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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok all, here is my first planted tank. This top post will be the most current pic. Comments welcomed!

January 2015, freshly trimmed! I like the little "upper canopy jungle" thing growing near the surface. Started out as some mosee that a few float away stems stuck too, now I keep encouraging it



February 2014



March, 2013

After latest trim (the long stems start to bend and shade everything on the substrate - cut them down and jam the tops in the ground every few weeks)



11/6/2012

Did you ever do a trimming and think "Ok, went to far, what the hell was I thinking?" :) I know it will grow back, but it just feels naked right now!

After trim:



Before trim:



Big cleaning & trim time - tank and canister!



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9-5-2012, moved some plants around, trimmed melted leaves, opened up the front a bit. Ended up looking great, but did a large WC (40%) and learned a very hard lesson about my well water - it is Co2 rich and oxygen deficient. Lost about half my fish stock and all the RCS due to Co2 poisoning. Very disappointing as I purposely went low tech to avoid ever having Co2 equipment fail and gas the tank.



The wall of Anubias :) See the leaves climbing up the tank on the left side of the pic above? They are actually several little anubias plants from Petsmart - the rhizomes are clipped into suction cup airline clips :) have been there for months, seem to like it ok and are growing fine

from the side:

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
So, here is the journey!:

The tank:

Petsmart special, 36 gallon bow with stand. My wife likes the way it looks, and I get to have a tank in the livingroom, win-win!

The other stuff:
Fluval 406 canister - on sale at Amazon, have to keep the flow reduced to about 2/3's but lots of room for media! Using everything they sent stock plus a bunch of plastic pot scrubbies and a Purigen packet. There is plenty on empty space if you only use the stock media - and I swear I could hear the ceramics clunking around in there (put them in bags and stuff a scrubbie in each compartment to hold them in place) Replaced the intake tube with black plastic to make as inconspicuous as possible against the black background. Haven't come up with anything for the outflow yet.

Jager 125 watt heater from Drs Foster & Smith - on sale and everyone seemed to think are reliable and built like a tank.

Finnex Fugeray 30 inch LED light - which I promptly hacked down to 28" so it can fit under the stock hood, details here

Sponge pre-filter to protect the shrimp I plan on keeping.


Eco-Complete for the substrate - seems safe for a beginner and it's black. Considered dirt with blasting sand cap, maybe another time.

No Co2, but dosing with Metricide about 2ml every 3 days (less than half the Excel dosage of 3.6ml every day or every other day)

some root tabs and very basic ferts (tetra FloraPride) at water change (so far)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Ok, so spend several weeks responding to every ROAK for plants, do some fill ins with package deals in the for sale room - wasn't picky about types, just wanted green :). As packages come in, jam them into substrate in bunches or hold down with rocks, ended up with this:



Looking nice and green! I did lose a large African Water fern and several java fern that were the very first residents, when it looked like this:



Here what it looked like when I took everything out to do my first attempt at a scape:


Found this wood on a scrap/garbage pile, seems to be ether dogwood or crepe myrtle - I have no idea but it is very hard and had no smell. Cut, trim, debark, mount, roast a bit (should have been much longer) soak for several weeks until no tannins!





Put it all in the tank (first plant - careful planning and 'it should go here', quickly degrades into 'there's another patch of substrate I can shove this into). The one thing that was thought out was the Anubias nana , coffeefolia, and narrow leaf Anubias super glued to the driftwood. Hope they do well, I really like Anubias and hope to have more examples someday.

The big gap in the back left actually has a bunch of short penny/money wort stems - I'm hoping they take off and fill in.

So did I improve it or make a mess?




 

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I have to ask about the tank placement. You have a nice little wall jutting out with a picture centered on the wall and then the tank is not only not centered on the wall it appears to even extend past on the left by a few inches. What the heck??

Just giving you a hard time. Your set-up looks nice. I'm totally redoing my 36 Bow in a few weeks...I hope it comes out half as nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
:) Hard times accepted, no problem!

It is off center on purpose, the pic below shows it in the room a little better. WIth it centered on the wall the right side with the TV looked too 'heavy' and the space on either side was wasted. With it off center it seems a little more balanced and that plant can sit to the right of the tank. Doesn't cover the window though, just an illusion from the angle!

 

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Hi Jbrady, nice tank! May I ask how long you have had it set up for? What are your thoughts on the Fugeray?

I would really like to try out LEDs, but I've been hoping Finnex comes out with the Fugeray II in 30", as I was not sure the Fugeray threw enough light for a tank of this depth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The Fugeray comes in 30", and the Ray II comes in 36".

