55 gallon up from the graveyard (take 2) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-26-2019, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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55 gallon up from the graveyard (take 2)

So. I introduced myself in late Feb. & my tank is finally set up, and cycled, ready to add fish. here's how she looks. This is a basic set up, just to introduce the hobby to my daughter. The base is over 25 years old and so is one of the two magnum 350 canister filters hooked to an undergravel filter system. I also have a basic Top Fin 75 (over the side) filter.
June 2019 = Marineland Biowheel 60 added to one of the Magnum 350s exhaust tubes.
August 2019 = Intake sponge added to the Top Fin 75.

5/4/19 = 6 Pristella Tetras added

5/17/19 = 6 Red Eye Tetra added

6/5/19 = 2 Clown Plecos added.

7/4/19 = 6 Candy Cane Tetras added..

8/10/19 = 7 Cardinal Tetras added, 8/19/19 3 Cardinal Tetras added.

8/19/19 = tank surface divider added along with Frogbit.
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Last edited by sittinglynx; 08-19-2019 at 08:59 PM. Reason: fish added
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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5/1/19 = 5 gal water change, 10 drops of PH down added.

5/3/19 = PH 8.4, Ammonia 10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 15, KH 3, GH 7
55 drops of PH down added.

5/4 = PH 8.4, evaporation top off

5/8 = PH 7.8, Ammonia 10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, KH 4, GH 8, Temp 78.8

5/9 = 5 gal water change, temp 76.4

5/12 = PH 7.8, Ammonia 15, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, KH 3, GH 8, Temp 74.8

5/14 = 5 gal water change, plus 2 gal evaporation top off. Temp 73.4

5/15 = PH 7.8, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, KH 3, GH 6, Temp 73.8

5/17 = Filter media changed. Nitrate Sponge mixed in with Activated Carbon. Top Fin 75 filtering Peat Moss. Temp 77.4

5/18 = PH 7.5, Ammonia .10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, KH 3, GH 6, Temp 79.9

5/19 = 5 gal water change. Peat moss in filtration cut in half, Temp 78.4

5/20 = PH 7.2, Ammonia .15, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .15, KH 3, GH 7, Temp 76.1, Triple Sulfa added

5/21 = Temp 72.4, Triple Sulfa added

5/22 = 10 gal water change. 2.5 gal evaporation top off. Triple Sulfa added, Temp 71.5

5/23 = Triple Sulfa added, Pimaflex added. Temp 74.6

5/24 = 10 gal water change, Pimaflex added.

5/25 = Pimaflex added

5/26 = Pimaflex added. Temp 74.5

5/27 thru 5/30 Pimaflex added. Temp over 77 once

5/31 = 10 gal water change plus evaporation top off. Temp 76.4 (before water change)

Last edited by sittinglynx; 06-24-2019 at 01:13 AM. Reason: May edits 2019
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-02-2019, 02:33 AM
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Ahh magnum 350s. I was just looking at the base of one of those in storage. Why do I have it? No excuse other than being a pack rat.

Welcome back as I missed take 1. I hope your kids eyes light up when they watch the fish and all else that goes on in it.

Why ph down? The new line of thought is not to chase ph. As long as tds/gh/kh is stable, don't worry about the ph so much. This will especially be true if you ever decide to go full in on plants and start injecting co2.

Adapt the fish to your tank and not the other way, I've read.

Here's one.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.rat...water-aquarium

Ehh. Videos are more fun

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 01:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the response ipkiss

To answer your question, I though a minor PH adjustment from 7.8 (my tap) to the low 7s would be an easy/minor adjustment. I added 20 drops of PH down when I topped off evaporation and then 10 drops during my 1st partial water change (& that's minor for a 55 gal tank) I got it down to 7.4 with these two adjustments and I thought this would be easy to maintain. However, I just did my 1st water change when my Nitate level reached 20 and my PH just jumped to 8.4?? The only X factor here was I used an old 5 gal water bottle to make the change, but I rinsed it out well so I'm at a loss for what caused such a jump. If this instability continues, I'm on board with your thought process & I'll have to change my plans.

