Noob's 55g planted intro (56k) (Updated, again..) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Noob's 55g planted intro (56k) (Updated, again..)

Hello!
Been reading this forum for a couple of weeks now. Great forum! Thought I'd share the beginning of my first planted tank. (First tank of this size actually)

So my wife bought me a 55g setup from Walmart (God bless her for trying...) so that's what I started with. Dumped in 4 bags of black Eco-Complete and 1 25lb bag of black epoxy coated gravel. I'm using the heater and filter that came from Walmart (Aqua-Tech 30-60 HOB) although I've added a sponge filter to the intake. I've also added a QuietOne 1200 pump with a sponge filter attached (thanks to Wasserpest for the great idea!) That pump will also be used to pump the water from my 10g refill/qt tank.

Here's the initial setup:

The water level is a little low in anticipation of some driftwood, although I'm still waiting. The tank seemed to cycle quickly (prolly 4 weeks) and the initial inhabitants were (15) White Clouds, (7) Red Eye Tetras, and a Cory cat (who's common name I can't remember!)

I also built a canopy to house 2 39w 36" T5 (retro kit). Here's version 1.0:


Here's the tank as it currently sits:

I've added (1) Serpae Tetra (he was a refugee from my son's 6g tank. He was getting picked on, but now he's the bully of this tank! He may have to be removed.), (1) Upside down Cat (also a refugee), (3) Pink Flying Fox, (1) Clown Pleco, (2) Oto's, and (1) Dwarf Gourami. Those plants in behind the rock are Dracaena Sanderiana. I bought them at Petco, and were sitting on a shelf in a plastic tube! It said they were "Large Aquarium Ferns" or something. Turns out they're like Bamboo! Guess I need to research the plants a little more, and I'll only get them from my trusted LFS from now on. We'll see how they do, but I don't think they'll last long submerged.

I also upgraed my canopy to include the two 18" Flouro fixtures that came with the tank and (8) LED's. I use the 18" 15w bulbs for weekends just for when the T5's aren't on, and they're around 10,000k in color, so they add a little color too. Here's canopy version 1.1:


Anyways, I've got a few questions. Not sure I want to go the pressurized CO2 route, and it sounds like 55g is too big to really use the DIY system, but would "some" CO2 be better than nothing? If I just used one or two bottles of the yeast mix and ran that into a good reactor, would that be beneficial at all, or could I just screw things up faster? I just started using some Excel yesterday, so that's all I've done for the plants except for the Eco-Complete.

I just started soaking some driftwood I found here locally in a river. I believe it's Cottonwood. Anybody see any problems with that type of wood? Mopani is just so expensive! Here's the pieces I've got:


I may/will have to do some trimming to make them fit.

Any ideas or comments would be appreciated. There is definately more to this planted setup than the LFS would have you beleive!

Again, great site!

Aaron

Last edited by arn24; 03-15-2009 at 01:01 AM.
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post #2 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 08:52 PM
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some of those plants in the back left are not aquatic.
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post #3 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I know. They're some kind of Bamboo. Bought it 'cause it looked cool. Said it was "an aquarium plant"! (Petco)

I really need to learn more about the plants. Somebody please tell me that you're all not reciting these plant names by memory! I'm gonna get run off of here if I start referring to them as "The tall, kinda light green one in the back"!

Anyways, yeah I'll most likely pull them out here in a day or two.
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post #4 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 09:30 PM
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Hi, and welcome to TPT! You're off to a nice start!

You're right, the Dracaena will not survive. It's best to remove it now. You don't want the added ammonia from the plants decaying.

The best place to get aquatic plants is on the forums! Check out the Swap N Shop forum on here. Every day there are tons of great plants offered. These are coming from others with planted tanks which allows for a much greater variety of plants and a low price tag.

Plants require carbon as the building blocks to grow. So any CO2 is better than none. A lot of people start off with DIY, but few make it work long term. But you can give it a try. Alternatively, dosing Excel would work. It's not cheap in the long run and there are a few plants that don't like Excel, but it's a good place to start. If you can afford pressurized CO2, get it. You will never regret it.

If you do use DIY or injected CO2, you'll have some issues with the HOB filter you're using. That filter is creating a lot of surface turbulence which causes the CO2 to gas out of the water. I would strongly recommend getting a canister filter.

There are a lot of details that go into keeping plants tanks so don't be worried if things go wrong or things seem a bit overwhelming to learn all at once. We've all been through the learning curve ourselves. You'll know you're getting better as soon as you start posting messages asking for help to get rid of all the algae you're getting!

BTW, with a 55g tank from Walmart, double check that the tank is level to ensure there isn't any stress on any of the glass or seams. You don't want the tank twisted which can cause it to crack. A Walmart tank is as good as any to start, but the glass is probably thinner so just be careful with it. Ensuring that it's level will be most helpful.

