Newbie 20 gal L Dirted - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie 20 gal L Dirted

This is a journal of a soon to be planted tank newb.

My goal is to transform a brand new 20 gallon long tank into a well-cared for planted tank and will hopefully last for a couple of years. I have spent countless hours pouring over articles, reading and re-reading threads, and contemplating the comments of other planted tank enthusiasts. Most of these folks have accomplished what I hope to regarding everything and anything related to a successful planted tank that's not just awesome to look at, but thrives as well. I understand it's not as easy as some seem to make it out to be and with hard work and perseverance, I'm excited to see where this journey will lead to.

This first entry will primarily be used to keep track of all the necessary items and material I have or need until I am ready to add the substrate, place the hardscape pieces, plant the various plants, and fill with water. I cannot wait to begin this weekend!


Here is what I have so far:

Tank: 20 gallon long
Substrate: MG Nature's Care organic raised bed soil, CaribSea Eco Complete to cap the soil
Hardscape: Seiryu Stones, spider wood (currently soaking in 5 gallon buckets), small volcanic rocks in mesh bags for hills
Lighting: Beamswork DA FSPEC LED Aquarium Light
Filter: Eheim 250 cannister filter (arriving early next week), Penn Plaxx Cascade Power Filter 150
Heater: Tetra 100w (preset to 78 degrees F)
Misc items: Various Seachem bottles: Prime, Flourish, Excel, and tabs, Equilibrium (my tap water is naturally very soft), crushed coral just in case PH needs a little boost.


Plants
For now I have not purchased any plants yet but I have a pretty good idea of the ones I would like to plant. I definitely want to go with foreground plants that are not too challenging to maintain and will carpet under decent conditions. For this I was thinking of s. repens, dwarf hair grass, or baby tears but out of those three I am leaning more towards the s. repens. I am interested in the monte carlo, but that plant seems to be a tad harder to find than the others.
For mid-ground plants on and around the rocks and driftwood, I was thinking tying annubias nanas, java ferns and moss. Also thinking about micro planting micro swords around the base of the rocks, but I'm not entirely sure that would work -might be better as a foreground plant. So the jury is still out on that.
Finally, the background will contain the usual suspects -amazon sword, red flame sword on one side and red leaf ludwigia on the other, crypto wendtii, and some moneywort.

There is an aquascape store near where I live and I am going to visit it Saturday to scope out their plant selections. I was also going to stop by the local petcos and petsmarts too as some of them have a decent selection of live plants as well.

Fish
Once the tank is completely cycled and ready for fish, I am planning on moving my daughter's betta to the planted tank. We'll also be adding some type of cory catfish (5-6?), some shrimp, nerite snails, and an algae eater or two (thinking Siamese algae eater or a possibly a pleco -though on the fence for it). It will really depend on what the local fish stores have in stock.

So far I think I have everything I need. I'll go through my list again before I get started just to make sure.

I'll be starting this weekend and will have pics up when I do.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2017, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm... not really sure what happened to my last reply I posted yesterday in my tank journal. It was much more detailed and stuff. Oh well...

Basically, I got everything I needed for my tank and I spent pretty much all day Sunday getting it all together.
I attached a few pics (below after) I finished the planting and filled with water. I'm not sure how well the plants were planted but I'm hoping they will root to the soil soon. Water isn't too cloudy, but it does have a yellowish tint to it but from what I understand that is to be expected.

For now, I'm working on my water changes. I'm doing about a 60-70% change everyday and I'm hoping that the water will be clear by mid-week next week or so but maybe that's too optimistic. I have not introduced any fauna yet and even when I'm ready to I was thinking of going with shrimp and snails first before fish. I took a few plants from a smaller established tank and have that in the new tank to hopefully encourage bacteria growth. Still got a ways to go. I like my light and I have it dimmed to half though I'm not sure if it's still too bright. It's only on for about 7 hours a day as my concern is algae that might show up and I did lower the anubias as it seemed too close to the light. As for the potential algae outbreaks, I'm hoping the frequent water changes and limited light exposure will help mitigate some.

