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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all, I'm new to the forum, but thoroughly enjoying reading through the wealth of info on this site. I thought I should contribute by putting together a little journal for our first planted tank attempt.

This is a saga that has stretched over a few years, slapped together in a few posts... We live in Trinidad, bottom end of the Caribbean. Recently plant availability has improved, but most things are only available sporadically. Fish availability is great however.

The tank was built back in 2003, convincing mum that the space under the big living room window really needed filling. What better than a big fish tank! roughly 6' x 1' & 10" x 1' & 10" from what I remember. It went through many phases of attempts with planter trays.. plastic plants, lots of algae (or 'moss' as I used to call it), big catfish, clown loaches, angelfish.... goldfish. We didn't really have a plan back then. Until finally it started leaking in 2012. A full strip down and rebuild followed, when I started reading up on the 'aquascaping' craze.

Committed to the cause, I converted my Dad to a full planted tank enthusiast. We had the tank rebuilt bigger and stronger.

(Edit) 6' x 28" X 24". much better dimensions and you could still get in the front door.

A much stronger frame was needed, with slim draws below.


one draw holds an automatic top up tank to compensate for the silly rate of evaporation in the tropics.

A full cover was necessary to prevent any feline interference. So we made a decorative surround and cover.



the cover has large glass boxes for two light units to sit in, with the home made lattice work on top to keep them ventilated. The lattice work required a custom jig, created by Dad after a few glasses of good scotch.

It all took a lot of varnish, literally gave the neighbour a migraine :icon_frow

Filters (4 Eheim classic canisters, 2 dedicated as biofilters) and later a DIY CO2 system are housed in this box, later clad in wood work:


Yes, that is granny's old O2 bottle on wheels. We have to have a few of the Uninterrupted Power Supply batteries connected to everything 24/7 to provide a backup during our frequent, extended power outages. The oxygen is pumped in if the lights cut out, CO2 turns off and one filter runs on backup.

More to follow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The top lattice work is beautiful. That's an idea I fully plan on stealing. Genius for breathing.
thanks, it works well and hides everything nicely. We had some temperature issues in the tank eventually but this is inevitable when its 34 C outside and your 8 T5 bulbs are working up a sweat :hihi:
 

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Wow! That has the makings of something really special. Looking forward to updates and what you do with it.

The stand looks like it came out really nice, and I also like the clever use of the lattice.

Keep posting as you make progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
With most of the exterior stuff sorted, we got carried away with substrate layout, supports and hardscaping:


The rock was siliconed to a styrofoam base to prevent any stress on the glass and to provide some stability. The plexiglass supports were wedged between glass blocks on the bottom and reinforced by some heavily over engineered metal, adjustable braces.

Locally sourced mangrove roots were used, or at least we think thats what they are. most of these had been in the previous 6 footer or another 4 foot tank we had going.


Basal layer of river gravel from across the road was used to save on silly aquarium substrate prices.

Bump:
Wow! That has the makings of something really special. Looking forward to updates and what you do with it.

The stand looks like it came out really nice, and I also like the clever use of the lattice.

Keep posting as you make progress.
Thanks! The stand was a lot of fun, quite rewarding to build your own stuff.

The sand flowed nicely over the wood to create a natural look. we still top it up to keep the effect. Its already built up to be honest... I'm just dragging out the updates between pretending to do work and making coffee ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
looks really nice, what was the highest watertemp you ever measured?
it has climbed to 30C in there before. We installed some little surface fans and the back of the overhead wood surround is quite open. A bit of circulation and we are down to 28 C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Lights were imported from the States; two AquaLife Four-Lamp T5 HO fixtures. these are running a mix of 10,000k, 6800k and moon light.

Planting started after a visit to the Island's one known aquarium plant supplier. His plants were growing in a series of outdoor, shallow concrete ponds under natural light. I had done a fair bit of research but we don't use any of the real names of these plants out here, they all have local nick-names. I found it quite hard to stick to any sort of plan when faced with ponds full of cheap, healthy exotic plants.

We got the stash of shrubbery home and stored it in baskets in our planted pond before transferring to the big tank:


began planting. unfortunately I didn't know how big many of the plants could get, partly due to our confusion with different names, but primarily because I didn't know what I was doing :)

had a few extra big ones that we took a while to decide where they should go. That Madagascar in the back did not last long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
we ended up with a void along the back wall that has proven tricky to fill in. Initially I pictured a perfect wall of Val, but the selection of these growing already is proving a lot of maintenance for Pops.


The tank actually started leaking while we were on holiday. Our friends saved most of the plants, putting them back in the baskets in the pond. The tank was stripped out, again and rebuilt with 1/2" glass and extra reinforcement on the base and sides.

Re-planting was carried out by Dad while I was away at University.

Here, a rescue goldfish swims in front of our unsolved back wall void.


Bump: The left side grew into a jungle:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
been home to visit my folks over the summer and lent a hand with aquatic maintenance.
Pops has added a AquaRay Smart Control system, with two AquaRay GroBeam 600s and two of the 1500 GroBeam Tiles as well, alongside 2 of the mini tiles to provide some spotlight to more demanding plants. CO2 has gone high tech too, with double reg-canister and pH controller. We have reduced the photoperiod a lot to reduce the green beard algae.


It looks healthy at a distance but some plants were suffering and algae was spreading.

We had a lot of trimming to do, the Jungle Val had taken over and were blanketing everything, so out they came. This change has of course made the tank look sparse for now, but I think it will reduce maintenance and give some of the smaller plants a chance to fill out... hopefully.

This gave more light to the Madagascar Lace and the slowly spreading carpet of dwarf chain sword and some sort of Lilaeopsis (I think). Really hoping this can spread out and cover the dark substrate a bit more. We moved a few of the larger plants further back in the tank and spread out some of the carpet runners to speed things up.

On the right hand side, what I suspect to be a ludwigia has roamed. It was originally growing tall nearer the glass but has shifted as the Val over shadowed its original spot.


Cat TV:
 
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