So far so good with the Fugeray, chart says is give low to mid light at the substrate, don't have a PAR meter. The plants seem ok so far, time will tell as it has only been about a month.

the Ray 2 s supposed to be high light, Co2 a must.
 

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Ok all, here is my first planted tank. This top post will be the most current pic. Comments welcomed!

Latest pic, moved some plants around, trimmed melted leaves, opened up the front a bit. Ended up looking great, but did a large WC (40%) and learned a very hard lesson about my well water - it is Co2 rich and oxygen deficient. Lost about half my fish stock and all the RCS due to Co2 poisoning. Very disappointing as I purposely went low tech to avoid ever having Co2 equipment fail and gas the tank.


Your tank and your living room looks very nice and clean. What happened to the fish once you changed the water? Were they gasping for air? It seems a little strange that co2 in the well would kill your fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Your tank and your living room looks very nice and clean. What happened to the fish once you changed the water? Were they gasping for air? It seems a little strange that co2 in the well would kill your fish.
It was very strange, but the only thing that seemed to make sense (more discussion here http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=189554)

Put a cup of tap (well) water on the counter, after 12 hours the Ph had risen substantially.

Some fish were hanging at the top - and the ones that died were hanging motionless, like they were stunned, swimming/moving a bit before becoming still again.
 

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beautiful tank!

A nice young man at Aqua Vibrant - a retailer of Finnix LED lights - sent me a link to this picture of your tank so that I would be assured that the Fuge Ray could provide sufficient light to support plants needing low to moderate light. Your tank convinced me that I had ordered the right product! I was on the verge of thinking that I needed to order one of the Fuge IIs; he informed me that I should do so only if I wanted to grow plants that carpet the bottom (i.e., baby tears) and if I wanted to inject carbon dioxide as a way to prevent algae blooms. My answer to both was 'no'.

I'm writing as a new member to this forum hoping for some general advise. Here's the short story. I'm a 60 year old woman who was fanatic about fish and aquariums in her high school days. I grew plants, bred live bearers, and attribute any semblance of sanity I have to their presence in my life during those years. In college, I was a work-study student for a professor who did research on a particular species of african cichlid. We had rooms of home made spawning tanks, lines of breeding tanks - the whole 9 yards. It was great fun. A brief sojourn into aquarium keeping in the early 1990s didn't last long - married with children, career etc. Here I am at 60 getting re-educated to the 2012 aquarium world. There have been amazing changes. I've been at it for a few months. I wasn't sure that I wanted a planted tank but I'm sure I do now. In the old days everyone who had aquariums had plants and no-one would have known what the 'nitrogen cycle' was. I'm a college professor of biology so I most certainly know what it is but....I don't want to be concerned with it. There's more on an aesthetic and sense of 'another world' when your aquarium is a relatively balanced ecosystem.

My question is this: I've never used tanks other than the black rimmed kind (or ones my college professor and I made out of plywood); I'm trying to wrap my head around the rimmless, fused glass modern tanks. I know fashion must have its day but...is there really any value to the new tank types? And acrylic tanks? Are they inferior to glass?

My first tank, that's been up since Labor Day, is a 29 gallon glass one with the black rim and corners. I'm parting ways with my black plastic top because of the Fuge Ray lights that are on their way. I'll cut a piece of glass (that's what we always used as tank tops - with white first aid tape around the edges to prevent cuts). I'm even considering going 'open top', except for the lights, because the tetras I have (HY551 and cardinals) don't seem like the 'jump out the tank, adventuresome' type. Is this an OK idea?

I've been studious about pH and total dissolved solids (TDS). I got a continuous in-tank pH meter and a TDS meter from American Marine so I could collect data, with the intention of setting up tanks that are either soft/acidic, hard/alkaline, or general. My dream is to breed German Rams. I got a Barracuda RO/DI filter set up in the laundry room which is the only way that I could pull this off, given my well water, which is moderately hard. [Note that you can get RO water at local fish stores by the gallon very cheaply. They like to lure fish lovers into the stores!]

I'll stop writing now. The bottom line? I'm curious about all of the new tank types that are available. I'm thinking it's just fashion but there might be more to it than that. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I think you are off to a good start with no worries - way ahead of what I've done! I have very soft water, don't bother with TDS reading or anything like that. I do add Seachem Equalibrium to add minerals/calcium without any sodium and some basic fertilizers at water changes.

