Twimbo's Twenty-G Tank (Potting Mix Substrate)
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:57 AM   #1
Twimbo
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Twimbo's Twenty-G Tank (Potting Mix Substrate)


Someone on this forum was talking up the Diana Walstad's book, so I immediately ordered a copy and pretty much read it cover to cover. Decided to give some of her ideas a try. I had an old twenty gallon tank, metal frame and slate bottom, from my dad. He kept fish in it, when I was a kid (long time ago). I decided to use this tank to experiment.

I used potting mix (at the time, not realizing that it was different from potting soil) and capped it with about 3/4 - 1 inch of simple aquarium gravel that I had laying around the house.

(I started this tank on October 21, 2009 - its just over 1 month old).



I had just gotten my first package of plants from the Swap-n-Shop and most of them ended up in this aquarium. I was pretty happy with the results. My plan was (and still is) to use this tank for guppies, hoping that some of the fry would be able to survive in a guppy only tank.

Here is the first picture I took with plants in the tank.



Equipment:
  • Lighting - I hung a 36" florescent shop light over this tank and another 10 gallon tank that sits next to it. So it is getting about 2/3 of 2 standard 40w florescent bulbs.
  • For filtration, I hung a pre-seeded HOB whisper filter on the back - and hooked up my first ever canister filter, an inexpensive Cascade 500 ($50). My plan was to remove the HOB filter, once I was confident that the tank was stable. The HOB filter is still there, although it probably does not need to be.
  • Ferts - I've been adding some Flourish liquid Ferts, including EXCEL, so its not really a low-tech tank.
Here is how the tank looks now, after adding a few plants. I've already trimmed and replanted a few of the plants I got a month ago.



I'll add a plant list soon. I forget what all I have in there......

Comments and suggestions are welcome.
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:22 AM   #2
mgdmirage
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Very nice a MetaFrame tank, i've got a couple they are awesome oldies! Your scape looks good too!
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Old 12-04-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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I think you need to dose KNO3, potassium nitrate. It is sold as stump remover by Spectriced at Lowe's. I think .75 tsp diluted in 1/4 cup would be a good solution. Then dose 2 ml a week. I use the baby measuring items to dose. Also I see 1 plant, the red one, that will need Brightwell iron (Iron glutamite and Iron sodium).

When you run out of Seachem Comprehensive you might want to switch to dry ferts. A good replacement is CSM+B. It contains - Copper, Iron, Magnesium sulfate, Molybdenum, Zinc, Boron. I mixing in 1.5 tsp in the KNO3 solution would be good for the plants.
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:02 PM   #4
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That's looking great. I am surprised that it worked with potting media--I would have expected a lot of trouble from all of that extra organic matter.

That's an awesome old Metaframe tank.
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:15 PM   #5
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I read that adding peat increases Co2 in the water. Thus I am experimenting with cactus soil, which has peat etc. and top soil in a
10 gallon tank.
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Old 12-07-2009, 05:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrophyte View Post
That's looking great. I am surprised that it worked with potting media--I would have expected a lot of trouble from all of that extra organic matter.
I don't think I'm out of the woods yet. Some of the folks who predicted trouble, suggested I might not feel it for a month or two. So almost everytime I do anything with the substrate in this tank, I brace myself for disaster. The implication is that trouble could be brewing in the substrate, just waiting for a chance to escape.

But, so far so good - and I'm hopeful that it will all work out fine.



I added a couple of Crypt Wendtii and some Pennywort in the back, other than that I'm please with the slow but steady growth.\

I also added 6 Emerald Eye Rasbora. I had planned to put them in my shrimp tank (and still might), but changed my mind at the last moment.
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Old 12-07-2009, 03:32 PM   #7
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I used top soil and after 3 months started having algae problems. Now I find if I don't dose with KNO3 I have problems with black brush algae (BBA). Homer_Simpson did everything by the book and had some problems too.

I have gathered that some have algae blooms in the beginning. Also if by the 3rd month you don't have algae problems the ecosystem is balance.

Also found that after disturbing the substrate a water change should be done. For ammonia can be in the substrate but not affecting anything.

I and others have found that when you concentrate on getting the plants to grow well algae doesn't grow. Algae is like crab grass. Where what you want to grow doesn't grow the bad will grow.

No tank is completely free algae. Some algae, like that on the glass, are beneficial for the fish. No ecosystem of a tank is like another. When dealing with nature things don't always go as planned. A few do nothing and have great tanks.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:29 AM   #8
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Interesting experiment. I've been telling everyone how much I like MTS snails. But, I don't think I had any in this tank. Lots of pond snails and 3 black mystery snails. Anyway, today I went to Petco and bought 6 otto's for this tank and asked them to throw in a half dozen MTS (theirs have nice shells, different from the ones I have in my other tank). Anyway, I put them in the potting mix tank.

My hope and my fear, is that they will do some burrowing. The question is, will their burrowing prevent any dangerous ammonia build-ups in the substrate - or will they simply find the build-ups and release them into the tank, causing trouble.

I'll let you know in a few days OR weeks?
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:20 AM   #9
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A couple of days ago, I found one of my black (or is it brown) mystery snails laying on the table behind the tank. Had no idea how long it had been there. The snail was pulled tight inside the shell. I assumed it would be dead, but threw it back in the tank - just in case.

Within hours, it was wandering around the tank - looking for more mischief.
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Old 12-27-2009, 04:57 AM   #10
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any updates on this experiment?
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Old 12-27-2009, 05:06 PM   #11
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I'll post new pics soon, but this tank is doing well. So far, I have not had any problems.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:19 AM   #12
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Nice job! I am about to attempt something similar.
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Old 09-30-2013, 12:12 AM   #13
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Default potting soil and snails

Twimbo,

I noticed you have snails, so do I. I was planning on setting up a planted tank as well; what type of potting soil did you use? I was afraid to use it due to cooper being added as part of fertilizers.

Thanks for your response.
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