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Indignation's unbelievably frustrating start of a 20 gallon

2066 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  JennaH
*warning - long rant*
I bought a 20 gallon a year ago, and finally got around to setting it up in july. I had plenty of time to plan it out, so I decided i wanted something with a really striking hardscape. I went with a large piece of lace rock i picked up from a reputable LFS, and a large branch of manzanita.

I also wanted to try out emersed growing. I planted some HC and anubias back in july, and after a rocky start, finally got the HC growing like crazy and the Anubias well rooted to the rock.

Which led to today, flooding day! Several batches of plants have arrived, my light is finished, my new co2 reg and tank are here, my filter is set up. All systems go. As I'm filling the tank, the lace rock catches my eye... It looks different. It looks odd. I read a thread a week back on here about some lace rock being sedimentary, instead of igneous. And now, looking at this rock, I'm getting a sinking feeling. so I chip a small piece, and pull out the HCl. it doesn't just bubble a little, it fizzes profusely. It also dissolves completely. Why didn't I bother to check this during the 6 weeks I've had the tank dry? Apparently, I am a moron.

So I pull the rock out, trying to not disturb the substrate too much. Doesn't work, instant aqua-soil duststorm. I have the python running, so I switch to vacuum, pulling out the cloudy water to start aquascape over. But at this point, i'm a little annoyed at myself for the whole "giant chunk of aragonite" issue, so I don't pay attention when the water level drops below the lip of the python. Python burps water, blowing all 6 weeks of HC growth out of the soil. Again, moron.

So I pull the HC out, fill the tank, run the filter to clear the water a little. only i forget to attach the co2 line to the inline diffuser. which proceeds to leak a profuse amount of water onto my carpet.

At this point, I'm a little surprised my wife lets me dress myself, let alone enjoy(!) a hobby that involves large amounts of water and electricity.

So, 4 hours, 3 90% water changes and a wet/dry vacuum run later, all the HC is replanted, the new (rushed) scape is in, and everything is up and running.

Advice on the scape? I had very few options for rocks at hand, and one of them is structural. (the driftwood wasn't pre-soaked.) I have tons of stems coming in a day or two, and I'm looking for a plant for the gap between the two rocks, to fill the space.

Things that went well:
1. My light (2x24w custom made t5HO with ice cap reflectors) works great. It's amazing how much light it puts out. First time building one, so I'm proud. Pics to follow.
2. Filter. Eheim 2236, for $70 new, off ebay. this was a source of trepidation, but turns out it was a screaming deal, as it works great. Yay.
3. These tweezers. After planting the foreground of HC with them twice, I think I can highly recommend them.
4. the tank didn't shatter? I don't know, i'm grasping for a silver lining here.
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Sounds like a rough start!
Regarding the scape it looks like you broke the "rule of thirds rule" with centering the driftwood but I really think it works. I dont care for the rock holding it up as it looks very unnatural but the layout itself looks good to my untrained eyes. lol Anyway to use fishing line or screws to anchor the wood where you want it without the structural rock?
What type of stems will you be using?
I would love to see some pics of your light as well and the tank not shattering certainly qualifies for silver lining status!
Along the lines of fishing line or thread, zip ties also work well and wont fall apart. Another thing I have done several times in the past is use another piece of wood to hold up the main piece. Some strategically placed moss, anubias, crypts, or even stems will hide the support piece and no one will notice.
I have to admit I was laughing by the time I got to the end of your story. It still happens to me from time to time when I get a little too confident in my abilities and try to do too much at the same time. Water spills (both from overfilling the tank and not paying attention to the amount of water in my bucket during water changes), filters leak, inline devices aren't properly connected (or forget to put the clamps on).
Overall, it looks like a good start. The space in between the rocks could be filled with a large Crypt, Blyxa japonica, ferns, or maybe you could make a small bush using HM or something similar. The HM would require frequent trimmings to keep it bushy, but could have a nice effect.
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Nate - Thanks, and I know what you mean about the rock. i might try to camouflage it with a nice stand of Blyxa Japonica, but if that doesn't work I'll pull it out in a couple weeks once the driftwood is well-soaked. For stems, I have several types of Rotala (Colorata, sp. Green, Macandra sp. Green, sp. mini type 1, Wallichi), Limnophila (Aromatica and sp. Mini), and a few stems of Ranunculus Inundatus coming, along with some Hygo Bold and Elatine Triandra already in the tank. I'd also really like a couple stems of Ludwigia inclinata var. verticillata 'Cuba' or 'Pantanal', but they might be too big for this tank. I was thinking of placing them right in between the two pieces of driftwood.

Cah925 - I didn't want to pull out the original piece of wood, so that kind of ruled out zip ties. The two pieces are currently tied together with cotton thread, which i'm hoping won't dissolve before the wood becomes waterlogged. I thought about HM, but it's a pain to keep trimmed and looking nice IME. There are several crypts and a needle leaf java fern planted between the wood now, here's hoping they grow into something nice. Thanks for the input!

