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Discussion Starter #1
This thread will waste your time! Go away!
Still here? You have been warned....

I am setting up this 50 gal solely to grow out plants, test different soil mixes and try my hand at some DIY. The plan is to fill up the tank with 30 gallons of water and grow some Tropica swords, moss, pellia emersed, and as the plants fill out plant them submersed. So basically a paludarium/growout/DIY experiment tank.

Quick stats:
50 gallon aquarium
2 x 32 watt T8 elcheapo 6,500k
Fountain pump
3.75 cups Topsoil with 1/2 cup bone meal (3-15-0)

Rules:
#1. No laughing in this thread, I take this hobby very seriously.:tape2:
#2. No talking about anything on topic, this tank will be boring and a waste of breath.:(
#3. Go back to #1.:confused:

Let the journey begin!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The original plan was to use AaronT's mineralized substrate, I bought everything except dolomite a year ago and never got around to it until now...Then the Oregon plant swap happened and I received a motherload of great plants (thanks guys!) and the plants couldn't wait for me to finish mineralizing the substrate! I soaked and dried the topsoil 1 time, so it is still basically topsoil.

I screened out as much bark as I could with window screen. Cobra Commander assisted me.


The topsoil I bought at HD had no fertilizer, but it is mostly wood debris. Cobra Commander does not approve of wood debris.


After heavy screening very fine particles were left, a lot of wood slivers in there. Cobra commander HATES slivers.


After screening the dirt I realized I didn't have nearly enough! 3.75 cups was all I had, so I planned to add a little clay to the dirt to keep the wood from floating all over the tank. At the plant swap I laughed at OregonAqua because he admitted trying to make mineralized substrate with Miraclegrow, fertilizers and all! I thought that was funny, but at least he tried it with dirt instead of twigs.

Anyways, I go to grab this 50# bag of clay that has been sitting for over a year in my apartment and when I open it up there is all of this white dusty stuff inside. Apparently I bought a bag of %#[email protected] of paris by accident. The bag said pottery plaster of paris and in the store I DID read a label that said potter red clay, but I grabbed the bag next to it....I think I 1-upped OregonAqua....I blame AaronT.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Next I mixed the little dirt I had with 1/2 cup of bone meal. Dianna Walstad said she had good results using it and I don't have any dolomite, so I thought why not? Right now I am planning on running a very lean main substrate, and I will put plants in coco pots with mineralized soil and some with experimental soil, so if anything goes wrong I can just switch out the pots and try something else.

Last night I I put the soil in the tank and began covering it with a gravel cap....only I ran out of gravel! I dug out all the sand and threw it in, and ran out of that to! Usually I have tons of driftwood and enough gravel to open up my own store, but evidently I was running low and just now found out. I covered the very little dirt with very little anything and filled the tank up halfway. I filled it so slowly that it took 40 minutes to hit the 30 gallon mark, and I made the dirtiest water ever! It took another 30 minutes to net out all of the slivers. No pictures of this, I forgot to snap pix as my mind was running in overdrive trying to find a solution without having to start over (Cobra Commander says I am just a sissy and to embarrassed)>

Performed 1 100% waterchange and everything's a lot better now, bunch of dirt on top of the substrate though, and I do predict mass amounts of algae in the near future, especially since I don't have enough gravel to cover all of the bone meal. That's okay though, Cobra Commander has a secret weapon...More on this later.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I am to cheap to buy a canister filter so one of the things I want to experiment with in the Ugly Tank is a DIY PVC internal filter. The goal is to use 4" diameter PVC and cut many holes in it so the flow will be low and won't gunk up quick. I can't stand filter maintenance, so hopefully this will fit the bill. I also want to cover the whole outside of the filter with moss while still allowing water inside. It will also be easier to pull the pump out of the top without disturbing the aquascape. This is not needed for this tank, but if it works I will build a larger one for my 110gal.

Parts: 1ft. 4"dia. PVC, 1 drain guard cap, 1 knockout cap (bottom), zipties, window screen, gutter guard screen, fountain pump.


Holes drilled in sides. I didn't drill holes near the bottom because I don't want to suck up any gunk from the substrate. Power cord and outlet tubing threaded through drain guard cap. Knockout super-glued to bottom.


