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:: December ::
I just started my first large planted tank.
Off of craigslist I bought the tank, light and stand used. The tank had a lot more scratches than I thought at first glance and it was pretty dirty. I cleaned it up and patched up a chip on the corner.
The stand was okay, but it smelled pretty bad and was not as nice as the photos led me to believe. It looks like it was mass produced and then modified by someone, but very poorly, with glue stains everywhere, poorly drilled doors and just a messy and poor bit of woodworking. And it seems to mix different qualities of pine with oak veneer - bizarre.
The light at least works =)
So over several weeks I cleaned up the stand, puttied the holes, sanded off the old stain, beveled the edges, stained it a nice dark cherry color and finished it with a few coats of lacquer spray. That sucked, and the coating is pretty thin, but not too bad. The doors I ended up using a water-based polyurethane with seems to be something like resin and that worked well w/o the stink or mess. Got some new hinges and lined up the doors so they match. All I need are some nice cylindrical knobs to finish off the doors. No doors mounted yet on the photo below:
So after more than a month I finally got around to setting up the tank with my ADA AS that had been sitting around a while.
I looked at some photos online but I didn't really have that much of an idea of what I wanted. I perused several stores for driftwood but found nothing I really liked, nor any good prices. I finally came across a really cool rock after buying a few others. They don't match so I only ended up using the large cool rock.
I only had a general idea that I would want a foreground carpet of HC, some Dwarf Hairgrass in the midground and some sand in the front. My HC had been sitting around for a good 2 to 3 weeks in my small 2.5 gallon and was looking already much rattier than when I got it. The HC was already in pretty poor condition from the fish store where they were trying to keep it from dying off. The DH was in the same tank also waiting around not looking too good either, so it was time to get started.
Power sand :
ADA Aquasoil - Amazonia regular type
I bought 2 9L bags, but it turned out I only needed 1 since I planned to put the powder type on top. I should have actually picked up 2 9L powder instead of 1.
Whew, that took longer than I thought it would. After removing the dividers, I start filling with water. Even though I used plastic wrap, the AS powder still really wanted to float away in groups and stick to the plastic. I found out after a bit that it worked really well to use a plastic spray bottle to wet the aquasoil and break the surface tension for the incoming water.
Then there's the cruddy HC I had. Sorry for the really poor photo:
The stuff was barely alive and I didn't think it would make it, but after 3 hours -including cleaning off the hair algae, pruning off the dead stuff, and separating the mess, it was sort of planted in my new tank. I only purchased one bunch of HC which didn't cover much, and the hair grass was an even smaller amount.
Unforunately my regular fish store didn't have any hair grass in stock, so this was from another place. It was a fun time trying to separate the delicate roots from the spongey material that I had to shred. I read that you should separate them into individual strands but it really didn't look like that would make it that way, so I left them in groups of 3-4 strands. The roots tended to tear off too while I tried to separate them. I gave them a nice haircut since it's supposed to encourage them to grow side ways and put out new shoots.
Pretty pathetic coverage I know. But it was quite an effort (4-5 hours) and I hoped the AS and water would help the HC start growing and putting forth roots.
I also have to somehow remove that red stick on etween the glass tank and the plastic rim on top, I didn't notice it until I put in the substrate already.
So I covered the whole thing in plastic wrap, taped up the front edges so there was still some gaps and sprayed the new plants with my spray bottle. The timer is set to 12 hours on each day. Unfortunately it was pretty hot that week in August, hitting near 100 daily so I don't think the first week was too great for the HC, even though I tried to circulate the air a little every evening after work.
Since the coverage was looking so pathetic, I decided to check if my local store had received more HC in stock the next week and indeed they did. Some much healither and better looking stuff, although a bit scraggly.
So I spent about 90 minutes cleaning and planting that in - much easier trying to salvage the first batch of HC I got.
These photos are from about 2 weeks after the initial setup and 1 week after the second batch of HC.
Here you can see the hairgrass has already put forth new shoots, although others turned brown and died completely.
Also by this time, some of the HC had started turning a very green color and putting forth tiny, tiny little leaves.
After 26 days:
Slowly but surely I see some growth. I've been spraying each morning and night with my spray bottle since I wanted to make sure the plants were moist since they had no roots yet.
For some reason the HC is doing better on the left and center than the right side. Could be the right side has a larger gap in the plastic wrap so it's drier, or I just put more of the crappy initial planting of HC there.
I really want to pick up some more hairgrass to supplement the stuff that died off, mostly in front of the rock.
Here are the latest photos, from tonight. Yesterday I spent some time trimming out dead bits of HC, some nasty dark green hair algae that's been feeding off the dead vegetation. I tried using a pipet and squirting a few drops of excel on the hair algae and some light green algae in the sand and it seems to have gone away. Why does excel work for that anyway?
HC seems to be doing really well now, and I'm getting ready to fill the tank. But I still need to decide what cannister filter to buy and what Co2 solution to go with. I haven't had time to research much of that at all.. although I'm leaning towards an Enheim filter of some sort and a co2 setup from Green Leaf Aquariums.Any suggestions?
My lighting is a 96W coralife, which really know nothing about since it came with the tank used.
Here's a bit of riccia that stowed away on my first batch of HC. I found quite a bit it growing among the HC, never thought it would do so well emmersed. I pulled most of it out yesterday and put it to the side since it was choking out areas of my HC.
So my plan is to fill the left corner with some hopefully matching rocks, maybe a bit of driftwood. I'll have some tall plants in the back, and some of this nice leafy stuff in the empty area. I don't recall the names of either though, will have to look it up.
Another interesting thing I found - somehow I think some HC found it's way onto the rock and seems to have established itself there.
So that's where my tank is after almost 7 weeks.
I'd like to fill it and get the rest of the plants in and some fauna. But I just read in another thread that some people have experienced their HC melting? That would suck for me.
But first things first, I need to figure out what filter and co2 solution. Also what wattage heater would be appropriate for a 30g?
thanks for looking!