Beating Back the Jungle.... was bringing back from the dead
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:58 PM   #1
Kathyy
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Beating Back the Jungle.... was bringing back from the dead


Hi all.

This is a ~100 gallon 60 by 18 by 22 inches deep tank that has been set up for nearly 10 years. Originally a 24 by 24 by 60 that cracked so all was dumped in this one maybe 7 years ago. Lit with 2 175 watt metal halide pendants, filtered with a home made wet/dry underpowered with a Rio 1700 going to a gravel level spraybar and currently the pressurized CO2 line is stuck into the pump's intake. Substrate is Schultz's Aquatic Soil with a little gravel mixed in. Have always used dry NPK+CMS+B and will continue.

I have had a tank most of my life starting out with a 10 gallon tank filtered with a box filter stuffed with glass wool. Completely missed the whole undergravel filter thing and my first temporarily successful planted tank was a 20 gallon tank in part sunlight planted with a lucky find of Ceratopteris that flourished for quite a while about 30 years ago. Moved to a tiny house and only decided I had room for a tank 12 years ago when a piano moved out and I put in tiled floors. Found a nice 45 gallon tank with stand and planted away. Found that big 150 and went to CO2 and metal halide.

Sad story. I got frustrated with CO2 going too fast due to inadequate tightening of the regulator and lost interest in the tank due to a sick dog. Dog is still sick three years later and I am dealing. Family turned off the pump/heaters so tank was lights only for a couple months. The pothos that were supposed to drape behind the tank snuck in stealing all the light and the biofilm on the front glass hid the disaster within.

In February I got to work. Pulled out the Pothos, cleaned the sump, overflow, tubes, pump, vacuumed the debris, scraped the glass. Amazing what could be left in two months, no heat in winter [southern California and a warm year], little light getting to the plants. Anubias nana was mostly leafless but stems and roots mostly fine, Java fern hanging in there, crypts 'petchii' and pontederiifolia [I think] unhappy but okay. Many Petsmart lily bulbs were still firm and ready to block the python tubing.

The first two thumbnails are about a month after the first clean up. I started fertilizing at about 1/2 the rate when the lilies started sprouting. The new metal halide bulb was completely green when first fired up but now is nearly the color of the old bulb, the second full tank shot with all my new driftwood isn't quite right due to the murky water from the water change that day. The crypts had some algae on them but the billions of MTS snails woke up and are doing their very best to clean it off.

I found this wonderful forum and joined. Saw Amazonfish's terrific driftwood offer and had to take her up on it to add to my old wonderful pieces which are getting smaller as time goes by! sieu004 offered a couple of my favorite weeds and the tank is looking better every day.

I am trying out super glue to attach the bits of fern and anubias to the driftwood. I am terrible with glue but so far only one bit has come off. My DH was surprised it took me a whole tube to glue bits to one piece of wood. Well it did. One of the Anubias stems was completely leafless but has sprouted with warmth so I hope they will recover. The old large wood is still floating after being out of the tank for 24 hours so is anchored with a couple rocks, that is coming out. Strangely the petrified wood in the photo was bought more than 40 years ago for my first 10 gallon tank. How THAT is still around when I haven't used rock in my tanks for 20 years is quite a mystery.

Last thumbnail is my concept for the tank. Since the tank is seen from the front and from the left side I have always liked a bright left going to a gloomy jungle. The C. pontederiifolia have never been happy with lots of light, hoping moving them to the edge of the jungle will perk them up. I had a successful hairgrass carpet with the 45 gallon and 150 gallon tanks, memory is failing me as to why it left the tank. Probably find out again! I do remember the Marselia got BBA and needed CO2. Pennywort got shaded out and needed fertilizer.

Since I have a small collection of inexpensive glass paperweights of bagged orange fish I am planning mostly orange platies in variety with ghost shrimp, neons and corys also in the tank. I would like a small group of small plecos, maybe just bristlenoses and otos as well. If Curviceps shows up at the fish store it will be coming home with me, adore those guys. If Black Phantom Tetras or Emperor Tetras are a reasonable price they will as well. I would like to keep plants in better scale to the tank without pruning and use larger groupings so am attempting to limit the species used.

That is it for now. Plants will be in the LFS at the end of the week. CO2 reactor going it then as well. May see if I want to go to a painted backdrop as well. We will see.






