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Discussion in 'Aquascaping Journals' started by Consigliere, Oct 6, 2010.
Thanks. Will be getting the tank wet again tonight to see if my repairs have things leak free now.
After the first dry run of the tank there were a few leaks in the plmbing that needed to be fixed. There were two that I won't admit to how they happened but let's just put them on me. The other two were because of a bad bulkhead installation. I had to remove the bulkhead, scrape the inside glass free of silicone, re-seat the gasket and re-install the bulkhead. I siliconed it in for good measure. Here's why I don't make a living building aquariums:
To get the bulkhead fixed and get at the other leaks the original plumbing had to have some pieces cut out and new fittings put in. Here's the right side of the tank before installing the new fittings.
and the new setup:
finally holding water with no leaks:
This photo shows the tap for filling the tank and all the lights installed:
and the nightlight shot:
I added the filter media today to get ready to cycle everything. There is a 3" layer of foam on the left and 56 pot scrubbies with some java rock on them to hold them down. I'll add some polishing fill when I get the tank filled again and sump running.
I also got my substrate today.14 bags of Netlea brown. It's a nice grain size, and looks pretty good in the cloudy water...so far.
Before I put the substrate in I had to touch up the manzanita arrangement. Got some rocks under it to tilt it in the right direction, moved a few branches around and also added some rocks where I want to add some depth to the layout.Here's the final layout of the tank before adding the substrate:
Obviously the giant ugly rock in the arrangement won't stay. It's there to make sure the wood doesn't float up on me and ruin the layout.
I've got the substrate in and am filling the tank up as I write this. Here's a shot from a few minutes ago.
Just have to get my heater ordered and my CO2 canister filled up now and the tank will be fully ready to go. The substrate scaping is going to have to wait until the tank clears up.
Here it is before the first attempted auto-water change procedure. Still pretty cloudy and tea stained from the soaking wood. Still have a bit of scaping on the gravel to do to create the profiles I want. The water was too cold to do it before. I've got all my old heaters in there going 100% to get it up to at 75.
Love the warm colors of the scape! Can't wait to see it planted.
What a monster PPP
Let's see how it looks when planted ihih
Glad to hear you finally got it up and running! Definitely coming together well! This may be a stupid question, but what is the purpose of the grate under the substrate? I know some have used to to shape their substrate but it looks like yours is perfectly flat.
The grate is so you can rest rocks etc on it without having a point load on the glass. Basically distributes the load of material more evenly across the glass so less risk of cracking it.
I got energetic on Sunday afternoon and decided that I would do my first round of planting, despite having a million other things to do. I couldn't resist. Before I could start planting though I had to build a mini scaffold for me to stand on to work in the tank. Using a chair just wasn't cutting it. Here's my makeshift scaffolding:
I cleaned out most of the crypts at the best LFS in town. There are a bunch of ones in here: anubias bartera, java fern (normal), crypt parva, crypt poderfolia, crypt wendtii (red and green), crypt retrospiralis, crypt balansae, crypt abilda and apongeton crispus. A few of the crypts aren't in the greatest shape but they were reasonably priced so I figured I would give them a shot. Before putting them in the tank I soaked them in a very, very mild peroxide and water solution to try and at least hurt some of the algae that may be on them. Here's the plants before going in the tank:
Planting a 3 feet deep tank while you are standing 3 feet in the air is not the most comfortable scenario. *Luckily I have 12" tweezers to help and very long arms. *This is the shot during my first break to give my back a rest:
I had to finish up the planting before I got everything in. I ran out of super glue for attaching the ferns and anubias so there are a few of them that still need to go in. Here's a bunch of shots of different areas:
The start of the parva lawn, about 1/4 of the way there after planting 10 pots worth:
Balansae and ponderfolia sections:
Apongeton crispus and more balansae
More balansae, retrospiralis and abilda. The retrospiralis and abilda are on light support a bit so you can't see them very well.
