First tank journal - 29 gallon low tech planted - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2020, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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First tank journal - 29 gallon low tech planted

This will be hopefully a long (and probably slow) journal of my first planted 29 gallon aquarium. I've spent last 2 months reading endless topics on this forum and sourcing for used hardware and it's finally time to start bringing it all together.

My ultimate goal is to establish a lush and healthy low tech planted tank. I am sure there will be challenges on the way so i hope this journal provides enough information for anyone reading to critique and provide suggestions along the way.

PART 1: Hardware
- Aqueon 29 gallon
- Eheim 2217
- 30 inch Nicrew Classic (According to aquarium co-op review this puts out 28-34PAR @ ~18")

I started off with buying used Eheim 2217 - it did not come with media or intake strainer but it was a great deal; plus it included the installation kit set 2:


Ikea stand i planned on using for the aquarium is 30" wide 16" deep so my options were limited to 29 gallon or 20 gallon long. At one point i considered DIY rimless option but for the first time tank it felt like an overkill.

Anyhow i ended up getting used Aqueon 29 gallon:


First order of business was making sure it was leak free and filter runs fine - after 2 weeks there were no issues so i moved to the next phase:


Painted the background black and applied cheap privacy film over top to prevent any paint damage from hoses, wiring, moving, cleaning, etc...


So far i'm happy with the results:
]

NEXT STEPS:
1. Mopani driftwood has been soaking for about a month and still leaks tanin. Will probably get purigen for the filter (it's too big to boil)

2. Ikea stand, obviously not designed for aquariums, has a very slight bow in the middle - will need to reinforce the inside to avoid any leaks

3. Fish less cycling and planting over the next 3-4 weeks

Last edited by drmrg; 02-12-2020 at 04:58 PM. Reason: Trying to correct image links
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2020, 03:22 PM
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Nice - I would recommend to spend some time researching substrate options.

It is the most difficult thing to change afterwards.

Personally I would do potting soil for a low tech tank. That way you get a CO2 supply from the organic processes in the soils layer. You would need to cap it with medium/fine gravel, sand or aquasoil. If you read Diana Walstads book, or her shrimp tank setup paper you get the general idea. https://dianawalstad.com/2017/04/12/small-shrimp-tanks/

Also this guide is pretty good:
https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...-overview.html
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-10-2020, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fpn View Post
Nice - I would recommend to spend some time researching substrate options.

It is the most difficult thing to change afterwards.

Personally I would do potting soil for a low tech tank. That way you get a CO2 supply from the organic processes in the soils layer. You would need to cap it with medium/fine gravel, sand or aquasoil. If you read Diana Walstads book, or her shrimp tank setup paper you get the general idea. https://dianawalstad.com/2017/04/12/small-shrimp-tanks/

Also this guide is pretty good:
https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...-overview.html
Thanks for this. I went back and fourth many times on what to go with, i also posted in this thread: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8...ate-setup.html

For now i'll stay away from potting soil primary because of my lack of experience. I will probably end up planting and replanting, testing what works and what doesn't, so potting soil may be a messy option.

Being in Canada my options are somewhat limited, but as it stands right now i'll likely go with Caribsea Sunset gold - I am getting root tabs as well as Strive fertilizer for water column.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Reinforced inside of the Ikea stand and tested with 100 lbs weights, seems rock solid and completely flat:


Mopani driftwood fits perfectly, there isn't much room to play with though:




Current plan for the plants:
- Christmas moss and Anubia nana on driftwood - anything more? or less?
- Something tall in the background, hoping i can hide large eheim prefilter - amazon sword, African Water Fern?
- Maybe a crypt or two mid ground
- Dwarf sag in the foreground - depending how it all comes together i might leave some sandy areas

NEXT:
- Package with fertilizers, filter media, root tabs, purigen and few others miscellaneous on the way.
- Sand
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-18-2020, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Man i never thought aquarium glass, filter, lights and stand would be the cheaper part of the build...... anyhow the "miscellaneous" has arrived:



I rinsed the sand really well before adding it to aquarium so there was minimal clouding, 24 hours later it's crystal clear:



Intake tube needs to be shortened but otherwise it should be ready for fish-less cycle and planting as soon as water parameters are measured.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-19-2020, 11:12 PM
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Looks like youíre off to a great start. Like I always do (especially with low tech) I recommend dirting the tank and using that sand to cap it. Itís going to be so, so mich easier (and more effective because of root feeders) than trying to fert the tank with an inert substrate. Dirt tanks are smooth sailing in my experience. Just my 0.02

Iím excited to watch the tank grow!! Welcome to the hobby!


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-19-2020, 11:46 PM
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Nice start! I have a 40 breeder low tech (journal link in my signature) that has mopani wood. Still leaches after 9ish months or so. I did add purigen which helps especially when the water is forced through it vs. having the option to bypass in the canister.

Good luck!



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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CluelessAquarist View Post
Looks like youíre off to a great start. Like I always do (especially with low tech) I recommend dirting the tank and using that sand to cap it. Itís going to be so, so mich easier (and more effective because of root feeders) than trying to fert the tank with an inert substrate. Dirt tanks are smooth sailing in my experience. Just my 0.02

Iím excited to watch the tank grow!! Welcome to the hobby!


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Thanks, i really like the look of the 29g in your signature, is it still kicking around?

