29 gallon. Planning, thinking out loud, what to do? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-17-2015, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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29 gallon. Planning, thinking out loud, what to do?

So I have this 29 gallon tank that has served many uses. It's been a low-tech planted tank, it's been a breeder, it's been a hospital tank, it's been a lot of things. Most recently, it was a home to a small handful of elderly Africans moved from another tank. It's not empty. It has some scratches, some hard water spots, and other things. So I took it out, cleaned it out, and scraped and scrubbed (with Bar Keepers Friend) the glass so it is nearly brand new looking. Currently filled with water. Within a couple days of losing the last fish I also lost another Aquaclear HOB filter. It has a sand substrate and this aquarium is an Aquaclear slayer. I'm a believer in redundancy, so it still has another HOB filter.

The plan is as follows:

My first ever high-tech, pressurized CO2, planted tank.

I removed the sand substrate and will be replacing it with a new substrate; suggestions welcome. I was thinking eco-complete, but I'm still researching.

I may do a 3D background, because I've never done that before. Any suggestions for one that isn't too obtrusive and would be good with a planted tank? There's only so much room in a 29; I may skip that.

Going to a canister filter, for sure. May keep the existing HOB filter as extra filtration. This aquarium is in the dinette and not really a nuisance, noise wise. But after switching my 75 gallon Oscar tank to a Canister, I'll never go back!

Pressurized CO2 with an inline diffuser in conjunction with the canister is the plan, still learning there.

Lighting will be replaced with a T5 setup. Probably a dual bulb T5 setup.

As for stocking? Absolutely no clue.

So yeah, talk about early stages.

Any input? If you had a blank canvas 29 gallon; what would you do with it? Really thinking I'll go with small schooling fish. A variety of color and activity.

Also very interesting in input for plant stocking.

Hmm... We shall see! Still in the early planning stages.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-17-2015, 11:11 PM
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Here's what I'm stocking in my 29 this winter, which has a similar story to yours:
10 Danio tinwini
10 Boraras brigittae
10 Microdevario kubotai
10 Corydoras pygmaeus
3-4 Caridina multidentata
6(?) Otocinclus var. 'Petsmart' or var. 'Petco', whichever one I find first

I've also got some cherry shrimp in my tank at the moment. They provide wonderful live food for the above fish. Alternative fish I've looked into that I found incompatible: Danio margaritatus, Dario dario, Badis badis, Hara jerdoni/hara, and Yunnanilus sp. 'Rosy'.

As for plants, I stuck to simple, since I'm not doing high-tech (a leftover Oddysea 4 T5+MH fixture from when it was a saltwater tank, no CO2, root dosing and possibly liquid ferts). I've got downoi-Staurogyne repens as foreground-carpet plants, Crypts-amazon swords-Aponogetons as midground specimen plants, and Hygrophila 'sunset'-Alternanthera reineckii-water sprite as background cover plants...they should grow in by winter hopefully.

So many fish to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-17-2015, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds great!

This was low-tech planted but it's most recent tenants ended that. African Cichlids (I had Pseudotropheus. sp. "Acei", White-Tail variety; Cynotilapia afra, and Labidochromis caeruleus) love to gobble, dig up, needlessly shred and otherwise destroy plants.

I really like your stocking list and may do something really similar. One thing I need to do, and haven't done yet, is see what local availability is.

I have a small 10g with a handful of Otocinclus (sp. Petco! hehe). It was/is a hospital tank and they served to maintain the bio-load and keep things clean. May move them over, or may just leave them in there. With the Africans, aggression is just a reality. The 10g is where they'd go to recover from their injuries before being moved back. They aren't technically compatible with Oto's but a freshly beaten up African isn't going after anyone, and they had plenty of places to hide. Without Africans I won't really need such a tank, though it is handy for quarantining plants and fish.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 02:13 PM
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I removed the sand substrate and will be replacing it with a new substrate; suggestions welcome. I was thinking eco-complete, but I'm still researching.
So want the substrate to be black. Cost effective way to achieve that is to use Scott's Hyponex potting soil and cap it with Black Diamond blasting sand. It is only $9 for a 50lb bag at Northern Tool.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
Alternative fish I've looked into that I found incompatible: Danio margaritatus, Dario dario, Badis badis, Hara jerdoni/hara, and Yunnanilus sp. 'Rosy'.
Hey Ich. What makes them incompatible with your current stock? From what I can remember, I believe those should be compatible temperament wise (not 100% on the Dario and Badis though). Maybe it's a water parameter incompatibility that I can't remember off the top of my head. Just curious.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 03:13 PM
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Basically, it all boils down to most of those fish eating tons of cherry shrimp, babies, juvies, and possibly adults. My experiences with cherry shrimp are kind of bad, and I wanted to make sure this tank also didn't go downhill. While the fish I listed will go after cherry shrimp babies, they aren't so aggressive that a mature colony of shrimp shouldn't crash due to the fish load.

