Eddie's Journal - 36 gallon Bowfront - Dirted
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:19 AM   #1
Eddie_42
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Eddie's Journal - 36 gallon Bowfront - Dirted


Hi, and thanks for visiting.

This is a journal for my adventure into dirted tanks, and my 2nd tank overall. Up until this point, I have 1 year experience, with a 10gal tank. Tetras only. With a gravel base.

Needless to say this will be completely new to me. I welcome comments and suggestions, in fact I encourage them. I am a scientist/engineer by trade. I am used to adapting and learning along the way.

Over the next 3 weeks from now (Dec 23rd 2013) I will be getting the tank in place, acquiring equipment and plants. With the holidays, shipping is less than efficient, and plants are picky. So the orders will have to wait.

I ordered a 30" - Fugeray Planted Plus for lighting.

I have a 8qt bag of Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix (MGOCPM). and 2x 20lb bags of eco-complete. I have not found any threads linking my tank size to number of bags used. So I am hoping its enough. If not, my Local Fish Store has the Eco-complete on hand. I think the dirt will be enough for sure.

Fish stocking plans:
15-20 Tetra (mix of neons and rummy nose)
5-6 Cory Cats (undecided on breed)
Maybe a larger centerpeice fish, possible Dwarf Gourami

Filter is a Fluval AquaClear 50. Will have a fairly standard layout of foam, Purigen 100ml pack, and the Bio-max packs

Pictures to come.

The Old and the New:

From the 10gal tank, that driftwood and the attached Anubias, and few sprigs of Fern will come along.

The inside of the base was completely empty. Not even notches for shelves. So, I fixed it:


Last edited by Eddie_42; 12-24-2013 at 12:40 AM.. Reason: new pics!
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:05 PM   #2
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I am expecting my light this week. tracking shows Friday for delivery. With that in place, I went ahead and ordered the plants.

The initial plant stock will be:
Red Ludwigia
Dwarf Sag
Jungle Val
Water Wisteria
Amazon Sword
Moneywort

These are in addition to the anubias plant, and few Fern sprigs left in the small tank, already on the driftwood.

These will ship next Wednesday and arrive 2nd day UPS, So Friday I will have plants!
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:30 AM   #3
ShannanD
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Nice bow front . I used two bags of the miracle grow..and wound up having way too thick of a dirt layer. I had many problems with anorobic soil conditions until I could get some stem plants going to help. I then had a layer of flourite and then gravel...each too thick. My newbie mistake. If I remember, someone on here recommended an inch thick per layer....just sharing my mistake with you. Good luck with the tank!
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:50 PM   #4
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Thanks! I was planning on the inch or so of dirt. Though I wont be getting a ruler out and leveling etc....it will be 1"-ish..assuming I even have enough to make it that thick. I also plan on Sifting the dirt through a colander to get the larger chucks of sticks out. Then wetting it just enough to knock the dust out, somewhere I read the term "mashed potato consistency" seems like a reasonable phrase.

I plan on putting down a wall/berm of the Eco around the front and side walls, about 1.5" tall, and as narrow as i can keep it. Then filling the interior pocket with the dirt. So the view from the front wont show the dirt. Then capping with at least 1" of eco, if not 1.5". But I'm not sure how far my 40lbs will go yet.

1 week until I get to find out!
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:29 AM   #5
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Default Let there be light!!!

And on (some random day)....Eddie proclaimed....let there be light!!!


My new Finnex FugeRay Planted+ fixture. 30"

Its purdy. Very low profile. smaller than i expected. and feather light. The feet came exactly as expected. they have an interior wall that detached (optional) thus, i could take that off, and use this light over the top of my Aqueon hood. No bonus mods needed.

Below are a few pics of the process

The box


Then the light in place:


Spillage from the light (its in a corner, thus the wall color change)


I havent fully decided on building a cover for it or not. Maybe see if I can find the plastic cover, and cutting clear the edges. This fixture is too long to sit inside the stock shade, but if the end were taken off of the shade..it would likely be ok. More ponderance is needed on that one

The moonlight in action:


Crappy photo. 5yr old camera and no flash.

My new tools as well:


I also picked up a 100mL packet of Purigen for my filter. While tinkering with the filter I discoverd it had some gunk/dried algea packed into some corners and crevasses. I have it soaking in a vinegar bath tonight. I will attack it with a scrubber tomorrow. Expecting 3" of snow and a high of 20F, seems like a good maintenance day while watching some playoff football.

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Old 01-09-2014, 04:46 PM   #6
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PLANTS IN THE MAIL!!!!! Will get them Friday afternoon

last night I picked up a new foam block, and new bag of ceramic BioMax for the filter. Will be used with the Purigen in-between them. I scrubbed the remainder of the crud out of the filter, its nice and shiny now.

