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Isen's Idea (55 gal)

3292 Views 13 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  isenblatter
So my wife saw a black ghost knife that she just "had to have", as well as an African Butterfly again that she "just had to have". With my recent readings of planted tanks, I thought I could kill 2 birds with one stone. She could get her new fish (small in size, to get giant later), I could get my feet wet with a planted tank. I have a 125 now that is filled with SA and Central American Cichlids. Basically the idea is when the BGK gets longer, he will go to the 125, and the Cichlids will each be going into their own tanks. I have a partially finished basement with one room that is nothing but storage that will one day become my fish room, little to her knowledge.
The plan: Step 1: Read, read, read, anything I can about planted tanks. Step 2. Choose tank size and equipment for said tank. Step 3. Gradually accumulate the needed equipment. Step 4. The build.

Step 1: I've read most every article on APC regarding lights, ferts, fauna, etc. I decided on a 55 Gal tank, 48" long for everything to go into. The 48" size I feel will fit the area of my house that I have available for another tank at the moment. Along with the 55 Gal. I've already started to cycle 2 10 Gallon tanks that will eventually house feeder fish for my Cichlids.

Step 2: I found a stand that will house a 55 Gal on top, and 2 10 Gal tanks beneath, the only drawback is it is metal...but it will be a good start. As I've said I've decided on a 48" long tank. I have a 12" or so piece of driftwood that will be coming out of my 125 to go into the 55. I've decided also to buy another RENA XP3 for my 125. I will take the existing XP3 from my 125 and connecting it to the 55. Substrate choice will be Seachem Flourite. I've also decided to go the dry fert route. So I will be ordering the ferts online, as well as the filter. I will be adding an in-line heater to the output from my canister filter, to keep clutter down within the tank. My lighting choice will be the Nova Extreme T-5 Fixtures w/Lunar Lights 48" - 216 watts from Dr. Foster &Smith.
With this much light I've decided to do pressurized CO2, I've got a friend that owns his own paintball store, so I will be going there for cheap refills of CO2, and he will order me a 10 lb. bottle, and he's also agreed to talk to his distributor about getting a regulator and a needle valve for me. I have a Dupla Co2 diffusor that I picked up cheap from someone I ran into at my LFS.
The plants I have in mind for the initial setup include : Anacharis, Hygrophila difformis, some form of a Cabomba, and possibly Cardamine lyrata. Further down the road I'd like a HC carpet, hornwort, anubias, and some vals, an amazon sword, and on the driftwood will go a moss of some kind, probably christmas or flame, I'm also thinking some water lettuce for the top of the tank.

Step 3: I've got the 2 10 Gallons up and running now, I put 2 sponge filters in my 125 last week to try and get a decent bacteria level build up, I also removed about 3 cups of gravel and seperated it amongst to the 2 tanks. During my last water change I added 5 Gallons of "old water" to each of the 10 Gallon tanks, and then tossed a pleco in each for good measure out of my 125. The water parameters should be similar at the beginning as not to bother the plecos much. Basically using "cycled gravel, sponge filters, and water". One tank will be filled with platys, the other with mollies. Each tank will also get a helping of pond snails that I have in my outdoor pond, roughly 20 small pond snails in each to begin. My cichlids love eating them, so if they get out of hand, I can easily throw the snails into the 125.
As far as fish go for the 55: The wife's BGK, an African Butterfly, I will also be putting some brigs snails that I hope to acquire soon in there. A friend has a ton of ramshorn's and MTS, so I figure I can put some of them in there as well. I'd also love to put some red cherry shrimp in there, I figure larger ones will not be bothered by the BGK, but any young will certainly be feed for him, hopefully some will get away and grow. I'm also thinking of putting a school of Tetras in as well, either Rummynose Tetras, or Cardinal or possibly some blueberry or strawberry tetras that my LFS has. I will also put some otos in as I've recently just fallen in love with them.