A section of wendtii green:
and after refilling the tank:
After this planting session and getting the tank refilled I was hurting. Sore back and tired but worth it. The green really pops against the wood and brown soil and dark background. After a night of planting I would have to say that the Netlea substrate is very nice to work with. It is easy to plant in, doesn't make a big mess when disturbed. Areas that were underwater were an absolute breeze to plant in. All the planting that is shown was finished in about an hour and a half. Once you get the hang of using 12" tweezers they are an absolute necessity for planting in a tank this deep. Overall I'm very happy with the progress. Lots of plants left to go but a good start. I figure this will be about 1/4 to 1/3 of the total plant biomass that I'll plant in here. The general theme will be the same though. Slow growers, crpyts, anubias, ferns etc. Don't want a high maintenance tank. I feel like I may go with one select stem species behind the anubias barteri but I will have to wait until I can get some shipped in the spring time for that. The Canadian winters aren't to friendly to plant shipments.
Because I needed an excuse to have another beer before bed...here's the tank 24hr after planting. There a bunch of new plants needing to be put in their permanent home but I am waiting to do that until the water needs changing for clarity again. The wood is leaching less tanins now but will need a big change again in a day or two.
Ordered a bunch of plants from the LFS that they normally don't carry today as well. 20 more pots of parva on the way, some java narrow leaf, java windelov (red apparently but now that I'm reading up on it it will be green submersed), anubias nana petite and a new crypt I forget. Should be here in 2 weeks. Will work out nicely for another big water change and that should be the majority of the planting done.
Been working on and off on the tank of late. One of the first things to take care of was getting the CO2 up and running. After filling the CO2 tank I got everything hooked back up. The CO2 bubbles run into the intake of the powerhead that puts water through the UV chamber. The modded impeller is shown in another post. It's working really well. Can't even see the bubbles on the output so they are being dissolved 100% before being put back into the sump. Unfortunately the long layoff wasn't kind to my solenoid. It was full of dust and other junk and had to be totally taken apart and cleaned out. After putting it back together it still isn't working properly. It's passing CO2 with and without power. I still got it up and running and everything connected up but will have to get a new one I think. It's still clicking away when power goes off and on but will not stop the CO2 when there is no power to the solenoid. Any suggestions on how to fix it? I've had it apart a few times and can't figure out the problem.
With the CO2 in the next step was getting the sump sealed up. I had a bunch of acrylic lying around from some other old projects that I could use to create a cover over the open areas. With some cutting here and there I fit it around the plumbing. I used Tuck Tape to seal the edges of the acrylic sheets and around all the stuff going in and out of the sump so that it is generally air tight. Not 100% but pretty close. I put a small piece into the pump section of the sump so that I can break that seal and get at the pumps without having to take apart major sections of the cover. Is working well so far. Drop checker is nice and green and the couple of otos in the tank aren't gasping. Here's a photo of the sump all sealed up.
Another small thing that I had been planning was a self priming vacuum that I could connect to the filter system. This way I could clean the tank without any buckets and then would only have to clean out the filter, just like you would normally have to do. Here' s the apparatus I came up with. It's just a standard vacuum with an old Fluval ball valve hooked up to it. It's connected to a ABS cap that I can put on the drain system to self prime. Unfortunately, in practice it's much harder to use than I thought and I ended up putting a couple gallons of water on the floor....twice. I think I'm going to stick with the buckets for now, but it works as intended. Notice the scaffold in the picture doubles as a nice work station.
Onto the second planting session now. I got some new crpyts from the LFS; some more wendtii green to fill out some spots, some larger wendtii red I think, 3 more pots of parva (20 more are on the way) and the rest are left overs that I didn't get in on the first planting or have become unrooted and need to be replanted. Here's the lineup going into the tank this time.
A few hours later and we're ready to refill the tank again.
and about another hour later, the tank totally filled.
All the anubias and java ferns are attached to the driftwood using Loctite Super Glue gel. Works pretty well as long as the surfaces are not soaking wet. Hold the plant in place for about 15-20s and it will hold no problem . The open area on the front right will be filled with parva to finish out the "lawn". The open area on the left side will be filled up with more crypts and the wood will have some needle leaf java ferns, windelov java ferns and anubias nana petite going in. I think I have another species or two to come too but can't remember exactly which ones now.
