This is my first planted tank ever. I've been planning this thing for like 6 weeks and finally had all the pieces in place and the time to do it so I ordered the plants and took the plunge. Let me know what you think about how I did.
1. The before picture. Non-planted. Inhabitants - 2 Bolivian Rams, 1 Marble Veil Angel, 6 Zebra Danios, 2 Gold Zebra Danios. After I took the fish out, I traded the Danio school back to my LFS in exchange for a school of Neons. I'll probably add some cories and maybe another Ram or two once things are finished.
2. The supplies: 50 lbs. Turface Pro Red, First Layer Pure Laterite, Miracle Gro Sphagnum Peat Moss, Hagen DIY CO2 system, 5 gallon paint strainers (the best $3 I ever spent!!!).
3. The victims - 3 Amazon Swords, 2 Cabomba Carolina, 1 Radican Sword, 4 narrow leaf chain swords. All from Dr. Foster & Smith who provided unbelievable quality service on all the pieces of this project that I ordered. Definitely worth the premium I paid to work with them.
4. Breaking down the old tank. My fish moved over to the 12g above that was housing the plants. The plants went into a 5g that I filled with tank water.
5. A clean slate.
6. The project begins. I wanted to create some contour, to sort of simulate the creek edge and the creek bed. So I took some of my old gravel and used one of my wife's old stockings to create a sort of gravel dam. The low side will be open space creek bed, and the high side will be the densely planted side.
7. Don't want the gravel under bed making its way to the surface over time, especially since the Turface is pretty light, so I used some needlepoint boards to create a permeable barrier. Hopefully this way I still get plenty of transfer in the substrate without the gravel surfacing.
8. Bottom layer of peat to help create blackwater conditions.
9. First layer laterite on the planted side. This stuff needed some serious washing and it never really came clean.
10. Washing the Turface. This stuff puts off some serious red dust. Like the laterite, I washed it and washed it using the 5g strainer bags (which were a godsend - thanks to Rex Grigg for the tip) but it never really came clean. So when the rinse water was a lot less red I just said enough and figured filter floss and purigen will deal with the rest.
11. Substrate in - I tried to pack it down a little with the bottom of a plastic cup. This stuff is pretty light.
12.Making the creek bed, I used some smaller decorative stone from Home Depot and a few larger rocks that I found around my building.
13. Ready to fill - two kitchen size garbage bags worked really well. Having two layers of plastic helped when the bags started to float.
14. Half full and ready for plants. As you can see, no matter how careful you are the Turface is going to cloud up. I've used it in another tank and filter floss polishes it in a day or two.
15. Plants in - hard to tell much here due to the cloudiness. Swords in the back, cabombas in the front right, and the chain sword along the transition from the planted area to the "creek bed".
16. Filled up and CO2 in. I started adding some of the great Manzanita that I'd gotten from badcopnfish and had been soaking for weeks. It took about 5 days of soaking for it to saturate.
17. Filter up and running: here's the view at the end of the day yesterday. Haven't been to the office yet to see how and overnight of filtering has done. Added BioSpira and some ph buffer and I should be moving the fish back over tonight.
More photos to come once I can get some clearer pictures. Thanks for looking!!!