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My projects journal: tanks, wabi kusa, house plants, diy

42178 Views 378 Replies 43 Participants Last post by  Italionstallion888
I originally had 3 different threads going. Now that all of the tanks are in the same room, I have had those threads merged. This thread is a timeline from my first introduction to the planted tank world, to current. I try and update on a weekly basis with photos and information about the tanks. As you will see, my main tank has gone through a pretty extensive change.

Currently this thread will track

55g-Mopani Mantle

The old 55g started leaking. I started fresh 5/16/14

55g as of 8/1/14






Starting over, making this a betta home now. 9/21/14




10-grow out



truaqua 8.7g




Please take a look, enjoy the photos and feel free to ask any questions. I believe in open source, sharing knowledge baby!

Below is the original start of the Mopani Mantle Thread.


Hello everyone, I made an into in the GD area down below. My name is Joe and I live in Olathe, KS, which is not to far from Kansas city.

I've had a 55 gallon tank for a pretty long time. At the start it was really just a ooooh looks cool type of tank (lots of plastic) My tank started to leak so I decided to take it down and start over. I picked up a solid glass tank on craigslist dirt cheap. So my rehab began.
This is what the tank originally looked like
Your basic run of the mill petsmart set up.

I was really really really really really tired of fighting hard water build up on the tank. I wasn't going to put up another tank and deal with it again. We have decently hard water here in Olathe. My first step was to pick up an R/O system. Amazon had a coralife system at a price I couldn't pass up. I put together a little frame to hang it on.

After some serious thought and debate with the wife over "our" new decor I decided it was cheaper to build what I want vs paying retail price. I searched out some local businesses and found some cheap, like .90/lbs cheap slate and rock.
so it went in first

1 inch of old gravel that just had to much bio to let go, 3 inches of eco complete and the rest is fine black and blue sand. I built all of the rock structures with some putty from petsmart. Not the best, but I'm happy with it for my first attempt.
Suspended the light bar from the ceiling, this light bar was on amazon for 137 and I think I got the last one, b/c they came off the site after I did my purchase. 3 plugs, 3 on/off switches 2 12k, 2 anatic and 4 moonlight leds.

Looked empty so I picked up some plants from liveaquaria (place is awesome btw)
And plants
(march 27th)

2 ruffle plants, 3 hyprophilas and 2 dwarf hairgrass (which have not taken off yet)
Here is a more recent picture, I built and added a rock cave to the left side of the tank and moved a few things around b/c the fish didn't seem to like how it was designed lol.

Here are my babies
6 convicts
9 penguin tetras
Albus the defender (albino pleco)
I got the convicts from a friend, they were super small and only about 4 weeks old when I got them. (march 27th)
I don't have pictures of them all yet, but here are my best shots

my alpha female


The current set up is as follows
Fluval 305
50w heaters
wonderful no name light "260w reef marine led light bar" with 2 65w CF coralife 6700k bulbs
whisper 40 air pump

I dose with Seachem flourish (5ml 2x a week)
flourish excel (3ml daily) and root tabs
Marcos get 2-3 x weekly.

Thanks for taking a look. It's not where I want it just yet, but since we are renting I'm not going to do much more until we buy a house at the end of the year. I've been fighting my Hygrophlia corymbosa, trying to get the correct ferts into the tank to get it growing again. Seems to be making a turn around now. I need to grab some newer pics, those are about 2 weeks old and my ruffle is almost to the top of the tank now.

Thoughts, opinions, suggestions, criticisms
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Gold ram "Xandar Ranch" 29g

I bought this set up from a friend of mine that's moving over seas.

Eheim Ecco cannister filter
Hagen CO2 system
dual T5 6700k bulb and a "pink"
4 inches of eco complete with white sand on top. I know the sand will eventually push down below eco complete. A sand/substrate mix is what we are going for.

picked up 5 tetra to get the tank going.

Here in about 1-2 months I will have a pair of German Blue Rams going in. I've got a buddy who has fry pretty regular. Good quality fish as my convicts came from him and they are doing great.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My male and female paired last night, and shortly after he started to hump the slate wall. So no I'm trying to decide what to do with my other potential 4 convicts. I'm waiting to see if my other male pairs up. That would be ideal so I would only have to remove 2 females. My wife is pretty attached to the female in the 3rd to last photo. I'm going to rescape a bit next week while I'm on vacation. I've got some more plants on order.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This tank was a bit of a mess. I rushed the process a bit and my results were less than par. I've spent the last few weeks doing a proper cycle and fixing a few issues.
My java fern came down with a bad case of bba. I pulled it from the tank for another project.
I built a sump for the hagen co2 out of a gatorade bottle. No more yeast in the tank.
Found a random heater in a box! That was a huge help.
Fully planted and what had melted has come back.

Now to decide on my fish stock.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
They are Mexican river rock. They really help with the BB in the tank. Several of the original rocks I put in have nice brown algea built up. Really makes the tank look more natural.
I picked them up from a local place called Merriam house of rocks. I bought a 5 gallon bucket for about 30.00 with Small to large so I can constantly change it up if need be.

Not many people like the blue sand, but I have not really seen any other planted tanks with blue sand. It really stands out when looking at it in person. I would love to change it to a black sand. Seeing how I have a flowering plant I really don't want to mess with my 3 inch sand bed honestly. Once the last of the convicts get pulled out. I'm going to add more microsword and get a bit of some carpet going along the backside of the tank. Changing up the fish in the next month. I'm going with Bolivian Rams instead of Convicts.

My next step is to move the Fluval 305 to the center of the stand so I can add another 10 gallon tank below. I'm going to frame around them to make a "faux" outter cover out of wood. That way I can remove it to work on stuff if need be. I've got the 10 gallon tank, brooder lamp and bulb. I just need a sponge filter, heater, and air pump, substrate. Basically everything else. It's a work in progress.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Its been awhile. I've done some major changes.

New stock

Redid the right side

The rams are amazing, I'm glad the convicts are gone. I have a nice peaceful community tank. I still have some additional plants to migrate in. Just waiting to trim my 29. I've switched to dry fert solutions, and looking into co2 set ups at the moment.
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