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Old 07-11-2013, 12:15 AM   #1
norbot
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1st Planted Tank - 55g "Wannabe-agumi"


Greetings and welcome to my first planted tank.

I have been to hell and 1/2 way back with this 55g started in December 2012. That awful feeling of being able to grow only the most vile and putrid algae, witnessing in horror as your plants go from perfect healthy green to sickly pale yellow and finally to a pile of brown mush, vomiting a little in your mouth as you realize the amount of money wasted on idiotic ideas and purchases.......

I joke (kind of)

Seriously have to thank TPT, I never would have stood a chance without this site



I hope you will laugh at and/or learn from my mistakes; as my hindsight is fairly good, I can now see the humor and lessons in most things I've done with this tank.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I set this up (hence the name), today I am only slightly closer to getting a clue. With that I'll say I am planning to tear this sucker down, probably within the year, replace it with a bigger tank with more depth and I can do a lot more things correctly from the beginning.

I took some pics as I went with the best intentions of starting a journal, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with? So you will just have to deal with seeing the progression from December til now (mostly) all at once. I am not a photographer, if you can't stand looking at poor quality photos my suggestion is to leave. apologies

Here's the ealiest pic I can find, note the awesome equipment in painful view

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Ok so it's a feable attempt at placement using some cheap lace rock, I know it's not great, but for my first attempt ever at "wannabe-agumi" the rock layout could have come out looking worse imo,

Here are some more earlier photos
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Here's when I masterfully planted some dhg, see it thrive?
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At this point I started some diy co2......... I wasted so much sugar on this! I started with a one 2L bottle, then 2....then 6! Lol, 6 bottles of hangover wine all daisy chained together, the worst part was that for a month or so, I naively thought I could get away without using check valves on each bottle, this resulted in nearly all the co2 being wasted as rotation of new bottles would just pump the co2 into the old bottles!

Also I made a pathetic attempt at a reactor, and when I couldn't get it primed when connected to the eheim, I decided I should make a separate
dedicated line with its own pump, and I figured an eheim intake strainer would work for the output! And all this pointless effort just for some
crappy diy co2!

Needless to say, these efforts got me nowhere except for some exp. points I guess:

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Like a pro, with no research I confidently "planted" the java fern:

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At this point, as many do, I decided this wasn't working because I needed more light. So I got some rain gutter and 4' t5hox2 ballast from hd, crammed it all
in there, sat it right on top of the tank and fired it up. Here's the results:

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Look at all the pearling tho:

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I didn't take pics of the worst of it, but you get the idea, imagine this just smothering the entire tank. Thinking back, I was so stubborn about the light. I just convinced myself that the tank needed so much light and I deserved to look at the tank as much as possible given the amount of money spent, so I kept the light right on the rim of the tank and ran it for 12-13 hours a day for over a month.

So, then I got it into my head that my water was too hard, the plants weren't doing well and cardinals are soft water fish. I bought the stupid water softner
"pillow"...what a joke, it did nothing. I then read you can put peat in the filter to soften water. So I put two small bags in the 2215.

I realized it did nothing and read that you have use a lot to see the effects.......so I figured I would make it work. I emptied out
the entire 2215, completely filled a pillowcase with peat and crammed it in there, no soaking or anything.

A week or two later, I confirmed that it was working.....it was also leaching massive organics and nastiness into the water, combined with the excess of light and little co2, and only flourish, it was the perfect algae storm. For the next month the tank just suffered:

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The more everything died, the more I obsessively read until I was finally convinced I needed less light. I raised the light several inches
and reduced photoperiod to 8 hrs. The rain gutter "light" was getting so hot I found an old T12 grow light from the 70's, it had a decent
reflector. I put the t5ho guts in there and it stopped overheating.

I scrapped the pillowcase of peat idea, put the 2215 back into proper operation. Can't confirm this, not being a ninja turtle, but that sack of peat smelled exactly like the worse part of the sewer when I pulled it out of the eheim!

