"And she's going to need a tank..." My journey to a 48 gal new build

LilyPipeDreams

Hi all,

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*DISCLAIMER* SO after typing all of this out, it will be a multi part journey to where I am at today. I haven't really been able to share this much with anyone besides family and my partner (who, to her credit is dealing quite well with my recent 'spending habits' and incredible fascination with this hobby). Plus it let's me express my artistic AND logic mind. Having said that ^^^^, there will be a bit of a foreword that starts this thread and giving a bit of a back story of HOW I got here. Please enjoy
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New to the site and to the aquarium hobby. I haven't posted on forums in probably 15 years, so this is a bit of a journey - plus it will give me an excuse to document this project more than the last. A bit about myself: I've never had a tank until June of this year. I did grow up with them, my father kept a 125 gallon when I was growing up, full of tetras and discus (they co-inhabited pretty well!). Beyond that, I never really had too much of an interest.

Until my partner's 10 gal for her classroom needed a rebuild. She's a Montessori teacher and has always prided herself on having a tank in her class, much to the benefit of the children! I helped her get some of the equipment about 4 years ago and she ran it pretty well. Unfortunately another staff worker didn't keep an eye on some of the kids over a March break camp and pretty much all of the fish ended up getting sick and passing (they fed the poor things paper, among other things). We scrapped the tank because she couldn't bare the thought of getting more fish at the time.

Fast forward to September 2019: she moves to another school and decides that it is the time to start it up again, we head out to the LFS, get some platys and guppies, some live plants and I help her put it together. Still, I'm not overly drawn to it. It was fun helping her out but I suppose it was her project and I had a bunch of other things going on at the time. Unfortunately the plants didn't last too long, but the fish did well and the kids were happy.

Then COVID shuts everything down. She's not able to get into the school. Period. She's assured by the owner that she's taking care of the fish and will hopefully be able to let her back in once everything calms down. That doesn't happen. My partner doesn't have a key and the own doesn't answer her calls for days. They start teaching remotely and still, the owner assures her everything is good.

Around mid-June, school has been cancelled for about a month and a bit by this point. She's now allowed back in (because we were opening up at that time) and comes to find this:

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You can tell by the filter pad on the lower right hand corner, how dirty it was . That's no carbon pad. By some miracle, a lone Platy had survived in that mess and while he had a bit of a limp tail fin and what looked like an ulcer, she brought him home, and asked me what we should do. I am now forever changed by my response: "well yeah, let's set it up and see how he does...". Obviously, I wasn't going to let the poor guy kick it. He (or she, could never tell - we called him Lucky) made it through all of that, the very least we could do was help out and give some quality of life.

Plus it was COVID, wasn't like I was spending my time going out anyways.

She got the tank home, cleaned it to like new, put some gravel in and gave Lucky a new home. Now this is where it all went pear-shaped for me. Obviously no inexpensive filter is designed to operate like that, and we had to go out and grab a new one. Did my research, decided on an Aquaclear 20, then decided that I'd get some live plants too. Grabbed some Dwarf Sag, Pennywort and Hornwort. She had some Flourite kicking around, so we did it up!

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Oh and we got some driftwood. Plus an airpump (which I idiotically didn't figure that you could have a variable valve for to adjust the flow -_-).

Then I went off the deep end. I bought the Master Tester Kit, started testing the water religiously (which I do once - maybe twice - a week now), thought that my water way TOO hard so I went out and bought a water softener pillow, misread the instructions, ran it twice as long as I should have, brought the water down to like 3gH, freaked out that all of the fish were going to die, put a turtle bone in the tank to add some calcium (now realizing that I could just do a quick 20-25% water change), bought equilibrium, used that. All the while, in theory, the tank is still cycling. So naturally we decided to give Lucky some company, and got a couple more Platys.ead:

Now I know that in future I will be going a fish-less cycle and waiting but honestly, I was testing the water and maybe I missed it, but I was testing and changing the water about 2-3 times a week (small changes) and it never really got that bad. I chalked it up to the plants, adding 'Stage 2' (basically Seachem Stability) religiously and only feeding every second day.

I then did little things like start reading more about water chemistry, learning more about plants, fish habitats and obsessing with what I could add to the tank. I got some Seachem products; first a couple, then a few more, then the whole range. Then I started reading about filter optimization, so I went out, bought more bio media, added a pre-filter and bought myself a background, some rocks - and obviously - some more fish and plants.

I was so torn about what to add. I waffled between a lone Dwarf Gourami or Neon Tetra's. I suppose the Tetra won in the end due to nostalgia. And I was happy that I chose them. Plus we added some Java Fern because I kept reading about it and I was incredibly fascinated with being able to propagate them very readily.

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I also got a LED light. Because I figured why not. I needed improve my lighting and needed MORE of it.

Then we lost Lucky.

I came down one afternoon and he was on the bottom of the tank, pale in colour and nearly on his side. He had been so strong, so happy and playful with his new world and new friends. How could it be? Was he just not long for this world? Had he lived his bucket list and could now go sweetly into the night? I called my partner over and we were in shock. I've lost pets before but this was particularly raw. I had put so much time and effort into it and was sure it would succeed. I know eventually all good things must come to an end, but this seemed a bit soon.

