Planted Tank Conversion (now with smaller pics) - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-03-2006, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Cool Planted Tank Conversion (now with smaller pics)

Hi all,

I've been lurking for about 3 weeks investigating how best to convert my 36 gallon tank into a planted tank. This site has been a great source of info.

I have had a 36 gallon acrylic bow front tank for about a year now, and have kept fish for several years. I currently have a red finned shark, blue gourami, 2 upsidedown catfish, and a placostamous (sp?) I've had limited success with the couple of plants I have kept.

Here is my equipment list for converting to a fully planted tank:

Light: 30" Orbit PC / Lunar Lights 2-65W/2-Moon (Will replace the Actinic)
https://www82.safesecureweb.com/weba...ry_Code=COCFLL
I'm hoping it will stand on top of a partially closed top (looks like it will)

Substrate: Soilmaster Red from my local Lesco (Thin base layer of peat)
http://www.lesco.com/?PageID=27&ItemNumber=080310

CO2: Azoo Regulator & DIY Powered Reator.
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Produc...&N=2004+113779
And Bubble counter:
http://aquariumplant.com/cgi-bin/car...ml?id=RU6fu5sp

Also I think it will be nice to have a pH tester:
http://aquariumplant.com/cgi-bin/car...ml?id=RU6fu5sp

I'll be running the CO2 on a timer.

Procedure:

Transfer fish to a 10 gallon tank.
Drain Water.
Remove substrate (med sized stones) and UGF.
Add thin layer of peat moss.
Clean and add SM substrate.
Add a couple rocks.
Plant my 2 currently pathetic plants, and re-introduce my fish.
Keep lights on a timer, monitor pH for a week or so.
Begin to add CO2 until pH drops to ??
Add more plants and crank CO2 as needed.

So that's my plan. Some questions:

Should I try to save more than the 10 gallons of original water and/or fill the tank partway and add more new water in the following days?

Should I start out the lights with the full 3.6 WPG with few plants, or start out with 1/2 that?

Should I be adding anything else right away to the substrate, any furtilizers besides the peat?

I would love any other suggestions you folks have do do this right! I'll do my best to post pictures. Thanks for reading!

Last edited by CrashTest; 04-19-2006 at 02:12 AM.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2006, 02:42 AM
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Quote:
Should I try to save more than the 10 gallons of original water and/or fill the tank partway and add more new water in the following days?
I think 10 gallon will be fine. Many people do a 1/2 volume water change every week, so I think you should be fine with only 1/3 of the water. Keeping the same used filter media from the original tank is even more important than the water IMO.

Quote:
Should I start out the lights with the full 3.6 WPG with few plants, or start out with 1/2 that?
Start with 1/2 until you add the CO2 and lots of plants.

Quote:
Should I be adding anything else right away to the substrate, any furtilizers besides the peat?
I'd personally add "First Layer Pure Laterite 20oz" as the layer after the peat and then the Soilmaster. As I understand, the Soilmaster does not have any nutrients in it yet. Also remember that the layer of peat is really thin, you should still be able to see the glass through it.

I didn't see it listed, but I'm assuming that you plan on getting the actual tank for the CO2? That's a crutial part, but you probably know that.

It seems like you've done a good deal of research and have a pretty good grasp on the basics. You should have better sucess starting out sith pressurized CO2 than if you started with DIY CO2. Please make sure to take pictures of the tank to share .
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2006, 03:00 AM
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I would add some mulm from the old tank substrate to the peat under the soilmaster substrate. And, I would even add some of the old water when filling the newly setup tank. All, of course, to give the beneficial bacteria a head start.

Hoppy
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2006, 04:15 AM
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That thin layer of peat.....

Keep it thin. Like super thin! Just a sprinkle on the bottom of the aquarium, a slight dusting. Too much peat can wreck havoc on your pH if you are not careful, so use it very sparingly.

Mike

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-04-2006, 04:59 AM
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Hi, CrashTest, and welcome to the forum!

You say you have only 2 pathetic (your words!) plants now. First thing, you need to get a lot of fast-growing stem plants, like hygro, wisteria, ludwigia, water sprite, egeria, and plant the tank heavily. Don't worry about aquascaping yet, you just want to cycle your tank for now. Later, you can change out some of those stems and do your aquascaping. Don't make my mistake--not enough fast-growers, too many slow-growers, not enough total plants--algae will be happy to fill in the blank spaces! I just planted an 8gal, and I stuffed it with plants, even wisteria, which will grow way too big for it, but I just want it to do its thing for now.

Check out this site http://www.rexgrigg.com and look under cycling--Rex has a step-by-step for setting up a planted tank.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2006, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions. I've ordered First layer pure laterite, so thanks for that suggestion, Frosty. I will think of a way to collect the mum and put that under my substrate as well, thanks to Hoppy. Finally I'll pick up some stem plants to start things off as suggested by Nikki.

Everything is on order, and should be here soon. Here's a "before" picture, and I'll be adding pictures of the conversion soon, hopefully!

