20 Gallon On A Shoestring Budget - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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20 Gallon On A Shoestring Budget

Havent been on the forum for quite a while, so first I'd like to say hi. Due to many personal issues like going thru a divorce (and all the fun that goes along with that like losing my house and my beloved pond) I'm just now getting back into keeping fish tanks. Mainly in the past I have kept cichlids in a 75 gallon, and did a 10 gallon planted tank a few years back in the winter, but lost interest in it when ponding season came back around. But anyways I had an old 20 gallon tank (with white gravel still in it), stand, standard hood with the fluroescent fixture broken, and old double wide Walmart filter (I think its called an Aqua Tech 30-60), and a 10 gallon incandescent hood. I had to make this tank as cheap as possible, so I used all the above items mentioned, after losing my 75 gallon cichlid tank and my pond along with my house after the divorce this was the best way for me to get back into the hobby, so short cuts had and still have to be taken, but hopefully with my experience I can make something "cool" out of it.

First thing I did is take the broken fluroescent fixture out of the 20 gallon hood, removed the incandescent fixture out of the 10 gallon, and wired it up to the switch in the 20 gallon hood. I then placed 2 of the biggest most powerful "screw in" fluroescent bulbs I could find, I think they are either 38 or 42 watts, either way they are the ones that say they are the equivalent of 150 watt standard light bulbs. So that's my lighting.

For the substrate I just used the white gravel that was still in the tank from the last time I had the tank running 2-3 years ago. I would have liked to have used laterite and black gravel, but it was one of the ways I thought I could save some money. If all goes as planned the gravel wont be seen much anyways. To add some kind of nutrients to the substrate I added in Jobes plant spikes.

For CO2 I am going with the DIY yeast method that I inject into the filter intake and let the impeller pulverize the CO2 bubbles into teeny tiny bubbles that are hopefully getting disolved into the water (same method I had success with on my 10 gallon planted tank). I'm using 2 bottles, each with 2 cups of surgar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of dry yeast (twice what I used on my previous 10).

For fertilizers I already had the dry ferts stored in a freezer from my previous planted tank. I have no tests (again saving money) but am going by what I used on the previous 10 gallon successfully. So every other day I am dosing 10 ppm nitrates, 20 ppm potassium, and 0.55 ppm phosphurous. Before I dose I am doing a roughly 30% water change. Right now I am doing the water changes every other day mainly because I didnt allow the tank to properly cycle, I'll give it a month and then I'll start doing 50% water changes once a week. I also am putting in a capful of I believe Flourish Comprehensive with every fertilization.

For the plants/aqua scaping. I am using chain sword for the foreground, hoping to be able to acheive the "grassy lawn" effect with, its what I used on my previous 10 gallon and I really liked it. In the back corners I have what I believe to be a couple of crypts (they werent labled), I think one is a wendetti and the other a lutea. Then in the back middle I am going for a centerpeice of a huge wisteria and a sword. I also have a peice of cherry wood, that peice of wood is from a wild cherry tree I chopped down 5 or 6 years ago and have been using it in my tanks for quite some time, I really love the color of it.

Fish/fauna. I probably have it over populated, but what the heck I was a fish guy before I was a plant guy. 3 male fancy guppies, 7 female fany guppies (I hope to maintain a steady population, I'm sure the babies will be able to find a hiding place once the chain sword grows in. A tiger barb (started off with 3 but the other 2 died the next day, damn Walmart fish). 2 paradise fish, 2 opaline blue gouramies, 4 SAEs, and 3 black mystery snails.

Here are some pics I took on March 1st, right after I got the plants and most of the fish.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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And here are some pics I took on March 5th, after I got the rest of the fish, and noticed the plants starting to show some growth.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:30 AM Thread Starter
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More pics from March 5th
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. The super duper cheap background is 4 peices of light blue construction paper that I peiced together, haha.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:48 AM
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Looks great! Can't wait to see how it turns out and sorry to hear about your previous circumstances. I would say you should name this tank "New Leaf". Just my .02 ( I know you didn't ask for it) lol

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Looks great! Can't wait to see how it turns out and sorry to hear about your previous circumstances. I would say you should name this tank "New Leaf". Just my .02 ( I know you didn't ask for it) lol
Thanks, I appreciate it. Funny thing is I'm back with my exwife, but the house was already history. I'll just say 2007 will surely go down as the worst year of my life. But yeah, even though I'm back with the ex, we really are starting over again from scratch (but with 2 kids this time), so calling it "New Leaf" is very fitting
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 04:46 AM
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Hey, hope things will turn out better for you. Nice tank!
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 05:37 AM
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Thanks, I appreciate it. Funny thing is I'm back with my exwife, but the house was already history. I'll just say 2007 will surely go down as the worst year of my life. But yeah, even though I'm back with the ex, we really are starting over again from scratch (but with 2 kids this time), so calling it "New Leaf" is very fitting
I had my "worst year" in 2006. I can relate. It was different circumstances but I too lost everything and I am still trying to rebuild. It isn't easy to rebuild when you still have to pay for what you screwed up (this is where my signature comes in). Oh well, I guess it is a live an learn thing. We all do it. Keep us updated on the tank. I have my own "low budget" tank I started a month ago. They are just as satisfying because you have to use your creativity instead of your money.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 05:15 PM
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Congrats, the tank looks good Mark. New leaf does sound appropriate! Jobes plant sticks? I had never even considered that. Glad I joined the board. I am just starting a new tank also, with the idea of keeping discus. My first freshwater tank in, oh, 30 years or so. Just finished a fishless cycle, and am beginning to get livestock. A Bristlenose, 4 Julli cories so far. I bought a sword, and a stem type plant, possibly Bacopa (id from plantgeek.net A cool site!). Guess we will see what happens. Good luck to you. Remember to tend to, fertilize and clean your personal garden as you do your tank and you will watch it grow into something beautiful.

