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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
While I'd like to think I'm beginning this project from the very roots upward, it is somewhat of a segue or reincarnation of my 15 gallon which I've decided to retire.

This project started unofficially when I picked up a Perfecto 45 gallon column from a Craig's List seller for 25$. The dimensions are very interesting at 25" width x 25" height x 18" depth. The tank sat around for a few months while I figured out what to do with it. I didn't have the cash to buy a stand or light for it, and I was still working on my vivarium.

Well I got a 75$ gift certificate to Drs. Foster Smith for Christmas, and instantly knew what to do with it. I bought a Coralife Aqualight 2x65 watt (6700k) fixture and paid the difference, which, with shipping was about 60$.

Next I found a black steel shelving unit on Craig's List for 60$. The idea was inspired by a thread on APC. The unit is 48x18x72, and I was skeptical about whether the shelves would be too long to handle the 400+ lbs. settled in the center. Afterward I found a similar unit at home depot in a 36" version for 65$ and kicked myself in the head. Oh well, the tank is filled and the bowing is negligable.

Price so far: 150$
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
To reinforce the tank structurally, I bought some 1" foam which I doubled up and cut to fit on the shelf. Next was a layer of 3/4" pine which I cut with the same angles so as to place the stress on the outer edge of the shelf and still fit inside the corner poles:



I took a few days to put a couple layers of paint (oil-based, flat black enamel) on the back of the tank, the tank trim, and the wood/foam base. While the paint was drying my aqualight arrived:





You can see I used steel cable to hang the aqualight on the shelving unit. The cables run from the sides of the light, upward and over the top shelf, and back down where they are tied to the sliding support arms. With this arrangement I can raise or lower the light by moving the arms on either side. They lock in to place with friction, but I'm not worried about the light falling into the tank because it only weighs about 7 pounds, and even if the arms fail and slide all the way to the top, the light will still be suspended about a half centimeter above the rim of the tank.



This serves two purposes: The first is so that I can work inside the tank (as it is I have to stand on a chair and lean in to the tank to reach the bottom). The second is to entertain (perhaps silly) thoughts I have about maybe having the tank open-top, and allowing room for the plants to grow out.

Between the paint, foam, wood and other miscellaneous supplies I needed, I spent about 50$ at the home deopt, bringing the total spent so far to 200$
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The hardscape consists of aboout 3 bags of Eco Complete and some igneous rocks. The Eco Complete I had strewn about in random places such as my 15 gallon tank and unfinished projects were sitting empty. I would have liked to get some more, but at this point my budget is starting to bottom out a little (DA*N-YOU student loans!!!). I collected the rocks while hiking in a favorite spot in Camden, Maine.







I also threw in a few sprigs of either L. brevipes or L. arcuata for good measure. (Bought them as "needle-leaf" Ludwigia).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here are some shots after the first planting. The only plants in there so far are Ludwigia sp. and H. micranthemoides. I also have some H. callicthroides coming this week from Milalic.









 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm shooting for a similar scape as with my 15 gallon. One thing I found didn't really work with the 15 gallon was the hairgrass. For one it was too tall for a tank that size, also I feel like it clashed with the texture of the H. micranthemoides. This is why I chose H. callicthroides as the new foreground plant. It perfectly complements the shape and texture of its larger cousin, rather than competing with it.

Also, the L. spec. always looked ratty and curly. I also wasn't able to get the stems to redden up at all. Hopefull a little more breathing room will help with that, but I'm considering replacing it altogether. One tank that really inspired the use of this plant is Oliver Knott's "The Dragon". The L. arcuatra in that tank is absolutely stunning.

Here's a ROUGH virtualization of what I'm going for:



I like the sweeping look of the H. micranthemoides in my old tank, and would like to preserve it in the look of the new tank... like shrubby arms that curl around the hardscape.



Enough for today. I'll up more photos when I get the H.C. planted.

-Nate
 

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What are you doing with the hairgrass?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Urkevitz: Thanks! I wish I could get a good macro shot of the rocks' texture... they look really cool up close.

Storm_Rider: Quite Level. The pine bows a little bit, but I did a pretty good job centering the tank so it stays pretty level.

Dufus: The hairgrass is sitting neglected in a 5.5 gallon for now. I will hopefully set it or a ten gallon up and use the hairgrass exsclusively.

Which brings me to my next question.

