New 55g tank ideas

Discussion in 'Aquarium Aquascaping' started by AlanGreene, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    Hi guys! :;hi1

    I got my first tank (95Liter or 25Gallon) about 3 months ago and I have caught the fish keeping bug! and so I am getting a 63gallon (or 240Liter) upgrade delivered tomorrow. I want to do a half planted (dwarf hair grass) and half silica sand mix.

    I have never done a planted tank before so I am looking for any pointers such as:

    What soil do I use?
    What nutrients do I put under the soil if any?
    Do I cover the soil in silica sand and then plant or leave the soil bare and plant and put no sand over it?

    I wish to create a hill with a connecting cave in it from the main frontal sandy area to 2 smaller sandy areas at the back of the tank, I will upload a photo of a (badly drawn!) plan for the tank so people know what I am talking about as it is hard to explain!
    I am wondering what I could use to create a tunnel under the grass giving the effect also of a hill, that would not effect the water chemistry? I will want a slightly acidic PH for the type of fish stock I want for this tank. I think one of the fish lore members Matt B (Hi Matt!!) used a terracotta plant pot, could I use a similar type of thing in the shape of a pipe to get my underground connecting caves?
    I was going to use stones to separate the sand from the grass, is this a good idea? I was thinking it would create some good hiding spots for shrimp, could any one please give me advice on what stones would be safe to use that aren't too expensive?

    I will have two T8 36w lights, is this okay for the dwarf hair grass?

    I am also unsure if I need to add CO2 to the water:;dk from the research I have done I have come to the opinion that the fish and bacteria will provide enough CO2 for the carpet grass and this is not necessary but I am no expert so would love a more detailed explanation!

    I plan to stock the tank with 4 discus, 15 cardinal tetra and 8 Cory Sterbai, and 10 amano shrimp with possibly another 15 galaxy rasbora if I have the stocking space. What do you guys think?

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post, Merry christmas :;santaclaus:;rudolph and I appreciate any advice!

    Al :)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  2. YeoyWell Known MemberMember

    For tunnels you can always use PVC piping. It comes in a lot of different gauges/sizes and many people use it for breeding caves. Just make sure there are no sharp edges on it.

    I have just a normal aquarium light (not for plants) and I have no CO2 input into my tank, and it still grows fine. I have a number of plants (java moss, java fern, a sword, duckweed) and they are all going great.

    I can't comment on your aquascaping or stocking sorry, but cardinal tetras are stunning. Someone else will pop in with the right idea :)

  3. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    Hi Yeoy,

    Thanks for the reply!

    I love cardinals, I have 9 in my 25g along with a small discus and 5 guppies, I will be transferring the cardinals and discus to the bigger tank when it is aquascaped and cycled, at the moment I have java fern in my 25g tied to drift wood and I find it very resilient as I only have one 20w light in there!

  4. YeoyWell Known MemberMember

    They are great! Much better than neons. I have never kept discus but if you can keep one, 4 should be no worries :)

    Cories and Shrimp are two excellent ones, regardless of the species. They are both fascinating! Just look for some low-maintenance plants that don't require heavy fertilisation or much light. And experiment, experiment, experiment!

  5. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    I love sterbai, they look inquisitive! can't wait to get some... I would love a colorful shrimp but as far as I know the only ones that get big enough not to become discus lunch are amano ones which are opaque, I was also thinking a single hermit crab would be really cool, but that raises a lot of other questions like do I need to provide a new shell for him and what would I provide, can they live in fresh water, do they need an island for air or breath underwater and do they like the taste of freshly snipped in half cardinals?! :)
  6. YeoyWell Known MemberMember

    I would say no to the hermy. They are only semi aquatic and as far as compatibility, who knows? :/

    Best to leave aquatic, terrestrial and semi aquatic each to their own. I only have Red Cherry Shrimp, but in a very heavily planted
    tank you
  7. YeoyWell Known MemberMember

    You may be able to establish a colony*
  8. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah thats true, it was just a fleeting dream to have Mr. Krabs hanging around my tank lol! just made a short video of my tank now, I think I will do a whole documentary of my new tank set up to help others who want to do something similar and to get some helpful tips from the fishlore crowd!
  9. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    Hi Alan :;hi2, I'm trying to visualise so I can give my opinion, is the level of the substrate going to be all the same with the exception of two small hills for the tunnels? Maybe a description of what the tank would look like from the front would help too, like will you be able to see the two smaller sand patches or will the tunnel hills hide them?
  10. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    I have a new design drawn up and I'm trying to do a frontal view! I really am not an artist!! I will post the plans up shortly!!
  11. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    Hi Matt,

    These are the updated drawings, On the left of the tank will be a closed cave created by a terra cotta pot underneath the soil, on the right of the tank with be an open tunnel created by a PVC pipe, the middle of the tank and the back right of the tank will be white sand and the hills will be planted with dwarf hair grass, in the middle will be a large red moore root and I am also planning to plant some plants on the left hand side above the terracotta pot cave. What do you think?