Spent too much money on a poorly concieved reg and hd needle valve, found a 20# tank for $40, did a large trim and cleanup and tried a minor rock rescape. I would say it was the turning point of my first planted tank:

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Old 07-11-2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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I also started fiddling with the background around this time. I went and got a piece of acrlyic for $15 and some frost paint for $5.
I poorly cut the acrylic to "fit" the tank and sloppily painted it. Luckily you cant see the sloppiness as much as I thought it would show.

Around this time, I finally began fertilizing. Not wanting to order anything online, (against the advice of every person I asked about it on tpt) I went out and got:

Hi yield stump remover- I found msds for this claiming it's 99.8% pure KNO3, $6 for 1.5 lbs but it's small pellets not powder

Fleet enema- Buying enemas is only fun once, plus it contains sodium, I'd advise against this one

KCl water softener crystals- supposedly pure kcl, I would crush it up and make a solution. $20 got me such a big bag I doubt I could ever
use all of it, no matter how bad my mts gets .......it's massive. But at the end of the day, it adds a lot of chloride which isn't needed.

SafeStep ice melter- I only dabbled with this as I doubted my need for calcium

Epsom Salt- tried and true, enough said

Flourish for micros

This stuff at least works somewhat, but obviously isn't the best

I will say tho that compared to doing nothing, these diy ferts helped:

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Proud of myself for improving plant health for the first time since I began months ago, I increased the cardinal school:

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I seriously love these fish, they can be boring but I find them relaxing to watch even when being boring. On another tank I tried some
harlequins and those guys are very.........erm, "twitchy" I guess, I don't like the movement as much as the cards.

I solved the hard water dilemna by picking up a $30 RO filter off cl, true I then spent $70 on new filters/membrane, but still not too bad.
I started feeding a varied diet of quality frozen and dried foods, these fish are so colorful now, time to get some more.

Although pleased that the plants perked up, they still didn't thrive, especially eleocharis montevidensis, aka giant pain in the hairgrass.

I have a love/hate reltionship with this plant. Of all the plants I've tried, I loathe this one but I love how it looks. It's a bummer because if you trim it, it does not grow back like dhg, the end just turns brown and the whole blade slowly dies and dissolves into the water.

For the longest time I had bad oil slicks on the surface, then one day I brought myself to actually get behind the rocks and trim it all the
way down to the substrate, turns out there was a lot of rotting 1"-2" little stubs missed when trimming. The next day, the oil slicks were gone!
Whenever they return I now first go on the hunt for rotting giant hairgrass, it is most often the culprit.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:36 AM   #3
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Here's one sort of showing some equipment
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I ordered the gla ferts 3-4 weeks ago, and did a big trim. While I waited for the ferts in the mail I read that often you get enough k from kno3 alone. This may be true for some but not for me, it was the first time I saw a direct cause and effect that I could confidently trace back to lack of fertilization.

In this case I stopped dosing kcl and fleet enema for about a week hoping that the abundance of chloride and/or salt was causing problems. I didn't notice til the damage was done but on closer inspection nearly every leaf of my java fern was full of ugly brown holes looking exactly like potassium and/or phosphate deficiency.

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Does it seem weird that only the java fern showed clear symptoms? I would have thought that the dhg would be the first to go because of jf's reputation of being a hardy low light plant.

Just recently I sadly took it all out removed every leaf with k/p def. symptoms, cut up the rhizome and replanted. It's a lot less java fern than I had just a while ago. I replaced some microsword with dhg I also added some anubius and a sword and a small amount of s. repens.

I am also currently experimenting by placing window screen over half of the tank. I'll keep co2 and ferts the same and see if there's a difference in plant/algae growth on either side of the tank. That way I'll know if I should screen the whole tank or if that cuts par down too much.

I would love to use the par chart, but with diy fixture I'm not sure.

