Help Aquascaping a new 55g - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 05:57 AM Thread Starter
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Help Aquascaping a new 55g

The history/explanation wasn't so short. The basics of it is I have a 55g a CO2 system on the way, and a bunch of plants/12 cherry shrimp on the way. Any ideas on how to aquascape the pants would be most helpful. If you are short of time you won't miss much by skipping down to the plant list.

Ok for a short history:
I have been out of the aquarium world for about 6 years. Back then I had a 55g with a few plants plus a huge amount of duckweed, which though it was at times a pain I did like it. I had set up a yeast CO2 system, but as I never did any testing, I have no idea if/ how much it helped. I would imagine it did little or no good, as I ran the air at all times. As for fish there were a few (at first) fancy guppies and a couple ghost shrimp, which I thought were great.

I recently bought a 55g "kit," which I now see was likely a mistake, as the two lights it came with don't put out much light, and I would feel foolish replacing the hoods, when they were part of the reason for purchasing the kit. It has a hang on the tank filter by AquaTech, and as I had access to an undergravel filter I put that in.

I have about 3 inches of gravel. After reading this and other sites, I decided to see how Fluorite works. I think I paid 25.00 for a 15lb bag. I washed it well, but it still made a huge mess of the tank. After a bit of trying to mix it in without stirring up too much dust, I gave up, and it is now mixed invery well. So the substrate is a small gravel with just over 20% fluorite.

There are three fake pieces of driftwood purchased at the local PetSmart, one of which has a bubbler.

I have three plants in there now The moneywort I am sure of. I also have a Val? that is what it sounds like. It is a tall (the tips would lift 6-8 inches out of the water if they weren't floating on it).The feeder guppies I had in the tank love it, and have eaten about a third of it. The third is like a fern of some sort it is a bunched plant that looks simmilar to the moneywort, but is also very tall, with the tops floating on the surface.

When I decided to go the planted route, without reading to much about which plants to get, I went online and started ordering. I found It seems like a good aquatic plant store, so I went ahead and ordered a bunch of plants. Here is where the help comes in. Any ideas on how to set these up?

Plant List
one each of:
Java Moss (Vesicularia Dubyana)
Baby Tears (Hemianthus micranthemoides)
Lilaeopsis- portions (Lilaeopsis novaezelandiae)
Corkscrew Val (Vallisneria Americana v."Biwaensis")
Parrot's Feather(Myriophyllum aquaticum)
Dwarf Aquarium Lily (Nymphaea stellata )
Cabomba caroliniana
Ludwigia Broadleaf (Ludwigia repens)
Dwarf Sag (Sagittaria subulata-dwarf)
Chilensis Sag (Sagittaria platyphylla)
Dwarf Chain broad leaf (Echinodorus quadricostatus)
Glossostigma (Glossostigma elatinoides)
Becketti (Cryptocoryne becketti)
Myrio Filigree (Myriophyllum simulans)
Water Sprite(Ceratopteris thalictroides)
Southern Spatterdock (Nuphar lutea)
Moss Balls (Chladophora Aegagropila) (I may keep the Moss Balls Separate in a vase)

I am afraid I may have bought more than my tank can hold. Are there any of these which you think won't grow in my set up? Will some do better than others? I purchased a Pressurized CO2 system with a "Milwaukee Instruments SMS 122 pH Controller." It hasn't arrived, so so far the water quality is direct from the tap, treated for chlorine/Chlorimine. I just tested the water, and the pH is 7.6+ (that's the limit of the test). KH is 300+ (also the limit of the test strips) and the GH is just higher than 75 or "soft." the feeder guppies and ghost shrimp I bought to "cycle" the aquarium seem to be doing just fine. Hopefully they live through me stirring up the gravel adding the Fluorite.

Sorry for rambling. Any hints/ideas on how I should aquascape these plants would be most helpful. Not sure if I will have fish, but I am looking forward to the arrival of some Cherry Shrimp.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 05:12 PM
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I believe you made a mistake by ordering everything at once. Generally it is best to setup tank with plants before adding cherry shrimp as they get stressed without having plants to hold on to.

Your lighting MUST be upgraded or no amount of CO2 will save your plants from slowly dying. Check out the article on overdriving flourescent tubes at for a cheap solution to your lights. One fixture with two overdriven T8 bulbs should be enough light to get you started.

Do not turn on the bubbler in the fake log. With a planted tank you want water movement, but not surface aggitation.

Those suggestions should get you started. As far as aquascaping a 55 gallon it's next to impossible to do well in my opinion. There just isn't enough depth to the tank and it ends up looking like a wall of plants. The best solution I can think of is to have it slope left to right or right to left.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 04:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your candor, GrandMaster. I am moving some of the Moneywort into a 10 gallon tonight. when the shrimp arrive, I will add them to that tank. It already has some Plants, Anacris (sp) and another stem plant, which I am not sure of the name in it, so I think there will be plenty of things for them to crawl on. There are 5 fancy guppies, and two snails in that tank right now, so they shouldn't get pushed around.

I broke down, and decided to replace the hood to get some better light. I am now working on a canopy with 4 40 watt "Plant and aquarium" bulbs. Hopefully that is bright enough for any plants, and doesn't blind the fish/shrimp. I read through the article re: overdriving the lights, and decided that if I was going to go through that, I might as well bite the bullet.

Over the next week I am going to remove the UG filters, and add another 15 lbs of Fluorite. I was worried about the gravel being too high, but I think between removing the filters, and a small hill I am planning, the majority of the gravel will stay at the 3 inch mark. I am also removing the larger of the two pieces of "drift wood." I am keeping the fake lava rock with the bubbler, as I think I will be able to do quite a bit with it and some mosses. Hopefully by taking a few steps now to have the set up correct when the plants arrive, I'll have better luck in the long haul.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-12-2005, 08:08 PM
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Don't forget to read up and prepare to do some fertilizing.

Upgrading the lights is a good move, since you'll be having the pressurized CO2. You'll be able to keep a lot of stuff in there. The previous lighting might have been insufficient for plants like glosso. Plants will easily adapt and stabilize as long as the light, CO2 and ferts are enough. I'd worry more about adding the livestock to a new tank.


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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-21-2005, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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I just set up a journal here.
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