DM's 50 gallon low tech tank (updated pics 3/16) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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DM's 50 gallon low tech tank (updated pics 3/16)

Hi all,

I would like to thank everyone that has provided useful information to me so far in helping me set up a new tank. A couple of people have suggested that I start a journal and that seems like a good idea so you can see my progress and help me out along the way. I have built the stand and canopy for it, and should have thought to take pictures along the way, but all I have is the finished ones so hopefully that is better than nothing. Anyways, here is what I have:

50 gallon tank with an Eheim 2217 filter and an inline heater, 4 bags of flourite black, and right now 2-36" T8 bulbs for 50 watts, but I have a 4 bulb ballast hooked up so if I need to overdrive them I can very easily (or add another bulb or two if that works out better).







So there is what I have so far. I just ordered a bunch of plants and plan to plant them by the end of this week. I think I like that large piece of wood, it has some cool holes and cave like areas, especially underneath it. I just threw those other two pieces in there for now, I might move them around later. So hopefully by next weekend I can have everything planted and take some new pics, then maybe you can help me with fish ideas. Feel free to give any ideas or suggestions on plant placement, or decoration placement, or anything. I have a 10 gallon tank with 3 harlequin rasboras that I will be moving into this tank, so that is a start to come up with fish ideas.

Last edited by dm76; 03-16-2010 at 05:13 PM.
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 03:31 AM Thread Starter
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While I am waiting for the plants, I do have one question about cycling this. I know I have read where it is not necessary to do a fishless cycle if you have plants because the plants help out in it, but I did one anyways while I was waiting to build the hood and get the plants. So here is what happened:

I started cycling it on May 1st, adding enough ammonia to get it over 4 ppm. On May 18th, I started getting nitrites, with it showing off the charts from May 24 thru June 1st. Ammonia started going down so I was adding 1 tsp each night to bring it back to 4, then it would go down to 1 by the next night. The nitrites started dropping and were at 1.0 from June 4-9, then from the 10th-13th they were .5. Now I tested today, and they were back to 1.0 and the Ammonia has not dropped since I added the usual amount on June 11th. The only thing different I did was I added the ammonia at midnight on the 11th where I have been typically adding it at 7:00 pm. That shouldn't make any difference should it? Other than that, I did nothing different. Why did the ammonia not go down this time and the nitrite went up a little? If I get the plants planted next weekend, will it be safe to add at least the fish I have and a few more, or should I let this cycle complete?
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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 08:26 PM
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stop putting poison in your tank. when you get it planted put a few fish in and do a normal cycle.

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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 09:02 PM
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stop putting poison in your tank. when you get it planted put a few fish in and do a normal cycle.
Haha yeah i'm gonna agree, i know lots of other forums absolutely are obsessed with "fishless" cycles, etcetc, but with heavily planted tank, and if you stock gradually, the whole fishless cycle with dumping in ammonia is redundant.


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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Hehe ok thanks guys. Like I said I figured it was not necessary but thought I'd give it a try while I was waiting. I'll just move the 3 fish I have over when I get the plants in, and maybe a few more. Is that a good amount to stock this about 3 fish at a time or so?

Anyways, I ordered a bunch of plants from aquariumplants.com as they seemed a lot cheaper than and LFS for ordering a large amount. I got different anubias, crypts, vals, and swords. I will take some pictures as soon as I plant them this weekend, but I was wondering, do all the anubias have to be attached to rocks or wood, or can they be in the substrate as long as you just bury the roots only? I plan to put some java ferns on that wood, but if the rest of them and the other anubias can't be in the substrate, should I just attach them to smaller rocks?
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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 06:35 PM
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Why did the ammonia not go down this time and the nitrite went up a little?
It didn't. You and either your test kit or your ammonia caused this.

regardless, you've gotten the best advice already. Stop screwing around with Ammonia. It's of no use to you with a planted tank.

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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 06:36 PM
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I've heard you can do that with anubias. I don't see why it wouldn't work.

