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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
EDIT: Tank started out as a 40 breeder high tech with stem plants then eventually changed to a more simple design featuring Corydoras. To skip to the upgrade to a 100 gallon go to page 19.

I am a long time lurker with some other planted tanks but with my latest build I thought it would be fun to do one of these journals.

Got a 40breeder at the Petco $1/gallon sale and my initial thought was to just do a simple low tech tank stocked with a bunch of different Corydoras species. I have always wanted to do that. But the dimensions of a 40breeder are so perfect that I couldn't resist doing a high tech planted tank. Initially thought I would do a full Dutch tank with no other decor but then I saw some nice setups using ADA hornwood and since I live a few hours away from SF I took a day trip to pick up some hardscape.

Anyway this is the gear:

  • 40 Breeder (36x18x17)
  • Black Laguna Pine Stand (originally bought a metal stand but hated the look and splurged)
  • Current USA 36" Satellite Plus PRO LED x 2
  • Hydor Pro 350 Canister Filter **Leaked during setup! ARRRRGGH! I will never stray from Eheim again**
  • Eheim Pro 4+ 350 Canister Filter as the replacement filter
  • NilocG Aquatics Glass Co2 Drop Checker
  • NilocG Aquatics Rex Grigg Co2 Reactor
  • 70 lbs. CaribSea Super Naturals Sunset Gold Sand
  • ISTA 150w 5/8" External Inline Heater

ETA: Eventually added an Eheim Classic 2215/350 with Purigen to act as a water polisher and extra filtration. The reactor and inline heater reduced the flow on the Eheim Pro enough that it became a necessity.

Gathering equipment for the 40g Breeder Planted Aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Under the "hood"

Equipment for 40 gallon Planted Aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Hardscape materials are ADA Hornwood and Manten Stone (I have used ADA Ohko and Yamaya in other tanks and Manten is by far my favorite).

Plants I decided to go all tissue culture. I had never used them before and with stem plants it seems like they often send you plants with emersed foliage for ease of shipping so it doesn't always transition well to submersed. Thought I would give this a shot. Fun experience and the new tank looks like a bunch of little plugs.

Aqua Forest TC plants (I got to pick out in person while I was there)

  • Cyperus helferi
  • Ludwigia repens 'Super Red'
  • Pogostemon helferi
  • Nesaea pedicellata
  • Hygrophila pinnatifida x 2

Buce Plant TC plants

  • Staurogyne repens
  • Lagenandra meeboldii 'Red'
  • Proserpinaca palustris
  • Ranunculus inundatus
  • Cryptocoryne 'Flamingo'
  • Rotala wallichii (stem plant)

Aquarium Plants Factory TC plants

  • Pogostemon erectus

All of these companies are in California which I like because that means they do not have to travel far to get to me. In the past Ihad been ordering from Florida.

Pretty happy with the way things turned out. I am a garden designer so you would think I would have more confidence in my scaping abilities but designing with underwater plants is a whole different experience than designing with terrestrial plants.

New 40gallon breeder planted aquarium by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Just for reference here is a before and after shot of the part of my yard:

Before and after 2009-2017 by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Bump: Just a few days after set up I made my first changes. I misunderstood the growth habit of Lagenandra meeboldii 'Red'. I thought it was like Anubias or Buce and would creep along stems but apparently it is more like a Cryptocoryne. So I moved it forward in front of the driftwood and moved some Ranunculus and Hygrophila to accommodate it.

Moved some Lagenandra meeboldii 'Red' to a more prominent position in front of the hornwood by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

Here is an aerial view of the left side of the tank.

Aerial view of left side by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr

and the right side of the tank.

Aerial view of right side by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Incidentally for this tank I am buying in RO water from a nearby shop that sells it (having my own RO unit is out of the question in my drought stricken California coastal town. Too much waste water). I am using Seachem Equilibrium, Alkaline Buffer, and Acid Buffer.

Water parameters

GH 80 ppm
KH 40 ppm
pH 6.5

My fish are ordered and arriving on Wednesday! As I said, I had initially thought to do a huge grouping of different species of Corydoras, but now that this is so thoroughly planted I am not sure that is the best idea. So my initial stocking will be:

20 x Hyphessobrycon elachys (reed tetra)
6 x Hyphessobrycon megalopterus (black phantom tetra)

Also ordering Otocinclus, and 5 x Corydoras eques, who will wait in my quarantine tank until the 40g is ready for them. I'll see how the Corys do before I decide if I want to get any more of them.

Not 100% committed to how I will stock the rest of the tank. Some thoughts are a school of Hyphessobrycon amandae (ember tetras) or Hemigrammus bleheri (firehead or rummynose tetra), a few Dicrossus filamentosus or other dwarf cichlid, a school of Corydoras hastatus (to swim around with the reed tetras), and a few Farlowella vittata to help the Otos with algae control.

Nothing set in stone however and I am very tempted to just add a bunch of cardinal tetras even though I have another tank with them. But I love them so much. Have to stay strong and get something different!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There are no decent LFS anywhere near me so I end up mail ordering all my fish trough The Wet Spot. They usually have them and a wide range of Apistos too.Was really nervous having fish delivered via post the first time I did it but now I am pretty comfortable with it and have been happy with the results so far. Checking their availability list as it is updated each Friday is about as exciting as visiting a well stocked LFS and checking out all the tanks.
 

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There are no decent LFS anywhere near me so I end up mail ordering all my fish trough The Wet Spot. They usually have them and a wide range of Apistos too.Was really nervous having fish delivered via post the first time I did it but now I am pretty comfortable with it and have been happy with the results so far. Checking their availability list as it is updated each Friday is about as exciting as visiting a well stocked LFS and checking out all the tanks.

