47 gallon planted tank

  • #1
I am moving and decided to upgrade my tank during the process. I had a 24 gallon before and I wanted something a bit bigger and nicer looking for my new place. I also decided that I wanted to do a planted tank.

I started by building a DIY tank stand for the new tank. I stained it black and did four coats of a polyurethane acrylic blend clear, Minwax Polycrylic. I chose it because I wanted a water-based product so I could do the work inside. My old apartment has very bad ventilation. I couldn't find the outdoor water-based formula that Minwax makes, Helmsman, at my local hardware stores.

After that I bought the tank, the glass canopy, AquaTop CF-300 canister filter, 250W heater, and 30lbs of eco-complete at my LFS. I painted on a black background. My old tank had a green one which looked nice to begin, but after 3 years began looking terrible.

This entire time, I have been modding my old Marineland single bright LED hood. I have a DIY thread for it , but I have redone the power input to the hood and built a timer box that can control 2 sets of white lights and the blues. I also picked up 3 17" Marineland Hidden LED strips. Once I hook those up to the box as well, some modification will be needed, I should have 34PAR at 24" (If Marineland's documentation is correct). Without a meter to actually test this, I am assuming the low end of moderate lighting at my substrate.

So then it was on to my actual move, luckily just across town. I had a DIY can filter and a Marineland Penguin 200 running on my old tank. So I started by pulling the can filter off my old tank and moving all my bio-media over the the AquaTop while getting the new tank ready to go. I bought a pack of 1 quart mason jars and moved two fish per jar. I then drained the old tank and pulled the gravel out. I use a fine gravel. I bought it bulk from my LFS a few years ago, it is right between sand and pea-gravel.

For my substrate, I started with hydroton. It is baked, expanded clay spheres that is used mainly for hydroponics. It comes out of the bag sterilized, and kinda dusty. I also use it as my bio-media, it seems to work as well or better than the ceramic rings but it about $20 for a 50lb bag. In my research I also found that it has a CEC value, better than gravel, but not as nearly as high as layerite or other aquarium clays. I laid down hydroton to the top edge of the bottom rim, about an inch. I followed that with a layer of my old gravel, then the eco-complete, then the rest of my old gravel. In total I have about 5 inches of substrate right now, but I am expecting it to compact down some as the tank settles.

Then I did my aquascape as I filled the tank properly. I have used a combination of river rock and driftwood for my hardscape, there are also some accent rocks in there. I bit of I believe it's petrified wood and a hunk of pumice.

Once my tank was up to temp, I acclimated my fish and go them in the tank. They all made it and my 5 albino corys and 7 black skirt tetras are all looks good. All in all they weren't in a tank for about 2 1/2 hours.

I think I will be adding a CO2 system shortly, and plants after that. Once I am convinced everything is going great more fish will be added, thought I might add a couple of snails that will turn the substrate sooner.

I included pictures for now, but I need to rotate a bunch of them and get them in the text. Sorry if they are hard to view.


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  • #2
is it possible to turn the pics and have them clickable so we can blow them up, that would be grat thanks.
  • #3
5" of substrate? Seems like a lot. Make sure to poke it often to release gas bubbles.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I had calculated it to end up with 3-1/2" or 4". I think I will lose that inch once I get the gravel to settle into the hydroton better. But yes I will need to keep it agitated and that's why I'm thinking about adding a few snails to keep the top stirred and aerated.

Yes I'm going to see about fixing those pictures. Right now they are low res, but I have better ones on my phone. And I have a few more on the way of what the hard scape looks like.
  • #5
Looks really nice! Keep up the good work

When you can, could you post some more pics of the stand?

