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100 Gallon Uniquarium Reclamation Project - First Planted Tank

4049 Views 18 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  whitepapagold
Been keeping fish for decades, your typical run of the mill 55 gallon community tank with plastic plants. I've always wanted a bigger tank with real plants, 75-125 gallon, but never pursued it much further than searching the local CL. One day this past November my sister called and offered to sell me a 100 G Clear For Life Acrylic Uniquarium, stand, canopy, light hood, along with fairly new Fluval 406 for a reasonable price ($250). So lets begin.

Here is the tank after I picked it up. Full of dried sediment, mineral deposits along with lots of nicks and scratches inside and out. My wife was questioning my sanity after she saw it but I assured her it just needed a little cleaning up. I said that knowing full well I've never tackled anything like this before but I had to tell her something in order to keep my prize. On the plus side the stand, canopy and 406 filter were in good condition. Excuse the messy garage.




The next step was to clean it up and make sure it didn't leak. Never had an acrylic tank before and it's very light, I had no problem moving it around by myself. It held water, no leaks, so after draining I used vinegar and water and microfiber cloths to remove the mineral deposits. Here is what it looked like at this stage, cleaning revealed all the scratches and a nasty gash mid high on the right corner.



I found lots of examples online on buffing out scratches on acrylic tanks so I procured a Novus plastic polishing kit and a large Flitz buffing ball that attaches to a drill and got to work. The Novus kit contained heavy scratch polish, light scratch polish, and a bottle of clean and an shine. I used primarily the light scratch polish, it did the trick on the bulk of the scratches. The heavy polish didn't do much to that gash on the right so I used a grittier polish from a headlight kit I had. That did the trick. Four hours later this is how it turned out.



A different angle.



Gave it another cleaning inside and out with vinegar and water to remove any polish residue. Looked good as new so I moved it inside to its new space.




Now that it's cleaned and presentable it's time to put something in it.... more to follow.
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Looks awesome! Definitely subscribed. You did a great job buffing those scratches out, it looks brand new in the pics. Going from plastic plants to live plants is an awesome leap, and there is so much to learn that if you're anything like me you'll be reading and reading for hours. It sounds crazy but the plants become as much fun as the fish. I hope you enjoy the process as much as I have, it's awesome fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all for the comments. Trying to get caught up to the present, this is what happened the week of Thanksgiving.

After getting the tank cleaned and presentable it was time to put something in it. I spent hours browsing thru this site and and others and being new to planted tanks I decided I would start simple, no CO2.

Substrate
I decided upon Eco-Complete. Seemed to be popular, many had success with it and it's reportedly easy to work with. I liked the color, too. I had to drive to three different Petco stores in the area, seems each store only keeps 3 bags onhand. According to the substrate calculator I found online I needed 9 bags. Bought 9, ended up using 7. I sprinkled a small amount of Osmocote + on the bottom before adding the EC.

Hardscape
I had driftwood from my other tank and picked up a piece of spiderwood from the LFS. Found some large round river rock at a landscaping/outdoor pond business for a couple bucks.

Lighting
Choosing a light was turned out be extremely challenging. I wanted a single LED fixture that would grow beginner plants and didn't cost an arm and a leg. The more I read about different LED lights from different manufacturers the more I was unable to make up my mind. Went with a Green Element 10K EVO, it was the only fixture I could find that was 60" for under $150.

Filtration

For filtration I'm using a Fluval 406 that came with the tank. I added bio media from another canister filter being used on a running 55 gal tank to give it a jump start. The tank has an area in the rear for an integrated wet/dry filter but the previous owner no longer had any of the parts for it. Right now it's not being used, put the heater and in/out from the Fluval in there. I like how there back is not cluttered with tubing or a heater. I wonder if I need some type of filtration inside the tank?

Plants
Not a big selection at the local Petco, 3 anubias and the rest the clerk had no idea and neither did I. But they looked healthy and all plants were on sale 50% off so I bought them. The one on the left I believe is a sword of some type, the two with long leaves I need some help with.


Here is the tank 5 days after the initial fill with Prime and adding a large bottle of Safe Start. Ph 7.4 Ammonia 1.0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10. I bought a Kh/Gh kit, water was 5 Kh/ 11 Gh which I believe is medium-hard.

I was not fond of my lighting choice, too bright, blue Actinic LED's overpowering and cannot be turned off. The light to my knowledge cannot be dimmed. Decided to return this light and continue search for different lighting. Oh well, live and learn, the learning part is getting expensive.



