WP's 55gal low tech tank (56k?) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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WP's 55gal low tech tank (56k?)

One of my tanks is an old scratched up 43 gal tank which housed a bearded dragon a long time ago, then stood empty in a garden for a few years before I got it and made it my quarantine/test tank. I thought about replacing it with a selfmade 120 gal tank, but then decided it would be cheaper to go and buy a 55gal tank for $55 plus tax and replace it with this.

Labor day was a good day to set it all up...

I have very good results with the following substrate setup in my 36gal tank, so I pretty much repeated it here:



Peat, soaked for a couple of days, will be the base layer. I could use soil instead, but I prefer peat since I know it isn't polluted or fertilized.



Next I use a good number of Jobes Palms and Ferns fertilizer sticks and bury them on the bottom of the peat layer.



A bag of CPA (Cat Piss Absorbent) costs about $2 and is readily available. A quick rinse in a bucket removes the finest dust. The 25lb bag gives me a 2 (front) to 4 (back) inches layer.



There are two things I do to prevent foggy-ness when using clay substrates like Special Kitty or Flourite. Before starting to fill the tank, I make a small hole in the substrate and siphon out as much water as I can. This moves fine particles down. The second thing is to add water very, VERY, V E R Y slowly. So slow that there is no water movement of any kind when filling the tank. This gives me a nice clear start! For the first two days after planting I won't use a filter/powerhead either.



The canopy will house two 4ft T5 bulbs with Icecap reflectors, driven by an Advance ballast. Each bulb uses about 45 Watts.



I am using glass covers (or is it cover glasses?) to prevent moisture in my canopies. Inside I give it a white coat of primer, outside some natural looking stain. I am not too concerned about the looks... this tank is located in the garage. A little fan will keep the temperature in the canopy at around 35C, optimum for T5 bulbs.



Planted and filled about 90%... One T5 is running to get plants started, once things grow in a little I will add the second one. The tank will be insulated with Styrofoam sheets to keep heat losses to a minimum in cold winter weeks.

Regarding aquascaping, I am trying to create "compartments" or areas which are separated. If things go as planned, this tank will house my four Festivums in the future, removing them from my 100 gal tank will let me put shrimp in there, along with some plants which Festivums consider lettuce right now.


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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 03:44 AM
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Nice job. Looks good.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 07:20 PM
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Looking good! Is the powerhead/sponge filter the only filtration, or is that a HOB filter I see?

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 08:06 PM
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Cool WP. First workbench aquasculped tank on the forum. You always are one for surprises! Uh oh, my bad. You were just making the canopy on your workbench. But that is an idea, anyways. LOL





Three Tanks...Eheim 2128 & XP3-90G, Eheim 2128-65G, Eheim 2232-25G.... Tek 4x54 watt T5-90G, Aqualight 96watt PC 65G low tech, 65 watt Aqualight-25G.... Hydors-90G & 65G ... Flourite in 90, 65, & 25 Gallons, .... Auto Water Change/Auto dosing on 90 & 65 gallon..... AGA member......
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 08:25 PM
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WP you always crack me up-- but this looks really nice man
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments...

Hoppy, right now I just use that internal sponge filter, driven by an AquaClear 50 powerhead. No HOB, no canister, I want to keep everything inside the tank since temps can go pretty low in the garage.

I have a little Whisper I40 sitting around, if I need more current/filtration I will add that one. For now, things get blown over pretty well.

The dark area right of the center is a plastic grid with Christmas moss and Bolbitis which I pulled out of another tank. Soon it won't be visible anymore.


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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 09:24 PM
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How cold do your winters get Wasser? In Indiana, winters regularly stay below freezing. I am considering putting my system (bought used from an out of business LFS) out in the garage of my new house, since there is no basement and no room really lends itself well to a fishroom. The garage seems to be well insulated, and I figure the internal pump + heater will help keep the temps up. The styrofoam is a great idea too! Any other tips for nasty winter weather?

