How low-tech can we get? Re-do journal (56K) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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Red face How low-tech can we get? Re-do journal (56K)

My boyfriend and I are two young, restless college kids. Naturally, between work and not much else, we get very bored! We're betta fish keepers and are somewhat new to planted tanks, and now we're trying our hands at co2 and shrimp. This tank is cheap, ugly, and just about all hand-me-downs!

Thanks for looking. If you have comments please let me know, I need all the help I can get. And please, be gentle! I'm new to co2 and shrimp but I'm researching- steady as she goes!

Recent Re-Do:
7/24/12:



FTS before redo:
6/21/12:
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Tank start date: 6/4/12-

Specs


Tank: An ugly and cheap 4.5g tank with two divider spines messily siliconed in the center (haha!).
Filtration: None
Substrate:Thin layer of Eco-Complete topped with natural smaller than dime sized natural pebble gravel- all excess from other tanks.

Lighting:a 6500K daylight CFL, about 9hrs/day
CO2: Hagen Nutrafin natural fermentation set up, about 1 bubble every 2-4 seconds
Ferts: No liquid yet, one Flourish root tab
Parameters:Ammonia, Nitrates and Nitrite: 0, pH After 2 hrs: 7.4-7.6
Temp: Around 73-76'F, unheated


Plants:
All plants are clippings from our display tanks and my old grow out tank.

Rotala rotundifolia
Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite)
Hydrocotyle leucocephala (brazillian pennywort)
seuesswassertang
YOUNG Java ferns
Anubias nana and petite
a dormant Nymphoides aquatica (banana lily)
some sort of redish water lily
bacopa monnieri (moneywort)

Hardscape:
Two small terra cotta pots from established tanks (to be removed)

Inhabitants:
A sad, lone MTS



6/5/12:

Params: pH went from 7.5 to 6.6 in about 12 hours... YIKES!

Plants:
Ordered peacock moss, young bronze wendtii, ludwigia repens and ludwigia sp. "red".

Super excited, plants will be here soonish. Planning on getting moss balls and catappa leaves.

Planned inhabitants:
Some cheap Ghost shrimp from a local store as a test run in a few weeks.


Pictures soon and thoughts appreciated.

First tank shot (ugly!) before being taken down soon:
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Last edited by Myrr; 07-28-2012 at 06:07 PM. Reason: update
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 06:19 AM Thread Starter
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Red face

6/9/12 New tank!

New 5.5g so its not so ugly anymore. First (cloudy) FTS!

Plants:
Ludwigia repens
Rotala rotundifolia
Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite)
Peacock moss
Hydrocotyle leucocephala (brazillian pennywort)
seuesswassertang
YOUNG Java ferns
Ludwigia sp "red"
Anubias nana and petite
Dwarf onion plants
a dormant Nymphoides aquatica (banana lily)
some sort of redish water lily
Bronze Wendtii
bacopa monnieri (moneywort)
Frogbit
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Last edited by Myrr; 06-10-2012 at 03:54 AM.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 08:31 AM
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Not a bad start. One suggestion though. You need some water movement in there. I would suggest an AquaClear. The AC20 is pretty cheap, and a beast. I have never had a problem with them. One more suggestion, lol. Ditch the EcoComplete. It is useless for the plants you are gonna get (see PM's). Get some Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix or Garden Soil and cap it with some cheap sand (not play sand, masonry sand works well) and watch your plants take off. Especially the root feeders. As for the other plants, some ferts in the water column is good. NutraFin Plant Gro is pretty good for the Micros, the shrimp should take care of the Macros for you. Other then that, let's see the tank.

Oh, and how many watts is your light and how high is it?


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Just because its dirt doesn't make it low tech


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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!! We might do the dirt and sand combo. Originally, it was just what was laying around, but I'm def. not a fan of the gravel so I'm right for the change.
We're gonna try our hand at a sponge filter for this tank, but we do have a filter if it doesn't succeed. It's a marina 25i and it's strong but not an hob, which we can't use ATM because this tank has a horrendous lid (you'll see in pics, ugh!) that doesn't even have space for heater cords and makes using one literally impossible. I do love the little aqua clears though, our 10 g has one and it's perfection.
The light is 15w, as high as the socket can hold. We're NOT fond of this lid at all and might switch to desk lamps and no lid in time, which is what I had for my past grow out with awesome results ... And it's free, hehe! It would be two 15w 6500k daylight cfls instead of one with better coverage, since this light is darker in the back of the tank.

Gonna check those Pms soon!! Pics once I get back over to my bf's house, as well as a pH reading. I think our buffering capacity is at a big fat not enough right now... Yikes!!!!!


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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-07-2012, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
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Thanks!! We might do the dirt and sand combo. Originally, it was just what was laying around, but I'm def. not a fan of the gravel so I'm right for the change.
We're gonna try our hand at a sponge filter for this tank, but we do have a filter if it doesn't succeed. It's a marina 25i and it's strong but not an hob, which we can't use ATM because this tank has a horrendous lid (you'll see in pics, ugh!) that doesn't even have space for heater cords and makes using one literally impossible. I do love the little aqua clears though, our 10 g has one and it's perfection.
The light is 15w, as high as the socket can hold. We're NOT fond of this lid at all and might switch to desk lamps and no lid in time, which is what I had for my past grow out with awesome results ... And it's free, hehe! It would be two 15w 6500k daylight cfls instead of one with better coverage, since this light is darker in the back of the tank.

