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The makings of a 20 long

3178 Views 7 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  confuted
I started this 20 gallon long tank about a month ago as an upgrade to my 10 gallon tank. New apartment, new city, new school, new degree - time for a bigger tank.

Some of the details:
Tank size: 20 gallon long
Substrate: 2 bags of Flourite
Hardscape: Some local rocks
Filter: Aquaclear 30
Lighting: Coralife 2x18W 30" fixture (initially)

I dumped one bag of flourite into a 5g bucket and started trying to rinse it in my bathtub. Thick, muddy brown water came out in unending quantities, making a horrible mess in my tub. It was a huge PITA and I felt like I was wasting tons of water, not to mention worries about clogging the drain with sandy particles. If I stopped stirring the flourite, I could get the water to run almost clear, but as soon as I mixed it up a little, it'd be back to mud color.

Eventually, I gave up on rinsing my flourite and let it settle in the bucket (still wet). I added a completely unrinsed bag to the tank first, then the "rinsed" stuff. I tried to avoid adding the dirty water from the bucket and the fine particles that made their way to the bottom as I stirred.

I added a little water to the tank (slowly), and it clouded up but settled within a day (no filter was running). I added some rocks for hardscape...

... and a small java fern plantlet, just for kicks. It wasn't tied down to anything, but it'd just been floating around my 10g anyway.
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My previous post contained a small fib. I said the lighting was a Coralife 36W fixture initially. That was, of course, the intent, but Big Als Online provided less than satisfactory shipping.

When my fixture arrived, it had two broken bulbs. I contacted them and they promised to put two new bulbs in the mail for me. Meanwhile, I got anxious, and transfered the plants and inhabitants from my 10g to the 20g - lighting be damned.

I don't have pictures from the initial setup, but I have some from soon afterwards:

Lighting: the canopy from my 10g, balanced precariously on top of the 20g long. 56W of spiral flourescents with no reflector, it illuminated about half the tank at a time, and did that poorly. I began to suspect that the piddly little 38W coralife fixture wasn't going to be enough for me when the new bulbs finally arrived.

Nevertheless, I set up some DIY CO2, my first foray into such technology.
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A full tank shot at this early stage:

You can see the canopy balanced on top, with the lid duct taped shut to prevent the thing from falling into the water. It fits the 10g, but this tank is bigger and I had to get innovative.

The plants were suffering from the poor lighting and some of the "care" my mom gave them over the summer in my 10g while I was away on an internship:

As you can see, there was a fair amount of death, destruction, and algae.

The fauna at this point: a 3 spot gold gourami, an albino cory, three african dwarf frogs, seven black neon tetras, and two white clouds. These were all holdovers from my 10g and were about a year old.

Two new bulbs arrived from Big Als. One was broken, the other was a "colormax" bulb that lit up a ghastly shade of pink. I decided it was unusable, and ordered a 10K bulb to go with the 6.7K bulb that I still didn't have. And the crappy lighting continued...
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Around this time, I added a paradise fish to the tank. He appeared to get along well with the others, which was a bit unexpected, given the presence of the large gourami, but they seemed friendly. I went on a trip for a few days, and returned to find that he'd expanded his territory to include the carpet. So much for the paradise fish; RIP my crispy friend.

One of my frogs died, and I decided it was time to stock up on them again. I added five more to the tank, but two made the transition poorly. I ended up with four. I also added what was sold as an otto, but I suspect is a siamese algae eater.

Eventually, the new 10K bulb and an unbroken 6.7K bulb arrived for my fixture. As I suspected, it was only a fraction of the light I wanted. Plants under the light grew well, but half the tank was dark. Not wanting to spend the money to order another of these underperforming fixtures, I decided to investigate DIY. I also had no desire to mess with Big Als shipping department any longer; it just takes too long to get a working fixture.
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To add some more light to my tank, I decided to hang a 24" shoplight from the ceiling. Mounting it was a bit tricky, as I was drilling through drywall over the tank and didn't have anything good to stand on ...

... but eventually, I got it up there. It's a little off-center, but that's ok; that asian ambulia on the left grows fast enough WITHOUT more light. Really, I'm trimming it weekly. The fixture also hangs a little crooked, but by moving where the power cord dangles, I can straighten it, so that isn't a big deal.

I used two hooks that came with drywall anchors rated to 35 pounds each in the ceiling. From there, I took 1/8" galvanized steel cable from Lowes and added little metal pieces to make loops and hammered on some ends. I forgot what those things were called, but they were sold right by the cable. On the light end, I used the s-hooks that were provided with the shoplight and more loops in the cable. To adjust the height, I employ a simple knot held in place by friction - it's just one half of a square knot.

I replaced one of the bulbs in the shoplight fixture with a bulb with a bluer spectrum. I tried replacing both, but that was too blue, so I need to find another source. Right now it has one bulb meant for aquariums and one that came with it (rather yellow). My tank has four bulbs total, and all four of them are different :icon_frow

I think perhaps I should lower the light a little more, as some light spills over onto the top of the other fixture, but then the light spread would be more uneven. It's a toss up - thoughts?

Next post: flora and fauna
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On the left side of the tank, a large and healthy stand of asian ambulia:

On the other side of the large rock, some ludwigia repens in the front with an apongeton crispus growing out from underneath. The small rock in the middle sports some small java fern plantlets, and the hygro difformis in the back spreads well, but absolutely refuses to grow upwards.

A bit farther over, stargrass, and on the right, hygro ceylon and hygro sunset.

The ludwigia repens isn't growing very well so I'm trying to sell it, and I plan on repositioning the hygro difformis to the front right, and the hygro ceylon to where the difformis is now.

In addition to the fauna mentioned earlier, I added a dwarf gourami and a honey sunset gourami. I know gouramis don't get along with one another, but I couldn't resist, and the fighting doesn't seem to be too bad. Though the honey sunset is the smallest of the three gouramis in the tank, it generally ignores any attempts to fight made by the much larger three spot gourami, or occasionally fights back. As a result, the tree spot has learned to tolerate this fish.

The dwarf gourami is more timid, and gets harassed by the three spot sometimes, but it has plenty of plants to hide in and no damage is being done to any of the fish. I'm considering setting up a shrimp tank; if I do, I'll relocate the three spot there for a few days before I get the shrimp; it might fool it into being a bit more submissive when it goes back.

Some fish pictures!

Can anybody identify the gender of the three spot?

This guy spent the day blowing bubble nests:

His back fins were clear when I bought him ... he's coloring up and they're turning black.

Is that 3 spot a female, or is this guy going to end up sexually frustrated?
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Ferts - I dose like crazy. I'm dosing EI macros every other day, and on the off days, I'm adding Flourish and roughly double doses of Seachem Flourish Iron. There are also some plant tabs in the substrate, although I suspect nothing is taking full advantage of it except the apongeton crispus.

I'm pleased with the left side, but not so much with the right side. I didn't really know how the stems were going to perform when I put them in there, and frankly, had no idea what to do with the hygro ceylon. I don't particularly like it - it seems impossible to create a clean look with it, at least in a tank this size.

I'm planning on switching the positions of the hygro difformis and the hygro ceylon. The difformis just won't grow "up", so it might make some good ground cover in front of that rock, and allow me to actually see my hygro sunset, which is coloring up nicely. I'm open to suggestions though.
Here's the best full tank shot I could get at the moment. I used the panorama mode of my camera; there aren't actually two three spot gouramis in there. I might be able to get better pictures after dark. You can't really see the sunset hygro in the back here, but it has great color.

As you can see, the tank is overgrown.
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