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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's up everyone. I've decided to make a tank journal on this forum after having enjoyed and greatly benefited from various other journals here. This thread will mostly be dedicated to my high tech 40 breeder, but I also have two low tech tanks that I plan on posting about here and there too.

First some background:

I have always had more animals/pets than most people growing up. I've owned chameleons, bearded dragons, red-eared sliders, hamsters, mice, rats, and hermit crabs to name a few. I also had the customary few goldfish from fairs that ended up surviving a few years despite all odds and a betta or two. I tried my hand at an actual fish tank once, but looking back I definitely did not cycle the tank and eventually killed them all and then decided that fish weren't worth the time because they just die. Sigh.

Fast forward 10 or so years and during the end of college and through a couple years after a buddy of mine got into fish tanks and then the planted tank side of the hobby, which got me interested. Around 2 ½ years ago I decided to start my very first fish tank as an adult:

Plant Green Rectangle Pet supply Organism


While learning all the basics with this tank, I got super into planted tanks and became obsessed with watching build videos and YouTube content about everything related to planted tanks. MTS did not tank long to infect another victim, and in a few months I set up my second tank -- a low tech 5 gallon Fluval Spec V in that I split into two 2.5 gallon betta tanks:

Water Plant Property Vertebrate Botany


Around 8 months later I upgraded this tank to a 7 gallon rimless aquarium, trying my hand at high tech for the first time:

Water Green Light Blue Purple


I made several hilarious mistakes on this first attempt at a high tech tank looking back now. Some of them were:
  • I went with ADA Amazonia not having any clue that I needed to be doing very frequent water changes in the beginning. I cycled the tank with some type of bacteria culture, so I do not think I did a single water change for 2 weeks at least.
  • I tried dwarf baby tears having never grown a carpeting plant before.
  • I had no idea what PAR even was, and I tried using a random non-brand LED that came with the tank.
  • I used a CO2 kit without a solenoid and would manually turn on the CO2 whenever I woke up and before I went to bed.
Needless to say this first attempt on at high tech completely failed. The baby tears melted multiple times, along with what I think was ludwigia sp. red. After 2 tries at growing the baby tears in this tank, I gave up and opted for monte carlo instead. I also learned about PAR and switched out the non-brand LED for an ONF Flat Nano. Here was the tank once I got things a bit more figured out:

Plant Water Plant community Green Pet supply


Around this time in June 2020 I decided to upgrade my first 20g to a high tech 40 breeder, the main star of this thread, and stop injecting CO2 into my 7g. At this point I understood the basics of PAR, the importance a solenoid, the fact that I needed a quality fertilizer, and I was generally a bit more comfortable with plants.

Here are some highlights of how that journey went from start until March/April 2021:

Wood Rectangle Gas Display case Art


Plant Vertebrate Pet supply Vegetation Output device



Plant Television Output device Computer monitor Cable television


Plant Rectangle Aquatic plant Pet supply Grass


Plant Plant community Green Rectangle Botany


Some of my main mistakes/shortcomings through this period were:
  • Using an in-tank diffuser for CO2 injection on a larger tank.
  • Using a sponge filter.
  • Going with 2 Fluval Plant 3.0 LEDs. While not a terrible choice, the color spectrum is not great and for the price of those two lights I could have gotten way better bang for my buck.
  • Still not having a good grasp on how to maintain and trim stem plants (topping, replanting, etc.).
  • Not being consistent with my fert dosing.
Right around this time in March 2021 I found someone on another forum who really knew what he was doing in terms of planted tanks. I reached out to him for guidance, and he recommended I read the journals on this forum to get a better understanding of what maintaining a high tech planted tank at a higher level really entails. After pouring through a couple of the journals on this site, I started to understand how to improve and went from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I replanted the majority of the tank and made various upgrades on my equipment. Here is how it started:

Water Plant Pet supply Organism Grass


And here is where it ended up:

Plant Plant community Water Green Pet supply


After I slacked for a few weeks everything was completely overgrown:

Plant Output device Television set Flat panel display Gadget


So I decided to switch things up and do some replanting again. This journal will be documenting where this current iteration of the tank goes. I consider it pretty much the 3rd major version of the tank.

Took out a significant amount of the plant mass:

Water Plant Rectangle Pet supply Wood


Then took out a bit more and moved things around and tidied up:

Plant Output device Pet supply Rectangle Water


And then added some more plants. Here is how the tank looks today:

Plant Plant community Leaf Organism Vegetation


Whew. Now that we have some background, here are my equipment and specs as they stand today:

Tank
-Aqueon 40g breeder - 36" x 18" x 18". Total volume is around 44.5gs.
Lighting
-Chihiros WRGB 2
Filtration
-Oase biomaster thermo 350
-Aquatop surface skimmer
CO2
-10lb CO2 Keg
-CO2 Art PRO-SE Series Dual Stage Regulator
-NilocG Rex Grigg style reactor
Substrate
-Fluval stratum
Ferts
-APT Complete

My plan for the tank right now is to have a bush of hydrocotyle japan and a red plant street in the mid ground. I planted the hydrocotyle japan yesterday, and today I added Rotala Macrandra Mini and Ludwigia Sp. Red. I'm going to see which of these two grows more to my liking and go from there. I also added 2 flamingo crypts in the front right corner which are transitioning from emersed growth. I plan on incorporating some downoi into the foreground too. The yellow plant in the back is limnophila hippuridoides and the green plant to its left is pogostemon stellatus octopus. I'm not sure if I like them anymore, so I may change them both too.

