Mark's 29 Gallon - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-02-2018, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Mark's 29 Gallon

Hi all,

just getting started back into planted tanks with a 29 gallon. As of this first post it's set up with initial plants but no fish.



I have some posts here from back in 2008, and I converted my last planted tank to a reef tank sometime in 2013. I had fun with reefing, still am, but I did not realize how much I missed planted.

To give you an idea where I'm coming from here are my current reef tanks:

150 gallon


40 breeder


This is the last picture I have of my planted 46 gallon bowfront.


Look at that hair algae, would ya? I still remember how good it smelled. Most things freshwater smell good, most things saltwater do NOT.

So now with years of dosing and automation and added patience I can hopefully have some fun with planted again.

I found my old CO2 dual stage regulator, bought some co2 and hooked it up via a cheap airstone for now (ceramic coming this week).


If I recall correctly this has some needle valve issues that didn't like to stay steady, which is why I don't have any livestock yet. PH drop is 7.4 morning to 6.5 evening but I have one of those indicator things arriving this week to help me figure out how the CO2 dosing is going. I have CO2 turning on right as the lights come on and off about an hour before lights out.

Lighting is a old ReefBreeders LED fixture with only the white channel running. This produces a fairly white light using some cheap 3W White LED's (8K I think) plus 2 3W Red LED's. At full power PAR is 300 on the gravel bed. I'm running at around 100 PAR.

Substrate is what I had on hand, at least for now. Aragonite below river rock. I figured the aragonite would help buffer PH but it doesn't seem to be doing anything. I may replace the substrate with something intended for a planted tank if things don't do well, but for now root tabs will have to suffice.

I bought a cheap quietflow filter from PetSmart and it is quiet, and seems to be working well.

Using an old Aqueon heater to keep the tank around 75F.

At this point, 3 days in, I expected a green tank. I'm doing everything differently from last time since I'm dosing CO2 and no livestock to worry about. I've added Phosphorus, Nitrate, and Potassium plus a couple of caps of Seachem Flourish to get things started. So far nothing spectacular has happened. I have some Thrive+ liquid fert mixture arriving today.

I think I've already made a few mistakes here, but it's the quickest way for me to learn. Another reason I don't have any livestock yet. Thanks for visiting, all advice welcome! Please.

M a r k
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-02-2018, 04:06 PM
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Excited to see how this build goes. Nice reef tanks, the growth on that pink birds nest in the 40 B is crazy, must have some strong cross-flow!
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-03-2018, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tredford View Post
Excited to see how this build goes. Nice reef tanks, the growth on that pink birds nest in the 40 B is crazy, must have some strong cross-flow!
Thanks. The pink bird has an MP10 just to the left, lots of flow in one direction.

So I've identified my first critical mistake. Aragonite, even just a thin layer, has turned the tank into a calcium reactor when CO2 is on. PH tends to try and stay near 7 and KH spikes as CO2 is added. CO2 is off until I change the sandbed. lol. That's ok though, I will use one more friendly towards plants and in the end have a much better chance at success.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-04-2018, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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I've re-read all the tank chemistry articles. Ha. I've removed most, but not all, of the aragonite and the PH stayed close to 7 while I ramped up Co2, with KH staying a steady 6. My new ceramic diffuser plus drop counter arrived so at least now I have something to count. Based on how far I had to back off the needle valve I would guess previous dosing was about 1000 drops a second. I'm up to aprox 3. My calibrated PH meter shows 7.4 PH while KH stayed at 6. This is barely different from the 7.6 PH of our hard tap water.

My Mg test is for saltwater as the scale is way too high. The General Hardness test, which I don't have, tests for calcium and Mg so I wonder if I can do a calcium test, then a GH test, and predict the Mg? I have a gallon of Magnesium but I don't think I need that much for this tank ... ever.

M a r k
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-05-2018, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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Tank is doing quite well. Got a drop checker, made a 4 KH solution, and am slowly ramping up the co2. Plant growth has taken off already, which is so much fun to see compared to saltwater where even fast growth can take weeks.

I added fish, too soon, so I've dosed BioSpira twice. Ammonia is still at 0 but will be doing frequent 50% water changes until I can convince myself I'm out of danger.

I've got a pair of Blue Tailed guppies. I've never tried to breed guppies and I want blue, not the typical red I always see around here. I also bought 6 galaxy danios, which I never see around here.



My plant tour of the Cincy area landed me some decent plants.

Narrow Leaf Ludwigia already coloring nicely but you can see the algae.


Ludwigia repens 'Super Red'


I wish I could remember what this bulb plant was edit: Red Tiger Lotus - Nymphaea zenkeri. Very pretty and already sprouting a new leaf.


This 5 gallon tank showed up as well. Shrimp tank is the plan.


Rotala (indica?) from a chain store, mis-labeled. The branch is all new growth.


Drop Checker


Business side of the tank, showing the co2 diffuser and the good tip coloration of the Ludwigia.


The guppies. Best I could find in blue.


One of the CPD's
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Last edited by markalot; 10-05-2018 at 12:25 PM. Reason: plant id
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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Ammonia still at 0 using a brand new kit. My old kit was just past expiration. 0 nitrites as well but did not do a nitrate test.

Even more growth today and no new algae. I purposely dosed some extra Seachem Phosphate for no real reason except to prove to myself excess nutrients are not the issue. I've switched over to Thrive+ for ease of dosing.

M a r k
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-08-2018, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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Things are moving along, no troubles yet.

I'm still staying dark green on the drop checker and so far no algae issues to speak of. You just know this won't last, but so far so good.

All the fish have been added, Bio Spira dosed twice, and doing weekly 50% water changes.



I just planted the Monte Carlo and Dwarf Hairgrass. I haven't grown either before so no clue what to expect.

The ReefBreeder light is now running 100% white during the day, which is a lot of PAR. I'm pushing it to get reds, which is why I expect to be farming algae any second now. I'm doing a squirt of Thrive+ daily and I've placed a couple of riit tabs below the carpet plants.

Here's a short video I took tonight. I was testing using the iPhone and uploading directly to YouTube. The CPD reminds me of a Rainbow, they even get a yellow stripe on the top of the body when courting females. I have 8 total, just added the remaining two left at the LFS. It appears I have an even ratio of male to female.


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