29g Amazon Blackwater Creek Biotope: A Journal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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29g Amazon Blackwater Creek Biotope: A Journal

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!!!

Last edited by SheriffBooth; 03-10-2008 at 01:50 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 04:37 PM
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 05:38 PM
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Interesting idea with the gravel and turface. I'm not sure if you will run into problems later with it, though. Anyone else care to step in here? I would just be concerned about the substrate being stagnant and having anaerobic spots.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 08:04 PM
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Very interesting. I think it is going to look great. I cant wait to see some non-cloudy pics.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the compliments - i should have some clear photos in the AM
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-09-2008, 11:26 PM
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Good start.. You need a big hunking slab of driftwood and some leaf litter.


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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 12:44 AM
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looks like it will turn out good, but my suggestion would have been to wait til the dust settles before planting, that way you wouldnt have to blow the dust off the leaves later.

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Updated clear water photos with fish in the tank. My Bolivian Rams are as happy as I've ever seen them.





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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 06:25 PM
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I like the idea of filling in the rocks! One thing that I would have changed was using more dark colored rocks(greys or blacks). Looks nice


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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James From Cali View Post
I like the idea of filling in the rocks! One thing that I would have changed was using more dark colored rocks(greys or blacks). Looks nice
Yeah, I just used what came in the decorative stone bag from HD. I wanted darker, too, and it looked dark in the package but then there was a lot of light colored stoned once I got it opened.

But the flash from the camera is also making it look lighter than it actually is.

I really can't get over how different my Rams are now that they're in this tank. They actually seem almost playful, when before they seemed mostly nervous.

What do you guys/gals think about the stocking? Right now it's two Bolivians, 6 neons and an angel.

To keep it region specific I'm pretty limited to what can go in. It's basically more Bolivians, tetras, hatchets and corys. I'm also thinking of trading in the angel because he seems uncomfortable and I also think he chomped one of the neons.

Let me know what you think about some fish combos...
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Also, for folks interested in the inspiration, I was looking at these on mongabay.com, where JamesfromCali referred me.



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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 08:07 PM
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good job

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 10:09 PM
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Looks good so far!

As far as the fish, I'd get at least 6 more neons -- more like 10, ditch (not literally ) the angel, and get some Otos or a smaller pleco. Pygmy Corys would be sweet too.


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-10-2008, 10:20 PM
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Agree with what roybot says.More neons would make the tank look better.


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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 12:15 AM
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tank looks nice, but the rocks and substrate should match (as best as possible) since they would come from the same bedrock. im sure you have seen rivers and oceans/seas and noticed that 90% of the soil (wether it was rocks, gravel, sand, or silt) was the same substance.

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