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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all, I've decided the time has come to reincarnate my long running 20g/75L tank. I first bought this tank in 2004 and it has been evolving ever since. But I've decided to take it down to zero and start with a clean slate.

Here's how things are looking right now:
[Photo 1 @ the bottom of this post]

Here's my vision for the rebuild:
[Photo 2,3,4 @ the bottom of this post]
I'm planning to cap the soil with the old flourite that is in the tank now, in the planted corner sections of the tank. In the central open area I'd like to use Pool filter sand (PFS) but I haven't found any in a reasonable volume yet. I have found a material to use to make some "retaining walls" to keep my substrates somewhat separate. It's plastic corrugated board, however I could only find a HUGE piece of it so I'll have enough to do my next 100 tanks (LOL):
[Photo 5 @ the bottom of this post]

I also went beach combing for some driftwood that I boiled for MANY hours:
[Photo 6 @ the bottom of this post]

I've spent some time trying to decide how I'll arrange the pieces but I still need to decide how I'll secure them together. I've thought about using silicone, I've also thought about using screws on the thicker pieces and wiring the thiner ones to those . . . I'd love to hear any suggestions!

I've settled on my plant list, although I still need to find sources for them. (I'm hoping they'll pop up for sale on the forums here but I guess we'll see.) Here's the list:

foreground (low & bushing in the drawing): crypt. parva
mid-ground: mixed crypts (mostly wendtii)
on rocks and driftwood: low- anubias nana and coffeefolia/ high- moss (variety will depend on availability) and microsorum pteropus trident (needle leaf java)
background: crypt. spiralis and/or balanese

I've got some of this in the tank already and I'll plan to use what I have and add the other varieties as I can track them down.

I'm still undecided about fauna. The last fish I had in the tank were an eclectic mix that lived for years, I hadn't added any inhabitants since 2009 and the last fish, an 11 year-old oto, died about a year ago.

I'd like to have a very limited number of species so that I can maximize group size. My first idea was to have CRS and flame tetras. But I loved my otos, and I adored the cories and botia sidmunki that I had in the past so a group of one of them is very tempting . . . BUT I've become such a big fan of keeping the bioload light that I think I really will stick with the original plan. Can you tell I'm pretty undecided??? Ha! I'll figure it out in time I suppose :)

Other specs:
I have an Eheim heater that I'll continue to use.

Currently the tank has 2 Aquaclear HOBs, on 50 and 1 20 (the smaller one was once on my old shrimp tank.) I plan to purchase a canister filter sometime down the line (the other half doesn't like the sound of running water - who doesn't like peaceful white noise I ask you?!?) But I digress

I have a 20lb CO2 tank and basic GLA regulator, with a few cheap ceramic diffusers that I rotate in and out.

I have 2 30" coralife T-5 fixtures, (only using one right now) with a mix of 6700K and 10,000K bulbs.

Did I leave anything out? Am I planning something silly? I'd love to hear you thoughts and suggestions, I've missed this online community!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Hi guys!
The mineralized soil process continues. I started because the weather had been warm and dry enough I thought it would stick around . . . so naturally it has been cold and rainy and we're getting 6-10" of snow this week! Mother Nature has a dark sense of humor!!

But it is progressing:
[Photo 1 @ the bottom of this post]

I also tracked down some pool filter sand for the open space in the center. This stuff was pretty hard to find - which I thought was kinda weird. There was also a HUGE variation in price. I got 50 lbs. from Ace hardware for $13 but I also found 50 lb. bags for over $50! That is nutty, IMO. Anyhow, here it is:
[Photo 2 @ the bottom of this post]

Once the soil is done mineralizing and I've sifted it all to remove all the random junk they include in bags of top soil I'll be ready to make some more strides . . . weather permitting - humpf! 😜
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Old Man Winter is Stupid!!!

My mineralized soil is not progressing:
[Photo 1 @ the bottom of this post]

You can see 2 corners of the tarp I have the soil on in the foreground and the rake is about where the other corner was . . . before it got encrusted in snow and ice.

I am disgusted!v:confused1:
 

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If your going with shrimp you may want to look into something like chili rasbora, dwarf spotted rasbora, panda loaches and or otto's. A lot of fish will eat the shrimplets if not the adult shrimp also. Looking forward to seeing this develop.

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
You know when a project snowballs . . .

