My 55 Gallon Journey

Gersh

Hey everyone. With some really good progress recently, I wanted to post the story of my second hand 55 gallon gets setup.

Some background:
I got this tank off craigslist. It was the best deal I'd seen yet (my state is notorious for being...not the most knowledgeable...about fish keeping). A 55 gallon and whatever junk was in it for $40. It was old and dirty but as a student I felt it was worth it.

After trading the goods for the mons, I set out to clean it. My wife and I spent a couple hours with vinegar solution and razors scraping the sides to clean it good and we almost got it perfect! There are still some smudges here and there, but I can live with them (unless someone knows an ultimate cleaning solution to try). We then set out on resealing it. Making sure to remove all the nasty old silicone and replace it with nice, clean, sharp lined silicone.

Now that it's clean and the silicone had cured, it's time to check if it still holds water. After leveling it out in the garage (I've heard the horror stories), I filled it and it didn't leak! Phase one was complete.

I then set out to see what this "junk" consisted of. It turned out to be:
  1. 3 unknown brand HOB filters
  2. 2 random air pumps
  3. A couple long air stones
  4. Some old airline tubing
  5. An old heater
And some other bits and pieces that were trashed. In order to save some money, I gave the filters and heater a shot. I don't have a stand at this point so it stayed on the garage floor for an "extended leak check" and to let me figure out which filter I liked best (if any worked). I also needed to see if the heater was up to snuff. After plugging them all in, only one of these filters worked. The other two were trashed along with the heater which failed to raise the water a degree (even on max).

Now that I had my filter setup and tank ready and clean, it was time to get it cycling and look for a stand. Insert some safe start and media + sponges and cycling is away. This is where I hit my first snag. Stands aren't cheap. Even the plywood ones that break if they get wet from PetSmart are $100+ for a 55 gallon. I couldn't make one since I have no tools, and like I said earlier, my state's craigslist is full of cheaper and older stands but people ask double what they payed for them.

After lots of debate on the cost of everything (fish, decorations, filter stuff, substrate, plants...it gets long real fast), my wife and I decided to hold off on the tank since we were more focused on getting a dog at the time. So for a few months, the 55 gallon sat empty in the garage. Until recently.

While the tank still sits dry in my garage, my parents decided to surprise me with a custom built stand (up to snuff for weight and everything) for my birthday! I was ecstatic. I had kind of hit a slum with fish keeping after recently losing my beloved crayfish (Creole) after an escape attempt, and my betta (Bennie) was struggling with SBD. I got jazzed. I re-setup my 20 gallon (now containing a gorgeous gourami centered community) and Bennie got better (took almost 2 weeks of fasting and frozen daphnia treatments and water changes, all which I started earlier). I found a really good deal on some better filters as well. I went from cheap no-name HOBs to a Turtle Clear 511 for my 20 gallon and a SunSun 304b for the up coming 55.

And that's where I'm at today. My birthday isn't for a month or so, so now I'm patiently waiting. I haven't seen it yet, but knowing my dads perfectionism I know the stand will be gorgeous. I have gotten both the new filters cleaned with bleach, vinegar, and super dechlorinated water (18 gallon tub with enough stress coat for an 80 gallon). I've been mulling stocking ideas, and am open to ideas. My current stock list idea:
  1. 3 angelfish (wife's only requirement)
  2. 3-4 Pearl gouramis
  3. 10-15 rummy nose tetras
  4. 12 sterbaI corys
  5. 5-10 amano shrimp
Like I said, this is just an idea and would love to hear what y'all think.

Next steps are: I need to get some drift wood, clean slate rock (from my parents creek) and silicone them into "unorganized piles", figure out a plant list, make room for everything in the living room, and get media seeded from my 20 gallon so that once the stand is setup I can nearly insta cycle.

All this while also going to medical school. This was actually a study break for me haha. I have a test tomorrow afternoon and was tired of doing flashcards. While I don't currently have pictures, I will upload some after doomsday tomorrow.

For those that stuck out and read the whole thing. I thank you!
 

Katie13

Three Angels is a bad idea. I would just do 2.
 

TexasDomer

I would also only do two angelfish, as with three, 2 will team up and beat up/bully/harass the third. Otherwise, sounds like a great stocking plan!
 

