What's your new tank routine - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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What's your new tank routine

Do you have a day planned out with military like precision, or do you just throw it all together and hope for the best?

How do you prepare, and what's on your checklist before you start?

I'm setting mine up in a few days, and frantically trying to think of how I'll need to organise the day and what tools i'll need to get everything set up, but looking forward to taking half a day to a full day to enjoy it, fiddle with hardscape, plant carefully etc.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 11:08 AM
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Well if we're talking about general maintenance, I follow a weekly water change schedule of 25% on my 20 gallon/ 75 litre. And combine that with dosing every three days. It seems to work pretty well. And all is in good health.

In terms of setup, its pretty simple. My rule is to have everything I need, ready on the table before I dig into it, as well as some advanced prep. So for a planted Aquascape:

It goes...


1-2 days in advance on planting. I spend a lot of time fiddling with the stuff to get it to look exactly how I want, give it some time to grow on me (or not) and run it through my girlfriend just to be sure

CO2 ready.
CO2 diffuser
CO2 indicator
CO2 airline
Airline holder
Lighting timers
Filtration setup
Test kits. (Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia, pH)
Planting pinsets.
Spray bottle

After I've got all this stuff, and only then, then I go out and buy the plants I need, and begin planting. Standard shallow submersed method.

Once that's done, fill the aquarium, start all systems at the appropriate levels, and let it cycle!

“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?” - Christopher Hitchens

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 01:19 PM
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I'm setting up a new tank Saturday. I hope.

New tank, driftwood, and plants are supposed to arrive in the mail tomorrow. Substrate and light are already here.

I'm doing a dry start, so I don't need a filter yet. I don't have a cover for the tank yet, but plastic wrap will do for now.

I plan to apply moss (milkshake method - have the yogurt waiting in the fridge) to the driftwood first. Put the driftwood in the tank, then the substrate. (Because it's easier to pull the driftwood up higher than get it down lower once the substrate's in the tank.) Then plant the rest of the plants, spritz with water, cover, and wait.

Will probably be a few weeks at least before I buy critters for the tank.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 01:21 PM
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Hello!! So I set up my first 55gal tank earlier this year.. I'm not much of a planner and not very wealthy either so I set it up as I went. I of course had to get research, research, research as much as I could before even considering getting started. Trust me it helps. The main parts you will need to get started, though, is your substrate and hardscape. Like I said I'm not much of a planner so I used the cat method, "If I fits, I sits" for my hardscape. I then added the plants. I didn't have all the plants I wanted but I set up as much as my wallet would allow at the time, later I added more. As far as my schedule goes once the tank is set up.... I don't really have a schedule and the tanks have been doing great!! I have a 55 gal and a 10 gal.. I use DIY CO2 for the plants and both have more filtration than necessary, which is never a bad thing. I find that he DIY CO2 is much cheaper and gives you enough CO2 to grow plants but not overbearing to suffocate your fish at night, when the plants tank in oxygen. I don't use bubble stones since the filters provide plenty of movement on the surface to provide the water with oxygen. I do, however, advice you to DO YOUR WATER CHANGES religiously!!! It will help you keep your water parameters where they need to be. Also invest in SAFE POWDER CONDITIONER

and a water test kit

For your water changes I wouldn't recommend just using water buckets and taking water out the top of the tank. Instead use something like this which connects to your water faucet and allows you to remove water and refill the tank.

OR this. This one allows you to remove water only without having to plug it into anything and using up extra water.

I am actually using the Aqueon water changer and it works great. I love this one better than the other version because it allows me to pull water from the bottom of tank and helps me remove any left over food and poop that might be at the bottom. Also this allows me to add my conditioner and mix it into the water before putting it back into the tank, where the faucet version does not give you that chance.

Again, my tanks are pretty simple. I don't dose them with anything other than conditioner. I have EcoComplete as my substrate with some parts that have sand instead. Hope this helps. Above all, have fun doing it and research your fish and what mates they are compatible with.