I'm also in the early stages of choosing stocking but leaning toward Honey Gourami, cardinal tetra and oto's, similar to what you had at one point i believe. How did it work out for you?

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grobbins48 View Post
Nice start! I have a 40 breeder low tech (journal link in my signature) that has mopani wood. Still leaches after 9ish months or so. I did add purigen which helps especially when the water is forced through it vs. having the option to bypass in the canister.

Good luck!
Interestingly i do not see tannin leaching any more (didn't add purigen yet). When i was preparing the wood i was doing daily water changes in a large bucket with hot water so i assume the heat was driving tannins out, in 78F aquarium water i don't see any traces of it.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 04:22 PM
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Looks like a good start! I'll be following the progression with interest.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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PART 2: Planting

This weekend i was able to buy plants and start planting. Some were purchased at Pet Smart and some from Big Al's:

Java fern
Amazon sword
Anubias Barteri
Micro sword
Sunset hygro
Hornwort

Prep work:



Planted:










Root tabs were placed under root feeders, added sachem excel and thrive.

All done:


Looks like a pond snail caught a ride on one of the plants, should i get rid of him?



I didn't get a chance to test water parameters but that is on the agenda for tonight before i start the cycle. I think i need to fix the sand line on the front a bit and if everything survives next couple of weeks i'd like to add some Christmas moss and nana petite to the driftwood, couple of decorative rocks as well.

I "feel" like the glass canopy reflects quite a bit of light especially when condensation builds up, i wish i had a PAR meter to see where the light levels are sitting at. I read micro sword may not be the ideal low light plant but i figured i'd give it a shot and see what happens.

I'm starting to like the idea of having some shrimp in there although i read it may be difficult to keep them alive depending my stocking so that's the next thing i need to figure out. I think the driftwood provides lots of hiding places so i'm hoping that helps. This is what i was thinking, let me know your thoughts:

Start with 10 cardinal tetras, 3-4 otos and 5-10 red cherry shrimp. Wait couple of weeks or months and introduce 1-2 honey gourami's and possibly others?
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 04:43 PM
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Looks like a great start, and we can be 29g low tech buddies. I'm going to start a journal thread today as well as I'm getting mine setup, and look forward to comparing notes. Good luck and your tank is off to a beautiful start!
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 10:16 PM
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Your plants & hardscape look great!

Sorry not to weigh in sooner, but that IKEA cabinet makes me nervous. You've wisely reinforced it, but unless I couldn't see it, everything's screwed to the particleboard sides, and not resting on the floor. You might consider adding another pair of 2x4s on the sides that rest on the floor. You could paint the ends white so they wouldn't be too conspicuous.

Would hate to see you have undo all your hard work should the stand prove unstable....
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-25-2020, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Desert Pupfish View Post
Your plants & hardscape look great!

Sorry not to weigh in sooner, but that IKEA cabinet makes me nervous. You've wisely reinforced it, but unless I couldn't see it, everything's screwed to the particleboard sides, and not resting on the floor. You might consider adding another pair of 2x4s on the sides that rest on the floor. You could paint the ends white so they wouldn't be too conspicuous.

Would hate to see you have undo all your hard work should the stand prove unstable....
Good eye Actually nothing is screwed in the particle board, 2x4 box was made to fit in really snug in there so there literally no space between the top and bottom, little wiggle room between sides. Once the aquarium was filled it was rock solid, no sway in either direction or sag. I did also add couple of wall anchors just in case, i have 2 young children so you never know.

As for the bottom, I placed couple of 2x4 underneath the cabinet to support weight as well but you can't see those.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-27-2020, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Update and a question

Finally last night i had a chance to test water parameters:

After i first planted the tank i filled it with water straight out of tap, which later i realized goes through a softener:

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020
pH: 7.4
Temp: 75.0
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrite NO2: 0
Nitrate NO3: 10-20
KH:12 drops
GH:1 drop

Last night i tested mix of non-filtered water with hot tap filtered (60:40 mix) - this gave me temperature of 78F which is what aquarium is sitting at so i will likely be using this ratio for my water changes going forward:

Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
pH: 7.4
Temp: 78
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrite NO2: 0
Nitrate NO3: 10-20
KH: 13 drops
GH: 11 drop


I then tested current parameters of aquarium water (no water changes since planting):

Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
pH: 8.2
Temp: 78
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite NO2: 0.25
Nitrate NO3: 10-20
KH: 12 drops
GH: 4 drop


Couple of observations:
Aquarium pH is higher - i tested water right after 4 hour photo period, i believe this could drive pH a bit and is normal?
Aquarium Ammonia is 0 and there are traces of Nitrite - i assume plants or ferts introduced some of it and a "mini" cycle started? i didn't add ammonia yet

As far as the plants go i feel like everything is going well, at least not obviously dying yet. I did however notice couple of spots where a white fog clouds appeared (best description i can give you). See pictured bellow, is this anything i should be concerned with?







Thursday, February 27, 2020 tank update
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-02-2020, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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PART 3: Fishless cycle

Tonight i added a total of 7ml of pure household ammonia to get the tank in roughly 3-4ppm range. Added air store and some ground fish flakes so the cycle should hopefully start.

I'll be out of country for the next 7 days, when i come back i'll test the water parameters and see where it's at.
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