Reef guy starts a planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2011, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Reef guy starts a planted tank

Ok all,

Here is my plan. I don't have any pictures for anyone yet because I haven't set anything up, but will be beginning this afternoon. I'll try and get some pictures as soon as I can.

I wanted to do this project with as little money as possible. I have much of the equipment just laying around already, being into aquarium stuff for the past 20 years or so. I have a 20H tank that I've had sitting around for some time that I'm going to use. It will be filtered by a Emperor 280 with bio-wheel removed. (Haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to disable the dang spray bar yet.)

Lighting will be two Perfecto 15w T8's retrofitting into my canopy right at the top of the water. If needed, I can add a third to bring it to 45 watts, but I'll stick with 30watts at first. (I bought three Sylvania 6500k "Daylight" bulbs - 720 lumens each.) I may try and rig up some type of reflector mod but I'm just going to use what's there for now. For the little bit of lighting that is in those cheap Perfecto fixtures, they really don't do that bad of a job. I plan on rigging up DIY CO2 that will be injected into the Emperor intake.

For the substrate, I've purchased Black Diamond blast media in 30/60. I know most everyone uses 20/40 but it wasn't available in my area and I'm not going to pay to ship it. Sifting through it doesn't appear to leave any cuts or abrasions on my hands so I'm going to try it. I've read several places where people have used this grade with success. I'm going to do ~4" deep in the back and falling throughout to the front to perhaps 1.5 - 2 inches. I think the 50lb. bag should cover it. There will be one large rock, with several smaller to compliment. I'll do the driftwood in another project. I don't feel like dealing with the tanins.

For plants, I want to start with three species of which I don't know exactly yet. I'd like to have Marsilea Minuta to let grow over the bottom (if it grows too tall I'll just bring my light up to 45 watts). In the background I'd like to introduce Vallisneria Nana. To compliment these two, I'd like to get something for the "middle ground" that has a slightly larger leaf. Haven't decided yet. Suggestions are welcome. Oh, and if you happen to be selling any of these species and you'd like to ship some to me, let me know.

The only fish I'd like to have in there are some corys and neons. I don't know how many of each yet. When I did freshwater before I just arbitrarily threw whatever I wanted in the tank with not much concern for the best environment for the fish so I'll have to research this.

That's about all I can think of at the moment. Now I know there are going to be suggestions about canister filters, T5HO fixtures, pressurized CO2, etc. but we have to keep in mind that the goal of this project for me is to be successful with only what I have. If I can do that, and impress my wife enough to let me have yet another fish setup, I can get all of the stuff that I want. Until then, I'm stuck with what I have. (Plus, I like a challenge.)

Oh - I'd also like to thank the main admin of this website, plus the few that I've talked to already on here. I was able to grasp most of what I needed to know to get started fairly quickly with the resources and the people from this site. I think people these days take forums for granted. The world just wouldn't be the same without 'em.

Now I'm off to level and shim the tank stand.

Last edited by moze229; 12-12-2011 at 09:11 PM.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2011, 06:55 PM
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OOo sounds exciting- more exciting if you make it a freshwater shrimp tank! Can't wait for the pictures to go up!
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2011, 07:48 PM
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Nice! I have a reef tank too and decided to recently set up a planted tank with what I already have. Only difference is mine was already a fish tank in my classroom (I'm a teacher) that I've added more light, diy co2, and root tabs to. It's definitely fun and fortunately a lot cheaper than coral stuff!

Have fun!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-12-2011, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Got the stand leveled and stable. It was a bit more of a chore than I thought on a plain concrete basement floor. We just moved in a few months ago and the house is still going through "set me up please" syndrome. So, our basement is void of anything except a few boxes and some dirt left from construction.

Excuse the quality of the photos. Along with me not being a photographer, the basement is not the best place to take pictures and I was being too lazy to move things into better positions. So, I just did what was easy.

Substrate of choice.


I tried to cut myself with this stuff and I couldn't. Nice and silky feeling. Just hope it's not too small in terms of anaerobic reasons. Actually not a bad thing for a reef, but that's another story. I went 3" deep in the rear and worked it down to about 1.5" in the front.

Filter of choice.


I know, I know - it's too small for a 20. But, I already had it. I bought this for a reef project and didn't end up using it. I want my plants to eat all the stuff that they can. I'm going to have additional water movement via some type of powerhead/pump anyway.





Too big! The Emperor was just too big for my taste. Plus, I don't feel like messing around with that spraybar and all that.


This is more my size since I have to look at it in the tank. I'm already going to have to deal with a heater in there too. Don't worry, the canister will come later and we'll eliminate all that junk in the tank.

The lighting is going to be a little funny, but I think it should work. As I mentioned earlier, if needed I can add another. "But, how will it fit?", you may ask. Well, see the fixture where it has the big ugly bulky black console looking thing on the outside? Yeah, you can take the white part out of the fixture and just use that. Doing that, I can get three of them in there. But, for now we'll just try this.


You get the idea. I might paint the inside of the canopy white, I don't know yet. The tank also has no background. I'll likely just stick a black piece of paper back there for now. I like to paint the back of my tanks but since this may be temporary, I'll just take the easy route.

