Rob's adventure converting to planted tank
Planted Tank Forums
Your Tanks Image Hosting *Tank Tracker * Plant Profiles Fish Profiles Planted Tank Guide Photo Gallery Articles

Go Back   The Planted Tank Forum > General Planted Tank Forums > General Planted Tank Discussion


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-01-2013, 12:56 AM   #1
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

Rob's adventure converting to planted tank


Hello,
I'm trying to do some research before diving head first in to converting my FW tank to a planted tank. A little background info, I started with a 10 gallon tank about a year ago and initially I just caught some small fish in the creek next to my house and put them in it. I had a small channel catfish (about 3-4") and several shiners in it until the catfish started eating all of the shiners so I got rid of the catfish and put more shiners in that I caught in a minnow net in the river. I added a couple crayfish and then noticed the crayfish were eating shiners too if they could catch them... so I ended up emptying everything out of my tank and it sat empty for a month or two (still running) until my dad was visiting and gave me a hard time about having a fish tank with nothing in it... so I went to the store and bought some fancy guppies to put in it. Back in about April of this year they guppies had been breeding and overpopulating the tank like crazy so I decided to upgrade to a bigger tank.

I bought a 55 gallon tank and stand from a guy on craigslist and he had an angel fish that he gave me with it, tank had been set up and cycled before I bought it, but looking back I wish I had got rid of the angel and broke the tank down completely and scrubbed it out good because he let it get out of control with thick algae growing in it. I washed it out the best I could but I had left the stone and a couple inches of water in it and looking back it has caused me a lot of grief fighting algae since then, but I think I have it under control (although my phosphates are still really high).

I've since set my 10 gallon tank back up and have it running as a nano reef tank that I'm slowly adding corals to and have a yellow watchman goby, tiger pistol shrimp, and a peppermint shrimp in. But I'm not here for advice on that so back to the 55 gallon FW tank...

-55 gallon tank
-Penguin 200 HOB filter w/bio wheel (currently no filter media in it, but I did just buy a new carbon filter to toss in after water changes, probably undersized for the tank but I mostly use it just for water flow)
-currently running an airstone in it, but don't plan on using it long term - thought about buying a powerhead to add more flow to the tank and surface disruption...
-Hydor theo 300W heater set so tank is normally 74F (although looking now its up to 77F)
-4 ft T12 (I think its T12 anyhow) light - not sure exactly what it is, was included with the tank when I bought it
-0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate, 10+ phosphate (API test kit)
-Stock consists of (3) cory cats, (2) dalmation mollies, (2) silver mollies, (1) tetra of some kind (just added yesterday that was given to me), (1) betta (also given to me yesterday), and a bunch of fancy guppies in all different stages of life, (1) Chinese algae eater, as well as someplace between (6 - 12) ghost shrimp (started with 12 but I know a couple died that I took out and others might have died and been eaten by the other shrimp, I can only ever count about 6 at a time but others could be hiding elsewhere) and a bunch of snails that hitchhiked in from my previous attempt at adding some plants and have now reproduced in to large quantities (not plague like proportions yet, but they do a good job of keeping most algae under control so I haven't attempted removing them yet, but I know some do get sucked out every time I siphon the gravel...

Now on to the problem... I currently have several fake plants for cover as well as a little tiki hut and a shipwreck. My fiancÚ hates the look of the tank currently with the fake stuff in it and wants me to make it more natural looking... we scavenged the beach and found some driftwood which I brought home and let it dry out, and now have it soaking in totes and a trash barrel for the past week or two, keep changing the water to try and get all the tannins out. I haven't decided what pieces to use yet but will see how it all looks once its done soaking. We also gathered a bunch of bigger rocks (not huge, but stuff that I could make some rock piles out of) out of the creek that I need to scrub off still.

So now I need to start researching what I need to do to convert my FW tank to a planted tank. I'm thinking I am going to remove my gravel because its pinkish rocks that don't look very natural and replace them with something better for a planted tank, any suggestions?

I plan on replacing the T12 light with a grow light (think I saw Wal-Mart carried them, or I have a Petco, Petsmart, or last resort due to highest price on lights would be Preuss Pets in Lansing) - anything specific I need to consider?

What else do I need to do to prepare for a successful planted tank? I think once I gather everything up to do it I would probably remove the gravel from my tank then siphon everything out good, leaving enough water so I don't have to transfer my fish out, then put the new substrate in (might need to do it in phases so I don't get rid of all of my bacteria, although I do have the biowheel in my filter (not sure if it really houses the bacteria it claims to or not?).

