155 G. Bowfront Planted Tank - Update 8.6.2017 - Short Video And Pictures

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by BrettMad, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. BrettMad

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    Hi everyone,

    I posted in the beginner's forum and included the story of how I ended up with a 155 gallon bowfront tank (short version, it was in the wall when I bought this house). While I have attempted to keep tanks before, none were successful. We even managed to lose betas in the little beta tanks that you get from the pet store.

    I decided to post here so that I could focus on the tank, the equipment and occupants, and uses thread as a record of the tank as it evolves.

    155 gallon bowfront tank built into the wall. Access to electrical access to electrical outlets and limited access to the tank available from the back.
    Ehiem Classic Filter 2217 with Media (I do not remember what kind of media is in it).
    Tunze Nano Stream 6045 (I call them underwater fans, I do not know if there is a more specific term)
    Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus x3
    Ehiem Jager 300 W Submersible Heater

    CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Substrate - 160 pounds
    North American Rock Garden Red Lava Rock – various pieces totaling 25 pounds
    Zoo Med African Mopani Wood - one piece that is almost 2 feet long and half that high when we set it in the tank

    Amazon sword (six, three large, three small)
    Banana Plant x3
    Java Fern Trident x5
    Dwarf Onion x3
    Anubis x5 - not sure of the subtype, possibly a version of anubias barteri
    Cryptocoryne x8, 2 are Cryptocoryne Wendtii "Tropica," the other six crypts are the same type, but I think they are a different subtype than the first two, although I could not be certain.

    Millennial Rainbowfish x 4
    Dwarf NeonRainbowfish x 6
    Boesemani Rainbowfish x 6
    Cardinal Tetra x 14
    Golden Barb x 6

    In the first picture below you can see what looks like, and is, the removable copper facing that is above the tank. It has a small door in the middle that can be opened for feeding, and the whole thing pulls out if you need access to the tank.

    The owner before me used this tank as a living reef saltwater system and had all the plumbing in the room behind the tank to accommodate that system, but almost everything had been ripped out years before he sold the house to me. I was told that even when he had an active tank he had a service, he was not a hobbyist himself. The couple that helped me set this up wondered how many problems that copper facing caused his saltwater tank…

    This is where my tank is currently. In other posts I found out that we did not really cycle the water propory, and I do not yet have a testing kit so I will update this as soon as I get that tomorrow. I thought the plants accelerated the cycle, but I have come to find out that they do not do that, although they do absorb some of the ammonia and nitrate from the water. Jennifer (the wife of the husband-wife team that has been helping me) felt that we would be able to add fish after only a week, and she is a hobbyist with her husband. Although they do focus on saltwater she has set up freshwater tanks before and has her own freshwater tanks. I still do not know why she felt that with the amount of plants we were going to have in this planted tank we could add fish this quickly, but she commented that without the plants we would be spending another month or two getting the tank ready for the fish.

    One of the tank calculators I used suggested that when the fish I have are full-grown this tank is still only had about 55% capacity, so with everything juvenile still I am desperately hoping that the size of the tank, the media in the canister filter, and the plants will help me avoid new tank syndrome and killing off some or all of my first 36 fish while the tank finishes its first cycle.

    Going Forward

    Assuming the plants and fish survive the next several weeks, the plan for the next stage is to introduce some more fish, primarily the algae eaters/bottom feeders. Red tail sharks, clown loach and some version of a catfish that does not get too large are all possibilities I discussed with Jennier . We also believe we can introduce either another subspecies of rainbowfish or some other fish that is compatible as another mid-tank/upper tank fish.

    For plants, I do intend to add some sort of grassy like plant that would fill in some of the foreground and middle of the tank. We had actually pick some up to add already but they looked so bad once we got them here that Jennifer did not want to include them in a tank that was this new. She is going to see if they can be saved/cultivated in one of her own tanks and perhaps return cuttings to my tank if they improve, and if not we will look for another option. The large Amazon swords are already propagating, and we see a fair amount of new growth even in the little bit of time that the plants from the first stage have been in the tank. Rather than purchasing a lot plants, I am hoping that what I have will continue to propagate and fill in.

