Tank Wars: Return of the Aqua

Discussion in 'Planted Tanks' started by Aquaman, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    Lukewarm Aquawalker has returned to his home of Tankooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Barb Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jagaur the Cichlid.
    Little does Luke know that the AQUATIC EMPIRE has secretly begun construction on a new armored aqua station even more powerful than the first dreaded Amonia Star.
    When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band of tetras struggling to restore freedom to the aquaria...

    So, being out of the hobby for about 10 years my eyes caught the old dusty tank standing there stored away when all of a sudden I felt this fin nipping feeling, almost like a Kissing Gourami pouting while tuning me "hey, bru... it's time". I then realized I really missed the tranquility of having a tank in your living space. And so it starts!

    Disclaimer: I'm by no means a veteran of the hobby. When I started out those years ago I just went ad-hoc doing what I think and want... not, actually doing research...
    200w.gif

    This time round I spent the last month or two reading and watching YouTube videos etc. Not only did I get a tank-load full of inspiration and advice, I realized the horrible mistakes I made back in the day and actually felt bad for the poor fish and few plants I attempted to keep.
    giphy.gif...
    ...well, some of the fish regrettably did and I vowed this time to do it right.

    Two months on and I started getting everything ready. Used some elbow grease and cleaned the tank out with good-ol' vinegar mix. Scrubbing off the majority of the calcium buildup and with a razor blade scraped off the parts that really hardened up and then... T-day! (D-Day sounds better but I prefer Tank Day over Dank day, so...) 1 September... mmmm, perfect day for starting a new tank I believe!

    I opted to go for the Natural Planted Tank (Walstad Method) which in essence is a 2.5cm layer of soil capped with a 2.5cm layer of sand/gravel. Whilst they mostly advise to go with organic potting soil, I opted for organic lawn dressing as I found it has a bit less large chunks of bark and twigs etc.

    Here then the timeline to date (I didn't take enough photos though, wish I could have video of this too. This is the first experiment of this method for me so if it goes well I'll do a better job of documenting the 3 footer):

    Friday, 31 August 2018 - That's Sift Man!
    I double sifted the soil to get all the chunks of bark out (Single sifting is adequate too by the way). First I used a wire type dustbin with grate size of about 4mm and then with a standard kitchen sift I did the second round of sifting. I think the result is perfect!
    IMG_20180831_170556.jpg
    P.S. - I do have two feet, the other one is just camera shy.

    I pre-soaked the fine dirt to make a lekker muddy mess... yummy! This was actually more fun than I anticipated. Mixing the water through to get this:
    IMG_20180901_090035.jpg
    I would give the bucket a good mix and swirl every hour or so to get the air pockets out and left it overnight.

    Saturday, 1 September 2018 - Shoppiiiiing!

    After I went horse riding (the best way to start the day) it was time to go get some plants.
    IMG_20180901_161215.jpg
    POPCORN! woohoooo!

    (suppliers sorted left to right)
    Wazeers:
    Ludwigia Repens
    Cryptocoryne Wendtii
    Dwarf Hairgrass
    Amazon Frogbits

    Pet Masters - I got a plant mix for R60 (they weren't named but I think they are the following, if someone can correct me that'd be great):
    Glosostigma Elitiondes
    Staugoryne Repens
    Ludwigia Repens Rubin (Photo doesn't show it but it has a slight red tint)

    Rebel Pets:

    Vallisneria
    Anubius Nana

    I think it's a decent haul.
    200w.gif


    Saturday, 1 September 2018 - The Point Of No Return
    Now it's time for the setup! I was quite nervous, I knew that when I start here I can't stop and change or whatever... I've not touched a tank in 10 years and now I wanna go for a dirted tank? Dude, you're in over your head... ooooh boy! I was committed though and I'll make it work...
    200w.gif

    I first built a "wall" around the sides and front panel of the tank with the sand I would ultimately use to cap the soil with. The reason I did this is purely aesthetic as to prevent the soil layer being visible.
    200w.gif

    Something like this:
    IMG_20180901_162237.jpg

    The next step was to add the hardscape and then muddy mess. It's texture was not too fluid-like, which is what you want. That way you can actually work with it, almost like clay.
    IMG_20180901_164021.jpg
    Now it was time to plant and fill her up. I de-chlorinated the water and also added Seachem Stability to help boost the bacteria colony growth. A few considerations on the photo below... I didn't attach the Anubias Nana to drift would at the time. (forgot to get fishing line/sowing thread :confused:) I'm planning to replace the filter with a Seachem Tidal 55, this internal thing is too big and it's ugly. The heater also isn't in the final position yet (the Tidal has a neat little heater clip to slot into). Ultimately, this is what I ended up with for the time being :cool:.
    IMG_20180901_190046.jpg The soil leaches a bit but that's expected. The water will clear up soon.

