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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, everyone! :cheer2:

After many nights and days of reading, thinking and mostly waiting for lights, substrate, plants and everything to arrive, finally HERE IT IS! My first 20 gal planted tank!
:humble:

I hope I am in the right place and my picture will not blow up the whole forum. I figure I should name the tank. How about something mysterious like “Around the corner” ? Or maybe "As good as it gets"!?It sounds somewhat funny to me. :rofl:

I know I need to change a lot of things in there, but I am so happy I finally got something done at all! Sorry for this valley type of aquascape, but I really wanted to try to make one too! [smilie=l:

My Low Tech specs:
Substrate: about 1 inch of soil and eco-complete on top of it, sloped to the back. The soil is a mixture of 50% Schultz cactus soil (got really tired of picking out that perlite, it was a total insanity! I will never do it again! ) and 50% Home Depot Top soil (waaay too many sticks in there).

Lights – Hagen TO5 HO two x 24w

Filtration – HOB AquaClear

Plants – arrived without labels, some of them (or perhaps all of them) are not the right plants for this setup, but I guess this is how one learns.

Fish – need some ideas, I need to pick some easy hardy once. Saw long finned dinos ( I think this is the right name) at local petco and liked them a lot.

Dosing Flourish Excel, but I don't know if I should.

Now I am just watching what’s going to happen to all of it, the water is still a little cloudy, but I hope it will settle down.

I would really appreciate any comments and suggestions if something looks obviously wrong with it. If not - I still need to learn as much as possible about everything any way!
Sorry for such a lousy planting job and all, but I guess it was as good as I could get it done, learning everything exclusively by reading this forum and listening to what people say. (I really ended up just shoving up the plants in pretty much random order. I finished setting up this tank sometime after 3 AM, it took me all day long :axe:).

WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? :yield:
Thank you for all your help!

Cheers!
:hippie:
 

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okay simple suggestions my girl!!!
i hope im not to mean but i like it just need to get some order here


....get mak
get set
....oh crap go!
:boxing:

the lil plants for god sacks i dont remember the name...why not move them to the edges of the lil river you got going on...
the HC clums maybe get them started in the gravel on the left side
break up the crypt bunch and spread them out a bit more in the right side to create a somewhat dence forest thingy:rolleyes:


i cant really make out all the stem plants but if you could take a pic of them out of the tank i can really go from there...i think i got a good idea for them so if you can get me a pic i can see if im right atleast lol


as fish go you mentioned the longfinned danios? yah they are really pretty i like the blue ones the most(more silvery blue but still nice:D)

i would say go with about 8 of them and maybe a few cories of your choice and maybe a mid schooler if your going for a more bioptic tank and you like the danio go with maybe skunk loach or the yo yo loach. and maybe a center piece fish like a gourami pair like peerl gouramis and or maybe do some galaxy rasboras?! idk im running out of ideas lol oh!!!! and maybe a shark!!! yah that would be nice:-D

keep me in contact of the tank like when you post i enjoy your PM's
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello, bratyboy2, it is always a pleasure to see you, my dear!
Well, you wanted to see the plants out of the tank – no problem! Here it is!

Actually, you are right about some order, river edges and rearranging the crypts… I don’t actually like them in here at all, they look too big for all this landscape and I think I will take them out all together and replace them with… huh, I don’t know what to replace them with.
So here is the copy of my order, I got the invoice:

Pogostemon helfery (probably will never adapt, melting already)
Red temple (on the right side)
Cryps wendtii (everywhere)
HC rocks – don’t know how to handle them at all (what a nightmare!)
Rotalia indica
Bacopa australis
Ludwigia arcuata
Bacopa monniery
Petite Anubias Nana (can’t see it on the picture, but it is really cute small plant, it would be nice to get more of those for the river bank)
Anubias nana (regular one).

On this optimistic note, I will go to bed because I really need to!
 