Last edited by Kathyy; 11-05-2010 at 04:47 AM..
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Old 03-21-2010, 07:25 PM   #2
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l like that last picture. Very nice
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:32 PM   #3
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Looks like its coming along nicely.
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:15 PM   #4
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Thanks. Fun to play with Paint, never had the patience before. It is looking much better. Once I take off the sad leaves off the Crypts they will look better too.

I never doubted that the very best back drop was black and that black leaf bag had been up for the whole time this tank was up. Looking at the wonderful tanks here I started getting annoyed with the black hole in the living room when the lights were off so I pulled off the bag and stuck a white packing foam sheet back there. Interesting. Might work. Better if the color was closer to the wall color though.
Before lights on.

With light on during the day



That Petsmart lily. I read in passing that keeping leaves from the surface helps keep them from forming floating leaves. Does that really work? Would they not go dormant too?

Last edited by Kathyy; 03-22-2010 at 10:56 PM..
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Old 03-24-2010, 03:16 AM   #5
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Thinking about the backdrop more. Wanting Friday to come so I can pick up my new plants and play in the tank. I hope.

Not crazy about the lack of depth with the light backdrop on the glass so I masked the tubes and cords with that packing foam and took more photos today.
#1 daylight, no lights
#2 daylight, lights on
#3 near dark, lights on




Liking the shadows during daytime/lights out being further from the tank. Am thinking this is going to have to be decided AFTER the tank gets new plants. Oh well.

How to disguise the light cords? I could just hook them to the wall and cover with a painted bit of something or another to keep the shadows back to create depth. I actually did something of the sort for the TV a while back that was not very successful due to the million speaker cords for the sound system. Just two would be better! I would have to repaint behind the tank, the room was repainted since the tank went up. That would be super fun. Not.

NOT putting a black trash bag back there again. The wrinkles and folds were getting really annoying. I do like the not a black hole when the lights are not on but I do not like the flat appearance right now. Part could be the sparse plantings. I would have to clean the back glass and I am bad enough at cleaning the front glass. I will have to deal I guess. Maybe a color would help with the jungly bank/open river I hope to emulate. Cardboard may be my next attempt.
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Old 03-25-2010, 03:08 AM   #6
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Have you considered one of those cheap black backgrounds from a LFS ex. petsmart. I got one yesterday for 8 bucks to completely cover my background and it works wonders. Just get some clear ducktape and scissors. Measuring is the hardest part and its best done with at least two people. But I think the end result is worth it. Best part, no filter box and no wrinkles Or if your against the black hole thing, try painting the piece of cardboard the same color of your wall?
Just a thought,
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:58 PM   #7
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Bet it will come to that and that would be fine as long as I don't wrinkle it too much. I painted the wall yesterday and like the cool beige better than the 3 tones of gold sponge painted wall from the '80's as a back drop. I could put my overflow and returns on the side of the tank so it is seen through 5' of water instead of 18" which only leaves the lighting cords to disguise. And those pesky pothos could always be planted in a regular pot.

But no rush. I am hoping the LFS calls today that the plant order came in early and I can go choose some plants. Perhaps seeing the baby plants in the tank will help me decide.
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Old 04-06-2010, 04:01 AM   #8
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Update.
Things were looking up last week. Water was pretty clear, plants were growing. I moved the over flow to the side of the tank to get one more thing off the back of the tank. For now I am going to leave the back bare as I can reach the back to clean it to my surprise.

Then the new plants arrived. I did manage to plant hairgrass and Marsilea through this mucky water. The outstretched hand sized mat from Wasserpest cut into a million bits and it was the perfect amount. Love it and hope it looks as good as the mat did in time. The nice pennywort from sieu004 seems to have shrunk after the move as it broke a couple places. The Crypt pontederiifolia and 'petchii' definitely need work on placement.

In spite of the substrate getting moved around a bit the tank cleared pretty well. The red lilies are short as I trimmed the leaves to the level of the water when I did all the planting.

Next project, finish the inline CO2 reactor to maybe get some bubbles out of the tank and increase efficiency. I noticed a big difference when I took out the wet dry tower. I also want to play with the sump as right now the only filter is the sponge on the overflow!
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Old 04-11-2010, 03:29 AM   #9
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Well this has been an interesting week. I fiddled with the sump and apparently reduced the water surface agitation there so the CO2 level in the tank went way up. Corys and neons looked very bad so I moved them to fresh dechlorinated water overnight. Neons that were moved all died but all but one of the corys survived and are looking okay. One neon went into the overflow and in spite of being rescued with a gravy ladle seems to be okay. Platies were platies and are just fine. Moving the antisiphon hole in the spray bar so it made a little fountain plus putting the sump back the way it was did the trick in time.