    Comments and suggestions are welcome! Stage III is not set in stone, I have not prepurchased any of the animals/plants for that stage yet.
  2. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    I had meant to post this thread in the freshwater aquarium builds sub forum, I am not entirely sure how I ended up in the tank photos, but because I want this to be an ongoing log of my progress I believe this is the wrong forum.

    Is it possible for a moderator to move this post to that forum? I know I am not supposed to post the exact same thing in multiple forums, and there is already information in this post from my initial post in the beginner's forum, so I certainly do not want the whole thing to appear in the third place. I guess another possible solution would be to repost this in the freshwater aquarium build forum and then edit this thread so that it has nothing in it except a pointer to that post. Any suggestions?


    EDIT: this was moved to the correct forum, thank you very much!
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  3. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    An unfortunate update today. All four of my millennial rainbowfish have acquired little white dots. I was on sure if I had seen a dot on one or two of them late Tuesday evening, by Wednesday there was no doubt. I called Jennifer, the wife in couple that was helping me, and she said that being moved into the new tank was stressful and when stressed fish are more susceptible to the dreaded ICH. None of the remaining 32 one seem to have dots yet, although they are not nicely lining up and holding still so I can check each one of them over.

    For treatment they have a medicated flake food, particularly as there are only a few dots on each fish at this moment, they are not covered, I am hoping that this will work. I was told to feed them as much as they would eat, with the normal caveat of not so much that it will letter the bottom of the tank. I think the food is called Metro, although I do not have in front of me and I may be misremembering. Additionally, the Metro may be a shortened form of what it is actually called.

    The Wednesday where I was sure all four of them had some white dots marked the seventh day, the end of the first full week in the tank. It is not like we have had these fish for years and are super attached to them, but I would not consider it a good omen if we lose some of the first fish we added the tank so quickly. I am very hopeful that this medicated food both helps prevent the other fish from getting infested and helps these four recover.

    In another note, we will be testing the water later today, my daughter is back from her trip and she wants see and help, so I will give an update once I know more about that as well. I had reported my first tests in my thread in the cleaning, but basically, it was pH 7.1, trace amounts of ammonia and nitrites, nitrates at 5 ppm.

  4. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    This is the fish food, the medicated fish food, that was suggested to help combat the ich. My fish have been on this now for two days, and my daughter swears that there are already fewer white dots on the fish. I am not 100% certain, but it seems a little unlikely to me although I admit I have no recent experience with fish with ich. Now that I know what that is, I do think one of our previous attempts to keep fish almost 10 years ago ended due to the fish having ich but I do not believe I knew what it was at the time and my memory is not all that clear.

    In any case, I was wondering if anyone had used this successfully? How long did it take for the fish to clear up? How long after we no longer see white dots do I keep feeding this food to the fish?

    Here are a couple of short videos, one panning across the entire tank, another focusing in on some of the rainbowfish



    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2017
  5. BeanFish

    BeanFishWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah I have used it countless of times. The spots usually dissapear in a day or two. I do a 50% water change before starting treatment and mix 250mg of metronidazole in water, soak their food in that and throw it. 24 hours later I do another 50% water change and do the same. Another 24 hours later I do a 50% water change and feed again. Those 3 rounds is all I have needed. Once 24 hours pass by I start doing water changes to get the metronidazole out.
  6. vikingkirken

    vikingkirkenWell Known MemberMember

    Easiest way to deal with ich is to crank up your tank temp to 86 for two weeks... I've had good success with this method in the past.

    If you want a red tailed shark, only get one! More than one will fight, often to the death.

    Pick up some Seachem Prime (if you already have it and mentioned it, I apologize!) As long as your ammonia and nitrites stay under ~1 ppm combined, dose the tank with Prime daily. If the combined number climbs over that, be prepared for large water changes to bring the numbers down.

