My 55g Redux (56k warning) - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-05-2008, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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My 55g Redux (56k warning)

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:

Before:
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.

Current Flora:
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!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-05-2008, 04:48 AM
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I think you are off to a good start. I think that there is alot you can do with a tank of this size.. my father in law has a 55 gallon tank and it looks good.

what are you using for filtration?

as for dosing ferts.. you can use seachem flourish excel on occasion and seachem flourish comprehensive also. both will give some nutrients the plants can use. you don't need to get into alot more than that with a low light setup. if you aren't going to use C02 then you will be fine. I think that it is easier to start out this way.. but eventually alot of people switch to higher tech tanks with Co2. Can't wait to see some pics after it is all done!

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-05-2008, 05:53 AM Thread Starter
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Using an Emperor 400 for filtration. I like it, the bio wheels seem to work well. I've read that a lot of planted tankers use canister filters, but never really knew precisely why. Less current?

I may want to get Vaslisneria for the tank, which would rule out Excel, right? If the tank will really struggle without Excel or C02 gas, I can punt the Val, but it sure does look pretty.

Thanks for the quick tips. I may eventually move to a high tech C02 high light tank (which is one reason I sprung for the bigger fixture), but right now, I don't think that's for me. In several years when I ditch apartment life and learn more about aquatic plants it may happen.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-05-2008, 06:05 AM
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That is one badazz piece of drift wood.


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-05-2008, 10:53 AM
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canister filters are more versatile when it comes to water distribution throughout the tank. alot of flow plays a big part in plant health. also helps fight algae. canister filters for the most part can filter much more water per gallon that a hob. depending on the model canister you have. I used to have hob's and sprung for the canisters.. I couldn't be more happy with them.

you shouldn't have trouble using the flourish comp. and regular excel. just don't use it in excess.

corkscrew vals look really nice.. I would go with some of those

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-06-2008, 01:01 AM
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That is one beautiful angel. He looks happy with the new driftwood.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-06-2008, 01:20 AM
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I have to say, just from seeing those parts of the tank. I think it will end up looking great!!!

Thanks
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-10-2008, 04:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks SeaSerpant and Sewingalot. Our angel is looking pretty good, but he needs friends... More on that later.

Here's a quick update... Here's a kinda junky shot of what the tank looked like after some of the cloudiness went away:



You can see the new driftwood left of center, and the old driftwood to the right of center. I was surprised how well they went together - I was a little worried they wouldn't look good together. Note that the background is one of those printed scenes, so in this picture, it's a bit hard to tell what is real plant and what is fake picture.

I say that this is the way it "looked," because a little while after this picture was taken, our two rams got frisky again and started breeding. This happened a few weeks prior, but we noticed it just a few minutes before we had to leave for the weekend. When we got back, no babies :-( This time we saw it coming and we were able to catch the spawn on video and get some pics of it, too...

You can view the video I got on one of my blog posts (flash streaming):
http://blog.kordix.com/pedalboy/archives/001264.html
(these forums do not let me embed flash objects, as far as I can tell)
Or you can download a higher-quality version on my web gallery page (Warning: it's a huge file, not for dial-up users!)


Female laying her eggs while the male is on gaurd.


Male doing his thing while the female takes a turn on lookout duty.

After they laid the eggs on the older, smaller driftwood, we pulled it out and put it in a separate container (one of the white foam coolers from the substrate swap in the pics above). So the tank is looking ugly again, but we might get ram babies out of it, which would be awesome. Unfortunately, we don't have a heater in there, and it got a bit cold last night while we were asleep Current temp in there is 68 F. The rams should be hatching about now, so we'll see if they were able to make it or not - so far no luck. Next time, we'll buy a cheap heater and see what happens.

So there's some adventure going on in the tank, aside from the plants. But on the flora front, the anacharis are growing in well, i think. The tops of them are slightly more densely-packed and a brighter green - which I think is new growth. So that is exciting. The hyrgo is doing okay so far - it has some algae on it, and one of the leaves has been nibbled in half, it looks like. But so far it's not completely melted. So that is also exciting. I'll take what I can get at this point.

