uncskainch's 29 -- updated 05/06/07 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-01-2005, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
 
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uncskainch's 29 -- updated 05/06/07

I'm in the planning/beginning stages with my 29 gallon, so I thought I would go ahead and start a journal so everyone can see this tank grow right from the beginning. Here is a photo of the current tank:



Please ignore:
--the breeder trap with 3 week old swordtail fry
--the bubble wand, which I will ditch once I upgrade the lighting and get CO2
--the fork-skewered broccoli that my otos have been enjoying in the foreground

Tank details:
Perfecto 29 gallon glass tank
Penguin 330 filter
100 w heater
Flourite and black gravel substrate
ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10-20
PH around 8, very hard water (well)
Tank started in mid-February 2005

Tank inhabitants:
3 adult swordtails (1 neon, 2 pineapple wag)
swordtail fry (24-26 at the moment)
5 otocinclus catfish
6 zebra danios
18 ghost shrimp
pond snails galore

Future possible tank inhabitants:
khuli loaches
cherry shrimp (once I set up a small shrimp breeding tank)
I might keep another adult swordtail or two from this batch of fry

Current plants (all bought before I knew any better!):
Java fern (several plantlets forming)
wisteria (limping along, marginally happily)
cabomba (limping along, quite unhappily)
some sort of swordplant (ID, anyone?), growing very slowly but steadily in the lefthand corner

Immediate plans:

(1) Switch from plastic tank hood to Perfecto glass canopy

(2) Switch from the oh-so-impressive 15w light that came with the tank to a 65w Coralife fixture

(3) Add DIY CO2 with a Hagen ladder and 2 DIY bottles

All of that will likely take place over the next few months as budget permits. So in the meantime, I'm planning, planning planning. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on what THEY might do with this tank -- maybe give me some things to think about that I haven't already.

Some of what I'm thinking right now:
-- I have to keep a relatively budget (I can't afford pressurized CO2 or any other big equipment changes right now)

-- I'm rather fond of my driftwood, but I'm open to the idea of moving it, replacing the rainbow rock, or other hardscape ideas (but if you think the driftwood looks awful, I'm open to hearing that opinion, too)

-- I like my mix of fish at the moment -- I'm a big swordtail fan, and love watching my otos school with the danios just before lights-out -- but if people have other ideas for new inhabitants, I'd be interested to hear them

-- I'd like a mix of green and red in the tank, and I'm thinking about going with a triangular shaped section in the middle with midground plants, flanked by something low-growing on either side with taller stem stuff in the back, but if that seems too simplistic, let me know. Specific plant suggestions for the light/CO2 I'm planning would be very welcome!

Anyway, I'm excited to be starting out and look forward to hearing your thoughts! As I upgrade my equipment over the next several weeks/months, I'll be sure to update here. Thanks to everyone on the board who has helped me get this far.

Best,
Kathy

Last edited by uncskainch; 05-06-2007 at 12:55 PM.
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-02-2005, 03:06 AM
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The single biggest decision you need to make now is lighting. I have a 29-gallon tank and it's lit with two 55W compact fluorescant bulbs. You can't beat the reflectors from AH Supply but you need to be a little bit handy to make the hoods. Otherwise, you will neef to find a finished hood ready to plug in out of the box. One 55W light will do fine if you choose to plant either in the front or back only, but it can limit you plant selection as well.

Alternanthera reineckii is an easy-to-grow red plant and in lower light the folage is a nice green. If you want something that grows well in moderate light that will have pinkish tips as it grow to the surface, try rotala indica.

In time your sword will become a beautiful plant and unfortunately grow into a monster. Enjoy it while you can. Crypts will fit in your tank better than a sword and they propagate readily. Another broad-leaf plant that fits nicely in a 29-gallon tank is anubias frazeri. It will grow up about a foot, looks great and it's hard to kill.

Your cabomba has limited life unless you get into that four watts/gal range. I tried at one watt/gal and it didn't work!

In time you may find it necessary to upgrade your current hardware. That's fine. I did that and I'm sure others have as well. That's part of learning. Enjoy.

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This message is always under construction: 75-gallon tank; 2, Eheim 2026 filters - one twice broken; Tek Light with 4, 54W T5s (6000K) ; Sand on top of 4:1 sand:clay mixture; Milwaukee CO2 controller; PlantGuild vortex CO2 reactor; pH = 6.6, kH=70mg/l, GH=120mg/l; EI; Flourish excel on 50% weekly water change: AGA Member.

Last edited by g8wayg8r; 11-06-2006 at 01:40 AM.
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-02-2005, 04:33 AM
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That's great about getting the stronger lights. I think those rocks on the right doesn't give you the natural looks. For the wood, I think it doesn't look that much natural with it standing up...maybe you can lay it down? Well, that's what I would do. If you're the outdoors type of person (that's me) you should go on a hike with streams. I found a nice piece of driftwood and a bunch of rocks that makes my aquarium look more natural.