I cleaned my hands, and reached down to see if he would stir. As soon as I did, he moved away as quickly as he could. The back 3/4 of his body was immobile. He struggled as mightily as he could to swim to the top using his pectoral fins but only to grow tired and end up falling to the bottom.

After what seems like an eternity, we decided that he should give him the dignity to go and not suffer.

The next few weeks were just like before, testing here and there, making upgrades to the existing equipment (a new heater and digital probe thermometer - and discovering that the old thermo was WAYYYY off and I had the tank at ~81; bring it down to a nice, stable 77.4 over a nice period of time), started to propagate the Java Fern by trying to tie it to the driftwood (NOT easy) and then deciding to buy ANOTHER rock to super glue the developed roots (paying special attention not to glue the rhizome), experimenting with ferts and whatever else caught my fancy.

Oh and I needed MORE plants. I figured I'd buy some Ludwigia Repens and work on that. We then started to finish our space - which mean finishing the kitchenette - which meant re-locating the tank. We decided to re-appropriate an old record cabinet that I had (poorly located which meant I couldn't actually connect and play LP's) and turn it into the new tank station. Oh, and I added ANOTHER piece of driftwood. And a few more Neon's to round it out to 9 in total (I couldn't bring myself to get another Platy after losing the OG).

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I drilled some holes in the back (plus one in the wall, I idiotically decided against an outlet on that wall, never intending to need it for a fish tank), removed the separators, and rigged it up nicely:

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I watched videos, read articles, tried to take in more - probably a bit obsessively (which is very much me when it comes to new hobbies) - but it was all in the vein of making sure my little world thrived and wanting to build on it and perfect it more. And I changed back to the T8 fixture and got a new 6500K bulb. I wasn't liking the results with the LED. And I got cheap bluetooth timers for the airpump and lights, as well as some aquascaping tools.

But I wanted something more. I wanted a bigger challenge. I felt that with all of things I did with this tank, it was still my partners tank, still the gravel she chose (which I HATE lol) and the plastic rock thing in the back corner that I can't bring myself to remove, and the small nature of it.

Watching these videos with these big, new, shiny, rimless tanks really got me thinking. So I made a dream list and talked it out with her.

It didn't go well. I should have guessed obviously - we were crunched for space, I had put a bunch of cash into this small tank and I tell her I want a 65 gal?! Where does it go? How much is it going to cost? What are we going to do with this one? I try to pitch it to her as a fish rescue - no go. She says "Give it a year. See how you feel about it." So I acquiesce and resign myself to my little 10 gal world.

Then about a week later, she agrees to take a new teaching position. And she's going to need a tank.

And I will leave it at that for now. The next installment (hopefully tomorrow) will bring the second part to this journey and launch into the beginning of my new tank.
 

Redshark1

Not sure tropical fish is actually an expensive hobby at all to be honest.
 

LilyPipeDreams

Not sure tropical fish is actually an expensive hobby at all to be honest.
No, not at all.

All I really needed was a filter and maybe some fake plants when I went out that first time.
 

AP1

Great post, and looking forward to hearing more!
 

LilyPipeDreams

Thanks! Was planning on posting again last night but life happened lol.
 

CTYankee79

Love this! You remind me of myself, but with a cooler backstory to how you got into the hobby lol.
I started in April with a 10 gal and now have a 40 breeder, I’ve learned so much on this forum and have had a great time (and some frustration) building the tank and getting it to what it is. It’s amazing how our knowledge and therefore our taste and direction changes so quickly starting out in this hobby. For instance when we bought the 10 gallon I said I don’t want live plants, just fake. Now I have $300 worth of live plants in the 40 lol.
Good luck and keep the updates coming!
 

Nataku

You'll soon find bigger is better because it allows so many more options. Small tanks are fine for single species breeding, but otherwise, big tanks tend to be where it's at. Way easier to build a community, many other options of fish species are opened up, etc.
Enjoy MTS, the bug has bitten you, the only cure is more tanks.
 

Gudgie

So sorry to hear about Lucky, but welcome to the hobby! Sounds like you've been bitten by MTS just as bad as many of us on here - so you've definitely come to the right place!

I fully understand the obsessive research - I tend to be the same way. I probably (definitely) drive my husband nuts.

So now the real question is - how big will the new tank be, and will that be the one that stays home (10 gal to her classroom?) so that you get to play with it more often?
 

LilyPipeDreams

Love this! You remind me of myself, but with a cooler backstory to how you got into the hobby lol.
I started in April with a 10 gal and now have a 40 breeder, I’ve learned so much on this forum and have had a great time (and some frustration) building the tank and getting it to what it is. It’s amazing how our knowledge and therefore our taste and direction changes so quickly starting out in this hobby. For instance when we bought the 10 gallon I said I don’t want live plants, just fake. Now I have $300 worth of live plants in the 40 lol.
Good luck and keep the updates coming!
Thanks! It’s funny how it happens when you start writing about it and sharing.

I’m super stoked I found this forum - I’ve always been a bit wary of forums because the can be toxic, but generally speaking a lot of the aquarium sites have been helpful and positive.
Plus this site has a ‘build’ thread, which is super exciting because this is such a creative hobby.

I’m going to be doing plants soon for the 48 gal - thinking CO2 as well. Any recommendations?

