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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to introduce myself, My name is Cory I lover in Raleigh, NC. I am new to the planted aquarium. I have 2 Dispaly tanks, a hospital tank, and a terrarium for my Pastel Ball Python. Now on to the planted tank...

I set this aquarium up about a month ago. I really wanted to get into more of a peaceful, natural look, because I have always had my 125 gallon CA/SA Cichlid aquarium.

Just to give you guys some idea about where I am at with my planted tank so far:

Size: 55 gallon

Inhabitants: 5 Angelfish, 2 Super Red Plecod, 3 Oto Catfish, and 6 Black Neon Tetras

Plants: 3 Anubias Barteri, 1 Anubias Nana, 3 Amazon Swords, Pellia, Java Moss, Lutea, Micro Swords, Water Sprite, Wisteria, Duckweed (Slowly trying to get rid of), and dwarf hairgrass.

Fertilizer: Seachem Flourish Comprehensive, Seachem Root Tabs for Swords and Lutea, and Seachem Equilibrium (I have very soft water, and need to stabilize the minerals in my tank)

Lighting: Dual 48" Shoplight, with 2 T8 6,500K bulbs, on 10 hours of the day.

Substrate: Pool Filter Sand

Background: Black Paint

Filter: Emperor 400, but will be changing to a Eheim 2215 here in the next few days.

Food: Feeding Tropical flakes and sinking algae waffers.

As you can tell, I am going the low tech route. I just want to see how everything looks to you guys. If you have any advice on anything, even aquascaping, please feel free to express them. I am open to all.

Here are some pics of when I first set it up and how it looks now.



 

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Hey, nice start there.
I reccomend changing your substrate to dirt with sand cap or a substrate with alot of nutrients like aquasoil.

Id get some more defining driftwood and rocks, that are big to make the tank look larger. Then you could attach anubias and moss to it, grow stem plant/vals behind it, and crypts in the foreground. Try to designate one side as the vocal point to give it some negative space.
Google aquascaping technigues and it will give you all sorts of great tips.
When your ready, i reccomend upgrading to co2 and a better source of fertilizing, so you can grow more plants and have more fun, thus a better experience.
Look into fish that will complement the plants and the black background, like denison barbs or a school of neon tetras.
Oh, and red plants always help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey, nice start there.
I reccomend changing your substrate to dirt with sand cap or a substrate with alot of nutrients like aquasoil.

Id get some more defining driftwood and rocks, that are big to make the tank look larger. Then you could attach anubias and moss to it, grow stem plant/vals behind it, and crypts in the foreground. Try to designate one side as the vocal point to give it some negative space.
Google aquascaping technigues and it will give you all sorts of great tips.
When your ready, i reccomend upgrading to co2 and a better source of fertilizing, so you can grow more plants and have more fun, thus a better experience.
Look into fish that will complement the plants and the black background, like denison barbs or a school of neon tetras.
Oh, and red plants always help!
I have thought about the C02 way, but I think I may want to just keept this as low tech as possible. I do like the idea of adding larger river rocks. The ones I have do looks a bit on the small side. I will also be adding another smaller piece of driftwood to go on the right side. I do really like denison barbs, but there are fairly expensive where I am at, $10 per fish. Also with the low tech method, I really just plant to grow anubias, and swords, while also have java moss scattered, and some other easier plants to compliment. Maybe down the line I might like to try out a high tech setup, but as for now (and being new to planted aquariums) I will stick with the low tech method. As far as red plant, would ludwigia work out?? I used to have one in my larger aquarium, but ended up getting rid of it to someone locally. Also negative space??? I was thinking that I should possibly move the larger driftwood closer to the middle a bit, not much, but just a little bit more. Currently all the anubias are attached to smaller rocks. The substrate was such a hassle to switch out the first time, I went from play sand to substrate. It kind of scares me to switch again, and I have moved things around so much, so none of the plants have had time to settle and acclimate to the aquarium and its environment....or does this matter?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Also, it seems like the dwarf hair grass is not doing so well. Does this need more light and/or C02 at all? If so, I am willing to get rid of it if need be. I do not want to have plants that are not right for my setup. I know the anubias, swords, lutea, and moss are just fine. Just not sure about the Micro Swords and the dwarf hairgrass.
 

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If you switched the substrate the anubias and crypts would probably be fine, especially since you would have better nutrients in the substrate, and the anubias should be tied to driftwood/rocks for best growth

The DHG (dwarf hair grass) probably needs more light/nutrients/co2
There are tons of diffrent anubias species ranging in size shape color and price.
You could make a whole aquascape out of them
Same goes for java ferns and moss, and crypts.
There are tons of bright colored fish besides denisons,
Harlequin rasboras, neon tetras, green tetras, ect.
Google aquascaping techniques and you'll get tons of stuff about negative space, the golden rule, ect.
I reccomend new substrate and better dosing for the best low-tech experience, sand with roottabs doesnt provide much
 

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Don't worry about switching out the substrate, grab some root tabs and you will be fine, all of my tanks utilize it and as you can see, I have no problems growing substrate feeding plants. The dwarf hair grass might not be getting enough light. You could try dwarf four leaf clover and get a good effect, it's a slow grower, but it might do ok with limited light
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Whats considered good light then? I though a 48in dual T8s with 6,500k bulbs would be fine, or am I wrong?

I do dose with ferts, flourish comprehensive and equilibrium. I also have the tabs for the lutea and swords. All the anybias are tied to rocks, none are planted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here is where I am at now...



Whats considered good light then? I though a 48in dual T8s with 6,500k bulbs would be fine, or am I wrong?

