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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am very excited; I am about to do my first big tank! (I almost feel like saying first real tank.) I started with fish two years ago and soon wanted plants. I tried Nano soil setups, then did a 10 gal, then a 20 gal. soil set-up... Now I am going to consolidate the plants and animals from these into a 75 gal tank. We got the stand six months ago or more and I've tried to think ahead as I purchased equipment. So all I have should all work with my new tank. Both tanks are crowded with plants so I should have plenty.
Here's my tank plan:
open top 75g tank
may put a piece of wood in this tank, it's been soaked and ready
Some sandstone rocks (rocks and wood will go on bottom before dirt)
plain topsoil without fertilizers
sand/gravel topper by kwikrete
heater (I'll keep the temp at 78degF)
(Submariner) UV filter
may run a HOB filter too for bit until soil settles in
two architech style lamps; each with 100w eqivalent CFLs
all kinds of plants: plenty of rooted, fast growers and two floater species
MTS, RCS & Amano shrimp
some Rainbow fish, Dwarf Gouramis, molly, Oto cat

I'd like some advice on a few things: I considered re-using the soil from the 20 gal that has been running for 8 months because I know I won't be able to find all of my inverts. But I'd rather not. If I feel like I have almost all of the snails and cherry shrimp, then I won't. Of all the things I've fed them green beans and sweet potato have had the best responce, so I'll try to bait and trap them, net them, whatever I can. I've considered using my gravel vac all over once I think I've found all I can. But I'm afraid that that would kill the shrimp fry. I'd like to know what has worked for other people in this situation.
I also really need to know how long to bottle test gravel to see if it will increase water alkalinity.
I have very hard, very alkaline water as it is. I bought distilled water and added some of the 3M Quikrete 'sand' that I would like to use. It's like pool filter sand, the MSDS says quartz silicate but the color says limestone to me. Anybody have first hand experience with this product?

Recap:
I want to know the best way to get the inverts out,
how long until I see results on the gravel test
and/or if Quikrete sand will raise my alkalinity or general water hardness.

Thank you to everyone here! I've gotten so much help from you all as I worked with and learned about my NPTs.
 

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Shrimp are a real pain to try and catch them all. I moved mine from a 10 gallon tank to a 20 I was setting up in it's place. I trapped as many as I could by baiting. Then after I removed all the plants I netted as many as I could. Finally, after draining all the water to below the substrate level I caught the remaining shrimp (I could see them because they'd "flip" to try to get back into water) and they transferred to the new tank with no problems. I drained some water from a bucket into which I'd tossed some plant into my bathtub and discovered 2 adult cherry shrimp that had managed to escape all my efforts. I picked them up very carefully by hand and they're still going strong 2 months later (I put them in the nearest aquarium and that one had no other shrimp so I can see they're still doing well). I don't think you'll harm the fry if you try using a gravel vac, it would most likely be less stressful than what I put my shrimp through. I didn't have that option since my tank was too close to the floor to get a decent siphon.

I think I'd wait at least a month to see if the gravel changes the water hardness, but that's just my best guess.

Good luck with your tank! It sounds like an exciting project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. I hear they are pretty hardy, so hopefully my colony will be ok. I won't put them all in the new set-up right away just in case I have an ammonia spike. I'm airing out the soil (which has been in the garage for months) and hoping for the best. I know they'll be stressed though.

Still trying to figure out the Quikrete topper. Further perusal of the MSDS revealed a tiny addition that said it may indeed contain limestone. The 800# guys say it's mined from local rivers. But they couldn't tell me anything definite. I really should have tested it sooner. We have a lot of limsestone. I have people coming Sunday for the set up so I have to make some decision soon. I'm gonna go mix it with vinegar too I guess. I'm hoping that id it's low enough to not show me immedite results that it'll be ok. But I know that's not really a safe bet. :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I answered my own question, the bottle test (with all the dust in suspension) made the distilled water hard and alkaline. I don't want to take the chance that it's all in the dust, and wash it. I'm gonna get something else today. Good for some cichlids, but not for me.
 