Window screen secured tightly with zipties. Pump placed inside and filter floss pressed against inside holes.


Assembly complete.


Later on I will secure moss over the filter with the gutter guard screen, but the moss will only cover 2/3 of the sides so the filter can still suck in water. My future shrimp should like feeding on this. Now we are in the present, all events are running in realtime. I have to go to the store and buy real dirt so I can start the mineralization process over again. Diana Walstad and a few others said they got good results with Miraclegrow organic, so I will look for that. It will cost a couple dollars more, but hopefully I won't be surprised with twigs again. Cobra Commander is hopeful...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well I got to lazy to go to the store for dirt:bored:, but I did attach moss to the filter. Here is a picture of all of the moss I got at the plant swap. From left to right: Java, Unknown, Christmas, Flame.


Close up of Flame moss. MedRed gave away a bunch of this moss, and I got either half or a 1/3rd of it! Thanks again!:hail:


Securing Java moss to filter with gutter guard screen.


Moss secured.


Easy kitty, niiiice kitty.......


Cobra Commander riled the cat up and got stomped:croc:. I was tempted to take a picture but it was just to graphic:twitch:...he should live though. Now I will build the moss wall.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Tex Gal, you just broke rule #1! For some reason Cobra Commander approves of you, he says rules are meant to be broken:slywink:
 

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zer0zax where did you get the black PCV? Nifty idea!!! Looks like a modified diy box filter.

I don't know about Miraclegrow organic soil. The N P K values are 3-2-3.
1 part phosphorus to 10 parts nitrates to 20 parts potassium is best to keep algae at bay.

According to Rex Griggs ratios should be near:
Iron----------.1----- .3 ppm
Phosphates--0.5----1.0 ppm
Nitrates-----5.0---10---ppm
Potassium--10-----20---ppm
CO2------- 15-----25---ppm

I find that red plants need more iron, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
dawntwister- I got the black PVC at Home Depot, ~$3 for a 2ft. 4"diameter length. The drain guard cap was ~$4, and the yellow knockout cap cost 36 cents! Not the cheapest way to go, but after seeing all the stuff Bpimm builds out of PVC I had to try it!! If this filter works alright I will make a larger one for a 30" tall paludarium. The goal is to have the cap be 1 inch above the water so I only have to reach halfway down to service the pump instead of all the way. I am over 6ft. tall, but I still end up swimming in that tank when I try to do anything!:rolleyes:

The Miracle Gro "Organic Choice" comes in 2 forms, one is garden soil with fertilizers and the other on is for potted plants. The potted soil is comprised of spangham and composted bark fines (I think).
If I had to do the 50 gal over again, I probably would have used Organic Choice instead of TOP SOIL and added some Bone Meal to it. But what I used will probably still work out; "perfection" is ever so elusive. :p
I will have to ask her what Organic Choice she used, I would rather buy a bag of consistent soil than a bunch of large debris! What bag were those N P K values for?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
hoplo- the Commander would like to salute you, but he is recovering and doped up on meds right now. He hopes a wave with his good arm will do.

I guess a 50# bag of &%$#plaster of paris came in handy after all...

I plan to grow the moss emersed on squares with a spray bar dripping on the back wall to keep them moist. As the moss grows out I will trim them and make new squares. The squares will be made of gutter guard screen, nice large holes that will allow me to insert anubias and ferns into them also. The filter floss is used for retaining water, for moss mesh submerged I won't use floss.


Back side of mesh. Suction cups inserted and the floss rests between them to keep moss and plant roots moist.


Moss square complete. I spread the moss very thin so it will have room to grow. Another square of gutter mesh is placed on top and 4 zipties were woven on the edges to contain everything. This holds the square tight enough and will let me open it up easy without cutting anything. I will make a big moss wall for my big tank and make it look pretty, but this is good enough for an ugly tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Here are a couple of ugly Ugly Tank shots. Spray bar sprays:)rolleyes:) behind the moss squares and reduces turbulence, the moss stays wet without blowing away.


The ugly filter up and running. I have only done 1 water change so far and it looks good, still hazy and I can't see from the long side to the other, but part of it is because I didn't rinse the massive amount of charcoal I added to the filter:twisted:


Next I will add plants.
 