I also opened my bag of dirt and sifted it down, I now have a bucket of just dirt, no sticks. I didnt take a picture last night, I will get those up shortly. A rough calculation shows i have 550 cubic inches of dirt, while the footprint of the tank @1" thick would need less than 400 cubic inches. This is also dry dirt, Im sure it will compact when wet, but I think the one 8qt bag is enough.

Tonight's (Thursday) plan is to get the substrates in. and fill the tank 50% or so. No filter, no light. Then tomorrow I will drain the water to the substrate, plant and refill!
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:59 PM   #7
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I love that dirt, even with the smaller twigs left in it. Plants love it, and as long as it's barely wet when you spread and cap it, it settles well.

I use it under gravel in a 10 and under sand in a 46 bow. It does float some debris if it gets disturbed, but you get used to sucking it up when you change the water.

Looking forward to this build.
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:34 PM   #8
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Im getting pretty torn on the idea of the sift. I originally thought it was a grand idea, but now i fear i may have taken too many benefits out (like the peat).

My ultimate plan was to keep floating debris down. but I think i may re-introduce some or all of the material i sifted out. Only took 45min, so its not a wasted day. I will make a thread in the Substrate forum for some feedback there too.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:28 PM   #9
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My favorite way to do it is like this:

Take the new bags and dump them into the tank. Pick out any very obvious chips or sticks or rocks.

Slowly soak the dirt so it doesn't explode into a mess, and then add about an inch of extra water on top. Any chips or twigs will float to the top. Net them out and then agitate the dirt. Let it settle for 20 minutes and net out more floaters.

After this, just let it sit for a few days with the lid off the tank. The excess water will evaporate and the moist dirt will be ready to cap.

I use an equal depth cap (inch of dirt, inch of sand). If the dirt is too wet, the water will squeeze out while you're capping it - I've left dirt in the tank for up to a week before capping.
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:51 AM   #10
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Default Dirt!!!

Well its a dirted tank now!

The sifted MGOCPM


This sifting was on an 8qt bag of the stuff. I ended up with around 5.5" of material in the bucket. I was a bit worried i has removed too many good things while at work today, but when I got home I looked through my reject pile, and its all stick.



And the tool of mass sifting mayhem (no its not the wifes, I dropped $4 at Ace hardware)
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:58 AM   #11
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I supplemented some clay. picked up the Amaco Red Natural Clay from Micheal hobbys store. $9 for a 10lb brick. My wife is artsy, hopefully she can find a use for the remainder. I used about 1lb according to the bathroom scale (once with just my kid, once with the kid and the clay)



Pre-mix it a bit, to distribute it nicely in the tank.



And finally put it in the tank



THE THERE BE DIRT!! I tossed in the dirt, it soaked up a lot of the water from the EcoComplete, and the clay solution, I stirred it around a bit. Still being on the dry side, I added a few more quarts of water. To get is soaked, but still able to grab handfuls of mud out of it.

The remainder of dirt:


After the dirt soaked up everything it settled nicely. I took a dinner break.
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:03 AM   #12
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Shoveled in some eco-complete to start the cap. I didnt want to just pour it in, worried it might bore into the dirt.



And Finally get to add some water!!



Came out a tad murky, but I really think its average, Not at all concerned by it at the moment



I stopped filling the tank there. I will drain it tomorrow when the plants arrive (20hrs from now). I just wanted to get that initial soak in. Also, from opening the first bag of eco-complete to wrapping up for the night, was around 3 hrs (with a dinner break). I sifted Wednesday, took around 45min. No way I could do plants and all this in one night. Now I'm all set.

Also to note: I dont have the filter on, tank is 1" under the intake anyhow. and the light off.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:36 AM   #13
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Nice start! I love bowfronts. Just put a 36" Finnex planted + on mine. Anyways, can't wait to see what you do with this!
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:05 PM   #14
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The cloudiness is normal with MGOPM, and I'm pretty sure it's normal for Eco as well. It'll pass in a week with a few water changes.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:19 PM   #15
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And then there were plants



--Jungle val across the top, Sword right under it towards the right.
--Stem plants are Wisteria, Money Wort, and Ludwigia
--Dwarf sag in the bottom right

My stand for siphoning. Turns out water is heavy






That large gap in the middle/right will hold the driftwood from the smaller 10gal tank. Once i decide to migrate over.

I have that wood, and 6-10 stems on anacharis in the other tank. Along with 6 tetras (2 rummy nose, and 4 Neon). I need to decide when to switch them over, suppose I just need to keep an eye on the water parameters. and see when it feels right.
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