You'll soon find bigger is better because it allows so many more options. Small tanks are fine for single species breeding, but otherwise, big tanks tend to be where it's at. Way easier to build a community, many other options of fish species are opened up, etc.
Enjoy MTS, the bug has bitten you, the only cure is more tanks.
That was one of the main reasons I wanted a bigger one - the freedom to really open it up and do something creative.

Plus I totally lucked into some rock and driftwood (which I’ll share in the next post - tomorrow!) from my dad that served as inspiration.

So sorry to hear about Lucky, but welcome to the hobby! Sounds like you've been bitten by MTS just as bad as many of us on here - so you've definitely come to the right place!

I fully understand the obsessive research - I tend to be the same way. I probably (definitely) drive my husband nuts.

So now the real question is - how big will the new tank be, and will that be the one that stays home (10 gal to her classroom?) so that you get to play with it more often?
Haha yeah, my partner is very understanding. She tends to nod along and engage but once I start talking deeper, her eyes glaze over.

I’m starting to learn how NOT to obsess over it and I think it’s great that I have to step back and know I can’t totally control it but do the best I can to be a positive influence.

A spolier: she’s getting the 10 gal posted in the photos (which I’ll take care of since we’re commuting and I’d pick her up from work). I’m getting a 48 gal, which I’m going to start posting about tomorrow.

Wanted to tonight but got home after a 15 hour day LOL.
 

CTYankee79

Thanks! It’s funny how it happens when you start writing about it and sharing.

I’m super stoked I found this forum - I’ve always been a bit wary of forums because the can be toxic, but generally speaking a lot of the aquarium sites have been helpful and positive.
Plus this site has a ‘build’ thread, which is super exciting because this is such a creative hobby.

I’m going to be doing plants soon for the 48 gal - thinking CO2 as well. Any recommendations?
I’ve never been a forum guy myself until here!
So for the plants and CO2 I’ll refer you to Vishaquatics, he can guide you and has great plants for sale as well.
 

LilyPipeDreams

I’ve never been a forum guy myself until here!
So for the plants and CO2 I’ll refer you to Vishaquatics, he can guide you and has great plants for sale as well.
That's greatly appreciated!

Continuation:

She needed a new tank, that much was clear - she loved it in her classroom and at this point I was very happy to help out.

We were walking our dogs and the conversation came up pretty naturally; we could actually go later that day, buy her a new 10 gal, outfit it and get it cycled (hopefully) in time for the start of the school year. There was a bit of excitement and naturally the conversation drifted towards the possibility of finding a used tank.

Pretty much what happened next, I'm sure sealed our collective fates. She came across this one tank for sale, a 75(!) gal that had a full stand, Aqueon Quietflow, heater, lights (two banks of T5's) and a hodgepodge of other assorted accessories. It was also local. Listed for about $600CAD. We got in touch and started the conversation and eventually got her down to $450CAD. She was selling it on behalf of her niece who left the country unexpectedly for a period of time and when she came back, wasn't interested in it.

The only thing was we had to find the spot for it.

Now in our minds eye, 75 doesn't SOUND like a lot, but when you're coming from a 10 gal, it sounds like a decent amount. The actual size on the other hand, was something special. Our place isn't that big to begin with, and honestly, the only spot it would have worked would be on the same wall where our tv is and a whole heck of a lot of things. We measured, we hmm'ed, we tried to rationalize it out but at the end of the day, it just didn't make any sense.

So we got back in touch, apologized and wished her well. My idea for the 65 tall was back on track.

It made sense, 36 wide, 18 deep and 24 tall - it would be far easier to accommodate into a couple spots and not take up nearly as much space. I priced it out and we discussed and got the green light. Game on.

I had been doing a decent amount of research beforehand: the stand, the filter, the tank, the heater, the lights... those where the main things I really dove into. I was torn between the Eheim Pro4+ 350 and the Fluval 407 (the guy at the LFS talked my ear off about the FX4 but it wasn't really going to be idea with the cabinet I wanted and the price was a BIT steep - but did offer me the Pro4+ 600 at the same price as the 350 because he didn't have any in stock).

About a week later, I had a bit of a hectic week work-wise and hobby-wise. I left work about an hour early on Thursday so I could race across the city and grab the white version of the Aquatlantis Elegance Expert and then Friday, left work about an hour and a half early to race to my LFS to grab the last 65 gal they had (apparently it's a pretty popular one in my area.

The long and the short of it is I ended up with a 48 gal Seapora crystal rimless, and Fluval 3.0 36" LE

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The 10 gal is behind the cardboard (my partner is spending a lot of late nights getting materials ready so I wanted to make sure the tank wasn't getting TOO much extra light), which is where this beast was going to go.

I saw WAS because when we moved things around, there was no way in **** it was going to work out that way. We decided at 11pm to move everything around. All of her materials, our benches, our table and ended up with it here:

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I leveled it out (using some plexi at first but then some large metal washers when the plexi was too thick), got it in place and really started to enjoy how the space was coming along.

With respect to decorating the tank, I wanted to work towards a heavily planted one, worry about the fish later and really delve into the botany aspect of the hobby. I wanted it to be clean and seamless - after fanboying over some of the beautiful aquascapes I would see on YouTube, and here on FishLore.

Last weekend we went by my dad's place and hung out in their backyard. We start catching up and within 10 minutes of being there, he's telling me how he's STILL got all of his rock and driftwood from the tank he had when I was a kid. He goes to the shed and comes out with a huge bucket of rock (what I later learn is Petrified Wood) and about 20 mins later, comes up with three huge pieces of what I think is Mekong driftwood - ideas anyone?


