40b Low-Tech Adventure - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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40b Low-Tech Adventure

EDIT:
Current tank shot 4/18/18



First tank shot 4/10/18



----------------------------------------

Hello!

Been a couple years since I've been on the forum, but it's time for a new tank adventure.

I previously had a 29g planted tank running (and I use that loosely; chugging along despite all my neglect is more like it). Short story is life took a toll and I wasn't able to keep up with it. I wouldn't really call it a success even when it was running, but I had a ridiculous amount of fun with it nonetheless.

Before I abandoned the hobby I picked up a 40g breeder tank and stand with the intent of setting it up alongside the 29g. Instead I'm looking at tearing down the smaller tank and transferring the fish I have left to the larger tank.

Current fish that probably have abandonment issues but survived:
Albino Bristlenose Pleco
4 or 5 False Julii Cory
5 Cardinal Tetra

Current Equipment I'll use:
Finnex Planted+ 24/7
Eheim Classic 2215
Eheim Skim350


Plan for the fish:
  • The Cory were very active breeders when the tank was running, so I'd like to see if they pick up where they left off before I add more. If they don't, I'm looking to add at least 3 or 4 more.
  • Fill out the tetra to a school of 10
  • Add a second school of fish (still up in the air what the second group should be)
  • Add a group of shrimp (again, not sure what kind)
  • Add a main fish (apistos? gourami? bolivian rams?). I previously had a betta in the 29g that I saved from a half empty cup on the shelf at a pet store. He ruled the tank and took care of my overbreeding Cory problem. I was worried he would go after anything that looked like him, so I never added any other bigger fish. Looking for something different this time. I always loved the look of GBRs and Bolivians and a few of the larger gouramis really caught my eye.


Tank additions:
  • Considering adding a second Eheim 2215 for three reasons. 1) I don't think the single filter I have will be quite enough filtration. 2) The 40b is going in the same spot as the current tank, so I don't really have the opportunity to cycle a new larger filter. What I have is going to have to go in the new tank immediately and I don't want to do that without an established filter. 3) Had a failure on the current filter and lost a couple fish before I could get it fixed, so I'm paranoid about only running one.
  • Black Diamond Blasting Sand for substrate -- I just ordered 2 50# bags from Tractor Supply, and I'll be driving up to Kelso, WA to grab them tomorrow morning (if work doesn't run late tonight). Considering dirting the tank and then capping with BDBS, but I'm on the fence.
  • Ferts -- If I dirt the tank, I'm not too concerned with this immediately, but if I just go with straight BDBS then I'll probably dose the water column. I have dry ferts I ordered from someone on this forum a couple years ago that I didn't end up using.
  • Plants and lots of them -- I was never able to get plants to stick in the substrate of the 29g. Even with root tabs, regardless of what I planted they never seemed to do well. Probably a combination of the bull-in-china-shop pleco and the gravel. What survived isn't much, just overgrown. Trident Java fern, several large anubias and massive amounts of a floater I don't remember the name of. BBA is pretty prevalent on the java fern, but the all the anubias is pretty much unaffected. If this is salvageable then it buys me some time to buy more plants/cuttings. If not, then I need to time the actual build with a plant shipment.


What's happening this week (in theory):
  • Building the tank stand
  • Filling up the tank to check seams are okay
  • While I have the tank outside I might go ahead and put the background on. Going with a frosted background this time I think.
  • Nailing down substrate choice (straight BDBS or dirt with BDBS cap)
  • Ordering second filter (?)
  • Order a heater
  • Schooling myself on apistos (you gorgeous, gorgeous creatures)

Things I'd like some input on:
  1. Is there a shelf life on dry ferts? Should I order a new batch?
  2. The current tank has some pretty severe algae issues -- mostly BBA. Would I be better off scrapping the existing plants and driftwood and starting over?
  3. Thoughts on second school and main fish?
  4. In-line vs in-tank heater? I'm worried about the failure of in-line heaters, but the frosted background isn't going to do me any favors when it comes to hiding equipment.
  5. If I go straight BDBS, would 2 50# bags of medium grit be enough or should I get a third?


