New 55 gal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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New 55 gal

Hi everyone,

I just found out that my birthday gift will be a 55 gallon tank and I am so excited.

I am new to the hobby, but I am an Environmental Scientist by trade, so I understand a lot about water chemistry, plants and bio loading that I am really enjoying putting into practice.

I would LOVE to stock this tank with a rainbow shark and understand that may be a medium to long term project as I intend to plant this tank heavily and would like it well established before adding the shark.

I will be getting the actual tank in a couple of weeks and it comes with some substrate, lights and a stand. My partner bought me some big pieces of driftwood, I will be getting a hold of rocks to build some caves.

I want some tall plants, carpet plants and some floating plants too. Suggestions would be awesome.

I am thinking to initially stock the tank with a big school of harlequin rasboras (10+) and grow them out. I would l

I'll need to figure out a good aeration, filtration system to create good water movement.
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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 06:12 PM
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Congratulations on the new (upcoming) tank!

Start reading about fish compatibility. The red tails shark gets big and aggressive and if you really want one of those only certain tank mates will work.

Try to find a group of fish types that prefer the same water parameters and that are behaviorally compatible.
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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 06:19 PM
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Rainbow sharks are usually really calm, they may chase a bit but not nothing bad, red tails are a little worse, but I've never experienced a really bad one, both are messy messy fish though, prepare for vacuuming a lot of mulm. cool fish though

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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 02:14 PM
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Shay,

I'm also an environmental scientist; an aquatic plant ecologist and biogeochemist, to be a bit more detailed. I'll be happy to discuss the technical aspects and answer any questions you might have. Helping newcomers is something I enjoy; especially if I can nerd out with them.

First things first. Planted aquaria are very different than regular aquariums. Pretty much everything needed to keep a successful planted tank is counter-intuitive to standard aquarium keeping. There are many different things to consider as far as hardware, providing nutrients, lighting, etc depending on your goals and desires. It sounds like you're going to have hardware already set so I would recommend getting the tank set up with what you're going to have then discussing the various realistic options with that foundation keeping in mind that there are almost always planting options for every system as long as you accept the limitations and/or what you're willing and able to change to meet your goals.

Cheers,
Phil
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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the feed back!

I am considering a South east Asia bio type
school of harlequin rasbora
a couple of pearl gouramis
a small school of clown loaches
rainbow shark

Does anyone have suggestions for plants from this region that are easy to care for? I'm planning for a relatively low tech tank as I have no interest in trying to set up a CO2 system. I am planning on having decent aeration and tank movement as I've read that's what the rainbow shark likes. The pearl gouramis also like very clean water so I'd love some advice on filtration.

My plan right now is when I get the tank in a couple of weeks, to try fishless cycling while I plant the tank heavily, building in lots of caves and hiding places in the lower regions. I have a 10 gallon tank right now, so I have access to cycled filter material and or substrate to help kick start the process. When jumping up to a larger tank, how do you cycle it? I feel like you'd need a larger dose of organic material to get the tank cycled in order to start it. How then do you feed it to build up the right amount of BB?

I want to start stocking with the rasboras which are easily available at my LFS. How many do you start with in a 55 gal, and then how many can you add once the Nitrites cycle back down to 0?

Then I will have to start ordering in the other fish I want. I would like to have the tank moderately stocked by the end of the summer as it's harder on the fish and plants to bring them in as we live in Northern Canada. I may wait a full year before adding the rainbow shark
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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaythesalmon View Post
Thanks for all the feed back!

I am considering a South east Asia bio type
school of harlequin rasbora
a couple of pearl gouramis
a small school of clown loaches
rainbow shark

Clown loaches get huge, make sure you know how big they get before purchasing them


Does anyone have suggestions for plants from this region that are easy to care for? I'm planning for a relatively low tech tank as I have no interest in trying to set up a CO2 system. I am planning on having decent aeration and tank movement as I've read that's what the rainbow shark likes. The pearl gouramis also like very clean water so I'd love some advice on filtration.

