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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks to some people on here, and some people on my local plant group site, www.miapg.com the michigan aquatic plant group, I was able to put together my first planted tank.

I've been keeping african cichlids for over a year, but never messed around with much more. After having a nice display tank and also breeding tanks, I"ve grown a bit bored with the africans. They look nice, but they just don't do as much for me. So I wanted to start something a little different and more fun.


Being that I"m on an extremely small budget, I was lucky enough to beable to do a decent low tech set up.

So far I have spent:

$40 on 2 coral life 48" t5 NO lights
$15 on substrate
$30 on driftwood
$0 on tank 65L 48x12x24 (buddy gave it to me was new with a chip)
$0 on stand (bought a tank and resold it for more than I paid and kept accessories)
$0 glass lids from same tank transaction
$10 on filtration (AC110 and AC 70)
$22 on plants (most were generously given to me by miapg.com members)
$80 on fish (5 denison, 9 pentazona, 3 gold, 8 black ruby barbs, 1 flying fox, 1 featherfin cat, 2 geo. surinamensis)

So less than $200 bucks.


I'm using baseball infield clay mix and some sort of aquatic planting mix (maybe SMS) that I got for dirt cheap from the LFS that they had left over after doing their display tanks.

I'm dosing with excel and the comprehensive fert with no problems yet. I'm hoping that I don't need additional ferts.

I set the tank up after getting most of the stuff needed, but really just threw it together. I didn't even wash out the substrate. Well, that turned out to be sort of a mistake because I hated it and needed to take it down an re-do it. It was a good learning experience though.

Here's the first try:




I thought the first try turned out pretty lame. Too flat. The red substrate is sorta ugly. It's all around just kind of boring. Even once I added plants, it was just uninteresting. Plus, like I said I didn't wash out the substrate, so it was VERY VERY VERY silty. That's why I have the additional HOB on the front and have a cannister running on it to try to filter it out. It cleared up fine, but any time the geos were working, or if I tried to plant anything, it clouded up very easily.


Here are some pictures after I added more plants, but it still wasn't doing much for me...

Right:


Left:





So being that I was disappointed with the look of the tank, I decided to take it down and start over...


Sorry some of these pictures are foggy... I had just brought my camera in from the cold and the lens fogged up.. :) I didn't want to slow my progress, so i just took the junky photos...

put the red calcined clay infield mix down as a base... then starting to cover it with the darker plant soil... also stuck some rocks in there:




Adding wood and some plants and a nifty garbage bag background :D




Adding more plants... I can see I should have tried harder to keep the red substrate below the trim on the glass, but oh well. YOu only really see that with the flash...




Overhead Left:



Overhead Right:






MOst of the plants in... time to fill'er up





Teacup and saucer method:





FULL!!!






Clearing up!





Yay!!! All clear!





Next day, good and clear... (also shows my custom fish artwork from my cousin.. lol)






Left side





Time for fish!!! (sorry they're just blurs.. I was not using a flash.. )





99% finished... I think I need some more fore ground plants, although there are quite a few. They are just very small.





So thanks for looking!!!!

Just your basic planted tank, nothing fancy or very creative. I didn't have to customize anything, or do anything at all but set it up. I had been collecting/floating the plants for some time... collecting the wood... just slowly getting enough stuff together to slap it all together. Which is what I did with the first go around. I'm really glad I took it down and gave it another shot. I'm really a lot more happy with try #2.

Comments, criticisms, and suggestions are more than welcome!!! Help me make the most of my tank!!!
 

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Looks great! I wouldnt change anything!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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And I thought I was thrifty!
:icon_smil

Great job, especially for your very first planted tank!

I think the driftwood arrangement is a little distracting, though, my eye has a hard time both figuring out where to start and where to go from there...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone... I appreciate the compliments. :)


And I thought I was thrifty!
:icon_smil

Great job, especially for your very first planted tank!

I think the driftwood arrangement is a little distracting, though, my eye has a hard time both figuring out where to start and where to go from there...

Which piece do you think is distracting? I didn't have GREAT pieces to work with, but I certainly wanted to get some height out of them. I think maybe I"m a bit better at working with rock. ;)


Here's 2 of my cichlid tanks...

85 gal hap/peacock






75 gal cichlid bomb explosion

 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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The big piece on the right draws my attention first, but then doesn't "flow" into the rest of the tank. All the pieces are "pointing" out in different directions, there's no cohesiveness... does that make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do know what you mean...I probably should have turned that piece on teh right around... so that both sides were high, and teh middle was low.. which would have went along with the valley that I built.. Hmm... maybe I"ll have to make some adjustments.... I just put a boatload more plants in tonight too... :\
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I took some more pictures last night after I added a quite a few plants. Had a bunch of little guys left floating around in my holding tank... so I added them. ALso added a bunch of Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae that was given to me recently. It was in pretty rough shape, but I was able to salvage quite a bit of it, and I think it'll come back nicely as the roots seemed to be in tact.

Here is a pic that shows some of the new plants... filled in around the foreground, and under the big piece of driftwood. Also added more Rotala in the back, and more pogostemon





These next 2 pictures just show the tank with the fish swimming around... I upped the shutter speed to beable to make the fish less blurry... but now the pics are pretty dark. I tried to correct the exposure and dodge some areas, but they're still pretty dark... I think you'll get the gist though.





 

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Great tank and photography!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks jmhart... I agree. I'm really glad I pulled it down and re-did it...


Jake, you're right.. I"m planning on having fun with SOME maintenance... I'm just hoping that it's something where I have crap water because i can't vacuum around plants and stuff like that... :) Only time will tell!
 

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very nice, are the flying fox's the only fish you have in there? where are you guys finding your plants. I got a few from craigslist, and the others I get from the petsmart. they are in the clear tops fin cylinders on the shelf. the BIG LFS around here want so much money for plants. just some java moss cost me 10.00 dollars.
 

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very nice, are the flying fox's the only fish you have in there? where are you guys finding your plants. I got a few from craigslist, and the others I get from the petsmart. they are in the clear tops fin cylinders on the shelf. the BIG LFS around here want so much money for plants. just some java moss cost me 10.00 dollars.


Buy plants from the swap and shop here, a lot cheaper! You have to pay shipping, but if you wait and find a package, it's more than worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Fishyjoe, you should definately buy plants on here when you can, or find a local aquatic plant group... there is a "swap and shop" section for selling and trading...


Thanks for the comments everyone.. :)


I only have ONE flying fox in there... There is a stock list on my first post, but I'll repeat it....

1 flying fox
5 denison barb (roseline shark)
2 geophagus surinamensis
8 black ruby barb
3 gold barb
9 pentazona barb
1 featherfin cat

I will probably end up adding a BN pleco, and maybe syno petricola
 
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