    Feed your fish lightly until the tank is cycled, no more than once a day, and skip a day once a week or so.

    I'd also suggest picking up some fast-growing plants like hornwort, dwarf water lettuce, or frogbit to help manage ammonia and nitrite as you go through the cycle. You can remove them later, once your tank is cycled, if you don't like the look of them.

    If your friend or a local fish store (with healthy tanks!) has some already-cycled filter floss available, you can add that to your filter to really get your cycle moving.
  7. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Your tank looks great!
  8. Redshark1

    Redshark1Well Known MemberMember

    Yes a beautiful tank with much potential.

    I would start by looking at other people's tanks to get inspiration and decide what I like most. I would be aiming high with this tank (though not in terms of difficulty!).

    I would be looking at aquascapes and trying to reproduce one I found stunning. There are regular aquascaping competitions and the aquaria are pictured online. If I were starting anew I would be designing one of these aquascapes.
  9. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    Thanks for all the advice!

    I will look at the idea of aquascaping, although as my first tank larger than 10 gallons (and that was a failure almost 10 years ago) and my current track record if I can just get a healthy tank going I will consider it a win. I a hoping to learn a lot through this tank...
  10. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    I cannot change out that much water at the moment. I get my water from the store, I think is is RO water, the tap water here is not good. I need to get something to transport more than 5 gallons of water at a time.

    The Metronidazole I have is a medicated fish food, not a liquid. Now 4 days later and I still see the white dots that I presume are ich. None of the fish are lethargic and although it has spread to another couple fish it is by no means the whole tank yet....

    I am seeing the lady who helped set up the tank today and will ask about combining the temperature treatment or how long this should take.
  11. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    With any ich treatment you need to be doing daily tank vacuuming. So you will need to get tons of water. The ich cysts fall onto the substrate and can reinfect your fish if you don't vacuum them out of your tank. This requires daily or every other day very very good vacuuming. Cleaning your tank exceptionally well takes lots of water.

    Why do you think your tap water is no good? Have you tested it? Most of the time tap water is way better than bottled water of any kind. You need the added minerals from your tap to keep the tank stable and healthy. So I would make doubly sure about your water.

    Most of the time you either use heat treatment or medications not both.
  12. BeanFish

    BeanFishWell Known MemberMember

    I dont like the idea of buying medicated food. You dont know how much medicine you are giving the fish. Maybe the metronidazole concentration isnt enough.
  13. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    Jennifer was here today, and we went over several things with the tank and I got a bunch of questions answered!

    On cycling the tank – I did not get a seeded media for my filter, there are both the physical and biological elements to the canister filter as normal. However, the CaribSea substrate is Eco-Complete, and that does have the bacteria we need. It was shipped and arrived at the store the day before they put it in the tank, they did not even open those boxes they brought it over for me. I know there is a concern with how long those bacteria can survive in this substrate, but I think the proof is in the pudding here. Testing has never had ammonia get higher than 0.20. Nitrates register zero in all tests but one, and that was the first test after the substrate had been in there two weeks and the fish had been in for five days. That time it registered somewhere between zero and 0.25 but closer to zero. Nitrates are holding steady between 3 ppm and 5 ppm.

    We also have the fact that we have a fair number of plants in there, helping deal with the nitrates, and for the size of the fish tank the 36 juveniles I started with would have taken quite some time to pollute the water. As long as some of the bacteria is in the eco-complete survive, there was something there to start with an something there to start handling the initial fish wastes Jennifer says that like any tank it will take time to build up enough of the bacteria's in the canister and that which remains in the substrate, one reason for the comparatively small number of fish (even at full grown I am barely using half the capacity of the tank).

