So here's my journal for my first proper big, planted tank. I've run a 2 foot coldwater many years ago, and a tropical nano for my daughter (complete with the brightest plastic plants etc she can find!) the last couple of years but I've finally had permission from SWMBO to get something a little more adventurous
Any comments on the curtains can be directed to her too... if you're very brave
All other comments - good,bad and ugly - happily accepted. If I'm walking into a big problem somewhere, please let me know!
There are many Fluval Osaka 155s, but this one's mine:
That comes out at 45 US gallons I believe (I'm UK) so not the largest, but plenty for our house. Lighting is 2x24w T5 HO tubes (one life-glo, one power-glo IIRC)... I'm not really sure how T5HOs work on the watts per gallon low/med/high business, so I'm ignoring it and see how we go
Sadly, the wall where that picture was taken is now home to a new sofa, and the tank has had to go in front of a radiator
Obviously, this is less than ideal, so I made up a plywood board with several layers of insulation (kinda like bubble wrap sandwiched between two sheets of silver mylar) on it to sit between the cabinet/tank and the radiator. I also added a side piece which hides the pipework wires etc and painted that the same colour as the wall. From a lot of the room, you will get the side view of the tank so this makes things a lot neater.
Now, my other half is slightly worried about evaporation (this house has had some damp issues in the past, all sorted now, but it's still in her head) from an open tank, and I worry a little about the cat too, so I've made up a perspex cover and supports for it. I've not used acrylic since school, so it didn't come out quite as well as I hoped, quite a few extra scratches etc. But the supports worked well (and are hidden by the top silver trim) so if the cover gets messy, I'll send it off as a sort of pattern to some professionals and get something tidy made instead. My only worry now is that the acrylic may reflect/cut down on the light into the water... if the plants don't seem happy enough, I may cut a big hole under the tubes!
Then I added some sockets inside the cabinet for easy use and access:
Sunday I spent 2 or 3 hours getting the black background stuck on with oil... sticking it on is easy... making sure every single air bubble is out takes longer!
Tonight I spent an hour washing 3 bags of Flourite Dark (I decided the black was too harsh for me. I choose Flourite because of it's reported long term stability - I don't want to be working all the time on this tank once it's up and running, and I hope it will last for years rather than months) and putting it in the tank. I've been soaking the tannins out of some bogwood for the last 3 weeks and so that went in too.
I ordered some HC yesterday so hopefully that'll arrive shortly. I'm going to plant it up and try getting it established emersed for 2-3 weeks before going any further.
My plan is to have about 6 varities of plant, starting with bare substrate to the middle and front of the left hand side, then HC across the front of the wood, then plants getting taller as you go to the RHS and back, then across the back from right to left - a sort of sweeping spiral going upwards around the wood. I hope not to have to go for CO2 as I'm happy to have slower plants and less maintainence (not to mention the cost) but I am planning to use easycarbo (liquid carbon) to help get the plants established then reduce and keep an eye out for the dreaded algae....
I'm looking at a small shoal of dither fish (maybe a dozen rasborras), 3 or 4 pearl gourami, a pair of rams and some cherry shrimp (and maybe some ottos).
I will deny this entirely in 3-6 months time when none of that has worked at all!