I do dose with ferts, flourish comprehensive and equilibrium. I also have the tabs for the lutea and swords. All the anubias are tied to rocks, none of them are planted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Its funny, the tank looks like it has tannins all throughout it, but in person it doesnt look like this at all. The shop does not have reflectors on it.
 

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I would put gravel or sand over potting soil, get some larger, more dramatic rocks, and add an array of crypts.

I think the mix of broad, bright green leaves associated with Anubius coupled with the (usually) narrow leaf shape of crypts is pretty interesting. You can also get a good mix of color with different crypts. I would also mess around with some java fern.

In a slower growing tank like this, you can really add a good number of plants at once and not overwhelm yourself.
 

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It looks nice to me except the heater, I would move it to a corner. I like the piece of driftwood in first photo. Also I would lose all the "pebbles" they will end up being algae/debris collectors and not much else. Also the large piece of driftwood might look better turned at more of an angle or even upright to be more stump like. Just a few thoughts mostly depends on what you like :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It looks nice to me except the heater, I would move it to a corner. I like the piece of driftwood in first photo. Also I would lose all the "pebbles" they will end up being algae/debris collectors and not much else. Also the large piece of driftwood might look better turned at more of an angle or even upright to be more stump like. Just a few thoughts mostly depends on what you like :)
The larger piece of wood will not stand like that. I have already tried it. As far as turning it, how do you mean? Which was are you think I should turn it. I will moving that heather this evening. And the peebles are in there to show where I have placed my root tabs, ha! You think I should still get rid of them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I would put gravel or sand over potting soil, get some larger, more dramatic rocks, and add an array of crypts.

I think the mix of broad, bright green leaves associated with Anubius coupled with the (usually) narrow leaf shape of crypts is pretty interesting. You can also get a good mix of color with different crypts. I would also mess around with some java fern.

In a slower growing tank like this, you can really add a good number of plants at once and not overwhelm yourself.
You know, I would say to add more, but the wisteria looks like its browning out, so I assume its eating up all the nutrients and not having enough, so I am kind of unsure if I should add anymore plants at the moment.

Although I do want to add a nice Java Fern in there.
 

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You know, I would say to add more, but the wisteria looks like its browning out, so I assume its eating up all the nutrients and not having enough, so I am kind of unsure if I should add anymore plants at the moment.

Although I do want to add a nice Java Fern in there.

Well, if your nutrients are lacking, the only thing you can do is add more. I went the Seachem route for two rounds and then bought dry ferts from a member here over six months ago. I paid the same money as I would for the Flourish line and I probably have enough fertilizer to last me another 18-24 months. In other words, there are WAY less costly options for fertilizing.

Even then, I think a low-tech dirt base tank makes a lot of sense. Your tank-load is so light right now that you could get it knocked out in an evening. Wkndrcr (sp) is kind of a guru for low-tech, low-stress, set it up and let it run systems.

Either way, good looking tank!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hmmm, I just have no idea where to get dry ferts. I know online, but I am honestly getting tired of waiting for things to be shipped. Do petco and petsmart, carry dry ferts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Even then, I think a low-tech dirt base tank makes a lot of sense. Your tank-load is so light right now that you could get it knocked out in an evening.
What do you mean by this?
 

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Back before they changed the classifieds, there were a couple of people who were selling dry ferts. I'd post a WTB (want to buy) in the appropriate section and someone will get with you. From personal experience, the folks on here who are selling stuff are quick to ship. As far as mixing goes, I use the $3 week-long pill containers and dry dose every morning. The pill containers are reusable and easy enough to keep up with. However, if you went with a dirt tank, you wouldn't need to use much fertilizer for the water column at all, I would suspect. I know that there are folks on here who don't provide any additional fertilizer beyond the dirt, so there you go.

Dirt tanks, or soil-based tanks are aquariums with a potting mix base and a gravel or sand cap over the soil. You need to be particular about the kind of soil (actually, it's not soil at all. It's potting mix), and most folks use Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix. There are a pile of threads about it. If you ran a search on "dirt tank", you'll come up with volumes of reading.

Basically, you're providing your rooted plants with pretty complete nutrition for a couple of dollars. The downside to dirt is a rescape is pretty difficult without creating a big mess, but there are folks who do it with good success.
 

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I haven't looked at my local fish store lately but the big pet stores will not carry dry fertilizers or even complete ones, only the basic potassium+micros liquid. For twice the price of getting it online I can buy stump remover [some kinds are potassium nitrate] at the plant nursery. You can go to the pharmacy and get Fleet's enema that is sodium phosphate, don't remember how much more that cost plus figuring out dosing wasn't fun plus it is high in sodium which is a minus. Hydroponic shops around here carry organic stuff, not the inorganic stuff we use. I buy online now and every time I have the stuff gets to me within the week and shipping costs are fine.

Dirting the tank would be great if you think you are ready to plant the tank and leave it alone. Otherwise use root tabs and water column fertilizers and you can rearrange things without worrying about destroying your substrate layering.

Do consider getting crypts. C. wendtii varieties are beautiful and hardy after the usual crypt melt down which can be quite alarming. The wisteria is probably browning because of diatoms growing on it. Otocinclus love the stuff as do snails. It is a usual new tank algae.

I like the pebbles, a nice hardscape addition. If they collect algae and such take them out and scrub or just take them out, no biggie. Each time I have rescaped in the past year [three times] I have doubled the amount of rocks, fish love them and so do I. Maybe you will find larger pebbles to add to the tank sometime, the rocks I have used have doubled in size as well! If you group them in a line or patch or pile rather than scatter them they would work together for more impact.

Try putting some bits of tape on the tank at 1/3 from each end and try to put the important points there rather than centered or stuck in the corners.

I screwed a bit of acrylic sheet to the bottom of my wood pieces to anchor them. Perhaps you could try that if you really want to change its angle.
 
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