As far as adapting the fish to the tank, my family lives in a very old house w/o central air. Although it's a rarity when my house gets a little too warm (because we live under very old trees), my thoughts for a stocking plan is for fish that can tolerate higher temps, just in case. I hope to get Cardinal Tetras, X-ray Tetras, Penguin Tetras, Green Kubotai Rasbora, and upside-down catfish.

When I tore down my old set up (maybe 8 years ago) I had a planted tank with Rainbows. I loved that tank I have the itch to set up again & I'm trying to be realistic with my time & budget, but if my little girl starts to take interest, I can see moving towards a planted tank again, lol!
Thanks again for the post and the link. I appreciate it
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 01:41 AM
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as @ipkiss said don't try to make the ph suit the fish and instead let the fish get adjusted to the tank. most fish we keep will adjust perfectly fine to ph that may be considered out of their range. .3 is not something worth worrying about to try and play with. your fish will be fine at 7.8 as they would at 7.5. if you want to get it down and keep it down then options like peat moss or leaves like indian almond leaves, oak leaves and many others will more naturally bring down the ph. these will tannin the water a bit and add that brownish look so keep that in mind.

you say you may have temp swings and i think rainbows deal with that just a bit better then fish like tetras do since rainbows natural habitats can have large swings in temp depending on season. this is as long as your temps aren't dropping to far down.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 02:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the tip. I just watched a video on taking a small amount of peat moss and putting in a breeders bag. I think I might try this instead of the PH down. I'm not worried about the 7.8 as much as the spike to 8.4 after my 1st water change without knowing exactly why. As far as the temp, I'm more worried about a warm tank in the hot summer. My wall units keep most of the house comfortable, but during that rare time when it gets to the upper 100s, I can see me struggling to keep my tank in the low 80s. I have added a small air pump with 2 airstones to give the tank a little more oxygen. Thanks again, you taught me something & I appreciate it
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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So I added Red Eyed Tetras yesterday. My plan was Head & Taillight Tetras, but the local store was out. I'm happy with them, they are cool schooling fish. I'll have more pics soon (my wife's phone has a better camera than mine, lol!)

My next move is to add a Clown Pleco. I thought that would be a good choice because they can handle higher temps (no central air in my house), and their suggested PH range is pretty high, although I don't know if it will clean my plastic plants very well at all. I bought some filter bags full of peat moss and added one to my biowheel filter hanging off the side of the tank. I think I need to buy some filter bags and split what I got in half, I think a minimal addition is all that's needed here (if at all). If anyone can tell me how much (in your experience) peat moss can lower PH, I would appreciate it. My water hasn't browned (yet), as a result which is great! I also have two small pieces of driftwood that I scrubbed, boiled and soaked for the up coming Pleco. I've added one of the two so far & I'm waiting for the other one (still soaking) not to float.

My stocking plan is to either add 6 Candy Cane Tetras or 8 Green Kubotai Rasbora & then 6 Cardinal Tetras and call it a day.

I'm a little worried that my Nitrate is consistent at 20ppm. It makes me think that my tap might have some Nitrate, so with my 1st media change, I mixed Nitrate Sponge with my activated carbine into my canister filters. I know 20ppm is safe, but I guess I'm a little obsessed with my water chemistry.

Last edited by sittinglynx; 06-06-2019 at 12:33 AM. Reason: typeO
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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5/19 - Today I came home to an 80 degree tank and one of my new Red Eye Tetras has Mouth Fungus. I took off the aquarium cover and have a fan on the water surface. I also hooked up the downstairs air conditioning (which I had planed to do anyway). Because its Sunday, I'll have to look for Meds tomorrow

5/24 - Yesterday, I doubled up on the fungal treatment with the last dose of Triple Sulfa & a 1st dose of Pimaflex. I've kept the tank under 77 degrees since discovering the cotton mouth & that tetra is almost clear. Unfortunately, one of my Pristilla Tetras now has Cotton Wool disease. I feel like I'm between a rock & a hard place because I believe this outbreak was cause by the Red Eye Tetras having problems before I bought them, but I was just getting ready to add my tanks 1st bottom feeder just after this addition. So now, I'm not running filters without media so the meds can do their job, I have no bottom feeder yet, and I run my canister filters with an undergravel system, so I'm reluctant to vacuum my gravel because I don't want to remove the good bacteria in my tank. I'm going to double up on meds from this point on & keep up with the heavier water changes. Not fun times. Hopefully this will stabilize with a minimum loss of stock (none yet, knock on wood).

