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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
my wife came up with the name for this tank. in her words, "i think it breaks every rule of a conventional fish tank". its a 55 gallon for which we decided to throw out every conservative limitation that we knew of.

ill explain: first, we used mostly composted cow manure, mixed with a bit of kitty litter, as a substrate. it is capped with an inch of paver base. a bit ambitious.

second, we decided to go with a light we had no experience with. i dont recall the brand, but it consists of 3 10,000K 48inch T5HO bulbs and 3 12,000K T5HO actinic, for a total of 324 watts, or about 6 watts per gallon. it was made for a reef tank. maybe not such an odd choice, but i have never received a recommendation for such a light, so i listed it.

third, we went with DIY CO2 for what is pretty obviously an over lit and over fertilized tank. we started with a two liter, a three liter, and gallon bottle, all linked in series, but had to pull the gallon off as it gassed our shrimp(lost a few).

and fourth, the oddest part, we never turn the lights off. the tank has been set up for about two and a half months, with complete 24/7 lighting for all but a few hours of it.

i think it has progressed quite well.
this is the tank shortly after we set it up, taken 24 September:


a few days later. as expected, brown algae/diatoms/cyano took over. i view this as a new tank issue and not an indication that i need to turn my lights off/dose antibiotics/ any other craziness. i just wait it out. at this point we were still waiting for the new lights to come in and simply had 4 t8 bulbs from walmart on it. a few days later we got the new lights. 29 September:


25 November. under 24 hour lighting, the plants had finally reached the stage that i had been waiting for, rapid growth. they always seem to follow that pattern for me when i set up a tank for 24 hour lighting. algae, slow growth, then a few weeks later they shoot up like rockets...


all of the new growth on the red plants is showing some nice colors. 05 December:


this is the last plant my wife decided to add to the tank. it was added about a week ago and is showing great potential...


there are only two fish in the tank, both bristle nose plecs. the rest of the inhabitants are lots of cherry shrimp and various snails.

so, we experimented with the substrate and the lighting. i have been running the ridiculous photo-period for years now, so it wasn't really an experiment. and i have used cow manure for a while now, just never made a substrate with so much of it in it.
this is the same tank that i have the scaped algae in, which you can see on the driftwood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
forgot to mention that I have never done a water change on this tank. I just top off every weekend.
 

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nice looking tank. With the amount of light and ferts are you having any issues with bba? Im very interested to see how this tank matures. What plans do you have for stocking it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
nice looking tank. With the amount of light and ferts are you having any issues with bba? Im very interested to see how this tank matures. What plans do you have for stocking it?
no problems with BBA. I would say that it hasn't been introduced yet, but it has. it just wont grow. I'm still not sure what will end up going into the tank yet. right now I am trying to establish an "ecosystem". so it has dero worms, black worms, pond snails, MTS, ramshorn snails, and one I have yet to identify. it also has scuds, cherry shrimp, and several large redtail fairy shrimp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
still havent turned the lights off, except to switch out a few bulbs. ill slowly be replacing the ones that the fixture came with. they dont produce the spectrum i want. still havent dosed any ferts either. still running DIY CO2.

after much aggressive thinning of the plants... there is a drop checker in the middle, but its usually in the lower left corner. i had it there because i was planting more L. glandulosa trimmings and it was in the way.


the rotala rotundifolia in the back left corner.


closer look at the L. glandulosa trimmings that i planted in the front left. i put the first trimmed top in the dirt 5 days ago, and the most recent one just a few minutes ago. i have already begun pruning the new plants from five days ago. pretty soon, i plan on sending most of these new shoots out, after they get some roots to them and a couple branches. it will probably be a ROAK. its growing super fast for me...


every once in a while, say every two weeks or so, i wipe the glass. it does develop a bit of a green spot haze to it, but not fast enough for me to worry about it. after two weeks, it wouldn't show in a pic, but its enough that i can see it...

so far so good. only 6 48" T5HO bulbs on this 55, with cow manure under the plants...

just trying to break rules here. im such a rebel... :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
nope, no problems with ammonia. i aerated the crap out of this substrate(compost tea style) and then dried it a couple times before i started using it. i think that made a difference? i think the kitty litter helps with it too.
 

