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those blue and white pebbles look like peanut m&ms
i would take them out... and probably captain america too, but to each his own. personally, i'd remove the pipe ornaments as well, but they seem to work pretty well with the overall look.

the fuzzy tribble-ish thing behind the right pipe- is that a marimo? you might want to take that out, it looks pretty dead. it'll start messing up your water soon. and the marselia on the right corner will probably need co2 to convert to emersed form, if at all. there are some marselia sp which can never be submersed. also, you'll want to get some fertilization if that's just sand. if you've got dirt under it, then never mind.
 

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sand for me ended up compacting a bit so when i was running pure play sand, i had to get some medium grain sand to put over it to keep the aerobic and anaerobic zones going. and i agree, get some fertilizers for your sand substrate. i used osmocote plus which so far is ok. dont know its full potential yet.
 

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Looks like you have a pretty keen eye and/or good imagination.
I like the look you are going for on the two ends.

Seems a little center divided visually to me. Maybe putting that visual divide slightly more off center or on a bit of an enhanced angle would change the visual impact?

Some aquariums look good with a backing, I think while this set up is young it might be one of them. I have seen some stunning backdrops made from a few dollars worth of colored foil that could enhance the colors in the solid decorations and contrast the plants very well here.

Nice presentation for just starting out! Keep it up, you have plenty of potential.
 

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Remove the pebbles and captain america. Tie some moss to the pipes. Slope the substrate.
and i think you also need some kind of background.(painted black/dark blue or maybe slate or something)
 

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I'd take the anubias angustifolia you have between the pipes and tie it to something instead, it's roots aren't meant to be in substrate. And I'd move the two swords you have from up front to somewhere in the back. They can get quite huge in time. I second the background suggestion, maybe something dark coloured.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for the ideas and opinions. Please keep them flowing

Is the CO2 absolutely needed or can i go with out? I do have plans to add a fertilizer in under the sand. Initially i hadn't planned on a planted tank so therefore i didnt put any in.
 

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From noob to noob I can vouch for the use of Co2. Being the beginner that I am, I couldn't see myself paying for an expensive unit so instead I went the DIY way. Look up how to online. The way your plants will respond wont disappoint you. A little cheap "Leaf Zone" fertilization bought from my LFS, a DIY Co2 reactor, and some Eco-complete substrate has sent me well on my way to the addicting world of planted tanks.
Unique looking tank so far. You have a good start. You will be obsessed in no time.
 

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Thank you for the ideas and opinions. Please keep them flowing

Is the CO2 absolutely needed or can i go with out? I do have plans to add a fertilizer in under the sand. Initially i hadn't planned on a planted tank so therefore i didnt put any in.
No the co2 is not an essential, at least not for the sake of one particular plant species. If you have $200-$300 to invest in a pressurized co2 system, it is definitely worth it, but the light intensity will need to match, and you'll go through a ton of ferts. But you can grow just about any plant after that, it really depends on what you want to do. But I would either go low tech (no co2) or pressurized, i wouldn't bother with diy.
 

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Backing idea:

Strip layers fading through a color scheme bottom to top (not necessarily flat or square).
-matching sand/shade darker
-through browns
-to deep blue
-through lighter blues, matching on pipe?
-into purples or reds similar to on pipe

A little outside the box suggestion but it would not take much effort or expense. Crumpling the foil first gives a more textured effect. Plenty of opportunity to express creativity here while trying to resist sticking an arm in the tank too often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ok so I've been away from home for a week and some of my plants have flourished and some are dying so I'm looking into the CO2 systems and plant substrate now. I have removed Captain America and the green and blue pebbles and rearranged the plants. i will be adding a few pictures later on tonight as well. Also I have not decided on a background for the tank. :(

any recommendations on CO2 systems for a 55gal setup?
 

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Add some valls in the back. Also some water wisteria will do good. Water sprite too, can be great in background but its fast growing so prune weekly or more often. Java fern, some hairgrass, a few rocks and bury some peat in the sand to provide nourishment. That's what I did to my tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Im adding some vals tomorrow aswell as a few "plant mats", that have a grassy look to them, and some substrate/ferts. I have a few small wisteria now it was a large plant when I bought it so I pruned it into seperate, smaller plants. I had considered the rocky outcrop kind of look but couldnt find any thing that appealed to my senses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
i like it. What fish are you gonna go with to take advantage of the pipes?
1 angel
1 fire belly newt
1 pleco
1 iridescent shark
3 kuhli loaches
3 serpaes tetras
3 orange von rio tetra
4 long fin zebra danios
6 blood fin tetra
12 ghost shrimp
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
haha @captain america, and I think I would add cherry red rshrimp rather than the ghost shrimp.
I found some orange shrimp and blue shrimp just today but i cant seem to find anywhere in my area that carries more than ghost shrimp
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
1 angel
1 fire belly newt
1 pleco
1 iridescent shark
3 kuhli loaches
3 serpaes tetras
3 orange von rio tetra
4 long fin zebra danios
6 blood fin tetra
12 ghost shrimp
I just added a Borneo Sucker today i was shocked to have even found one but idk maybe my area just sucks for more goldfish and guppies :tongue:
 

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wouldnt the newt and the larger fsh prey on your shrimps :icon_eek:? and i just did some reading and the newt seem to prefer cooler water and a place to bask.
 
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