Hi Planted Tankers,

Wuuf, did I bite off a lot of work on the tank yesterday! This could end-up being a LONG entry! I recommend grabbing a cuppa whatever you like best :wink2:

The first thing I got into unexpectedly was the mineralized soil. Our weather cleared up and the wind blew and my soil was ready to be sifted, twice. That's what I do at work so it felt quite familiar: scoop soil into screen, shake, repeat x 1,000,000. I have a high tolerance for tedium - haha!

Here's what that looked like:
[Photo 1 @ the bottom of this post]

Then my Mail Carrier found me playing in the dirt in the back yard, and gave me this:
[Photo 2 @ the bottom of this post]

A lovely package from Daud on of the swapn'shop. The plants were in great shape, great packaging, and few feebies thrown in too. I was pleased as pie.

After I was covered in soil dust I decided to surrender to dirty-job-mode and began tearing apart the tank - ugh!!!

I had planned to temporarily house the plants in a spare 6.5 gallon tank that I have lying around, it is long and low so I thought it would give me the most real estate. After I started pulling out the anubias I quickly realized that I was going to need a lot more room. They had been undisturbed so long that they were incredibly dense and their root mass was insane, most of them had roots that traveled to the far end of the tank under the gravel. I filled a ten gallon tank with them:
[Photo 3 @ the bottom of this post]
They are out of control!

I had suspected the anubias were steeling all the nutrients, because for a while my crypts have been on the decline, just looking very stunted. Mystery solved, they were being choked my the anubias root network.

I put all of them in the 6.5 gallon along with the new plants. I'm hoping a little grow-out time on their own will do them good.
[Photo 4 @ the bottom of this post]
It’s a little murky in there yet.

I also spent a while doing the delicate work of wrapping the new anchor moss and needle leaf java fern onto some driftwood. Again, I excel at tedious tasks :wink:
[Photo 5 @ the bottom of this post]

I also spent ages rinsing and sifting the old substrate. I put all the old black gravel in with the anubias- for now. All of the eco-complete went in for the crypts to root in. It was brutal, I saved $30? but was it worth it? Not too sure. But at least I don’t feel like I wasted all that perfectly good substrate, so there’s a little satisfaction.

It got late, I had XL raisins where my hands once were and I had had enough so this is what my tank area of the basement looks like right now :icon_eek:
[Photo 6 @ the bottom of this post]

I need to deep clean the tank, there is a little bit of green spot to banish and a lot of mineral deposits from our previous house that had very hard well water. Once that is done I can start installing my scape. But I’m tapped for this weekend! Thanks for reading, hope your tanks are treating you right!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
This tank was on hold until I could find a good block of time to power through the build.

I did it today!!

I have some time lapse videos to edit and then I'll do a proper update to the journal.

here's a teaser of the hardscape:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Alright I figured out how to upload video on youtube!

Here is the link to a time lapse of the tank's reconstruction:
https://youtu.be/WOdCRVpFICY

This is the first time I've made any video of this sort so unfortunately I failed to anticipate that a lot of it would end up shots of my rear end - lesson learned for next time.

The new Sunsun HW 302 canister filter will arrive tomorrow and I'll be able to remove the circulating fan.

The drop checker has already turned yellow (I dialed the CO2 down in response after work today.)

I have my old coralife T-5 fixture running for two 4 hour windows. There is one 6700K and one 10,000K bulb.

I've run into a snag in the tank already (naturally) overnight the water tinted tea color, the driftwood had been boiled a lot and has been in a grow out tank for the last month so I suspect my mineralized soil is the culprit. I did a 50% water change today and that helped a bit. After I get the filter up and running I'll throw in some carbon and see if it helps . . . I'm normally pretty happy to have tannins in the water but I want this tank to stay a bit more crisp looking so I'm annoyed, but I'll get it sorted out in the end :)

Here's an FTS after filling up and installing the equipment I have on hand:
[Photo 1 @ the bottom of this post]

thanks for reading!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Purigen should also help keep your water clear. Things are looking good, new scape is great!
The thing about the video angle made me chuckle.

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Indeed, if the charcoal is insufficient I'll spring for the Purigen ...


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dear journal,

The tanins and/or sediment from the mineralized soil has cleared up, but the water is still a tad cloudy. Ordered Purigen.

The Sunsun canister filter is a terrible disappointment. It is terribly loud, no matter what I do. Will do more research on trouble shooting loud impellers but I fear I will have to replace it. I also realized, somewhat sheepishly, that I ordered a much larger filter than I intended. I had two Sunsun's on my Amazon shopping list, one for this tank and one for a larger tank that I've been brainstorming, as a "someday tank" . . . I bought the big one so I have approximately three-times the flow rate that I need for this tank . . . #$*!

