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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First I want to thanks everyone on TPT, and specially the mods and experts that hang out here. I would love to get some feedback on the tank I am putting together.

I have been lurking around here for a couple of months, and it's finally time to start the tank journal. This is my first planted tank, and the last aquarium I had was over 30 years ago. That one ended in disaster, poor maintenance practices led to algae blooms... there were no survivors.

Now my daughter of 7 needs an aquarium because "my best friends both have pet fish and I have no pets!" Truth is I have always loved aquariums and am probably more excited about it than she is. So I started reading up on various sites and ended up here where I fell for the idea of having actual plants rather than the fake stuff I had been envisioning. Daughter agreed that the fish would be happier with real plants rather than plastic or silk.

So then lots more reading, here and all over, and I have come up with a plan for a low tech (hopefully low maintenance) planted tank. I got a 36 Gallon Sea Clear acrylic bowfront tank seen here with the manzanita wood I got from Rafael on these boards (testing placement, please comment)...

My tap water has a ph of 7.6 and a dKH of 14 (fairly hard and I am not sure if that is a problem).

For lighting I just ordered a 30" Finnex FugeRay, the tank is exactly 30" wide so this will light all the way to the side edges. Based on the chart it should give me maximum PAR 60 at 18" which is where the substrate will be more or less. My understanding is that this would be considered medium light at that level. I do plan on having some floating plants so I figure that will cut the light down to a low-med level at the substrate.

No plans for co2 except maybe using Flourish Excel (I need to do more research on this aspect).

For the substrate I have:
40 lbs black Eco-Complete
20 lbs CaribSea Instant Aquarium Sunset Gold Gravel

I want to create a jungle and beach sort of layout. I am not planning on caping the Eco-C with the sand, rather I will create a sandy bottomed zone along the front and left. I'll use the river stones (in the bottom left of the photo) and some more that I collect near the left rear to create a raised planting area. I understand the Eco-C has high CEC but won't really add any nutrients itself so I decided to splurge on the Borneo Wild planted tank starter set:

1 Balance
2 Boost P
3 Bacter Crystal
4 Bacter Energy

I am hoping that this combination at startup will both help cycle my tank (fishless) and also put nutrients into the Eco-C so that I don't have to do much fertilizing over time.

For filtration I got a Fluval 306 canister, which is rated for a 70 gallon tank I think. I will replace the black carbon with Seachem Purigen.

For flora I am looking at (I hope to get most of these):
Marsilea Minuta (foreground)
Frogbit (floating)
Anubias barteri - nana (on driftwood)
Java Fern Microsorum pteropus (on driftwood)
Java or Christmas moss (on driftwood)
Money Wort (for background)
Ambulia Limnophila aquaticum (raised BG)
Vallisneria nana (midground)
Wavy Swordplant Aponogeton crispus (mid-background)
Crypt wendtii (mid-background)

For fauna the plan is:
6 guppies (2 male, 4 female).
8 Neon (or Emperor) tetras
1 Honey Gourami
6 Abino Corydoras (part of the reason for the sandy part of the tank).
10 Red Cherry Shrimp
Otto or SAE

I feel I am on a good path although there is more research to do. I do have some questions that I would be greatful to get advice on:

Any advice on where to acquire plants? I live in Los Angeles and would love to be able to go and pick them up, likewise fish since I don't think I want to buy at petco. Also I hope to get most from one source so that I can manage receiving and planting them all at once if possible.

Since I am using the Borneo Wild package should I dump the liquid that comes with the Eco-Complete and Instant Aquarium gravel? It supposedly has bacteria etc. but the BW does too; or should I take a 'more is merrier' approach and use it all?

Other than the Borneo Wild Booster, and what my fish will add, should I need to do additional fertilization?

Should I wait until after I cycle to start using the Seachem Purigen?

Is there a better media to use than the Bio Max foam in the bottom tray of the 306?

Thanks again to everyone!

· Registered
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Tank is up!

Ok, I finally got the tank planted and running...

The whole tank:

Anubias Gold and X-Mass Moss:

Staurogyne Repens:

More Anubias, moss, and Java ferns.

This picture is from a couple of days after planting, and it looks like the leaves on the anubias are getting dark spots, I don't know much about plants, but something is deficient (no fish in the tank yet).

Anybody got an idea of what might be missing?

· Registered
187 Posts
it looks good. i can't really answer the specific questions you asked because i'm relatively new to fishkeeping myself.
a few pieces of feedback:
-i don't think moneywort will get tall enough to be a background plant in that big of a tank because i have some in my 10gal right now and it is only like 6-8" high
-also, you may start out with 6 guppies, but they will multiply quickly :)
-if you choose to do and otto, go with a handful because they are schooling fish

good luck! it is looking good so far :)

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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! I've been terrible about updating this journal! Most of the first batch of plants I got died off. I still have a lot of frogbit, hornwort, and some moss. I added a couple of amazon swords that put off 10 baby plants (I started a tank at my office with them) and some nice crypts which died off some but have recovered. I also got some anarchis and rotala indica which are doing so-so.

For fish I have kept it simple. 6 corys, a bunch of red cherry shrimp, and some guppies. And you were right about how quick they breed! I had to setup a second 15 gallon tank to separate the males and females so I could control the breeding.

Here are a some pictures from about a month ago...


· Registered
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How is your tank doing? I have a new 36 bowfront and was looking at your setup for ideas. How is the fugeray working out?
The fugeray is great for my needs. It is med/low light due to the depth of the tank, and the floating frogbit knocks it down to low. I have a bit of dwarf hair grass that is surviving, but not really spreading down there and I think I am going to take out some of the frogbit to allow some more light to reach the bottom.

I stuck with low light plants, and I do dose macros, micros, and excel but only a few times a week. Also have some Seachem root-tabs and some osmocote caplets which I hate as the little yellow pellets end up all over the tank.

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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I posted here. My tank is going on 4 years old, and plants are growing great. I have a Giant Amazon Sword which is lacking for light right now do to massive growth in my Philippine Java Fern. I also have a nice Cryptocoryne Wendi Brown forest going on and some Narrow Leaf Java Fern with a propensity to forking leaves. There is a lonely bit of Staurogyne Repens that is really too starved for light to survive.

Some fresh pics...

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