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It was Organic Choice Garden Fertilizer that I saw. It was also the only 1 I saw at Home Depot.
Garden soil is 0.10 - 0.05 - 0.10.
Potting mix is 0.10 - 0.05 - 0.05
All purpose is 7-----1------2
Bone meal is 6-----9------0
If it says it is good for 3 months, as the 1 I saw I wouldn't use. For that means they have added ferts and I want only my ferts in the dirt.

I am using Organic Valley top soil. I got an email from the company saying, " Our topsoil is not tested for N-P-K. If it were the analysis would be very low. We recommend the addition of fertilizer if wish to grow grass or plants in the
topsoil. "

Once the plants are grown the mesh won't be seen. I have found that tanks that look sparsely in the beginning become beautiful. Starting out with a full load, as I have, is not always the best.

Commander is funny!! Is he related to the ninja on the Charmed TV show.
 

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Bob Villa and Martha Stewart have a place for you in their hearts!
So far it looks awesome!
I hope Cobra Commander feels better soon! :wave:
 

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Regardless of you calling your tank ugly.. I think that it is a great example for the rest of us if DIY spirit. Dont get me wrong the technotanks posted here are great, but some good ol homebrew tech is what this hobby needs more of...

just my 2 cents
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thanks everyone! The Commander is feeling better, still a little loopy but but very optimistic. He would also like to thank everyone for their support! I suggested that he might want to wear a foil hat to protect him from future attacks.


Shortly after posing for his picture, I heard a loud beeping sound. The Commander said that an intruder was closing in! A few seconds later we heard a BOOM, one of the EMP mines was triggered. We immediately set off to see what had gotten blown up, and found this:

I don't know what this pile of twisted metal once was, but the Commander would like to offer the remains to Sunstar and the seekers as a gesture of goodwill. He believes the Seeker's goals are inline with his.

Dawntwister- Thanks so much for sharing that info! I am glad I didn't buy more dirt the other day or else I would have grabbed a bag without looking at the ingredients:rolleyes:! I will make sure to grab the right "Organic Choice", but if I can't find it I will look for the topsoil you used at HD, I can't believe it can be this hard to find just dirt! Your information just kept my Ugly Tank from transforming into a Nasty Tank!

PS: The ninja on charmed is actually the Commander's mother's cousin's nephew. they weren't close, but the Commander would say 'hi' if they bumped into each other at family reunions.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Chadly- Thanks! After I plant this thing I will try to find a spot to lay the moss flat. Most of my tanks are ugly right now. Here is an old pic of my big tank (110G).


I got tired of it before the plants even got a chance to grow out, it just looked to cheesy after awhile. Right now there is only 20 gallons of water in it, and you haven't even seen Ugly yet! 4 dwarf puffers, 1 fan shrimp, and the Commander's 11" pet dragon (gobioides broussonetti) are all that reside in there.


For being the dirtiest looking tank on the planet, it is actually quite clean! The glass is caked with algae, but that is the only place algae will grow. No algae whatsoever on any plants or rocks in there! The Commander has been reading his favorite book looking for a way to formulate his secret weapon.


He found a lot of great inspiration in his favorite chapter: 'The Aerial Advantage'


The tall stem looking things are actually 3 pacific willow trees (Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra), the Commander's secret weapon! Why use a willow branch to fight algae when you can use the whole tree?! Right now I am on a weird night schedule, so the tank lights are on at night and the tank gets indirect sunlight in the day, but the algae on the glass is receding as I put these trees in 1 month ago. During the first week all of the leaves died and I thought the trees were dead, but the Commander was still hopeful. 2 weeks ago little leaf buds started showing up and new roots started growing. One week ago the algae on the glass started dying and the fan shrimp has been grazing on it a lot, I have had that shrimp for a year and and a half and he never used to do that. The BBA algae used to be half an inch thick and I couldn't even see through the glass, but only half of it remains now.

Each branch on each tree grows a leaf or 2 everyday, and there are around a hundred new roots forming, each about an inch long. I will have to trim these trees when they get bigger to keep them from boring through the silicone or breaking the glass.
 
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