I realized now the design flaw of not having access to hot water at the tank. You can't do a total water change without putting major stress on the fish. I lost a number of otos because of it on this round. I'll never be able to do a full drain and water replacement without bucketing in some piping hot water to keep the temperature at least reasonable. I finished this up at 3am and there was no way I was bucketing in the hot water so I lost a couple of the otos I had in there for algae control.
Here's the tank 3 days later.
Nothing really interesting to report since everything is slow growing in here. Lots of crypts melting off obviously, but have seen some small growth. Even have some plants pearling already which is a good sign. No algae to be seen yet either which I'm really happy about. The good CO2 is probably the key here. Based on some forum advice and personal experience I am only running 2 of the 3 lights for about 5hrs a day. When I've got all the plants in I'll introduce the 3rd light but it will only be on for about 1.5-2hrs a day for a good burst. Otherwise I'll keep the light cycle around 5-6 hours total until the plants are fully established and algae, if any, is under control.
Here's some of the pearling after about 3 hours of lights on.
On Friday I'm supposed to have the last shipment of the plants in. Will be getting them in over the weekend sometime and will have another update then. After that it will be getting fish in there and then, hopefully, watching everything sprout.
2 weekends ago I picked up all the plants I had ordered from the LFS, except for the anubias nana var petite. The plants direct from the distributor where in much better shape than the ones that had been hanging around the store for a while. Especially the parva. I got 15 pots of it and it was mostly full grown. I also got 6 pots of needle leaf fern, 5 pots of Windelov fern, a couple more pots of crypt ponderfolia, a couple more pots of crypt wendtii 'Red', 6 pots of crpyt cordata and half a dozen more anubias barteri. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera after this planting so no photos exist of the tank in the best shape it's looked since starting. After a week and a half the moajority of the crypts execpt the balansae, ponderfolia and parva have almost completely melted. Starting to see some growth from them now a week and a half after being transplanted. Here's a couple tank shots of what things look like now.
The floaters are some lobelia cardinalas that I bought but decided not to plant. It was a whim buy and after looking it up I shouldn't have gotten it. I don't think its the small form. I'm going to just let it float for a while to see if it survives but I don't think I want it in the tank based on what I've read about it.
Here's the view I have from my desk.
A photo of the right foreground which will eventually be a parva lawn. The 2nd round of parva are almost fully grown. Compared to the parva I planted on the left side these ones look fully grown.
It will be interesting to see which side fills in more quickly. The left side is planted more densely but the plants are very small where the right side is fully grown but not planted as thick.
This is all that was left of a 12-14 large crypt wendtii 'red' (as well as some diatom algae from starting up) and all that's left of about the same number of crypt cordata
With the tank fully planted and some of the plants having about a month in the tank I figured it was pretty safe to start introducing fish. I previously had bought 6 otos to keep the startup algae at bay and they all died. It's likely that the tank wasn't entirely cycled and some other stress reactions all worked against them. I jumped the gun a bit on getting them, maybe I was too paranoid about a bit algae infested startup.
The last time I started up a bigger planted tank I didn't introduce any of the "show" fish until after the cleaning crew had been in for a few weeks. I plan on doing the same thing this time. I'll build up the cleaning staff over the next couple weeks and then will get the rest of the fish in.
So far, I'm pretty happy with what I've found in stock at the fish stores around town. Introduced into the tank this weekend were:
6 otos, 1 albino bristlenose pleco, 2 clown plecos, 2 rubbernose plecos, 9 panda corys and 120 ghost shrimp. Here's a few shots of some of the new tenants:
Albino bristlenose pleco
After the first day I haven't seen the clown plecos around. It also looks like one of the rubbernose plecos has some ich. Hopefully it's alright and doesn't spread to the other fish. Also, about a dozen of the ghost shrimp have bitten the dust. Fairly expected considering I bought 10 dozen. After the first day I haven't seen any more carcasses lying in the gravel so I think the rest have acclimated well. It's pretty cool to say about 100 ghost shrimp cruising around and doing their thing. Makes the tank seem very active with almost no fish in it at all. They are constantly eating something and it's noticeable that they are cleaning things up after only a couple days.