I'm entertaining thoughts of turning a ten or twenty gallon tank into a sump for maintenence reasons. Would it be possible to put an overflow in the main tank that drains into the sump, and use the XP1 as a return from the sump back to the display tank? The only problem I can see with this is that the XP1 relies on gravity to return water back up to the tank's water level. It's a closed system, so what comes down will come back up with the aid of the built in pump. However, if I open the system by separating the overflow from the return in the sump, will the siphon break, and the pump lack the necessary power to drive the water itself?
 

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hmm, i think it would work fine as long as the power didn't go out, but still it may work when it comes on again. just think of it as filtering the sump w/xp1 but put the return in the 45. it should work great, but co2 levels i hear are hard to maintain with a sump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Second Planting:
I recieved the H.C. from Milalic and it looked great... sofy and springy, giant mass of roots. I remember hearing some mumbling about H.C. being difficult to plant in eco complete, but we'll see one way or another. I also recieved some Limnofolia aromatica from an APC member. The portion you see in there is very generous and much more than I was expecting to receive for 6$/shipped. I also bought a used XP3 on ebay for 63$ + shipping.
For accounting's sake I also bought another ecocomplete bag to build up the central mound a little 23$. After a trip to Skipton Pets in Roxbury I brought home the ecocomplete, 6 more gertrudes (nine total) and three Rhinogobius sp. (probable wui). the fish cost all together were 36$. These gobies are enormously entertaining, and so far I highly recomend them. I'll try to get some photos of them soon.

Total cost so far: 290$












 

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Nice looking tank, I especially like the honey gourami's, they're one of my favorites.:icon_lol:
One question, what are the white dots on your rocks in your last post.


Robyn
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Nice looking tank, I especially like the honey gourami's, they're one of my favorites.:icon_lol:
One question, what are the white dots on your rocks in your last post.


Robyn
Thanks! Those are my girlfriend's fish, quite entertaining. Sometimes my a. australe tries to "woo" them in a not so subtle manner. The white dots I'm pretty sure are oxygen bubbles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking great, you really have a great touch for aquascaping. I see you have an ADA diffuser now. Show off!
Thanks! When are we going to see some photos of your tank though? You have pressurized now right? I had that ADA diffuser for a while in my 15 gallon tank. I'm having a hard time keeping my co2 levels stable with it though and I'm thinking about building a reactor to suppliment it.
 

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Yes, I have pressurized right now. I am going to take some pictures next weekend, maybe. I am very happy with the way my 16 gallon is looking but my give up on my 5.5 because of time issues. I am being slammed in nursing school right now. I don't even have the time to go down and argue with Jake at The Fish Place, but I did make him give me the employee discount on Amano's Nature Aquarium volume 1 in trade for some plants.

I'm glad to see your continuing your beautiful tanks in Cambridge and will really enjoy seeing your tank as it matures. The layout you have now has great bones and can only get better over time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
In a burst of random motivation I took some quick shots today. I didn't scrape the glass, and they're pretty average shots so I apologize ahead of time.

Full tank shot:



The Limnopholia aromatica is growing in quite well and is beginning to redden up a bit. I'm still not sure how I'm going to shape it to incorporate it into the scape. Right now I'm still just letting it establish itself, grow roots, branch off etc... without letting it shade the other plants too much. I imagine I'm going to have to let the H.m. grow in a lot before I'll get a feel for it.



Here's a sloppy shot, but it's my favorite focal point in the tank. You can see I'm also beginning to get some staghorn here and there. Ugh.



The H.c. is also beginning to take off and spread out. When I first got it I was having trouble stabilizing my co2/fert levels, and it was doing poorly. Now it's beginning to look quite nice, even in Eco Complete.





Other updates/errata:
I put another aqualight 65 watt fixture on the tank. This brings the total wattage up to 195 watts. I also replaced the center bulb (which burned out in slightly less than 1 month... da*n you Coralife) with an AGA 8000k bulb. This balances the colors quite nicely. My honey gouramis look so much more orange now.

I decided I'm going to build a Rex style reactor because the ADA pollen glass diffuser simply isn't cutting it. This way I'll be able to put the spray bar back on and lose the jet ouptut. If I hide the spray bar behind the L.a. I think I'll get much better circulation throughout the tank. I think there are a few dead spots right now that aren't getting much nutrient delivery.
 
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