Guess I'll save it and buy a smaller one, but because it's so loud I'm not sure which brand to choose! Oh indecision, how you plague me!!!

I've seeded the filtration media with filter media from the old mature tank and I'll begin adding ammonia today to start the cycling process.

Plants are already showing some growth and pearling a bit.

I still need to acquire two more varieties of crypt that I have my heart set on: parva and balansae

I'll post some water chemistry after I've picked-up some ammonia.

Gotta run and plant some apple trees, I'll add a bit more soon!
 

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C. parva is awesome, but for me it actually got really really small.
As for filtration most people go for Eheims, I use a Fluval 206 on my tank and I like it (although I had a parts issue once). All I recommend is that you go for something that is slightly overrated for your tank.


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
C. parva is awesome, but for me it actually got really really small.
As for filtration most people go for Eheims, I use a Fluval 206 on my tank and I like it (although I had a parts issue once). All I recommend is that you go for something that is slightly overrated for your tank.


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Funny you should mention Eheim, I ordered a Classic 250 (formerly known as 2213) yesterday. I always tend toward excessive filtration but even packed with media the 264gph of this Sunsun is too much flow for my 20 gallon tank. Add to that all the failed troubleshooting of the noisiness and I broke down and spent the money on an Eheim. I'll be returning the Sunsun to Amazon. I think I just got a bad one, I've read so many reviews from people who have these Sunsuns and swear they have to lift the spray bar out of the water to be sure the filter is running - they're that silent. But I'm ready to be done fussing over the filtration-ugh!

I also had to order different lily pipes, since the tubing is a different size, c'est la vie :rolleyes:

I swapped in a larger ceramic diffuser to this tank, but I have an inline diffuser ordered and if I like it, I'll order a second one for this tank.

I held off starting ammonia for the cycle, thinking It would be a cleaner process to wait until I have the new filter. Maybe I'll be able to get fish by August! So many delays, but I should try to enjoy the process, right?!

I'll post some pictures before too long, the crypts are looking quite happy in their new home!
 

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You can get hose reducers so that you can use your lily pipes with your filter, eventhough the tubing of the filter and lilly pipe are different sizes, that's what I did.
The initial setup process if the most fun IMO! I miss the thrill of a new scape; nothing like the smell of cracking open a fresh bag of Aquasoil.


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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I forgot I haven't provided any fertilizer info!

Funny Story

I have a ton of dry ferts that I bought a while back ----- can't find them ANYWHERE!

So I've been using flourish, potassium and iron.

But I will be tearing apart my basement and finding where ever I stuffed those ferts in our last move, dog-gone-it!!

wish me luck :eek5:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
the filtration curse continues

Well The set-backs continue on this tank. I'm sorta pissed off. . .

The benefits of a brick and mortar store are that you get to see what you're buying before you hand over any money and you can interact with a real human. Amazon is great for a lot of things but in my attempts to get a filter for this tank I have had a really tough time.

The first one I ordered was the Sunsun HW302, while it is my fault it is overpowered for this tank, I would have kept it for the next one if this particular filter wasn't so loud (I suspect it is a lemon.) When I opened the package there was a little bit of dark mold on all 3 included filter floss, I thought it was weird but I just washed them thoroughly and setup the filter. In retrospect I think that the filter was returned by someone else before me and that is the reason the filter floss had been wet enough to grow mold.

So I ordered an Eheim, and counted upon the reputation of the manufacturer. Well that didn't work out either! The Eheim Classic 250 came today and there were 2 broken plastic pieces on the filter, one was part of the filter head, and the other was part of the media basket. The media was all disorganized and unpackaged so I suspect that this filter too had been previously returned by someone else and then added back into the regular stock to be sold again.

Both of these came from Amazon warehouses even though they were from different sellers. Since the common denominator is an Amazon warehouse, I'm inclined to believe that somewhere in their return process they aren't doing good quality control. And I'm pissed because even though the filter qualifies for Amazon Prime, the 2nd Eheim won't arrive until Tuesday.

It's a flippin good thing I haven't ordered any fish or shrimp for this tank yet or I'd be even more hot under the collar!

If only there were a brick and mortal LFS closer than 4 hours away, I'd be willing to pay the high markup right now, just to be able to have a properly working filter by tomorrow. humpf!! :mad:
 
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