This will be the first of a handful of posts on transforming two uninspired (and, in one case, gross) planted aquariums into green, luscious fish utopias. I'm new here, and this is my story.
My fiancé and I got a 48-gallon Marineland bow-front glass aquarium in
January of 2007, and we were addicted. We started easy with guppies and danios, a mix of plastic and live plants, and some decorations. As time passed our tastes matured, and we traded in our plastic for plants and pricey driftwood.
Initially our plants were fast-growing and green. Our java fern grew so quickly that we were afraid the entire tank would be taken over! Eventually, though, the plants seemed to do poorly, and holes appeared. I added some potassium and the holes went away, but our plants still sucked. I started dosing with Flourish Excel (the CO2 kinda-substitute), which brought them back a little, but they continue to suck. And that is the state of things today. Behold.
Front of the tank:
There's a Rena Filstar XP2 canister filter under there with charcoal & floss. Overhead are 2 x 55W compact fluorescent (CF) 8,000K bulbs.
Filter-loving moss and decomposing sword plant:
A gaudy bubbler which doesn't sink:
A delicious zucchini dinner!
We really like livebearers -- swordtails and mollies, specifically -- so we decided to try breeding them. Our attempts at putting egg-laden moms into breeder boxes and breeder nets resulted in tiny fry who died after a few weeks. We bought an Eclipse System 6 (six-gallons) and furnished it with marbles and watersprite in which the fry could hide, and that worked fantastically. After a few rounds of raising handfuls of tiny orange fish we're now ready to stop breeding and start planting.
Here's the state of the tank after running for a month with no fish -- only some watersprite, moss, and a budding snail population:
Ugh. Look at the nastiness!
The snails can only consume so much terribleness:
The marbles have served their purpose. It's time for them to go:
The plan for the 48-gallon tank:
Foremost, the tank needs to be more lush. Also, I want to use as little electricity as possible.
I'll probably pick up a 5-gal CO2 canister from the beer store along with a regulator, bubble counter, and one of those glass flower-like diffusers. I want the system to be as automated as possible, so I plan on getting an electronic solenoid and hooking it on a timer along with my lights. Aquatic Eco-Systems has a regulator with built-in bubble counter for US$110
, Drs. Foster & Smith (DFS) has a complete kit
for about the same price.
I guess I'll ditch the bubbler, since I've read that too much surface agitation will waste CO2. I sure hope my little fish don't asphyxiate.
There's not a chance of me replacing the substrate. I plan on dosing regular Flourish once every two or three weeks unless told otherwise. I guess that, when I get more difficult plants, I'll look into a more complex dosing regimes.
Currently there are two plecos (one is temporary), two yoyo loaches, one kulli loach, six rummynose tetras, one cardinal tetra (historical reasons), and N marigold swordtails and platys, for a large value of N. We'll probably give away a handful of the numerous orange fish for something like black or glow-light tetras.
The plan for the 6-gallon tank:
Complete overhaul! Definitely a grey substrate. I'd like to see about getting dwarf versions of plants to give the tank a nice "tiny world" feel. Low-electricity is a must, but I don't think this tank will draw more than 20W. Also, shrimp. Some nice red & white ones.
I'd like to try a DIY approach to the CO2, so I might make my own yeast farm, like I've seen in a couple of posts here. I'm not sure how to turn it off at night or whether that will be a problem.
The heater might be unnecessary, but I'm not sure yet. It's kinda big.
I'll probably remove the bubbler, like the 48-gallon, as well as throw some filter floss under the bio-wheel so that there's less surface agitation.
Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments, questions and criticism.