Gersh

I would also only do two angelfish, as with three, 2 will team up and beat up/bully/harass the third. Otherwise, sounds like a great stocking plan!
Ok! One thing I'm worried about is if I get a male/female pair of angels, that they'll pair and kill everything else in the tank. Can that happen?
 

Paradise fish

Wow, inspiring story! May I ask how you got the top rI'm off the tank without breaking it to reseal the aquarium?

Rest In Peace Creole

Plants in mind? What kind of lighting do you have? How are you planning on scaping your tank?
 

TexasDomer

It can happen, and there's really no way to prevent it other than removing the angels before they kill things. You could always just do a single angelfish if you're worried about it?
 

Gersh

Wow, inspiring story! May I ask how you got the top rI'm off the tank without breaking it to reseal the aquarium?

Rest In Peace Creole

Plants in mind? What kind of lighting do you have? How are you planning on scaping your tank?


I use a super old knife and ran it along the inside and outside of the rim. Did that enough times and enough gentle pulling = popped off rim. I kinda wish I'd kept it off and either eurobraced or did a glass brace, but I don't know enough about either to do it safely.

I planned on doing a light like the one the
. Cheap, easy, and customizable. I'd prefer stuff that doesn't require CO2 since I don't have a cannister or the money to get all the parts for it haha. I know Anubias, Java Fern, and Java Moss are all pretty good low light low tech plants, but that's about all I know haha.

It can happen, and there's really no way to prevent it other than removing the angels before they kill things. You could always just do a single angelfish if you're worried about it?
If I can get two males or two females I'd be golden. Is there any way to tell? If so could I get all females and be ok with three?
 

TexasDomer

Not necessarily. Two males or two females may also fight. Angels can be really aggressive towards each other, actually.

Three still is not a good combination, regardless of the sexes involved. Two will still beat up on one.

And angels are really, really hard to sex without seeing their breeding tubes.
 

Gersh

Not necessarily. Two males or two females may also fight. Angels can be really aggressive towards each other, actually.

Three still is not a good combination, regardless of the sexes involved. Two will still beat up on one.

And angels are really, really hard to sex without seeing their breeding tubes.
Ok. So two angels then.

Is there another type of gourami or fish similar to pearls I could keep? I'd like to have either the 4 pearls or a couple pearls and a couple something else. I know Dwarfs can be dicks.
 

TexasDomer

I wouldn't mix gourami species in tanks under 48". Even though the pearls are peaceful, they're large and they're in a tank with two angels (which will be even larger as adults), not leaving much room for another peaceful species. So I wouldn't add another gourami species.
 

Gersh

I wouldn't mix gourami species in tanks under 48". Even though the pearls are peaceful, they're large and they're in a tank with two angels (which will be even larger as adults), not leaving much room for another peaceful species. So I wouldn't add another gourami species.
So would you do 2 angels and 2 pearls?
 

TexasDomer

That should be fine. Just watch for aggression from the angels towards each other and towards the pearls.
 

Gersh

That should be fine. Just watch for aggression from the angels towards each other and towards the pearls.
Alright. Would a certain scape maybe curb some of that? I plan on having a big piece of driftwood that's covered in plants. Sort of like this. On the opposite side I'd have some slate piled like this.
 

TexasDomer

Those don't break the lines of sight much, but I don't think it'll help too much anyway. They're big enough to use the whole tank, and they'll be in there long enough to find each other and set up a hierarchy.
 

ChrisX

Hey everyone. With some really good progress recently, I wanted to post the story of my second hand 55 gallon gets setup.

My advice, make a long list of all the other things you will need over the first year. BTW, having an extra working HOB is a good thing to put charcoal and other water treatment media.

* Substrate
* API Master Test Kit
* API GH/KH test kit
* Decorations.. rocks, wood, plants
* Water conditioner
* Prime
* Thermometer
* Media for SunSun filter
* Quarantine Meds (some people do an antI parasite and ick meds just for safety)
* Quarantine tank
* Food
* Tetra Safe Start
* A million other things.

I planned on doing a light like the one the
. Cheap, easy, and customizable. I'd prefer stuff that doesn't require CO2 since I don't have a cannister or the money to get all the parts for it haha. I know Anubias, Java Fern, and Java Moss are all pretty good low light low tech plants, but that's about all I know haha.