So many fish to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 05:48 PM
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I have Activ-Flora Black substrate in my 40B and 10G.I find the substrate holds the plants in well. It is easy to work with, stays down when you're cleaning and is uniform in size and color.
In my 40B I am running an Eihem 2073 canister filter with a Hydor in-line heater on it. It is really quiet and turns the water over well.
I use a Satellite Pro+ LED light set at 65% intensity.I have a glass top with the light sitting on it in the raised up position. The only time I had algae was when I was running my lights for too long at too high an intensity.
My plants are doing very well. I do use root tabs and dose dry ferts pps.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-21-2015, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input!
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-21-2015, 04:12 AM
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Oh, and as for a 3D background(something I definitely WON'T be doing), why not try a "moss wall" or similar background? You could also try a small foam background and allow moss and other encroaching plants to grow on that.

So many fish to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-22-2015, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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I think ultimately I've decided against the 3D background. A 29g doesn't have much of a footprint. I'll stick with the good ol' black plastic background.

Think I've narrowed down the regulator, diffuser, canister, etc. What I'm trying to decide now is 'decoration'. Previously it had a single large piece of driftwood; but I want something less 'big' so I can really show off the plants. Maybe a couple really small pieces of driftwood if I can find them; or even clay pots. Decisions, decisions!

UPS man should be bringing me 60lbs of Eco-Complete (does anyone trust the claim of instant-cycling? It'll be a while before I stock fish so it's moot; as I'll be adding ammonia until it's stocked, the same way I've always cycled. I'm just curious if I find that after adding the eco-complete, I'll instantly notice my ammonia dosing turning into nitrate). Also bringing me a new glass top. Shortly, a new T5 lighting setup.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-22-2015, 03:24 AM
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Well, I finally got in a decent piece of driftwood. I'm setting it up in the tank so the tip is about a foot high in the tank, and 10 inches to the left of the glass on the right. If you've seen some of Takashi Amano's works, you'll notice the rocks seem to follow both the golden ratio and the rule of thirds. That's what I plan on doing with my piece of driftwood, so the tip goes about a foot into the water column, but is in the top and right third of the aquarium. It's less of a "big" piece, but more of a "tall and narrow" piece, so mine shouldn't take up too much plant space...in fact it should help accentuate the plants even more from what I've envisioned.

I don't ever trust the words "instant" and "cycling" together. There's always going to be a mini-cycle, even if undetectable by chemical means. You'll probably notice ammonia turning into nitrite and nitrite to nitrate...but it'll probably be a while. How deep's your sandbed going to be?

So many fish to keep, not enough aquaria.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2015, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah me either. Liquid ammonia is cheap, readily available, and a tried and true method for cycling a tank; so I'll continue. But I am curious. If their claims are true, tomorrow I should have 0 ammonia/nitrite and measurable nitrate after dosing with ammonia tonight right? I'm not holding my breath.

Substrate came in today. 60lbs of Eco-Complete. According to my trusty 4-function calculator that should've been 3" of substrate; ended up closer to 4". Not complaining. 40lbs would've probably been a little too little. And 60lb's a smidge more than expected; but not too much.

Do you have any input on lighting? I've been reading and reading and reading and have seemed to narrow it down to a dual bulb T5HO, but I'm a little lost on brands. I use an Oddyssea brand on my 75 gallon but it's an unplanted tank (it's always been stocked with stuff that creates a 'hostile environment' for plants, ha!). So it just needs to light it up. The LED's quit working in a month and the timer is finicky; but, to it's credit, it's worked for 5 years otherwise without fail.