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By this point, I'm way too jazzed. But I need more rock! I go out to the LFS and get another huge piece and one that's much darker in tone, and then tried playing around with the forms:

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Anyways, I got some egg carton light grate, which I'm going to use to elevate (along with pvc pipe) and then zip-tie everything together nicely. I saw recently on a forum that someone did this and it kept everything together nicely and made cleaning and general maintenance easier.

I just ordered my CO2 regulator (dual stage and solenoid), diffuser, checker and other accessories. Already priced out a 5 lb canister from a Brew Supply store that does an exchange program (which I'll pick up maybe this weekend) and then order my plants soon.

I may hold off and really play with the layout this weekend and not rush into it. I will share more process pics!

PS - I was considering the dry start method (since I got two 9 LB bags of Amazonia Light Aqua Soil, and a 9 LB bag of Tropica - which I will use underneath. I bought it a few weeks ago because the LFS only had one and I heard good things and don't want to spend another $60 on the Amazonia lol and three bags total should give me 2.5 inch substrate). Any recommendations? I heard that due to the ammonia (less than the regular) I should be careful about planting and filling right away due to a more unpredictable cycle. Is this true?

OK - off to wash my rocks HAHA
 

AquaticQueen

Following!!! Tank looks amazing!
 

LilyPipeDreams

SO, it's been a super busy few days.

Pretty much everyday after I last posted, I've been getting home from work and putting in double duty: doing home life things as well as putting in a couple hours to get this tank ready for DSM. It's been really enjoyable - but stressful at time. I struggle with anxiety from time to time and while I get a large amount of stress relief from this hobby, I do get a bit antsy about meeting my own timelines and expectations. Thankfully I have a good support system and I can pursue this project without too much guilt.

But today was a good day.

I've probably spent a good 8 hours getting the hardscape sorted for this tank. After doing a bit of research, I decided to use egg grate light covers to build it up and prevent against erosion. I am also using a couple heavy stones and driftwood, so it only made sense. I went through several iterations....


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By 11:30pm last night, I had a melt down - contributed by a long week and knocking a rock over accidentally putting two 1mm chips in the side pane. I took everything out, and did a 50% fill that night. I woke up still with tank and then did a 100% fill at 9am. By 1pm, everything was looking good, the chips were surface and after a lengthy discussion with my father, they are going to be nothing to worry about.

It did give me a HARD reset. After a lovely long walk with my partner and the dogs, plus a good heart to heart about how focused I had become about this project, I set back at it - with the goal to get everything settled.

OH and I ordered my plants at 12:30pm. There was a hard cut-off for the company I order from (if you're in Ontario, Aquascaperoom is fantastic. Tropica products, great customer service and I look forward to seeing how the TC look). This is what I have ordered:

4 Eleocharis Acicularis 'Mini'
2 Hemianthus Callitrichoides 'Cuba'
2 Riccia Fluitans
2 Alternanthera Reineckii 'Mini'

I ordered my dual stage CO2Art regulator and other CO2 system supplies and will get picking up a 5lb tank sometime this week or next (no rush). I figure based upon articles I've read, I should have approx. 67 lumen and 72 PAR at substrate based upon 18" height with my Fluval 3.0

I took a break, did my weekly maintenance on my 10 gal - which I lost a Neon yesterday, BUT do have two Platy fry, which are seeking refuge under driftwood and in my plant root systems (another reason I LOVE planted tanks now).

I finally got to this point:

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Then I cut off some ends of one piece of the driftwood and started zip-tying it together:

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And then this:

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OH, and in between, I suspended my light with some aircraft cable, butterfly hooks and some measuring.

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Then I started putting more and more in the tank:

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And with some aquarium silicone holding the rocks in place to create terraces and zip-ties keeping everything down, it all came together (next post)
 

LilyPipeDreams


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And cabinet setup (for now):

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And my current view:


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Super stoked to plant. More updates to follow.

Thank you all.
 

jkkgron2

Following!!
 

Gudgie

Your hardscape looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see it planted!
 

LilyPipeDreams

Following!!
Thank you

Your hardscape looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see it planted!
Much appreciated! It was a really cool part of the process. I can see why so many people could have MTS lol
 

Utar

Your really doing a great job. I will be following to see how it all comes together.
Welcome to fishlore.
 

LilyPipeDreams

Your really doing a great job. I will be following to see how it all comes together.
Welcome to fishlore.
That puts such a smile on my face ~ very appreciated
 

Cooperman411

I'm jealous. That's all. Can't wait to see the progress!
 

BigBeardDaHuZi

That puts such a smile on my face ~ very appreciated

This has been a great read! Following
 

LilyPipeDreams

I'm jealous. That's all. Can't wait to see the progress!
Much appreciated! It's coming along - been a pretty hectic few days so hopefully I can get this post out

This has been a great read! Following
Thank you!!

SO, I'm on lunch currently - I'll try to fire this off quickly!