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okay well now that i have both pics open in windows to look at here is some ideas oh go this is going to be hard...got the music for thinking and for fun let see what i can think of....


okay i like the crypt so keep it for a bit and see what you think you can always snip the big leaves.


we will start on the left side...

put the temple in the back and plant each stem individually
place the bacopa monnieri in front of that doing the same this will allow you to see the red of the temple and still have enough contrast in leaf shape and color...
the Pogostemon helfery is know to do that so dont fret yet lol just move it to the rock edge and leave it the anubias seem cool where they are so no big deal

now to the right side....
well i would put the rotala in the back corner and plant indiviudally also the grow quick
the ludwigia is something i have not got my hands on but i would put it more up front by the crypt
have the crypt be near the front and create a surrounding affect with the other bacopa like it growing out of the crypt but dont have the crypt actually go around it. the have the ludwigia off to the left of the crypt more to the edge. and the rotala in the back...

wow i hink i about knocked myself out lol :boxing:

i hope you under stand it lol:bathbaby:
keep the hardscape the same though its eye catching

night night im off to bed see you tomarrow night
 

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I love your hardscape! I love how you have the sticks arching over in the back. I enjoy your river. I like all your plants. I know bratyboy2 has a lot to say, and of course a little tweaking never hurt anyone, but I'm kinda partial to the jungle look, myself. Well most of the fun of a tank is the playing in it and rearranging.
 

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Looking good.
I really like the river and rock bank you created. The Downoi that Bratboy is refering to, leave it there, it will spread out and create a ground cover of it's own. Everything will fill in with time and you will have to hone out your trimming skills;)

You might find that you will want to spread out your stems a little more as the side shoots will fill in really thick in the future.

One tip in this early stage, lots of water changes and make sure to get all the die off out of the tank as it will fuel algae. By that I mean any leaves that melt off the plants while they acclimate to your water params. Any plants that came from vendors, chances are that they were grown emersed and those leaves should and will die off, but don't fret, new ones will quickly fill the void and start to look better and more healthy, but get the dead stuff out for sure.
I have found the easiest way to do so is when you are draining your water for changes, instead of using the gravel vac, just use the hose itself. Then get the siphon going and in the hand that is not in the tank, kind of kink the hose and use your hand to pinch off the suction a little so that you don't pull all the substrate and plants out, but open it enough that it removes what you are want to, just use your hand as sort of a gas pedal and brake combines.
Keep us updated an again, GREAT WORK, you have a tank to be proud of:cool:
 

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Looks very nice. I too am a bit partial to a jungle-ish look compared to something too tightly ordered. I love your wood, is that manzanita?

If you go w/the danios, I wouldn't recommend a pair of pearl gouramis for 2 reasons: 1) they're pretty large, I think I read that they can reach 5"+. 2) Danios will probably annoy them.
If you go w/loaches or cories keep in mind that they like to be kept in a school.
~Jaime
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh WOW! Thanks to everyone who responded to my post! :bounce:
So many comments, so many things to follow up with, my head is spinning! :rolleyes:
Thanks for all your support, it is really reassuring and uplifting to hear your nice words and opinions.
:D

I have one crucial question to Dwalstad though…

One comment: With all that soil, I don't think you need the Excel. In some instances, it has caused problems for fish.
All my soil got really compressed under eco-complete, I think it is now about ½ " if not even less then that. Is it enough? I can't change it now. I will definitely try to be careful with the Excel, thanks for the warning.

I am off to change some water as Goalcreas suggested. And definitely first thing in the morning I am going to get a shark, just for my dearest bratyboy2's amusement.:pound:

Cheers!
 

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well i think i got knocked down a few pegs here!!! well i have only had they pearls get to about 4 inches full grown and the danios never bothered them well that i saw at least...but its all in the certain fish. the yo yo loach i actually kept single with no issues. but school is mentioned school it is mine would be like 3 sorry. AND YAY!!!! a shark :amen: i get one thing nice lol i like the redtails they are on the smaller side and they get a nice deep black that i love so much and that nice fire red tail!!!! well shurik its up to you to show us what you got my dear!!! amaze me some mre and get a plane ticket and come visit me and setup a tank with me lol:pound: well pm me latter i enjoy the talks!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Is it better to plant with the soil wet and no gravel, or let the gravel sit on top for a few hours or days?
I'd be concerned on compressing the roots.
Yes, it would be interesting to know about compressing the roots. :confused:
I let the gravel sit on top of the soil because my soil was quite dry, but… all I know is that I know nothing!:crazy:

What a wonderful day I just had!

