55Gal Total Reconstruction - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-28-2016, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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55Gal Total Reconstruction

So, I have a 55gal tank that I got w/stand for $150 that, with our original plan we started a tropical with some decorations and silk plants. It looks good but after a month or so, we started to think that a more natural setting would be so much better, for the fish and to look at. This is what we started with.


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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-28-2016, 02:30 AM Thread Starter
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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.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703722&thumb=1

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.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703730&thumb=1

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703738&thumb=1

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.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703762&thumb=1

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.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703754&thumb=1

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.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703786&thumb=1

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/at...703794&thumb=1

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.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-28-2016, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-28-2016, 11:22 PM
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none of your pics are working for me?
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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what about the very first one?? does it come through

Bump:

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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Ok. So I re-sized all my photos. Can someone let me know if they work please. Thanks
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 04:51 AM
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those worked stacked rocks look nice btw
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you. Stuff that I'm building for the planted tank I am going to do might as well be put to use.
Keeps me engaged in the project to see the pieces in a tank. Looking forward to when I can add the moss.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 01:34 PM
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The rock towers scare me, if they were to fall over for any reason it could have a nasty result.

Cape Town, South Africa.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your concern. I had thought about how I could make them so I wouldn't have to worry about them falling over.
On the base rocks I used larger pieces to anchor and it seems to have worked really well.
All the rocks are lava rock so they are quite light as well. I had seen somewhere this stuff that looks like plastic grid that is used to build height
under your substrate. So when I get the point of re-doing my whole tank to a planted I want to secure the towers to the grid stuff.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 08:18 PM
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Nice unique hardscape! I love the pillars, although I can see the concern if they fall. After drilling the holes, have you tried "shish-kabobbing" the pieces on a dowel rod for support? May be less work for you that way. You could then use a rectangular piece of plastic and stainless steel screws, up through the plastic into the dowel rods. Then cover the plastic base with your substrate. Just a thought...

Anyway it looks cool. Reminds me of some old ruins or a cave floor. My first thought was it would make a cool species tank for Blind Cave tetras
I look forward to seeing this come together. Nice lava rock too, great colors and texture

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-29-2016, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Never thought of the shish-kabob skewers. Will try that on the next pillar.

An edit to my method. I said earlier that I use the silicon through the holes and attach shards/chunks with hot glue. But I actually use the hot glue in the drilled holes.

I dry stack first so I know they free stand and are balanced.
Then drill the holes and wash off any dust created.
Let dry and hot glue through the top of one rock till I see overflow between the rock under it.
Add the next rock on top and repeat till done.
I then add shards and chunks to the spaces in between layers until I have the pillar solid and looking the way I want.

There are a few ways to really anchor the pillars and the plastic rectangle sounds like a good one. Will also try that on the next one and let you know how it fares.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-30-2016, 05:51 PM
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Right way to go! From artificial to all natural!

I think the next thing is to monitor your local classified websites, like twice a day for surprising deals. You can probably score some plants way under your budget.

Nice kabob rock btw.


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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-31-2016, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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I know, right. The classifieds are sweet!!
Have found free 40gal tanks and lots of other great deals.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-02-2017, 05:23 AM Thread Starter
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So, here's the scoop. I originally was going to re-do my 55gal into a hardscape and planted, had a plan and a vision and started on
some lava rock features. Then, looking at my local classifieds I now have a 120gal that I got for $100 to make into a planted. Soooooo looking forward to this project.
I was really excited about the last project, but now I am above and beyond that.
I will be starting a new thread for my 120gal planted. See you there.
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