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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all. Over 10 years ago I had a few successful low tech planted tanks - a 120g with potted plants, anubias and goldfish, a 70g Oceanic planted community and some Walstad style nano tanks. When I retired and started travelling south in the winter, I gave up the aquarium hobby and focused on outdoor ponds that I could leave on their own for a few months at a time.

Now, I am staying home year round and want to get back into planted tanks, and am interested in trying high tech. I will take my time and spread the build out over the coming cold and rainy months (PacNW winter).

I’ve started with a search for a beautiful tank and stand. I live on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, so my options for any purchases are limited (long, expensive ferry trips to the rest of the world plus high shipping, taxes, duty and exchange rates to Canada to consider). However, I consider myself very lucky to have found this Fluval Osaka 260 (68g) tank, with the original stand and light fixture - supposedly unused! It seems hard to believe since the Osaka line of tanks was discontinued by Fluval back in 2011, but the owner said he bought it as “old new stock” and never got around to setting it up. The tank and glass are pristine, in any case.

To match my 40’s house and 50’s decor, I decided to paint the brushed aluminum trim on the tank with hammered gold spray paint. Very pleased with the outcome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The original Osaka light fixture is a t5ho with 2 x 39w bulbs in a very nice reflecting hood. I’m also adding a Current Satellite Plus Pro that I had for lighting an indoor succulent garden. Since the tank is so deep, I think this combo will give me a ‘medium’ light range with an approximation of 52 par for the t5’s and 78 for the LED’s which will sit nearer to the front of the tank. I figure I can raise and lower the fixtures with chains and use timers to adjust the intensity when needed (the photo shows them as high as the rack will let them go).

I have a Seneye monitor on my koi pond which I will move to the Osaka when I fill it with water. I’ll purchase the light upgrade which may give me more realistic PAR readings.

Next step: shoring up the floor in the crawlspace and levelling the stand. Thank you for reading my journal. All opinions and advice are very welcome!

These numbers are from Rotala Butterfly:
 

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Super Cool Tank. All you need is some Fluval Stratum ( to match your brand ).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would like an aquascape that feels light as opposed to dark and leans towards tans and browns as opposed to greys and blacks. I put some frosted cling film on the back of the tank and found some tan/white rocks at a local landscaping stone yard, which cleared my safety tests. ADA Amazonia is on order - I like the dark brown colour.
I’ve been playing around with hardscape ideas in my dining room, on a piece of cardboard cut to the tank dimensions. I’m using black lava rock in mesh bags support rocks and fill in the deep areas (all that ‘sand’ is dust from the lava. I’ll give the bags a good rinse before placing in the tank).
 

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I like the rocks and wood
it'll look great


I remember drooling over this tank when Fluval introduced it, can't believe 9 years later it popped up again. happy that it is finally going to see some water!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Unfortunately, in my very small house, the only walls available for the tank run parallel to the joists underneath. Plus, in this old house the joists are only 2x6 construction! The position of the tank has it sitting on top of one joist near the front, so I added a second one under the back of the tank. The joists are held up in the crawlspace with nice, heavy beams, and the tank is sitting right on top of one on the right. I added two steel jackposts under each tank corner on the left. I think I’ve eliminated any possibility of sagging and the floor feels very stable when I jump on it.

While I was down in the crawlspace, I decided to run a stainless steel water hose attached to both my washing machine taps for warmed water and have it coming up through the floor behind the fish tank. Luckily, the bathroom is on the other side of my chosen wall and I was able to tap into the shower drain, right above the pea trap, and bring that pipe up behind the tank, as well. Water changes should be a breeze : )

1. Jack posts on one side of tank
2. Post and beam on the other
4. Hose and drain pipe behind tank (painted gold to match!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I’ve arranged the hardscape and bags of lava on top of a black eggcrate on the bottom. The spiderwood came with pieces of drilled slate screwed to the bottoms, but that didn’t work for my positioning, so I removed them and tied the wood down to the eggcrate. Hopefully it will stay put, otherwise I can use some spare rocks to weight it (again, hopefully).

My substrate doesn’t arrive for another 5 days, so I’m on hold for now. I ordered 6L of ADA Powersand Advance L to fill in the gaps around the lava bags and the spaces in the eggcrate, and 9L of Amazonia 2 for the rest.

I’m also waiting for a CO2Art dual stage regulator and their inline diffuser, and am hoping to source a CO2 canister and place to fill locally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I’m in the process of planning my plantscape and am thinking about a very bright, light green and delicate overall look to the back and much of the midground plants, with small accents of deeply coloured, purple or black-ish plants.
I’ve been searching all the online Canadian plant options and found only one that has what I am envisioning for these contrast plants.
Two are bucephalandra, so I went ahead and ordered as so many places seem to be sold out of much of their stock - I didn’t want to miss these. I figure they can easily be stored in a tank or bucket with heat and light until needed.

I think I will also grow a carpet in the low areas in the front of the tank, probably Monte Carlo, using the dry start method.

