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Hello to all you happy planted aquarium nuts!

I got something that's been bothering me for a while, well actually a lack of something; feedback on my aquarium. I've been bulldozing all the forums here and all the information which seems overwhelming at times. Amazing! I was 19 years old while we were still playing with 386 machines(without the math coprocessor!) and only dial-up BBS's ruled the day. Yes the internet is a good thing.

Upon going over everybody elses' tank designs and system setups, I've never posted anything of my own setup.

Granted I've been at this for a year and a half now, with very little to no experience at all in the beginning. To this big community of aquarium-heads, thanks for the info over this past 18 months that I've been taking in concerning the "Planted Aquaria".

Like many, it was our parents, family or freinds who had fish tanks that set our curiosty into motion. My Dad was my source of curiosity. He enjoyed the 10 gal. guppy tanks over the years, off and on and so on. Growing up over the years I've had my own aquariums, with the largest being a 30 gal. long. However my lack of real knowledge and understanding of photosynthesis kept things a dismal failure; the fish never had a life expectancy of more than a few months if lucky, and plants, well that was a joke. But I digress.

I am currently keeping a 55 gallon standard tank. The quick specs:
-flourite red @ 120 lbs.
-rena filstar xp2 canister filter (for bio- and mech- filtration only)
-5 lb co2 cylinder w/ milwaukee co2 regulator kit & sms122 co2 controller.
-Co2 forced reactor as described by John LeVasseur's Treatise on DIY CO2 Systems for Freshwater-Planted Aquaria.
-lighting provided by coralife's freshwater aqualight 4x65 watt 48 in. pc's @6700k.
-Seachem line of chemicals.
-Common fish you can find at a petsmart or petco.

So, show me the feedback that this community has to offer so my fish can live happily among plants that actually thrive and prosper. I have photgraphs of the progress at photobucket. http://s318.photobucket.com/albums/mm411/wrkucera/My aquariums/
 

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Is there anything specific that you have concerns about? Aquascaping? Health of plants? Health of fish?
 

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Very nice aquarium, so how about telling us your secrets?

One thing I can contribute: Lobelia cardinalis, small form, looks the best when located away from the front glass. Then it keeps its aerial roots covered by leaves, so it just forms little columns of green leaves. A great plant, when used that way, or when kept very short by pruning.
 

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You have great growth. Your plants look happy and healthy. You might want to play with the arrangement a little. Make it look more natural. To create depth plan a foreground, middle ground and back ground. While you are having basic height requirements at different depths, try to still have a little varience as you go front to back and side to side. Keep some area open with just very low plants (foreground). This provides swim room and depth.

Rather than putting all of one type in one area, repeat like groupings in different areas of the tank. Mix leave textures, colors and shapes through out your tank. This will keep your tank from looking like it's a plant-for-sale tank.

You have obviously mastered growing healthy wonderful plants. Now you just need to tweak aquascaping skills. I think that's where a lot of us are! :D
 

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Just a few things I noted:

That's alot of light you got there. Almost 5 wpg.

Although I love XP filters, the XP2 might be a little weak for a 55 gal tank.

Seachem ferts are great (I use them too) but using them on a 55 with high light and CO2 is going to take alot of ferts. That's going to get expensive. You will want to look into dry ferts soon.

Besides those few minor details you're off to a good start.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Very nice aquarium, so how about telling us your secrets?

One thing I can contribute: Lobelia cardinalis, small form, looks the best when located away from the front glass. Then it keeps its aerial roots covered by leaves, so it just forms little columns of green leaves. A great plant, when used that way, or when kept very short by pruning.
Very true Hoppy, I have kept the lobelia in various locations and have found that it can and will grow like a tall stem if given the right conditions for such. I did and it was awesome, however I initially bought the plant for a foreground planting. Thus I needed to prune it about every 2-3 weeks before it starts to look like a 'tree'. During this time it does grow several new branches that creates a much more robust appearance.

