20 Gallon Long low-tech journal **new pictures 11/6/09** - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-11-2009, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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20 Gallon Long low-tech journal **new pictures 11/6/09**

Dear everyone,

This is my first aquarium in since 2003! After selling my all tanks and moving from Gainesville, FL to NYC I experienced several years of fish-envy and sad tanklessness. That is about to change.

Here's my setup: a 20 gallon "long" (76 liters), 30" x 12" x 12". I got it used from craigslist for $50, complete with a light, hood, heater, siphon, and Aquaclear 50. Gotta love CL!



I'm planning on upgrading the lighting by adding a Coral Life 30" 2x18W T-5 unit in addition to the stock light (17W) for a total of 53W -- which, come to think of it, sounds like a bit much. I may just stick with the T-5 fixture alone, as I'm planning to add DIY C02 and Seachem's Flourish Excel as ferts (plus maybe some baking soda, as my tap water is very soft: 2 degrees GH, 1 degree KH, and a pH of 6.8 after letting the water sit over night.) Does that sound like a good plan?

But back to the tank. I spray painted the back, cleaned it up, and added a fine layer of peat to start. I got a few handfuls free from a kindly (if mystified) hardware store clerk. I soaked it for a few days, tested the water, and saw no ammonia. Then I let it sit in my tank like so:



After two days of that, I added my substrate: pool filter sand! There are no pool supply shops to be found in my part of Brooklyn, and lugging a 50 lb bag around wasn't an option, so I ordered a $7 bag from Aubuchon hardware and ate the $18 shipping. Dumb, maybe, but it's still cheaper than Fluorite, and prettier imho. Here's a closeup of the sand -- as you can see, the grains are large:



And here's the tank as it looks now:



I'm waiting for a nano stump from badcopnofishtank, and once that's nicely waterlogged, it's time to order plants! If only I could decide what plants to order...

Any advice on what to plant? I'm thinking about e. tennelus and a sandy beach for the foreground and right side of the tank, some Marsilea minuta, java fern and/or anubias tied to the wood, and good ol' alternanthera reineckii as the token red plant. It has taken me *weeks* of indecisive dithering to come to this list, but if you have suggestions, I'm all ears.

Almost forgot: I put a few of these tabs in the tank, too:


Last edited by eva321; 11-06-2009 at 05:26 PM. Reason: update
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-11-2009, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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It's going to be a while before I have pretty aquascape pictures to share, so I thought I'd add a few shots of my old tanks -- I had a 55 gallon Amazon set up, and a few smaller tanks with apistos and rams.







And finally, here's a link to my third-place-out-of-three entry in the AGA contest in '02:

http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.or...1&vol=-1&id=51
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-12-2009, 05:09 PM
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Hi, some things to consider:

Flourish excel and diy CO2 are not ferts, they supply carbon. For ferts you need NPK and micros. For NPK you can buy ferts from aquariumfertilizer.com. For micros you can use csm+b or flourish comprehensive. If your not sure about what you need let me know ill help you out.

Baking soda isn't necessary, I live in Brooklyn too and with co2 your ph should be around 6.0 which is perfectly fine as long as it stays more or less consistent. But since our water is very soft you will need to add some source of gh (calcium / magnesium) from something like gh booster to avoid deficiencies.

I don't think peat is really necessary, and it will make your ph drop even more.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-12-2009, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! Did not know that about Flourish -- I was hoping that would cover all my bases the easy way. I got the peat idea from Tom Barr, who I actually met a few times back in Florida, but that was a long time ago. You're right, I probably don't need it, but I'm hoping it'll stay under the sand and not affect the water chemistry too much.

I'll check aquariumfertilizer.com next. Dosing seems pretty intimidating at this point...


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Update: the driftwood arrived from badcopnofishtank. It looks great! I have it soaking in buckets now. Pics of the hardscape coming soon!

And I finally figured out fertilizer -- it's been so long since I've had to think about this stuff that I completely forgot. Yesterday I found an old bottle of stump remover (KNO3) in my box of aquarium supplies from back in '02. I checked out Tom Barr's EI dosing thread and it all came back -- in addition to the KNO3, I need GH booster for my soft water, KH2PO4, and a trace element mix. So I went to aquariumfertilizer.com and ordered that (it's much cheaper than buying commercial products, though if I decide to add iron, I may just go with Flourish Iron because I don't need that much).

Whew! Now I just need to add some plants! Thanks again bgz.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 05:40 PM
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Not Flourish Iron, the regular Flourish aka Flourish Comprehensive. It has iron and all the other trace elements you need. Without iron/trace elements the other ferts will be useless.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again -- but I ordered the trace element mix from aquariumfertilizer.com -- so that's covered.

