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55 Gallon freshwater aquascape
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Arctic
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Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Location: Raleigh, NC

PostPosted: 2012.02.12(Sun)13:18    Post subject: 55 Gallon freshwater aquascape Reply with quote

I've been around the forum since the late 1990s but hadn't yet been able to actively participate since I was still attached to my parents' purse. Having recently graduated from college and started my professional career, I finally have the resources to pursue this hobby more seriously!

I purchased a 55 gallon fish tank, 60 pounds of Seachem Flourite (50% Black and 50% Red), and 2 pieces of Mopani driftwood. As far as equipment goes, I am just about set. I have a Fluval 305 filter set up under the stand with the default filter media (bio-tubes and activated carbon). I bought an Aquatic Life T5 HO light fixture with 1 6000K spectrum light and 1 650nm spectrum light (almost 2W/G). I have a 300W Jager heater coming in this Friday (2/17) along with an Aqueon aquarium water changer. I also should have a 10lb CO2 system being delivered in the next two weeks or so.

I soaked the Flourite in 10 gallon tubs using a hose to remove the extra dust. Once the water in the tubs appeared clear, I spread out the gravel on a tarp and let it dry for the entire day.

The mopani driftwood is already dense enough that I don't have to water-log it however I was still concerned about excessive tannin leaching. I left the wood in a 10 gallon tub for 2 weeks, changing the water twice a day as time allowed. I also got a big turkey fryer and boiled water with the wood in it for 2 hours.

When it comes to the plants that I am putting in to the tank, I am a little uncertain as I've never kept any before. I'm trying to emulate a Dutch-style aquascape. My tap water's pH currently sits at 7.0 but I know that will change once it is added to the tank with the wood and CO2. Here is the rough flora plan that I put together:

    Rotala nanjenshan
    Anubias congensis
    Hygrophila corumbosa
    Anuvias nana
    Ludwigia repens
    Bacopa monnieri
    Lobelia cardinalis
    Sagittaria subulata
    Hemianthus callitrichoides


Imgur album with a (grainy) picture of the aquarium hardscape, the Flourite drying on a tarp, and my aquascaping plan (layout):
http://imgur.com/a/ylpC1/embed

How does the layout look? Are there any suggestions about my plant placement or grouping? As you can see from the picture, the gravel is higher in the back than it is in the front. I think this helps to give an illusion of depth. I really like the difference in leaf shapes between the two Anubias plants and the Lobelia cardinalis. From an aesthetic point of view, the Sag and the Anubias nana could be switched although I think that the Anubias would flourish better than the Sag if the Hygrophila begins to provide more shade.

Regarding fauna, I anticipate having 2 Otos and either a shoal of 10 Tiger barbs or a group of 10 Harlequin Rasbora and 10 Bleeding Heart tetra.

Regards,
Chris
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Arctic
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Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Location: Raleigh, NC

PostPosted: 2012.02.15(Wed)22:30    Post subject: Awesome! Reply with quote

Great news! The heater and thermometer came in today. The Aqueon water changer arrives tomorrow. Both the plants and the CO2 system will be arriving on Friday.

Hopefully I can get some better quality pictures to post for you all. I'm pumped!
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2012.02.16(Thu)4:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you're off to a great start - doing everything by the book.

Don't really have any much to say about equipment, sounds like you've got it under control, all looks pretty good to me...the only thing I would consider is up-ing the lighting (if you want to grow some more high-light plants in the future particularly).

With the fish - I would definitely go for a larger number of otos. Also out of those I would pick the Harlequins (very nice fish IMO).

Keep us updated with pics Smile
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Arctic
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Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Location: Raleigh, NC

PostPosted: 2012.02.16(Thu)8:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback, Flame Angel!

It would probably be a good idea to upgrade both light tubes to 10000K red/white spectrum sometime soon. I also have the choice to expand my light fixture to a 4-lamp solution (which is less expensive than some of the other 4-lamp fixtures I've seen). Depending on how the plants respond to the current environment will decide how soon the upgrade comes.

I will look at increasing the number of Otos. I could consider adding a Bristlenose pleco but those fish still get rather large.

Are there any suggestions on a good fish that could compliment the Harlequin? I like the Serpae Tetra, especially in a small school, but am concerned that they could be too aggressive towards the Harlequin.
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2012.02.16(Thu)15:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah if you can do it for cheap then I would look into it. But like you say - see how they go. It's all a learning experience!

The standard BN doesn't get too big, but it they would take a fair few otos to equal the amount of waste that comes out of one fully grown BN.