It was a pretty busy weekend with life stuff but I DID get the first batch of my plants (courtesy of aquascaperoom.ca) and set it up using my new Tropica tweezers (OMG so much nicer to use than the cheap Amazon pair I bought):

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I got home around 3:30pm yesterday and didn't get to the planting until 7:30pm - and I kind of regret that after the fact. I had to clean up and get my little planting station set up and get everything together:

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I was kind of concerned that a pot of the Cuba and a pot of the Reineckii Mini were DOA - any insights based on the images? Lack of light? Regardless, I followed up with the seller, sent images and am waiting to hear back:

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I did decide to plant them anyways and see what happens. I have another two pots coming today so I can fill out the rest of the foreground. Man, planting carpet plants definitely takes a lot longer than I thought! I mean I was probably too methodical, but I want them to fill in a bit quicker - so a denser initial plant. Put on a podcast, grabbed a drink and then set to it. I got into a good rythym after the first hour and then got more comfortable as I went on.

EDIT: They're going to issue credit on the Cuba. I'll see what happens anyways.

I also used the Seachem plant glue for the Riccia moss (which worked really well) - and have another pot of that coming in for the darker rock on the left.

This is what it looked like about half way through:

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A couple questions though:
1. I had to go to the LFS for my partner to get a couple things for her tank and decided to grab some RO-DI water that they had (was pretty cheap) because I figured it wouldn't hurt to use to spray and dampen the substrate. Would I gain anything by putting a bit of NilcoG ThriveS in the water? I'm planning on shrimp so I went what that - plus I wanted to try a comprehensive suppliment on this tank (and use Excel and Advanced as well).
2. I got my diffuser yesterday as well and realized that I ordered a size larger than I needed to (the 50mm VIV beetle). It's recommended for 120cm to 150cm tanks - mine is 36". I can get it exchanged but I would need to pay for return shipping (and risk breakage) but wonder if there is anything lost by having a diffuser that is bigger than I need. My CO2 reg does have a built in needle-valve so I can really fine tune the bubbles (CO2Art Pro-SE Series). *I posted this in the Plants forum but haven't gotten a reply on it as of yet*

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Anyways, this has taken a bit longer than I thought. More updates to come!
 

LilyPipeDreams

SO, another update:

Got the second batch of plants the next day and had another marathon session of planting. The HC was definitely of better quality and I'm noticing that it's still quite lush:
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The Eleocharis was in pretty good condition and made for easy planting. I'm less sold on the Riccia Fluitans but we will see what happens. I'm misting it a 3-4 times a day (or as it looks dry).

About 4 days in, I had a hard knock of white mould on the wood. My father has had it for over 20 years and I suspect that because it's been through a lot of fluctuations in temps and environs, there's a lot of residual sugars that are converting. I had a bit of a freak out when it happened because I didn't expect it to, but it's confined to the wood. Not on any plants, nor substrate.

I read that you can either use a H2O2 mixture or Excel mixture and treat it directly. I am very wary of the former because it's still a very new setup and I'm not wanting to kill anything this soon ead:

I've got a ton of Excel, so I opted for that approach - plus none of the plants I have in this DSM are sensitive. I used an atomizer to spray and then wiped it off with a microfiber. It did a pretty good job but the next morning, it started to return. I opted for a more potent mixture of Excel and DI water applied with a toothbrush and a gentle brush application.

There's a lot of differing information regarding the DSM and one of the things is that I opted for a saturated substrate (no standing water) but when I put the hygrometer in there, the RH was almost 95%. I kept it covered fully for the most part and then would open for 20-30 mins. I didn't take into account that the tank is in the basement and it's generally quite humid to begin with (we have a sump and dehumidifier running almost 24-7) so I could go for a much less saturated substrate and just mist more frequently.

This is when I am reminded that I have absolutely no green-thumb. I sometimes feel it's a miracle that I managed to have pretty good plants in my 10 gal. But I think I understand more of the logic for submersed plants than I do emersed.

Anyways, made a large pit at the low end of the tank and started to pull water up so that it's no more than 1" below the surface. I have it covered again but all four corners open to allow for circulation and will keep tackling the mould on the wood (which I'm not too concerned about).

I also pulled up a couple of the Alternanthera Mini, cleaned them up, trimmed a couple poor looking leaves and then replanted:

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On a side note, I grabbed my 5lb CO2 canister and have a 40mm VIV beetle diffuser on the way (I'm returning the 50mm because it's listed for a 48"-60" tank) and a check value (because I forgot to get one). Other than that, I've got everything ready to go.

Hopefully I can keep this going and get in past 3-4 weeks. If I experience any major issues, I'll flood the tank, blast the CO2 and hope that it's rooted enough to keep it stable.

I've also been thinking more about what kind of fish I'll go for and I feel like Siamese Algae Eaters are definitely in the cards for me (6-8) and then I was waffling between a bunch of shrimp, or forgoing that and just doing 25-30 of a particular fish - and maybe a half dozen Dwarf Gourami's. The community fish I was thinking about are:

Harlequin Rasboras (probably 20 or so)
Green Neon Tetras (I could probably do 25)
Ember Tetra (probably 30)

I may forgo the Gourami's but I do have a soft spot for them and really wanted one for my 10 gal.

Thanks all!
 

kattiq

Looks AMAZING! I am a sucker for rimless tanks. I'm also interested to see how the CO2 does in your tank, I've been tempted to try it but need to quit spending so much money on my tanks. Haha I also really like the aquascape as well, great dimension.
Also I think the big schools of fish are going to do great as well if you like the big school effect.
I like personable fish to be honest, and Bolivian Rams are quickly rising to the top of my favorite fish list!
Or you could pick one big school and still add in gouramis if you wanted to get that pop of color (my fav are HGs)
Looking forward to seeing more.
 