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2006, 01:02 PM
eds
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Um - how attached are you to the colonade?
Just my preference, but I could imagine tossing that as a new step #1!
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2006, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eds
Um - how attached are you to the colonade?
Just my preference, but I could imagine tossing that as a new step #1!
I second that. As far as getting mulm since you are doing a total conversion this is what I would suggest. Empty your tank using a gravel vacuum. As the water is being siphoned out just bury the vaccuum end into the gravel. This will pull out tons of mulm. Make sure the emptying end of the vaccuum is in a container like a 5 gallon bucke that will allow the mulm to settle to the bottom while the rest of the water flows over the edges and into a sink or outside onto your grass... either way. Then you can simply drain off the excess water and pour the mulm on top of the peat. I'd also leave some to put on top of the last layer of substrate. I've also not seen any mention of a ferilizer regimen. When you get the rest of those lights on your going to need it.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-08-2006, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Getting rid of that was my original motivation!
Yeah...I'm not going to use anything artificial in the new tank. I will try to collect the mulm, and I think I'll have quite a bit under the UGF. So it shouldn't be too hard to empty the rocks, remove the UGF, and harvest some mulm. As for a fertilizer routine, I don't yet have one. Will be researching that soon. Thanks for the input!
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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So the deed is done, here are some pictures:

The mulm and peat to start with:


Some SM:


Way cloudy becasue i didn't rinse the SM, I was also an idiot and added water too fast and got some peat into the water:


So I started over after rinsing the SM for 2 hours - I kid you not. It would still turn red if I mixed it around enough... Unfortunately I lost my mulm.


My DIY Reactor:


Under the SM


Some Decoration:


After filling for the second time, it's MUCH clearer


This is how it looks now
Front:


Back:


I've got a long way to go, but I think it's a good start. That rock holding down the vine is gonna go as soon as the vine will sink on it's own. I think I need to add more plants as well. I'm not sure how quickly what I have will grow. Let me know what you think!
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 02:33 AM
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Pull out the java fern from the soil. It is epiphytic, and needs to be attached to wood or rock. Otherwise the rhizome will rot. Also, If I were you I would only run 1 of those 65 watt lights until you have better CO2, otherwise algae can and will become a problem. You need more fast growers, too. Other than that, an excellent start. Also, I like that green rock. Common aquascaping principles state that you should have more than 1 lone rock. I recommend adding some more of those cool green rocks in there next to the big one.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I'll put that java fern where it belongs.

I am only running 1 bulb for now, I need to order another, anyway. What do you mean by better co2? I do have a 10# tank now, and have it set to about 15-20 bps. I've only had it running for a day now, and haven't seen a change in pH, so I'll be gradually increasing the rate.

*Edit* I think I've been saying "reactor" when I meant to be referring to my DIY Difuser...sorry.

As for the rock, it's only there to hold down the vine, so I'm really not sure where it's final resting place will be. Unfortunately i got it from lake Ontario several years ago, and can't get another, but I like it too!

Last edited by CrashTest; 03-24-2006 at 12:00 AM.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-24-2006, 05:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashTest
Light: 30" Orbit PC / Lunar Lights 2-65W/2-Moon (Will replace the Actinic)
Yeah thats a good move. Actinic is not plant friendly.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-19-2006, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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An update on my conversion...suggesstions appreciated!

It's been a few weeks, and I've got a nutrients routine going:

This is all dry dosing...is there any reason to dose anything "wet"? I find it easier to mix a cup of solution when I dose it, and drop it in. This is in a 36 gallon tank:

1/2 to 3/4 tsp. KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate)
1/16 tsp. KH2PO4 (Mono Potassium Phosphate)
1/2 tsp. K2SO4 (Potassium Sulfate)
1/4 tsp. Traces Plantex CSM+B

I have some iron Chelate, but haven't decided if it should be a part of my routine.
For those in the know, does that look right?

Here's how the tank looks now:







I've got some plants in the mail destined for that bare spot.

I hope to end up with as much of the tank planted and still look good. I am new to aquarium plants and would welcome any suggestions for specific plants to add.

I have to scrub the sides once a week so far. Will it always have algae on the sides after a week? Or do i not have enough CO2 perhaps. The things I know are as follows:

50% water changes once a week
130 Watts light (3.6 watts/gal)

Tap Water:
GH: ~100
pH:7.7

Tank Water:
30ppm Nitate
0 Nitrite
GH~120
pH:7.3

I think C02 is a little low, so I wonder about my CO2 reactor being capable of much more. I have it up to about 2 bps, and if I do more it will cough out large bubbles, so I figure it's maxed.

I have several fish, a fiddler crab, a couple snails, and a few shrimp. I would like the tank to have as many different kind of creatures as possible. So far they've all been getting along. I'd like to start growing some plants that are a little more difficult, and will not need as much trimming as the plants (weeds) I have growing now. I'm looking forward to adding some red as well. Thanks for any suggestions you may have!
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-19-2006, 06:55 AM
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I have no idea with how to run a nano tank, but I only top that tank off with old water from my other tanks. My nano is doing just fine.

I just started up a new 30 gal tank with old water as well and have never had BGA or green water. I don't even know what I would do if I had this type of algae problem.

I always run a HOB for a while to get everything going (from an old tank). I run the HOB filter media in a well established tank for about two weeks before moving the whole thing to the new tank to "get it going".

Once the new tank gets through its first few days of cloudiness, I take the HOB and put it on the new tank. I add my plant mass, add some kind of fish (one pair of whatever) and get the thing going.

I am sure that this will not work for everyone, but the only kind of algae that I battle with is BBA, and that is because I have DIY CO2.
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