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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello there folks. Its quite intimidating to post here... so many stunning tanks and such a wealth of knowledge on these forums. I've been lurking around for months reading and soaking up as much as my brain can handle. Trying to learn as much as possible about properly setting up and maintaining a planted tank. Still such a newb as I know lots of lessons only come from experience.

Now i've managed to get clearance :hihi: to set up a little higher tech tank in the bedroom. This is my first attempt in doing so it should be interesting at the very least. I'd been posting in a journal over at MFT for the 10g hex but figured it would be better to start a journal for the new tank here given the content.

So now that thats out of the way here we go... man I swear the color on the walls do not look this bad in person, stupid flash. :p

The new setup:

20 Gallon long and a stand to match our bedroom furniture. The humidifier will be going away for summertime soon.

inside:

Will house the XP1, Heater, and eventually CO2 system in here.

quarantine/breeder 2.5G:

Tank is using all of the remnants from the 10G hex kit. 8W 18K Aquaglo flourescent, Top fin 10 filter, All glass aquarium heater.

So for the 20G long i've ordered/got:
Rena XP1/ extra bio-stars
Current USA Satellite 1x65W + 50/50 dual daylight lamp
Hydor 201 200W heater
ADA aquasoil amazonia 12 liters
Coralife digital timer(s)

Anything I'm forgetting?

I still have to do more research on the CO2 setup and I'm going to wait to get a UV sterilizer when its closer to setup time. Possibilities on CO2 that I'm looking at range from doing a full blown system with PH controller etc to considering seeing if I can get away with using a small packaged "DIY" system like Red Sea's Turbo CO2 deal. I'm mainly just wanting to grow a nice carpet of HC or Glosso, a little moss, and maybe 2 other species to keep it simple.

I'll be dosing ferts using EI with the Seachem line of liquids until the stock I have runs out. Its going to be a month or so before any setup as I have a week long trip at the end of april. Since this is my first attempt at a high light planted tank I want to wait until I have everything ready to go before even starting so its going to be a very slow setup but obviously well documented to obsession.

cheers,
J
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
nightshop: Yikes really? From the extended info on adgshop..
Standard U.S. 20 gallon (high or long) 1- 2 liter bag Power sand , 1- 9 liter bag + 1- 3 liter bag aquasoil
From my understanding only a light dusting of power sand would be used normally anyway but the AS isn't exactly going to be the only substrate in the tank... hopefully its enough for the masterplan but another order is a click away. :) Arghh, I almost got 2 9l bags just to make sure I would have some extra. How much did you use in your 20?

James: Thanks man. I lucked up that I had been ribbing the wife a little about doing another tank then I did a job for someone one day (took a day off the normal job hehe) that would almost pay for the whole setup sans CO2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So I got around to doing a little bit this weekend...

Aquasoil came in and I you're right Nightshop if this were the only substrate it would totally not be enough. Hopefully I can still get by with my plan without ordering more. Won a used coralife 9w turbo-twist off ebay for half retail. Hopefully it will work ok... seller had a personal picture of the blue light on the top. Picked up a Zilla digital timer/power strip from petsmart (same as the coralife one just re-branded) that was on sale.

I managed to test fill the tank:


While the tanks were removed I went ahead and put down some Kitchen shelf liner for padding/slip protection, re-leveled again, and added a UPS


Im still getting a feel for where things will go when installed. Since these pictures were taken I moved the 2.5G to the cubes next to the tank because the confined space was generating too much heat. I moved both shelves to the left side so I have at least some hope of getting the filter/heater/UV in on one side.
While the tank was draining from the test fill I decided to get another small project started. Adding pre-filter sponges to the intakes for both tanks. I had purchased one a while back on another order so it only cost me a few bones.
And I still have some left over for user later. :)

Supplies:


And after some hacking:


I went ahead and unboxed the new light fixture too so here it is currently (before moving the nano):


I took a nice long walk through the woods behind my house and found the sticks that went into the 2.5G. I know its probably better not to do so but its only temporary.