Personally I think if you want another type of fish, don't make it another schooling one. One larger school of one species always looks better than 2 or 3 smaller ones of different (my opinion, but most others tend to agree after seeing it). You will observe more activity and I guess more natural behaviour with a larger school. The Harlequins do look awesome in a massive group - more active than most tetras.
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Arctic
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Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Location: Raleigh, NC

PostPosted: 2012.02.17(Fri)18:29    Post subject: Plants are in! Reply with quote

I'm definitely warming to a shoal of Harlequins. After I add the Otos to the tank, we'll see how a nice group of Harlequins looks in the tank!

The plants arrived this morning. I didn't get a chance to let them have much "sun time" today however that should change going forward.

I'll post again later with some pictures of the setup!
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2012.02.18(Sat)2:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

They really are great little fish. How many otos are you thinking to start with?

Plants all look alright? Looking forward to pics Smile
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Arctic
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Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Location: Raleigh, NC

PostPosted: 2012.02.19(Sun)8:21    Post subject: Morning update: 2/19/2012 Reply with quote

Sorry for the delay -- the weekend started to take over! Smile

Let me start by giving kudos to the store that shipped my plants. I didn't (but wish now that I had) take any pictures of how the plants arrived but I was very impressed. The stemmed plants and potted plants were bundled together. Each bundle had wet newspaper surrounding the plants, inside a clear plastic bag (NOT the kind that you get at a grocery store or superstore). Both bundles were then wrapped together with packing paper.

For the most part, the plants looked great! Some of the java fern leaves have holes or black spots in them. I hope they go away once the plant starts growing.



I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the Ludwigia renens planted (and stay planted) in my substrate. The flow from my Fluval 305 appears to knock some of the plants out of the substrate. Now going on the second full day of operation, I haven't had to spend as much time re-planting plants that started floating.



I have three Anubias barteri var. 'Nana' in the tank. One can be seen tucked between the Mopani wood and the java fern in the first picture. The other two I have attached to the wood using dental floss.



The CO2 system was delivered on Friday, the same day as the plants, but I only had time to put the plants in the tank. All of the CO2 system components were excellently packed and shipped. I got the 10lb CO2 tank filled up at a homebrew store for $30. For the drop-checker fluid, I went to Walgreens and picked up a 10oz bottle of mineral oil (intestinal lubricant).

I currently have the CO2 at about 2 bps, 30 psi and operating while the lights are on. The CO2 system came with a pH controller but I am going to wait until the plants have "taken off" and I have fish in the tank before I set that up. The diffuser is Green Leaf Aquariums' Atomic CO2 Diffuser which boasts a 100% dissolution rate. It is currently sitting behind the ludwigia and spitting out tiny bubbles.



I want to close with a full tank shot from yesterday afternoon (background still needed).

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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2012.02.19(Sun)17:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Let me start by giving kudos to the store that shipped my plants. I didn't (but wish now that I had) take any pictures of how the plants arrived but I was very impressed. The stemmed plants and potted plants were bundled together. Each bundle had wet newspaper surrounding the plants, inside a clear plastic bag (NOT the kind that you get at a grocery store or superstore). Both bundles were then wrapped together with packing paper.


Good to hear. That's how most companies send them - it's how they all arrive at stores so shouldn't be any problems Smile

Quote:
For the most part, the plants looked great! Some of the java fern leaves have holes or black spots in them. I hope they go away once the plant starts growing.


If anything would recover it would be the java fern Laughing those things are impossible to kill.

Quote:
I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the Ludwigia renens planted (and stay planted) in my substrate. The flow from my Fluval 305 appears to knock some of the plants out of the substrate


How deep are you planting them?



Tank looking like it's gonna be great once the plants fill out! What background are you planning on adding? My opinion - solid black always looks best, especially against plants.
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Arctic
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Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Location: Raleigh, NC

PostPosted: 2012.02.19(Sun)22:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the compliments on the tank! I agree that a solid black background would look nice. I'm not sure if it makes a whole lot of difference, other than longevity, if the background is poster board cut-to-size or glossy paper.

I've read many articles and forum posts about the hardiness of the java fern and java moss. Hopefully this group won't fare any differently! Smile I am interested to see how the plant "heals".

The plants that have been giving me floating problems are the ludwigia renens, lobelia cardinalus, and the anubias barteri var. 'nana'. The ludwigia was a challenge to plant for me because it seemed as though every time I got the ludwigia "deep" into the substrate, one of its neighboring ludwigia would pop out of the substrate! I estimate that they are between 2-4cm deep. The lobelia has randomly popped out of the substrate at times; I planted it deep enough to cover its roots (2-4cm). When planting the anubias, I need to make sure that I am not covering the rhizome, correct? The roots sticking out of the rhizome aren't too long and covering just the roots with gravel doesn't seem to be a sure bet of keeping the plant anchored! I can take a closer picture of the anubias if it would help.

With the lighting and CO2 on a timer, the hardest part of the next few weeks will be watching the plants (hopefully) grow! Razz I have laugh at how many times I've looked in the aquarium expecting to see miraculous growth this weekend.
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