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post #5 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arn24 View Post
Yeah, I know. They're some kind of Bamboo. Bought it 'cause it looked cool. Said it was "an aquarium plant"! (Petco)
Don't trust anything from the large retail pet stores, such as Petco and PetSmart. They lie. The plants they have in the tubes are not aquatic plants. Maybe they'd do okay in a wet area next to a pond, but not completely submerged in a tank.

Quote:
Somebody please tell me that you're all not reciting these plant names by memory!
Yes we are! Okay, I have some memorized, but I also keep a list of the plants I have. The list includes their common name, latin name, a picture and where I got it. So whenever I forget what one of the plants' names is, I just look it up on my list. After awhile, you'll start to remember some of them.

Oh, and regarding your wood. I can't comment as to whether the type of wood you got is suitable for a tank, but you do need to sterilize it before adding it into your tank. You may want to start a thread asking for suggestions on sterilizing it. The wood is too large to boil so maybe you can sterilize it using the oven. I don't know. This is beyond my knowledge (I don't use wood collected in the wild). Nice pieces, especially the one on the left.

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post #6 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice!

So, I couldn't "over do it" with one or two 2ltr bottles of DIY Co2? I read all the time about timers not working or some other failure to the Co2 system and it seams to wreak havoc on the tank. I don't want to worry about that.

If I keep the tank topped off, the HOB filter creates a lot less agitation than if it's an inch or so low. Still too much agitation? I was thinking of getting a canister filter, but I've already had to hide some of the costs from the wife! I did find this one that seamed reasonable and had a UV sterilizer to boot.
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...0&pcatid=19310
Anybody use one of these? Any comments about it?

I took out the 'Bamboo'. Now I'd like to ask for some help identifying what I do have. Your idea about keeping a photo with a name is an excellent one. So here's what I have so far:

Some sort of grass or Micro Sword (?)


Don't know what this is: (it was on sale and I need ground cover!)


This is a terrible pic, but It does show the color and leaf shape better than any of the others I took:


Some sort of fern?


..and finally, I can't remember the name of this cat. Thought it started with a J or a P (common name). Also, the plants in this pic is a "ludwigia" of some sort.



As for the driftwood, I've got it soaking in the bathtub with a little bleach and refilling with hot water every couple of hours. I already pressure washed it and figure I'll let it soak for at least a week. Not sure if it's gonna sink on it's own, or if I'm gonna have to anchor it.

Thanks in advance for the help and advice!

Aaron
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post #7 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 10:58 PM
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I actually have a piece of cottonwood in my tank right now! Good to see another 55 out there. I actually had the exact Aqua Tech filter on my tank for years and loved it. That is a java fern. I am not sure about the other plants though. Welcome to TPT!

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post #8 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arn24 View Post
So, I couldn't "over do it" with one or two 2ltr bottles of DIY Co2? I read all the time about timers not working or some other failure to the Co2 system and it seams to wreak havoc on the tank. I don't want to worry about that.
You can always over do it with CO2, but the output of CO2 with DIY is so low, I doubt you can do any harm. You'd have to get at least over 30ppm of CO2 to start affecting the fish.

Yes, there are concerns with using injected CO2. But try to keep them in proper perspective. Have you heard of people with tanks that have spontaneously cracked? It happens! In fact, it happened to me. And I think there's at least 2 or 3 others here who's tanks have busted. I don't mean leak. I mean in one pop, cracked from top to bottom with water gushing out everywhere.

But just because that happens doesn't mean you shouldn't get a tank. And just because some people have had CO2 disasters doesn't mean you shouldn't get injected CO2. In fact, I have killed some of my fish by accidentally overdosing the CO2. CO2 is just like everything else. You need to learn how to use it properly to avoid big problems. Just like learning to not overfeed, for example.

In my case, I was adding CO2 to my 29g tank with a pH controller. I had let the electrode sit dry for about a month which normally ruins them. But I tried it, and it seemed to work. So I cranked up the CO2.

I didn't watch it closely enough, and it overdosed. I lost a few fish and some shrimp. However, if I had been monitoring the CO2 and had not abused the equipment, then it would have never happened. Live and learn!

Quote:
I was thinking of getting a canister filter, but I've already had to hide some of the costs from the wife! I did find this one that seamed reasonable and had a UV sterilizer to boot.
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...0&pcatid=19310
Skip the UVS for now. You can do fine without it. Most people don't have one.

Sit down and add up the expense of replacing the filter cartridges on your HOB for a full year. Then do the same for a canister (only the top floss needs to be replaced). I think you'll find that the canister will come close to paying for itself. Also, take a long look at just how tall a canister is and remember that the height is mostly the actual filtering media. Now compare that to the thickness of the filter cartridge on the HOB. I'm sure you can figure out a way to explain to your wife why a canister is needed. Remember that filtration is one of the most important parts of any tank, especially a planted tank.