I think the sword plant is Echinodorus bleheri. I'm not that sure though...

Good luck!!

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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-02-2005, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Andrew and Jeff, for the tips and suggestions. I'm torn between getting the single 30" Coralife 65w freshwater fixture and their double 30" 65w freshwater fixture. The single bulb will get me 2 and a quarter watts per gallon and the double will be closer to 4 and a half. Big difference!

I guess I'm weighing price (if I opt for the double, I'll be waiting a bit longer to get it, but I'm okay with that if I decide it's what I really want) and wondering how big a difference, in terms of plant selection, it would make to go with the double vs. the single. I suppose I'm also a little bit intimidated at the idea of a high light tank -- I want to do this right, but 4 1/2 watts seems like a lot, which would requiring more sophisticated dosing, maintenance, etc. Any thoughts? (If someone can reassure me that the dosing isn't too complicated and I can supply enough CO2 with DIY, at least short-term, maybe I'll take the high light plunge!)

Also, on the hardscape, I'm planning to ditch the rainbow rock once I get everything set for a real aquascape. Right now, it gives the shrimp a place to hide and the danios something to zoom in and out of, but it's not really the look I want, and once there are a lot of plants in the tank, there will be plenty of places for critters to hide and play tag. Maybe I can find some more natural looking rocks to create a cave/sheltered space?

As for the driftwood, it's bolted to a piece of shale that holds it upright, but I suppose I could unbolt it, or saw it off. (Has anyone done this?) Of course there will be a flat side to it, but that could be covered up by plants or pointed toward the back of the tank.

Thanks for the tips on plants that might do well -- I'll look into a smaller broadleaf plant to replace my sword when it gets too large. It's really pretty and growing very slowly with my 1/2 watt per gallon right now, so at least I have something nice to look at while I wait to buy the lights and set up CO2. I'd welcome other suggestions!
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-02-2005, 10:02 PM
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Hehehe at the fork-skewered broccoli! I don't know what it is about it, but seeing that just made my day. I would never have thought about holding down a veggie like that.

If your driftwood is anchored down by some rock, be careful because chances are that if you seperate it, the wood will float!

Edit: If your substrate allows, you could probably tilt the wood, having the slate exposed a little, and just hide it with plants like you had suggested.

I really like the shape of the wood.

Last edited by Pia; 04-03-2005 at 06:14 AM.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-03-2005, 05:08 AM
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never mind about the wood...maybe you should get some moss and tie them on? I think it would be alot safer not unbolting the wood. The would might float. Maybe tilt it down left a little? I think it would look more natural...well that's just me. Good luck!

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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-03-2005, 11:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pia
Hehehe at the fork-skewered broccoli!
Kathy just has very well mannered fish that were taught not to eat with there finners !
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-03-2005, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncskainch
As for the driftwood, it's bolted to a piece of shale that holds it upright, but I suppose I could unbolt it, or saw it off. (Has anyone done this?) Of course there will be a flat side to it, but that could be covered up by plants or pointed toward the back of the tank.
Most often the wood is attached to the rock via a stainless steel screw. If you have a drill you can reattach the wood in whatever manner you choose.
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-03-2005, 07:10 PM
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also, you need to take out the bubble wall. it will drive away any CO2 in the tank; plants will make enough for fish to thrive

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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-04-2005, 03:12 AM
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Kathy:

The alternanthera in the photo above was grown directly below a 55w bulb, where the watts/gallon was equal to 1.9. If you put your plants below the bulb, you will not have a problem until/unless they grow a bunch. You will need to trim them so the bottom is not deprived of light. You will find that there is a world of difference between 2 watts/gallon that is concentrated over a few inches or spread out over the top of your tank.

Andrew, MASI Treasurer

This message is always under construction: 75-gallon tank; 2, Eheim 2026 filters - one twice broken; Tek Light with 4, 54W T5s (6000K) ; Sand on top of 4:1 sand:clay mixture; Milwaukee CO2 controller; PlantGuild vortex CO2 reactor; pH = 6.6, kH=70mg/l, GH=120mg/l; EI; Flourish excel on 50% weekly water change: AGA Member.
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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-04-2005, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm now seriously considering the 2x65w Coralife fixture, which would allow me to run bump up to 4+ wpg, or to adjust my lighting so that I have one tube on for part of the day with a high light period in the middle. If I'm overwhelmed by the demands of a high light tank, I could always just run one bulb at a time.

Oh -- and I am planning to remove the bubble wall once I get CO2 and higher light -- it's just something for the fish to play in at the moment.

Maybe I'll try removing the slate from the driftwood and reattaching it so that it is less vertical in the tank. Thanks for the suggestion. (Plus it will give me something to play around with while I save up for better lighting!)
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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-28-2005, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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Rearranged -- better?

I took some advice from the forum and I'm slowly improving my tank. This is, of course, nowhere near where I want it to be, but I want to use this journal to document the long haul, so here it is!