  • #6
Do you have some shots with the substrate in there?
  • #7
Sounds great and nicely planned out. I wish I could do that instead of impulse buying...plants and fish..
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I know I was asked for higher quality and properly rotated pictures from my first post, so here they are:

Tank Empty.jpg
The tank empty

Can Plumbing and Heater.jpg
The can filter (AquaTop CF-300) internal plumbing and heater

Stand Interior 1.jpg
Stand Interior 2.jpg
A couple shots of the tank stand interior

Stand with Can.jpg
The AquaTop can inside the stand

Daylight Test.jpg
This is a test of my daylight setting

Twight Test.jpg
This is a test of my twilight setting

Moonlight Test.jpg
This is my moonlight setting

I was asked for a shot of my tank with substrate, here you go. This is the hard scape.

  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Outlaw, you asked for some more stand pictures. When I was taking the pictures, I had assumed you meant interior. Let me know if that is not the case.

Stand Set Up.jpg
This is a picture of how I have the interior of the stand set up right now.

Light Timer.jpg
I added a little plastic tray for my fish food

Fish Food Tray.jpg
Here is the light timer all hooked up

Top Off Jar.jpg
I nailed a mason jar lid to the support 2x4 in the corner to hold the aquarium water only mason jar I use for top offs. It helps me keep it out of the way.

Today since I got all my lights hooked up properly I went out and got a couple plants and some flourish excel. I picket up an red sword and a cyperus plant. The sword is still a bit small, so it doesn't quite look right in that back corner. Once it begins growing and filling out, it should look very nice in that corner.

New Plants.jpg
Those pictures should give a pretty good view of the placement of both plants.

Red Sword.jpg
This is what my LFS was selling as a Red Sword. They didn't have a species name for me, but I was assured that it thrives with little care and moderate light, mostly just extra iron (like many other red plants).

Cypress Plant.jpg
This is the cyperus. Also pretty easy to care for and pretty large for what my LFS usually carries plant wise.

I will see about taking better pictures of my fish tonight. It needs to be darker outside to help get clearer pictures.
  • #10
Looks really nice. What size tank is it?
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Becky, it is a 47 gallon column tank. That makes it 20" wide, 18" deep, and 30" tall. It's deeper than most tanks and tall even for a freshwater tall tank, but it works really well in my space since it has such a small footprint for nearly 50 gallons.

I also forgot to mention earlier, but I've been poking at my gravel and it down to just about 4 inches. I say just about because it is more like 3 1/2 in the front and 4 1/2 in the back.
  • #12
Very nice. I really wanted to know because it didn't look that big in the pictures but I knew it had to be bigger than the 24 gallon. You have really done a great job with it. Are there more plants planned for it in the future? (I'm rather big on plants, lol).
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Yes there will definitely be more plants. I'm thinking like hornwort or anacharis in the back right, with something middle height and red infront of that but to the right of cyperus. Then I want to do a few smaller plants near to the front. Depending what I can get at the LFS, anubius or cryptocoryne or cardinal plants or bananas or a dwarf lily. I might also need something else spikey to go across the tank from the cyperus.

As far as fish go, I'm going to take it slow while stocking, but I'm thinking a school of blue tetras and a gold gourami.
  • #14
Thanks for the stand pics.

Tank is really coming along nicely!
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Thanks Outlaw
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
I got some of my co2 set up in today. My paintball tank regulator and solenoid arrived today. I am still waiting on the diffuser and a nicer bubble counter than the one that came with the solenoid. The regulator seems to be working great today.

I have also added some more plants, and my ferts are taking forever to arrive. Right now I have a total of six plants, but I'm still trying to figure out a couple more for the foreground. As background plants I have thin leaf anacharis (Egeria naja) and Amazon sword (Echinodoris amazonicus). I moved the red sword, which I found out is Oriental sword (Echinodorus 'Oriental'), so it is more of a mid-ground than background plant. I also have the Cyperus helferI in the midground, and now have added Golden Lloydiella (Lysimachia nummularia var. 'Aurea') and Hygrophilia pinnatifida. I have attached some pictures, let me know what you think.

