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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess it is time to start a journal on my tank, now that I know I will actually get this one set up, lol! I can drag out the planning and wanna-do stage for years and have done so in the past, so...I held off starting this journal until I actually got far enough along that I know I will get it set up in a reasonable amount of time. It took me over 2years to get my former reef tank going with actual livestock in it! Between crotchety age related lassitude, laziness, and, dream-addledness, I can tend to stretch a project out forEVER! :rolleyes: Anyway, today I actually got my tank dirted and ready to plant...AND placed my order with Aquariumplants for delivery next Friday. :cheer2:

So, what I'm doing is switching my reef tank to a freshwater planted tank. Here is the tank and what I hve to work with. It is 37g 30"x12x22h and it is drilled with a 3 drain overflow on the back and a 20L sump underneath. Here's some pics; first is the reef with the DYI rock walls I made, second is the bare tank showing the overflow and drainbox, third, the background I put on the inside of the tank to hide the plumbing. I didn't do a very good job on covering the overflow...might have to pull it off and re-do it...later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Today, I mixed up my substrate. I used bagged top soil mixed with clay kitty litter, Seachem's Flourite, and, some decomposed granite for minerals. For the cap, I mixed pool filter sand with Flourite and decomposed granite. I didn't mineralize this, just put it in dry and made a hill in the back. I made substrate supports out of a sheet of polystyrene (from and old picture frame)...just scored and snapped them into approx. 3x4 pieces that I pushed into the soil to help maintain the hill.

I bought some driftwood for this tank, but, it is so buoyant that it could be a year before it finally sinks! For now, I'm setting this up without hardscape, but, may add some later on down the line.

For lighting, I had LED par 38 lamps that I used for my reef, but, since they were in the 14000K and 20,000K range, I had to come up with something else. I really wanted to stay with LEDs, and, really liked the lights from BuildmyLED, however, I'm on a very tight budget and decided to go with a lesser, and less expensive fixture.

Well....I love the night-time lightning mode on this little Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED+ light, but, otherwise, I can't imagine this fixture growing anything in my deep tank...including cryptos and ferns! I shoulda (<don'cha hate sayin' that!!)just bought my first choice and been happy with it! Instead, I wasted money on a useless piece of crap...and the company I bought it from, Marineandreef, refused to accept the return even though I had it less than 24hrs! :axe::axe: (I won't be buying from them again!) So, I now didn't have the funds to get my first choice so I opted for a 4 lamp t5. It will do the job. So, here are a couple more pics showing the substrate in...it needs a little smoothing out yet, but, otherwise is done until the plants arrive. The second and third pics are a sketch of my planting layout...or at least a rough estimate of what I have in mind, and, my plant order! :party: That last is of some larger rocks from the decomposed granite. It doesn't show in the pics, but, they are full of metallic gold flakes...I'm guessing either iron pyrite, or mica...didn't know I bought a 50lb bag of fool's gold! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't have a return on this yet, as the former return was built into the rock wall. I plan to make a pvc spraybar and will use my QuietOne 4000 as the return pump. It puts out about 1000gph before head loss, which might be a lot for a planted tank, but, I think with the restriction from the spraybar it should be manageable, plus it does have a valve on the pump to reduce the flow. I would appreciate any feedback, and/or advice regarding my setup, especially the return and the placement of the spraybar. Also, I don't have any filtration on this tank, just an empty 20l tank as a sump with one divider. Before I started reading up on planted tanks, I had planned to make a wet/dry, but, now see that wouldn't be a good choice with a planted tank. Right now, my 3 drains just hang down in the sump. I would still like something that I could put some carbon in or filter socks to catch debri so would appreciate some ideas on how best to utilize my sump...please!
 

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For suggestions on how to set up circulation in a tank, look at this thread: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/filtration/88242-how-setup-proper-water-flow.html

I've never used a sump, but all my hang-on-back and canister filters are filled with small lava rock (~.75" diameter), with sponges or filter fiber for mechanical filtration if needed. Lava rock is a very effective and inexpensive biofiltration medium, and does a fair amount of mechanical filtration as well.