LilyPipeDreams

Looks AMAZING! I am a sucker for rimless tanks. I'm also interested to see how the CO2 does in your tank, I've been tempted to try it but need to quit spending so much money on my tanks. Haha I also really like the aquascape as well, great dimension.
Also I think the big schools of fish are going to do great as well if you like the big school effect.
I like personable fish to be honest, and Bolivian Rams are quickly rising to the top of my favorite fish list!
Or you could pick one big school and still add in gouramis if you wanted to get that pop of color (my fav are HGs)
Looking forward to seeing more.
Thank you so much kattiq
I really appreciate the enthusiasm and the words of encouragement. I’m looking forward to the CO2 component as well - it’ll be tricky getting it all into the cabinet but I’m sure I’ll make it work - ordered extra lines just to have some flex.
I think I’m digging the idea of a few gouramis and then a school - plus algae eaters.
 

CaptainAquatics

Man this is awesome! You have started off way better than I did, I started with two bettas in little .5 gallon bowls, then got a 32 gallon biocube in which I filled with community fish that somehow actually did quite well despite my 1 waterchange a month philosophy, then started to gather more and more, until I got my first “big” tank, a 55, in which it really took off. But I will warn you, once you get one big tank, it will seem like endless options, but then you will realize how much more you want until your like me, 11 aquariums with, ranting in size from 5-130 gallons, and still feeling like you don’t have enough :/

EDIT: BTW in case your wondering I now do 50% a week on all of them, and research way more.
 

CTYankee79

This is really coming out super gorgeous, I’m impressed. I can’t wait to see how it all grows in. I assume Eleocharis is some type of elodea/Anacharis variety, Excel will melt that plant, even spot treatments.
EDIT: I looked it up and and eleocharis is hairgrass or spikerush—I should have done that before I spoke lol. :inpain: I was thinking Anacharis would seem out of place in that tank anyway
Keep the pics and updates coming, by the way did you install that light fixture?? Incredible and I know this setup isn’t cheap especially with all those beautiful tissue culture plants coming in from all over the world best of luck to you with this setup
 

kattiq

I think I’m digging the idea of a few gouramis and then a school - plus algae eaters.
What kind of algae eaters? I love Amano shrimp and ivory mystery snails They are massive and do a great job at nomnoming on the algae.
 

LilyPipeDreams

What kind of algae eaters? I love Amano shrimp and ivory mystery snails They are massive and do a great job at nomnoming on the algae.
Great suggestions! I was thinking Siamese Algae Eaters or Dwarf Oto’s. Although more the former because they’ll eat hair/brush algae. 6-8 of those
Plus they’re cute.
I would like Amano shrimp but I’m not sure about them in an open tank? Plus I’ll have to see about my GH/KH and pH as the tank goes along.And same with Nerite Snails, open tank and all.
or should I not be worried about it?

This is really coming out super gorgeous, I’m impressed. I can’t wait to see how it all grows in. I assume Eleocharis is some type of elodea/Anacharis variety, Excel will melt that plant, even spot treatments.
EDIT: I looked it up and and eleocharis is hairgrass or spikerush—I should have done that before I spoke lol. :inpain: I was thinking Anacharis would seem out of place in that tank anyway
Keep the pics and updates coming, by the way did you install that light fixture?? Incredible and I know this setup isn’t cheap especially with all those beautiful tissue culture plants coming in from all over the world best of luck to you with this setup
Much appreciated! Thanks for the concern regarding the Excel. It should be fine from what I read - plus I’m being careful about my use. The mould does come back slowly but surely and I’m just going to keep it at a manageable level every couple days.
And yes! I did install it from a few hooks in the ceiling and some aircraft cable (so no sagging). I’m happy overall but still toying with another fixture in the next few months. I’ll have to see how the light performs with a tank full of water but given what I’ve read, I should be good.
 

kattiq

Great suggestions! I was thinking Siamese Algae Eaters or Dwarf Oto’s. Although more the former because they’ll eat hair/brush algae. 6-8 of those
Plus they’re cute.
I would like Amano shrimp but I’m not sure about them in an open tank? Plus I’ll have to see about my GH/KH and pH as the tank goes along.And same with Nerite Snails, open tank and all.
or should I not be worried about it?
I've got mine in an open tank, however it does have a rim so it makes it easier. My mystery snail escaped out of my 16g rimless (with a lid that covers most of it except where the filter is) though, so snails might not be ideal then. As far as the shrimp go, as long as there's not wood or something they can climb on that reaches out of the tank or next the tank wall you should be fine. They can't really scale walls like snails can.
I do not even really keep track of my GH/KH and Amanos are super hardy. I do have hard water though and a higher pH and they are okay with that.
 