Some updated shots, including different angles -



So no new horrible mistakes today, thank God. This morning my wife came to her senses, and decided I needed a supervisor.
Meet my new safety adviser -

I'm not sure a 120 lb. dog with the coordination of a drunken rhino is the best fit, but honestly, he can't do any more damage than I already have. :icon_wink
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I've been giggling from post 1. What makes it so funny is that we have all done this very thing, if not something similar. Sometimes it's just dangerous to get out of bed in the morning. But - just look at the love and adoration in your pooches eyes! He knows how great you are and that it's gonna be great! :D
Strange question for a fish/plant forum... but...

Is that a Bernese? I've always wanted to get one, but have been deterred by their price and potential health problems.

So how is it having one? He/she is adorable!
Great setup story! I'm cracking up here at work!

I think you're off to a good start, just need a bunch more plants. Looking forward to updates.

Go easy on yourself. Your supervisor looks pretty laid back anyway.
Strange question for a fish/plant forum... but...

Is that a Bernese? I've always wanted to get one, but have been deterred by their price and potential health problems.

So how is it having one? He/she is adorable!
*Long-winded proud dog owner rant. Keep scrolling if you're looking for tank-related stuff.*
Yep, Bernese Mountain Dog, a.k.a. Berners. I've had dogs my entire life, and this guy(Tucker, male) is very quickly becoming my favorite... And I've had some great dogs. He has a really laid back personality, no aggression at all, and acts like a puppy still. He's great with kids, amazing on a leash, and very intelligent. (except when he eats socks. Still hasn't figured out those aren't digestable.) My wife and I have a baby on the way, and I couldn't imagine having a better dog around a child.
The cost is rough. But I look at some of the ADA setups on here, that last 3-4 years tops, and it all becomes relative. He's been fully screened for joint problems, but there is still a chance of him developing dysplasia, along with a host of other potential problems. That is the hardest part about big dogs, you usually only get 8-9 years on average with them. Considering how great they are, it can be really painful to let them go. but 8-9 years is still a very long time to spend with such an awesome dog.

My only word of warning - this guy sheds. I'd heard that, and thought "yeah, all dogs do." Oh, how naive I was. I'm pretty sure by this point I could have constructed a couple new dogs of equal size with all the accumulated hair. I have white carpet, so he has to be brushed 1-2x/week. He's(indirectly) killed 2 vacuums so far.

These guys are also built for snow. I live about as far north as you can and still be continental U.S., and he suffers through (comparitively mild) summer. Lots and lots of ice cubes are slain.

So, to sum up - great dogs. Great, great dogs, if you have the space and time for a big dog, get one! I've met lots of Berner owners at this point, and I've never heard anything different from what I described. You will never regret it.
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And Indignation said "Let there be stems," and there were stems.

And it was good. :)

Hopefully? what do you guys think?

I still have that dead space, so I'll be on the lookout for some blyxa.

And I spaced posting details on my light fixture. I posted a thread about it in the lighting forum. LINK!

If anyone is ever looking for stems, and texex on APC is selling, I'd highly recommend picking some up. He gave me a ridiculous amount of very healthy plants for a great price.
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I've been giggling from post 1. What makes it so funny is that we have all done this very thing, if not something similar. Sometimes it's just dangerous to get out of bed in the morning. But - just look at the love and adoration in your pooches eyes! He knows how great you are and that it's gonna be great! :D
I have to confess. I was holding a milkbone. :tongue:
Love the dog, (my last dog before moving out of the house was a great pyrenees). I like the tank. I love your story, my wife had to ask what I was laughing. I agree that something needs to hid the fact that the rock is holding up the wood.

I like Sandpoint. I grew up going to Coeur d'Alene for family vacations and have been up to Sandpoint a few times. Northern Idaho is beautiful.
I think I can see what you're going for. Why are all your stems so twisty? Did you just plant? Perhaps a little more midground..... :D
Tex Gal - The pics above were taken an hour after the plants came out of a bag and into the tank. Once they all root all hack them off low to get straight growth.

As for midground, I have a few stems of ranuculus innudatus, and I was thinking of blyxa japonica. but I'd kind of like something different. Could you recommend something that would work in here?
One of my favorite mid ground is Limno sp 'Guinea'. Here is a px.

If you think you might want some more red color to play off the red in the back you might consider Ludwigian sp 'Guinea'

Or maybe you might want some of both. Another might be Java 'Wendelov' That would be a nice look. So many choices..... :D
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i like the tank by the way
update?? the rocks and driftwood looks 100% better with the addition of all the stems, love it. and BTW I've been a veterinary nurse for 6 years and i have yet to meet an aggressive bernese mountain dog.. or swiss mountain dog for that matter(which you may want to look into if you prefer less hair). tucker is a handsome boy thats for sure
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