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Old 10-25-2016, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
725 posts, read 3,013,896 times
Reputation: 601

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Hello everyone! It's been almost 7 or so years since I've had a tank (my last one was a 46g freshwater tank). Plenty of questions and hoping you can chime in...

My husband and I recently talked about getting a tank together and we recently purchased a SeaClear 50g acrylic tank... and decided on trying a planted tank. We bought a couple different kinds of substrate (for plant growth and regular substrate), and have been cycling the tank since Saturday. I think we may have bought too much as I think we're about 4 inches deep where it was suggested to have at least minimum 2 inches. I'm thinking about removing some of the substrate - should I?

We also bought some real driftwood at LFS and have been submerging them in hot shower water each day to remove the tannins. Most of the pieces are too big to boil in a standard pot (which was suggested for a faster cleanse). They're currently a tea-color so I don't know if I should wait even longer until it's clear or, I just found a suggestion to use "Purigen" which makes the water super clear. Anyone have any experience with Purigen and its effectiveness on driftwood?

We bought a few plants at LFS but have not put them in the tank yet. I also bought variety seeds from Amazon to plant later. I have been reading that we need some sort of CO2 system in order for the plants to properly go through the photosynthesis process. I am looking for some recommendations and trying to find reviews on different kinds last night became overwhelming. I don't think we'd be able to DIY something - seems a little labor-intensive to do lol. So if there is an all-in-one kind of kit available, please let me know. I was also thinking of trying to find a microbubble emitter (like an air stone, so that I wouldn't have to deal with pricey CO2 tank refills) but one of the nicer ones started at $200 for a 20 gallon tank only. Eesh. If there is a comparable product that would be good for up to 50 gallons, please also let me know.

Hoping to get everything set up in the tank properly before we add plants and fish!
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Old 10-26-2016, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Tejas
7,599 posts, read 18,405,367 times
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I personally think 4" is fine, depends on how you like the look of it yourslelf. I think I have at max 2" of gravel in my tank.

So I did the same thing, i just kept on turning the driftwood until I boiled the whole lot. My tank went from crystal clear to like coffee. Water changes helped, as did Purigen. I think I only used Purigen for about 3 months, i kept regenerating it. The water never went back to cyrstal clear with it but it did help alot. I gave up though as I grew to like the tea colour, the tank took about a year to clear itself with all the leaching of tannins.

I know guys that do CO2 systems but I have no idea bout them. I personally do a "low tech" planted tank. I had a couple of good 10k bulbs till that died and then I got an LED system in the last month. I dose (underdose compared to instructions) with Flourish and Flourish Excel. The main thing I do is I make my own root tabs with Osmocote Plus and vegan/kosher/halal gelatin tabs. Might be something youre interested in. It was more to my budget anyway.
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Old 10-28-2016, 10:48 AM
 
Location: NY/LA
4,663 posts, read 4,546,940 times
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I started with planted tanks about a year ago and I'm currently running CO2 in two nano tanks.

Four inches depth in a 50-gallon tank should be fine, but I'm curious as to how you're laying it out. Is it going to be pretty level or are you laying it out with slopes and valleys?

The first time I tried driftwood, it was a two-inch thick piece that never seemed to stop turning the boiling water brown, so I just put it in the tank anyway and eventually the water cleared up. Since then, I've used much thinner (and smoother) pieces of wood, which don't seem to darken the water at all after soaking for just a couple of hours.

Which CO2 setups were you looking at? Since I'm running nano tanks (under 20 gallons) I've been able to get away with a $70 Fluval system, but I don't think that would be an option for a tank of your size.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
725 posts, read 3,013,896 times
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We took out about an inch of substrate (will maybe keep this for a future, smaller tank). We did some slopes and valleys, but nothing extreme. Some higher spots in the corners and tunnels down below the driftwood. I think we actually put in too much driftwood (5 pieces - one tall branch, one "log" style piece, and three small mopanis), but it was hard to figure out a nice set up with the shapes we had. We stacked a couple of them to give the fish some hiding spaces down beneath.

The color is more a tea color today (set up with fish on Saturday)... I actually don't mind it as much as I thought I would. I did put it a bag of Purigen (for up to 100g), but I bought another to put in the other filter chamber just to see if the water will clear up anymore.

I saw a Fluval kit for CO2. I was more interested in a all-in-one kit so I don't have to find different parts if DIY. It seemed to be a good option, but the largest kit they have is for 40g only. I tweeted Fluval and they said that it's possible to use their kit but that we would just have to replace the tanks more often. One deterrent is just that it will get expensive. We also saw a similar kit at PetCo yesterday, but we didn't buy it. I read that we could keep the CO2 off at night, though, since photosynthesis doesn't occur at night.

That being said, I've been noticing tiny air bubbles floating in the tank. I think the way that our filter (marineland) is positioned, coupled with the Hydor Koralia Circulation Pump is positioned in the corner, it pushes some of the air bubbles around (closer to the ground) before they go up. I'm thinking that this may be some sort of alternate solution before investing into CO2 set ups. Also, my next option was to do an aerator but haven't been able to find a "micro bubble" one that would mimic more of the CO2 kits. If you have any suggestions on a micro-bubble product please let me know.