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All things considered, this tank has been a wild ride and taught me so much about what to do and not do. Even though I'm not in love with the hardscape or planting, I still enjoy this tank and it has brought me fulfillment and knowledge I was not looking to gain.

So I wrote a bunch of words that will likely be skipped over, so to sum it all up:

ealiestpic:
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latestpic
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Thanks for reading and/or looking, look out for the new tank which will replace this one, maybe I'll even do a real journal
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:00 AM   #4
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It's funny, you really pick on yourself, but honestly you have just been learning, and you are doing great. There is no reason to scoff at oneself when you learn from what you are doing. I know, because I'm hard on myself too.

But, you stuck with it, and you persevered. Your current tank shot looks really good. Your hardscape is is solid and your plants are filling in.

Keep it up!
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:02 AM   #5
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Well written. And lots of valuable what not to dos in this. I have to say I enjoyed the learning curve you so awesomely described. U stuck it out and I have no doubt u will dial it all in and this tank will be spectacular. It's a total 180 from what it was so the skies the limit
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:04 AM   #6
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I love the green dust algae on the rocks.. looks very good
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:07 AM   #7
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looks great man are u going to add anymore plants?
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:08 AM   #8
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Lol, thanks.......didn't mean to sound too whiny or anything, I just find it funny and have to laugh at myself thinking back.

You're right tho, I have come a long way and learned a lot, hopefully I will continue to improve!

The algae look on the rock grew on me, I tried fighting it for a long time, but then decided it looked "aged" and decided to leave it be

Would not be opposed to more plants.........
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norbot View Post
The algae look on the rock grew on me, I tried fighting it for a long time, but then decided it looked "aged" and decided to leave it be
Definitely - I don't know why some people get rid of it. Makes hardscapes look so prehistoric which is great. Now green dust on the glass is annoying!

I don't think you need anymore plants. a iwagumi style tank is very limited on different types of plants, you just need your background to fill in. I can already see what it will look like having the (is that S repen?) around the rocks fill around them and your hairgrass.
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:45 AM   #10
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Very impressive! I would leave it as is and let the plants grow out and do their thing!
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Old 07-11-2013, 02:15 AM   #11
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Ha, youre silly. A nice read with dos and donts as already stated, and aquascape porn in the middle... Nice.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:55 PM   #12
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Nice tank! I reminisce as I read your journey. Someday I'll type mine up and the missteps will sound eerily close. Especially the part about the light. I stuck with a 24" Coralife 65W over a 20gallon and successfully grew stunning plots of BBA.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:12 AM   #13
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great turn around
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Old 09-04-2013, 04:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norbot View Post
Ok so it's a feable attempt at placement using some cheap lace rock, I know it's not great, but for my first attempt ever at "wannabe-agumi" the rock layout could have come out looking worse imo,
I think lace rock is underrated.

Agree with du3ce --- great turn around.
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Old 09-04-2013, 05:16 AM   #15
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Thanks! I'll be doing an update sometime soon, waiting for the plants to fill a little more. I did a, somewhat not minor, rescape and I at least made it different, if not better. Not sure if it really wants "to be agumi" anymore though, lol.

On a different note, I decided I would blast my co2 as high as I could possibly get it. To pull it off I had to really get the water agitated, but I managed to get to 15 bps without whining fish! And, no, I can't count that fast, I took a video and went frame by frame. The reg is set at 35psi.

I went through the 20#er in about 6-7 months. So I got a fresh bottle and set it up, found a leak, fixed a leak and then everything was looking good so I didn't bother to re-check for leaks. 5 days or so later, I started noticing some bba and yellowing plants.........I was like "wtf"?!! I just turned that up, if anything, the tank should be getting better.

So I look under at the co2, and, lo and behold, the stupid tubing had popped off the check valve! I was enriching the air in my living room at 15 bps for days!

Now that that is fixed, everything seems to be recovering.
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