DON'T build this! I built this and it went through many iterations. The problem is that its very inefficent wrapped around the tube, and because PVC doesn't dissipate heat, the lights will be damaged over time. Most of the light is wasted by facing up. Without a heat sink those will get very hot. ALSO, when you add up the cost of all the components, it ends up being pretty expensive and doesn't have enough light for low light plants.

ALSO, the light has very low CRI.. even though its adjustable, everything will look washed out.

You can get a 48" Beamswork light for about the same price.



I originally thought the "King of DIY" was cool, but you can buy better versions of his projects for less money on ebay and amazon. Just look around for deals/sales. I just got a Tetra 20 gallon filter from Petsmart for $10. Couldn't build one cheaper.
 

Gersh

DON'T build this! I built this and it went through many iterations. The problem is that its very inefficent wrapped around the tube, and because PVC doesn't dissipate heat, the lights will be damaged over time. Most of the light is wasted by facing up. Without a heat sink those will get very hot. ALSO, when you add up the cost of all the components, it ends up being pretty expensive and doesn't have enough light for low light plants.

ALSO, the light has very low CRI.. even though its adjustable, everything will look washed out.

You can get a 48" Beamswork light for about the same price.



I originally thought the "King of DIY" was cool, but you can buy better versions of his projects for less money on ebay and amazon. Just look around for deals/sales. I just got a Tetra 20 gallon filter from Petsmart for $10. Couldn't build one cheaper.

Have you used this light before? It looks a lot like the marineland one I have.

Those don't break the lines of sight much, but I don't think it'll help too much anyway. They're big enough to use the whole tank, and they'll be in there long enough to find each other and set up a hierarchy.

Alright. I'l just keep and eye out for aggression and go from there.

Those don't break the lines of sight much, but I don't think it'll help too much anyway. They're big enough to use the whole tank, and they'll be in there long enough to find each other and set up a hierarchy.

Would it be better to have a bigger group of angels instead?
 

TexasDomer

You could, but it won't prevent aggression. You'll need to choose your stock around them carefully.

I tried 4 in a 55 gal, and it didn't work out long term.
 

Gersh

You could, but it won't prevent aggression. You'll need to choose your stock around them carefully.

I tried 4 in a 55 gal, and it didn't work out long term.

Ok. So unless I can get a decent sized group aggression won’t be different.

If that’s the case I’ll stick with my original idea. 2-3 pearls, 2 angels, rummies, and a Cory.
 

TexasDomer

Multiple cories of one species
 

Gersh

Multiple cories of one species

My bad! I plan on having 12 ish sterbais
 

Gersh


8173174be4076ab67d17dca199eb7a63.jpg figured I had some time and got some pictures. This is the filter I'll be running on it that I got. I got it from a Craigslist ad, so I wanted to clean it really well.


afd8bf6fbe73fdc6b540a194ee7ee4eb.jpg This is that process. Running 1 day with a bleach solution, 1 day with a vinegar solution, and a final day with enough stress coat to dechlorinate a 100 gallon (running on an 18 gallon tub).

I also needed to clean the hoses. I don't have pictures, but they had a white gunk on the insides (they were on turtle tanks, so maybe something with that?). I took some nylon cord and tied it to a rag, basically making a bore snake. Couple times through and they looked good as new!


91ad2be9fa26b2fa5416bcf32105591c.jpgHere is the tank as of today. It's currently in my garage storage holding some decorations for *insert unknown holiday here*.
 

TexasDomer

Good progress!

I'd look into using Seachem Prime as a dechlorinator. Much, much more economical and it has a lot of other benefits.
 

Gersh

Good progress!

I'd look into using Seachem Prime as a dechlorinator. Much, much more economical and it has a lot of other benefits.

I know Seachem has some minor ammonia blockage, but what else does it do?
 

TexasDomer

It makes ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates non toxic for 24-48 hours. It removes chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals of course, but it's more concentrated, so you get (a lot) more bang for your buck.
 

Gersh

It makes ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates non toxic for 24-48 hours. It removes chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals of course, but it's more concentrated, so you get (a lot) more bang for your buck.

If I have plants do I want to avoid this to keep my nitrates high? I use stress coat because I have a betta recovering from SBD, and he's in a tank that has DWL and Amazon frogbit. For a while they were struggling because they ate up all the nitrates and now they're low.
 