    Attached Files:

  12. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    all the sand will be exposed!
  13. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    Good morning Alan,

    So the substrate will be lower in the center area and the back right corrner of the tank correct? The only tricky thing would be holding back the sand from all the higher areas, its hard to do with rocks because it will slowly work its way down even if there are tiny gaps. You may wish to construct the border/dam portions with a flexible plastic and then silicone stones to hide it.

    For the dead end cave I would use a large shallow terra cotta pot or else you'll have to build up the sand too high to hide it. The tunnel could be pvc but in half and then maybe just silcone some sand or pebbles to the end to hide it.
  14. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    That's what I was thinking! I bought a lot of stuff today, I am getting a tetratec EX 1200 on thursday along with the root and then some hair grass in about a week or so, I will upload my supplies now to see if they are all good, Do you like the layout? I am not going to rush this tank I am going to spend a long time getting it stable and looking great, I am going to use plastic slats to stop the soil running down the hills, then the roots should help the soil after a while and the sand is really only on flat parts of the tank. Photos to come later on today
  15. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah the layout looks great! I like tanks that have more than one level of substrate, seems like more affective use of the vertical space. I've never had a dirted tank but I think you'd be best off capping it with sand or gravel or else it could be very messy.

    That would be the best advice I could give you, don't rush or settle for something, you'll only regret it later if its not what you wanted. Its good to get all this done before fish in case things don't work out you're not ripping the tank apart while there's fish.

    If you want I can pm a member who does planted tanks to answer more questions about the soil setup.
  16. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    That would be fantastic thanks Matt! I got some stuff today I am gonna upload photos now. I didn't go cheap or anything, I am going to plant next week while cycling, I don't intend to put fish in for another 5/6 weeks minimum! I am going to take my time with this tank for sure, I cant wait to see my little cory's swimming along the sand and going through the tunnels exploring :) getting a root and tetratec EX 1200 on thursday too!

    Attached Files:

  17. Matt BWell Known MemberMember

    I think that filter should be good for your tank, it'll turn it over 6x an hour so thats good for a canister. I really like the rocks and imo a 300w heater is perfect for a 55g, thats what I have in mine. I pm'd another member who does dirted tanks so I'll let him comment on the substrate. :)
  18. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    Your a champ Matt, thanks!!
  19. AmazonPassionModeratorModerator Member

    Matt is definitely a champ with tank designs.

    When it comes to starting a dirted tank is fairly easy.

    I didn't use your type of Aqua soil instead I used Organic Miracle Grow Choice.

    It is common for a new dirted tank to develop algae bloom because of the excess nutrients so to bypass this step, you will need to get a variety of plants (stems, rooted, and floating) to absorb the excess nutrients until your tank stabilize. Stem and floating plantings are the first plant to readily absorb the nutrients in the tank while it takes time for the rooted plants to absorb the nutrient until the plants get established.

    1. Make a sketch where you want to place your plants
    2. Rinse substrate
    3. Put Aqua Soil first then capped with any choice substrate
    4. You can either place your plants before you cap with sand substrate or wait until the aqua soil is capped with sand. In my tank, I placed my plants after it was capped.
    5. I would fill the tank slowly with water but I would place a small saucer at the bottom of tank. The sauce helps disperse the stream of water so it wouldn't disrupt your substrate.

    Since you are not rushing...I would poke your substrate releasing the gas buildup when you do your water change and continue to monitor your water params. You need to give your soil time to cycle.
  20. AlanGreeneWell Known MemberMember

    Thanks for the info AP!

    You recommend putting sand over the soil and then planting? how deep should the sand be in your opinion? I am planting with the carpeting grass dwarf hair grass and will also do a feature plant on the back left area of the tank surrounded by the grass, I have a sketch of the layout of the aqua scape uploaded in this topic. What should I look out for readings wise? is there a specific way I should now cycle my tank with plants in it? I was just going to squeeze my filter sponge into the tank after about a week of not cleaning it.

    Thanks guys :D

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