I also posted this in my tank journal for my historical purposes, but wanted to post it here for some actual feedback
Since everything was going so well I decided to tear it down and re-scape my 50ish gallon hi-tech. More tank info here.
1: Look at lots of photos of great tanks. Draw inspiration.
Here is an example.
2: Buy the stuff you need.
For this venture I knew I wanted to add some white-ish sand for contrast. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C892B8K?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00. Note: I definitely bought the wrong stuff. This is beach sand. I should have bought "river" sand, I think. That was the first mistake I made.
3: Go rock hunting.
Sit in woods and play with rocks.
I have three acres, with a billion year old store wall buried on it.
Make what you feel is an interesting layout. My second mistake was thus:
I had a vision in my head of what I wanted, but I found some really interesting rocks that I though I just had to use. Unfortunately, they give the tank the exact opposite look I was going for. I used a tape measure to make sure I was working within the bounds of the tank.
(There is a full paste of my detailed "plan" below, I'm paraphrasing here - leaving out some important steps like "turning off pumps")
5: Trim stem plants
- save cuttings for replanting.
6: Drain tank down to a few inches.
Save 60% of water in BRUTE can for later/holding fish. Catch fish.
A tip: I bought one of those looooong under-the-bed containers to keep my plants in during this ordeal, seemed to work really well. Note to self: change calendar to July.
7: Uproot, trim, and save keepers.
Uproot and toss non-keepers.
8: Remove and lightly clean substrate
- just picking out he big leftover chunks of plant. Clean the glass.
9: Put Eggcrate in bottom of tank. Arrange rocks as desired/undesired
. Check rock stability. Check again. My third mistake
was letting a big rock hit the front glass. Now have a permanent chip in the glass.
I rushed this in trying to beat the clock (was headed to the beach with my lovely wife), and definitely could have done 1000 times better.
My fourth mistake was not adding the sand at this point.
I was worried that I would get the "regular" substrate on the sand if I put sand down before planting, but I wish I put the sand down and spent more time tweaking the hardscape to my desire.
10: Put down substrate. Add water till substrate is just about submerged.
11: Plant plants
. Back to front. If I was more of an artist I would have tossed some plants I don't particularly care for, but it seemed like such a waste :-/
12: Refill tank. Add fish.
Post on Plantedtank.net while waiting for water to clear.
If I was going to do one thing differently, it would have been to spend way more time on the hardscape planning. I probably spent a half hour on that, when I should have probably spent an hour, then slept on it, and come back to it.
== full script ==
Just so I didnt forget anything, and to hypothetically work faster, I made a chronological list the night before of things to tackle and in which order. This is a copy-paste from my notes so it probably only makes sense to me. I put notes in where I deviated from the script.
- get equipment out from upstairs
- small powerhead
- Heavy trim:
- keepers into bucket of water
- throw away extra
(note I actually put scrap into bucket of water, and put keepers into storage container)
- turn off equipment
- pumps off
- take down light
- Drain 35 gals out into brute can
- add small powerhead (livestock bucket)
- try and catch fish?
- drain some more water out, leave couple inches.
- Vacuum up top layer of substrate as much as possible
- want to keep as topper. (failed at this.)
- 2-3 good chilis
- crypt in back corner
- chain sword
- little bit of microsword
- amazon sword
- ozelot sword
- anubias stays on rick
- long stringy stuff (crypt)
- uproot and trim roots, put in keeper bucket
- try and catch more fish.
- Uproot rest of stuff. toss. (kept in bucket)
- try and vacuume up more top layer substrate (failed)
- then just remove the rest into separate bucket.
- clean tank, scrub glass and lily pipes
- put down eggcrate
- start adding rocks
- arrange rocks as desired
- place in lower level substrate.
- add SOME top-layer substrate
- check rock stability
- plant plants
- add more top-layer substrate
- add sand
- re-fill tank
- add bio clear, wait 20 minutes
- turn all equipment back on
- acclimate & add livestock back in