A tale of two tanks: tremendotron's 6-gal and 48-gal adventure! (56K warning) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-26-2008, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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A tale of two tanks: tremendotron's 6-gal and 48-gal adventure! (56K warning)

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.

The 48-gallon

My fiancé and I got a 48-gallon Marineland bow-front glass aquarium in April 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!



The 6-gallon

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.

Last edited by tremendotron; 07-26-2008 at 05:10 PM.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-26-2008, 07:27 AM
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My only comment is Laphroaig is awesome but it took me a year to figure out how to say it. Same with Strathisla.

More plants! Let them fill in and then you'll see what you can and can't grow. You'll find that your ideas may or may not change.

Your swordtails are nice and orange!

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-26-2008, 07:28 AM
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Welcome to TPT.

Nice tanks! You guys have come a long ways since you first started out!

Great explanations and pictures of your tanks. I think you're OK with the substrate in your 48gal (though I think it's really a 46gal Marineland bowfront like mine? ), you just need to boost the nutrient content in there. Swords tend to do really well with root tabs. I've had great results with WonderGro tabs from www.GreenLeafAquariusm.com. They're the only ones I've found that contain NPK as well as all the micro/trace nutrients. GreenLeaf also sells really good CO2 equipment. The owner, Orlando, is a great guy and really active and helpful here on the forum, too

What kind and how much lighting is over the 6gal?

The only substrate I can think of that's gray is Turface. If you like black, there's Eco Complete, Flourite black (my personal favorite), and Onyx Sand (actually Onyx Sand is kind of on the gray side now that I think about it...) ADA AquaSoil is also on the gray side, too... so I take that back. You have TONS of options! LOL

I think you'll end up putting a different filter on the 6gal. If you get a canister filter, you could run an inline external heater- which would solve that issue, as well. Canister filters are best for not outgassing CO2, plus they're just excellent filters overall.

I really look forward to seeing how all this progresses!

Plus, your sketch at the bottom of your post is really cool!





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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-26-2008, 07:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys

I just looked - The Eclipse System 6 only has an 8W T5 bulb overhead. That's only 1.3 WPG, but it sure as heck is bright in there.

Thanks for the substrate suggestions!
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-26-2008, 03:19 PM
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Looks like these are going to be some fun little projects!
I can't wait to see your progress on these two tanks.


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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-26-2008, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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A trip to the fish store and supermarket

I learned a lot from A Treatise on DIY CO2 Systems for Freshwater-Planted Aquaria by John LeVasseur . I'm planning on using a diffuser because I don't want to waste room in a tiny tank.

Last edited by tremendotron; 08-17-2015 at 11:32 PM. Reason: old links
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 05:26 AM Thread Starter
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The 6-gallon tank is overhauled and hungry yeast produce gas

Boy did we pee a lot today. More on that later.

The 6-gallon tank has been stripped, cleaned, filled and planted. The yeast, I'll assume, are burping away cheerfully with a steady diet of cane sugar.

This afternoon we bought some nice pink-white rocks, black Flourite substrate, a little bag of white pebbles, and other goodies for the big tank. We also got plants: some tall thin grass stuff, something with dime-sized round leaves, a pot of micro sword, and a cute little algae ball. A veritable bounty:



Cleaning the prior setup was naaaaaasty. Lots of goop, plus crust left over from what probably is the result of adding too much water conditioner during changes:



We washed the Flourite only once. We sloped the back a little, planted some rocks, and added a little path with the white rocks. For the plants we added a few Flourite tabs in the substrate. The tank was slowly filled on top of a plastic tupperware lid so the Flourite wouldn't be disturbed:



Next, to make the DIY CO2 canister, we needed empty soda bottles -- and you don't get that without drinking soda. Three liters of diet carbonated beverage later we had full bladders and the beginnings of the Yeast Farm.

We added hot tap water, some tap water conditioner, two cups of sugar, and shook. Once the sugar was dissolved we added a teaspoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of bread machine yeast:



I poked some holes in the bottle caps with an awl, cut the tubing diagonally, and pulled the tube through with some needle-nose pliers. I strapped on a side bottle as a separator, attached a check valve, and labeled the contraption:



Unfortunately, none of the three stores we visited had anything besides a giant ladder diffuser, and we didn't feel like spending $15 on a pair of wood stones, so we got a "fine-mist glass-bead airstone." The yeast had been working for only half an hour -- heck, some of it was still dry -- and there were bubbles. However, the bubbles escaped wastefully to the surface.



Until we get a good glass diffuser we've fashioned a bell diffuser out of yet another -- oh my bladder -- soda bottle. It kinda works, I suppose.



Let's hope we see pearling tomorrow!


Last edited by tremendotron; 07-27-2008 at 09:34 AM.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 05:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tremendotron View Post
Filter-loving moss and decomposing sword plant:

Call me crazy, but that decomposing sword looks like it might be used as a snack by your pleco. The one pale leaf does look like it is melting a bit, but the other healthy leaf next to it (greener in color) has what look to me as good chomp marks on it.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 05:37 AM
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Wow you guys must have been busy today!
That tank looks great so far. I love the Yeast Farm illustration
Can't wait to see what you have in store for your other tank.


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 06:01 AM
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that pleco may be to blame for all the holes in your plants. theyre hungry little buggers

how much light do you have over your 48?
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 06:29 AM
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totally random but ur drawings remind me of something i see on myth busters lol very cool though

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 06:36 AM
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I like the star/bullet point on the checklist that reads, "Doesn't look like crap."


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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 07:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, all.

Over the 48-gallon are two 55W CF bulbs. It's a bowed-front tank which means I'm stuck with a hood with a narrow slit and the housing for the bulbs could be a bit more snug.

I've been trying to remember to feed the two 5" plecos in the big tank. Between them and the yoyo loaches they'll make a piece of zucchini disappear overnight -- completely disappear, as in nothing left but a rubber band and a rock. I think I need a bigger zucchini.

I'll try to keep the Mythbusters-esque drawings coming.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Just ordered a glass diffuser from Hong Kong for US$8 via eBay.

I've seen tanks with drop checkers, so I got one of those too. I already have a 3-month pH meter submerged. Seeing the CO2 status by simply looking at the side of the tank -- a dashboard of sorts -- is very appealing.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-27-2008, 02:57 PM
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The bowfront looks really nice, kinda like the fake background I have somewhere with all the different color swords and mollies

Your handwriting looks so cool. I love the little rendition of your new setup on paper.
Comic book like, are you a cartoonist? artist?


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