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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
1/4/2017: This tank has changed a lot in the time since I first set it up in 2011. I will try to edit this first post to reflect the equipment used in the current iteration & keep it relatively up to date as changes are made.
My 55 gallon tank is currently set up with a MGOPM/black flourite mix capped with Black Diamond blasting sand as the substrate.
Eheim 2217 canister filter
Coralife Aqualight T5HO dual lamp 54W x 2: running Giesemann Midday x 1 & Aquaflora x 1.
The hardscape uses the same two original pieces of driftwood.
The plants are a mixture of your typical lowlight plants plus a variety of stems and a bunch of random Cryptocoryne species.
The stocking is currently Red Cherry Shrimp. The goal is to have a RCS colony, a few Amano shrimp, a Nerite snail or two and a huge school of Ember Tetras.

So feel free to sift through all the history or skip ahead to like page 9-10 when I moved cross country and swapped the substrate out to the current set up.






Original post from 8-21-2012:
So I haven't wanted to make a journal for this aquarium until just recently. I set this tank up in April of 2011, it was my first planted tank. I have definitely learned a ton about keeping plants happy and healthy. I am by no means a pro at this yet, or probably any time soon. I truly love it though. Since I started this tank I have kept as many as 3 other planted tanks going along with this one. I have recently moved to a different house and condensed down to only this 55 and a 20 long, leaving a 10, 20, 20L, & a 45-60 cube packed into my storage shed.

I purchased this 55 gallon with stand off CL for $80 after an extended(8 year) break from the hobby. As I started to set up everything up I realized I wanted to do a planted tank. Just a partially planted tank, right.... I didn't want to have to buy fancy substrate or lights or different filters, or fertilizers or etc. Well, that slowly turned into wanting more plants, so everything was slowly upgraded...$$$....ugh. If only I had done it correctly right off the bat! Oh well, you live and learn!. ;)

So here is what I've got!

Basics: 55 Gallon Aquarium & stand-boring!
W/ Fluval E300 heater, 2 x Fluval U4 filters
Substrate: 60lbs of gravel, dark natural & black. 15lbs of Red Flourite
Lights: Coralife Aqualight T5HO dual lamp 54w x2 & Deep Blue SolarMax T5HO dual lamp 54w x2 w/ 8 LED moon lights (2 x 6700k & 2 x 10000k)

I will have to go through and make an accurate list of plants in this tank as I move forward with this journal. I have tried all sorts of plants out, grown some and traded them for others with the LFS, some I really like, some I've murdered plain and simple. lol.

I've currently got:
tons of Java Fern, couple different types at least.
Anubias- one big ole Coffee, nana, nana petite
Dwarf Sag.-suffered big time during a recent period of neglect followed by a move and replant. slowing coming back.
Cryptocoryne Balansae- more on the way!
Cryptocoryne Wendtii- Green, bronze/red, and just recently added Florida sunset! more red on the way!
Cryptocoryne willisii x 'lucens
Swords- one reg. amazon sword and just added a Radican Marble Queen
Aponogeton longiplumulosus- I used to have several, down to just two that are slowly coming back

I also got on the way some Cryptocoryne Becktii

The current list of fish in the tank are as follows:
Cardinal Tetra x 8-maybe
Neon Tetra x 6 maybe
Black Neon Tetra x 6
Zebra Danios x idk a few? used to be more.
1 Pleco that I do not recall, size small-stays that way too... I'll get a pic!
Amano shrimp x 6-9 probably
Red Cherry Shrimp X unknown, probably just a few
Ghost Shrimp x 1


I am planning on getting rid of the danios, black neon tetras and neons if I can catch the damn things! I am going to add more Cardinals!!

My current goal with my aquarium is to get a small group of German Blue Rams and hopefully end up with 2 pair of breeding GBR's! To do this comfortably I am trying to add more areas to hide, hence the large sword I added today and the tall plants- C. balansae also on the way.


The first picture is pretty old- featuring Mondo grass and all... LOL

The second was taken today with only half my light on. My plants suffered a lot from a recent move that was preceded by a couple months of neglect!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I know that many of my plants need nutrients BAD!! I just recently ordered dry ferts from a forum member! I can't wait for them to arrive! I used to use the entire Seachem line of liquids. that got expensive quick! Lately I've been dosing Excel and Flourish. I am trying to figure out a CO2 setup right now too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here are some shots of the tank prior to its slippery slope down hill these were in January.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Seeing that my plants are suffering severely from a lack of ferts, I have cut the light period way back and I am only running one set of lights! USPS Tracker says my fertilizers are in Columbia this morning, but didn't make the truck and will be delivered tomorrow! :)

Oooo! I totally forgot that I have a couple glass CO2 diffusers in with my ferts! sweet!

The nice little USPS tracker also says that I will have two packages of plants delivered today!! YAY! I am getting one package that has Crypt. Balansae x 5, C. Wendtii Red x 2 & C. Becketii x 6! The other is a RAOK I won of Trident Java Fern from Chase127!