I found some cord cover and painted it the color of the wall to hide the lighting cords. Very interesting looking, there is just a shadow showing on the back. I am liking the light back ground. It is spooky when there is a snail on the back panel of the tank though. Need to make a painted cover for my pothos pots now.

DH and I went house plant shopping and found a small Ficus benjamina tree and Boston fern to put on either side of the tank to finish the wall. The Ficus was grown outside so hoping the extra lighting from the aquarium helps its transition into an extension of the jungle within the aquarium. Am expecting to be doing a lot of sweeping on the fern side as well. Those things are messy.





The pennywort is starting to do the thing it does so well. The lilies are NOT giving up, a couple more bulbs have made their presence known. I pulled off half a dozen leaves that were nearly at the top of the tank yesterday. The Anubias is rooting away. Some roots are snaking nicely along the wood but I noticed one of the larger cuttings has roots flailing about. The crypts look very happy and showing growth.

The one bit of driftwood in the front is even greener than last week and there is definitely some algae on the front panel of the tank. All wood is generously covered with snail poop and the corys are stirring up bits of plants constantly but from a distance all looks pretty good. The light from the cheap 6500K bulb on the right hand side of the tank looks better in real life than in the photos or I would be shopping for another bulb.
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:42 PM   #10
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My husband found some photos from the past.

Here is the tank that broke.

Here is its replacement back before the sick dog and the CO2 problems.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:12 PM   #11
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And here it is just before I started working on it today.

Went from 1980's country to mid century modern big time a few years back but my stand cover never made the transition. Have a few ideas and some fence boards outside to play with. I do love the green paint rubbed with oil base stain, just want something less bulky.


Today I remodeled the 16 gallon Rubbermaid tub sump.

I put a dollar store pail inside that tub. Pump and CO2 reactor are in the pail which has a hole cut near the bottom. Between the hole and the pump is a piece of foam with a panel of egg crate holding the foam in place to try to add a bit of debris management to the sump. The pail is shorter than the sump tub so if something happens [like the foam covered hole is far too small and clogs up] water can overflow into the pail and not flood the house.

I also attached a Z made of a couple elbows and bits of PVC piping extending the overflow hose to near the bottom of the sump. This will limit water agitation and CO2 loss plus it is far quieter even when water is low in the sump. I tied a filter bag to the end of that contraption. The slots holding the cord that tie the bag on are cut very long so if the bag clogs water can escape unfiltered. Although the heaters have been loose in this sump for a long time I think I might want to make a loose protective cover for them. Maybe a box of egg crate? Poor bioballs have been evicted. Perhaps I can make a mesh bag for them. Later.
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Old 04-18-2010, 01:51 PM   #12
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Here is the tank just before the water change.




All plants seem happier with more fertilizer especially the crypt pontederiifolia and pennywort, surprised that a tank with relatively low plant mass needs that much. I am turning off one light a couple hours before the timer turns them off and turning it back on a couple hours after it comes on. I like the effect and will get up enough nerve to tackle putting the lights on two times soon. Real soon.

The tank was much cleaner this week. Fewer hair grass leaves came loose, not much debris to be vacuumed out and less green on the glass. When I put in the CO2 reactor I put new tubing in, this stuff is 3/4" and before it must have been 5/8". I was able to pull the tied off airline that restricted flow through the overflow's U tube and no bubbles have formed so far. The hairgrass is bent over as the flow is greater through the tank too.

Went fish shopping and restrained myself from spending a bundle on some amazing plecos. The store had red lizard, golden nugget, zebra otos and many more. I really wanted plain bushy nose or twig and thought there were none. There were $2 black phantom tetras so I asked for a dozen, mostly female to my surprise. When the fish were caught a bushy nose appeared! She? was snagged and a few ghost shrimp came home with me as well. No SAE and otos cost the earth so I didn't get any.

Poor new fishies. They are in a 5 gallon tank but the only extra filter I have is a HOT canister. I put a sheet of filter felt anchored with a rock in the middle of the tank so there is a lower flow section. The shrimp really like to hang on that. Glad I had put a filter bag on the end of the overflow tube this week, gave it a bit of a rinse in tank water and had some bacteria to put into the quarantine tank. The BPT were already displaying by the time lights went out in the big tank so they are done being freaked out by my river rapids of a quarantine tank.

