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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I'm finally getting around to starting a journal on my tank, currently the only one I have. It is in bad shape because in the last two years it has been moved from northern Colorado to southern Colorado, then across town, then back to northern Colorado, and then to Arizona...it hasn't had more than a few months at a time without being torn apart and moved. And I've been dealing with massive equipment failures and plant die-offs and no money to replace it all.

So here's what I've got.

55 gallon tank that I got used from an LFS in Colorado for just a few bucks.

Lights: I'm using Shoplight fixtures that I got at Home Depot that each hold 2 48" T12 bulbs. I've got 6500K light bulbs that I also bought at Home Depot, they sell them as 'natural daylight' or something like that. Not the ones that say 'plant and aquarium'--I tried those and they don't seem to work on planted tanks. So I have a total of 160 watts of light, but am only running half that right now because I don't have a lot of plants and I was getting algae.

The heater I had was just a cheapo from Walmart, but it broke in the last move. However it's been so warm in our house all the time that I didn't need it. Will have to get a new one soon since it's cooling down.

Right now I'm using a cheapo HOB filter, also from Walmart. My good filter broke and I had to put the backup on there plus a powerhead for extra flow--then the backup and the powerhead both also broke. Now I'm on the backup backup filter, which was meant for a much smaller tank. So...I'm looking for a good deal on a filter, maybe a used one.

I've got pressurized CO2, it's a 2 1/2 pound bottle. And my glass diffuser got broken in the move, so that needs replacing when I get the cash. I've got the CO2 off right now anyway because none of my plants need it currently.

I've been using dry fertilizers, but am not dosing anything right now. The tank is sort of sitting at low-tech for a while until I get it filled back up with plants.

My substrate is sort of an unconventional mixture, but it works for me and it was cheap. I have a layer of 'Hyponex' brand potting soil on the bottom (it's terrible for potted plants--really sandy--but I found it works nicely in the fish tank!) and then a layer of cat litter, and on top of that a layer of sand, fine gravel, and small stones I collected myself.

I have locally collected stones and wood for hardscape. The wood is from 'jumping cholla' cactus that grows native in this area. It's neat looking, with all the holes in it, but is very light and floats even after it's been submerged for months.

Now on to the plants. Currently I have lots and lots and lots of green hygro (it was supposed to be sunset, but they shipped me the wrong one!), corkscrew vals, anubias coffeefolia, red ludwigia, crypt wendtii green, crypt pontederifolia, and a mystery crypt that was supposed to be spiralis but isn't. I'd like to get some different plants to fill in the holes, and take out most of the green hygro. I am thinking rotala of some kind, a couple of ludwigia species, sunset hygro, and blood stargrass. Small leaved stem plants, since there's not much depth to a 55 and they take up the least space.

The animals:
Two angelfish--a large female dark gold marble standard fin and a small gold blushing standard fin. Hoping they become a pair.
One male opaline gourami
One pair of orange swordtails
One albino cory (lost its mate to a gold gourami I sold off yesterday)
One ancient silver sailfin molly, female. Has been 'going to die any day now' for over a year
One female Australian rainbowfish whose mate jumped out of a bucket and died
One male Bolivian ram
Lots of ramshorn snails that hitch-hiked in on some plants.

Ok, that's all the information on it. I'm going to go do a water change and try to get some pictures. It's a mess right now; hopefully I'll get it looking good again soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, I'm still working on getting some pictures.

I got more money than I expected this week off the sale of one of my dairy goats, so I got a nice new powerhead for the tank. I've got my CO2 back on, and hooked up to the powerhead to dissolve it into the water. The fish are loving the current; they're swimming up to the powerhead and letting it blast them halfway across the tank, and then swimming back up to it. And I was taking out the heater I thought was not working anymore and found out that it was! I had not seen the red light that tells you it's on in a few months, so I thought the heater was dead. No, it's nice and warm to the touch; the red light was just crusted over with minerals out of the water. That stuff builds up on everything, yuck. So that's one thing I don't have to replace. Yay!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
All right, finally got a picture! My camera is not very good; it makes anything moving just a blur, but you can kind of get an idea of what it looks like. The tank is tucked into a weird corner too, so getting a full tank shot was a challenge, but here it is, as of today.

I'm trading some of my green hygro forest for some other plants, so it should be getting filled in soon! That is excess green hygro floating around on top.

 

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I like it alot! The subtrate sounds like something I would do! The tank will be awsome when you fill in the plants and get new equipment, though you probably already knew that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks AZ. I really do like that angel; she's about 18 months old; my brother bought her for me as a gift and drove five hours across the state with her. I'm hoping to get her paired off.

As for my camera...it's from back in the day when digital cameras were first getting popular, and it's one of those 'cameras for dummies' types that doesn't have any settings you can adjust. I need to steal the Nikon D40x from my husband lol and get some good photos.

The substrate has worked well for me; it changes pretty much all the time as I find new neat things to try adding to it. I see a lot of plant growth from the potting soil too, but it is messy.

New plants are in the works, should be here soon. I'm getting sunset hygro, rotala singapore, and maybe hygro. difformis 'variegated' from plantluvr on here. I will probably be lurking around the swap n shop for a few more also.