    Plants – All of the plants are looking pretty good. Today we pruned a number of dead/dying leaves from the smaller Amazon swords that were part of the first wave, but all of them are showing new growth now. I must admit once we pulled off the larger although dying leaves they look a little puny but as that is all new growth I am sure they will rebound. The large ones that were planted were doing very well, and had almost no pruning necessary. It looks like another couple weeks I am going to have a bunch of little Amazon swords to continue to plant along the back wall. We are still trying to decide on a carpet/grassy type of plant that is going to go in the front center and in a corner over on the right. At the moment the last intended tank is another type of Java fern, one that is bushy. We intend to situate those java ferns on a few of the rocks and possibly on the driftwood. We going to hold the course for at least another couple weeks before we add any plants.

    I have posted a couple pictures in the "identify this plant" forum, and we had mostly gotten them correct. There are two types of crypt in the tank, cryptocoryne wendtii and cryptocoryne lingua. There are two types of a anubius, anubias barteri var. nana and anubias barteri var. angustifolia. She is about 90% certain on the species, she had gotten some stuff for her tank as well and there is a slight possibility that this is mixed up but she said she would email me if there were any issues. In addition to those we have the banana plants, dwarf onions, Java fern trident and Amazon swords.

    Fish – We seem to of lost a Cardinal tetra, counting multiple times there were 13 instead of the 14 that there were originally. This took a while, fish do not seem to answer to roll call. She confirmed that the dots on a number of the fish were ich. However, she said I caught that very quickly. We had to search closely to find any dots on any of the fish and she said normally by the time people ask about our realize that the fish have a lot more dots and more infection. We think about half the fish in the tank are currently showing some stage of ich. However, they are all still eating well, playing in the current and otherwise moving around so she feels that I caught it early enough that we might be lucky and avoid any fish loss (except the other tetra, and I honestly do not know when we lost that, we cannot find the body)

    The medicated fish food I have for the ich needs to be fed to the fish for a full month after the outbreak has disappeared. I am supposed to feed twice a day, no more than the fish can eat in about a minute. I am supposed to make sure that they are being fed, but to make sure I do not have extra food uneaten that is floating to the bottom of the tank. As mentioned above the bacteria that I want is largely in the substrate while it gets established in the filter and if the food decays down in the substrate well, there goes some of the bacteria because of the medicine.

    We talked about the next stage, which at this point is at least a month away. We are not going to add fish until the ich has been gone for a full month. She is going to do some more research considering what we have and some of what we are thinking about getting, but we think we can add red cherry shrimp. We are also going to add one more species of rainbowfish, either four or six depending on exactly what we decide on and what size it will be. [Any suggestions? I would like to add another color.] She is going to keep an eye and ear out at the wholesalers and see what is available. I know that I could order and get anything I wanted, but if I choose amongst those locally available it will keep costs down. There is also some form of catfish that we are going to add, I forgot the exact name but it is a type that does not get much bigger than about 3 inches. The other future tank made for these guys will be zebra danios. Jennifer has had some experience with the zebra danios and rainbowfish before and says they are quite compatible in her experience.

    On water changes: We are not vacuuming/doing water changes yet for several reasons. First, the testing is showing no real harm in the levels of ammonia or nitrites, they seem to be under control and the nitrates are currently decreasing with the current plan to fish load that I have. Second, most of the bacteria I have that is good bacteria is currently in the substrate, another week will give some more time to build up more good bacteria in the canister filter as well. Third, she wants another week or so for the medicated fish food to work. Changing the water can be stressful to the fish (in her opinion, it seems like opinions on here do not always agree) and she does not want any other stressors while we try to get in front of this Ich issue. Fourth, Jennifer wants the root systems of a number of the plants get a little more established before we start digging around in the substrate with the vacuum.

    Although eventually as the bio-load increases, the fish grow and new fish are added I will need more frequent water changes, currently Jennifer does not feel that I will need to change the water more frequently than changing out about 20 - 25 gallons every 3 to 4 weeks. Remember that about 5 gallons a week evaporates, so this means changing 20 - 25 gallons and adding 20 gallons in a four-week period. From the reading I have done this is not as large of a water change as a lot of people recommend, but I also do not know if planted tanks just need fewer water changes assuming that the tests show the nitrate level is not rising.

