I'm very much a plant newbie, and have only had a few posts on TPT so far, but all that should change with the start of this journal. This will be for my first "real" run at a planted tank, but first, a little backstory...
My wife and I bought the 55 gallon 8-9 months ago, and read up a good deal about how to go about caring for our fish. While stocking slowly and getting used to caring for a tank, we decided somewhere along the way that it would be cool to put some plants in it. We bought some Java Ferns and Amazon Swords. The Ferns are doing great, but the Swords did really poorly and practically died. Whoops - should've read up a bit first. So we did a bunch of reading/thinking and just started the re-do process. Here's the run-down:
Substrate: Flourite + Gravel. Kinda ugly, I don't think our cory's liked it much.
Lighting: Stock cruddy lighting.
"Stuff:" 1 curvy piece of driftwood
Fauna: A couple java ferms, a couple dying Swords
Flora: Cardinal Tetras, Diamond Tetras, 2 German Blue Rams, 6 corydoras trilineatus, 1 lonely angelfish (more coming)...
Problems: Not enough hiding places for fish, not making use of the height of the tank, fish all competing for same few hiding spots. I noticed them become more aggressive and break up their schooling behavior as I added more fish.
Plan of Attack:
* Swap out substrate for Flourite Black sand - the corys will like this and it should keep their barbels healthier than the Flourite. Also, the black will look better.
* Upgrade the lighting to the Catalina Solar T5 4x54watt fixture, only using 2 of the tubes (because i don't want to mess with C02).
* Add more driftwood and/or rocks, attempting to get some height in the tank, giving the fish more nice little hiding spots.
* More taller plants, for the same reasons as above.
So... without further ado: The Great Substrate Swap of '08!
^^ Not a lot of hardscape in the old tank...
Me, draining the tank. Fish in the coolers & Rubbermaid containers.
New driftwood piece - Tall & wide, should be good to get the fish to utilize more of the full height of the tank...
New driftwood in tank. There are nice little hollow areas of the driftwood that the corys like to hide in and explore. I like my corys a lot, can you tell?? Cloudy water from the sand...
The old piece of driftwood with attatched Java Fern, and Lance, our lone angel.
Java Fern, Anacharis, hyrophila
(Looking for a nice larger plant, maybe a red rubin sword, and perhaps a manageable grass, and a few other species).
Since doing the swap on Sunday, the cloudiness has died down, and the fish are behaving much more naturally. The diamond tetras remembered what kind of fish they are - schooling fish. The male GBR had been chasing the female around, and her color was pale - but now both are getting along and the female's color is back. Lance is swimming more gracefully and higher in the tank, less crowding, showing less aggression. The Rams still steal the cory's pellets, but I'm not sure if that will go away or not. Anyway, it may not look like much yet - but the fish sure seem to appreciate the change. The new arrangement is already a big success in that regard.
#1 on the agenda is to get some more plants in there. I'm kind of trying to do a VERY loose south american theme to the plants, even though the Java Fern is obviously wrong (and I think the hygro, too)... Does anyone have any suggestions for some good low/mid light plants, maybe getting some reds in there?
#2 on my agenda is to learn about ferts. I basically know nothingg about when and how much... I'll be doing some reading, but if anyone has links to some good places to start, I'd appreciate it.
This is my first scape, so go easy!