Closer look at the two tall plants behind the rock I cannot ID.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
During my quest for a new LED light to replace the 10K light I was poking around at Build My LED, the Dutch Planted 6300K caught my eye. From all the reviews I read they build a very good light but a bit over my budget. Then on Black Friday BML announced a Black Friday special, a limited edition 6500K spectrum light, 20% off. Called and after speaking with them placed my order along with a dimmer. With a 90° beam angle the PAR level for this light should put me solidly in the medium light range.

During this time I was testing my water every 3 days, eventually the ammonia decreased to .25, nitrite 0, nitrate somewhere in 20-30 range. It had been 2 weeks since filling the tank and the last two test results had remained steady so I decided to add a few hardy fish to the tank. LFS had Buenos Aires tetra's on sale so I bought 4. Here is tank with the new BML 60" 6500K LED and BA tetras. Satisfied with my lighting now and the dimmer provides a way to easily adjust it. The background appears black now instead of blue and overall the tank is much more visually appealing to me now. Fish doing well, no signs of distress.



When I was buying the BA tetra's I picked up 2 plants to fill in the barren right side of the tank. Being impatient I bought them before researching what they were. After they were in my tank I discovered these were Lucky Bamboo, not a bamboo species and not an aquatic plant. I'll keep them until I find replacements. Another lesson learned, I'll do my homework before obtaining any more plants.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the comments and the plant ID, I thought they might have been java fern. They seem to be doing OK so I am leaving them be. The last two water tests showed 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 20-30 nitrate, tank has cycled. I did a small water change and the next day I ferried over the fish from my 55 g tank. I also placed an order with aquariumplants.com for some plants:

6 Dwarf Saggitatria
2 Amazon Sword
2 Sword Narrow Leaf Chain
1 Cyperus Helferi
2 Bunches of Corkscrew Vallisneria
1 Cryptocoryne Wendtii
1 Ludwigia Peruensis
2 Bunches Narrow Leaf Anarcharis

The plants arrived in good shape, here's a pic after I got them in the tank. Excuse the Xmas tree reflection, I need some photography lessons.

 

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Great job on the tank! It's so much more rewarding when you do something like that.

You're going to love the BML light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks, very impressed with the light so far and being able to adjust it with the dimmer. I'd love to get one of those digital controller/timers for it in the future. Been a busy week, I put my old 55 gal tank, stand, and all accessories except the canister filter on my local CL. Created another add for the 10K LED light. Sold the 55g the next day and someone bought the 10K LED last night. Have some cash for more plants and maybe a few more fish now.

Tank updates:

Added the Fluval 306 I kept from the 55 g tank. This tank has a semi enclosed top with cutouts so I had to run the tubing up and over the top, thru a cutout and secured to back of tank with suction cups. The tubing is rigid enough that it didn't collapse with all the bends and turns. Not sure if having a filter pickup inside the tank is absolutely necessary but it gives me peace of mind. I plan on hunting down a black pick up tube to replace the clear one. I have a nice gentle flow all thru the tank now with the additional filter. Ordered a PPS Pro kit from GLA, seemed like the easiest route for a beginner. I was thinking of adding some micro sword to the foreground soon, found a nearby LFS that carries it. Any other suggestions for foreground plants?

I changed the position of the right side output nozzle after taking this pic, currently the nozzles are pointed in the same direction now. Is this optimal? I have a nice gentle counter clockwise flow with this configuration.


 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I picked up a few pots of micro sword and planted it in the foreground. In 2 days the Buenos Aires tetras had eaten it down to nubs. Odd, I've had them in the tank for awhile and they never nibbled on any of my other plants, just the new micro sword. It's starting to come back slowly.



I had to take the tank apart in order to remove the culprits, took awhile to catch them, fast little buggers. I returned them to LFS and replaced them with some Rummy Nosed tetras. The anubias in the foreground has a lot of algae, it was that way when I bought it. Should have been more picky. Picked up some more otos and hope they get it cleaned up a bit.





The cyperus helferi is growing a sprout on the tip, wondering if this could be replanted or if it will fall off and grow on its own?



One of my swords has all the leaves curling inwards but if you look at the center of the plant there are new leaves growing. Is this anything to be concerned about?

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Time for an update, learned a lot over the past 4 months. Of the 8 species of plants I started with originally I've only lost 1 completely (Ludwiga Peruensis). I have a few corkscrew vals left that are still kicking but aren't exactly thriving. Cyperus Helferi, one died off and the other sprouted a daughter, both are just barely hanging on. I added what I believe is red crypt wendtii which added some color and is really growing. My swords and dwarf sag are also doing great. I started using the PPS pro system back in Feb which seems to be helping.

Here's a recent picture.


One recent fish addition was a yoyo loach, pictured here munching on a algae wafer with my bristled nosed pleco coming over to investigate. A very active, colorful fish he's now my favorite, I plan on getting him a tank mate soon.

 
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