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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Greetings,

Well 1 year later and 5 tanks later, I've condensed 3 aquariums into one larger one (40g, 20g, and 10g), mostly so I can focus on one and have it be much bigger. :) Anyway, details...

Tank Size: 55 gallon

Dimensions: 48" x 13" x 18"

Lighting:
Sunlight - Southern Facing and controlled by the blinds behind the tank, PLENTY of sunlight, actually use it less as its hard to predict.
Variable, still playing with this as I don't know which I like better:

1 x 48" T12 Philips 40watt 6,500k &
1 x 24" T5 2x 14watt 10,000k and a 6,700k
1 x 24" T5 2x 14watt 10,000k and Colormax (to be replaced with 6,700k)

Or

1 x 48" T12 Philips 40watt 6,500k &
2 x 16.5" CF 36watt 10,000k

Heater: Visa-Therm 200w (excellent heaters, love all of mine)

Filters: JBJ Submariner 5w 132 GPH (UVF-5) (very thin media…)
AquaClear 40 170 GPH w/quickfilter

Soil: Scotts Premium Potting Soil (oops on this one, got it home realized even though it was 3 dollars it still had fertilizer pellets, can you see where this is going? Well I handpicked all the pellets out, was worth it to avoid algae and having to waste gas returning the darn thing! Plus this stuff was perfect, (peat, forest products compost, or compost) sphagnum peat, perlite, a wetting agent, and plant food (removed).

Soil Amendments: I forgot to put dolomite in!!! I was done planting and the tank was half full before I had this realization, oh well, more adding of CaCl3 (Calcium Chloride) & MgSO4-7H 2O (Magnesium Sulfate) in my future…

Sand: Natural Monterey Beach Sand ~2mm

Plants:

Stow away duckweed, haven't decided if I want to keep it yet...
2 x Blyxa aubertii - Bamboo Plant (my favorite) (one red one green ?)
Sagittaria subulata - Dwarf Sag
Echinodorus bleheri 'compacta' - Amazon Sword Compacta
Echinodorus x. 'Ozelot' - Ozelot Sword
Echinodorus 'rose' - Indian Red Sword
Echinodorus tennelus - Pygmy Chain Sword or Narrow Leaf Chain Sword
Egeria najas
Aponogeton crispus
Nymphoides aquatica - Banana Plant
Nymphaea zenkeri - Red Tiger Lotus
Bacopa caroliniana - Giant Bacopa?
Bacopa monnieri - Moneywort?
Hygrophila corymbosa v. 'siamensis Broadleaf' - Broad Leaf Giant Hygro (wait to see on this one… maybe just Giant Hygro?)

Potted (to control growth and allow me to catch fish if need be):
Echinodorus bleheri - Amazon Sword (beat up from the move, very fragile...)
2 x Crinum thaianum - Onion Plant
Hygrophila difformis - Water Wisteria
Hygrophila rosanervig - Tropic Sunset

Inhabitants:

Melanoides tuberculata - Malaysian Trumpet Snails
Ramshorn - Scientific name? (Standard brown/red Ramshorn)

When I add the fish I'll post who they are and pictures as they are waiting in my 40g (to be torn down) until no ammonia is detected, approx .00 to .25ppm right now, think it may be 0, but just to be sure one more day, just started this thing this morning (July 14th, 2008). Plus I'm still adjusting KH using sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and GH (as stated earlier) and no sense in shocking the fish when my other tanks are already around KH = 4 dH and GH = 6-10 dH.

Here is one picture taken right when I finished this morning (better ones as we go along I hope ;). Its great to be back!

 

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Looks like a good start. You must have incredible patience to pick out fertilizer bits from the soil! Great idea to pot the sword since it's so easy for them to take over, I never think of it 'til it's too late. ;) That's a nice stand of Blyxa auberti, mine is more reddish but not quite as tall. I bet you get more color to it once it gets established since it should be getting plenty of light from the window (even if it is just bright indirect light).