This is the look of my current aquascape

Echinodorus 'Oriental'.jpg
Oriental sword

Echinodorus amazonicus.jpg
Amazon sword

Egeria najas.jpg
Narrow Leaf Anacharis

Hygrophilia pinnatifida.jpg
Hygrophilia pinnatifida

Lysimachia nummularia var. 'Aurea'.jpg
Golden Lloydiella

I still need to get my good camera out and take some really nice pictures, but it is still at the bottom of the last box I have yet to unpack.
Claire Bear
  • #17
  • #19
What type regulator did you get? I am looking for another regulator for one of my other tanks.
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
What type regulator did you get? I am looking for another regulator for one of my other tanks.

I got the minI solenoid regulator from Aquatek of California. It only fits paintball tanks and not the industrial type. I was thinking about just buying a 5lb tank but I only have room for paintball tanks in my stand. They run about $90 on Amazon or eBay. They are definitely on the inexpensive side for solenoid controlled regulators, but they do have a fixed working pressure. I feel like a lot of people aren't willing to pay that much for a paintball tank regulator, especially since they have seen paintball ASA valves and needle valves for less than $30 combined. I know I have seen a few threads on here or other sites with people complaining about their DIY paintball regulators don't work, and every one of them has stuck an ASA valve on the tank with a needle valve. None of them seem to realize that you really need a regulator valve, fixed or adjustable, to step down the tank pressure to a pressure the needle valve can control.
  • #21
It looks great.
  • #22
Gorgeous, hope my 150G turns out half as nice
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
Thanks fishlover and FishNut. Good luck with your tank as well FishNut. I think I would've gone with different plants if I had mail ordered them, but I've been sticking with what my LFS stocks. They don't have the selection of the mail order places though it isn't bad. The only problem I've had is that not all of the employees there are very knowledgeable on aquatic plants, but they have been nice enough to help me as much as they can, tell me when they are beyond their knowledge, and find another employee that does know more about the plants. I suppose that's really all I can ask.
  • #24
I have paintball tanks also and aquatek premium regs. So far they work great. I was wondering if the paintball regs were worth it for the same amount as the premiums. Let me know how you like it. I got an ASA valve at 1st but I have a kid and got worried about using it. I never set it up. Went with the real deal instead. Peace of mind is worth the extra money.

Tank looks great!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
Well I would assume that in terms of quality, durability, etc. that they would be the same across the Aquatek line. The construction is definitely high quality. I will keep an eye on it and let you know if I notice anything odd about it, but as far as I can tell it is worth the money. Are you talking the same price for the regulator by itself or with the paintball tank adapter? What I was seeing is that the two regulators were priced the same, but the adapter would cost almost an extra thirty bucks. That difference is what pushed me toward the paintball only regulator.
  • #26
The regs are the same price. I already have an adapter. I don't think I want to be limited to just paintball tanks. At some point I think I will get a 5lb tank. I might get another full size one. But its just a 20 gal I want to add one on and I have the paintball tanks already. I don't know can't make up my mind.
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
Well I would say if you have the room to add a 5lb tank or even a 2.5lb in the future go with the standard reg instead of the paintball reg.
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
I came home and noticed some thread algae growing off of one of the leaves of my cyperus. I had planned on shopping for an algae eating team next weekend, but I said screw that and ran out and got three amano shrimp from the LFS. I still have to figure out the rest of the assortment that I would like to add to the team. Right now I am thinking either a bristle nose pleco or a few (3-4) ottos and a couple of snails. I have reservations about both a BNP and ottos. I suppose the pros for the BNP is that it is a very striking fish when it becomes an adult and gets quite small for a pleco, but the con I worry about is the huge bioload of a pleco. As for the ottos they are pretty cute, but I worry a lot about their acclimation and their need for a supplemental diet (besides algae wafers that I already feed the corys). I know my LFS carries a few different varieties of nerite snail for freshwater (including particularly striking horned nerites), rabbit snails, and I think something else but I can't remember right now. If any one has any thoughts or suggestions or experience, I would definitely like to hear what you have to say.

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