Well, that's as far as I've gotten so far. I found some cool rocks that I had in a freshwater tank umpteen years ago. Tomorrow I'll get some water in there. I know the stand and canopy is not the most attractive, but like everything else - I already have it and it's ready to go.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 02:12 AM
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Don't worry about the filter... It's like you're going to have a tank full of chaeto anyway!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 03:19 AM
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Very nice. looks like there’s more and more reef guys moving into FW every day. Myself included. I guess the fact that FW has gone a long way lately,(iv seen some sick setups on here) it being much cheaper and less of a maintenance nightmare! Is attracting more and more of us lol cheers and good luck. Ill keep and eye on your post. Im sure your going to make this look great and will soon be upgrading!
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seahunter View Post
Very nice. looks like there’s more and more reef guys moving into FW every day. Myself included. I guess the fact that FW has gone a long way lately,(iv seen some sick setups on here) it being much cheaper and less of a maintenance nightmare! Is attracting more and more of us lol cheers and good luck. Ill keep and eye on your post. Im sure your going to make this look great and will soon be upgrading!
Thanks for the comments, but you make it sound as if I'm leaving my reef for planted tanks. That is NOT the case. However, I am taking a stab at convincing my wife in allowing me to have another tank. I think she'll end up liking this one better than the reef stuff. She's been looking at that for the last 10 years or so.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 12:22 PM
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My reef is at home and my planted tank is in my classroom at school. Both have their advantages and I enjoy both! It's fun drawing comparisons and differences between the two!
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-23-2011, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Co2!!!



Haven't done a whole lot else yet since I'm waiting for plants and for the tank to cycle. I haven't been in a hurry so it's not a big deal. The DC says the water is ready for plants though. The post office was supposed to be bringing me some today but they decided that they would wait until tomorrow. So still, yet another day the plants that I ordered have to sit at the post office in a dark box.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-29-2011, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I went downstairs the other day and nitrite was at 0. Seemed like it was at or over 5 ppm forever. So, I decided to add some of the first fish. I decided on 6 glowlights and 2 cories.











Not sure what the name of these cories are, as I've usually had C. julii. These guys are not near as big as the julii but it could just be because they are not fully mature. I'd like to add 6 neons to compliment the glowlights - we'll see how the bioload goes. I've got some c. parva on the way, and I'm supposed to be getting some dwarf hairgrass sometime soon. Just waiting for someone to rescape. Also waiting on root tabs that I guess will never get here. The minuta seems to be taking well. This is week 2.5 for those.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I guess some time has gone by. LOL

In the last 8 months or so, I've learned a lot about these here planted tank thingies. It's not hard, but it's not really that easy either, you just have to find a routine that works for you. Reef tanks are much more complicated as far as water chemistry goes, but I've been doing that for so long it's like second nature.

So far, I've gone through my share of BBA, BGA (cyano), and fish disease. If you remember the first post, I mentioned using that little HOB filter rated for 5-15 gallons. I think that was a big problem for me. Even with 50% water changes per week, I just couldn't get the water clear enough for me. And, I slacked off on keeping up with the DIY CO2 so that caused the algae problems. I think no matter how much we read about this stuff, there is a lot to experience before you really get the hang of things. Here is where I am today.






Yes, the scape is horrendous and the tank is still housed in the 80's looking stand that I built years ago. If you look really close, you can see some of the BGA remnants on the c. parva. But, I've got everything in a balance and groove that I'm happy with. The plants are all happy and growing, which surprised me on a couple of the species.

I'm still using two perfecto fixtures, each with a 15 watt t8 placed directly on glass at the top of the water level. I'm also pumping in DIY CO2. I've read about people just letting them gas out until they stop then changing batch. I tried that for a while but I didn't have much luck. IME, the secret to DIY CO2 is to use a good recipe and change it weekly. Even some of the stories I've heard of the DIY mixes lasting a little over two weeks - you're going to have drop off as it nears the end of the food cycle. Yeast and sugar are so cheap you might as well just change it during the weekly water change to ensure you've got a nice flow of CO2 all of the time.

Well, that's it for now. I've still got the high-tech, all-glass ADA cube setup in mind, but I think I'll stick with this for just a bit longer first. When I set that up, I'm going to have to change a lot of the plants and the substrate. I've got a plan in the works.

Thanks for looking.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 04:03 PM
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Looks good! This is the first time I've been on the forum for a while. Good to see you're still with and that it looks so good!

I added some choya wood to mine and it ended up making my tank look horrible! The wood basically disentigrated before it would stop leaching out tannins... Terrible seller... and overall bad experience. However, the wood is out and the tank is looking much better!
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 04:09 PM
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Beautiful glowlights!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-27-2012, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob.morgan78 View Post
Looks good! This is the first time I've been on the forum for a while. Good to see you're still with and that it looks so good!

I added some choya wood to mine and it ended up making my tank look horrible! The wood basically disentigrated before it would stop leaching out tannins... Terrible seller... and overall bad experience. However, the wood is out and the tank is looking much better!
Yeah, I've got a piece of driftwood that I've had since the late 90's that I would like to use, but I just can't stand looking at tannin tinted water. I actually used this piece for a short time myself years ago but then took it out for the same reasons. I've just been too lazy to let it soak for the needed period of time.

Quote:
Beautiful glowlights!
I had six, now I'm down to two. I had a fish disease outbreak that took some of them out. I'm also down to one Cory. That's the price that gets paid when you don't know what you're doing. Of course, some of that could have been due to age/transport/ etc. I'm not going to add any more fish until I'm 100% sure that everything is in balance, even though I need to add more now.
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