Sorry for the wall of text and lack of pictures for now. Excited to be back here and hoping a bit of accountability with a tank journal will give me the push I need to get back on track.


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Last edited by valenciaja; 04-18-2018 at 08:21 PM. Reason: Tank shot
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valenciaja View Post
  1. Is there a shelf life on dry ferts? Should I order a new batch?
  2. The current tank has some pretty severe algae issues -- mostly BBA. Would I be better off scrapping the existing plants and driftwood and starting over?
  3. Thoughts on second school and main fish?
  4. In-line vs in-tank heater? I'm worried about the failure of in-line heaters, but the frosted background isn't going to do me any favors when it comes to hiding equipment.
  5. If I go straight BDBS, would 2 50# bags of medium grit be enough or should I get a third?
1.) No
2.) Bleach or H202 treat them. You can find instructions on here somewhere.


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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 01:56 AM
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Nice start to your 40B!


I also have a 40B and went with the dirt capped with pool filter sand route. In the past I used a mix of Miracle Grow and generic topsoil (removed as much bark and roots) but with this tank decided to try mineralized soil. One main point for dirted tanks - have a plan for all your plants and stick to it. Pulling plants once they get their roots into that dirt layer makes for some mess if you later decide to move things around! I used around 70lbs of PFS for my tank so 100 should give you plenty - unless you want a huge hill then you'll need more!


I also tossed around the idea of inline verses in-tank heater but ultimately decided on in-tank just because I was hesitant at the failure reviews. I also just started using Thrive for water column fertilizing but your dry ferts should be fine.


You could try the H2O2 for the BBA. I used Excel for my outbreak just because I was already using it for my carbon addition. I think once you move things to your new tank the cleaner conditions will probably help to clear it up. I did try removing heavily covered leaves from affected plants to give new growth a chance.


Sorry but can't help you on fish selection as I just have minimal tetra populations in mine.


Good luck!

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-06-2018, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanish View Post
2.) Bleach or H202 treat them. You can find instructions on here somewhere.
I think I'll give that a shot. That with a trim might take care of it. Thanks.

Afra -- Your tank is looking great! That red flame sword is a beast.

I ended up going with straight BDBS instead of using it as a cap. I'm not sure what plants I want to use/keep and tend to play around with placement quite a bit.

Picked up the substrate yesterday, ordered the second filter and it'll be here Tuesday. I purchased a python water changer finally and I'm super excited to spend less time humping buckets around. Life changing experience. Impulse bought some plants while picking up fish food this morning. What I think is crypt wendtii, micro sword, a few stems of bacopa and rotala rotundifolia. Still not sure of a scape plan, but the main piece of driftwood I have looks like a hollowed out trunk.

Will upload pictures of the hardscape I have once I start breaking down the tank this weekend.

Last edited by valenciaja; 04-06-2018 at 07:06 PM. Reason: Accidental publish
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-08-2018, 03:51 AM
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Thanks for the compliment on the tank - soon yours will be running and growing out too!


Root tabs should do you just fine with your BDBS, plus not having to worry about making too much of a mess when moving plants around is always a pro.


I'm still in the moving 5 gallon buckets stage of WC, but I may want that 'life changing experience' so I'll have to take a look at the python system.


I think we've all done the impulse buying thing one time or another. Keep an eye on those micro swords as they send out so many runners they can get out of control quickly.


Definitely post pics when you get a chance, everyone loves pictures!

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 04:25 AM Thread Starter
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Officially started the build today.

Went to Home Depot and picked up some last minute supplies. Got a few sheets of egg crate, a couple more buckets to hold plants/fish and that I'll use to wash the substrate tomorrow. Second filter may come early and show up tomorrow. Built the tank stand



Had a black background on the 29 gallon, so wanted something a little different this time. Went with frosted privacy film. Pardon the dirty glass. I took the lazy route and only cleaned the side the film was going on.

Trying my hand at creating a slight slope from back to frontI know I need to zip tie the egg crate together, but I'm hesitant to do that until I can pull the hardscape from the old tank. I don't want to commit to the placement until I know the hardscape will fit. Didn't have snips or a saw to cut up the egg crate, so I improvised and just manhandled it with a pair of pliers. Haven't shaped it at all and honestly not sure I will (don't think it'll matter too much in the end).



