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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I have finally decided to throw myself into the thick of things and give this planted tank thing a shot. Although I am a broke graduate student, I decided having a beautiful planted aquarium would be my guilty pleasure. This of course being a much better use of my money than say, perhaps buying food or office supplies.

Anyway, I have been lugging around a 20 gallon hexagon aquarium with me since I worked at an aquarium store in highschool. This thing has been everything from a brackish tank to a goldfish tank to a breeding cichlid tank. This time, however, I decided to take a more challenging approach and choose planted. Although I have quite a bit of experience caring for fish, plants seem to be an entirely different entity.

I stumbled upon this forum in the hopes to find someone who has kept a planted hexagon aquarium. Alas, the ones I have found were much bigger than mine. The main reason for my searching was to find an answer to the surface space problem I am having. The light system I have fits a 15" bulb... a whopping 14W for my 20 gallon tank.

I could spend a fortune and buy a coralife 20"quad lamp, but 96W is a little excessive as is the $150 for the light. So I have settled on a 24" coralife 65W light and will just have to deal with the fact that I'll have 2 inches of bulb hanging over the side of my tank. It won't be pretty, but I can't expect picture perfect on the budget I've got going on.

On to dilemma number 2: I cannot for the life of me find a glass canopy for my 20 gallon hex. I am convinced they just don't make them. In a scrappy attempt to find a substitute, I took the glass from a larger picture frame and am using that as a stand for my light. Again, not the prettiest thing, but it is what it is.


So here is my current situation:
Things I have: plants in a good substrate (caribsea floramax), fish, good water quality, a piece of mopani driftwood

Things I am waiting on: my 65W light (being shipped as we speak), my DIY CO2 system (I've ordered CO2 tubing and a couple of parts to make it easier to construct.. but again, being shipped), a CO2 glass drop checker (thank you planted tank forum and ebay!), and for my mopani driftwood to stop leaking tannins.

Bringing me to dilemma number 3: my stupid driftwood won't stop leaking tannins. Ok, so I've been soaking it for about 5 days in my bathtub, draining and refilling the tub about 2-3x/day with scolding hot water. I don't have a pot big enough to hold it (its kind of branchy and awkward shaped), so I thought the tub was brilliant. So here is the thing about tubs and Mopani driftwood; Tubs are white and the tannins that leak out of the driftwood are a pukey brown color. Needless to say I now need to invest in some serious chemicals to fix my tub once my driftwood is good to go.

Although this is the start of my adventure, I have already had some major challenges, epiphanys and a few tears. Stay tuned as I am sure to encounter hurdles, mountains and monsters on my journey with a my planted hexagon aquarium.

So it begins...


oh, p.s., that is a fake red plant in the background. It and the ornaments my boyfriend insisted be in the tank will be MIA upon the next update. Muahahaha...
 

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i have the same tank, except mine has a mirror on the back three panels. i just put up a journal for it if you would like some reference. as for the lighting i use a lamp with one of those bending arms and a energy saver bulb :) for a cover i cut some plexiglass to fit it.
 

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no need to spend a fortune on lighting, like the above posted you would be surprised what you can do with a simple clip on light and a CFL spiral bulb... might not win a beauty contest, but it will be a start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Alas, if only I had discovered this forum sooner. I ordered my coralife 2 days ago for ~$50. I simply assumed it was the be-all end-all. Le sigh.
 

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Can't wait to see the tank with the ornaments and the red plant gone :) I'm sure you can trick your BF into getting rid of them :p

The tank will have a much more natural feel to it once those 2 things are gone. Then it's a waiting game for some of your plants to fill in. Maybe get some taller plants for the back sine your tank has a lot of vertical space.

Keep up the great work,
Mario
 

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I have settled on a 24" coralife 65W light and will just have to deal with the fact that I'll have 2 inches of bulb hanging over the side of my tank.

I cannot for the life of me find a glass canopy for my 20 gallon hex.