I would welcome any ideas for rooted plants that fit the dark black/purple criteria.

Here’s what I have coming:
Bucephalandra Catherinae Red
Bucephalandra Kemanai Black
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My order of ADA substrate came earlier than expected!
I used the Powersand as planned and it covered the bottom and filled some gaps. Then I started putting the Amazonia soil down. Amazing how fast your rocks sort of dwindle ... I added a few more rocks and rearranged some others. I over ordered the soil a bit (4 bags and I only used 2!) so I felt that I could be generous with it. I might build the back up even more after I sit and look at it for a while, and while I figure out the best place to order my foreground carpet.

1) Power Sand
2) Amazonia plus extra rocks
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
All my Co2 equipment has arrived! I went with a Co2 Art Pro-elite series co2 dual stage regulator which includes a bubble counter and solenoid, plus their inline diffuser. The tank is a refurbished 10lb. ex-fire extinguisher in steel. It’s very heavy!>
I am going to use an Oase Biomaster Thermo 350 canister, with a Koralia 400gph powerhead for extra flow in the tank.

The drawback to the Fluval Osaka original stand, beautiful as it is, is that there are open shelves in the middle with only 2 smaller cabinets on either side. The filter and the Co2 tank basically fill the interior space ... oh well, I’ll manage : )

Plants are on order for delivery next week.
 

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Looking great; that's a spectacular layout. No suggestions of super dark plants since the few I've had brightened up in most cases, but I've got a dark strain of C. wendtii "brown" that might be worth looking into. My only advice for Buce is... be patient. The large leafed ones grow pretty quickly of the ones I own (for epiphytes), but the smaller leafed cultivars are like dripping honey. My favorite 2 specimens bought nearly a decade ago are just inches in diameter larger than they were, even in my high tech tanks. One small-leaved type could have its' growth measured best in millimeters. I *think* I bought it as "Buce mini, brownie blue, coin leaf" the first time and my re-order from the same place of the same name was a completely, entirely different -and green Buce. It's doing great though. But tie those bits of Buce you pay more than gold per ounce for exactly where you want them as if they were to stay that size as aquascaping goes. And hey, if they prove my experience wrong, that's a great thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Thanks! Here is my complete plant list (items already ordered):

A) Myriophyllum mattogrossense
B) Pogostemon octopus
C) Echinodorus vesuvius
E) Ambulia (Limnophila sessiliflora)
F) Proserpinaca palustris (Mermaid Weed)
G) Cryptocoryne wendtii "Mi oya"
H) Hygrophila pinnatifida
J) Ranunculus inundatus
K) Rotala robustus 'Mini' (Ammania bonsai)
L) Cryptocoryne crispatula var. Tonkinensis
M) Bucephalandra Catherinae Red
N) Bucephalandra Achilles Black Dark
O) Cryptocoryne lutea ‘hobbit’
P) Eriocaulon Hainan Island
Q) Micranthemum ‘Monte Carlo’
R) Utricularia graminifolia

They are all tissue culture cups except for the bucephalandra, Echinodorus vesuvias, and Pogostemon octopus (potted). I may have over bought, lol!
I’m going to try dry starting all the tissue cultures, and store the potted plants and buce in a spare tank until I flood the Osaka.

Here is a tentative layout:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I ordered mostly TC plants from two different online retailers, plus 2 potted and a few bucephalandra grown submerged. The majority of the TC plants got stuck in the mail for 8 days and arrived a bit sad looking. They were all sunken in and the gel was liquified and brown. I thought for sure they were pretty much melted from the cold, but when I floated them to clean them up and remove the gel remnants, they were all green and fairly healthy looking!

I went ahead and finished the DSM planting and have the submerged plants sitting in containers in the tank.

I am cautiously optimistic : )
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, that last batch of plants turned moldy after one day so the company agreed to re-ship the order using a more reliable 2 day service. These plants looked great when they arrived.

Got them planted that same day. In the meantime I am seeing new growth from the few plants that survived the first round, and the submerged pots and buce that are in containers are doing well, also.

I am starting to fear that I have too many varieties that look very similar for my tall background plants - the Ambulia, the Mermaid Weed and the Myriophyllum.
Oh well. I can always change if I don’t like the look. I guess that is all part of the fun : )

Just going to concentrate on getting these plants established. The wood has been getting spots of mold where it touches the soil, so I’ve been spraying those areas with hydrogen peroxide which seems to help. I’ve been misting once a day and have a 7hr photoperiod with my Current Satellite Plus Pro on 100% with an added 3 hr. blast in the middle of the day with the T5HO’s. Now we wait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
After a couple of weeks, I got impatient and decided to flood the tank. Many of the plants were rooting and my submerged stems and buces (in containers) were starting to suffer a bit. The driftwood was growing white mold where it contacted the soil, which I was treating with a hydrogen peroxide spray.
The only problem I encountered when filling was that a lot of the Monte Carlo floated up out of the substate. I used little stones to hold the clumps down until it rooted better.