I really like your background--this is DIY from pond foam, correct? I know you have your planting well planned, but you might try some epiphytes on the background. They give a very natural effect, and could be used to conceal the shape of the overflow..

Please let us know how the decomposed granite works out. I've wanted to try it as an experiment but haven't had the opportunity yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi, Michael! Thanks for the reply! That background on the plant tank-to-be is not DIY. I bought that online and just had to cut it down and to fit around the overflow. The background I did make is in the first photo of my reef tank. I made the rock scape out of cement, oyster shell, and perlite. I also did a foam and rock background for that tank first where I tied dry reef rock to eggcrate and then used pond foam around the rock and to form tunnel-shapes. I liked how that one looked, but, I made it too big for my tank and had to start over and try the oystercrete walls next.

For the plant-tank filter, I was thinking of making a chemical/bio filter out of one of those plastic storage bins and filling with bio media in the bottom such as the lava stone you recommend. I want something to be able to use filter pads to catch particulates mainly, and perhaps, carbon now and then. It won't be a wet/dry because this tank is next to my bed and I don't want a noisy waterfall sound, so, a submerged filter instead.

As to using epiphytes on the back wall, I did consider that and may still try it later. For starting out, I'm planning to use bushy stem plants and hope they hide it well enough. :)
I'll check out that link on circulation asap.
 

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That's looking quite nice, thanks for sharing. Like Michael, I'm curious about how the decomposed granite works out. Good choice using that background to hide the overflow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks Phil! That granite was a spur of the moment purchase. I had just paid for pool filter sand and top soil online at homedepot when I saw the granite. I thought the pool sand was going to be white which I really didn't want so I thought the granite would add a nice color. Turns out the pool sand was a nice pink/beige and a perfect color to go with the background and the red granite.

Anyway, the granite is very heavy and is a mix of sizes from oolitic to dime sized chunks. I love the texture and color, but, it may be a problem with packing down...just a guess as I'm new to this substrate thingy...might work best if sieved to remove the finer granules to allow more flow through.

This granite is almost all red, which would be predominately feldspar, I believe. I don't know the actual composition of it, (my college geology class was a long time ago, lol!) but due to the red color I'm hoping it has a high iron content...we'll see if it works out or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well....as a newbie, let me say....$100 worth of plants for a 12x30 tank is just a wee bit much! I did want good coverage, but, I really over estimated the size of the tank when planning out my placements and arrangements on paper, lol! :rolleyes:

Here's some pics showing filling the tank halfway...that water stayed crystal-clear until I started messing up with the planting and kicked up some dust. Then, my plant order and workspace to prep the plants. Started with the background plants and worked forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
And these pics show the background planted, those are preplanted rocks with dwarf babytears in the front, waiting for me to figure out where the heck I'm going to put them! Then we get to the foreground and the dwarf hairgrass. My micro chain swords didn't arrive...and that is probably a good thing...because I have enough hairgrass to set up a 200g tank, at least!

I bought 3 3x5 mats of hairgrass grown on coco-fiber mats...didn't want to come up short! :p I tried cutting the mats into small cubes and planting those...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, guess what...coco-fiber mats float like corks! See last photo in previous post! So, I spent the rest of the night removing the green metal mesh from the two mats that came with them (the first mat I cut up didn't have one) and that was difficult because the plants are very dense and overgrown. After that I cut them up into small pieces and then had to remove most of the mat leaving just enough to keep the root together. So, I got all the hairgrass ready to be planted now, and, will continue planting this tank tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Y'all know this tank has a sump, right? A 20l? It wasn't the plan...but...might just have to plant it too! Might make a nursery for wayward plants...perhaps a refugium on a reverse light cycle from the main tank....
we'll see. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That is it for now. There isn't room for anything else, but, I figure there is bound to be some attrition, so, when opening come up, I'll see. I tried to get some fairly fast growing plants to help control the excess nutrients from the soil substrate. Once that settles down, I may start changing out some of the faster growing plants with some slower growing types. Not sure...still learning. :)

