55 gallon high tech minimal hardscape - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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55 gallon high tech minimal hardscape

Hello Everybody,

This is a dwarf Cichlid 55 gallon, standard 4 foot, dirted, CO2, high lighting and high flow aquarium that I started around 2 months ago.


Using a light fixture my room mate found on craigslist that has 2x 175w 6500k Metal Halide and 2x 40w 65ook Fluorescent.

The two metal halides are on timers set to come on 3 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening for maximum viewing time. Fluorescent bulbs are attached to a smart plug so I can voice command turn them on for display purposes.

This is extremely high light, but aside from the initial fight during the first three weeks of having the aquarium, I have not had algae problems.


First: 3/4 inch of dirt with mexican potting clay mixed in.

I used a bag of organic top soil which I separated by emptying the contents of the bag into a bucket, filling it will water, and after some stirring and waiting, skimming floating pieces off the top. After harvesting the sinking portions of the topsoil, clay was mixed in and the mixture was wet and baked twice before adding to the tank. I did this to ensure there were no pathogens... although there might be some merit in leaving the bacteria be so that it can break down food and benefit the substrate of your aquarium.

Second: 1 inch of pebbles I bought from Walmart. Water flows easily through these pebbles and they hold the dirt in place. These cost only 4 bucks for 50 pounds and is something I suggest in all dirt tanks. I also baked these pebbles to ensure they had no pathogens

Third: I used 3 bags of Eco Complete. I didn't rinse or bake the Eco Complete as it says it comes with beneficial bacteria. The first two days my tank was very cloudy(maybe an algae bloom), but on the third day it completely cleared up. I used Eco Complete because of how porous it looked and felt.. which I thought may be very good for the beneficial bacteria I would need to live through weekly 40 percent water changes.

4th: A few large landscaping rocks


Got a C02 tank on ebay and bought a The Barn CO2 Regulator for cheap on [Ebay Link Removed]


Green Leaf EI method and omsocote plus tabs.


Most plants bought at AFA they have great selection of tissue culture. alternanthera reineckii sp mini, pearlweed, s. repens, crypts, ammania, and rotala rotundifolia

Bought Bacopa, ludwigia repens, water wisteria, alternanthera reineckii(the tall one on the wall) and the grass plant from LFS

Fish and inhabitants:

2x Female Blue Ram
1x Male Blue Ram
1x Male Gold Ram
1x Male apistogramma borelli opal
1x Female apistogramma borelli opal
2x Female apistogramma cacatuoides
10x cardinal tetra
10x harlequin rasbora
10x Rummynose
2x Pearl Gourami(might go back to the Rainbow tank)

Also have a ton of fancy nerites and malaysian trumpet snails.

Filter: 100 gallon sunsun

Power Head: Sun Sun 525 gph

Here are pictures throughout the first two months:

So far, the tank has been going successfully in my eyes. One strange thing is that the Ammania and Rotala Rotundifolia are both growing slowly in the vertical direction. I have seen the Rotala growing and carpeting across the back, but I was rather hoping that it would be more of a background plant. Does anyone know if this is because I have too much light?

Thanks for reading, feel free to ask question or answer my question about the slow growing Rotala.
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