The C. Balansae will all go in this tank as will the java fern, the rest will probably be split between this tank and the 20L.

Will update with pics of the new plants when they arrive!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Seeing that my plants are suffering severely from a lack of ferts, I have cut the light period way back and I am only running one set of lights! USPS Tracker says my fertilizers are in Columbia this morning, but didn't make the truck and will be delivered tomorrow! :)

Oooo! I totally forgot that I have a couple glass CO2 diffusers in with my ferts! sweet!

The nice little USPS tracker also says that I will have two packages of plants delivered today!! YAY! I am getting one package that has Crypt. Balansae x 5, C. Wendtii Red x 2 & C. Becketii x 6! The other is a RAOK I won of Trident Java Fern from Chase127!

The C. Balansae will all go in this tank as will the java fern, the rest will probably be split between this tank and the 20L.

Will update with pics of the new plants when they arrive!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So I have been heavily dosing ferts for a couple days now. Things are really starting to look better! I'm gonna do a large water change in a couple days and then begin my regular EI dosing schedule.

I received my glass CO2 diffusers in the mail today. I originally received drop checkers on accident. I contacted the seller, a tpt member, who was apologetic and immediately sent out the diffusers, top notch guy!

So I set up a DIY co2 using a 2L soda bottle, a 32oz gatorade bottle & some air tubing. I had this same set up on another tank with pretty good success. So I reused the tops that I had already drilled and sealed in the tubing with marine silicone. I've mixed up sugar water and yeast in the 2L bottle. The Gatorade bottle is pretty much just an overflow bottle, used for precautionary measures. The co2 then flows into the tank and through the diffuser.

By no means is this an ideal set up for a tank of this size, but it will probably work for now.

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1345949093.614597.jpg

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1345949149.406680.jpg
This was right after I hooked it all up, so no co2 flowing through yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1345952084.132981.jpg

Crypt wendtii florida sunset had really improved over the last couple days! It's only been in this tank for a week or two.

Wow, I need to clean out the melted crypts from the recent planting I did! Lots of melting! Today was the first day I didn't go through and remove leaves that are doing poorly. It shows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So I'm ready to get some rams! I'm trying to decide how many to get! I want two breeding pairs. Any suggestions on how many to order? I'm thinking maybe 3 females and 4 males?? Or am I better of with a larger number of females? Hmmmm......
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Rams have been a long time coming! My girlfriend originally wanted a planted tank of her own last September, so we bought a 15 gallon aquarium. While we were waiting on substrate to arrive, we decided we wanted GBR's. We took the 15 back and swapped it for a 20 high. After setting up the 20 things got sidetracked and I focused on getting 2x20L tanks and some of the piece and parts for shrimp keeping, neither of which ever got fully built. Life and jobs got in the way... Blah blah blah.... So in July we decided to move to a different house, it was at this point I broke down the 20H, which had only ever house a small Pleco, and started setting up my 55 & 20L to house the GBR's & hopefully offspring.

Got an email from Matt & Mark(Matt13) this morning! Fish are on their way & there are extras! Woohoo! I am serious so excited, my girlfriend said I'm like a kid in a candy store. Haha...

I will try to get some shots of the tank before the fish arrive. After all the melting, plants are really starting to grow!

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1347462942.763137.jpg
Here is the ram image from Matt's sale thread, so photo credit to Matt13!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The fish arrived safely yesterday after spending an extra day hanging out with the USPS-it's the government you can't expect them to do anything on time! ;) They look great, very healthy & already showing great color after less then a day in the tank. I got a note on my invoice that having been following my posts on here, they knew I was wanting two pairs, so rather then shipping one extra in case of death they sent two! So I have 4 males and 4 females! Which is super awesome! Thanks Matt!! If anyone is ever looking for Rams, I would highly suggest Matt13! I experienced excellent communication, packing was first class & most importantly the fish look fantastic! They are already swimming around their new home.
I will get some pictures at some point today. I spent all day yesterday racing sailboats and hanging out with my parents who are visiting!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The rams are still kinda shy. As soon as I hold my phone up (sorry for the crappy iPhone pics!) they flee. Haha here are a couple shots.
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1347835652.731087.jpg

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1347835707.636598.jpg

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1347835734.450926.jpg
Black neon photo bomb!

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1347835786.073359.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I fed the rams frozen brine shrimp today vs the standard flakes. Wow! The rams are looking great! Fantastic colors for such young fish! I will try to get some shots of them this evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
My rams seem to be enjoying their new habitat! When I fed them earlier today 7 of the 8 came right up to the top of the tank and started feeding right under my hands! I noticed the 8th fish, a little male was at the top but towards the back near a large Anubias, not far from the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Fellow ram enthusiast!! At what age do you typically see rams starting to pair off? Mine are about 3 months. They've been in the aquarium since Saturday, so four days.... I'm already seeing Pairs starting to develop & create territories within my tank. I know more experienced ram keepers know far more than I do! Please share your knowledge!
 
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