Second picture of egg crate placement for now. Ignore the tank stand instructions that got buried underneath.

Quick update today. The fun/long part starts tomorrow.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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11 hours later and the tank transition is done.

Started off by pulling out all the plants. Talk about overgrown.



Pulled out at least 3 clumps just as big as this one from the driftwood. Leggy from the Nymphoides Hydrophylla 'Taiwan' blocking the light, but I was surprised how much was salvageable. I was worried all of it would be too unhealthy.





Even the anubias were massive. Had a couple different variations in the tank. Nana, Barteri and Petite. These are 2 of the larger plants.

Placed all the plants in a bucket with dechlorinated water and some tank water, then moved on to transferring the fish to a second bucket. I ran the filter in the bucket during the transition and used the Nymphoides Hydrophylla as cover to try and minimize stress. At this point I also realized I have glowlight tetras instead of cardinals. Oops.

Moved the tank out to the yard to leak test it. Should have used the Python instead of my old Aqueon to drain it though, since it took about 45 minutes to drain. Silicone inside looked clean. No leaks, but there is a seam that's a little concerning.



Not sure if this is common, I'm only going off my experience with the 29 gallon, and none of the seams had air pockets like that. Still no leaks this AM, so maybe this isn't as much of an issue as I'm thinking.

Since the draining took so long, I took the opportunity to try out some hardscape ideas.





Picked up another piece of driftwood at the LFS. I have a plant order coming with another java fern variety included. Saw the piece on the right and thought it would be a great shelf for the new java fern. Hated everything I tried up until this. Provides a hiding spot for the pleco and cory and would allow me to showcase the ferns. The plan is to create a cave of sorts. The opening is wide enough to allow me to siphon a bit inside too, which is a plus.

Zip tied the egg crate together, with lifts toward the back of the tank.

Moved the tank inside and started rinsing the BDBS. So. Much. Rinsing. By the time I was done, the new orange Home Depot bucket was nice and black on the inside. Even then, I still didn't rinse it enough.





Did 2 drains and fills with the Python. A little bit of a learning curve the second time. the air pressure in the hose caused it to shoot out of the tank and spray half the room with water. Gave myself a shower in the process. That was fun.



After 2 water changes. A lot of micro bubbles and floating sediment.

At this point it was a little past 10 pm, and after starting shortly after noon, I was losing steam. Did an H2O2 dip on all the plants, placed the java fern in the wood where I wanted it and then just threw everything else in the substrate where ever it would fit. Pardon the garbage on the substrate.



Plant package comes tomorrow, so I'll work on plant placement then. Not sure yet where to place all the anubias. I'm thinking on the piece to the far left, and along the bottom of the two larger pieces. I also have another small piece of driftwood I could attach them to, but I don't want to crowd it too much. Not sure if I'll keep everything I currently have plant-wise. Never had luck with stems before, but maybe this time will be different. Definitely should have acclimated the fish better then I did, but they're all doing fine this morning. Glowlights and cory have started to color up nicely. Was worried about overnight deaths due to shock.



Started dosing ferts this morning. Hope it isn't too early. Going with EI dosing 2x a week for now to see how plants respond. Dosing today:

1/2 tsp KNO3
1/8 tsp KH2PO4
1/8 tsp K2SO4

Also have Iron Chelate, but not sure how to dose that one. Initial searching shows it's about 1/3 whatever trace doses at.

By the time everything was back in the tank, total time spent breaking down and rebuilding was a little over 11 hours. I tried to take my time and do it right the first time, and managed to do that up until the last hour and a half or so. All in all, the transition went okay. New filter comes today. Looking to upgrade the light soon since I already almost dropped it in the tank. Looks like a 36" is needed for me. Not sure what light to get, however. I've loved my planted+, so might go that route again. I imagine it also depends on what plants I decide to keep in the tank. If I go with mostly anubias and java fern varieties, then low par won't be as much of a concern.