Gonna check those Pms soon!! Pics once I get back over to my bf's house, as well as a pH reading. I think our buffering capacity is at a big fat not enough right now... Yikes!!!!!
Wow. That is a lot of light. I would suggest switching to the desklamp like you said. 15watts on that little tank may cook it, so I would suggest sticking with one for the moment.

Sponge filters work pretty well. I am using one on my fry tank now, and I have used them in the past too. Just not enough water movement for my taste really.

Just be careful with the dirt. It is going to leach ammonia and tannins for like a month. Lots of water changes, and don't add any fauna you want to keep for that long. Lol.


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Just because its dirt doesn't make it low tech


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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-08-2012, 04:54 PM
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Get some Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix or Garden Soil and cap it with some cheap sand
tuffgong used dollar store potting soil. My favorite sand is river sand. I love it for it doesn't need a lot of rinsing like play sand and pool filter sand. I just sift the larger particles out. It is brown. Only negative is that after a year the top becomes black and thick. Probably because I never siphoned any up during water changes. A 50lb is only 3 at my local landscaping co.

I would like to see a picture.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-08-2012, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Red face

On accident we got non-organic soil and don't want to mess around with toxic ammonia levels any longer than needed, so we're probably going to end up getting some sort of cheap-o soil since Miracle Gro organic is hard to find.

Pics coming soon, last night my camera was dead and I was frustrated, LOL! My bf is going to take a temporary one on his no-so-great camera phone, but hopefully nicer ones from mine arent far behind.

We ended up getting a 50-lb bag for $3 of white play sand, since it was all they had. I live in a really rural area so it's tough to find just about anything, heh.

The peacock moss from Joraan came in today and we're so stoked for it- its beautiful and we cant wait to use it:
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These are the lilies in the tank- just from a cheap bulb but they grow well in our 10g and sprout from the bulb like crazy:
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Terrible tank pic:
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Since everything is going to be removed for the new substrate, this isnt what it's going to look like. But you can see how ugly the tank itself is, hah!


Update: 6/7/12

Params: 0,0,0- pH 6.6
Filtration: Marina 25i for the time, a sponge filter soonish


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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-08-2012, 09:01 PM
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You can usually find the Miracle Gro Organic at Wal-Mart. That is where I got mine. Might be worth a shot. If not, maybe on-line somewhere.


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Just because its dirt doesn't make it low tech


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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-08-2012, 10:32 PM
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We got non-organic soil. We're probably going to end up getting some sort of cheap-o soil since Miracle Gro organic is hard to find.

We ended up getting a 50-lb bag for $3 of white play sand,
Just make certain it doesn't have any fertilizers in it. For they are toxic to the fish.

Pool filter sand from a pool supplier has less silica in it thus needs less rinsing.

You selected the right plants for the light you have. If they grow too fast for the time you have to trim you might want to dish the Co2.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-08-2012, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Maybe! With my last grow-out tank (a small 5g rubbermaid bin with co2) I used the trimmings and plants grown from there in our display tanks as well as gifts to those just starting out with plants online and at my college. I usually don't charge and thus get many eager newbies so the clippings never go to waste !

There's one pool store around here (only one...hah, its sooo cold here!) but they have terrible prices on things, so we may stick to the play sand for ease. The rinsing isnt too daunting, especially since my last battle with Flourite as a substrate... Haha, what an adventure


We're considering using my standard 5g (tetra brand) instead of this tank once we put in the new substrate. Its certainly better looking and the hood is much better and easier to work with. I got great results with a basic hood and eco-complete in it before breaking it down so it seems a likely candidate.
(Link here to see it)

Can anyone answer this, though-

Considering how Walstad-esque this tank is gonna be, we're lacking stems severely. Should we invest in some stems like anacharis, hornwort (though I hate this plant!) or water sprite? Tbh we have few plants to go into it at the moment.


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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-09-2012, 02:25 AM
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Considering how Walstad-esque this tank is gonna be, we're lacking stems severely. Should we invest in some stems like anacharis, hornwort or water sprite?
No not necessary. You could get some anacharis, which is a floating plant, to speed up the cycle process.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-09-2012, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm.. If we can find some at a good price, we might just do it Thanks!


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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-09-2012, 10:41 AM
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You selected the right plants for the light you have. If they grow too fast for the time you have to trim you might want to dish the Co2.
Don't forget too, that the natural breakdown of the dirt in the water will release CO2 as well. You may not even need it in the beginning while the soil settles down.


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Just because its dirt doesn't make it low tech


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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-10-2012, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Lots of pics, careful!

Woohoo! We set everything up today. It took us forever but we needed something to do

We got Miracle Gro Organic soil from Walmart like suggested, at a good price too. Basic white play sand for the cap as planned.

We started with the sand part and used our two buckets to rinse rinse rinse small quantities over and over. At first it was really gross and soupy :s
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We rinsed and rinsed until it ran clear, which took a while for sure.
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This cutie cat came by and snuggled with us for a while, he was in love with Dan!!
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-10-2012, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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More pics!

We decided to rinse the dirt, too. Not sure if we were supposed to or not, but it ended up being a good choice. The dirt was gross and sucked up the moisture, so we over soaked it and then pulled the mud put, squeezed it out and then made mud balls perfect for adding to the tank. It kept the amount of cloudiness down by a LOT.

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Then we placed it in the tank, about an inch thick like advised.
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Then the sand, which felt weirddd in the gloves!!
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