55 Gallon Low Tank, first build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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55 Gallon Low Tank, first build

Hello Everyone,

This is my first post on this site and also my first attempt at a planted tank. I recently acquired a 55 gallon tank and completely repaired it (new frames & new caulk). I have confirmed it holds water to the brim with no leaks (yay!) and now I'm attempting to get this baby up and running. I've been scouring the internet for information (possibly too much) and I wanted to pass on my vision I have for this tank and ask for guidance. Any and ALL feedback welcomed!

Hardscape - Heres what I have so far. I have a buddy bringing me rocks back from TN (I need to bake these correct?) to accent the wood, should be getting those tomorrow.

Substrate - I bought 2 bags of Organic Potting Soil (Do I need to bake this?) and 2 bags of Black Coal Slag. I was planning on doing 2" of soil and 1" of Black Coal Slag in the front of the tank and slopping it towards the back to add depth (probably 4" of soil MAX and the 1" Black Coal Slag cap)
Can I go ahead and put the substrate in and set up the entire hardscape weeks before I plan on putting plants down? I plan on spacing out the purchasing of items (filters>lights>plants), it will be about a month before I plant and fill up to start cycling.

Filtration - I toyed around with the idea of buying and using a canister filter for the first time but have decided to go with 2 AC 70s for the tank.
My questions are:
How should I arranged them in the tank? (|X|||||||X|)?
Also will this be too much flow for plants and small fish such as tetras or angels?
What type of custom media should I put in the filters? Should both filters hold the same kind of media?

Lighting - I was looking at these two lights: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016P96UA8...v_ov_lig_dp_it & https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HNZ2MFM...v_ov_lig_dp_it
My questions are:
Will these work OK for a low tech tank?
Any other recommendations for lights within the price range up to $125 USD (Bonus points if it has a gradual intensity climb)
What kind of light cycle should I use? I would like to enjoy the light on when I'm actually home to look at it.

Plants - Really need some suggestions here. I have Java Fern & Vallisneria written down already. I would love to add some type of color profile to this tank besides green if possible.

Fertilization - I don't even want to touch this subject yet lol I feel so overwhelmed already.

Sorry for the wall of text and Thank You in advance!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 10:58 PM
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Scape looks really good, I like those pieces of driftwood. The only thing I might suggest would be shifting the large piece on the left over about 6 inches and removing the second piece to see how that looks. It may make your tank appear much larger.

Personally I would pass on the dirt, and just use coal slag myself. If you felt you needed to use root supplements you could just get fert tabs of some sort.

The beamswork lights seem to get several recommendations around here, not sure about that specific model.

Aqua Clear 70's should do just fine. I would personally put them on opposite ends of the tanks flowing towards each other.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-10-2019, 03:51 PM
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You might want to rethink if & how much potting soil you use. I recently tried a dirted tank for the first time, and had lots of algae issues (all kinds--hair, GSA, green water, cyano, etc) . Some things I learned:
  • Don't get soil with lots of bark, etc. It floats up & makes mess--both when you put it in, and as it decomposes. Buy soil that's already fully composted, soft & crumbly. Sift out any bark or larger uncomposted pieces
  • Use Aaron Talbot's recipe to mineralize the potting soil you use: l .
  • 4" of soil is a lot--it could become an anaerobic mess. I wouldn't use more than 1-2", probably less
  • If you need height in the back, you might try mixing your soil with a cheap high CEC substrate like SafeTsorb, then cap it with BDBS (Black Diamond blasting sand, aka coal slag) . Or if you like the look of STS, just use that as your cap.

The best overview of substrates for newbies is Dennis Wong's site: https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...-overview.html He goes over everything. DIY potting soils can be all over the map, but many people swear them, and they can produce amazing results. So if you go that route be prepared for nutrient spikes, algae blooms, etc. If you don't have a lot of time & patience, and want predictable results, use one of the commercial aquasoils (Dennis reviews many of them on his site) . Or just use an inert substrate and add fertilizer--root tabes or Osmocote in the substrate and/or liquid ferts for the water column.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thank You!

New to the Planted Lifestyle
Thank You ALL for guidance & Feedback.
Feel free to message me!
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