I always use a LFS when I can, but if you have to order, Wet Spot is the way to go.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah I spent most of my life living in or near large cities (NYC, LA) so always had lots of choices for great LFS. But the past 11 years I have lived on the central coast of California about 4 hours away from both SF and LA so there sadly is not much here. The few times I did buy from one of the stores ended badly so now I just do most of my ordering online. Order is coming tomorrow. Can't wait!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah actually I had some old manzanita from another tank that I had removed and was originally going to use that. But getting it water logged again was taking forever. After like 5 weeks in water it was still floating. So I decided to get the hornwood. I like the look a bit better anyway and it all sank right away. And of course as soon as I got the hornwood all the manzanita got waterlogged. Oh well. I'll use it for my next tank maybe.

Bump:

Bump: short preview video of this tank
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I would really like to get Fissidens fontanus eventually but I decided to wait until the tank is more established and has gone through its possible early algae bloom. When I tried that moss in the past it was really susceptible to getting smothered in algae. I also kind of want to see if the Hygrophila pinnatifida that I have planted all through the center of the pieces of wood works out. I'll decide where to put moss based on how the Hygrophila fills in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hygro Pinnetifida was a pain for me. It did well in my shrimp tank with DIY C02, but then rotted away quickly in my 75 gallon high tech. Its really nice when it cooperates.
Yes I have had awful luck with it myself. I think part of the problem was I always bought it from places that sent stems with emersed foliage and it never made the transition to being submerged. Would rot away and die before it even got its underwater leaves. This time I am trying TC plants that already have roots and underwater foliage. I am not using tap water either on this tank. Don't know if that will make a difference but it may for some plants. So far so good but it has only been a week.

I love the look of it so I really hope I can get it to work. Frustrating to see so many videos online of it looking beautiful. Even one in a low tech tank the other day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Fish arrived today.

20 x Hyphessobrycon elachys (reed tetra)
6 x Hyphessobrycon megalopterus (black phantom tetra)
8 x Otocinclus macrospilus

A bit concerned that the flow (277 gph) might be too much for them. I'll give it some time to see if they get more settled in but may want to switch from the spraybar to a just a regular pipe output that maybe can be directed a different direction.

New Fish for the 40g by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks! Of course I only show it from the nice angles. It is definitely a work in progress!

Fish seem to be doing well. Now that they have been in the tank for 24 hours they are swimming around more and not letting the flow push them to one corner. So I think I may leave it alone for now.

This afternoon I lowered the photoperiod by about an hour and a half and lowered the intensity of the Current LED lights by 50% across all the spectrums. Does anyone know how I should go about raising it? Wait for the plants to fill in more? Raise it by 10% weekly or something? So far no algae growth of note but I figured I would get in front of it and try to keep it to a minimum.
 

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A couple of questions...

1. How do you like the Nilo Rex Grigg? I hate diy so I was thinking of buying one.

2. What do you think of your Plus Pro's? I have an 18x18x18 tank with two of them, which is in effect similar to you, and I am finding that I am raising the intensity weekly. I started at 60% on all channels for both and my stems along the back are struggling. I am up to 70% with the back strip and they aren't doing that much better.

Nice tank btw. I dig the sand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I love the NilocG Rex Grigg. I was looking into making one myself and there were so many broken links and unclear directions on how to make them. I thought for sure there must be one I could buy somewhere and finally I found his site. I was a little confused about some aspects but he always responded to my emails and questions quickly. It was suuuuuper noisy the first day or two and I was like "Oh no what have I done? This is worse than fizzy bubbles!" but he said it was just air trapped inside and it would go away and sure enough it did. There is a small knocking noise sometimes when the Co2 is running that I probably could get rid of if I turned the unit upside down or jiggled it a bit but I have it bolted in my cabinet so not worth the trouble. It isn't bad and in fact I don't remember hearing it today so it might be gone. Definitely thinking of getting them for all my high tech tanks. Just not having to clean/replace the diffusers regularly makes it amazing and I can't think why this isn't something that big companies are making.

The Plus Pro's were super expensive but so far I like them. But really it is way too soon for me to be sure I am happy with them. Love the controller (even though a bit confusing setting the timer and light intensity) and love the look. I need a few months before I know if I am happy with the plant growth. So far no algae problems yet so that is good. Love that they can be dimmed and definitely love the look compared to my old BML lights.
 

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Thanks! Of course I only show it from the nice angles. It is definitely a work in progress!

Fish seem to be doing well. Now that they have been in the tank for 24 hours they are swimming around more and not letting the flow push them to one corner. So I think I may leave it alone for now.

This afternoon I lowered the photoperiod by about an hour and a half and lowered the intensity of the Current LED lights by 50% across all the spectrums. Does anyone know how I should go about raising it? Wait for the plants to fill in more? Raise it by 10% weekly or something? So far no algae growth of note but I figured I would get in front of it and try to keep it to a minimum.
Until you get plant mass where you want it, it will be a guessing game. If you give it too much light it will take a week to see the algae.. and even then it's dependant on C02 and fertilizer dosing. As long as plants aren't reaching I would stay more on the low end. I wouldn't increase lighting without a commensurate increase in plant mass. Maybe every couple weeks go up 10%? I have C02 coming on at 7am - 5pm and lights from 830 to 5pm. I had to cut it back this week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah I was kind of figuring I would wait a week and see what the growth looks like. They are growing I can see that much but obviously just a little bit. And of course the Pogostemon helferi is melting. Because of course it is. But everything else looks great so far.
 
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