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Discussion Starter #1
Background: A few years back (2003?) I dove headfirst into planted tanks and over the years put together a few scapes. Loved it, but but interupted too many times with sequential job moves, after graduation.
A few months ago, the wife more or less said "I want you to start up a planted tank. I miss them"...who am I to say no?!

The idea : Longevity. Current trends in competition are for the moment of the photo. Most tanks aren't designed for the time before or after the photo (this could be a huge rant/debate thread, so maybe I'll bring that up elsewhere). I'm after a tank for my house and for me, not for a photo. This means planting a tank that will last, and not require constant pruning/replanting to keep it looking like a jungle. So, I'm staying away from very high light. Staying away from stems. Staying away from super fast growers. I'm also employing MTS for substrate. First time using it, and sounds like a good idea for the eventual heavy root feeding crypts.

hardware: I'm re-purposing my old Elos 70 for this tank. The elos sump isn't good for FW, so that is being replaced with a Proflex Model 1. Still working out CO2, but it will be there. Return will probably use the Eheim 1250 instead of 1260 (too much flow?). ATO will be with the original elos osmocontroller and an external tank of water (US Plastics). For lighting, I have available, a pair of Kessil Amazon Sun, but I'm going to see how a single will do. This will be med to med-low on light levels. There will be some extra shadowing with a single point source, but I'm ok with that. I had a pair of 14K kessils over the same tank before when it was a reef.

hardscape materials: Rock, sand and gravel were all collected locally. It took a good amount of rinsing to get rid of most of the organics/silt. I was first thinking of using more contrasting sand-rock, but this is truer to reality since the sand/gravel was originally the rock before weathering/time took hold. The wood is 3 pieces of manzanita, glued to a base rock with IC-Gel.

plants: I don't have any yet :p I'm currently sourcing some and should have it sorted this week. On the list are things like...
Foreground: marselia minuta, parva, petite nana,??
For-mid: wendtii green gecko, petchii, willisii (nervelii?), lucens, ??
Mid: mid-back: affinis, nurii, ??
Back: retro spiralis, spiralis, crispatula, ??
All of this is dependent on what I can come across and what I get inspired by.



(I live in NM, and if I only added a few sparse plants, and a few tumble weeds, then we have ourself a local NA style tank :p)

(1) clean out most of the old reef junk (note, parts of overlow are removed. There won't be a big hole for fish to get sucked into!). Single Kessil mounted. Wire needs routing and painting for SAF. (Note to others making their own kessil mount... the Kessil Goosneck has M10x1 threading). I could have attached the kessel+gooseneck directly to the tank, but I wanted more height. The back alcove (I forget what it is actually called) will probably have other plants that don't need a lot of attention.


(2) Sand/gravel perimeter, with dolomite/murate of potash base in center


(3) Add MTS and cover with sand/gravel. The MTS was higher in organics than I like and didn't hold the clay (the red in the liquid on top) super well. We'll see how it goes. I personally think the soil is only half way through the mineralization process. Probably just means more water changes at first, but not as bad as if I went the classic Walstad topsoil method.


(4) Here is the joining of the wood on a rock base (which sits on the rock shown in the earlier photos). The rock is to also keep things from floating up.


(5) Dump in base sand/gravel to fully cover MTS


(6) figure out what rocks I want to use (I collected way more than I needed. Better to have options. This is not a rockscape, so I wanted to use rocks that add to the overall feel and not overly dominate.



(7) rocks/rubble added.






(8) this is it for now. I'll post more when I have plants :-D
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Got the sump plumbed. Angry at Aqueon. The 3' drain hose that came with the Proflex Model 1 was metric (just over 1" diameter fitting) and the sump fitting was exactly 1"....coupler wouldn't work. Chopped off the end fitting, and just welded the spa flex over the aqueon fitting with PVC cement. The other fun side was the elos drain which I knew was metric (just over 1.25"). Using a non-traditional implementation of a PVC fitting and some 3M structural plastic 2-part adhesive (and while the adhesive foamed out, sealed over with a big fat heatshrink), I made a section of original metric tubing work with imperial :p This thing isn't leaking anytime soon and passed the 24 leak test with flying colors.

Tank has had water for a few days to start the tanning leach and any residual ammonia from the MTS since I may not have let it fully mineralize.

Trying to get plants here next week. To work with, I'm hopefully going to get:

Petite nana
Taiwan moss
Marsilea Quad/minutea (not sure what it really is. Stays ~1")
C. petchii
C. albida
C. undulata
C. crispatula
C. lucens
C. parva
C. wilissi
C. wendtii hybrid

Still trying to figure out what fish will eventually go in here.
Still cleaning up the wiring of the sump and CO2 stuff will be here next week.

Water level is a little lower than I'd like by ~ 1/2", but that's because I opted for using the Eheim 1250 that was originally on the skimmer rather than the 1260. I think the 1260 might be too much flow. I might do a little modding to effectively raise the overflow drain level.