Two weeks later, it is looking good with some nice growth, no melting, and just a hint of algae on one rock. Photo period is the same as for the dsm (7hrs at 100% for the led’s and 3 hrs in the middle with the t5ho’s) and Co2 at 3bbls/sec.

Huge amount of slime mold on the driftwood. I scrape a little off with each water change, but small bits keep getting caught on the Monte Carlo which is hard to vacuum off without uprooting at this point. I’ll mostly just wait it out until it disappears on it’s own, I guess.

I’m kind of at a loss with the water parameters:
Tap:
pH - 7.2
kh -2dkh
gh - 0

Tank now (2 weeks after flooding)
pH - 6 or less (lightest colour on the chart)
kh - 0
gh - 3
ammonia - 3.0ppm
nitrite - 4ppm
nitrate - 50-100ppm (darkest colour on the chart)
phosphate - 2 to 5ppm

I have ADA Amazonia II. I add enough calcium chloride and magnesium sulphate in a 3:1 ratio to bring the gh up.

I know that ADA Aquasoil releases ammonia at first and also buffers kh to zero. Do you think my tank is cycling normally? Should I expect the ammonia and nitrite to disappear after a few weeks like a normal cycle? Should I try to raise the kh at some point?

Will my pH ever get higher without raising my kh? I feel like such a low pH severely limits my fish stocking choices - I wish for my water to be where my original tap water is, except for a little extra gh.

Also, I have not started dosing and ferts yet, but I thought I might start with some K and micros, EI method. Any comments regarding the timing of this step?

Thank you to all who are following my journal- advice, comments and opinions are very welcome!
 

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I think the tank looks great. I like the little "tree coves."

I'm very new to aquasoil, but from what I understand it will leach for a good month and a half, so I expect you've got some way to go on your cycle. How much water have you been changing? I've been doing fiftyish percent everyday to help the bacteria get established. I feel like we flooded around the same time. Also no idea on the buffering. I've got really soft water, so I'm waiting to see what happens there too. I hadn't even thought to test the hardness yet. The CO2 injection will lower the crap out of your ph, you can leave some water sitting for a day and test it then. I know it comes out of my tap at 7.8, settles to 7.2-7.4 then drops way down when the CO2 is flowing and comes back up at night. I feel like CO2 makes the ph a less reliable figure because of all the carbonic acid we're injecting in. My fish/shrimp don't seem to care tbh, but I'm certainly no expert at all (I also no livestock w/ the aquasoil yet, so take that for what its worth).

I think the driftwood fuzz is just "new tank" + new wood side effects. I feel like you've got a good approach, do what you can, but don't worry too much, time will sort it out.

I'm looking forward to seeing the back and trees fill in. I've got collectoritis, so having a variety in there sounds good to me. I think that'll look really nice. Are you going to attach anything to the driftwood?

I can see you've thought out a lot on this tank and planned really well and look forward to seeing more of it.
 

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Two or three small thoughts to add to what is a great looking tank start.
One is to remind that it is really easy for a CO2 tank to tip when all that equipment is hanging out so far, so it may be really important to keep some form of strap on the tank, just to be sure a small bump doesn't tip it over and the fall break some of the small connections. Not super dangerous as a tip and fall isn't likely to break anything on the high pressure side but breaking anything can be big setback if replacement parts are hard to find.
Another point on the PG/GH/KH might be handy to change if you have any limestone deposits near you. With PH that low, some limestone replacing a couple of the rocks might fit in well and it can move the parameters upward over the long haul. If you want a quick change, using small gravel might give you the quicker, while larger rocks have less surface exposed and move things slower.
How much change and how quickly will depend on the overall water in the tank.

Good thinking on the tank water and drain planning!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Thanks for your comments!

I was waterchanging 50% every day for the first week, now I’m doing every other day.

I guess just patience and testing are in order for the cycle.
It is moving along since I am showing nitrite ...

I would prefer to buffer Kh with baking soda as opposed to changing the scape with limestone rocks or gravel, I’m just not sure if I will be fighting against the aquasoil or not ... or how important it is at this point.

I have a few buce glued to the driftwood pieces at their bases and have a few more on order, but am going to leave the upper branches plant free.

The photo of the C02 tank has it sitting on the carpet outside of the cabinet. When it is inside, it seems very stable! It is a heavy 10 lb. steel tank, and I feel confident that it will not tip by accident. But thanks you for the warning, PlantedRich : )

Also, on the other side of the the limited cabinet space, I started up my Oase Biomaster filter. First thing my husband remarks when entering the room is “what are you going to do about the 60 cycle hum?”
Yes, well, the Oase is very quiet, but inside a wood cabinet it does resonate, and yes, even I was annoyed by the sub sonic hum. Answer - drilled another hole in the floor and moved the canister into the basement. Needless to say, the livingroom is dead quiet now!
 
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