I've got powerheads in there for current until I save up the money to get a canister filter. It will be my first experience with a canister; does anyone have any recommendations for something good for a tank this size? I'll probably look for a used one, but I don't know which ones are good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This tank has an issue with brown algae stains on the glass. I bought it used, and it had the brown algae all over it. I scrubbed and scrubbed and some came off, some did not. Living in southern Colorado with hard water, the brown algae always went crazy for some reason, it just loved that water, and I was always getting it. Now that is dead, but it has left nasty brown stains everywhere that won't come off. I have scraped it with razorblades, various brushes, and even used cleaners on it that were abrasive enough to scratch the glass, but it won't come off!

Any suggestions on how to get rid of it? Or am I just stuck with brown tinted glass?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tonight I ran across a YouTube video on how to make a DIY drop checker, and thought I would try it out. As I was gathering up all the materials, I happened to find one already built! My husband used to make wine, and there was a piece that has been on the kitchen counter a while...not sure what it was for, but it looks just like the DIY drop checker in the video. So I glued a suction cup onto it, and instant drop checker! Not a bad looking one, either.

Now it's back to chemistry class while I make some of my own 4 dkH. I'm big on the DIYs, so why not make that too? Just have to pick up some of the pH reagant at Walmart tomorrow, and it should be up and running tomorrow night!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, the new DIY drop checker is in and working. I made my own solution for it with homemade 4dkH and the bromothymol blue solution from API's pH test kit. The color is green (ish) but is a bit off. I'm thinking that the water in the 'distilled water' jug wasn't actually distilled water...It was not sealed and only half full. I think someone emptied it out and refilled it from the sink. So I'll have to get some new distilled water and try again. The drop checker is still readable though. It showed me that what I was thinking was enough CO2 could be turned up some, so I did last night, and did a big water change and cleaning today, and everything is pearling like crazy!

I can't wait to get some more plants in this tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
For anyone interested, here is how my DIY drop checker is made. I started with a piece from my husband's wine making kit...it's called an airlock. Not sure what it's for, but it looked like something that would work, and it did. They're under $2 at winemaking/brewery supply shops. http://www.winemakersdepot.com/Cylindrical-3-Piece-Airlock-P151.aspx I took out the inside piece that's loose in there, so it's just a plastic cup with a tube into it and a lid. The lid comes with two little air holes in it, so I closed them up with silicone. I then siliconed a suction cup to it. Fill it with the solution to the convenient line already drawn halfway up the side of the cup, cap it, and stick it in the tank.
 

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Great idea! Can I get a picture of the drop checker? As far as the brown spots, it is possible the glass is etched from the hard water which is causing the difficulty getting it clean. Check out Hoppy's 15 Gallon Riparium tank. I believe he had stains that he was successful in removing. I like the layout of the driftwood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks, I will check out that tank. I've had this sort of staining on every tank I ran in Colorado...it must be something in the water. I will get a photo up of the drop checker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
All right, finally here is a picture of my DIY drop checker. It's working out well for me so far.


It's a little hard to see...the camera I've got has begun making every picture blurry, no matter what I try to do to fix it...I think it has just reached the end of its life. So from now on, I will break out the big fancy camera for pictures.

Today I found a nice mystery plant at Petco, tucked in with the usual Amazon swords. I brought it home and IDed it as lilaeopsis macloviana. I broke it up into three bunches and trimmed off the dead leaves. I think it will look really nice with a little love and good food.
 

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That is an awesome diy there. Thanks for the closeup, I couldn't figure it out. And cheap, too! That lilaeopsis is an nice plant. With a little TLC like you said, it will flourish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks. I'll have to start a thread over on the DIY section for that drop checker. It would be extremely cheap for people who could pick up that plastic piece locally.
 

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WOW! Really nice DIY! Good Job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, I woke up this morning to a tank disaster. Most of the fish are dead.

I treated them last night with some wormer because I saw a few camellanus worms. I don't think the problem was with the medication though.

The water was the color and consistency of greasy, slimy old dishwater that's been sitting for several days. And had a horrible rotten fish smell to it. There was a bit of an ammonia spike, but not bad enough to kill the fish. We've been having some water issues lately, and I think something went bad in the water...bacterial bloom, maybe.

I lost the big gold marble angelfish, the molly, the Australian rainbow, and the Bolivian ram. I have left (in a bucket)...two swordtails, an opaline gourami, one albino cory, and a small angel that isn't looking too hopeful.

While I was removing all the nasty scum-water, I decided to put in new substrate and driftwood and scrub everything down really well and basically start over. Not knowing what the issue was, I want to cover all my bases.

So the new substrate is pretty much what it was before...a messy mix of cat litter and potting soil. I capped that with a layer of sand/fine gravel from the backyard.

The tank is really cloudy still, will post new pictures (with a better camera, yay!) when it clears up. I also have new plants on the way, thanks to plantluver on here, those should arrive any day now.

I won't be restocking any fish until I get a job, as I am out of money. Hopefully that happens soon!
 
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