This must be what addiction feels like <3
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 02:48 PM
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The only planning I try and do (be it with aquariums or anything else in life) is try to come up with a budget and a timeframe. Then I multiple both by about 2.5 because I know things never work out as well as I imagine in my head! Dont rush into anything, do your research, and be ready to fail once in a while. I find it easier to get back up and brush myself off to start over that way if needed; and if not, then hey all the better!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 03:00 PM
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I do water changes of 30 - 50% on Wednesdays and Sundays. I clean my filters every 6 weeks or so. Just this week, I started daily dosing with DIY PPS-PRO Liquid Fertilizer - NilocG Aquatics for my plants. I also dose Metricide daily as my carbon source. In a big tank, mine is 75 gallons, I would be lost without my Python No-Spill Water Changer....to me, this tool makes water changing fun.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 03:03 PM
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I know that there are people who plan, even sketch out the aquascape in advance but I can't do things like that. Usually I start with an empty tank. I keep substrates in the yard in various stages of 'mineralization' along with a supply of sand, gravel and such. So the first thing I do is mix a substrate and put it in the tank. Once the substrate is in the tank I usually wet it down to help keep it more stable. Sometimes I know what rocks or wood I want in the tank but not always. Usually I am starting a new tank in order to have someplace to put plants so I start most of my tanks as grow out tanks and decide as time goes by which ones are doing well and happy with the conditions. Spiral cfls are cheap and over time I replace them with better lighting so I start most tanks with them. I keep a few powerheads around and I use them as the first 'filter' By the end of the day I will have a substrate some rocks or wood a few plants a cfl or two and a powerhead running in the new tank. I don't cycle tanks in any real way I just grow out the plants for a few months adding lights and filters and if I want to use it co2 as time goes by. Once I am happy with how things are going I start adding fish slowly.

It is not unusual for me to take this whole tank apart at the end of three months and redo it.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 03:58 PM
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My days are only loosely planned. Only real thing on a schedule is feeding 2x a day (+ putting in food at night for otos and cory just before bed). Dosing plant ferts I sometimes do when tank lights first turn on.. sometimes at first mean.. sometimes I forget (opps). No schedule for water changes, I mostly just top off. Trimming/thinning plants is infrequent.. I probably should do it more in some tanks but eh.... All lights except for 1 are on timers. The odd ball is on my husband's desk and he likes the lights on then night light during lights 'off' time so timer can't really flip between those (I'm not adding a second set of LEDS to the tank). For this light I have an alarm I use to remind me to turn it on/off.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 05:57 PM
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As soon as the idea or tank arrives I start planning by writing a tank journal. Do shopping lists, bookmark promising finds, research new equipment and ways of doing things, write up plans of actions, plan scapes, work out plumbing issues and so on. For the scape change done in June 2015 I started planning in December 2013. Really - have dated journal proof of that. Okay I was down and out for 6 months of that but still, a lot of planning!

For day of the great move I write a schedule out with approximate times for various parts of the processes and include breaks for myself. I think all this keeps me from doing things over 12x, keeps the really big mess in the house down to a few days and so far no disasters due to being overtired. Okay one. I was getting really into whichever breaking down the tank task I was on which means I was getting too tired, hose blew off a pump and I ignored the sound for a few minutes and we got a minor flood in the house. Had to move the furniture to get the wet rug out pf the house, power wash it and all dog towels were sopping.

My time tables are always off, fish catching is horrible for me. Sometimes scaping does go faster than expected, took 20 minutes to plant a tray of prepared Eleocharis plugs and I thought it would take an hour. After all the thought about scaping I can just plop the hardscape in and wiggle a little and be happy but I do take a break and look at it for a bit before starting the planting.

Working on good sized tanks here, everything takes longer, makes more of a mess and is heavier. Dealing with live plants and fish one needs to have a plan of action and all tools ready to go. I wouldn't want to start netting fish and discover that I need more temporary tank room for them for instance. I generally underestimate plant mass coming out of the tank big time and you don't want to squash them or let them dry out.

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