More to come when plants show up.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2018, 06:04 AM
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Worst part of setting up a new tank is...doing the work to set it up! Looks good and it'll be nice to watch it grow out.


Those anubias are incredible!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-17-2018, 01:06 PM
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Love it! I’m so jealous of all BDBS setups, I can’t get it up here in Canada.

As far as fish go.. my favourite in the 75 right now are the rummy nose. They school beautifully! And the colours are striking too.

Looking forward to seeing the tank progress!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-18-2018, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Week 2 update



Second Eheim is up and running. Initially I wanted to take off the spray bar on both filters, but was disappointed in the flow. Currently I have a spray bar on either side of the tank and noticing few dead spots, except for one area right at the base of the driftwood.

Went with a basic in-tank heater (Aqueon 150) and pulled the skimmer for now. I was basically using it as a powerhead, but needed the corner for the heater. I also think if I decide I need extra flow I'll just go with an actual powerhead/wavemaker. I plan on changing out the mechanical media of the older Eheim once the new filter has a chance to build up BB, so I expect flow to increase at that point anyway.

Added more plants. I probably should have a plan for plants, but I just want to see what will work at this point, so there's a little bit of everything. Thinking of picking up some more. What I think is bacopa is doing decent and so is the rotala, although it is growing sideways. I'm almost certain that has more to do with the fact that the light doesn't stretch the width of the tank. Hygrophila pinnatifida is showing new growth, so I'm excited about that. There are new shoots on the trident java fern and a few of the crypts are showing bounce back from the initial melt. Chain sword has browning leaves and no noticeable growth, as well as the Hydrocotyle japan. I think lighting might be my problem, since both of those are at the front of the tank and the light is toward the back for the stems.



Not-so-Little-Debbie keeps dislodging my new java fern and anubias pinto. Such a pal.



I ordered a new 36" light that should be here Friday. Went with the Fluval 3.0 for the customization. It's definitely more light than I need at this point, but it can be dimmed. It also means I can add co2 in the future if I decide to take that route. If the light is going to sit toward the back for the stems, I'm considering adding a second light, probably the Fluval AquaSky or a Stingray. The foreground plants seem light starved currently, but I want to wait and see what the spread will be.

Fish! Purchased a group of 8 glass cats that seem to be doing well. Also went with 3 honey gouramis (1 male, 2 female). I plan on adding a third school of something small, but would like the tank to fill out a bit more before I do that. I'm thinking either Rummynose (thanks for the suggestion SageBear) or Cherry Barbs. Also liked Pearl Danios, but they seem a little big to have a decent size school. Even the Rummys are pushing it I think, even if AqAdvisor says it's fine. Initially I really wanted CPDs, but I'm worried the glass cats will think I just gave them a live snack. With plenty of plant life, I may just go with them anyway and tempt fate.





No breeding activity from the cory, but the glowlights started spawning and then promptly eating the eggs. Works for me.

Unfortunately I'm heading back to graveyard shifts at work, so I no longer will be in the land of the living. The room the tank is in is dark, so I'm going to do a blackout period and flip the light hours on the tank so it doesn't keep me up and I can still enjoy it. Happy I set it up when I did.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 03:13 PM
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Tank is coming along nicely - those glass catfish are really unique looking!

I eventually had to add a second light as my single strip was not covering enough - I had an old Fluval Aquasky from my 20L that just fit with its adjustable feet pulled nearly all the way out. I feel it provides a decent amount of light but it does have shadowing in the corners so take that into account when making your decision.

Have you thought about doing a background?

BTW, been doing the graveyard shift for 5 years now and really love being away from the land of the living. lol Luckily the tank is in the foyer so it can stay on normal time and I still get to enjoy it in the morning when I get home and in the evening when getting ready for work. Good luck with your time swap.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-22-2018, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I did graveyards for about 2 years before I started working swing shortly after the holidays. I liked it, but I did enjoy the sun these past couple months haha.

I put a frosted background on but it's underwhelming that's for sure. I bought a small can of black paint yesterday, so I think I'm going back to black soon enough. Now I'm kicking myself for not leaving more space between the wall and the tank.


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