LilyPipeDreams

Man this is awesome! You have started off way better than I did, I started with two bettas in little .5 gallon bowls, then got a 32 gallon biocube in which I filled with community fish that somehow actually did quite well despite my 1 waterchange a month philosophy, then started to gather more and more, until I got my first “big” tank, a 55, in which it really took off. But I will warn you, once you get one big tank, it will seem like endless options, but then you will realize how much more you want until your like me, 11 aquariums with, ranting in size from 5-130 gallons, and still feeling like you don’t have enough :/

EDIT: BTW in case your wondering I now do 50% a week on all of them, and research way more.
11?! That’s crazy. But kind of awesome! I’m not going to lie though; I’m already planning the next one in my mind. It’ll probably be a nano Iwagumi style. Lol. I’d love to get a cube haha.
 

LilyPipeDreams

I've got mine in an open tank, however it does have a rim so it makes it easier. My mystery snail escaped out of my 16g rimless (with a lid that covers most of it except where the filter is) though, so snails might not be ideal then. As far as the shrimp go, as long as there's not wood or something they can climb on that reaches out of the tank or next the tank wall you should be fine. They can't really scale walls like snails can.
I do not even really keep track of my GH/KH and Amanos are super hardy. I do have hard water though and a higher pH and they are okay with that.
I’ll keep that in mind when I look at livestock again. It seems like so far away. Haha.
There are pieces of driftwood that do go to the upper levels of the tank so that might be out of the question. It’s a bummer but I’m pretty content with dreaming differently. Haha.
Plus I’m already dreaming of a 24gal cube that would be pure stone, with cover and totally shrimp and snail.
 

kattiq

I can't really tell from the picture, but is the wood leaning against the glass anywhere? If not, shrimp would probably still be okay. They will avoid going completely out of the water anyways. Just be careful when choosing fish too, I had a friend that their honey gourami jumped out of his tank just the other day and died. So I would steer clear from fish that are known jumpers (even though there is a risk for all fish to jump), I hate having a lid on my tank so I don't, so it's a risk I am taking too. lol
 

LilyPipeDreams

I can't really tell from the picture, but is the wood leaning against the glass anywhere? If not, shrimp would probably still be okay. They will avoid going completely out of the water anyways. Just be careful when choosing fish too, I had a friend that their honey gourami jumped out of his tank just the other day and died. So I would steer clear from fish that are known jumpers (even though there is a risk for all fish to jump), I hate having a lid on my tank so I don't, so it's a risk I am taking too. lol
That's true. The wood only really raises up in the centre area of the tank. There isn't any touching the glass - I suppose I could buy a half dozen and see how it goes...
And thanks for the advice! I know it's definitely a risk, I'll make sure my water level stays about an inch to inch and a half below the edge. Not that that would stop them, but at least I'm not flirting with disaster haha.

And a questions to everyone: I was thinking about taking the next three weeks or so to seed a bag of Seachem Matrix media in my existing 10 gal. I would take out a 'wooden' ornament and hang it in that area. My question is do I need to hang it away from the glass? I have snails from time to time that came in from LFS plants and I'd like to avoid brining them over to my new tank. I also have a small breeding hanging tank I could set up on the outside edge of the tank but am worried about the weight (although I would place it near the corner and the plastic rim is in good condition).

Thoughts?
 

LilyPipeDreams

So, another week passes.

I've been pretty pleased with DSM progress so far... save the bit of Riccia that I decided to try to put onto the driftwood that didn't fare so well. I think I would have been better served using the 'yogurt' method and trying it out that way. Anyways, I decided that I will go with a decent amount of Vesicularia (gluing it down with the Seachem stuff) just before I flood.


IMG_1988.JPG


IMG_2001.JPG

The rest of the Riccia on the stone is doing fairly well. Learning that some of it needs far more water than others and also trying the plastic baggie method on one section to see it the higher humidity and moisture can keep it going.

My Alternanthera is coming along as well. I was pretty concerned that some of it wouldn't make it, but I've got great growth now and the leaves are looking pretty hardy. I've got two pots each of Rotala 'Vietnam H'ra' and 'Colorata' coming on Tuesday to add to my stem compliment. After that, no more until flood

I'm super happy with how the HC is taking and even the more yellowish looking cultures are showing fantastic growth. I'm kind of wondering tho - I feel like it may be Monte Carlo? Or the growth was just different in the culture? (Blue HC / Red Monte Carlo maybe?). Probably not? I'm still learning my plants.

IMG_2013.JPG

I also think I have the covering down now too; I leave a couple back corner gaps open to circulate the air and it tops out at about 23.8 at peak intensity (a ~10 hour photoperiod with 1 hour on either end to ramp up and down) and 89-90% humidity.

I bought a mini-mister off amazon for $14 and it's making a massive difference regarding how wet the plants actually get, versus just wetting the substrate. Still using the RO water and will continue for this process.

Late last week, stopped by a few shop and got the CO2 5lb tank. I think I've got everything that I'll need for the system now too. It'll be a tight fit in the right side of the stand but there'll be good access to the regulator (glad I added some lights as well). The inline heater will be fairly close to the filter (which will have it on a ~65 degree angle out the back of the tank) but that's just the way it is.

IMG_2011.JPG

Oh, and I've got a full load of Matrix set up in the breeder hang-on on my 10gal right now for the next three weeks (or so) while I still have this system at home. I figure I may as well try to seed some filter media and get a jump start the cycle when I flood. It's a tight fit, but for future reference, it can hold 1L of filter media.

IMG_2012.JPG

Other than that, full steam (har har!) ahead. More updates after some planting happens! Enjoying the process but itching to plant heavily and flood.