I caught some of the platy fry and will try to grow them out. I suspect any free fry that survive the overflow will grow faster than the ones in the net but until the plants provide more cover I don't know how many can stay out of the overflow.

The red rooted floaters and the platies are not good buddies, caught the platies nibbling the roots. Sure hope they recover.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:17 AM   #13
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Here are some of the new fish in the quarantine tank. The bristlenose is on the rock eating the nasturtium leaf. The filter felt worked great to give the fish a resting place away from the blasting HOT filter.



Okay I cheated and put in some new plants but this week all of a sudden the plants took off. I pruned the Bacopa, wisteria and pennywort for the first time, sticking the prunings back in the grouping of course. New plants, bits of mermaid weed, Hygrophila angustifolia and Limnophila sessiliflora are hiding in there. Okay, H. angustifolia doesn't hide. Love frilly plants, hope these like it in there.

Two platy fry in the main tank were larger than the ones I had corralled so I gave up and let them go. There seems to be enough cover now so they stay all over the tank and not just in the floaters near the overflow. Hope that keeps up. The corys hated the mesh fry enclosure as any bits of food were just out of reach. They spent a lot of time trying to get the bits anyway.

The water turned crystalline this week. I think the plants needed the extra NPK and micros. Or it could be the filter felt sock on the intake tube to the sump did the trick but that doesn't account for the nearly clean glass this week. I didn't clean it. Fewer bubbles in the tank thanks to the inline CO2 reactor too.

Bought two timers and now the lights are each on 10 hours a day with a 2 hour delay. One on at 12 PM, other on at 2 PM, first one off at 10 PM and the last one is off at 12 AM. Super fun working with them as they are the sort with attached pins that depress very easily just a bit and then the light goes on. If the indicator plants bacopa and wisteria still fold up I will cut back on the lighting more.

Since my makeshift planters show up so well with the clear water I will have to cover them. Perhaps I will buy new tubs, paint them the wall color and use as covers? Or just put a bit of foam between the glass and tubs?

The HOT filter media is back in the big tank sump. Next week I am on a hunt for otos.
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:15 AM   #14
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Tank has achieved half fullness! Well if you look from the front anyway. There are even a couple of pennywort leaves at the surface, love that look. The H. angustifolia and C. balansae have made a wonderful tangle with the driftwood. Maybe with the H. a. there I won't be so impatient with the crypt's slow growth.

My lily eradication plan has definitely not worked. A new one is poking up in the hairgrass, one is floating on the right hand side of the tank and there are a couple of bold ones right at the front of the tank! Red hussies!

Been dosing potassium and magnesium and I may have gotten it right. The new leaves on the C. pontederiifolia are looking green and not blotchy green and yellow. The pennywort seems nicer too. The roots weren't kinked badly but the veins were off somehow. This week generous teaspoons of potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, 1/2 tsp phosphorus alternating days with 1/2 tsp of micros and 1 tsp of epsom salt at the water change.

Reduced lighting to 9 hours per bulb per day with one on 2 hours before the other so there is sort of a dawn and twilight. Trying to catch the H. difformis and Bacopa before they fold up leaves.

Speaking of H. difformis, it is quite the ham. It has decided that it really ought to be planted from the front to the back of the tank, small bits in front. I swear it is guiding my forceps, this was NOT my idea.

*I* have looked at my plants and have noticed that I have a couple of leaf shapes with varying sizes. Boldest cut leaf is the H. difformis>mermaid weed>ambulia and round leaved pennywort>bacopa>lindernia>pearlweed. Thinking of playing with forced perspective if I get the urge to redecorate. Pull the lily forward and I have a good reason to get a red myrio or cabomba too!


Some livestock additions this week. Even though DH was there asking how much everything was I still managed to take 10 wild cardinals and 5 otos home with me. Cardinals had been in the LFS tank for several weeks so were drip acclimated and put into the tank. [I use cleaned tubing from my dog's subcutaneous fluid treatments. This time I remembered to leave the clamp on so I could regulate the drip very nicely. Another length of tubing makes a great easy to tie and untie cinch for the filter sock on the sump overflow. Had yet another one under the noisy MH ballast for a while.] The huge otos are being finicky in the 5 gallon tank. They are eating algae wafers but turned down everything else. Cardinals are eating great as are the Black Phantom tetras. The baby platies are getting bolder as well. I have spotted the bristlenose pleco, tummy is nice and fat.