Please ignore the hard water spots on the background (on my to-do list), the reflections on the glass (I'll take the next pictures after dark to reduce those!) and the cloudiness -- I did a massive water change a little while before I took this shot and the water still hasn't cleared up all the way.

The changes:

-- removed driftwood from slate, decided on a new angle for it, reinstalled slate (it was attached with a square-drive screw of all things! Ugh!)

-- attached java fern to driftwood (it looks a little funky at the moment because it hasn't oriented itself to its new direction yet)

-- removed rainbow rock

-- removed bubble wall

-- replaced broccoli-skewering fork with cucumber-holding clownfish

-- added crypts and dwarf lily bulbs

-- removed most of the dying cabomba and wisteria

-- added two clown loaches for snail control (working beautifully)

-- released swordtail fry into the community tank -- the 18 of them will be headed to the LFS for store credit once they get a little bigger

Still on the to-do list:

-- Upgrade lighting -- Thanks to the good advice from Rex Grigg and others in the lighting forum, I have realized that 2x65w lighting would probably require pressurized CO2, and I won't have $150+ to spend on that any time soon, so rather than get the get the double light and run one strip, which would unevenly light the tank, I'm going to go with just the 65w fixture for now. I may regret that later and upgrade to a high light set up, but I think this is the best short-to-medium term solution for my budget.

-- Get going with DIY CO2.

-- More plants, of course! Right now it's sort of a "tank with plants" and I'm trying to move to a real planted tank. So with 2.25 wpg, I'm guessing I can certainly grow crypts, anubais, java fern, java moss, and probably corkscrew vals and dwarf sag -- other suggestions? Is 2.25 wpg considered low light?

-- I may add a pair of dwarf gouramis at some point as well

Just thought I'd share the latest incarnation. It's nowhere near what I have in my mind's eye just yet, and nothing like the tanks that have been my inspiration here, but slowly it's progressing. Thanks for all the advice and support, everyone.
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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
 
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Updated

So I switched to a Hagen Flora-Glo bulb (20w instead of 15w -- not a huge change, but I found it on sale and figured it couldn't hurt while I await the funds to buy a better lighting setup) and added DIY CO2 with a DIY diffusion bell. I also added a banana plant, some bacopa, anarcharis, wisteria, and a few stems of sorry-looking ludwegia that were give-aways. On the fish front, I added a pair of dwarf gouramis and a small veil-finned angel as well as a mystery snail (which is leaving my plants alone as pomacea bridgesii are supposed to do) and a couple of Amano shrimp. Here's the latest look of the tank. Improvement?



I realize the biggest improvement will happen when I upgrade my lights. Since I don't anticipate having the funds to get pressurized CO2 up and running anytime soon, I'm going to shoot for the 2 to 2.5 wpg range, either with an AH supply kit or a 65w Coralife fixture, but that's going to have to wait a bitm too, I'm afraid.

Anyway, I'm pleased that things are growing, if slowly, under this set up and all of my fish seem healthy and happy. Thanks for any feedback or comments.
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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 03:30 PM
 
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You're making good progress, and from your list of things you've done, You've made great progess since the beginning =p keep it up
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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 12-20-2005, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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uncskainch's 29 gallon journal -- updated 12/20/05

I hadn't updated this journal in a long time, so I thought I would do so today. I'm amazed at the changes since that first set of pictures -- doesn't really look like the same tank, although it has a long, long way to go to look like some of the tanks in the forum here!

The significant details:

SUBSTRATE:
Mix of black gravel and flourite. Root tabs here and there underneath.

FERTS/CO2:
No CO2 (see nasty cat-related incident posted a few months back), but I do dose Excel daily. Ferts are Kent Freshwater Plant, Pro-Plant, and Blackwater Expert, dosed with weekly water change per label instructions.

LIGHTING:
Still using just a 20w Flora-Glo light (hoping to add a 2-tube T5 fixture from Coralife in addition to that existing fixture in January, to bring it up to 56w, then add a second dual-tube T5 later to replace the 20w and make it 72w -- any tips on how to manage the stepped increases in lighting to avoid a big algae outbreak?)

PLANTS:
Java fern, several kinds of crypts, an Amazon swordplant that will overtake the tank soon, some bacopa and wisteria that are limping along, a few stems of ludwigia, and dwarf aquarium lilies

FISH, ETC:
Swordtails, clown and khuli loaches, otos, a couple of mystery snails, and an angel fish. There are a few ghost shrimp and one amano shrimp hiding in the plants. The breeder trap holds six baby swordtails that I'm growing out for a friend who is giving her son an aquarium for Christmas -- once they get their tank set up and stable, they'll get a few of these little guys.

RANDOM:
100w heater maintains temp at about 78 degrees F
Penguin Bio-wheel filter
Black plastic background

Thanks for any comments, advice, feedback, or suggestions.
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Last edited by uncskainch; 12-24-2005 at 04:37 PM.
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