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Were you able to catch the little critters, MEA? ;-)

regards,
Ravi
 

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I bought distilled water and added some of the 3M Quikrete 'sand' that I would like to use. It's like pool filter sand, the MSDS says quartz silicate but the color says limestone to me. Anybody have first hand experience with this product?
QUOTE]

I bought pool filter sand from Home Depot for my 50 gal setup. It looked cleaner than the other sands that Home Depot offered for sale, and it is working fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I just bought more of the aquarium gravel I used before. I's a bit smaller than reg gravel and it worked fine for the 20g NPT. I'm gonna re use most of it when I break down this afternoon. I'm hoping someone from my aquatic plant club will be able to use it for hard water cichlids.
gravy9, bottle traps with sweet potato only got a few over night. So I'm going down there now to net them. I am def going to vacuume last, I have two more sets of shrimp fry in the 10g. The smallest looks just hatched, about 1/3 the length of a long rice grain. Tiny. I'll be using a daphnia net. And uncountable tiny MTS. Wish me luck.
The plants are going in buckets until tomorrow afternoon. Some club members are coming over for an NPT set-up demo. We have a couple of members who have been doing it for a while, more experienced, who I'm hoping will do the talking. :tape2: I'll do the hands on. Hopefully some serious scapers can give me aesthetic advice. My previous NPTs have all looked rather wild. I'm so excited to finally have a big tank! :whoo:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Pretty sure I got most of the Cherries. I siphoned water into my Daphnia net. I have dozens of fry from moving 6 or 8 adults in there two months ago. Wow. I also found that I still had a few Daphnia Moina in this tank. I tried Daphnia last winter. Guess my water conditions were ok. It almost looks like I have enough to plant the 75 from just the 10. Crazy mats of roots under the gravel. They looked happy. My taller plants are in the 20. Going to break that down now. I should have even more shrimp in this one, depending on the Gouramis of course. Shrimp & snails are in a bucket with some plants. I'm not going to put the heater in there, I'm worried it would melt the plastic while we are sleeping. I'll turn the heat to keep it 72F in the house overnight, and I think that'll be ok short term. Fish are going in the 10g with the UV filter for movement and some floating plants. They will probably go in the new tank tomorrow night or Sunday morning, if all goes well.
 

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Good Luck and have a wonderful time with the NPT demo.

regards,
Ravi
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I had used two clamp-on architect lights planning to utilize them for the larger set-up. No go. There wasn't enough edge left over to grasp. I looked at them more closely; I saw that they were only rated for up to 60w bulbs. Two of those wouldn't have given me the 2-3watt ideal for an NPT. We found two floor lamps that would work at Walmart and got them the next day- disaster averted. This changed the lighting plan, though. I now have two "tree" lamps on each end of a four foot set-up. I added more watts than planned to reach the plants in the middle. I'm running the equivalent to 300w but in Compact Flourescent bulbs. 2-60's and 2-40's are 6500K GE sunlight bulbs, the remaining 40's are cool white bulbs. If I have algae I'll cut back on the wattage, but it looks ok to me this way. It looks too dark with the only two bulbs lit on each side. I still need the background, too. What do you guys think?


 

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Very nice setup, MEA.

Looks like that you're getting good light to the bottom even when you're pointing the lights at an angle.

just looking at this setup bring an idea for a DIY light. Having the pedestal setup on both sides with a horizontal bar connecting the two pedestals with the horizontal bar housing about 5 or 6 CFLs pointing to the tank. That would look neat too.

regards,
Ravi
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, I tried to resize the pics, but this isn't my thing. Didn't seem to work. Sorry for the trouble. I'll try to figure it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Ravi.
If the lights don't work, our other alternative is wall mount style singles (two 100w) mounted on a frame over the top. For some reason, my husband doesn't want shop lights in our main living space. :p
I'm worried that the Vals are too close to the light, but we'll see. The only one that doesn't look well light is the water sprite in the back, center. I may move it and put the annubias there in back, and put the sprite in their place up in the corner.

I have another question, too. I'm trying to remember how long it took the 20g to show ammonia when I set it up. I have the rest of my inverts in a bare bottom 10g with mosses. They look kinda sad, but I was afraid to put them all in and loose the whole population. It's been 36 hrs and my tests read 0 ammonia. When would it be safe to the rest of the shrimp in the new NPT?
 

