"In the Beginning" - a beginner's 38-gal. low-tech journey
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:11 AM   #1
jpalimpsest
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"In the Beginning" - a beginner's 38-gal. low-tech journey


After 6 years away from the hobby, I am starting over with a 38 gallon aquarium. I did tinker with plants in my former tanks, but I essentially stuck plants in the tank and let them fend for themselves. With the exception of java fern and anubias, everything died. This time I'm doing my research and making a concerted effort to keep a planted tank.


THE PLAN

fishless cycle

low-tech planted tank with driftwood caves
pool filter sand substrate

potential flora:
java moss
java fern
anubias, various
crypt wendtii, green and/or brown
Windelovís fern
brazilian pennywort
gayii
egeria densa
swords, various
carpet... ?

potential fauna:
school of small, top-dwelling fish
school of cories
a sparkling/pygmy gourami
GBRs, a pair
apistogramma viejita ďgold,Ē a pair
shrimp


starting equipment
38 gallon tank and stand - PetCo
stock hood with 20 watt bulb (will upgrade before adding plants)
stock filter - Aqueon 50
stock heater - AGA200

Last edited by jpalimpsest; 12-10-2012 at 12:46 AM.. Reason: title change
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:12 AM   #2
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Post DAY 1 - Friday, 7 December 2012

I purchased a 38 gallon tank and stand from PetCo with the starter kit. I also bought a piece of driftwood with attached anubias (petite nana?). Iím hoping this will seed the tank. The employee told me it had been in their tanks for 3+ weeks. I know that seeding material from PetCo is risky, but I decided to take the gamble.

I had planned to pick up a bag of filtered pool sand on the way home from PetCo. I called Home Depot and was assured they had it in stock. However, once there, it was nowhere to be found. Lowes didnít have any either. Since it was late, no pool supply stores were open.

I purchased a couple of buckets and some pure ammonia from the grocery store.

Since I was eager to get my fishless cycle started, I did things a bit backward and set everything up without the substrate.

Unfortunately, I forgot to purchase a water parameter test kit. I added ⅓ cup ammonia based on a suggested ratio in a fishless cycle article.

To purchase tomorrow: FPS, water parameter test kit, thermometer
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:13 AM   #3
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Post DAY 2 - Saturday, 8 December 2012

I bought some filtered pool sand from a pool supply store. I obtained a test kit, thermometer, and gravel vacuum from an LFS. I also snagged another piece of driftwood from one of their established tanks to act as seeding material.

I rinsed the FPS and added it to the tank. I turned off the filter for about an hour to let it settle in the tank. I was surprised by how quickly it settled and how little it clouded the water.

24 hours after adding the ammonia, I tested the water. Over 8.0ppm! Whoops. I guess ⅓ cup was too much.

Water temperature: 88íF
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:15 AM   #4
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Post DAY 3 - Sunday, 9 December 2012

Water temperature 88íF
Ammonia still >8.0ppm

I decided to do a 25% water change to try to lower the ammonia level.

Ammonia - ~7.0ppm
Nitrates - 0.0ppm
Nitrites - 0.0ppm

Iíll test the ammonia again tomorrow and may do another water change to lower the level a bit more. Hopefully I havenít entirely thwarted the cycle by starting with such a high ammonia rate or attempting to correct my error with a water change.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:06 AM   #5
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Lightbulb inspiration tanks

I've been sifting through tank photos for inspiration. I think I'd like to set the tank up with driftwood branches and caves on the left, similar to the first photo. On the right, I'd like to do a little beach lined by moss covered stone caves, similar to the second photo.




Thoughts? Comments? Advice?
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:49 PM   #6
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Question lighting question

Would this be an appropriate replacement for my stock light fixture (1 20 watt) for a low light planted tank?

Aqueon T5 Dual Lamp Fixture for freshwater tanks, 36", T5 flourescent lamps - 1 6,700K 21 watt + 1 Colormax 21 watt
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:26 PM   #7
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Looks like you're off to a good start. I can't say for sure but I wouldn't be surprised if the second tank in your examples is high-tech. Having said that, much of this will depend on your light source and plant choice.

I would begin by reading Hoppy's PAR sticky in the lighting section.

You're not likely to get a solid carpet with low-light so I wouldn't peg a lot of hope on that. However, your plant choices seem just about right for a low-light tank.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpalimpsest View Post
Would this be an appropriate replacement for my stock light fixture (1 20 watt) for a low light planted tank?

Aqueon T5 Dual Lamp Fixture for freshwater tanks, 36", T5 flourescent lamps - 1 6,700K 21 watt + 1 Colormax 21 watt
That's probably the perfect amount of light for this project, good luck! I love A. viejita, great choice!
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STS_1OO View Post
Looks like you're off to a good start. I can't say for sure but I wouldn't be surprised if the second tank in your examples is high-tech. Having said that, much of this will depend on your light source and plant choice.

I would begin by reading Hoppy's PAR sticky in the lighting section.

You're not likely to get a solid carpet with low-light so I wouldn't peg a lot of hope on that. However, your plant choices seem just about right for a low-light tank.

I was more inspired by the above tanks' layouts/designs than the actual plants. I'm happy to stick with low light plants. Hopefully I can tweak my layout in a way that doesn't require a carpet. We shall see.

I have done so reading about lighting and understood the wpg issue, I was still uncertain about the color issue. I'm glad the fixture that I chose works. It's readily available at PetCo!

I appreciate your feedback
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaBeaver View Post
That's probably the perfect amount of light for this project, good luck! I love A. viejita, great choice!
Thanks for the feedback I'm excited about A. viejita too!
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:35 PM   #11
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Default There are some low-light carpet options

Quote:
Originally Posted by STS_1OO View Post
You're not likely to get a solid carpet with low-light so I wouldn't peg a lot of hope on that. However, your plant choices seem just about right for a low-light tank.

Though I am not such a big fan of it I have seen many aquarists use Java moss either tied or superglued to slate and make a successfull carpet.

As seen here----> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBFf6ugOPr8

Now:
What I did for my low tech 20L is buy 1 pot of dwarf hairgrass, got a clear container, divided the DHG pot and spread it in the container with MTS & grew it emmersed. After a few weeks the small pot amout of DHG became 4 potfull amounts. Then I planted the DHG as a carpet.

Yes the DHG doesnt really propagate, but i still got the "carpet" look established and doing fine.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:44 PM   #12
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeGREEEN View Post
Now:
What I did for my low tech 20L is buy 1 pot of dwarf hairgrass, got a clear container, divided the DHG pot and spread it in the container with MTS & grew it emmersed. After a few weeks the small pot amout of DHG became 4 potfull amounts. Then I planted the DHG as a carpet.
That's an excellent idea. I may give that a try. Thanks
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:18 AM   #13
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Post hardscape shopping trip

I may have gone a little overboard...
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:55 AM   #14
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Post Day 4 - Monday, 10 December 2012

I still need to soak the driftwood, so this is just rigged up to get an idea of how it would look. The roundish rock on the left is weighing the wood down, it wouldn't be in the final hardscape.

I'm planning to strap some java moss to the rocks on the right and leave the little sand "beach" as is. The drift wood will be loaded with java ferns, java moss, Windelov fern, and anubias. For around the driftwood, maybe a large sword in the back right and some crypts wendtii (brown) and Brazilian pennywort around the base.

Another small water change (4 gal.) to try and ease the ammonia down.
Ammonia = ~6.5

jp
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:24 AM   #15
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You could probably do a decent carpet of dwarf sag. The tanks looking great i cant wait to see it in a few weeks
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