First of all, I am really glad that ½" appears to be enough, hooray!:D Thank you, dwalstad, for your reply.

Second of all, I did get 8 leopard long finned danios and really exited about it.:bounce:

I did change about 25% of the water. And I am trying to take a better picture of the tank with no success. Let's see if this one I just took looks any better.

This is pretty much it for today.
 

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Interesting.
I'm setting up my 3rd el natural today for my daughter (2g).

Is it better to plant with the soil wet and no gravel, or let the gravel sit on top for a few hours or days?
QUOTE]

I recommend that you plant in wet soil with no gravel (otherwise you'll injure plant roots as you force them through the gravel).

I always thoroughly dampen a dry soil by adding a little water to it. Then quickly but gently place plants as best you can into the wet soil. Spoon dry gravel around the plants. Add water (a couple inches worth). Make sure when you pour water in the tank that you place a flat plate on gravel layer to block water's force, so you don't stir up the soil layer. If the water is a little turbid, you can spoon in more gravel where the turbidity is leaching (e.g., plug up the holes). You can siphon this turbid water off and add more water. If the water is clear, I would just go ahead and fill the tank. But if its not, then repeat the washing process until you get clear water.

My best advice is to plan ahead, start in the morning, and take your time. Make sure that the plants don't dry out in the process. A little tricky...

Stickies for "Useful NPT Procedures" are at the top of El Natural forum thread listings. Here's the URL of DataGuru's excellent step-by-step (with pictures!) for setting up a tank with soil:

http://thegab.org/Articles/WalstadTankDemo.html
 

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Interesting.
I'm setting up my 3rd el natural today for my daughter (2g).

Is it better to plant with the soil wet and no gravel, or let the gravel sit on top for a few hours or days?
QUOTE]

I recommend that you plant in wet soil with no gravel (otherwise you'll injure plant roots as you force them through the gravel).

I always thoroughly dampen a dry soil by adding a little water to it. Then quickly but gently place plants as best you can into the wet soil. Spoon dry gravel around the plants. Carefully, add water (just a couple inches worth). Make sure when you pour water in the tank that you place a flat plate on gravel layer to block water's force, so you don't stir up the soil layer. If the water is a little turbid, you can spoon in more gravel and plug up areas where the turbidity is leaching into the water. Then, you can siphon this turbid water off and add a little more water. If the water is clear, I would just go ahead and fill the tank. But if its not, then repeat the washing/gravel adding process until you get clear water. You really want to start out with fairly clear water, so that soil particles don't settle on the plant leaves and start algae growth.

My best advice is to plan ahead, start in the morning, and take your time. Make sure that the plants don't dry out in the process. A little tricky...

Stickies for "Useful NPT Procedures" are at the top of El Natural forum thread listings. Here's the URL of DataGuru's excellent step-by-step (with pictures!) for setting up a tank with soil:

http://thegab.org/Articles/WalstadTankDemo.html
 

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Is it better to plant with the soil wet and no gravel, or let the gravel sit on top for a few hours or days?

I'd be concerned on compressing the roots.
This is the way I put in plants in these types of set ups.

I put all of the soil in the tank and spread it out evenly(the soil is dry), then I put the gravel on top. I don't bother washing off the gravel before using it.

When I go to put plants into the soil, I poke my left index finger down through the gravel and soil and I then take the plant stem and put it into the hole where my finger is. After that, I move the gravel up around the stem. When I'm planting larger plants like Crypts, I poke two fingers into the gravel and soil so there's room for the plant to go in. I've never damaged any of the roots this way and when I go to put water into the tank(using a plate like Ms. Walstad had mentioned), I never get any soil coming up from the gravel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My life is full of discoveries! (Do I feel stupid or what? ) :heh:

Dear dwalstad! Thanks for pointing out to the stickies, It does have a lot of information in there, almost everything I ever needed to know! The article is even translated into Russian, which is my first language, so I have virtually no excuse not to understand it. Yes, it is that bad with me – I can miss something really huge like that. :shock:

Also I didn’t realize you wrote the whole book, and I will need to get that too.
I am such a dummy! :faint:

Well, I guess it is too late for me to add a little crushed shell now. I wonder what’s going to happen and what to watch out for now.