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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 07:09 PM
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I dont recommend trying to bury the anubias roots. I tie the anubias to small rocks. then you can just push the rock into the gravel. I found that to be the easiest way to keep them down, plus it makes it easy to move them around

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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 02:42 AM
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Looks like you have a great start on your tank. I will be looking for pics once it is planted. I plant anubias in the gravel all the time. As long as you don't bury the rhisome you are good to go. Same thing with java ferns and crypts. My only thought so far on your tank, is to take the rock out. It looks totally out of place with the color of it and the color of the gravel. And then maybe move the small piece of driftwood over to the left a little bit for your hardscape. Looks like you did a great job with the stand and the canopy!

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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 05:43 AM
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At Rex Griggs site read:
it was discovered that by setting up a tank and filling it full of fast growing stem plants that one could add a medium to large fish load all at once and never see the traditional ammonia or nitrite spikes. The reason for this is simple. The plants love ammonia. So it never gets a chance to kill the fish. Also the plants come covered in beneficial bacteria that will start the traditional cycle.
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post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 06:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the compliment on the stand and canopy. I was thinking the same thing too with that rock not matching the rest of the color. I figured if I had it covered in plants it wouldn't look so white, but I guess if it is gonna be covered in plants, then you won't see it anyways so whats the point? I'll probably take it out and try to find a darker one or just leave it out. I was thinking of maybe getting a little pile of smaller rocks somewhere in there or to make some kind of hill or mound in there, but we'll see.

Hilde, thanks for that info. I actually just found that on the site the other day. So looks like I will be good to go.

If you want to give some fish ideas, go for it! Like I said, I have the 3 harlequins that I will be transferring over, so I would imagine I should probably add a few more of those. Then I was thinking another school (or 2 more if it can handle it) or nice looking fish that would go good with the dark colors in there. Maybe some kind of tetras. And I also want to have a couple larger fish that stand out, like gouramis perhaps. I definitely love having shrimp so I want some of those, and then what would be a good bottom dweller/algae eater?
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post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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Got it planted

Well its after 1:00am and I just finished planting this but had to take a couple quick pics to show you guys before I go to bed:









I have a bunch of corkscrew vals mainly along the back, 4 swords, crypts, anubias mainly tied to the wood, lots of that grassy stuff (dwarf subulata), and some java ferns. I have a bunch of java ferns that I haven't planted yet but got tired tonight and don't want to clutter it. I don't know if I will put more in or not. It seems like a lot of plants in there, but I'll trust what I read in here about stocking it heavy with plants to start with so it will overpower the algae!

Anyways, so is it ok to put my 3 harlequins in there now? Should I add a few more with them right now too? Feel free to give fish ideas. I mentioned an idea of what I might want in the previous post. And how many hours a day should I run the lights to start with? And those plants I tied to the wood, will the roots just start attaching to the wood eventually, and then can I take the string or rubber bands off? Thanks for all the help!
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post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 04:55 PM
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Looks like a great start! You can add the 3 fish now without a problem. They are a very small bioload with that size tank. I think you could still put more plants in there without it looking clutered. I would run the lights for 8 hrs if it was my tank. The roots will atach to the wood, and you will be able to remove the string from them.

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post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Ok maybe I will attach the java ferns I have left to some small rocks and put them in there, then I can move them around later. I was thinking, since I will just gradually add the fish, will there be enough nutrients for the plants from the start since there aren't that many fish right now? Do I need to add anything to help out there?

Now I read that you should not have too much surface agitation, or maybe it is just splashing (I can't remember) because that depletes the CO2 faster. Is that right? So I have the Eheim spray bar from the install kit up top, and it it is completely underwater so there is no splashing. I have the spray pointing horizontally now, towards the front of the tank because when it was straight down it was moving those back plants all over. The only other thing I could do is point it at downward angle so it hits the back wall, then it would probably not move the surface much at all. Is this important at all, or is the main thing not to have splashing? Or did I just imagine I read this somewhere?
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post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 08:35 PM
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I would start dosing now. You're at 2wpg, so your plants are going to need some nutrients. N, P, and K, plus micros. You don't have very fast growing plants, though (except the vals... once they take off, good luck stopped them!), so you could potentially just wait until you see signs of deficiency before dosing, but I'm of the "dose more than your plants will need" school of thought.

Surface agitation will "out-gas" the CO2 in the water. However, since you have a very low fish-load and you're not running pressurized CO2 into your water, I don't think that surface agitation really matters.
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