Going to live plants for the first time
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Old 04-17-2014, 07:18 PM   #1
thor79
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Going to live plants for the first time


56k warning page 3 and after.

Current full shot of the tank in progress: (7/1/2014)


(warning #1: links to images contain large images stored on imgur. I'm not linking to them directly so you don't have to load them immediately. Just fair warning if you choose to click)

(warning #2: I am prone to long posts...I will try to include a TLDR when I can)

A little intro since this is my first post on this forum:

I have been in the aquarium hobby for a good chunk of my life. I got started with my dad and his tanks. They were always freshwater, and always used plastic plants. His tanks ranged from a little 10 gallon early on with mollies and guppies...to a 110 gallon with Discus and Veiled fin Angels. Most of this was while I was in High School. When I went to college, my interest in the hobby died off, and really, so did his. 10 years passed (my 20's). I didn't resume it until recently. Over the course of the past few months I've been getting caught up on the hobby. I learned undergravel filters aren't nearly as popular anymore. I learned live plants are huge these days. I learned about aquascaping.

A coworker of mine got a tank for his desk...a little 6 Gallon rimless for a betta named Beta (we're software Devs, ya, a bit corny). My boss (who is actually leaving the company tomorrow) is also into aquariums and, most importantly, live plants. He is going to be assisting me with getting my live plants going. Everything around that little tank sparked my interest in getting going in the hobby again. I picked up a single tank, a 20 gallon high.

TLDR: Grew up helping my dad with his tanks but stopped with aquariums when I went to college and through my 20's. Recently got interested again due to an aquarium at work that a coworker established. My boss is heavily into live plants and is mentoring me a bit on it.

I setup the 20 gallon, learning the cycling process which I never really learned with my dad. Yeah I've lost fish in that learning process. After getting it setup just about how I wanted it, I became dissatisfied. I learned my dad still had his old 55 gallon aquarium with stand (wood, but not sure what kind), some gravel, glass top, and fluorescent light. He said I could have it all for $75, so I jumped at the chance.

I set that tank up as well. I had some big plans for it, but my interest has been waning...I've been dissatisfied with the state of my tanks. I want something more.

I want to do live plants. I also want to do saltwater at some point...but that's for later and another forum.

So this thread is dedicated to my transition to live plants. This is the state of my current tanks:

The 20 Gallon High
http://imgur.com/o7duiDK

The 55 Gallon
http://imgur.com/8RzNLPF

The 20 gallon will be the home of my first live plants. I'm using it as a testbed to figure things out, maybe even try some aquascaping. My ultimate plan is to get a tank to replace the 20 gallon where it is currently at (it will be moving once I take it down to do the plants. I'm looking at a GLA 48.2G tank (http://greenleafaquariums.com/produc...m-48-2gal.html) for when I get the bugs worked out with my 20 gallon setup.

The 20 gallon will be a quarantine/hospital tank for my bigger tanks. So it's getting moved into my office (mostly unused office) once the fish get moved to the 55 gallon. I'm going to strip it down completely and start over from scratch. I will be starting to move the fish tonight.

I was going to go straight for the 48 gallon first, but I reconsidered as I was sitting here at lunch. Since this is entirely new to me...I know there are bound to be problems I run into even if I do all the research in the world. I want the 48 gallon to be my showpiece, so I want to do it right on that tank first.

TLDR: I have a 20 gallon high and a 55 gallon. The 20 gallon will house my first live plants and become a quarantine/hospital tank and a testbed for live plants and aquascaping. I have bigger plans for a 48 gallon tank that will eventually be my showpiece.

Latest Pics always available in my Full Album: http://imgur.com/a/KfreY

Last edited by thor79; 07-03-2014 at 04:39 PM.. Reason: adding current shot of the tank
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Old 04-17-2014, 07:39 PM   #2
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Hello and welcome to TPT!!!
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Old 04-17-2014, 08:37 PM   #3
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Welcome! Looking forward to watching how you do with your first planted tanks
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Old 04-17-2014, 11:18 PM   #4
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Welcome to TPT!