Quote:
Some sort of grass or Micro Sword (?)
Dwarf Micro Sword, Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

http://animal-world.com/encyclo/fres...MicroSword.php

I haven't had good luck with this one for some reason.

Quote:
Don't know what this is: (it was on sale and I need ground cover!)
I don't know this one.

Quote:
This is a terrible pic, but It does show the color and leaf shape better than any of the others I took:
It's hard to be specific on this one, but I'm pretty sure it's some kind of Crypt (Cryptocoryne). It would help to get a picture of the whole plant.

Quote:
Some sort of fern?
Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) — Make sure the rhizome is not buried in the substrate. It will rot if it is. This plant is frequently tied onto driftwood or rocks where it will eventually attach itself.

Quote:
..and finally, I can't remember the name of this cat. Thought it started with a J or a P (common name).
It's a cory (Corydoras), but I don't know which one. There are hundreds of them! Click this link to see what I mean:

http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog...php?genus_id=1

Get him some buddies. Corys like to be in groups; they do not like being alone. Another 4-5 would be great.

Quote:
Also, the plants in this pic is a "ludwigia" of some sort.
It's not in good shape so it's hard to say which one. But knowing it's a Ludwigia works as an ID for now.

And, yes, I looked up many of the names. Just about every latin name I had to look up. So don't feel bad if you don't get it all memorized by tomorrow. The test isn't until next week.

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post #9 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your help!

The Java Fern is just kinda set in a hole in that rock, so the rhizome should be fine.

The Ludwigia has become covered in some sort of algae. The Flying Foxes do spend some time trying to clean them, but they don't seem to like the stringy stuff. I just got the pleco and otos yesterday and have already done a fantastic job of eliminating some more. I have also cut my lighting back to about 7 hrs a day.

As far as the filter cartridges, I'm thinking about taking apart an old cartridge, replacing the carbon media, and then skinning the cartridge back together with some nylon stocking material (pantyhose). The foam filter on the intake should take care of the solids. Anybody ever tried this?

One more quick question. How do you get the blue boxes with quoted words in them in your replies?

Thanks!

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post #10 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 02:24 AM
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The plant that Complexity didn't know is Lobelia cardinalis, small form. It's a pretty plant that will grow plantlets.

Just keeping on keeping on....


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post #11 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 02:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arn24 View Post
One more quick question. How do you get the blue boxes with quoted words in them in your replies?
Hit the quote button under the person's reply.

Just keeping on keeping on....


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post #12 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 02:53 AM
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The algae is normal for a new setup. That's not to say to ignore it, but that lack of experience leads to an imbalance of lighting/ferts/CO2/plant mass. It is the algae that generally gets us to ask more questions and learn. So you're right on track!

I don't recommend Flying Foxes. I'd return them if you still can. Get true SAEs (Siamese Algae Eaters). They are hard to find, but they're what you want instead of Flying Foxes.

Ottos are a great choice.

What kind of pleco? If it's the common one, return it. It'll grow too large for your tank. They will grow to 12" and larger. If you're wanting a pleco for its algae eating, try a bristlenose pleco. They will remain small enough for your tank.

I think you'll find that most of us don't use carbon. There's no reason for it on a regular basis. Use it only to clean up medicines from a Q/T, but that's about it. So you're not going to find anyone with much experience with planted tanks that are trying to refill the carbon in the filter cartridges.

Quote:
One more quick question. How do you get the blue boxes with quoted words in them in your replies?
You mean like the one above? Basically, you just put [quote*] and [/quote*] around the text you want to quote. Just remove the * before the ].

You can do this automatically by clicking on the button on the right/bottom of the post. Then delete the extra text you don't want, leaving only the part you want quoted.

If you want to quote more than one post, click on the on all but the last post, and then click on the for the last one. Now all of the posts will be quoted.

Lastly, while writing a reply or post, you can highlight any words on the page and click the button at the top of the reply page. It's located just above the box where you type your post.

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post #13 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 02:54 AM
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Hit the quote button under the person's reply.
Yeah, yeah... use one sentence to say what I said in a whole paragraph!

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post #14 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Tex!

Thanks Complexity!

The Pleco is a Clown Pleco, so should stay fairly small. The Flying Foxes are a blast to watch, so as efficient or not as SAE's, I think I'll keep them. I may supplement them with SAE's, tho.

I'm sitting right around 2wpg right now. I feel like that might be right in the middle of "too high for low tech; not enough for high tech". What do you guys think? Running them about 7 hours/day.

Aaron
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post #15 of 64 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Tex, is this the Lobelia cardinalis? Is there a common name?
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