My driftwood won't stop leaking tannins

oh, p.s., that is a fake red plant in the background. It and the ornaments my boyfriend insisted be in the tank will be MIA upon the next update. Muahahaha...
Will the new light be the same length as the one you have in the first picture? I don't think that looks to bad. With that new light you are getting you should be able to grow a red plant to replace the fake. Buy a good light, a found out the hard way, is the most important thing to do. It is also cheaper than diy lights.

For the top you could go to hardware store like Ace and have a couple of pieces of glass cut, 2 or 3. The back with the light 1 piece. Then a section to be lifted up and perhaps another section. Then you can get the suction hangers to lift the glass.

For the problem with tannins I have found a bag of Purigen helpful. It is to be put inside filter. If you don't have that option perhaps putting it near the output or input of the filter would help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The light is going to be a bit longer, about 4 inches longer. It hasn't come in yet, but I'm getting pretty excited since I'll be able to grow pretty much whatever I want.

Is there any advantage to getting a plexiglass or a glass hood? I could probably get either cut at ACE hardware, just curious if one get corroded or diffuses the light more (in a bad way). Since I've got butter fingers, I would prefer to get the plexiglass; I'm anticipating a "whoopsie" moment.

The driftwood is still soaking in my tub and gradually leaking less and less tannins. I'm itching to put it in, so maybe I'll go out in search of Purigen and then I'll feel better about finally making the transition. I've heard that just putting an extra bag of carbon in your filter also helps? Any news on that?
 

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Is there any advantage to getting a plexiglass or a glass hood? Since I've got butter fingers, I would prefer to get the plexiglass; I'm anticipating a "whoopsie" moment.
Been told that plexiglass will eventually warp. You could buy a handle and the center hinge, parts that glass covers have. Can get them at Dr foster's aquatics. Looking here seems it would be cheaper to buy a glass top bigger than the top and take the parts off of it. What are the dimensions of the top of your tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
LxW is 14.5x 12.5 but each side of the hex is about 9.5". Might not be a bad idea getting one of those tops and just sawing off some corners
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quick update-

I have finally taken the plunge and put the driftwood in the tank after about a week of soaking in the tub. The tub picture above does not do the stain left behind justice. Lets just say I am amazed how well harsh chemicals worked on getting that nasty brown stain out.

Oddly enough, when I put the driftwood in the tank the plastic plants and the decorations somehow got misplaced... hehehe...

So, I'm awaiting my CO2 set up and my brand spankin fancy new lights to come in before I take a new pic to post. Without those (unsurprisingly) not a whole lot has changed in the growth of my plants.

On a completely separate note, I just replied to an add about a 28 gallon complete saltwater tank that a guy is trying to unload b/c he's moving. There is a chance I could get it for $150. Crazy. Not only does it have all the equipment for a reef tank, it has a ton of livestock included. Right now would be a perfect time to stop being a broke grad student and actually start getting a paycheck... Darn you real world!
 

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Congratz on the unfortunate misplacement of the plastic deco! I doubt I would ever buy a hex myself due to the height versus substrate area. And yet ...I wonder how cool it would be to have massively tall plants relative to the available planting area. Besides, that's a pretty tank. Have you considered placing it away from the wall, with tall stem plants in the very center surrounded by different carpeting?

P.S. I'd love to see an updated pic with the driftwood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Now there's an idea! wow, maybe I should just put it in the middle of the living room! Unfortunately, my filter is a whisper hang on the back of the tank filter which ultimately blocks the upper part of the back of the tank. Maybe in the future when I can afford a different filter for an unobstructed view. The best I can do for now is the corner it's in, which is about a 100 degree angle (I've got a pretty quirky apartment).

I'm considering putting some "Tiger" Vallisneria spiralis in the back since its so fast growing. And I love the tree look with the java moss or ricca on the piece of drift wood. Since my driftwood sticks straight up, I'm thinking of making it look like this bonsai:

 
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