    All the water I add and all the water I use when I vacuum, change water is RO/DI water. I asked about the tapwater here and in John and Jennifer's experience if I want a nasty algae and bacteria problems go ahead and use the tapwater here. That is their experience with the tapwater in this area and freshwater tanks. I asked about trace elements that the plants will need and Jennifer says that with the fish in her planted tanks the last time she needed to add fertilizer was never when starting with one of these types of substrates. The substrate is very rich in minerals and should provide everything the plants need for longer that I am likely to have the plants, she is going on her 12th year was one of her tanks and the plants are thriving without fertilizer.
  14. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    I posted an update about my discussion with Jennifer about this in a number of other issues

    I express some of these concerns, but apparently, they have used this treatment successfully. For now, I am going to go with it, but I am going to keep an eye on things.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2017
  15. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Ok so Jennifer knows some of her stuff but not all of it.

    Firstly with ich you MUST vacuum your tank. It is 100% necessary the ich cysts fall off into the substrate. Because you are not medicating your water column, there will be ones that survive and will reinfect your fish. So this isn't optional. It may stall your cycle, but ich can kill your fish. So it's not much of a choice.

    Second do NOT add any other creature until you are done with this ich outbreak. You don't know where this is going to lead. Shrimp don't like uncycled tanks or medicated foods. So add nothing until the ich is gone.

    What sort of bacteria is in the tap water? I mean isn't that illegal? The chlorine in water systems kill all the bacteria. So it is safe to drink. If you can safely drink your water. So can your fish. Some tap water has Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in it. But those are easily dealt with in a cycled tank without need for much work unless your nitrates are through the roof. Then that is also illegal but you can get nitrate absorbing products for your filter to deal with that.

    I would test your tap water with the master test kit. See what it says. You will probably be fine with your tap water. But large water changes must happen. What did the old owners use for their water changes? Unless they had a RO/DI system in the house, I bet they used the tap water.

    Also using RO/DI water you will need to be adding minerals back into your water. So hopefully Jennifer mentioned this also. Without the minerals your pH will plummet and it can kill your fish.

    With fish tank care. Most of us do weekly water changes. Waiting 3-4 weeks will not be enough. Your nitrates will get sky high. With a large planted tank, unless you are heavily planted, your nitrates will build up. I would test every week until you know for sure your nitrates don't get over 40ppm in a week. I am only saying 40 because you have plants. Normally you don't want to go above 20ppm. Most tanks will get to 20ppm in a week. But you won't know for sure until you actually test. Your goal for having cycled tank is 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrites, & 5+ Nitrates. So unless you have those values you aren't cycled.

    I think your primary focus needs to be on treating the ich, secondary focus is your cycle. Then once you are ich free and have a fully cycled tank, then you can add more creatures. Be sure to get a quarantine tank set up and going also. That way you won't be adding new sick fish to your healthy tank. Hopefully Jennifer told you about how to quarantine new fish for 4 weeks.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
  16. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    We were not going to add any fish until a month after the ich was cured, we were just looking ahead. I will keep testing the water, but the highest my nitrates have been is 5, then it dropped to between 5 and 0, with 3 being my best guess and it seems right between the two colors. I read about the problem some have if they do not vigorously shake nitrate bottle 2 getting false readings, and I have done everything recommended for that. I am not sure if I need to get a different type of test, such as a strip, to double check the nitrate test. I need to go find that thread again.

    The driftwood and substrate we have is supposed to help with the pH. all the water currently in the tank is RO/DI water and the pH is testing a 7 to 7.1 so far, but I will monitor that as well. I do not remember the issue with the tap water, it was not bacteria in the tap water, it was that tapwater would cause a lot of algae and bacteria growth, good and bad. (No, I do not remember asking why, that is just what they said).