I was looking at this model:

http://www.amazon.com/Aquatic-Life-36-Inch-Freshwater-Aquarium/dp/B00MNOD33W/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1440293636&sr=8-6&keywords=36%22+T5+dual+fixture
What has me concerned is the crummy reflector. Do you have any thoughts? The onboard timer isn't a necessity; in fact I'd prefer regular old on/off switches and a timer. But there just don't seem to be that many options in the 36" range. There are a lot more options in 4-bulb configurations but they are a bit pricier, and I'd only be using two of the bulbs!

I love the feature set of this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Odyssea-Aquarium-Light-Fluorescent-Fixture/dp/B005VKZ27K/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8
But the cheapness/quality scares me. I like having the various functions with seperate cords, meaning I can use my own timers; and I like the built in "moonlight" LED. Which my 48" model has, but it, like I said, only worked for a short while before failing. Reviews mention the same issue on Amazon.

So I'm a little stumped. Where's the reasonably priced, reasonable quality option?

Current equipment list (as planned). Would LOVE your input. (Italic indicates already purchased)

Cascade 700. I like that is uses identical filter media to the 1000 I have in the 75 (which works alongside the AquaClear 110 HOB unit). The 700 is just "shorter". Might even just go with the Cascade 1000!
Eco-Complete (60lbs)
Aquatek CO2 Regulator
U.P. Aqua inline CO2 atomizer
Some Sort of a T5HO setup!?!?

May possibly replace in-tank heater with an inline heater. Unsure on stocking still to this point.

Thoughts? What am I forgetting?
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2015, 02:26 PM
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Do you have any input on lighting? I've been reading and reading and reading and have seemed to narrow it down to a dual bulb T5HO,
Check out you tube to see what looks good to your eyes. So this is going to be a high tech tank?

Lighting: Hagen Glo 24'' Light fixture with 2 Hagen power glo 18000k T5ho bulbs over a 29 gallon tank here

I hear Catalina has good prices on lights. Check out aquatrader and amazon too for good buys.

Saw a 30" T5 Quad High Output Light Fixture 6500K on aquatrader's site.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2015, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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I may end up with an Oddyssea model. It's worked well so far on my 75g; except for the LED's that failed almost immediately.

As an add;

Tested water today and read 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and 10ppm nitrate. This is after dosing ammonia last night. So, evidently, and to my surprise; the eco-complete is doing what it's claimed. This was at one time an established tank but I had since disassembled it, drained it, cleaned up and polished the glass, discarded the substrate and left filter media stored for about a week dry. So the chance of any of it's previous bacteria surviving is essentially nil. So; pretty cool.

Also, decided to order the Cascade 1500. For my 75g! And throw the Cascade 1000 on the 29. Not that the Cascade 1000 + AquaClear 110 combo isn't PLENTY for my 75, but looking at the pricing ($80 for thehttps://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=914473# 700/1000, $100 for the 1500!?), I decided I could just as easily go for an upgrade on the 75. Which also means I'll be moving an established filter over to the new tank. Will plant first, then stock fish.

Next dumb question; when fish aren't present, can I (and is there any advantage to) "overdose" on co2? I'll be using a drop checker, but let's say I ran double the amount of co2 (as an example) that would be required to keep the drop checker happy. Would that facilitate more plant growth? (then dial it down before stocking with fish of course).

Last edited by RomansFiveEight; 08-23-2015 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Added info / typo
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 02:04 PM
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Also, decided to order the Cascade 1500. For my 75g!
Have you checked out filters on Evilbay? I have gotten new canister filters, which are my favorite filters, there under $100.
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Next dumb question; when fish aren't present, can I (and is there any advantage to) "overdose" on co2? I'll be using a drop checker, but let's say I ran double the amount of co2 (as an example) that would be required to keep the drop checker happy. Would that facilitate more plant growth? (then dial it down before stocking with fish of course).
I have read that when you don't have fish in the tank you need more Co2.

Last edited by Hilde; 08-24-2015 at 02:04 PM. Reason: added
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