I have a few plants in my mind that I'd like to plant soon -thinking jungle val, moneywort, and water wisteria but not sure yet.
I originally wanted to go with mounds and put the hardscape on them, and in hindsight, I should have as the rocks seem too short and will be overgrown if the plants successfully take off. Have to wait and see I guess.
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Last edited by hennyis1; 10-18-2017 at 09:18 PM. Reason: udpate
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2017, 09:00 PM
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Beautiful set-up. I really like the addition of the wood arching over the tank floor.
Can't wait to see more.

Just keep an eye on the behavior of your betta if you add him in, mine loved his 29gallon planted tank and would hunt the oto cats through its dense vegetation. Good luck!
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2017, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Aquatic Athlete View Post
Beautiful set-up. I really like the addition of the wood arching over the tank floor.
Can't wait to see more.

Just keep an eye on the behavior of your betta if you add him in, mine loved his 29gallon planted tank and would hunt the oto cats through its dense vegetation. Good luck!
Hi -thanks for the reply and suggestion. I will definitely keep an eye on him when the time comes. Hopefully the plants will grow well and hide/protect the other fish should the need arise.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2017, 09:28 PM
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nice start! Pardon the unsolicited advice, but look into adding a tc-420 controller or the truelumen dimmer from a company called 'current' to be able to dim that beamswork in case you get algae. There's some info in this link: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...rk-risers.html. I don't know your lighting period, but considering that you didn't mention anything about CO2 and you're not dosing the any of the macro fertilizers, there's a good chance of it happening.




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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2017, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
nice start! Pardon the unsolicited advice, but look into adding a tc-420 controller or the truelumen dimmer from a company called 'current' to be able to dim that beamswork in case you get algae. There's some info in this link: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...rk-risers.html. I don't know your lighting period, but considering that you didn't mention anything about CO2 and you're not dosing the any of the macro fertilizers, there's a good chance of it happening.

Hello and thanks for the reply and advice -I am definitely open to anything anyone has to say! ;D
Thankfully I have a dimmer attached to the light but I don't really know how strong the light is so I'm just turning the dial down to the middle. I hope it's enough to give the plants what they need but low enough to lessen algae chances. I have used a toothbrush between the water changes to scrub my rocks and a bit of the driftwood but I'm thinking it's too early for that now.

I do have some Seachem Flourish and Excel but I haven't started using that yet. When I get home from work, I'm going to do another 70% water change so hopefully when the water gets much clearer I can start using them.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Small update -rearranged a few plants and added a small powerhead. Not sure if I'll keep it in there as it's a tad too strong for the tank and I'm not getting the surface agitation I was looking for but we'll see.

Water is still a bit cloudy, though not yellowish/brownish in color so I hope it's progress to a clearer tank.
My LED timer came in the mail so I'm hoping to get it set up after I do a water change later tonight.

I've noticed some kind of gray slime oozing from the spider wood. Hopefully it'll disappear on its own as I don't want to move it around too much trying to clean it. In hindsight, I'll secure the driftwood to something stable next time.

Ok a few pics of the plants. There is definitely melting and some are not doing well but I'm optimistic it'll turn around. Well, hopefull. ;)
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Last edited by hennyis1; 10-19-2017 at 08:48 PM. Reason: update
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Update-
Well, it's been a little over a week now and I'm still not sure if things are going ok. I've pretty much been doing daily water changes and yesterday I added Seachem purigen to the canister filter as the water color seems to be continutally impacted by the spider wood's tannins. The wood also had some grey-colored slime that I tried to siphon and washed off but it came back despite my best efforts.

