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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On 4/28/16 I was finally in a position to upgrade my equipment and tank from a low tech 29ga to a 55 ga high tech tank.

I do my best to find a balance between quality and value.

Generic Top Soil sifted, not mineralized
Black diamond blasting sand for cap, rinsed well.

Eheim 2215 Canister filter

Finnex 48" Planted+ 24/7 LED light, using 24/7 cycle

Pressurized CO2: Aquatec Regulator w/Paintball tank adapter and 24oz empire paintball container.

EI dosing: Macro & Trace
GLA Gh booster

Bump: Thoughts on the substrate:
Generic Walmart Top Soil. I sifted it and put 1.25 inches of on bottom layer. I wet it turning it to mud first by kneading with with my hands in an ice cream bucket.

I surrounded the bottom edges of the tank with 0.5 inch of black diamond blasting sand from tractor supply company. I also capped the top soil with 1.5" of this blasting sand. I thoroughly rinsed the blasting sand outside in 5 ga buckets first.

This is the first time I have used blasting sand. I love it! I love the look, the cost, and the ease of planting. I used gravel before. Small plants with little roots that kept floating out of the substrate with gravel stayed nicely in the blasting sand without effort.

I planted heavily and and my Eheim filter had been running for a week or two on an established tank prior to moving to my 55ga. I experienced only very small ammonia spike of 0.25 for 2-3 weeks.

2 Bags of top soil: $2 each
2 50lb bags of blasting sand: $7-8 each
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I have been using my Eheim filter for 1.5-2 months now. It is the first canister I've used. I absolutely love it!! It works great, polishing the water. The quick release on the hoses make it easy for cleaning. It is very quite. My wife loves the quiet over the HOB filter previously.

I discovered that after cleaning it. If you fill the canister with tank water to the top, put the top on with the valves closed. Push down some, then open and close the valve quick to release the air allowing the canister to be latched tight. It also keeps the water level high enough in the canister to allow immediate start up again without re-priming. Just be sure to do it in a bathtub or similar because the water will likely shoot out the hose ends even if you are quick.

Bump: 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED light

I love this light. The price is good for a good quality LED grow light. I have used Finnex for years and always liked their products.

I have a busy schedule and often need to leave before my tank lights would be on and return after they would shut off (on a timer). With the 24/7 there is enough light in the morning and evenings for me to still enjoy the tank. But the PAR readings are low enough during those times I don't have to worry about over exposure of lights. After using this for a month I have had incredible growth (see pic's coming soon).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pressurized CO2

I picked up an aquatek regulator for about $60 from aquacave off [Ebay Link Removed] It works pretty well. Good quality for a decent price. It is a challenge to dial in the needle valve, but it can be done. The slightest change in the needle valve dial makes a big difference in the bubble rate. The bubble counter that came with it works though at 6 bps it gets hard to count because the rate is so fast. I set a 10 second timer and count as best I can. I had another family member also count for a double check. Divide the number by ten and you got your bps.

I picked up a $15 converter for the regulator to paintball tank.

I picked up a 24oz paintball tank off amazon for $20.

I've used the tank for a month and the tank pressure indicator on the tank has hardly moved. So I expect the tank will last a decent time.

I also like that I can pick up a second tank for cheap (unlike the bigger more expensive CO2 tank) and keep the second tank filled on hand to swap when the first runs dry. I also then don't have the rush to refill the tank right away: I can do it when it fits into my schedule as I'll have months before the refill is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here is my tank after 3 weeks.

I'm loving this growth and the look. This is so much fun!

Special thanks to mikevwall for the plants. He has lots of options and good prices. If you are looking, I highly recommend him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've had some bba as I try to dial in my CO2 for a tank this size.
In last few days I've been getting some diatoms. On plants lower in water. Not bad. Normal new tank stuff and I didn't get a chance for water change last weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The tank.
I found this tank in a garage sale with one of the end panes cracked. I got a great price on it. I got a replacement piece cut by a glass company in town. I replaced the pane and redid the silicone on all of it. I did the new silicone heavier than need but I prefer it that way like the oceanic tanks.
 

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I have been using my Eheim filter for 1.5-2 months now. It is the first canister I've used. I absolutely love it!! It works great, polishing the water. The quick release on the hoses make it easy for cleaning. It is very quite. My wife loves the quiet over the HOB filter previously.

I discovered that after cleaning it. If you fill the canister with tank water to the top, put the top on with the valves closed. Push down some, then open and close the valve quick to release the air allowing the canister to be latched tight. It also keeps the water level high enough in the canister to allow immediate start up again without re-priming. Just be sure to do it in a bathtub or similar because the water will likely shoot out the hose ends even if you are quick.

Bump: 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED light

I love this light. The price is good for a good quality LED grow light. I have used Finnex for years and always liked their products.

I have a busy schedule and often need to leave before my tank lights would be on and return after they would shut off (on a timer). With the 24/7 there is enough light in the morning and evenings for me to still enjoy the tank. But the PAR readings are low enough during those times I don't have to worry about over exposure of lights. After using this for a month I have had incredible growth (see pic's coming soon).
Good tip about the filter, I struggle to get mine primed. Will try this next time I clean it.
 
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