Finally got around to getting the tank started! It was a fun experience working with dirt and sand... Can't say I'd recommend to someone that doesn't like mud. Which, by the way, I was never a fan of.
I went to my LFS on Saturday and bought my wife a couple of plants and new fish; and bought myself some Red Jungle Val, Temple, and a couple more pieces of driftwood. I left them sitting in a gallon of water until last night, when I started working on the tank.
I first put on my "background," which is simply a sheet and a half of black poster board.
I then rinsed out the tank with my sink connecting syphon hose while it was in place. I have to say, the plastic in those connectors are complete crap. They shattered, and shattered again. I had to super glue two pieces. In the end, it works, and I guess you get what you pay for. :P
Finally, I got to the fun part of landscaping. Since I have been soaking one piece of wood for the past two weeks, it was already good to put in the tank. However, the two new pieces that I bought are in desperate need of soaking. Thus, I did my landscaping dry on the bare bottom so that I knew how to arrange my plants that I currently have and will be getting. Attached is a picture of that landscape.
Next, I setup a folding table near the tank. This was my work bench to keep my plants, dirt, sand, and tank decorations on. Using a couple of towels on the table and on the floor between the tank and table to keep the mess as contained as possible (which only goes so far).
I took one of the small clay pots to scoop out portions of dirt. I then dropped these dirt mounds in patches throughout the tank until it seemed fairly even. Since there was already a little bit of standing water in the tank from rinsing it, I didn't have to do any additional watering to get the soil wet so that I could start making flat mud. I used the backside of my knuckles to continuously go through the tank, forcing air out of the soil and making it more compact. I would then repeat this whole process until the entire bag of soil was gone. In the end, I got between 1.5-2" of soil in the tank. This seemed good enough for me, based on what I have read and what I intend to do.
It was then time to cap the soil. Before starting that process, I used my hand to push the soil away from the glass about an inch to two deep. This created a space for me to fill in with sand, so as to avoid seeing the dirt as much as possible. Using a 50lb bag of pool filter sand from Home Depot, I took a small plastic food container (about two cups in size), and started doing the above method but with sand. By the time I was complete and felt there was plenty of sand, I had used about 3/4 of the bag.
Then the fun part came.... I added just enough water so that I could see it on the sand, placed my three pots and driftwood in their positions, added a little more sand around the pots, and then planted.
After about an hour of filling the tank slowly so as to not disturb the soil, it was complete. To my surprise, I could see through the tank fairly clearly. I then turned on the heat, hoping to get the water from 69 degrees fahrenheit to 82 degrees fahrenheit.
This morning when I turned on the lights, as I was unable to figure out the mechanical timer last night that I bought over the weekend (which is sad considering I am a master's student in technology), the tank looked as I expected. It was still relatively clear. However, there are some hard mineral deposits on the inside about a third up the tank, which bothers me. I hope I can get these off somehow, I will have to look into it.
Here is the dilemma from this morning:
. I hate worms more than I hate mud. I appear to have Detritus Worms (Aquarium Planaria; Wiggly Detritus Worms, in Tank Water, on Glass
). I really hope my fish eat these guys up!
I also noticed that my tank is 85 degrees fahrenheit, but I did not want to adjust it yet. My wife's tank consistently runs between 78.8 to 79.2, but was at 81 this morning. I am thinking that since our apartment dropped into the mid 60's overnight, the exterior glass is cold and the heaters are getting a false reading. I will wait until this evening to touch it.
As for now, the filter is turned off. I am waiting until I can get a car sponge to place over the intake, so as to avoid picking up plant matter and sand as much as possible. This was a huge oversight that I had forgotten to pick one up earlier in the day.
I have micro bubbles galore, coming mostly from the clay pots and heater. As I was sitting here typing all of this, I had noticed that every now and then a small bubble will come from the substrate.
From left to right
4 - Scarlet Temple Stems (taken from my wife's tank due to malnourishment)
1 - Water Wisteria (was grown in the same substrate in a pot in a five gallon bucket)
3 - Red Jungle Vals
1 - Temple
1 Bunch - Cabomba
Forum Member JJ09 was kind enough to ROAK me some of their plants. Unfortunately, USPS had made an error, and the plants won't be arriving until today. JJ09 has been great throughout this process, and we are eager to see how the plants fared. They have sent me Flame Moss, Subwasser, and Crypt Wendti.
Member Bartohog has offered to sell me some Red Root Floaters, which I really want. I may also purchase some Sagittaria subulata from him at the same time so that I have a foreground plant.
Next weekend I'll be getting a large sword from my LFS to plant in the back left.
I can't wait to turn on the filter tonight, and start truly cycling my tank. If only I didn't have to wait so long for that drift wood to soak!