    Sunday, 2 September - We Survived
    At this stage I'm not going all out on water tests, lest I get paranoid and that's never a good thing.

    - pH: 7.4 (I was actually hoping for it to be closer to 7 but will not be messing with this as the tap water you get is what you get... just happy it's not all the way up to 8)
    - Amonia: 0.05 (surprisingly low as I expected the soil would make it be higher than that untill cycling is complete)

    I will only be stocking next month, I want the tank to cycle properly and will do an update soon. I haven't made my mind up on what to get but as this is only a 30l tank I was thinking of either a shoal of about 10 Neons/White Clouds and 5 Panda Cory's or alternatively the Corys will be accompanied by a Betta.

    Hope this read didn't bore anyone into getting new tank syndrome. :p

    Any comments, advice or positive criticism is very welcome! Fish-on!
     
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  3. Vince

    Vince Enthusiast

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    You made my day! Anyone that didn't smile the whole way through reading this, needs xanax! I think we should be friends. Lol.
    Thanks for your very descriptive post. I was in the hobby for about 7years and left it for around 4. A few months ago I decided to get back into the hobby, but go the planted route. Soooo much to learn, wish I took a month like you did to purely do research! Very nice assortment of plants you have there. I also wanted to go a different route so I'm using Akadama as my substrate with osmocote below it. I feed JBL Madano into it every week or so so add some nutrients and a finer grain.
    I'm using a 40l as an experiment tank until I feel.confident enough to move onto my 100l
    I'm still training the 40l and plants still need to grow in, might even still move around and add over the next couple of months.
    I've attached a phot of mine :) she's about 4 months old now. Don't mind the two containers and small drift wood on the right, they're in there for my Otto's to do some work on :D
    Would love to see updates on your tanks progression. Stay on touch.024b6597b9cb8512e55d45c77b956541.jpg

    Sent from my EVA-L19 using Tapatalk
     
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  4. OP
    Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    Thanks, appreciate. That looks great. I like i' a lo'!

    When you say "move around" if you mean plants, I've read more than once that is not advisable to move rooted plants (into substrate) too often. If you do, make sure they are well established first.

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  5. Vince

    Vince Enthusiast

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    I might remove one Aponogeton crispus as I have too many for the tank. And replace it with a new plant. Might add a rock or two as well. Some trimming is also due soon. Not a chance I'm moving any of my rooted plants. Lol. Took too long for them to be happy. One of the Crispus is starting to flower now as well. Madagascar lace is also growing steadily after a dormant period. I want to add some more colour to the tank too.
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  6. OP
    Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    That's awesome. It's almost like a Bonsai early on... Patience patience patience.

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  7. Adrian Gatter

    Adrian Gatter

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    :lol: You made my day!
     
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  8. happyFish

    happyFish

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    Nice production value on that post :thumbup:
     
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  9. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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    @Aquaman,

    Welcome back to the hobby.. I think almost everyone that takes a break eventually comes back... its in your blood!!

    Awesome thread, had a good giggle...and awesome job you doing

    Tank looks great!
     
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  10. OP
    Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    Thanks so much... It truly is in the blood!

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  11. TheGrissom

    TheGrissom

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    Welcome back from your leave of absence. I think aquariasts are like the mafia - the only way you get out is in a coffin
     
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  12. Vince

    Vince Enthusiast

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    if you want out, you sleep with the fish

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  13. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    hmmm xanax

    Always good to see a well planted tank from day 1.

    Keep posting them pics

    Later Ferdie
     
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  14. OP
    Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    Thanks, will post updates soon.

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  15. OP
    Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    One week on. Did n PWC (no, not the auditing firm ;P). The Anubias is attached to some driftwood now and the tank is starting to settle nicely. My fears about working with soil has dissipated quite a bit.
    pH holding steady at 7.4
    Amonia dropped to below 0.02

    Should be able to stock as I planned by the end of the month.

    42cdb6b265e63a54ef9de2eeecbc49f9.jpg

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  16. Pezulu

    Pezulu

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    I'm looking forward to seeing the progress on the tank.
     
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  17. hviviers75

    hviviers75

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    Hey @Aquaman welcome back its looking good and keep us posted regularly.....
     
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  18. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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  19. TheGrissom

    TheGrissom

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    Coming along nicely
     
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  20. mjmza

    mjmza

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    This tank is going to look awesome once the plants fill out and the foreground plants cover the sand.
     
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  21. OP
    Aquaman

    Aquaman

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    I really hope so, even though this is more a test run. But will be stoked if it works out well. I'm learning as I go. This forum is terrific, I must say!

    Sent from my Nokia 7 plus using Tapatalk
     

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