The plants are definitely melting and many leaves are turning transparent and are starting to turn brown. When I look closely at the s. repens, I can see more brown algae growing than before despite a light period of about 8 hours with the LED dimmed to half brightness (or what I'm assuming is half). Dwarf hair grass is more yellow/brown than green but is getting taller somehow, the Japanese mini hair grass doesn't seem to be growing at all, and some of the shoots of the amazon sword are turning brown and have small holes in them. The anubius is looking ok but it also has some browning on a few leaves and a couple of holes too. I have two other plants, a crypt undulatas and one I can't quite remember that aren't doing well at all.

At this point, I think I may have gone in a little over my head with a dirted tank. I think I should have just stuck with an entire eco-complete substrate and focused on getting the plants to actually survive first. Once successful with that, then move onto a dirted tank experiment. Despite the many videos I've watched and a lot of reading of threads and articles, maybe I was trying to run before I had learned to walk in a sense. Again, it's only been a week so I guess things are still pretty early. I have plenty of patience of course, but I'm worried that as time goes on, things might get worse as I'm not ensuring that I'm accounting for everything I need to.

When I get home today from work, I'm going to test the water and see what the properties (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, etc.) are at. If they are within the parameters they should be, I think I'll start using Flourish and Flourish Excel. I wish I knew the intensity of my LED, but I've tried to read the threads about PARs and all that and it was just too much for me to wrap my mind around. haha

I was on the fence about co2, but I think I might have found the route I'd like to regarding a co2 system. All the pieces can be bought off of amazon for about $100. Have to wait and see...
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-18-2018, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Update!

It's been a few months since I started this project and I'd say it's going very well despite my initial doubts. Now the problems I have are the plants grow too fast and the last plants I purchased had some hitchhikers on them so now I have snails everywhere! haha

The CO2 setup didn't cost that much since I'm using a paintball setup and the regulator was really cheap on amazon and have not had any issues at all since. I tried to put my daughter's beta in it though but I think the water currents was a bit too much for him so I'm still working on that. So for now, it's just plants and all the snails. Need to get rid of them soon but man, they have made that tank practically pristine! There was some brown algae and mossy stuff covering the driftwood but they demolished it all in a matter of days.

Apologies for the links! For some reason, the images are broken when I try to use BBcode. Plus, I'm bad at taking pics. haha ):


https://imgur.com/K6nYvl5

https://imgur.com/ngreIPY

https://imgur.com/8RXErIM

https://imgur.com/JM5wK5m

https://imgur.com/Mvkr8g7

https://imgur.com/5Vyb1wA

Last edited by hennyis1; 01-18-2018 at 08:15 PM. Reason: pic update
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-18-2018, 06:45 PM
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Images are all broken in your latest post. Would love to see your tank though!

My tank journal.

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-18-2018, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Images are all broken in your latest post. Would love to see your tank though!
Thanks! I feared as much. Let me see if I can resolve it...
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-19-2018, 04:45 AM
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the links worked for me. the ones i tried anyway. I love the 20L nice size foot print. loving the drift wood.
can you do a write up on the C02 setup you did.

cheers
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-19-2018, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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the links worked for me. the ones i tried anyway. I love the 20L nice size foot print. loving the drift wood.
can you do a write up on the C02 setup you did.

cheers
Hi! Thanks for the comment.

Basically, my CO2 setup is a traditional paintball tank with the following items, all purchased from amazon:

-hydroponics CO2 regulator with solenoid valve ($30)
-20 oz paintball tank ($22)
-Paintball adapter ($11)
-CO2 tubing ($10)
-Bubble counter ($7)
-drop checker ($12)
-CO2 diffuser ($8)

I get my tank filled up at a local Sports Authority for $5. The last time I did it was mid November and when I last checked a few days ago, the PSI meter had it a tad over 800. As far as the bubbles per second, it's almost a bubble per second so a little on the lower side compared to similar set ups I'd guess. But I haven't had any issues so far, the plants are thriving and I don't think I'll have any issues with end of tank dumping with this setup. I was skeptical about the regulator but as so many others who purchased it and left good reviews on amazon, it really is a solid regulator and definitely gets the job done.

I hope that helps. Let me know if there is anything else I can answer!
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