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50gal Ugly Tank

57096 Views 224 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  zer0zax
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)

#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!
1 - 20 of 225 Posts
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
CO2------- 15-----25---ppm

I find that red plants need more iron, though.
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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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Pacific willow trees seems to work better than anything else to cure algae. I need some. I shall call the nursery's and see if they have any willows in. I wonder if it makes a difference what type of willow it is? Have to research that. I want some for I have BBA starting up. It is a chronic problem because the tap water has phosphates in it.

I found the ingredients of the dirt on line.
Whom is General Kitty Foo Foo?
I would find some swamp cypress! Cypress knees look killer, and you never have to worry about root-rot.

Well I going down to Florida in a month. Perhaps I can find some swamp cypress there.

Did you have to pay fee to go to the plant swap? The swap here GA required a $50 fee. Not worth the fee to me.

Lol, Sunstar you are aghast!!!
The El Natural style suggest adding bone meal to the dirt. All of the bone meal, except that made by KAL for people, that I found on the internet had high phosphates.

If you add moderate amount of phosphate to substrates containing a lot of clay colloids and then cap that with sand and/or gravel; the clay colloids will hold on to the phosphate and not allow it to leach into the water column. I do that and don't worry about algae.
So, the addition of phosphate bearing bone meal into the tank and cap it with flourite? that would work?


That is what tried with vege firts that has phosphates in it and now my plants are suffering. Need clay to keep it down. Also read that some pottery clays have a chemical that is not good for aquariums. Can't remember what it was or where I read it, perhaps at this forum.
Bone meal, but I think It will be like any nutrient-rich substrate: soil/mineralized/whatever, The important thing is to use a gravel cap to keep the stuff out of the water column.

Well it might if you don't move anything or vacuum the substrate. Logically I think essabee's idea to use clay to keep it capped would work better.

If you add bone meal you might want to cover it with a thin layer of sand.

I did that and added fluorite over the sand. Still things floated up into the water column when I moved things.

Here is an article on clay balls written by
Richard Sexton (rs79)
The biggest problem I am running into is I want to try everything all at once!

I did that and some conversions. Now I have to start over.

I mixed the vege firts, root starter and kitty litter into my dirt. Then topped with sand and Fluorite. Moving plants caused some fish deaths. Thus I put HOB filter on afterwards. Now, even though color is good, Hygro is melting. Also brush algae appearing. I am impulsive by nature.

Many say using kitty litter is bad but according to the krib it depends on the kitty litter. I am going to use it again. I am using the red bag kitty litter. For 1st layer will put sphagnum moss down. Then will bake the dirt with the kitty litter, for can't leave it outside to heat. Afterwards add ferts I use to the dirt. Then will make a test run in a bucket with water from my bare bottom tank. It is a combination mineralized substrate and substrate at this link.

Kitty litter is considered poor mans laterite

Instead of buying fluorite why not just beat the lava rock? I think they are about the same. I just have fluorite because I got it free.

Glad to pass the info along. Feels good to help others not to make mistakes I have made.

I forgot did I mention you get bone meal, by KAL at a Health food store?
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zer0zax Sorry about the repeat I am bit under the weather and forgetting where I post info, suntars 25 gallon or yours.

I wonder if adding potassium nitrate would offset the imbalance of the bone meal you have. Buying potassium nitrate on line is probably cheaper. Tell me what brand of bone meal you have and I will google it. Besides potassium nitrate and flourish excel are the main items I keep seeing that help with algae.

What is a soil bazookas?

Another experimenter is Homer_Simpson

I will try to get ninja on charmed to come cure bob.

Keep up the humor. I once heard someone cured his cancer with laughter. It seems humor and being positive strengthens the immune system to fight illness. I believe in the addition of eating good, supplements and medicine ( only when needed) helps.
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The crushed coral is what is raising your ph. I read it raises gh, kh and ph.

I have used baking soda to raising my Kh. I found it also raised the ph. After adding flourish excel the ph went down to 7.2. My tap water ph is 9.

As for the potassium I think KNO3 would be better but you could use in conjuction with the potassium you have.

Epsom salt acts as a laxative on fish and used to increase magnesium.

Dosing info I found
55 gallons = 206.7065 liters. fertilizer that has 4.36 mg of NO3 per mL
4.36/206.7065 = 0.021 mg/L will be added to the tank.
mg/L equals ppm.

I think you would be safe to add 1 capful of Flourish excell and equal amounts of baking soda.
More info on dosing dry ferts at this site:

Here are some links about potassium Aquarium Landscapes, ADA & Potassium

After trying the Walsted method in a 10 gallon and failed I am leaning towards mineralized soil.

Homer_Simpson did a comparison test of the Barr method and Wasted called the small planet.
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Most people add baking soda to increase KH. If I'm correct, adding crushed coral would increase GH (measures Mg and Ca), not necessarily KH. Depending on your area and how much limestone you have in the ground, water can be quite high in GH, so I don't think crushed coral is the way to go. KH measures carbonate.

I think you should add baking soda 2mm, potassium potash 3mm, and potassium nitrate 3mm. You can measure it with a baby medicine tube.
You could try it out in a bucket with water from tank and see what happens.
Is your ph still 9, which is higher than your tap water? This is not safe for even people. Obviously you have added something that is enhancing what is in your water and increasing alkalinity.

Have you thought of asking your water company what they are adding to the water and if phosphates, copper, etc. are in the water?

Rex goes on to recommend using Calcium Chloride and Epsom Salts to boost GH and Baking Soda to boost KH. He notes that you need to add these separately or you will end up with Calcium Sulfate which is hard to dissolve. You contact him to find out how much to add.

At Rex Griggs site read.
If you need to raise the kH of your water then you can use plain old baking soda, not baking powder but baking soda. One teaspoon of baking soda will increase the kH of 50 liters of water (13 gallons) by 4 degrees (68 ppm
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Browsing Aquascaping styles at Found this Wabi-kusa style.

Is this what you are aiming for?
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Wish you would just use baking soda as suggested at Reg Griggs site.

Did search Steven Chong at this forum and found the set up here:
Well, I will have to do some more research on crushed coral. For I hate doing water changes too. At present thinking of adding cuttlebone for my snails. Just really shouldn't have bought Tonia.
The "Organic Choice" is made from composted bark fines, sphagnum peat moss, and pasteurized chicken litter.

I was just thinking that adding peat moss would compliment the crushed coral and there it is in the potting soil.

I going to try a mixture with kitty litter to absorb my phosphates.
Hardness = 75ppm
Is this gh or kh or total hardness?
Alkalinity = 80ppm,
Ph 6.8
Ph is near neutral, thus I don't understand the high alkalinity. Is this normal?

I wonder if some willow leaves would help? Read that willow trees get rid of a lot of algae, thus perhaps helpful against the fungus.

Something I read, maybe helpful
With Baking Soda, it takes 1 teaspoon per 50g's (US gallons) to increase KH by 18ppm
So you are thinking of adding diy Co2?

Before building the diy co2 fixture I asked Hoppycalif if it is okay to do when the kh is low, as I have. He told me this: lowest pH you can get with CO2 is around 5.5,which is within the range that fish tolerate very well. Edward also uses near zero KH, with no problems.

Does 1 dKH = 17.86ppm of KH?
That is what I read at
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