(don't mind the cell phone photo quality :p)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just planted

C. parva
C. lucens
C. wilissi
C. petchi
C. crispatula
C. undulata
C. wendtii x hybrid
C. wendtii green gecko
C. Albida
marsilea (not sure which, but small like minutea)...token non crypt

skipped on the moss but have another use for it.
skipped on submersed anubias petite nana, and stuck it emersed on the tops of the exposed wood.

animals come next week
cory habrosus
Danio margaritatus
otos (not sure what species yet)
nirites
cherry shrimp

 

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Looks awesome man! I'm getting pumped up for my own crypt only tank I'm gonna make!!!
Some C. Balansae and Spiralis would add some nice tall background plants too if you are looking to go that route. C. Parva is gonna look really cool in the front! I would suggest adding several more pots right now at the beginning because it is a painfully slow grower and won't "fill in" for a good long time haha. So looking forward to seeing this tank evolve! Nice DW/ rocks by the way looks sick!
Subscribed!!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks. I have about 30 or so plantlets of parva out there. I dont' want a full carpet of it. Right now, they sort of group with the rocks. The marsilea will fill in the foreground.

I have C. crispatula var Balansae (emersed so not tall) in there now. Ordered a pot hoping it would have a few (3-4) plantlets to divide, but only had one large one with some potential runners. I'll likely have to get some more.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I guess it is about time for an update. Slowly it grows and fills in. Another 6 months and it should be about there :p Dosing sporadically and not much (when deficiencies show up). Water changes about once a month, and top off with DI/DI water. Dealing with a bit of clado, but that's about it, besides the normal film on the glass. A little more balansae wouldn't hurt,, but otherwise happy with where this is going.

 

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Discussion Starter #13
Phil, the Elos is (~30Wx22Dx20H). Early in the thread, you can see how high I had the pendent. I have since dropped it a couple inches. This basically dropped the primary cone of light completely to the water level and I have very little room spill now due to ~total internal reflection.. Let me take a photo tonight and you can see what I mean.
 

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I just checked out the light on youtube and am impressed with it. It looks like they give great light near the top for all the stems. My only real concern is getting enough spread and intensity at the substrate to sustain a good foreground.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'd consider a single A150W over my tank, to be asking for a lot. It's a pretty hefty footprint and about the largest I'd want to push that light. It is a solid medium-light intensity, and definitely not high light in my configuration. Not bad though, for only 32 watts over a ~50 gallon tank. If you are looking for the big glorious red stem tanks with only a couple kessils, I'd skip this light. Many people have used kessils in planted tanks, so I'd probably poll the lighting forum to see what people have successfully grown as foregrounds, and their tank configurations (a single A150W over a 18" cube for example, I'd consider high light). If you like to look at this from a PAR perspective, here you go :-D
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=160396
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's been about 1 year since planting, so I thought I'd post an update :-D

Overall, the tank is doing as planned. It's not a highly manicured show tank, and does have algae with a recent bloom (that is now going away after upping the CO2 and water flow a bit). But all I have done with the tank in the past year, was remove 2 crypt runners that went to the front glass, and pulled most of the marsilea since it doesn't like the really low light (A single 32 watt kessil over 55g isn't much) and has gone to leggy clovers (when not turning into an algae magnet). I wanted a super low maintenance tank that I could practically ignore as far as work was concerned, and it's done exactly that.

In general, I haven't done ferts, except osmocote/potash capsules in the soil (once so far in the past year) and maybe CSM+B 2 times in the past 6 months. Top off with DI/DI and water change maybe once a month. Easy, easy tank. Once the algae clears, I might take another (and better photo). I'll probably pull all the marsilea then and just go pure crypt.

 

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Discussion Starter #18
Love it! How'd the soil do for the first month?
Thanks. The first month was a little rough. I rushed the mineralization and should have gone a bit longer. Extra water changes were necessary to get the ammonia/nitrate/organics down initially, but things stabilized perfectly fine. I'm liking the soil for non-stem tanks!
 

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Looking good. Do you have ottos for algae control or just using the CO2 to balance it out? Did you eve experience any of the dreaded crypt melt?
I notice a vase in the tank reflection, is that a nano/pico 'tank'? If so can you share some photos of that too ^^
 

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Discussion Starter #20
No ottos but they wouldnt do much for the filament type algae. THis is just a balance issue that is working itself out. A few shrimp would probably help though.

I had a tiny bit of crypt melt with the Balansae but it recovered just fine (though very slowly in this slow growing tank). All the other crypts are perfectly happy. Albida never really did anything, but I'm not surprised by that.

The reflection is actually a little emersed experiment :-D I planted that about 1 year ago too, and with the exception of one little water change at the beginning (standing water moat), it has been a sealed ecosystem. I don't open the glass top for anything now. I should probably make a post on that one some time :)
 
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