I also called a local aquarium store and they said that depending on the kinds of plants we need, we wouldn't necessarily need CO2. Well, we planted a bunch of random ones over the weekend, so I think we may need something at the very least. I was looking at a CO2 booster (liquid) bottle at PetSmart the other day but haven't had a chance to read up on its effectiveness. If you have any comments on that type of CO2 solution, let me know too.
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Old 11-03-2016, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Tip of the Sphere. Just the tip.
4,540 posts, read 2,766,671 times
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Tannins from the wood will clear up on their own as you occasionally change the water over the next few months. Meanwhile just enjoy the tea-colored water

As for CO2- I used a low-tech CO2 system for a while: In a 2-liter bottle, mix sugar water and add yeast- hook it to an airstone. Allow the bubbles to trickle up through a piece of tube stuffed with filter media- holding the bubbles in the water longer to allow the CO2 to dissolve. It was kindof a pain as you have to dump and refill the sugar water every 2 weeks or so... but it sure did make the plants grow.

I got tired of messing with CO2 though. What I do now is plant my plants in small flower pots with a little dirt form the yard (don't use potting soil- trust me on this). Cover the soil with a layer of big gravels so fish can't dig up the plant... then cover that with sand. The dirt will stay in place very well this way, and the plants will grow. Not as fast as they did with CO2- but fast enough and they're healthier too.

An unexpected benefit I've found(that I'm sure some will disagree on) is that the addition of dirt to an aquarium actually helps it clear up and helps the nitrogen cycle stabilize. I think it's similar to having a good balance of bacteria in your gut- you need a whole ecosystem of those critters to get a good balance. Since adding dirt to my tanks, I never have problems with ick, white spot, etc.

Most of my plants are planted this way now- but I have a few left in the sand that I just never moved even when I started potting plants. The potted plants seem to have helped these in the sand too... I think minerals and such that they need just leech into the water.
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Old 11-07-2016, 06:09 PM
 
Location: NY/LA
4,663 posts, read 4,546,940 times
Reputation: 4140
Quote:
Originally Posted by s0nginmyheart View Post
I saw a Fluval kit for CO2. I was more interested in a all-in-one kit so I don't have to find different parts if DIY. It seemed to be a good option, but the largest kit they have is for 40g only. I tweeted Fluval and they said that it's possible to use their kit but that we would just have to replace the tanks more often. One deterrent is just that it will get expensive. We also saw a similar kit at PetCo yesterday, but we didn't buy it. I read that we could keep the CO2 off at night, though, since photosynthesis doesn't occur at night.
You could keep the CO2 off at night, but if you have a manual valve, it can take some effort to get the CO2 flow rate (i.e. bubble count) back to the same rate in the morning. Since you have a larger tank, it's probably less of an issue for you that it is for my nano tanks, which are more sensitive to changes. CO2 affects the pH of the water, so you don't want to accidentally set the rate too high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s0nginmyheart View Post
That being said, I've been noticing tiny air bubbles floating in the tank. I think the way that our filter (marineland) is positioned, coupled with the Hydor Koralia Circulation Pump is positioned in the corner, it pushes some of the air bubbles around (closer to the ground) before they go up. I'm thinking that this may be some sort of alternate solution before investing into CO2 set ups. Also, my next option was to do an aerator but haven't been able to find a "micro bubble" one that would mimic more of the CO2 kits. If you have any suggestions on a micro-bubble product please let me know.
Regular air is only .04% CO2, so it's not a great replacement if you have plants that really require CO2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s0nginmyheart View Post
I also called a local aquarium store and they said that depending on the kinds of plants we need, we wouldn't necessarily need CO2. Well, we planted a bunch of random ones over the weekend, so I think we may need something at the very least. I was looking at a CO2 booster (liquid) bottle at PetSmart the other day but haven't had a chance to read up on its effectiveness. If you have any comments on that type of CO2 solution, let me know too.
If you're talking about Excel, it's supposedly sufficient for some plants, but not sufficient for others. It really depends on the kind of plants you have. For instance, I've tried to grow Dwarf Baby Tears with just Excel, and that didn't work at all. Do you know what plants you have in your tank now?
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:22 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
10,352 posts, read 7,980,919 times
Reputation: 27758
For what it's worth, I used Flourish Excel on my planted 55 gallon tank, and it worked marvelously. And it's a lot easier (although more expensive) than a CO2 setup. But as Mr. Zero notes, not all plants like it. I mostly stuck with Amazon swords, Anubias species, and water sprite (as well as the inevitable duckweed), and they did fine.

You have to strike the correct balance between the amount of light, the amount of nutrients, and the amount of bio-available carbon for the tank to flourish, and figuring out that balance can take a bit of time. The good news, though, is that once you do figure it out, planted tanks are incredibly stable. have fun with yours!

(I miss my planted 55 gallon. )
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Old 11-10-2016, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
725 posts, read 3,013,896 times
Reputation: 601
Thanks. I'm going to skip on the CO2 set up for now. Currently, I put in an aerator (two corners), and in one corner, it bubbles up to the Hydor circulator which pushes the bubbles back into the tank - it's kind of neat looking actually. I only have tetras, australian rainbow, cory cats, mollies, platys, swordtails and they are doing fine by the bubbles and circulator. So, fingers crossed.

For plants, I have:
Temple Compacta
Rosette Sword
Amazon compacta
water wisteria
anubias nana
narrow leaf java fern
telanthera cardinalis
cardinal plant (doing ok)
crytocoryne undulata
cyperus helferi (dying)
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