient levels in the water and algae several folks have done it. (My wife liked that idea) No hardscape at this time and plan on jungle planting for the cycle. Plant list to follow when I’ve got time and actually get them planted.
A single power head will provide water circulation and a UV sterilizer will be installed.

On with the pictures!

Dirt pile and small amount of sticks


You can see the color difference between 5000K and 6500K


Used egg crate grill material to eliminate gravel creep along the glass




2 Bag 30lb. Flourite cap plus a 1/4 old bag from the last tank


Filler up!




Following day setting water GH and planting
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Old 05-01-2009, 01:06 AM   #4
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It is looking good! Sorry about the problems with the HOB and the flooding. I like the idea of using the egg crate. I will have to keep that in mind if I get a new tank and decide to change up things a bit. Can't wait to see new pics with plants!
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Old 05-01-2009, 01:39 AM   #5
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Default Weeds in

Clouded up a bit but no problem with the organics coming through. I was worried when I worked the root ball on the Echinodorus ĎKliener Barí in at center tank. The leaves are small because of trimming but the roots were fairly large.
It's a pull from the living room tanks.

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Old 05-01-2009, 01:52 AM   #6
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Please be sure to keep us up on your approach with this one. Does this mean you'll be growing Angels anytime soon?? How are you cycling this tank? Be specific please. Thanks!!
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Old 05-01-2009, 04:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunfire99 View Post
Please be sure to keep us up on your approach with this one. Does this mean you'll be growing Angels anytime soon?? How are you cycling this tank? Be specific please. Thanks!!


It may mean something else as well but to me cycling is establishing nitrifying bacteria, good (non-sterilized) potting soil should have some. It just takes time for them to grow into the population you need in the tank. The soil I selected was mentioned several times on APC posts by Ms. Walstad.
It was well on its way to being fully mineralized. But still containing small organics it will be a source of minimal CO2 too. The dirt and plants will take a while to settle in and the ammonia that is produced is good food for nitrifying bacteria and the plants. I can accelerate the process by adding some and maintaining 5ppm as is recommended in a fishless cycle but havenít decided too. If I leave it alone to do its thing it should be more stable. Doing a fishless cycle you add ammonia and maintain it at 5ppm until you read a nitrite indication and then drop back on the amount but continue to supply it.
It may take a few weeks or a month for the soil to settle in and convert to a submerged stable state of decay. During this time the nitrifying bacteria can grow and the plants are rooting and growing.
In this start up period the aquarium may not be a very good habitat for fish as it may not be stable.

To tell you all the whole truth,,,,,,, the reason Iíve decided to go this route is because having 5 or 6 tanks requiring nearly daily dosing and 50% weekly WC will burn me out. After a year keeping two (which isnít bad) I know I donít want to keep a Ĺ dozen this way. Life has too many other interests for me.
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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:26 PM   #8
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So using mineralized soil there's not a requirement to add ammonia? I've never cycled this way, or any way other than adding fish, or inverts in salt tanks, to begin a cycle. Still trying to wrap my hands around when I will have had a cycle in a planted tank if the plants take up the ammonia before "normal" nitrification cycle can begin. At what point will I know I can add fish, or more fish? Thanks for the info? Sorry to hijack with these questions. Tell me to go away if you like.
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Old 05-01-2009, 11:58 PM   #9
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NO WAY! this is what forums are for.
With plants in the tank and normal substrate you can add fish right away. (within reason) Plants help prevent ammonia and nitrites from building to hazardous levels. They actually prefer them to nitrate (NO3) because its easier for them to use it. I have decaying organic matter in the tank that could cause a rapid spike you don't.
Bacteria still build up just over a longer period with plants competing.
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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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Old 05-02-2009, 12:10 AM   #10
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Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil IS NOT mineralized soil, it has organics present (fine mulch). It will finish the process of mineralization in the tank, decaying under the gravel. That's why its not stable right away. Mineralization IMO is a fancy word for rot. Dry it rots slower, once submerged the chemical decomposition rate will change and then stabilize again at a new rate. Ammonia spikes could kill fish rapidly in my tank if the gas trapped, built up and released. I don't think it happens often but can.

I don't have Ms. Walstad's book yet but plan on purchasing one. I've read on the internet on the subject gathering what I can from others and also know what I've seen in southern swamps regarding organic break down. It won't be too different in the tank just more contained. As our environmental specialists at work are so fond of saying 'the solution to pollution is dilution' its contained in the tank so I'm being careful.
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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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Old 05-02-2009, 04:50 PM   #11
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Default Tank @ 48hrs.

I set the R O water using Grumpy's GH booster @ 6dGH and baking soda @ 3dKH. Adding a standard 55g dose of CSM+B, Fe dosed to .6ppm, 20ml excel on 4/03/09
Testing today 10dGH, 3dKH, PO4 2ppm, Ammonia 0.0-.25 minimum color change.
Nitrite and nitrate I expected zero readings and tested just that.

Starting plants are chain swords, Kliener bar sword, crypt wendtii reds, repoens, Bacopa colorata, water sprite and narrow leaf sag.

I'm thinking about dosing NO3 and K2SO4 or leaf zone to help bridge the plants.
Water is still slightly cloudy. The only filtration is a power head feeding an eheim spray bar to break up the flow with an old sponge on the intake.





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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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Old 05-02-2009, 05:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
NO WAY! this is what forums are for.
With plants in the tank and normal substrate you can add fish right away. (within reason) Plants help prevent ammonia and nitrites from building to hazardous levels. They actually prefer them to nitrate (NO3) because its easier for them to use it. I have decaying organic matter in the tank that could cause a rapid spike you don't.
Bacteria still build up just over a longer period with plants competing.
So, do you think it's safe to add a school of fish after the plants are in? I've done a lot of reading about this but there didn't seem to be a real theme that everyone agreed on. I plan to have a school of 15-20 Rummynose Tetras. How many would you add initially once planted? Thanks Mike!!
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Old 05-02-2009, 05:07 PM   #13
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Oh, and the tank looks good!! Is it under a counter of some kind. Good diea using that kind of space for a tank. I'm negotiating with the wife where to put up a 20 for a QT tank. Can't imagine she'll let me use the kitchen .
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Old 05-02-2009, 05:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunfire99 View Post
So, do you think it's safe to add a school of fish after the plants are in? I've done a lot of reading about this but there didn't seem to be a real theme that everyone agreed on. I plan to have a school of 15-20 Rummynose Tetras. How many would you add initially once planted? Thanks Mike!!
My tank, I'd add all the Rummynose right off with the plants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunfire99 View Post
Oh, and the tank looks good!! Is it under a counter of some kind. Good diea using that kind of space for a tank. I'm negotiating with the wife where to put up a 20 for a QT tank. Can't imagine she'll let me use the kitchen .
The 55g is indeed under a counter in the kitchen. The 110g will be at the opposite end in the kitchen as well. The Kitchen is 16' 6" w X 23' long with counter top and appliances down one wall and three sets of louvered double doors on the other. The first two sets are pantry / closets, the third set is to the home office and access to the back porch.
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2012 update adding table top pleco pans & a 90g (Nutz)
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:31 PM   #15
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Looking great! Now just need some babies to put in there.
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