I'd encourage you to set up a low light/low tech tank the first go round, this will really help with the learning curve, as CO2 is then optional and fert dosing not nearly as big a deal since the plants grow more slowly (easier/more time to identify problems and figure out what to do about them then in a high light system- where small problems can become huge relatively quickly). Then you can decide if you want to step up to high light/high tech with your next tank(s).
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Old 04-18-2014, 12:53 AM   #5
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Thanks for the welcome!

I've done a bit of of my own research on low light vs. high light...and also heard from my (now former) boss about his experiences with CO2. Sounds like solid advice to me.
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Old 04-18-2014, 02:31 AM   #6
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The lights on the 55g, one of them will be good for the 20g tank...but not enough for plants in the 55g. These links will get you a footing in lights and ferts.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=107303
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=184368
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
The lights on the 55g, one of them will be good for the 20g tank...but not enough for plants in the 55g. These links will get you a footing in lights and ferts.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=107303
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=184368
Thanks for the links. I had already read Hoppy's post on Lighting, it was provided by my boss. The other link I've read in various forms, though it was a more thorough explanation of the CO2 diffusion than I've seen.

The light currently on the 20G is a Marineland 18-24" Single Bright LED light. After reading what I've read, my plans were to already replace it. I'm aware that the light on the 55G would be a good amount of light for the 20G, but I have no plans to move it over right now. I'd rather get a solution tailored to 20G. FYI, the light on the 55 is a Current 36-48" Satellite Freshwater LED+. I know that for the 55 that is considered Low Light. When I put plants in the 55 (no time soon), I will be upgrading that as well.

Last night I moved all fish over to the 55 and worked on taking down the 20G. I have some prep work to get it's space ready for it though.
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:26 PM   #8
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I'm still working on prepping the area the 20 is moving to. It's going in my office which used to look like a cross between a packing center disaster and a server room where someone didn't care much how they ran wires. Last night was removing the packing center disaster. A little bit at a time.

I did decide on the substrate I'll be using. I'm going with ADA Aquasoil Amazonia with ADA Aquasoil Amazonia Powder as a topper. I'll probably be ordering it later this week. I'm getting 1 9L bag and 1 3L bag of the regular, and a 9L bag of the Powder. That should allow me to get 3 inches of the regular and 1 of the Powder for a good layer of substrate (with a bunch of powder left over)

The order I'm going in:
1. prep work...in progress
2. move the tank
3. add substrate
4. add hardscape
5. fill and cycle tank
6. upgrade lighting
7. add plants and let them develop a bit, diagnosing and resolving any issues that arise
8. add fish once the plants are established and healthy

I'm going to be converting the filters I had on the tank for use with the plants. I have two Marineland Pengium 150B's that were on it, so I'll be removing the carbon that comes with the filters. I've read it's a good idea to replace it with a sponge filter (or some other mechanical filter and some additional bacteria media inside the filter housing to boost the bacterial filtration.

Those filters are currently in operation on the 55g tank. I moved them over to preserve the bacteria that had been growing on the bio-wheels (the tank was fully cycled before I took it down). Those should be perfect for kick starting the cycling once I get the tank setup. And yes I'm aware of the ammonia that the Aquasoil produces initially. I have an API master test kit and I will be testing to see when that dies down.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:35 AM   #9
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Came up with a solution to the filter media needed for the Penguin filters. I removed the plastic backing form the Rite Size filter cartridges in order to remove all carbon from the cartridges. I left in some of the plastic in order to preserve the rigid nature of the cartridge. I think the solution works quite well. I should be able to reuse the filters and just clean them occasionally as long as they hold together.

