iskandarreza's first dirt tank (56k Warning) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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iskandarreza's first dirt tank (56k Warning)

Hey folks, I've decided that I'm gonna do a journal for this 15g dirt tank that I started in late October. This is also my first tank journal and my second planted tank. I figured it would probably be better to put all posts relating to this tank in one place, instead of starting several separate but related threads as I had done before. Any and all input is appreciated, be it praise or criticism.

Backstory: In late July this year my good friend Rob decided to move back to England after 3-4 years in Malaysia. So he has to give away the tank and fish, and I said I'll take it. I already have a 1.5 feet tank that someone else donated that I've planted and was doing well, so the planted tank fever was strong in this one. He had a 24L x 12D X 15H tank with a pleco, a ghostfish, a talking catfish, a clown loach and a clown barb in it. I didn't do anything to the tank until early October because I had just moved into a new place in the second week of September.

First week of October I moved the tank into the apartment we're now staying at and it sits in the living room. Wife complained it was not very aesthetically pleasing, so I poured in river sand and placed lava rock caves to make it look better. That would be the point where I started the tank.

Within a few weeks I had bought equipment and was ready to transform this tank:

25th October 2011

At that point, this was the gear -
Filter: Eheim 2213, some kind of powerhead sponge filter originally there
Lights: Aquazonic 2x24w T5HO

While all the above was going on, I was preparing some to mineralize some dirt. In fact it was the first thing I did when we moved in the tank in September. But since I live in an apartment, the process is much slower due to limited space and direct sunlight.

Anyway, after pouring in river sand the wife complained that it was an eyesore. Well she didn't actually say anything, but I can tell that when she looked at it she wasn't too pleased. In fact it was that same look that made me plant my first tank, the 8g in my user tank profile. But I digress. I enjoy gardening anyway and I love my wife.

So impatiently I tried to expedite my soil mineralization process by boiling it after only 2 wet/dry cycles and mixing in the wrong type of kitty litter. Probably why I'm having high phosphate and GH problems now. It's "partially-mineralized topsoil" is what I have. A word of warning for new people -- take it easy, take it slow. You can't rush things with aquariums.

I arranged for all the existing fish to be moved to new homes, dumped in my partial MTS, bought some driftwood and plants and started planting. It came out looking like this:

4th November 2011

A day later I put in 2 Sterbai Corys, 4 Bronze Corys and 5 Three-lined Corys. 2 days later I went nuts purchasing zebra danios.

7th November 2011

The next day the water went super cloudy. I blame the danios for exciting the otherwise calm corys into kicking up the substrate.

8th November 2011

Next evening (when the lights come on) I come home to see a brown algae outbreak.

9th November 2011

I gathered as many snails as I could find in my other tanks and tossed them in there. I could see that there was some cleaning going on due to that move.

10th November 2011

But it didn't get any better after several days and I considered getting otos but was advised to be patient as this type of algae is common in a new tank.

I took the advice and it did clear up within a week. However my water was ridiculously hard. 20+ GH despite 30% water changes every 3 days since the algae outbreak. So I recommissioned the old power head to specialize in water softening; I removed the sponge and put Sera Super Peat in it's place.

17th November 2011

By that time I had removed the Amazon Swords and replaced them with a hygrophila polysperma variant and some kind of stem plant. I think it looks better this way.

I still have a bit of an algae problem today but it's not too serious. Earlier today I went and bought an RM20 (about USD6.50) RESUN MAGI-200 filter. It's not bad, looks better than the other powerhead. Filled it up with fresh peat and replaced the old powerhead with this sleek looking thing.

2nd December 2011

At least it's not taking up too much tank real-estate. My GH is now around 11 degrees. Just a little bit more to go. 5 degrees sound ok to you guys?

Current fish stock:
8 Zebra Danios
2 Sterbai Corys
4 Bronze Corys
5 Three-lined Corys

I had believed that the grass is Dwarf Saggitaria, and I've been trimming it every few days because it grows so fast. When I spoke to the owner of my LFS, he said it couldn't be dwarf sag because those require cooler water than 80F to grow fast and it might be something called tenerus (well that's how it sounded like anyway, who knows how it's spelled).

Well, that's my long spiel. Give me feedback, guys. I've no idea what plants are in there except the Sunset Hygro, Java Moss, Petite Nana and some java fern variant. What grass is that? What crypt is that? If you look closely there's also something underneath the Sunset Hygro that looks like a caladium, except it grows underwater. And what is that stem plant in the back left corner?

This was a haphazardly put together tank. I'm gonna take my time prepping the last unscaped tank later, a 15L x 10D x 15H number.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 02:04 PM
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iska i love your easy going a la "bob ross" approach in scaping... and i'm not trying to be funny! i think your tank looks great would love to see the plants become fully established.

i suggest however, to let your plants become more established {2-3 months} at least before planting more fast growing species. i did the same thing in my nano and i had a crazy race for survival in there lol... i was pulling 24" stems out of a 12" tall tank and is the reason i have a 20L now!

i think your tank looks great because it is simple. i am sure it will look even better just grown in.

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails”

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Hahah I just read up on Bob Ross on wikipedia and I think he's definitely my kinda guy. I especially liked this part:

When asked about his laid-back approach to painting and eternally calm and contented demeanor, he once commented: "I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, 'Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.' That's for sure. That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news."
I dunno if I should even attempt to add any more plants. Maybe at the back right corner. I was thinking of letting the plants there grow and fill up. It's the same kind of plant as the one at the front right corner but it's growing much slower than the grass, the hygro and that stem... what plant is that anyway?

Closer shot:

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:21 PM
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I would let things calm down and grow out before adding more plants to be honest.

The Fraternity of Dirt #5
I'm dirty

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- 06/2012

.sdrawkcab dootsrednu tub sdrawrof devil si efiL
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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New update: It's been two weeks and things have not calmed down at least where some of the plants are concerned. I no longer have to mow the grass, but I keep having to trim and prune the sunset hygro. It's growing really fast. This is after 4 trims in 2 weeks. First trim was right after the last photo in my last update. I placed some of it around the java fern and petite nana to provide shade since they prefer a lower light.

90 degree straight shot from the front:

19th December 2011

30 degree angle from above front:

19th December 2011

Water params are:
ph: 7.1
kh: 12
gh: unknown, can't find a gh test kit for some strange reason since my last one ran out
Temp: 80F/30C
DIY CO2/Drop checker is Carlsberg green

The remaining 3 sets of trimmings are growing quite well in my 15Hx15L 10g:

19th December 2011

That 10g tank will be my second dirt tank soon. I'm taking my time mineralizing the topsoil for that tank and in the meantime I've got a moss-wall started there; in a month or so when the soil is done the moss-wall should start looking pretty wicked and I'll start a journal on that tank. For now it's just a holding tank for plants and fish that I don't know what to do with.

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Just because its dirt doesn't make it low tech

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