Other suggestions?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	2013-06-30 19.52.35.jpg
Views:	80
Size:	97.2 KB
ID:	167337  

rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 07-01-2013, 01:03 AM   #2
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

another note - I currently do a weekly water change where I change anywhere from 5 to 10 gallons or more depending on how much detritus is coming out as I siphon the rocks. I purchased a spectrapure 90gpd refurb RO/DI filter and have been using the RO/DI water for the past month and have started having a few guppies die lately (haven't been too concerned since I have plenty of guppies), but just started reading that maybe RO water (let alone DI) isn't good for FW tanks? What is everyones take on that? Is RO/DI ok? Should I use RO instead? I have really hard well water so battled algae when I originally started my tank with tap water so really don't want to go back to that... do I need to add something to the water to condition it for FW fish?
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-01-2013, 01:39 AM   #3
Rodneywt1180b
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Centralia, WA, USA
Posts: 56
Default

I think you'll be happier if you get the fish out of the tank before you start changing out the gravel. Most likely the gravel will be a murky mess once you start stirring things up. To me it would be easier knowing the fish were out of the way. I can't answer about what's killing your guppies. There won't be any nutrients in your RO water but I wouldn't think it would be harmful in itself. Worst case would be you would need to dose the trace minerals and nutrients that would normally be available in tap water.
Rodney
Rodneywt1180b is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-01-2013, 02:52 AM   #4
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

I'm thinking I would go with either the eco-complete or fluorite substrate. I could probably switch my existing trash can that I store water in to RO (since its 36 gallons, and if I quit using RO/DI for my FW tank then my SW tank would only need 1-2 gallons of RO/DI a week... could go with a smaller holding tank for it and make my 36 gal trash can an RO holding tank instead). This would possibly allow for a little more nutrients in the water... and I've heard mixed thoughts on drinking RO/DI water (which we are currently drinking since I set up the unit a month or so ago..), so that would let us drink the RO instead of the DI...

but I could pick up some replenish too since it might be easier...
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-02-2013, 03:33 AM   #5
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

so is it as simple as that? Add a good substrate for growing plants, add plants, add CO2 if you want better growth? That's all there is to it? I've been reading and learning how to set up my reef tank successfully for months... I would expect a little more to it than that for a planted tank too... maybe that's just because I failed when I added aponogeton (sp?) bulbs to my first tank, they grew for a while then died... but I had just regular gravel and stock lighting...
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-02-2013, 08:21 PM   #6
fish_22
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Alaska
Posts: 187
Default

You also need the right amount of lighting in proportion to nutrients and CO2. if you are looking at doing a low tech/lower maintenance tank then you need low-moderate lighting. If you are looking at doing a high tech/higher maintenance tank then you need moderate-high lighting and CO2 and fertilizer. Also, before you buy plants, research them and find out what lighting they require (especially pay attention to the lighting requirements because, while a low light plant can usually live in high light, a high light plant will probably die in low light) as well as their preferred water parameters and temperature. If you can accommodate these demands, the plants will grow better. I hope that helps good luck
fish_22 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-02-2013, 08:40 PM   #7
Italionstallion888
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (6/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Olathe, KS
Posts: 1,451
Default

I have a 55 gallon tank, and I only use R/O water. I also treat it with ferts

My thought process, and I've had this discussion with others. If you have good water/bio in your tank. You are adding blank slate water to be molded by the bio in your tank. I do my water changes on Sunday mornings. I test my water before, after and 2 days later.

looking at my numbers over the last 4 weeks

Ph: 7.6
high ph: 8.0
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 10

This week my high ph went down to 7.6, but I had to do some major water changes because of the heat. I do 15 gallons weekly on the 55. R/O is the best thing you can do, if done right.
Italionstallion888 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-03-2013, 12:00 AM   #8
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

OK thanks to you both, I don't really plan on going too fancy or anything, I'm looking to just get some normal seaweed type stuff and a little bit of variety but nothing major... I ordered 60lbs of eco-complete today because I went to 3 LFS yesterday and none of them had it, petsmart had fluorite but only 30lbs of it...

I'm glad to hear your take on R/O italion, eventually I want to try the DIY CO2 wine that I saw on here, so I'll add CO2 and will do some more reading about what kind of fert to get... the fertilizer doesn't have an impact on the fish you can keep? I'm assuming you have to get a special fert with no phosphates in it?
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-10-2013, 02:08 AM   #9
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

I received my eco-complete today. I had checked before I left work to see if UPS showed it as delivered, so then I ran to Lansing and picked up some plants and then came home and started working on the upgrade... I brought a 36 gallon trash can inside and siphoned water from my tank to the trashcan, I moved all of my fake plants and decorations in to the trashcan with a heater and airstone while I was working on the upgrade.

Then I scooped all of the fish out and put them in the trashcan as well, and then removed the pink rock substrate that was in the tank, followed by siphoning out anything I could to get the tank as clean as possible. I picked out as many of the snails as I could find left in the tank and had the water down to about an inch or two, then I dumped in my 3 bags of eco-complete. My initial thought was that I wished I had bought a fourth bag, 3 bags (60lbs) seems OK, but 4 bags (80lbs) probably would have been better...

Then I went out and sorted through the driftwood that I had been soaking. I had pulled this all out Wednesday last week anticipating that I would be adding it, so wanted to get a good look at it when it wasn't completely soaked - MISTAKE! We'll get to that shortly...