I finished planting today and guess what? I did use all that hairgrass! I didn't think there was any way I would get it all in there. I'll get more pics tomorrow. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Here's some new pics with water in! Also a poor shot of my sump. At this time I have no filter in it...it's just more water. I have a QuietOne 4000 return pump...a bit overkill for a plant tank, but, I have it dialed down with a ball valve so it doesn't blow the plants out of the water. Eventually, I will replace that with a smaller pump...for now, I'm using what I have. I rigged up a quicky spraybar using parts from my old algae-scrubber filter. It actually works quite well (just a long narrow slit in the pipe) so I may stay with it...just need to paint it black so it is not so noticeable. These pics also show my MP10 powerhead and heater, but, I won't be using the MP10 since the spraybar is plenty of flow, and, the heater will go down in the sump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Well, it is day two and it is not looking good. :( I know there will be some shipping/transplanting shock, and, know some of these were probably grown emersed, so, I am expecting some dropped leaves, but...some of these don't look like they are going to make it! My baby's tears rocks both look dead...all greyish and transparent, the Limnophila aromatic "Hippuroides" looks bad also. It was losing leaves and the ends of the stems looked bruised when I unpacked it...it looks about the same still. The Nesaea pedicellata "Golden" perked up right after planting, but, now the leaves are turning transparent. The Vallisnaria spiralis "Leopard" is also going transparent. Is this normal after planting?

I dosed the tank today with Excel and Microbe-Lift Special Blend (bacteria)

My lights are too high, about 20" off the top of the tank, so, I will try to get that fixed. I am running the lights 2x24w on, overlap with 4x24wt at mid-day for two hours, then finish at 2x24w for 8hrs total. Does this sound about right? My tank is 22" tall with about 3" substrate at the front and a hill in back.

Any oppinions or advice welcome, please!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, I lost the Nesaea completely...it all turned brown and fell apart. The baby tears actually have some live bits in there! One of the (baby's tears)planted rocks still looks mostly dead, but, the other one is sprinkled with viable-looking green leaves! The Limhophila actually has a new green sprout on one of the stems, too...about 1" across, and, I swear it wasn't there yesterday! LOL!

The shorter Vals have some light green tips now, but, the longer Vals are half brown and disintegrating from the ends. Should I trim these back to the green? Not sure how to handle these?

The Bacopa monieri has new growth and looks the best of all. The Pennywort (Hydrocotyle Leucocephala)and Creeping Charlie (Micromeria Brownei) look good, but, I do find the occasional leaf from them floating on the surface. Same with the Alternanthera Reineckii).

I'll get more pics tomorrow if I can (have company over so may not get to it). Dosed another maintenance dose of Excell today and moved my lights to 3" above the surface.

Also, got my test kits in and will do a series of tests as soon as I get a chance...including a test of my tap water to see what I'm working with.
 

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Kerry,

It's not unusual for plants to die or go through a serious period of adjustment when put into a tank with an immature soil substrate. There may be some minerals or elements in the granite that're causing issues. Using anything that's typically used for terrestrial gardening can have unexpected consequences in a closed system. Keep up with 30% water changes as often as you can. Looking at your sump/filter, it looks like a prime candidate for a boatload of lava rock. I've used it in all my filters ever since I started keeping plant tanks that used a canister or sump and have been happy with it. All you need to do is grab some cheap mesh bags used for washing delicates, a bag of 1-3" size lava rock from a hardware store, wash the rock, toss it in the bags and put it in your sump so that water has to pass through it. If you want to get fancy you can use egg crate to hold it in place. Voila, cheap and effective media for your sump.
 
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