5/31 - Yesterday was the end of the Pimaflex treatment. Looks like I lost one Red Eye Tetra.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED - Although I planned on stock that could be comfortable in temps at or slightly over 80 degrees, I will made efforts to keep the tank at or under 77 degrees to prevent fungus (or at least while adding new stock or when Nitrates get high).
Also, when adding new stock, I plan to pretreat the tank (as if the new fish have a bacteria or fungus infection). I thinking about a DYI chiller for the summer months.

6/2 - After weeks with the carbon out of my filters, My Nitrate is through the roof. I mixed Nitrate Sponge with my Activated Carbon and I'll have to get those back in today.

6/5 Good news, I didn't loose a Red Eye Tetra like I though! 6 counted during this morning's feeding

Last edited by sittinglynx; 06-05-2019 at 12:18 PM. Reason: more fungus, damn!
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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So I have to keep my hard cover on because I have cats, but with my lights off, I fanned my tank with my Ryobi fan that uses an 18 volt drill battery. That with air conditioning set up in my livingroom, I got the tank down to 76.1 degrees. Now for meds.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 11:41 PM
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You are headed in the right direction by medicating and reducing temp. I hope things go well for you. We all hate to lose beloved fish.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-02-2019, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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6/2 = PH 7.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .80, KH 5, GH 7, Temp 75.4

6/5 = PH 7.6, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .40, KH 3, GH 7, Temp 75.6, peat moss changed in biofilter, 5 gal. water change.

6/7 = PH 7.8, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .40, KH 4, GH 8, Temp 77

6/9 = (AM) 5 gallon water change with evaporation top off / (PM) PH 7.5, Ammonia 10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .30, KH 2, GH 5, Temp 75.6

6/12 = 5 gallon water change/Dried Peat moss added to filter for 2nd running. PH 7.5, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .40, KH 4, GH 6, Temp 75

6/15 = 5 gallon water change AM, Peat moss moved to canisters / (PM) PH 7.7, Ammonia .10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .40, KH 4, GH 6, Temp 73.6

6/21 = 5 gallon water change & evaporation top off, Temp 78

6/23 = PH 7.0, Ammonia .10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .50, KH 3, GH 6, Temp 74.3

6/26 = 5 gallon water change and evaporation top off. Temp 77.5

6/29 = (AM) PH 7.2, Ammonia .10, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .80, KH 3, GH 8. (PM) 5 Gallon water change, Temp 76.5

6/30 = (AM) 5 Gallon water change. (PM) PH 7.6, Ammonia .20, Nitrite 0, Nitrate .60, KH 4, GH 8, Temp 76.4

Last edited by sittinglynx; 07-01-2019 at 01:38 AM. Reason: June edits 2019
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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6/24/19 So, today I started modifying my tank to accommodate my new (old stock) Bio Wheel Pro 60. I'm having trouble keeping my nitrates down, so I'm focusing on better filtration before adding more stock. Currently I'm running two Magnum 350 canister filters hooked to an undergravel filter. The canisters have activated carbon mixed with nitrate sponge and media bags of peat moss stuffed on top of the media container to keep the PH down. The two biowheels hook up to one of the canister filter's exhaust and I plan on having one hooked up to each canister.

So, what I started to do today was to raise the Oak hard cover an inch so the old style biowheels have the height they need to operate pinched to the back rim of the tank. Next, I'll have to take the overhead lights off the plastic covers and attach them to the inside ceiling of the oak hard cover. The good thing about this set up is that this will allow the tank to be lit and not have heat trapped in the tank with the fitted plastic covers right over the water surface. The bad thing about this set up is I have to unhook the lights every time I take the oak top off to do a water change, but at least, the cord to my overhead lights has a disconnect so I don't have to unplug every time.