Thanks for reading. Well those are my plans, hopefully it will start to come together next week. I welcome criticism, constructive or not. Preferable non-constructive, tell me the truth, does it sound good, sound bad, any other suggestions. Also a small note, if you have any of the above plants that you are looking to thing out, let me know, I'd like to get most of my plants through this forum, my LFS' just do not have a good selection of plants, and the selection they do have are all stunted, short plants, that look like they fell of the truck or something.
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I can't really offer any comments about your set up as I'm a newbie to the hobby, but I can tell you to keep an eye on the for sale/trade forum. You can get excellent quality plants at very reasonable prices there. I wish I would have known about this forum before I started my tank, I could have saved myself alot of frustration and money. Good luck with new tank.:dance:
I, too, have a 55 gallon tank that I have just started. It is a planted tank with new plants and one lonely julii cory. I am adding things slowly, cycling you know, so first the gravel and rocks, then plants, then, yesterday, I added two drift wood chunks with nice little caves under them. Check it out:

Good luck!
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Well here are the first pictures...After rinsing and drying flourite. Still pretty cloudy this picture was taken on 09/23/2008

Today 09/25/2008 plants added, most of the cloudiness has subsided.

So far I've got the PennPlax stand set up it holds a 50/55 on top and 2 10's on the bottom. I went to my LFS with 3 6" common plecs, and 10 juvi convict cichlids that I had and traded them for 6 Dalmation mollies and 6 Mickey Mouse and Sunburst Platies.
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The picture from 09/25/2008 disappeared, here it is again

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I'm glad your water cleared up for you. Your plants have a lot of growing to do. Are you planning on adding any rocks or driftwood?
Yes I've got a larger piece of mopani driftweod that is currently in my 125 Gallon that I plan on covering with java moss. As far as rocks go I'm on the search locally for them.
New Update and pictures, so far the plant selection is as follows:
Ludwigia repens, a few kinds of hygro, some Rotala sp, and a few stems of E. stellata and L. aromatica, as well as a batch of rotala indica and Ludiwig broadleaf, all thanks to the marvelous people here at APC.

Left side, right side and whole tank pictures included:

Please criticize... I'm still new to this.
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So a month later and I actually see some growth to the plants. I don't know if it's the camera or the operator, but here go some lousy pictures. Why can't I ever get photos to upload???

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Here is something I found to improve my aquascaping. Perhaps it will help you. Looks like you have a balanced aquarium.

1.Plant all groups in odd numbers.
2.Fine leaved plants in the mid to back center of a tank
3.Heavier leaved plants toward the edges.
4.Dark leaves (red or dark green) look best toward back edges,
5.Light colored leaves toward the center.
6.Arrange plants and hardscape (rocks and wood) to provide good contrast of light and dark areas.
7.Light colored sand provides good contrast to plants.
8.When rocks used use multiple sizes, mixing large and small rocks, as in nature.
9.Rock edges should generally be rounded.
10.Hide your intentions with rocks. Allow plants to obscure some extent
11.Aquascapes with unplanted sand in front is a good alternative traditional “Nature Aquarium” style of all foreground covered with foreground plants.
12.Alternative layout is a slope from the middle up to the two back corners.

1 Use cotton thread to attach Java moss to wood, or lava rocks.
2. Moss on rocks blends an open sandy area into a planted area.
3. Driftwood or rocks with moss cast shadows for good dark/light contrast areas.
4. Wrap Anubias onto rocks using a plastic ties, and trim off almost all roots
5. Plan on putting crypts only in places with deep substrate.
6. stem plants cut graduated height sets, descending from high to low
8. Plant stems 2 or 3 at a time, in the same hole.
9. A new tank should not be trimmed for 3 months.
10. 1st trimming, let stem plants grow to the top, and then trim to halfway point.
11. Putting tubing (and or wires) that come into, or out of, the tank on the side
13. Substrate with separate sand vs. soil areas can be accommodated by placing cardboard between the two, and slowly filling in both sides until full. adjusting any slope you might want in the sand or soil
when both sides are at the same height cardboard can be gently removed.
14. Sloping substrate works better if something like rocks or drift wood is placed in the middle of the slope to keep substrate moving forward.
15. For substrate of separated soil and sand driftwood and/or rocks can placed on the line between the two to cover or hide the separation point.
16. Light shining up from the back bottom looks great!
17. For a really simple landscapes, use mossed pebbles around big central rocks.
18. A fully mossed group of interwoven driftwood branches can give a sloping look from lower front to upper back.
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and such fantastic points! I never seen these before. Question I have is for technique 16 What do you mean?
I am not certain #16. I think it pertains to lights on the bottom, like moon lights. I think I copied this at this forum
Well after nearly a 2 year absence from the forum I am back. I will work on getting some pictures taken of my tank in the next couple days. Lots of things have changed, some are the same.
First off, here is my stand, 55 on top, 2 10s on the bottom:

Left side:

Right side

Currently has some decent BBA and GSA.
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