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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody, I've been keeping planted tanks for the past few years with decent success. Sadly I had to ditch my tanks when I relocated down to Florida after graduating in August. However, I have not been sitting on my hands all this time; I decided to try my hand at a dart frog vivarium. Here's a look:




Now that I've almost got that project to the point where I want it, I've decided to break back into planted aquaria. The viv really reminded me how much I love putting tanks together. Anyways, now that I've got my own place and a regular paycheck I want to do this aquarium right. Tanks I've had in the past looked okay, but they were essentially just boxes of plants with not much attention paid to planning or layout. Here are the three tanks I had in my college apartment:








The 55g became so overgrown that there was not much room for my angels. Poor guys:




So, now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing, I'd like to get started on a 40 gallon breeder. Add me to the growing list of dollar-per-gallon people. This tank will be in my bedroom so I'm looking for beauty in addition to functionality. Now, ordinarily I'm a huge fan of DIY and I like to think I'm pretty handy but IMO the vast majority of DIY projects don't look very good, no offense to anybody out there. So, where I would normally build my own stand and put together an LED setup, here I have opted for more aesthetic alternatives.


Here are the plans I have loosely hammered out thus far:
I don't plan to have a canopy, so I want to have a glass top and a nice, elegant lighting fixture. I'm a true believer in LEDs and I'm leaning heavily towards the Finnex Ray II.
My filtration will be primarily from a sump that I already have. Additional filtration may come from a canister filter that I also already have should it be necessary.
I'd like to use Eco-complete, at least as a cap. I don't know if I'll use a base yet.
I'm aiming for a medium-maintenance, medium light tank with some ferts, not quite as rigorous as EI, and no CO2.
Driftwood centerpiece, not yet acquired.
My tentative plan for livestock is for a good-sized school of congo tetras.


Now, onto what I've got done so far. I'm the proud owner of a tv-stand turned aquarium stand. This thing is awesome. Not only does it perfectly fit the 40B, but the center shelf area perfectly fits my sump, what are the odds? I think I'll close off the main-shelf with a little black curtain. Also, I've blacked out the back of the tank w/ contact paper left over from the viv.






I'm really excited for this project because I feel like I know what I want and I actually know what I'm doing for the most part.

Thanks for looking and I hope you follow along as this project comes together. I think it will start falling into place pretty quick!
 

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Welcome back to the hobby! I have the finnex ray 2, it's been a great light for me so far. I think that a black curtain would be perfect for the middle of the stand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quick update already:

Forgot I also have Miracle Gro Mix left over from the viv. So looks like I'm doing potting mix base with eco-complete cap. Might add pfs accent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Don't understand why Petco doesn't stock eco-complete in the stores. Ugh, I was hoping to get water in the tank this weekend.

Anyways, eco-complete is ordered. This weekend will be all about finding my wood. Hoping I can scavenge something from mother nature, I hate spending money on wood and rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What are you planning for plants? The 40B is a great size for working in, and can definitely have a lot of depth to the scape.
Yeah, it seems like a world of difference from my old tanks. 55 is just not good for planted tanks at all. I like the progress on your 40B by the way, it's looking really good. I especially like the variation in colors you've got.

As for plants, that's a good question. I'm not married to any one idea just yet. Definitely don't want an HC carpet, that just seems really played out. I do like the look of starougyne repens and maybe a small area of microswords. I'm quite fond of mosses but if I get a bitchin piece of wood I don't plan on covering it up.
 

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Welcome to Tampa! Also where are you thinking of looking around for driftwood? I live in New Tampa and drive down Morris Bridge Road all the time and see so many wood possibilities.

Forgot to mention you have some great looking tanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Welcome to Tampa! Also where are you thinking of looking around for driftwood? I live in New Tampa and drive down Morris Bridge Road all the time and see so many wood possibilities.

Forgot to mention you have some great looking tanks!
Now that's the million dollar question. Not sure. So you think Morris Bridge Road is worth looking into? Based on when my trip to Hillsborough River State Park in late summer, the area seemed pretty promising. I was thinking about poking around on the Peace River since I've been meaning to kayak down there anyway. It might be easier to find a waterlogged piece if I look near a river or swampy area. I feel like there would be so many good places around here but I don't know where to start.
 

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Now that's the million dollar question. Not sure. So you think Morris Bridge Road is worth looking into? Based on when my trip to Hillsborough River State Park in late summer, the area seemed pretty promising. I was thinking about poking around on the Peace River since I've been meaning to kayak down there anyway. It might be easier to find a waterlogged piece if I look near a river or swampy area. I feel like there would be so many good places around here but I don't know where to start.
Yeah if Morris Bridge isn't too far from you it is worth checking out. There is a little park where the Hillsborough river runs across Morris Bridge that might have something. Also USF outdoor recreation area on the Hillsborough river has a decent walking area and you might get lucky. I haven't been to either place in a while so I don't know what you will or won't find. I just drive down Morris Bridge Road and can see a lot of trees that are overturned in the marsh but don't know if you can access them from the road to get some wood if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So I found a few pieces of wood today. It was relatively slim pickings but I think I did alright considering. I was hoping for one large centerpiece but today there was nothing that big, unfortunately. I had a certain type of piece in mind but I guess I might just be SOL with the type of trees that grow here. Here's the park I was exploring:





Everything was either rotting or too stick-like. Here's what I got though. I lucked into one piece of cypress knee that wasn't really attached (the big piece). Overall the wood feels pretty good, with good density, but it will likely still float and I'll have to give 'em a good scrubbing. Here's the haul, worst case scenario I can make a scape of these smaller pieces :





Going kayaking tomorrow on the Weeki Wachee, fingers crossed I can find a nice piece, maybe even waterlogged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Putting off looking for more wood until next weekend but did get a jump on the plumbing. In the future I might look into drilling the tank but for now I'm gonna stick with the hang-on-back overflow box. The return was flexible tubing running through a UV sterilizer, which is not operational at the moment, so I decided to add hard-plumbing for the return.

 

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I really like the wood in the last picture it looks awesome. Where did you end up finding it? The plumbing is looking very nice and clean as well! Definitely looking forward to seeing more pictures of the progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I really like the wood in the last picture it looks awesome. Where did you end up finding it? The plumbing is looking very nice and clean as well! Definitely looking forward to seeing more pictures of the progress.
Hey man, thanks! The wood is from my hike at Flatwoods Wilderness Park out on Morris Bridge Road like you suggested. The place was pretty cool but it was mostly cypress knees. I couldn't find many pieces that were both free standing and not rotting.
 

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Hey man, thanks! The wood is from my hike at Flatwoods Wilderness Park out on Morris Bridge Road like you suggested. The place was pretty cool but it was mostly cypress knees. I couldn't find many pieces that were both free standing and not rotting.
Yeah it is a super nice area but that is a bummer you didn't have the best of luck. Hope you have better luck elsewhere!
 
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