Try #1 - not so successful. I removed too much of the plastic and so the filter sags when the water is flowing against it.
front shot: http://imgur.com/Z95Loew
top shot: http://imgur.com/HmvFHQI

Try #2 - left on the edge of the box that held the screen which the carbon hid behind, and as a result, the plastic doesn't sag at all when the water flows through the filter.
front shot: http://imgur.com/DXjNzHc
top shot: http://imgur.com/aV5l7vY

Comparison of the two different ways I modified the cartridges: http://imgur.com/tD9OAwy

Note: It doesn't take much to cut the plastic, so BE CAREFUL with the knife you use if you want to do this. I gashed my left index finger in the process of doing it. Nothing a band-aid wouldn't take care of though.
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Old 04-23-2014, 05:44 PM   #10
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I ordered the regular Amazonia Aquasoil and some La Plata Sand to get me started.
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Old 04-29-2014, 12:28 AM   #11
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So I tried to apply the backing to the aquarium...didn't turn out so good. I used some Plasti-Dip to try to apply a uniform coating to the back, but it didn't turn out so well IMO. The nice thing about that stuff was it was cheap and easy to remove. Pictures and Notes have been added to my album:

http://imgur.com/a/KfreY

The start of the substrate gets here tomorrow. I'll be picking up some hardscape from some local shops to play around with for a while until I get something I like. I have a sketch of an aquascape I want to do...which I will post later after I'm done. No plans to flood it until after I've gotten something I like. (the flood of the tank for the backing was just to see what the backing would look like with Water in the tank)
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:15 PM   #12
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I have been looking over my lighting options recently, since after the hardscape I will be upgrading my lighting. I want to start with Medium light...but I also want the option to go to high light eventually if I decide to kick it up.

Looking at the options Current USA has (the light I have on my 55), I'm not really impressed. Their dimmable options don't have enough light, and their high power lights aren't dimmable other than basic sunrise/sunset dimming. I already have a single ramp timer on my 55 to dim in the morning and evening.

I was looking at Finnex's options, but it looks like either low-medium or high light...nothing seems to be in between. I also don't see any dimming options to cut back the high light.

The third option, which seems to fit the best, is going the Build-My-LED route. I think I may combine a high par light with their controllable dimmer to dim it down. If my understanding of their controller is correct, it will allow me to set a dimmer level of the light along with being able to dim it for sunrise/sunset. If that's true, it would be exactly what I want, since I could turn down a high par light of their's to something more appropriate for the tank I maintain.

Also looking at Apex controllers...but I only just found out about those.

Anyone have thoughts on that? Still researching my options so I'm all ears. I'd rather avoid having to replace a light just so I can go high light eventually.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:50 PM   #13
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Default Going to live plants for the first time

If you want to eventually go to high light then you should go with a Build My LED xtrabright and their dimmer. Then you can have low all the way up to high. Currently these are some of the best lights out, although Finnex I believe is working on a new extra bright line and a dimmer, only bad part is they people that already have a finnex light won't be able to use the dimmer.

As for the apex system, I have a reefkeeper ,which is the same thing just a different brand and less flashy, and I think it's really cool! It's not necessary but there are a ton of things you can do with them. If you don't mind the expense of it go ahead and get one or two! You most likely won't regret it after you figure out how to set it up.
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Old 04-29-2014, 10:49 PM   #14
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My ultimate plans for this current tank include a carpeting plant of some sort, and nearly all of those require high light (especially the ones that I like the looks of). I'm going to start with some low to medium lights so I don't have to jump into CO2 quite yet.

Looks like the dimmer for BML just came out, so I may wait a bit until users here get their's and try them out. It's definitely the cheaper option compared to Apex, so I think I may start with that.

Also found some articles about DIY controllers, which I have some experience (the controllers not the application to aquariums) with already (I'm an electronics geek and pretty good with electrical components), so I'm looking into that as well.
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Old 05-17-2014, 08:22 PM   #15
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So the backing to my tank is now solved. I applied some Artscapes Frosted Window Film to the back to give it a frosted look. I'm experimenting with some LED lighting I had laying around which I originally got from IKEA for my office monitor.

http://imgur.com/a/KfreY
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