Got a metric ton of Peacock moss from a member here in the swap n shop and tied tons to river stones for use in the 20 when the time comes. I've added the AS to the 2.5 and jump started the filtration with some donor bio-carts from my other tank. Hopefully the impending ammonia spike doesn't kill off all of the moss. :O

I'll try to get a pic of that sooner or later.
Still need several things before I can do any further tank setup...
choosing driftwood or rocks or both etc... then finding the right pieces is a whole other deal. I have an idea what I want to do scape wise (its going to be so newb) but until I have the hardscape in my hands I'm not pouring an ounce of substrate in.
Going to pick up a perfecto glass top this afternoon since four large breed dogs sleep in the room at night :O to prevent hairy tank syndrome.

For those who read this and provide any insight I thank you. I'm so totally new to the hobby that I know there tons of "gotcha"s. Of course when I finally do get around to getting the hardscape components I'm going to be asking for opinions.

If anyone cares to offer up advice, I'm strongly considering attempting to do this tank with no CO2. Is it possible to get good plant growth and little algae with just a good fert regime and lighting period?

Thanks,
James
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks man. I guess maybe thread replies will pick up once I start figuring out the hardscape.

I'm anxious to get everything going too but I think by having a plan and sorting everything out first I'll be saving myself work and potential for problems later. Its really hard to walk in every day and see the tank waiting to be set up.

I did a quick ammonia check on the 2.5G yesterday that's been set up since monday... it was ~4 ppm. Did a pretty big water change (70%) just to make sure the moss doesn't suffer any ill effects. My non-calibrated nitrate kit is reading 10 ppm so at least there are some bacteria present in the tank. Only some pond snails in there ATM anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
ghetto iwagumi

So on the way home yesterday I decided to stop off at a local landscaping yard to see what kind of rocks they had available. I found it pretty funny to ask someone who was accustomed to selling by the ton to sell me a few rocks for an aquarium. I think he may have gotten a giggle out of it also. They were sold to me as "pressure washed river stones" or "I have no idea man they are just rocks". Either way he only charged me a few bucks for as many as I could carry. As much as I'd like to order some nice shou stones etc. I just can't bring myself to spend $3.99 a pound +shipping on something
I can't personally pick out.
I tried to pick out stones with some character and of course I did this on a whim so I had no way to measure the rocks. I think the ones I picked out may be too large?
What good is a post without pictures right?

unwashed rocks:


Gave them a good twice over with a brush under running water:


After a few more beverages I decided to give a few attempts... I did not do any measurements for the 1.618234 rule :O but did have that in mind as well as trying to visualize a focal point. Keep in mind that I have no idea what I am doing here. Just looking for honest opinions, trust me feelings will not be hurt.
try #1:

#1 right:

#1 left:


try #2

#2 right:

#2 left:


#3


If an iwagumi style setup is decided on (still haven't decided on adding driftwood too) it will probably be some fast growing stems behind the main set of rocks on the left at least until the tank gets somewhat established. Planning HC or something similar for ground cover around the rocks with moss tied to smaller stones breaking up the division of soil/sand. Nothing original but I gotta start somewhere.

So opinions? Feedback? Please someone throw the newb a bone. :)
 

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I really like those rocks actually. All three of the setups look pretty good to me. To be honest, I like the way you have them on the towel in the second picture (not in the tank). I don't think you could go wrong with any of those layouts.

Good Luck!
 

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I like all of them, especially 1.
i think you may want white substrate, it looks good with those, but black may look good too!
 

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The small rock on the right side of the left group is out of place. I'd remove it entirely.

I think you should use glosso for this layout, because I think it will look good with the rounded stones, especially when it grows really thick.
 

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I agree #1 or #2 without the small rock on the right would look good if you are set on using these rocks. Like mrbelvedere stated, Glosso or Marsiela Minuta would look great with the stones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
movin' along

Alright got a chance to do a little this past few saturdays considering it was too cold outside to do anything else. :O And now I have some time as I sit at the dealership waiting on an oilchange.