IMG_2010.JPG

PS - May have the go ahead to set up a small quarantine in the living room in the next 4-6 weeks! My partner was the one to suggest it and maybe do a planted one? Or pure hardscape? Is there any issue with a planted one? I'd love to have something I can enjoy after I've added all the fish et. al. to the 48gal. I would also build a custom stand for it to have it nicely elevated to enjoy from couch height.
 

LilyPipeDreams

So there haven’t been any updates recently; busy with work/life and the DSM hasn’t been overly post worthy.

I had some great success with how everything was growing (save my Riccia taking a hit in a couple areas) and added some Pogo and Rotala Wallichii and Bacopa Caroliniana last Tuesday.

Held the mould at bay on one of the driftwood pieces with water/excel and popped a couple pieces of Anubias on as well.

I’ll put together a proper post tomorrow but here’s a teaser.


E6278876-A7C5-4183-A6F1-B4CF05DB08B6.jpeg
 

Utar

Looking great, when you are finished you need to post it for the tank of the month.
 

LilyPipeDreams

Last weekend was pretty hectic - spent most of Friday getting everything setup for Saturday. Putting together the final touches on the filter prep as well as the connecting the CO2 reg and air pump, as well as doing rough measurements on the lines.


IMG_2173.JPG

Also ran all of the power - as well as using my trusty Forstner bit set to drill a nice 1 1/4 hole in the bottom segment to run the solenoid and filter power to the surge bar.

IMG_2175.JPG

After a late night, got up early, spent some time with our dogs, had breakfast and got moving on flood day. My plan was based upon what I had read and watched:
  • Flood and drain the tank two times
    • Starting out slow using my smaller siphon to minimize turbulence and keep everything as clean as possible.
  • Flood the tank a third time and set everything up, ideally getting the CO2 running, even if it is high, for 5-6 hours with a 6-7 hour photoperiod.
  • No trimming. Nothing was heavy or thick enough to merit that.

IMG_2177.JPG

Everything went well for the most part. I did have a blow out on the second drain: my syphon ran too long and I couldn't bend it up without significant water return. Blew out about 1.5 sq. in. of my Eleocharis. Thankfully the tank most mostly empty, so I was able to fix it up easily.

I will post again in another day or so. We're moving the 10 gal to my partners school tomorrow. Kind of nervous but I know it will be a process.
 

LilyPipeDreams

Filling it up...

It's been a lot of fun. Definitely a different dynamic with a larger tank, but I definitely appreciate having a TON of extra space to move around in. Plus the ADA Aquasoil has been a boon with respect to having the plants rooted into.

In future tanks, I would definitely use the powder on top of the soil because I think it would prevent less floaters when replanting. I'm probably wrong but happy to be told so

Still fiddling with the CO2 system but I'm happy to report great growth as well as free of any problems so far. The first week looked like this:

Saturday:
Flood | Drain
Flood | Drain
Flood
(all at least 80-90 %)
Sunday:
Drain | Fill
(50% for each subsequent water change)
Tuesday:
Drain | Plant | Fill (added some more Riccia, Repens and Alter Rein Mini)
Friday:
Drain | Trim | Fill (trimmed the carpet plants)
Monday:
Drain | Trim | Fill (the Riccia is growing like crazy, just trying to make sure the base layer of the DSM is staying healthy)

So far, extremely low die back after flooding (I believe due to using exclusively 1-2 Grow Tropica and keeping it around 85-90% humidity) and great water clarity (due to a sachet of Purigen in the canister)

I also bought an Ehiem Skim 350, which was been amazing to use after trimming. I was planning on getting a VIV Skimmer Inflow but it's been sold out for months and I figured I can use the lily pipe to great effect when I need to aerate. Plus it keeps all of the trimmings out of my canister.

Right off the bat, started dosing daily:
5 pumps of Nilocg ThriveS (10 pumps 1-3x weekly is recommended for my size)
2.5 caps of Seachem Advanced (will continue for the next three weeks - until I finish off what I have)
2.5 caps of Seachem Stability (daily for the first week and then with every water change)
Prime when performing w/c

This week coming, I'll move to two w/c per week (Wednesday/Sunday) for the next couple weeks and then to one a week afterwards. Ammonia has been very low (no more than 0.25ppm, which I would attribute to frequent w/c) but I'm keeping track.

The CO2 has been a bit more tricky. Trying to get a hang of the pH swing, plus using drop checker. It's a bit hard b/c my baseline pH is 7.4 out of the tap and then 7.0 after 24 hrs. The soil brings it down more, then the CO2 more beyond that. KH is at a consistent 2-2.5 and I hit a low of 6.2 to 6.3, which would put me in the region of what Tom Barr aims for 30-40ppm. Maybe a bit higher at times.

Lastly I've got the light at ~80% peak with blue LED topping out at 25% during peak for 7hrs/day. Will look to ramp up the blue a bit more next week but keep the photoperiod the same.

I'll work on this for about 2-3 weeks and then start adding shrimp (probably Cherry and Amano).

And the tank move to my partners school went very well! Everything set up, no issues and set her up on a fairly easy maintenance schedule. I will do a Friday post-work clean and water change, which I suspect may get a bit tiring after a few months, but we'll see. Perhaps we can move it to bi-weekly but I'm suspect.

Yay. Advice? Thoughts?

(last week)

tank.jpg
 

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