The whole rimless / super clarity - low iron glass tank thing is for style only. They are glass with silicone just like a regular tank, but thicker glass to avoid needing the plastic rim/bracing and (sometimes) crystal clear without the green tint. If you like it, go for it. If not, stay with regular tanks - the fish don't care and the work is what you already know :)

A planted tank will be even more forgiving for filtration - but basically over-filter the tank and do water changes when it makes sense. It sounds like your cycle/filter is already done since you have fish in there, but one of the new things is fishless cycling (that was new to me after being away 20 years) - takes about a month, you add ammonia (unscented, no soap) to start your benificial bacteria growing before adding any fish - no more 'new tank' losses or starting with hardy fish you don't want to keep. Full directions elsewhere on this site! Once your cycle is good you don't really have to do anything other than not screw it up and don't overload the tank :)


The fugeray should fit on a plastic rim too - and they can sit on a glass top as well! You can get a pre-made glass top for your tank these days - standard stuff and edges are polished so no tape needed :)
 

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Thanks so much for your reply. I didn't know it was thicker glass. on the rimless tanks. I couldn't wait to get my new fugeray light to allow me to put plants in my 29 gallon so...I bought a 5 gallon fluval spec that says its LED lights are sufficient for plants. I got a few starter plants and its quietly humming away behind me on my desk. So it begins......

Why do you say not to pay attention to total dissolved solid readings? Isn't that a measure of hardness to which fish are sensitive?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I should word that differently - I was saying that you are already starting off with more advanced monitoring than me as you are watching TDS. I don't watch mine as I have very soft well water and do bi-weekly water changes (weekly on the little 3 gallon) - and don't have any really sensitive fish. Your TDS readings will relate to the fish/shrimp you want to raise.

You can run your tank so many ways now - there are 2 extremes to the 'planted' part of a planted tank and you can pick anywhere in between:

- Low tech - lots of plants, low bio-load, lowish lights, No fertilizing, maybe occasional water changes, maybe potting soil capped with sand for a substrate, sometimes not even a filter, just let nature do all the work.

- High Tech - demanding plants, super high lighting, lots of filtration, injected compressed Co2 gas, lots of fertilization (even EI dosing), lots of water changes (because of the high fert levels), LOTS of test kits (all the usual plus every fertilizer level, TDS, and more), Lots of maintenance as the plants grow like mad and need constant trimming and attention.


Both are too extreme for me, so I went with:
- the biggest filter I could afford (a canister rated over 100 Gal on a 39)
- an inert substrate (eco-compete, like crushed lava rock or burnt clay - doesn't add any ferts or anything but can absorb them, never wears out)
- basic test strips (Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, hardness, that sort of thing). Don't have to use them that often anymore now that my cycle is finished.
- Lots of undemanding plants - makes the tank more stable and is 'jungle' look I wanted anyway :)
- small amounts of basic liquid ferts only at water changes. I don't have the time or patience to be testing for nutrient levels every day and adjusting with water changes. Also Seachem Equilibrium powder at water changes as my water is too soft (some plants didn't do well without those minerals)
- Low to Medium Fugeray LED light - cool running, low electric usage, bright enough to grow nice, dim enough to not need Co2 injection to battle algae.
- undemanding fish that will accept flake/pellet/wafer foods. Don't want to grow my own bugs or anythign like that
- Cherry shrimp - prolific & hardy enough to breed with fish in the tank (lots of rock and plant hiding places)
- Amano shrimp - for fun and they eat algae
- traditional plastic rimmed tank with full plastic hood - cheap, looks good (my wife approved :) ) and the full light hood keeps any glare from spilling out. The rimless/topless look is great when you are just looking at the tank, not so great if it is in the family room with the TV - the glare out of the corner of my eye would drive me nuts. (with the hood all the light that spills in the room goes through the water and is very soft. If the light were open air and raised there would be a harsh glare from the space between the light and tank)



Rimless tank - yes, they are quite a bit thicker, the plastic brace across the center of the tank does a lot more than I ever thought, if you take it off a standard tank there is a real possibility of the glass bowing in the middle, cracking/shattering and flooding the room - not good.

your 5 gallon spec stock LED should be ok with moss, java ferns, anubias (I love them), wisteris, etc - all the low light plants. The stock light doesn't have quite enough power for higher light stuff. Some people put a Fugeray on them too, but a 5 is so shallow there is a real risk of out of control algae unless it is raised a bit. Your 29 should do great with the Fugeray!


PS: Once your main tank is going good that spec would be a great shrimp tank :)
 
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