Right now I run an AquaClear 70 and Fluval 406 filter, 2 150w Fluval heaters and a 16" Marineland LED light.
I've ordered a 48" Fluval Fresh & Planted and will DIY on my CO2 system. I have 16 Neon Tetras, 5 Red Wag Platies (that I will be re-homing), 1 Dojo Loache and 1 Nerite snail.
My plant list has been narrowed down to -
Front/carpet areas - Eleocharis Parvula
Spots of - Alternanthera Reinecki 'Mini' with Pogostemon Erectuc behind
One or two - Echinodorus 'Red Diamond'
In the back to cover heaters/filters etc... - Cyperus Helferi, Hygrophila polysperma 'Rosanervigi', Cryptcoryne Usteriana
Moss to use on rock & wood - Vesicularia Ferriei & Vesicularia Dubyana
The first thing I did was get a piece of Malaysian driftwood, soak and scrub for three days and add it to my tank. After a little rearranging of the décor, this is the tank now.
I also went out to find some lava rock at a local site really close by my house. An extinct volcano where there is literally a mountain of the stuff. I found some really nice pieces ranging from quite red to a mix of colors. I tested all the rock with Muriatic acid and there was no reaction with any of them. You can see some of the rock in the previous photo.
My vision is to have a feature on the left. A canyon/gorge type of thing and pillars on the right, to be moss covered in the future. I'm just not sure on which side to place the wood yet. I will do a mock setup when I get to that stage to see which one is best. Pics will follow when I do for some opinions. But I do want to keep the middle fairly clear for some open swimming space. Here are some of the larger pieces I found. Most are at least 8-12" long and there are 6 more large pieces, as well as about 3 plastic shopping bags of smaller rock.
The pillars I have started and finally figured the best way to make them so they are balanced and solid.
The first thing I did was build the pillars dry so I know that they can stand straight on their own.
First attempt - I used aquarium silicon to attach the rocks together. It worked out pretty good, there was a good bond but was too wobbly because of the flex in the silicon.
Second attempt - I drilled holes in all the rock, using a 5/32 masonry bit and a cordless drill set on hammer drill.
I then used toothpicks and hot glue to attach the rocks. The bond was really good and was a little less wobbly. The only issue is when I tested the bond, between the rocks was good but in the middle of the holes, if I didn't get hot glue on hot glue the bond never formed.
Third attempt - After cleaning off all the hot glue, I went back to the silicon and attached the rocks by filling down thru the hole to the one under. When I started to see a little bit of overflow between the rocks, I add the next one on top and repeat until done.
The bond was excellent and was marginally less wobbly. To make it solid, I smashed smaller rocks into chunks and shards, using hot glue to attach, I filled in the cracks and seams between the layers. It worked out great, making the pillars really solid.
It took a little bit of work to finally get the pillar as solid as I wanted and looking the way I wanted, but well worth the effort. Can't wait to get some moss on them.
Since this is going to be about a 2-3 month project, having the driftwood and pillars will give my tank a more natural feel until it is time to plant for real. I am also working on my 30gal tank to see how well I can get scratches out. Starting with 400 grit paper and working my way finer to eventually polishing with Cerium Oxide. I know it's going to be time consuming but I don't mind the work. If I can manage to get out the scratches with any success, then I will also clean up my 55gal before planting it.
But for now, that is where I'm at. There will be 5 more pillars of various heights and then I can get onto the CO2 system.
I'd like to thank you all in advance for any comments or suggestions.
Lots more photos and posts as I move on with everything I want to accomplish.