I'm hoping my two canister filters drawing from the undergravel filter and pushing four biowheels on return will created twice the good bacteria needed to reduce nitrates so I can comfortably add more stock. Pics to come on this process.

7/2/19 The 1st pic shows the inside of my tank cover. The rubber stoppers that serve as spacers are actually 2 inch decking screws that I covered with electrical coupling covers. I drilled the screws to the length that brought the end of the rubber pieces to just touch the wood. The screw heads fit nicely inside the rubber cover meant to safely cover joined together wires, but in this case serve to act a a buffer against my glass tank. My tank is rimed, but you never know when you might accidentally hit the glass side while putting on the cover. this raises my cover as it sits atop about an inch.

The 2nd pic shows the inside of my cover again with the lights that came with my started kit, but I removed the lights from the plastic insert covers and mounted them directly. Now, luckily, each 24" light plugs into a "Y" cord that attaches to the plug cord. So, I took a piece of plastic string from my lawn trimmer and attached it to the window lock in back of the tank. this attached to the "Y" cord with electrical tape. So, when I need to take off the cover for tank maintenance, I unplug the lights from the "Y" cord and the rest of the cord hangs from the trimmer string so I don't have to reach very far to plug the lights back in. This has reduced my tank temperature while still being able to keep the display lights on during the day. This may bite me in the rear in the winter, but right now, I'm loving it.

The 3rd pic shows why these modifications were needed. The new "Old Stock" Biowheels 60s from Marineland hooked right up to one of my 2 old Magnum 350's exhaust tubing , but the plastic light cover inserts did not allow such a long filter piece coupled with their moldings, so they had to go. And, in order to raise the covers on the BioWheels, I had to raise the Oak tank cover just a bit.

The 4th pic shows the new set up in my filtration. I wasn't sure if I would get another BioWheel 60 for my other Magnum 350 drawing from the other side of the undergravel filter. I think I will modify the TopFin 75 that came with the starter kit instead with as much sponge as I can get into it. I like the water surface motion that it and the other Magnum 350 gives together & I don't want to loss that much surface agitation.

Project complete
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"The Sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has literal meaning: We are all in the same boat" -Jacques Yves Cousteau

Last edited by sittinglynx; 07-03-2019 at 02:03 AM. Reason: pics
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 06:49 AM
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End product of biowheels bacterial breakdown action is nitrates so will only increase from current state. Only way to reduce nitrates without real plants is water changes or setup a anaerobic/denitrifying filter.

I’d go buy you some real frogbit as a floating plant. It gets all light and co2 it needs from water surface to grow and is very easy to thin out as it grows to keep in check. Takes about 5min and you barely have to get your hands wet. It can really suck down some nitrates as it grows because of its high metabolism. So every time you thin some out and send it to compost heap/trash your removing nitrogen (and phosphate) from your tank.

Plus your tetra will love swimming around under it.

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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 11:14 AM
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I'll second Dave's suggestion of floating plants as the best way to remove nitrates & other nutrients. Frogbit isn't always easy to find, so some other commonly available floating plants are water sprite, hornwort, and elodea or anacharis. These three can also grow planted in gravel. Not sure if you'r keeping your undergravel filter, but in my experience (years ago) not all plants like to root with undergravel filters. If that's the case, they'll let you know by breaking free and going back to floating life--no harm no foul. Some other easy plants that you can grow attached to rocks, ornaments or driftwood are anubias, java fern, & java moss. You can even get them already attached at places like Petco. But floaters are definitely the best at removing nutrients, and your fish will love them.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you @DaveKS & @Desert Pupfish. I'll look in to what you have suggested and give it a shot. I'm interested in as little maintenance as possible at this point & that is why I've shied away from a planted tank set up to date. I'm proud that I haven't lost a fish yet since I set up, but I feel I need to improve the water quality before adding stock. Especially since its an effort to keep the water temp down in my old house. I appreciate you both taking time to share your knowledge

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