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This tank shocks and confuses me. I want to be appalled but I just want to see more at the same time. Lol.

Kudos. What a neat rule breaking method.

Just to reassure newbies.. Auban has been doing things like this for a while, don't test this unless you're willing to crash and burn at least once.
 

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.... we used mostly composted cow manure, mixed with a bit of kitty litter, as a substrate. it is capped with an inch of paver base. a bit ambitious....
OUTSTANDING!!! I'm a very strong supporter of taking an organic approach.


....Just to reassure newbies.. Auban has been doing things like this for a while, don't test this unless you're willing to crash and burn at least once.
I would offer there needed not be any worry over failure, IF one is willing to do some research and follow some simple proven steps. The biggest problem with newbes is they want instant ADA contest champion tanks and that only happens on reality shows, thanks to careful editing.:wink:
 

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Definitely accurate. If one researches one's butt off, one can pull amazing things off in this hobby.

I'd just never recommend jumping into this as a first tank without first testing the waters out elsewhere to dip ones feet.

Newbies almost always make mistakes, usually big ones. Best to make them where you aren't dealing with uncommon variants like these.

I really support testing different things though, and I'm so surprised and happy at this success!!
 

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That looks incredible! If that's what your experiments come out like, we need to get you some national funding or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
this forum is much more friendly to new ideas than another forum I know of...
when I posted about this tank, I was pretty much attacked. plenty of people telling me that my lights must be lousy and (the lack of algae proves it! LOL), my substrate burns the plants... the diy CO2 couldn't possibly make a difference, etc...
I do, however, agree with a strong caution to anyone who wants to try something similar. if you do something crazy like this, you have to be willing to create a monster, and then be willing to deal with it once you do. the only reason I even do this stuff is because I am compulsive about answering any and all "what if" and "why" questions that might pop onto my head. I read Hutchinson's treatise on limnology because of those darned "why" questions, if that gives you an idea...
this craziness I call a fishtank is a result of the "what if" questions.
 

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Great tank!!

Thanks you for posting this. It's fun to see people try different stuff!
 

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this forum is much more friendly to new ideas than another forum I know of...
when I posted about this tank, I was pretty much attacked. plenty of people telling me that my lights must be lousy and (the lack of algae proves it! LOL), my substrate burns the plants... the diy CO2 couldn't possibly make a difference, etc...
I do, however, agree with a strong caution to anyone who wants to try something similar. if you do something crazy like this, you have to be willing to create a monster...
I can totally relate having done an "outrageous" Tank myself. In my "Toxic Ten" journal I got my share of Chicken Littles proclaiming the sky is falling.

I don't agree about it being a crazy idea at all. I did my tank to prove that very point. Our hobby plants grow naturally in high organic substrate with anaerobic bacteria present. I think all tanks should be researched prior to set up and appropriate measures taken for that build.

Maybe some day we will have "poop" sub-forum
:wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
before i moved to california, i i found a ludwigia that grew a nice orange color in my tank(different tank). during the move, the plant got shredded into a thousand tiny little bits, but i managed to save a single stem. i should have moved it into the crazy tank sooner.

this is what it looks like now. as far as i can tell, it is an odd variety of Ludwigia palustris. it has the right leaf shape, and the flowers are similar, but it could very well be a hybrid.

this is what it looked like before the move



after the move, it practically vanished. all my plants got so beat up that i had to spend several days sifting though all the floating pieces leaf by leaf just to find it. same goes for some wild collected M. umbrosum. eventually i did find a piece that would grow, however. this is that plant now, as seen from above.


the odd thing about this stuff is that it loves to spread across the ground. its the only ludwigia i have ever seen that i think could be trained to work as a ground cover. even when i was in north carolina, it seemed more interested in growing out than up.(at least after it got past the vegetation beneath it)
 
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