My PH was around 7.2 and I have no test to check my KH. Can someone recommend a good commercial test for that? :yield:(my local Petco doesn’t have any; I will have to order it on line).

P.S. I almost did burn the plants while planting, the light was too close to it, but I’ve noticed leaves shrinking just on time. It is very tricky not to damage the roots, not to dry out the plants and not to create a huge mess at the same time. One inch of water above all the substrate was very helpful to me.

Cheers!
:hippie:
 

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My PH was around 7.2 and I have no test to check my KH. Can someone recommend a good commercial test for that? :yield:(my local Petco doesn't have any; I will have to order it on line).
I really like Hagen's GH/KH test kit. It's a very simple test to do and the colors are easy to read. :)

If you use this test kit, you'll want to be in a ventilated area when testing the KH. The fumes coming from the liquid can be fairly strong. I always do this test in front of an open window.
 

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Funny.
That is what I did and I never read this post.
3rd tank and you start figuring out the best technique.

I did a big prune on the 20g-long, and took the best specimens and placed them seperatly.
In the mean time after the soil aired overnight, I placed water into the soil.
Definately felt it was a race against time.
I did have to take a little water off the soil, too wet.
I placed the plants in. What dream compared to fighting gravel and making a mess.

I then used my washed gravel (kept it in the water) and used my hands to place it.
One of the cleanest planting yet.
Did have to syphon a tank full, but after the second fill the tank looks clean.
I have a rock bridge that I also use to poor the water onto. Another benefit of decoration.

Red_rose : I agree the Hagen kit is great. Never too sure if one stops when you see a hint of color change or full color change. Sometimes I get a half shade.
Anybody recommend a better Am. test kit. I find the one I have is a little difficult since the colors don't seem to match the card.

Interesting.
I'm setting up my 3rd el natural today for my daughter (2g).

Is it better to plant with the soil wet and no gravel, or let the gravel sit on top for a few hours or days?
QUOTE]

I recommend that you plant in wet soil with no gravel (otherwise you'll injure plant roots as you force them through the gravel).

I always thoroughly dampen a dry soil by adding a little water to it. Then quickly but gently place plants as best you can into the wet soil. Spoon dry gravel around the plants. Carefully, add water (just a couple inches worth). Make sure when you pour water in the tank that you place a flat plate on gravel layer to block water's force, so you don't stir up the soil layer. If the water is a little turbid, you can spoon in more gravel and plug up areas where the turbidity is leaching into the water. Then, you can siphon this turbid water off and add a little more water. If the water is clear, I would just go ahead and fill the tank. But if its not, then repeat the washing/gravel adding process until you get clear water. You really want to start out with fairly clear water, so that soil particles don't settle on the plant leaves and start algae growth.

My best advice is to plan ahead, start in the morning, and take your time. Make sure that the plants don't dry out in the process. A little tricky...

Stickies for "Useful NPT Procedures" are at the top of El Natural forum thread listings. Here's the URL of DataGuru's excellent step-by-step (with pictures!) for setting up a tank with soil:

http://thegab.org/Articles/WalstadTankDemo.html
 

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Red_rose : I agree the Hagen kit is great. Never too sure if one stops when you see a hint of color change or full color change. Sometimes I get a half shade.
Anybody recommend a better Am. test kit. I find the one I have is a little difficult since the colors don't seem to match the card.
When it comes to the GH/KH test kit, as long as it's, for example, any shade of blue(when it comes to the GH test) then that's all that matters. With the KH, the final colors can either be lime or yellow.

As for an ammonia test kit, which one are you using now? I have the Aquarium Pharmacueticals Freshwater Master test kit and it works great. The colors match up with the ones on the color charts and if they are somewhere in between two colors, then you know that the result is somewhere in between those two. I had tested the water in my 2.5g today and both the ammonia and nitrite were in between 0 and 0.25ppm. It's very easy to read.:)
 
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