I decided on one big piece as a center piece, then two smaller pieces that were kind of neat looking to set on either side of the big piece. I placed them in my tank where I wanted them, then put a little water back in so there was 4-5"... then I started planting my plants... I have about 15 or 16 pieces of water wisteria that I planted in the back corners of the tank, then I had a couple bunches of frill plant that I planted at the back towards the center of the tank, I bought an amazon sword that I planted in the middle of the tank to the left of the center piece and it had a little shoot growing off of it that had roots growing so I plucked it off and planted it in the middle center of the tank underneath the center piece... then I had a couple bunches of java fern that the guy at petsmart told me not to stick in the dirt or it wouldn't grow, so I attached one bunch each to the small piece of driftwood on both the left and right sides of the tank...

I started filling the water back up and then realized that the driftwood had dried out too much and is now floating... so I tried setting rocks on top of the small pieces, then filled more water and it floated up from under the rocks... so I tied rocks to the small pieces and then set more rocks on top of them and continued filling my tank, get almost to the top and then the big center piece started to float =( FAIL!

So now I have my little tiki hut propped on the piece of driftwood in the center and RH side, and my shipwreck on the center and LH pieces, and a big rock on the center piece and top of the tiki hut, and its still not sitting on the substrate... so I'm hoping that its not going to all come crashing down whenever the driftwood gets fully saturated... my tank looks like a disaster right now... I'll post a picture tomorrow at work, and hopefully in a couple days it will be saturated enough that I can take the extra stuff out and take a nice picture of the tank how I planted it....
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-10-2013, 03:42 AM   #10
Italionstallion888
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (6/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Olathe, KS
Posts: 1,451
Default

I spent less than 200.00 on my r/o set up. Built the frame, trash can for holding and a 30 gallon car wash barrel for the bad. Makes life easy when you have it on hand. When we buy a house next year it will ve rigged up on a float.

Hope your driftwood sinks soon.
Italionstallion888 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-10-2013, 07:42 AM   #11
Rodneywt1180b
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Centralia, WA, USA
Posts: 56
Default

Sorry about your driftwood, OTOH it's not every tank that has a treehouse in it.
Don't worry, it does get better. Worst case would be to remove the driftwood, attach it to some slate tiles and re-install it. Given the driftwood is wet I woud drill the tiles and screw the wood to them. You can drill the slate either with a masonry bit or they sell glass and tile drilling bits that work by friction if you prefer. Money is about the same IIRC. Kind of a pain so soon after tearing the tank down once, but it may be worth it.
Rodney
Rodneywt1180b is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-10-2013, 01:55 PM   #12
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

here are two pics, the one shows the driftwood before I started filling the tank back up, the other is the mess that I have with the shipwreck and tiki hut and rocks sitting on top. I did end up adding some fishing line to hold the rock and tiki hut in case the driftwood does sink.

I placed all of my fake plants back in the tank too, figuring there was bacteria build up on them that would hopefully keep my tank from kicking off another cycle, so I'll remove them once the tank has been set up like this for a couple weeks... hopefully my driftwood will sink before then because having all the extra stuff in there is blocking light from my plants. My tank does look a lot better now, even with all the extra crap in it... before it seemed kind of empty...

I won't have a chance to play around with it much tonight because I'm going scuba diving after work, but tomorrow I'll be back trying to get it situated better...
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	2013-07-09_18.26.25.jpg
Views:	32
Size:	87.6 KB
ID:	172889  

Click image for larger version

Name:	2013-07-09_20.35.58.jpg
Views:	33
Size:	80.9 KB
ID:	172897  

rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-10-2013, 07:51 PM   #13
jkpedrita
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (12/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Posts: 342
Default

I love that drift wood! It's going to look awesome when it sinks.
For what its worth, I think you need more light intensity. One t-12 is not very much light at all. Changing the bulb to a grow bulb won't give you more light just a different spectrum of it. Check out the lighting threads especially Hoppys post about PAR.
jkpedrita is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-12-2013, 01:00 AM   #14
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

well I'm hoping the driftwood stays down, I might have to try the slate suggestion this weekend. I am kind of waiting for that so I can take the extra stuff out and see what the tank is going to actually look like, then might need to add more light later... hoping that the plants will be OK in the meantime.

I tested my tank when I got home tonight and have a little ammonia and nitrite spike... (both about 0.25ppm) argh! I had a bottle of ammo-lock that I put some of that in and had some Pro-Z, Zeolite that claims to remove ammonia that I put in my filter for a day or two...may have to do a large water change to try and dilute it more until the bacteria builds back up. I was hoping by putting all of the fake plants and decorations back in the tank it wouldn't cause it to cycle again but such is my luck...
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-12-2013, 01:01 AM   #15
rininger85
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Charlotte, MI
Posts: 288
Default

if I do decide on adding more light I'll probably build a custom hood for my tank to house some other lights in it...
rininger85 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply

Tags
converting, planted 55

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 11:11 AM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright Planted Tank LLC 2012