Rainbow sharks will live in just about any kind of tank, I had them in low tech, high tech planted tanks, African cichlids etc etc all with no additional aeration other than hang on back or canister filters.

My plan right now is when I get the tank in a couple of weeks, to try fishless cycling while I plant the tank heavily, building in lots of caves and hiding places in the lower regions. I have a 10 gallon tank right now, so I have access to cycled filter material and or substrate to help kick start the process. When jumping up to a larger tank, how do you cycle it? I feel like you'd need a larger dose of organic material to get the tank cycled in order to start it. How then do you feed it to build up the right amount of BB?

Easiest way is to buy pure ammonia (no additives) and dose to 2-4ppm, this will build up a decent BB colony, especially if you are seeding the tank with some cycled media

I want to start stocking with the rasboras which are easily available at my LFS. How many do you start with in a 55 gal, and then how many can you add once the Nitrites cycle back down to 0?

This all depends on how big of a BB population you have built up, I would say 6-12 to start, then add that again in 2-4 weeks if there isn't a sign of ammonia

Then I will have to start ordering in the other fish I want. I would like to have the tank moderately stocked by the end of the summer as it's harder on the fish and plants to bring them in as we live in Northern Canada. I may wait a full year before adding the rainbow shark

If you have a petsmart around, they always have rainbow sharks, just note this might not be the "best" source of fish, but I haven't had issues with mine from various Petsmarts
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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 03:17 PM
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Shay,

Here's a belated welcome to The Planted Tank!

Here's what I would do if I were in your situation, given when you've told us here and me via PM. It's not a fast process, but it will build a solid foundation for long-term success.

1. Get the tank set up dry and clean the hell out it and all the hardware with white distilled vinegar. Don't do this to the filter until you've taken all the media out. Dump the rest of the vinegar in there, fill it up, and let it run for a few days. If you're in an area of hard water and there are deposits on the glass, get a few gallons of vinegar if affordable in your area to dissolve some of the deposits and loosen the rest of them up for cleaning.

2. Forget aeration. Erase it completely from your mind. This is one of the counter-intuitive things I mentioned. We may come back to this as a possibility later, but for now consider it a non-option.

3. If possible, contact the person who's keeping the tank now and request they continue running it until you're ready to pick it up. Siphon out and save all of the mulm and detritus from the aquarium and filter. That stuff's worth its weight in gold and will go a long way toward establishing your biological community.

4. You mentioned using soil in the 10 gallon. You're in luck, that's what I did my graduate thesis in. I'll be happy to tell you aaaaaaaalllll about growing aquatic plants in soil if you want. For now, let's consider the pros and cons about using soil in this tank, and I HIGHLY recommend using soil in this system given what I understand of the hardware.

a) From your description is sounds like this system is what we plant hobbyists consider "low tech", meaning it will have little to no plant-specific hardware to support growth. There's nothing at all wrong with this. It's absolutely possible to have an attractive and enjoyable planted tank with little in the way of supporting hardware. Planted tanks, especially low tech tanks, are ecosystems, and ecosystems take time to recover from a disturbance. Plan ahead, have patience, and if you must make changes, make them slowly and infrequently. Oftentimes just letting things be will fix things.

b) Tanks with a soil-based substrate (hereafter, soil tanks) need time to mature. There are going to be all sorts of biological and chemical things going on in the soil once it's submerged. Letting it sit for a couple months wouldn't be a bad thing. The initial nutrient release is a perfect way to cycle the tank without fish. Yes, the soil is going to go anaerobic; it's inevitable and is not a bad thing from a chemical and biological perspective. It's a natural part of the ecosystem you're building and is part of the reason you want to let it mature.

c) Cons of soil- loaches can disturb it and your Red Tail Shark is a loach. How can you mitigate this potential issue? A thick sand/gravel cap over the soil.

