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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My last tank was probably 15-20 years ago (I'm 30). Goldfish + under gravel filter. What a nightmare to clean - and those poor fish. Well I've been inspired by the world of aquascaping: Takashi Amano, IAPLC, ADA, Jeff Sensek, and definitely plantedtank.net. So I'm going all in. Here's my buy list, arriving next week.

  • AGA 75P tank
  • Maxspect R420R 27" 10K
  • Ultra G Series 65 Filter
  • Cal Aqua tubes: Influx X2 13mm, Efflux G2 13mm
  • Hydor ETH In-Line Heater
  • Aquatic Fundamentals 50/65 Gallon Stand
  • Aqua Ultraviolet Advantage Series Sterilizer 2000 Inline 8W
  • 20 Gallon Rubbermaid and Danner pump for bucketless water changes
  • And a bunch of miscellaneous stuff: garden mat, chemistry test kits, etc.

I'm going to start with at least one hardscape only, non-planted tank. I realize this is a planed tank forum but thought I'd share here anyway and get feedback on design and everything else.

As I wait for all the toys to arrive, I'm trying to figure out what kind of environment I want to create. I want to create something that is kind of a biotope (as you might have guessed by my username). But I don't want brown brackish water or decaying leaves. I want a non-strict biotope with a modern minimalist design. Basically, I want to choose animals that are at least loosely geographically correct and make it look cool. I'm wide open on species. Here's one idea for an Amazonian tank.

  • Angelfish x4, not sure what kind yet
  • Hatchetfish to give interest to the top
  • Amazon glass shrimp or cory catfish to occupy the bottom

More to follow. Thanks for reading.

Graham
 

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There are a TON of plants from south america that you could use. It doesn't have to be the standard "leaves and brown water" although I think that looks really nice for discus.

I can't find the research website now, but in general if you want to do south american or amazon in general from what I've read .. well, you know the saying "if you don't like the weather wait 5 minutes?" The amazon is like that. Don't like the biotope, go down 1 mile. Totally different in each bend. You could start collecting in general south american plants and just pick the ones that work for your setup. I did an asian tank although it kind of turned into "whatever the LFS had available" LOL. I don't have the money to buy a lot online. But you could keep your eye out. Swords are a plant from south america, you could always start there :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Don't like the biotope, go down 1 mile. Totally different in each bend.
Thanks Aurie. Point taken. Ive never been to the Amazon but I can imagine finding many different environments amongst those rivers. I'm going to stick with a non-planted hardscape this time around and probably try a planted tank next time. I'll either be tearing down my tanks constantly or adding new ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The spot where I want my tank to go just happens to be about 4 feet from a 1000 pound safe. I have a raised floor so I'm really asking for it if I place both so close together in this old house. So I'm adding a couple posts anchored in concrete before moving forward.



On a side note, I'm also raising some painted lady butterflies. A few of the caterpillars have just started to hang from the roof this morning as they prepare to enter the pupal phase.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks Duck. I'm just looking at my different sand options this time around. As mentioned, I'm planning to do one non planted hardscape and turn it over quickly, after maybe 2-4 months. I'm thinking a dark coarse sand or fine gravel for an Amazonian biotope-ish tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Things are looking good. Stand and lighting are up. I miscalculated the plumbing diameter on a few things so returning them and ordering replacements. I will be creating a black background for this tank because the yellow is not a good look. I don't want to attach it to the tank though so it will be something on the wall. Possibly just a black flag.



I also ordered the following pieces from manzanita-driftwood.com. They are all between 25" and 28" long so the chosen one will be dominant in this 30" long tank.











 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After careful consideration, I have decided to go with Cemex Lapis Lustre 20 Mesh Monterey Sand. It is very clean right out of the bag. No more than 5 minutes in the bucket and the water is clear. As I understand it, this sand won't affect my water chemistry but someone please correct me if I am wrong. Still waiting on my Manzanita branches to arrive.


 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I wanted to test the effect of the sand on the Kh of the water. I let the water sit overnight with the sand. KH was about 62ppm. I then did a baseline on my tap water and found KH of about 53ppm. One issue however is that the accuracy of this test kit is not great. 3 drops indicates 53.7ppm and 4 drops indicates 71.6ppm. For the water with the sand I took the average of 3 & 4 drops. For the baseline test, it was clearly 3 drops. I think I'll try it again later to see where things stand. It was also my first time ever doing a KH test so as I get more experience, I'll probably get more accurate readings. Do you stop when the water starts to turn a little yellow or does it need to be bright yellow?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wait, what? How does this work? Googling...
The 20 gallon can is on a wheeled dolly. Drop in a submersible pump with 6ft hose on the output and that water will be in the tank in about a minute. That's the plan anyway. I'll let you know it goes when I get to that point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
First off, if you're looking to pick up some Manzanita branches, definitely check out manzanita-driftwood.com. Very happy with what I got from him. And no, he did not ask me to write this.

Here are my options. Let me know what you think. I'm wondering if it's a mistake not to include rocks in this scape. What's a good type of rock for an Amazon tank? River rock?














































This one could work if I break off a couple small branches in the back.

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Sorry for the delay guys. Here's what's been happening.

I finally settled on a layout and started filling.




Here it is the next day. I took Tyrone's advice and raised a back section to frame the large rock within the wood. The rock on top of the wood is just to hold it down until it's waterlogged.




Water was treated with API Stress Coat + to remove chlorine and chloramine. Also treated with API Quick Start to help get the cycle going. I also wanted to get some fish in there to help get the cycle going. The goldfish at the LFS looked pretty sick so for a discount, I cleared out a tank of Africans: 8 Lemon Cichlids and 4 Red Zebras.

Drip acclimation:






Ready for my first water change and I didn't have a Python yet so I made a vacuum out of a hose and net handle.




Pump works great for my first bucket less water change. Well, buckets are involved but I'm not lifting them.






All is well. Wood is waterlogged and stone is moved to front.



All was not well however with regard to fish behavior. These cichlids are very aggressive and territorial, and there were 12 of them. A couple of the red zebras played tank bully. Even the largest lemon cichlid would bully the smaller ones. I also made the mistake of not giving them enough places to hide. I read this could cause problems but everyone seemed to be enjoying their home otherwise.

It may not look too bad in the photos but I was having a water cloudiness problem. Weekly 25% water changes would help after the next day but the cloudiness returned. I added an inline UV sterilizer and the water cleared up quickly.

A month or so later, I started having a problem with algae. It was growing on the rocks, wood, and glass. It looked kinda cool but as I got worse I grew tired of it. Here it is after cleaning algae away.




Keeping up with the progress of my biological filter with Aquarimate. Here's what my ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates look like:




As time went by, I would occasionally witness two bullies trying to bully each other, nether backing down. And then, tragedy struck.




I was heart broken. My first death, a red zebra. Everything with the water was good: temp, pH, biological filter. I figured they must have finally succumbed to the stress. We had a proper burial.





And the next day another red zebra was dead. And the following week another red zebra and a lemon were dead. And then the last red zebra. Just 7 lemon cichlids remaining.

And I was bored with the layout. I realized I didn't want to do a hard scape, I wanted to plant.

And so the final 7 went back to the store ceremoniously, in a jug.





And then I tore it all down and cleaned it all out and got ready for take 2. Thanks for reading
 
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