Last edited by salth20; 03-08-2008 at 11:34 PM.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 06:36 PM
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I would RAOK you some plants, but my tank is in dire straits right now. Trying to keep everything alive.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the well wishes and compliments on the tank. Before I was just turning the lights on and off whenever I remembered to, Most days I think I ended up having the light on for probably something like 12-14 hours which was way too much. And I started noticing brown algae and green spot algae. So I splurged and got myself a 5$ timer to turn the lights off and on. I've been having them kick on at 4pm and kick off at 2am (the time range where I have the most idle time). Its only been 3 days now with the timer, but I noticed that my SAE's and snails are keeping up with the algae and there is almost none other than some brown on the wisteria.



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Originally Posted by salth20 View Post
Congrats, the tank looks good Mark. New leaf does sound appropriate! Jobes plant sticks? I had never even considered that. Glad I joined the board. I am just starting a new tank also, with the idea of keeping discus. My first freshwater tank in, oh, 30 years or so. Just finished a fishless cycle, and am beginning to get livestock. A Bristlenose, 4 Julli cories so far. I bought a sword, and a stem type plant, possibly Bacopa (id from plantgeek.net A cool site!). Guess we will see what happens. Good luck to you. Remember to tend to, fertilize and clean your personal garden as you do your tank and you will watch it grow into something beautiful.
Jobe's plant spikes have always worked wonders for me with heavy root feeders. Last time I had this tank going I was using it to grow out some African Peacock cichlids and just for fun threw in a sword plant. The tank just had the standard 15 watt bulb and the sword plant wasnt doing a whole lot. I put in a couple Jobe's plant spikes under that sword and within a month or so I had leaves coming up out of the tank, the plant flowered, and had a couple long stems going up to the top of the tank with baby plantlets all over them.

Looks like my crypts are really starting to take hold and enjoy the plant spikes. Especially the one I beleive to be a Wendetti. It seems as if its doubled in size since the last pics I've taken. This plant is pretty cool, most the new leaves start off brown and eventually turn totally green, while some new leaves start off green from the get go. I dont have any new pics right now, but I'll try and get some new ones tonight sometime. The Wisteria is really starting to bush out and fill in as well. Things really seems to be going good in this tank so far
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 05:33 AM Thread Starter
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Seems like a couple of my female guppies have ich. I noticed a male guppy had it 3-4 days ago and after treatment I thought I had gotten rid of it, but it shows up again. Guess this is what I get for throwing in a bunch of fish from Walmart and Petsmart and not properly cycling. Good thing the plants seem to be growing nicely.

Some pics I just took showing some growth from the last pics. I was playing around with my camera settings and these pics didnt turn out so hot. I've also included a pic of my DIY yeast CO2.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 11:29 AM
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Hey Mark..... throughout my 52 years of life I have pretty much always had a fish tank of some sort nearby. For me they have had some pretty substantial healing powers and have helped me get by during some rough times. Aquariums are great therapy no doubt about it.

Glad you're back in the planted tank aspect of the hobby to me it seems the most theraputic.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 07:44 PM
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Looks good Mark, again sorry to hear about your woes.

If your doing things on the cheap, painting the background/intake/outake always has a great effect and costs less than $5.00

I bought fish from wal-mart once as well... They had ich which spread throughout my tank, it was a real PIA. I'm surprised their fish even live in those tanks.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-13-2008, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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So today I decided to recharge my DIY CO2 bottles. This time I used 3 cups of sugar and 2 teaspoons of yeast. And I simply cannot believe the CO2 production I am getting. One of the bottles started foaming up to the top, and to keep that crap from getting into my tank I made a DIY bubble counter. It looks as if there's a freaking air pumped hooked to the hose, not some DIY CO2 yeast mixture. I afraid I'm getting way too much CO2 for when the lights go off, I'm thinking I better loosen one of the lids at night until this CO2 brew slows down a little.

I was so amazed I made a little movie of it with a few seconds of my tank. Has anyone seen so much CO2 from DIY before? Oh yeah you'll get a kick out of my kids being crazy in the background, haha. I put the movie on AOL video.

http://uncutvideo.aol.com/videos/0f1...ceb5e0?index=0
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