d) How would I prepare the soil and cap to best keep plants and fish together? 1- Get a couple bags of cheap organic potting soil and sift out the fines with a kitchen colander; mix it 75/25 soil/gravel then pour the mulm/detritus over it and mix it well. Sifting is an important step as the large bits will cause issues with the soil maturation and are a potential source of issues over time. I, and a number of friends, have found that mixing gravel in with the soil helps reduce compaction that would otherwise take up valuable resources from the plants. (This is a pretty technical topic for a later date). Depending on the color and amount of the gravel that's coming with the tank I may or may not use it. (I'm not a fan of gravel that doesn't look natural). If you're cool with using it, go for it; it's YOUR TANK so do what it takes for YOU to enjoy looking at it day in and day out. Caveat- you'll need a cap of at least 5 centimeters of 2-4mm gravel to make sure the soil stays in place. This is non-negotiable. I'll be happy to explain why later, but for now keep this as a rule to follow. Anything smaller than 2mm will cause issues with diffusion into and out of the substrate that will help to keep the soil ecosystem healthy and nutritious over the long term.

e) Cheap sand option- If you've got access to a local stream and are feeling burly and ambitious, take the colander and a couple buckets down, sift out the sand there and use it for a nice natural looking substrate. The sifting automatically gives you the proper size material to both mix with the soil and use as a cap. Easy, peasy, breezy, and beautiful. If you feel the stream is clean enough, you may consider using it raw to include the microbes from the stream. If not, rinse it well.

That's enough for now. I'll write more later.

Regards,
Phil
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Last edited by Phil Edwards; 02-28-2018 at 03:25 PM. Reason: .
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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Quagulator,

Upon looking at clown loaches a little closer, I think they will be too big for my new tank. I'm now considering Yo-yo loaches, which breaks my ecotype but it's a better fit and I can still hopefully count on snail hunting capabilities.

No aeration needed. Got it.

Thanks Phil for the detailed advice on my set up.
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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-02-2018, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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I may have to wait a month to get this tank.

But! I have a trip down south planned at the end of the month and I plan to stock up on plants so that I'm ready to start aquascaping on my return.

I want to get a BUNCH of java moss, java fern, rotala indica, hygrophylia corymbosa, and I'd love to find a carpeting plant from the same region but in a pinch I will go with something good for beginners.
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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-02-2018, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Shaythesalmon View Post
I may have to wait a month to get this tank.

But! I have a trip down south planned at the end of the month and I plan to stock up on plants so that I'm ready to start aquascaping on my return.

I want to get a BUNCH of java moss, java fern, rotala indica, hygrophylia corymbosa, and I'd love to find a carpeting plant from the same region but in a pinch I will go with something good for beginners.
I may be able to ship some to you. PM me if your interested. I'm in southwestern ON. Shipping is usually ~$15. Let me know specifically what you may be interested in.

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post #11 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-02-2018, 05:50 PM
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If you're not going to be getting the tank for a month, you can start maturing the soil now. 5 gallon buckets, dirt, gravel, and water. Bingo!

I've never regretted over engineering a system, but often regretted under engineering one.
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post #12 of 60 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 06:39 AM Thread Starter
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Finally got the tank!!!

Cleaned the [censored][censored][censored][censored] out of it and now getting the soil into it to start the maturation process.

How deep should the soil be?
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post #13 of 60 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 07:22 AM Thread Starter
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Hardscape set up #1
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post #14 of 60 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 10:00 AM
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Do you really want that background? You are forcing yourself into somebody else's "art". Just an observation.

The hardwood you have is Mopani, good stuff. Expect it to color water tea color for a while. Also expect it to develop white gelatinous fungus, don't freak out, it's harmless and will go away in a week or so.

Enjoy your new money sink
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post #15 of 60 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 03:36 PM
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Shay,

You want the soil to be an inch thick and the cap to be two or three inches. Congrats on your new tank!

I've never regretted over engineering a system, but often regretted under engineering one.
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