As for my secrets? There are none. Everything for me is trial-and-error based on new learnings.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You have great growth. Your plants look happy and healthy. You might want to play with the arrangement a little. Make it look more natural. To create depth plan a foreground, middle ground and back ground. While you are having basic height requirements at different depths, try to still have a little varience as you go front to back and side to side. Keep some area open with just very low plants (foreground). This provides swim room and depth.

Rather than putting all of one type in one area, repeat like groupings in different areas of the tank. Mix leave textures, colors and shapes through out your tank. This will keep your tank from looking like it's a plant-for-sale tank.

You have obviously mastered growing healthy wonderful plants. Now you just need to tweak aquascaping skills. I think that's where a lot of us are! :D
Thanks Tex Gal. And you are correct on everything you've said as far as I'm concerned. There is one point to keep in mind as you might be well aware of. This is a standard 55 gal. tank design; 48x13x20, which acts more as a "display in square inches", meaning the viewing surface is greater than the water surface. Which in retrospect, I honestly wish I never purchased the freaking tank! I bought the tank on the perspective of volume alone. Only after a few months in it, did I realize I would never create exactly what I was looking for. Yes this sucks!

So now I have a challenge. And that, is to work with what I've got. An albatross. If I were to start over if I could, the actual dimensions would be (LxWxH) 96x48x18. I would have increased the actual footprint or water surface, and decrease the height. This would have given me much more foreground to background area to work with as well as any light intensity issues that taller tanks have.

About 18 months ago, as still now, I still dream of "The Shire" from J.R.R. Tolkeins' mind. During my post high-school years I became well versed with the ability to create landscapes with oil on canvas. Planted tanks are a different beast! One really needs the width, or in math terms 16-20 inches of foreground , 12-14 inches of midground and 14-18 inches of background if your understanding the layout in my head. But that's art with oil so to speak. I need to understand more on my plant growing skills, meaning, to know the exact plant placement, specific lighting and fertilization routine to affect a more predictable and favorable outcome. "Isn't this called experience by some?" Shucks...
Well anyhows... thanks for your input and guidance.
 

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Just a few things I noted:

That's alot of light you got there. Almost 5 wpg.

Although I love XP filters, the XP2 might be a little weak for a 55 gal tank.

Seachem ferts are great (I use them too) but using them on a 55 with high light and CO2 is going to take alot of ferts. That's going to get expensive. You will want to look into dry ferts soon.

Besides those few minor details you're off to a good start.
I was worried about the whole ferts regiment. I have been experimenting a bit with the lighting, ferts and co2 levels over the past 2 months and I've found some interesting results. For example, during all the month of may, I did not dose anything, the lighting stayed constant( 2 inches from the water surface 12-14 hours runnign, the ferts were nill and the c02 was low(10-15 ppm). Alot of Algae. during june i started to change the lighting by cutting it in half (using only the one strip of 130 watts total), no dosing and low co2 levels. In essence I was attempting to scale back the "high-tech" set-up. It got better in that the algae growth slowed while plant growth increased. Now over the past week, I have the lights to full-on (260 watts) but I have it raised about 9 inches from the water surface, I increased the co2 to roughly 30 ppm and reinstated the chemical fert process. Already I have seen strong changes in the plant growth. So yes, it will start to get expensive with the Seachem line. dry ferts is easier on the pocket yes? Thanks for the input mikenas!
 

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While I know that the more shallow, back to front, a tank is, the more difficulty you have with depth but I'm sure you can do this. You just have to experiment with it all. Since you have been looking around the forums you have seen many tanks with your dimensions. Just keep working on it. The wonderful news is that with many plants, as long as they are in the same tank, moving them around doesn't slow them down too much. Yes, it may slow some down, crypts, swords, but not for long...

Take a look at my 10g shrimp tank. It is only 12" back to front and I have plenty of depth in there. Still needs filling in and tweaking but you can see the depth.

I know I am still learning. Very few reach the skill level of some of the fabulous tanks you see on this forum. The good news is that we like what we are creating. ... and we enjoy tweaking it. Part of the fun is NOT being done! :biggrin:
 
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