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50gal Ugly Tank

57094 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!
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Wow I just signed up to the site today and stumbled upon this thread. I read it from start to end and I think what your doing is amazing! I've wanted a moss wall for ages but was unsure about how to go about it but this has given me some idea.

Your DIY skills and your approach to trying new stuff is admirable.

I salute you! :usa2:

Please do keep updating when you next do more ;)
any news as to the goings on of the tank good or bad
Well its been awhile, the ugly tank is just a normal fish tank now. I don't have anything really interesting or worthy to post about except for a couple of good byproducts that came out of really ugly results8-[...

All of my emersed java ferns started to grow 2 lobed leaves,

Then after a couple of months tri-lobed leaves

These pics were taken last summer and all of the new leaves were tri-lobed. I had about ten ferns that looked like this and they all got huge! A couple of ferns remained submerged and they still have normal looking leaves as could be expected. I don't think you need a half-full aquarium or elaborate drip wall to convert the leaf structure, just leave a 2" air gap at the top of your aquarium and mount a fern high up so it has access to air.

When I filled my aquarium up I left a 3" air gap and as soon as a fern got one leaf above the water it would take off! Most of the ferns were now submerged though, but all new leaves were still tri-lobed... even after months of no access to the surface they would put out tri-lobed leaves, however the growth rate was 1/4 of that compared to emersed or semi-emersed growth, and the new leaves grew smaller and smaller. I am sure that they would eventually revert to single-lobed leaves if kept submerged...but I threw them out before witnessing this because I had an aquarium full of ferns and had to make room for some water, or else it wouldn't be an aquarium now, would it? I did keep 2 ferns, 1 tri-lobed and 1 submersed form, both are monsters and take up 1/4 of the aquarium each.

What did I learn from my craziness? Well, that I'm crazy for one... Also the pvc/abs filter never really worked out. It worked ok-ish, but took up a whole lot of room. Just using a quickfilter on my fountain pumps and powerheads would have accomplished the same thing:rolleyes:.

The under gravel filter and my crazy soil mixture= unhappy plants and big mess:(... When I filled my aquarium full of water I used a pure sand substrate and my crypts/swords suffered for awhile, but eventually the mts snails and banjo catfish stirred poo in there and mulm built up, so now plants only suffer a little bit... point being I don't stress about substrate as much. Whatever you use will eventually wear out and give way to fish mulm. (Banjocats are great in sand!! They bury themselves and sweep the sand clean everyday...might not be good for small foreground plants though)

The bonsai tree thing didn't really pan out well either, as you saw that emersed stem plants grew very quick and were excellent for taking up excess nutrients.

The moss wall was a huge success! Someday when I get another tank I will set one up again. I did eventually change the gutter guard screen over to a plastic fine-mesh window screen that most people use, it really is a lot more bendable and easier to work with. I folded the mesh in half and sowed the edges closed (normal moss mesh), but then I cut lots of vertical slits in it. This worked out perfectly because I could add plants and moss to it without taking down the wall, just stuff a little bit here and there and it would root in very quick.
With the spraybar keeping the whole wall soaked, this moss wall became the ultimate filter...half of the ugly tank was an organic wet-dry filter. The fish water flowed from the top and debris slowly built up in the mesh creating a mud wall, all of the plant roots held the mud in. I even grew swords in the wall! Everything got constant nutrients from the fish water, constant moisture and humidity, but all of the plants in the wall also got plenty of air, along with the mud build up and healthy bacteria... hydro/aquaponics?

One thing I am tempted to try is a submersed moss wall, only have an under gravel filter mounted on the back wall ran in reverse (RUGF) and the moss screen added on top of that. I don't know if it would junk up the moss with debris or not, but the fern roots and mesh screen might just trap the debris while the water flows out and keeps debris off of the moss... I would try it now but I don't have enough light over my aquarium, all my moss is a leggy submerged mess:crybaby:.

Crap, I meant to keep this post short! All in all most of my ideas and experiments didn't work out, but some did and I learned from it all, and it is always fun to cook up a batch of craziness. Never be afraid to try out ideas, and ....I have to go now as my toes are cramping up...

PS: Here is a pic of my new girlfriend, the kind people in white gave her a jacket that matches mine!

All the best,
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The java fern look a bit like marijuana plants.[smilie=l:
I'll be danmed, all this time I thought I was growing a bunch of ferns hydroponically:-k
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