I cleaned up the Turbo-twist really good and got everything installed in the cabinet. A razorblade did a good job cleaning whatever kind of saltwater buildup was present on the Quartz sleeve. XP1>UV>Hydor, I was really happy that I didn't have to buy more tubing.

After trying a few more layouts I decided that there was no way I could settle on anything until I had the substrate in the tank the way I wanted it. Put the rocks in the tank in the area that I generally wanted them to be and marked off the borders with poster board.

Semi-final placement:


Added dividers and started filling:


All of the AS in the tank I started fiddling with the rock placement again, the wife helped at the viewing angle from the bed and we found something that agreed with the both of us. At this point several of the rocks I was using to brace the posterboard had to be used in the hardscape so I filled tumblers with sand to replace them:


After that was all settled it was time to chuck in the sand. I used ghetto ADA bright sand a.k.a. pool filter sand from home depot:


And one final photo for this one. After removing the dividers / smoothing everything out and adding water. Wasn't too terrible of a job for a first timer, I guess I could have gotten the line a little cleaner but its nothing that can't be cleaned up a bit.


High point is on the right sloping down to the second section of soil, the slope then angles back up a bit to the back left corner. I tried to keep the back higher than the foreground at all points.
 

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I can't wait to see it planted -- that's a very nice stand and a great idea to build in a quarantine tank under the stand!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
fillup time

One of the things which I didn't give enough consideration to that just happened to work out. The placement of the filter intake and powerjet, I had totally already made up my mind about how I wanted the slopes to look and it was pure luck that they even fit in the tank properly.

So the plan now is to fill the tank and change 50% of the water every two days over the next several weeks. I primed the XP1 with a whole (I run 2 in the 10G hex) bio-cart from an aqua-clear 20. I'm hoping that the ammonia leeching from the new AS will be enough to feed the bacteria and partially at least cycle the tank for me. Once the ammonia levels are <1ppm before a water change I'll chunk a few white clouds in to keep everything going until the plantlife arrives.
I'm doing this for a few reasons. I didn't want newly purchased plants to melt on me and I'll be out of town for a week at the end of this month. Other than that I just ordered all of the stuff to set up my DIY CO2 and it will take a bit to get here. Mike at aquatic magic has good stuff but it takes a while. :)

Now for the filling stage... I had broken the 2.5G down earlier that morning and used my leftover rocks to make a little mini scape in that. I planted a few cutttlings in there from the Hex tank (ludwiga repens, palustris) and apparently did a horrible job re-filling it or I disturbed the AS too much. It had been several hours and the water in the tank was looking bad. I didn't want to make the same mistake with the 20.

First I placed a full size plate in the tank and used a towel to cover up the outlet of the water bottle to slow the flow. I filled the tank tediously slow until the water covered the AS totally. As I went along I used a tablespoon to knock down any floating chunks of soil. Needless to say it took a very long time, I have no idea how folks with larger tanks manage this.


After Filling the tank I added the moss rocks in just to see how my coverage was going to be... that and I wanted a barrier before I cranked up the XP1. I ended up turning the powerjet down about halfway, but I'm getting good waterflow around the tank. I removed the moss rocks back to the 2.5G when I was finished with the pics. I'm scared to leave them in there and run the lighting until CO2 and more plants are present. Don't want to START with an algae outbreak.

Some pics of the filled tank with filtration running:




Left:


Right:


Flat shot:


I was impressed by how just working very slowly with filling the tank how clear the initial setup looked. Granted it was fairly yellowish today when I did the first of the 50% water changes.

Thats it for now I believe... lots of water changes and testing for the next couple of weeks. Then DIY CO2 fun, then planting. I do have a fauna plan also but that comes after the tank is stable... :)

Cheers.

Edit: Just incase anyone is super observant there is a slight level issue with the right side of the tank being a bit low. I'll be fixing that issue during one of the water changes.
 

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I adsolutly love the tank XD

Yeah i can't wait to re-do my shrimp tank. I have something planned like that as well. But i plan a smaller path and have tons of rocks with moss. As the tank right now is Floating with moss and and has crypts everywhere. I ant to create more of a forest type shrimp tank I think it would look nice.
 
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