As far as the tank setup goes I'm pretty much finished. I have a couple small odds and ends to complete and then build the cabinet to finish it off. That will be the last major job and then the only work left will be maintenance. Not all the way there yet but it's feeling much closer than it did 2 months ago. There will be one more planting left for the tank, I just need to find the right species. I need to get some anubias nana var petite it pretty large quantity to fill in the two sections of the driftwood (mostly on the left side) and I'd like a mid sized anubias strain for the left side as well. I'm going to try and order some of them through another LFS and see how it goes. Right now it's just wait for the crypts to come back and the ferns and anubias to starting spreading out.
Sorry to hear about the ottos.. from what I hear they are all wild caught, and quite stressed and sickly by the time you get them home. I owned six in a well cycled, entirely healthy tank and they all died within two weeks of getting them home, despite extra effort in introducing them very slowly and keeping lights off for a full 24 hours afterwards.. I think I might just give up on them unless I see them second hand from established tank stock.
Pitbull plecos are my fav otto replacement, do lots more work but cannot hit some of the narrower leaves on some plant species, but they clean glass larger plant leaves, and rock/wood better than nay I've seen.
Fear not, the parva will fill in and continue to get thicker over time.
This is a 450 Gal after a a little over 1 year after a dense planting:
Mostly Crypts and Anubias.
That is a great parva lawn. Hopefully mine gets there someday.
The pitbulls aren't as active as I expected them to be but they've only been in for a couple days. The diatom on the glass is noticeably going down though.
Wow - looks fantastic- I think nana petite's would be a better choice though.
Plant more C parva- that's too sparse IME.
Tom that looks awesome- I doubt I will have the patience with so much nana and parva though. LOL
Thanks for feedback. I'll be adding some nana petite once I can get some. Can't get it locally so I am trying to organize a trip to pick up the rest of the stuff, including fish, I will need to finish off the inside of the tank.
I'd like to add nana 'gold' and nana 'petite'. I'm working on finding those right now. I doubt I will get more parva to fill in the lawn, I'll just wait for nature to fill it in. The plan for this tank is to finish it off and then just let it grow for a good few months before having to touch anything inside. New baby on the way in 4 weeks and work/home projects will be the priorities very soon so I need have something low maintenance for a while.
Give them time, they will reduce the work for you.
I think that's is one of your goals in this tank, it will require patience..but the reward will be great over time. The tank WILL GROW IN better and better with time, just keep up on the care for the water changes, good CO2, etc.
I agree though, adding more parva will help fill in better, faster.
Maybe another 20 or so pots, they run 5$ each or so, so it's not a lot....but will speed things up nicely.
Lots of amano's, they are less likely to fit through the overflows than the Fire shrimp or RCS etc.
They will help a lot also.
A design idea that can still be added to later if desired is using some wood to divide up the foreground some and give the effect of roots from the tree/bush etc:
This might enhance your vision for the wood hardscape. These pieces can also be moved around to suit.
Good luck with new baby. No sleep for you.
C. parva is like the slowest plant/crypt I've ever grown. Worse than watching a kettle boil really and you gotta believe Tom even if you don't believe me. LOL.
From a pot- I could only see 3-4 new leaves a month- this coming from an average 'gardener'. )
I'm loving the driftwood Merry X'mas and good luck with the baby.
Thanks for the help guys. If I see some more parva at the LFS I'll grab it and thicken up the lawn areas. Another 20 pots....I don't know if my back can take it.
I think I've rounded out the final two plant species to go in. Anubias nana 'gold' and anubias nana 'petite' . That should round out the flora once I make a road trip to pick some up.
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