    The previous owner had a living reef saltwater system, and he was no help as he just hired a service to take care of it. He apparently knew nothing about care for it, he told me when I meet him when buying the house it was put in for his wife and had sat empty for years. When John and Jennifer set this up one of the things then had to do was cut out and cap the plumbing that lead to a large plastic bin outside the house.

    We have not discussed the quarantine tank yet, but we are over a month away from getting or adding any more fish. There is so much to learn with this system that she may just not have brought it up because we are not at that point yet.
  17. vikingkirken

    vikingkirkenWell Known MemberMember

    Did you figure out what the bin was for before you cut the plumbing for it...? Chances are it was installed to make water changes easier...
  18. OP

    BrettMadNew MemberMember

    Well, the bin was outside the house and whatever it was is long gone. There was nothing but debris and leftover pipe in there. The plumbing led to baffles that I guess are used in saltwater but not freshwater tanks.

    Tests tonight:
    pH 7.0
    ammonia 0 ppm
    nitrites 0 ppm
    nitrates 5 ppm
  19. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Ok so that makes a bit more sense then. You CAN use your tap water. You don't NEED Ro/Di water. It is optional. The person helping you has made the decision for you, so you do need to make sure it works for you. If you are having issues with having enough water for water changes, then her method is not working for you. You have to do what works for you, not someone else. Everyone's tanks are different. Especially freshwater versus saltwater.

    All tanks go through algae issues and bacteria issues. It is part of fishkeeping. Most of us get fish, and a clean up crew to help with algae. Personally I would use the tap water, it is so much easier and so much cheaper. Why don't you do a full set of tests on your tap. See what it looks like. You never know it may be perfect.

    As far as a quarantine tank, I would get it going now. You will need it cycled for your new fish. You can do a fishless cycle on it, and get some
    practice on your own, cycling a tank. It takes a full month to seed new filter media with bacteria to transfer to a quarantine tank, For an "instant" cycle. But you have a sick tank at the moment. I wouldn't share media from that tank to another tank. I would just do a fishless cycle on the qt tank. Take your time. Learn how to do it on your own, no risk of fish death.

    If you do a fishless cycle it takes 2-3 weeks to cycle the tank, so getting it ready now would be a good idea. Since you have such a large main tank, and will have large fish, I would suggest at least a 15 gallon quarantine for you. Gives those big fish some room to swim. Quarantines usually last at least a month. So just be aware of that.

    Is the ich still getting better?

    It sounds like your tank is well on its way to being cycled. I would keep testing daily for a few more days to verify this though. You want a good solid nitrate reading to confirm. So above 5ppm would be good. I would just give it a few days. Your tank is so large it will take time for the nitrates to build up.
  20. Jocelyn AdelmanFishlore VIPMember

    So many things going on here lol!

    First off, agree that gravel vac while cycling/plants establishing isn't a good idea, however, as Allie said with ich it removes the....spores... for lack of a better term.,.. however, I used the heat method and not meds, so maybe this is the reason behind it????

    Second, I have 12 planted tanks, eco complete in 7 of them... never did it contribute to an "instant cycle". I'm sure it helped, but again just helped...

    RoDi as stated above it need to be remineralized... assuming you have something for this? Seachem is usually the brand most use (forget which, maybe replenish, equilibrium???)
    If you do decide to change over to tap water do it slowly.... it will be very different from the ro/di. The only reason I can see for ro/di is if the ph/gH is too high for your fish, such as discus... other then that tap doesn't cause algae...

    Biggest advice I can say though is forums like this are amazing for getting a number of different opinions... but every tank is 100% different from the next one, even in the same house! Best thing would be to follow the advice of one person (Jennifer) and use the advice given here to ask her questions... we all do things that work for us, but if she is your main "go to" person, stick with her way for now until you are cycled... after that you can make changes from suggestions here after you have researched each option to see if it would work for you. Her way is just her way, there are always other ways, after you gain knowledge you can make it your way!

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