Also - did you use pots with cement on the legs of your stand? I'd like to hear more about those too


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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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I am sure it doesn't get as cold as where you are, temps dip down below freezing for a few nights every year, but it warms up quickly during daytime. On the other hand, the garage is hardly insulated, so it still gets cold in there.

Styrofoam keeps the heat in the tank. During the coldest weeks, I even cover the front of the tank... difficult to see what's going on in there, I know.

If you are planning to set something up like that and want to put some valuable fishies in there, plan on a power supply and heating backup solution... I tripped a GFCI once (well, someone did) and luckily noticed the next day, so no losses happened.

Yeah those cement feet... My garage is not level at all, and the stand was actually moving a little, should have cracked the tank that was on it before, but didn't. So I used 4 pots, filled them with pea gravel and some cement, and leveled the whole thing out. Looks kinda funny, but saved me from having to build or buy a new stand for the bigger and heavier new tank.


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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 12:32 PM
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LOL I thought those pots had soil in them for vines or something. That would be a good idea, too.

Nice tank, I love your substrate setups.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Me... like... cheap substrates.

The CPA is a little too light for positively buoyant plants, but with some patience and swearing they all stay rooted.

It is too dark in the garage to grow vines... interesting idea.


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 08:02 PM
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great job, WP...you make it look so easy!
I love the phrase you coined too... CPA lol
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fresh_newby View Post
great job, WP...you make it look so easy!
I love the phrase you coined too... CPA lol
Thanks... Credits for that phrase go to Rex Grigg, I just like to use it.

In the meantime, the second T5 is running as well, for an overall 80W, which, combined with the high-tech reflectors, should be good for a balanced low-tech tank.

Shrimps are being transferred from the old tank into this one. Early on, I put two Amanos in there, to test if there is anything bad leaching from the substrate, but they are doing great, along with a bunch of Cherries.

Bill Haradas baby Endlers that I got a while ago just had babies themselves yesterday, so I took them little ones out of their tank into this one. Pretty big changes, from 75 to 71 degrees, ph 7 to ph 8 (no CO2), etc, but they didn't seem to mind.


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-18-2006, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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First week update... I don't want to appear desperate...

Letting it develop into a jungle, figuring out which plants like it there. Ambulia stopped growing completely, lack of nutrients (CO2/NO3/Iron) I assume. I added some more "fresh" Ambulia as well as a little CO2 DIY thingy to get things started. Other plants look good.



Vallisneria is showing some nice fat new growth, looked very thin (but healthy) in the No-tech tank where it came from. Good looking Christmas moss, and sick Ambulia.



Growing some Walmart Aponogeton bulbs. Out of 5, 1 sprouted. Can't beat the shipping though.


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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-18-2006, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Before I forget, let's do a quick cost summary here...

$64 55gal tank
$2 bag of Kitty Litter
$0 peat moss (free for me)
$2 Jobes Palms and Ferns sticks
$42 2 4ft T5 reflectors
$19 4 bulb Advance ballast
$0 2 GE Starcoat T5 bulbs (used old ones)
$10 wood for canopy
$0 screws and wood glue (laying around)
$6 fan for canopy
$0 Aquaclear 50 powerhead (laying around, prob ~$15)
$0 1/4 of a sponge (laying around, ~$5)
$0 heater 150W Titanium (was $15 couple of yrs ago)
$8 4x8ft styrofoam insulation sheet (used about 1/2)

Anything I forgot? Adds up to about $150. If you had to buy a powerhead, heater, bulbs, etc, it would be more like $200 to $250 using equipment similar to what I am using.

Now it's pretty much sitting back and letting it stand for a couple of weeks before the first round of pruning will be necessary.


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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 08:38 PM
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Hey how often are you going to replace the Jobes Palms and Ferns fertilizer sticks? Also do they have to be palms and fern ones or can they be the houseplant ones?
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