On fertilizers and budget: I'm trying to make this whole project as affordable as I can. It seems much more cost-effective to buy DIY dry mixes online than to go for pre-made Flourish product (my laziness regarding Excel notwithstanding). But when it comes to iron -- and maybe I'm wrong here -- it seems like it makes more sense to buy a small bottle of Flourish Iron than buy the DIY iron mix, because it's something I'll be using in relatively small amounts. What am I going to do with enough dry mix to make more than two liters of iron supplement? Unless I'm planning on an all red tank, it seems unnecessary.

The driftwood is almost ready to go in the tank, but for some reason my T-5 light fixture is taking forever to get here. I ordered it from Pets-warehouse.com more than two weeks ago! Time to give them a call...


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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 09:07 PM
 
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Looking good so far, if your previous tanks are anything to go by this one is gonna be stunning
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 01:38 AM
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looking forward to pictures of the new tank

cheers-k

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-03-2009, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Apologies for the delay -- things have been busy at work, and it took my driftwood longer to sink than I anticipated.

Here's my first attempt at a hardscape:


The first day of planting -- the Marsilea quadrifolia didn't survive shipping


And here's how the tank looks now:




Plants are E. tennelus, java fern, Alternanthera reineckii, Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis), and a little bit of Anacharis (Egeria najas) that isn't doing so hot.

I think I need to group the driftwood a little more tightly, shifting those pieces in the center toward the left. I'm not super happy with the way the tank looks now, but I know it needs time to grow. More pictures to come as it evolves...


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-03-2009, 09:03 PM
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im sure the anacharis will bounce back, its a pretty resilient plant. the wisteria will grow like crazy but its good cause the tank is just starting off so it'll help stabilize the water.
its a nice start, all you need is a bit of time to let things grow in.

and may i ask, gville to nyc? what were you doing in gville? are you a fellow gator?

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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yep -- i went to UF for undergrad. it's definitely a great school. is aquatropics still open? i was in the shop practically every day...


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva321 View Post
yep -- i went to UF for undergrad. it's definitely a great school. is aquatropics still open? i was in the shop practically every day...
yeah, UF is awesome! what did you study here?
yeah, aquatropics is still here, they're the only good petstore that has a good fish selection besides petsmart and petco.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-06-2009, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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20 gallon tank journal -- new pictures 11/5/09

Hi everyone! I know it's been a long time since I've posted updates, and I'm sorry about that. I went away for the month of August, came back to a tank full of algae (my pet-sitter was good about water changes, but he didn't follow my C02 refilling instructions very well). I tore down the tank, removing everything except the sand bottom, and started over. Here are two pictures from August, before I left town:





Tank: a 20 gallon "long" (76 liters), 30"x12"x12"; back glass painted black.

Lighting: Coral Life 30" 2x18W T-5 unit, plus stock light (17W), total 53W

C02: diy soda bottle, 1c sugar + 1/8 tsp yeast, changed weekly

Water changes: 50% weekly

Dosing: EI for dummies http://www.barrreport.com/estimative...chy-folks.html

Substrate: pool filter sand, a little bit of peat moss, and some fert tabs

Plants: water sprite, java fern, chain swords, lobelia, elodea, and a very sickly bolbitus fern

Fish: 15 neon tetras, 9 black neon tetras, 8 otos, 1 SAE, 1 female gold ram, 12 olive snails

And here are my most recent pictures! I'm still having problems with algae, but it seems to be getting better -- I added the snails and SAE a few weeks ago, after the rebuild. I'm not adding iron at the moment, which is why some of those swords look so pale. But the whole thing is finally, finally, finally starting to look like the tank I'd hoped it would become from the start:









If you have any comments about my lighting/C02/fertilizer/algae situation, please feel free to offer advice. Like I said above, the algae has been mostly under control since the rebuild, but I do find myself manually removing excess green hair algae every week when I do water changes.

Also, I kind of want more fish -- the tank feels empty with only 24 tetras, a few algae eaters, and the one ram. (Attempts to find a healthy mate have not been successful.) But it's probably smart to leave it understocked, for the sake of fishes' health, if not the plants.

Finally, if you want to see enlarged photos, check out my Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/readyro...7622736029174/

Thanks everyone for all your help so far.


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Last edited by eva321; 11-06-2009 at 05:25 PM. Reason: update
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-06-2009, 07:08 PM
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looks great! sorry about your algae outbreak, but i love the new setup! - silver lining i guess everything looks great, especially the placement of the driftwood, except those grey-flat stones kinda hidden in the back, they are throwing me off a little and don't seem to fit in. i think it might look better with some ground cover or medium heights plants there instead?

4 * 8 * 15 * 16 * 23 * 42

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