It's going to be fun to see how this fills in and matures.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Added some fish/shrimp today.

4x Otocinclus vestitus - Otto cat
5x Hyphessobrycon sweglesi - Red Phantom Tetra
6x Ghost Shrimp
2x Caridina multidentata - Amano Shrimp

All very happy so far. I'll take more pictures once the plants start growing. Give it a week maybe then add some more fish.

I split the Blyxa, didn't realize after all these months (transferred from my 20g) that it was two stands! It was dying back so I had to clean out the melting strands. It floated to the top of the tank and then I saw that it had two stems and it made it a lot easier to clean up once seperated. It also looks really nice with three stands of it now.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bye Bye duckweed! (first tank that will be w/o it) Scooped it out and added two bunches of hornwort, much more pleasant. Nothing else to report as of yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
OK, its time for the two week update!

Following the discussion with Diana Walstad about possible irritants related to new soil, it got me thinking about my own tank and what I had been noticing. The fish were not as active as my other tanks and they were not bothering to even move most of the day. They weren't struggling, but just behaving odd. The water tested perfect both in ammonia and nitrite three days in, so I just chalked it up to new tank behavior. I slowly added my other fish from my 45 gallon and they all behaved the same! I then read the thread about wood oils, etc…

So, today I wanted to give an update on the progress of growth etc., which I've very happy about (though feedback is definitely welcome!). I cleaned up decaying plant matter, very little, which is always a pleasant surprise, maybe I've found masses of friendly plants? I know better and we'll see in two more weeks who starts claiming water space. ;) I also did a 15-20% water change and added carbon to the quick filter, immediately my guarami's were out looking for bugs on the water surface, the rainbows and rasbora's were swimming back and forth with the current. I was shocked honestly, but very happy. Diana, do you think this may be related to the issues you were describing? Maybe something else is going on?

Well, I also decided to test out some lights I was intrigued by at HD and Lowes. I decided to go with two 40 watt T12's, works perfect in conjunction with our strong sun light here. Anyway, I grabbed some GE Sunshine's (2250 lumens, 5000k, 90cri) lamps and Philips Daylight Deluxe (2325 lumens, 6500k, 84cri) lamps and I also tried the Philips Plant and Aquarium bulb, which are much less bright and cost the same as 2 of the other bulbs and from what I can tell is exactly the same as Daylight Deluxe, but less lumens and lower k rating (not listed, of course… :confused: ). Anyway here are the pictures below: (I wish I had two Philips Plant & Aquarium and Two GE Cool White and Plant & Aquarium bulbs to compare, maybe that's next?)


Philips Daylight Deluxe

GE Sunshine
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Just a quick update.

Things are looking good, found a dual 48" t5 hood for 5 dollars are our local rebuilding center. Added 3500k bulbs, the plants seem to enjoy them and algae is minimal, have a few flowers already, and the pads formed by the banana plants are nice looking (have pictures of these soon).

Now for the pictures, comments welcome:

Tank


Blyxa (split apart now)


Hygro & India Red


Ozelot


Tiger Lotus
 

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Your tank is filling in nicely and all the plants look healthy. I love that lotus. How big is the India red supposed to get? That's a nice looking plant.

Any further problems with lethargic fish or did the water change cure the problem? On the most recent tank setup I did, I mineralized the soil, sifted it and removed a surprisingly large amount of wood bits. I'm hoping that removing them will help me avoid the problems I had with my shrimp not breeding for months in the previous setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The red and green skinny plant at the bottom is the india red and the large green one behind it is giant hygro, I think the india red is pretty much what it is, not a huge plant. :(

No, the fish have been very happy since that initial water change... any thoughts?
 

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I'd be very happy to get a plant like the India red that doesn't try to take over the tank since my largest tank is a 44 pentagon.

I'm glad to hear your fish are still doing well since the water change. Obviously, the water change must have helped remove something that was bothering the fish. I wonder if there either wasn't much of whatever was bothering the fish or if the plants became established and were able to keep the water cleaner.
 
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