This week the glass definitely needed cleaning. The CO2 ran out and was replaced within 2 days. I am surprised the oldest leaves of the faster growing stems are still going strong if not looking pretty. Algae is present but not taking down those month old leaves. My red root floaters, not so red right now. Am hoping it is just new growth and this week they will plump up and show their stuff looking as good as when sandie sent them to me.

I finally replaced the other MH bulb. I was dreading it after the first one had no red at first at all but it isn't so bad. Far too yellow but you can tell the lilies are a different color from the rest of the plants anyway.

The Boston fern has decided to start dropping leaflets, about time. The Ficus is looking fat and happy though. Pothos behind the tank is looking miserable, the cuttings will not stay in the Schultz Aquatic Soil.

Thanks to Craigthor's used Koralia Nano the front right hand corner was cleaner this week during the water change. The thing is so cute too.
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Old 06-20-2010, 04:49 PM   #15
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Default Perhaps I need to rename this tank?

Am thinking the tank looks okay now. Using thumbnails so click if you would like to see a larger photo.

This is from 5/24. Am thinking I need to work on proportion quite a bit, red lines are supposed to be the focal points. Leaving the HOT on for more circulation. The variegated Ficus behind the tank looks great here, unfortunately I thought it was a number of cuttings stuck in one pot and when I tried to divide it it didn't go well. Still have two bits but they aren't so pretty yet.


Since that was done the fish population has changed quite a bit. Current stocking is
30 cardinals [Happy birthday to me!]
10 black phantom tetras, look to be 4 male and 6 female
7 adult + 2 baby platies at the moment
5 peppered corys
4 otos + 1 possible
1 pair of twig catfish
1 adult female bristlenose
1 subadult BN, hoping male
Stocking is complete, happy with the schooling behavior and all that. The female BN is now named Miss Piggy. I drop in a zucchini chunk and she is the only one on it and won't leave it, she even comes to visit the rock when there isn't any veggie there. Have seen some T-ing with the corys but the nice Grindal worms haven't gotten down to them so doubt I will see any eggs any time soon.
Plants, a bunch more all from SnS here.
Some recent ones are
Rotala sp 'Singapore' Love it starting to get red
Hygrophila sp 'Tiger' Very rangy, on the fence
Ludwigia arcuata Not sure, it hasn't settled down yet
Polygonum sp 'Kawagoneum' Love it. Great color and presence.
Narrow leaved Java fern that looks just great in the tank.

Took out a lot of the driftwood and put the new Java fern and a couple of floating Anubias bits on one. By accident the placement was perfect and it is in the foreground. Mystery fern disease attacked the Marsilea and it is patchy but will recover just fine.

The color of the lighting never improved, platies were orange, cardinals were only blue and the plants were all the same shade of yellow green so I have been shopping for new bulbs. Then the ballasts started driving me nuts and I realized that even the base up bell pendants could be an issue so bye bye old reliable Hamilton bells with Plusrite 6500K bulbs.



Hello FishNeedIt 150 metal halides with electronic ballasts and 8000K bulbs.

Love this set up. Fish have their proper colors, my red plants are red not wine colored and the green plants have different hues. The ballasts are completely silent. There are glitter lines!

The new fixtures went up perfectly. I hadn't a plan when I bought them either. Found an old tool hanger the perfect length and width with holes at the right intervals, miracle number one. Then I found hammered silver spray paint in the garage that actually still worked, miracle number two. Didn't drop the wet bar in the grass or anything when I painted it either AND I *waited* to play with it until the paint was dry. Guess these lights were meant to be. You can see the hanger best in the photo with the lights turned off.

I am developing a lovely case of green water due to the brighter lighting. Glossy white isn't as good a reflector as dimpled shiny stuff! I laid eggcrate to support window screening for now. Yesterday the tank didn't get as green as the day before when it was uncovered so I think it is just the extra intensity causing the problem. Dropping the lighting period to 8 hours with lights staggered by an hour for right now. Going to up the nitrate a bit this week when I restock my fert minder. Going to tinker with the CO2 as well.

When I trim this time I need to pull the wisteria as the bottom leaves aren't contributing except as a substrate for algae and they are too tall. I think I have enough good stuff now so I will be repeating this for the other groupings then I can start trimming them shorter on the left to full height on the right in an attempt at forced perspective.

Not sure about the K nano powerhead placement, will try untangling the rest of the HG to see if it looks better if it all is flowing in the current but the reason for the placement is to keep debris from collecting at the glass and starting up BGA which it is doing at this point. Do like the HOT's flow as the floaters are staying away from the overflow box.
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