TexasDomer

No, you don't want your nitrates to be high. 5-20 ppm is fine for plants; keep nitrates 20 ppm or below.

Stress coat isn't really worth the extra money; it doesn't help that much, especially with SBD. Prime is much better as a dechlorinator, in my opinion.
 

Gersh

No, you don't want your nitrates to be high. 5-20 ppm is fine for plants; keep nitrates 20 ppm or below.

Stress coat isn't really worth the extra money; it doesn't help that much, especially with SBD. Prime is much better as a dechlorinator, in my opinion.

Right. My nitrates are at near zero in my Betta tank. Would this keep them lower?

I'm using stress coat for SBD because his fins deteriorated from the stress of his SBD. The SBD was treated with fasting and frozen daphnia.
 

TexasDomer

Prime does not remove nitrates, so no.

Fin rot can usually be treated with large and frequent water changes. If that doesn't help, it'll need something stronger, like antibiotics.
 

Gersh

Prime does not remove nitrates, so no.

Fin rot can usually be treated with large and frequent water changes. If that doesn't help, it'll need something stronger, like antibiotics.

I'm currently using IAL as well as water changes every two days.

I'll definitely consider the switch though. I wanted to do seachem prI'm originally, and would love to have it when I start the new tank to keep ammonia in check since I'll have to start a new cycle.

Since I have a cycled 20, is there a way to get some of the bacteria from there to the new one?
 

TexasDomer

Yes! You can move some of the filter media from the cycled tank to the new one.
 

Gersh


7f5765d57b470f02f5ec74c54deafa5d.jpg

058acb12e521f7f954a8723d48769dbe.jpg

THE UPDATE WITH THE STAND
The stand has been completed and looks fantastic! I need to drill a couple holes for to all power cords and filter tubes to run, but it's here!

Next steps are to get a nice piece of driftwood, really clean the glass well, and clean the rocks I've gathered so there's no mud. Any tips on how to clean glass?
 

TexasDomer

Vinegar, razor blade, aquarium safe sponge, and elbow grease!
 

Gersh

Question time: What are some ways I can reduce maintenance? I want this tank to be more about enjoying it than keeping it perfect.
 

TexasDomer

Keep up with weekly water changes, understock with fish, keep low light plants, and keep the lights on for 6 hours (to prevent algae). There's no magic way to remove maintenance, but you can still enjoy it with weekly maintenance.
 

Gersh

Next question: I'm stuck on what light I want. I'm currently looking at some of the beamswork models since they work and are relativley cheap. I like the finnex models (esp the 24/7), but they seem to be way to pricey. Anyone ever used a beamswork or similar lights? Are the finnex worth the money?
 

TexasDomer

I have Finnex and I love them, but many people like the Beamswork as well. Totally up to you how much you want to spend; both can grow low light plants.
 

Gersh

I have Finnex and I love them, but many people like the Beamswork as well. Totally up to you how much you want to spend; both can grow low light plants.

I'd love a finnex, but budget won't let me right now haha. For beamswork I worry about washing, but most people don't seem to notice it.
 

Gersh

Next topic - order of stocking. Would it be better to add everything and then the angels or angels then everything?
 

TexasDomer

I would do the angels last.
 

Gersh


78bba947407770589e89476672d61ee4.jpg

Driftwood is here!! I found an awesome piece from reddit (r/aquaswap is a God send).

In excitement to get it cleaned and in I forgot to take a picture with it not in a tub .

Currently it's soaking in water that I boiled and poured over it. I didn't have a pot big enough to boil it in, so I put it in this tub and filled it slowly with boiling water. It'll stay there for a day or two, then it gets a good brushing to remove all bark and hidden dirt. Then it'll be added!

I plan on covering it in a plant called Japan clover (Hyrdocotle sp. - sp?). I want to use this because it's one of the few plant species that acts like a vine. I'm going to let it climb all over the driftwood and go for a jungle type feel.

Oh, AND ITS FILLED! After a good cleaning with bar keepers friend and some elbow grease, it was looking better than ever.
a8b9e6ed74a1d7ab2ce1f9a419acadbb.jpg. I used a hose from my front yard cause haouling 11 buckets of water was not on the docket for today. I leveled it out using some spare carpet I had that the previous owner had left.
8da4d627a8924f104fdb184886d64294.jpg
 

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