I haven't been dosing any ferts yet, and I'm slowly starting to see some more algae, so I think that means I need to get some more plants in there (which I've been wanting to do anyway). I was thinking about getting the following from aquariumplants.com:
  • Vals, Corkscrew (Vallisneria americana) (10 plants per order)
  • Telanthera Rosefolia (Alternanthera reineckii)
  • Cabomba Green (Cabomba carolina), and/or
  • Cabomba Purple (Red)(Cabomba pulcherrima)
  • Micro Sword Narrow Leaf (Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae)(Pot)
  • Sword, Red Melon (Echinodorus Barthii v. "red melon")
  • Amazon Sword (Echinodorus bleheri) Pot
Is that too much? Another problem is that there really isn't much in the way of mid-ground plants. Does anyone know of any mid-ground south american (loosely) plants I could grow with the low/medium light, no-co2 setup I've got? I'd appreciate it. I'd like to place the order soon and get this stuff in there.

We're having trouble finding nice angels to add to the tank. We found one we liked, and added him the other day, but he never acted quite right, and he just died a few minutes ago. I don't think there's anything we could have done for him. ::Sigh:: the search continues... Thanks for reading!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-10-2008, 01:46 PM
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It's looks really good. But i can't really tell the real plants from the backround. I don't know if it would be better to put a black backround on or none at all because i think it contracts from the real beauty of the aquarium.

Thanks
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2008, 02:35 AM
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I have an amazon sword in my 55 gallon. Even though I love my amazon and it pearls like crazy, it is hard to scape. I have tried a lot of different areas, but the depth of a 55 gallon seems to hinder its beauty as well as the other plants. Of course, I am new at this, so take my advice with that in mind. I like the blue background, but I am also not sure which are real plants or just the background in the far right.

Your rams are in love! It must be the kicking driftwood. Keep posting! You give me inspiration.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-15-2008, 07:17 AM
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I have a low tech tank. Plants include

Dwarf chain sword, Various larger swords, Blyxa, Crypt (tropica mostly), Java fern, Java moss, Anubias nana, Larger anubias, Val & a plant i cant recall the name of at this time *L*

I do not use ferts at all, nor co2 and all are growing really well (i can post a pic if you're interested)
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2008, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Well, my order from AquariumPlants.com shipped. Right now, I'm not very happy with them. We'll see what the plants look like, I guess. Here's what I ordered for this tank:

Telanthera Rosefolia (Alternanthera reineckii)
Cabomba Purple (Red)(Cabomba pulcherrima)
Micro Sword Narrow Leaf (Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae)(Pot)
Sword, Red Melon (Echinodorus Barthii v. "red melon")
Amazon Sword (Echinodorus bleheri) Pot
Vals, Corkscrew (Vallisneria americana) (10 plants per order)
Java Moss (Vesicularia Dubyana)

Hopefully that's a good mix and a good amount.

Why am I not happy with AquariumPlants.com right now? I made a typo on the shipping zip code, so the owner of the company calls me just now while I'm driving home and expects a clarification within two minutes. I get him one within five (after I speed home and sprint inside). He has a bit of an attitude, tries to make me feel like a bad guy by saying he has to drive 21 miles to ship it (ostensibly because of me) and thinks I owe him a cocktail now. And then he tells me how he "appreciates my business." If my plants weren't on the line, I think I would have disagreed with him on that point. The ordering system took the zip code and even gave me a shipping quote based on it - perhaps his business should start verifying these things before UPS gets there. It is not as if typos are some kind of unforeseeable eventuality. At any rate, I came away from the whole ordeal with a pretty sour taste in my mouth.

Lets hope the plants are good. I get them tomorrow, and will post again soon.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-09-2009, 02:42 PM
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dont worry pretty soon you will hate the people that made that tank because being 12in deep (front to back) in a tank that long kinda make you go a little crazy........
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