As promised, my 2 low tech tanks as well.

My angelfish community tank:

Plant Water Plant community Terrestrial plant Pet supply


And my ridiculously overgrown 7g betta tank, which I plan on redoing in the near future:

Plant Plant community Green Light Leaf


Looking forward to where things go from here, thanks for stopping by!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Post water change and trim yesterday:
Plant Plant community Flower Organism Purple


Also, one of my favorite critters in the tank posed this morning:
Plant Leaf Petal Flower Organism


Going to be dropping the KH in the tank from around 7 to 1-2 over the next week or two. Currently have a 20g tub aerating from which I’ll add 3kh water into the tank tomorrow. That should bring my tank to around 5kh. Trying to keep each change in KH under a 3kh swing, as I’ve read that can stress sensitive species.
 

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Tank looks great! I love the new plant selections. The reds really make it pop and I love all the plant groupings. Definitely looks more sleak and organized.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tank looks great! I love the new plant selections. The reds really make it pop and I love all the plant groupings. Definitely looks more sleak and organized.
Thank you! Lot of growing in left to do, and very open to suggestions to improve leaf contrasts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Here’s how the tank is looking after the major replanting this week:

Plant Plant community Botany Purple Organism


I ended up pulling out the Limnophila hippuridoides, Pogostemon Stellatus octopus, and Limnophila green wavy.

Pretty much all the plants came emersed, so they’ll have to convert over the next couple weeks. Here is a close up of the right side of the tank:

Plant Flower Purple Botany Vegetation


Added Cacomba Caroliniana in place of the Stellatus Octopus. I decided to go with the Ludwigia sp red over the macrandra mini for now. Behind it is Ludwigia inclinata var. verticallata white, and behind that is a street of bacopa salzmanni purple. I plan on taking out the cyprus helferi in the back right and moving the ammania pedicellata golden to its spot. It’s going to be a bit of a fruit stand when it all grows in in the best way lol.

Ammania pedicellata golden: Used to be called Nasea pedicellate, but was moved to the Ammania family.

Flower Plant Terrestrial plant Shrub Groundcover


Flamingo crypts:

Plant Leaf Botany Purple Houseplant


Eriocaulon cerineum: Supposed to be one of the more forgiving erios that doesn't necessarily need 0-2dKH water.

Leaf Purple Plant Wood Grass


Pogostemon Helferi/downoi and anubias nana white:

Plant Plant community Natural environment Branch Wood


I've managed to drop my KH from 7 to 3 this week. Will get it down to 1ish this week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
FTS after another week of progress:

Plant Plant community Vertebrate Organism Pet supply


I cut a good amount of the Anubias off of the front of the wood and took out the Java Fern. Replaced the Java with hygrophila pinnatifida, which is yet another new plant for me. I’ve read that it can grow like crazy with CO2, but it’s looked so beautiful and I got tired enough of the Java that I had to try it for myself.

I’m trying to let the new plants grow in as much as possible before trimming them for the first time. I think I see some new submersed shoots on the Ludwigia inclinata white and the bacopa salzmannii purple, but they really have just been sitting in the tank thus far. Hopefully will see more definitive progress over the next week or so.

The Ludwigia sp. red is growing in beautifully, I love its dark deep red color and how when it’s closed up the tops kind of look like roses.

Plant Plant community Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant


Snagged a pretty nice shot of my Red Back Amapa Angelfish:

Plant Plant community Organism Terrestrial plant Underwater


The emersed flamingo crypts have seemed to be a lot easier to transition then the tissue culture I tried to transition a couple months back. You can see
new leaves coming out:

Plant Terrestrial plant Leaf vegetable Groundcover Flower


Pretty surprised at the dark shade of the pink crypts under my light, but definitely not disappointed. Excited to see them fully grown in.

The Hydrocotyle has also filled in a lot and is starting to peak over the driftwood:
Plant Plant community Leaf Botany Purple
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Let the tank get pretty grown out before hacking it back yesterday:

Before:

Plant Plant community Flower Terrestrial plant Underwater


After:

Plant Plant community Water Natural landscape Aquatic plant


Also got a pic of my very reclusive L147 pleco:

Giraffe Water Giraffidae Organism Fawn


I'm not sure if the bacopa salzmannii is going to successfully transition from emersed, which is kind of weird. So far it's pretty much just melted back a bit, but I'm going to give it some more time. I haven't read that it is difficult to transition, but it could also be that it doesn't like the spot behind the inclinata white and doesn't like being crowded, at least not while transitioning.

I'm going to need to do a big trim on the pearl weed and the lobelia cardinalis mini soon, but it took a couple hours to really clean up the ludwigia sp. red, cacomba, and rotala blood red, so I wanted to wait on doing any more.

Ludwigia sp. red has quickly become one of my favorite plants so far. After replanting the best tops the color is absolutely incredible:

Plant Flower Plant community Terrestrial plant Vegetation
 

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I’d love to see pics of your equipment. Just picked up a NilocG Griggs reactor myself and there isn’t much out there showing them installed.
 
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