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About the inverts in the bare bottom tank with mosses, I'd be careful MEA. I had 3 Caridina Japonica (Amano) shrimps in a bare bottom tanks with mosses and Riccia. I moved them there as one of them had lots of eggs. I was shocked and saddenned to find that they died the next morning. Not sure what caused it. Still feeling bad about it after 2 months. Should have left them in their old tank. :-(

I hope others here can provide some insight to avoid any mishaps.

Good Luck with your transition.

regards,
Ravi
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
They spent the first night in a bucket. :rolleyes: Maybe 2/3's are in the 10g with LOTS of moss, and a Marimo ball. It's running a charcoal HOB filter. The big ones colored up in there, but I know it's not ideal. I'm juggling them because I'm afraid to loose the whole colony with a new tank ammonia spike. My 20g tank log stated that I saw ammonia in two days (when I didn't air out the soil). The 75 was planted and filled Sun afternoon, fish in Sunday night, running 3 days now. I've tested it twice a day and still zero ammonia. I'm gonna put some more of the shrimp in there. I have to turn the lights out and distract the Rainbows; while they don't hunt them, they will eat whatever falls in...
Still wondering how many days would put me in the safe zone as far as an initial ammonia spike. Anyone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well I got an ammonia read today. It was low at 0.25ppm. I changed 15 gallons of water and ammonia was undetectable again. I'm watching this closely.
I also have BBA coming in on the Valisineria. Whenever I saw BBA before in the 20 it was on Vals that were shaded from overcrowding, but didn't spread again to the rest of the 20g tank. This time it appeared on damaged leaves. I trimmed them off. I may also have green dust algae on the glass. I did a cursory wipe before I changed the water. I can't tell if the water is green tint or if it's dust algae. But it's very pale, at least. I trimmed the rest of the tank of damaged leaves. (I had been rough on them trying to net all the shrimp). Lastly did a loading dose of Excel. I don't want to battle an entire field of BBA in this bigger tank. My plants are all short as it is. I had just trimmed and thinned the duckweed way down not knowing we'd find the 75 tank on sale.
I have 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, KH 300+ ppm, GH 300+ ppm and ph of at least 8.4
I doubt the 21 gallons of distilled water mattered much with our water, the readings didn't change form tap at all. I figure it would take almost all distilled to have a 7 pH. I doubt my small piece of wood will make much difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I back-pedaled on the Excel today. 24hrs after the loading dose I decided to go the conservative route instead and run carbon in a H-O-Front (very ugly but that's where it fits) Filter. I'm gonna watch and wait. If I need the Excel I can always do it later. I'm gonna be vigilant about ammonia, water changes and use the activated charcoal. Water is a bit tinted or I'm seeing fine green dust algae. :confused: The MTS are all on the glass eating like fiends. Ammonia was undetectable by test again today. Shrimp are my live water quality indicators and they seem happy still. I'm gonna put the rest of them in tomorrow.
PS I tried to edit the pics the next day but couldn't. Edits must be time limited. Sorry. When I do updates I'll start a new thread witht he smaller pics if anyone wants to see.
 

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Good to hear that the shrimp are doing well, MEA.
 

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I saw the pictures of your new tank. It looks like an excellent start. Later on when its more established you can tinker with it, but you've got the basics. Nice to see a Turquoise Rainbowfish. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the positive reinforcement gravy.
The remaining shrimp and snails went in today. Ammonia still undetectable, and I'm still watching. My single Otocinclus catfish looked a bit pale when I turned on the lights this morning, He is actually another "canary". After an hour with lights on he looked fine. Maybe low O2; from lights-out or from bacterial consumption? precursor to a nitrate problem? No nitrite or nitrate detectable today either. Who knows? It worked itself out. Another thing to think about. I can already see signs of growth in the plants, but they are subtle.
Diana, thanks. I can't wait to give the Turquoise some buddies. It's been fun watching him develop. His colors have come out nicely, even brighter when he acts up.
 
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