68L HighTech Style Planted

xxBarneyxx

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So after not having a tank running for quite a few years now we picked up a little 60L tank (actually picked it up over a year ago and its been sitting empty).

She who must be obeyed finally kicked me into action so decided to go for a "low tech" planted tank. The idea being to set it up and run it as cheaply as possible. However when digging through my old fish stuff I found a full bag of ADA substrate and enough CO2 to run this tank for about a year so it will be going to a high tech EI "lite" tank eventually.

So the issues I have had so far:
The light unit is not good enough. It was purchased without enough knowledge (Modern LED lighting is new to me) and it is nether long enough to fit the tank properly or strong enough to work for a high tech setup. For now it will have to do and I have tried to scape the tank around the light (using a LUX meter to check for light drop off). The plan is to either get a light the will do the job by itself or to get a second one to work along with this one.

Second issue I have had is I was planning to use my old Ehiem 2324 canister filter. It is old though and when I set it up last night I immediately flooded the living room. I then also snapped the Valve locking handle. It looks like I can get a replacement O ring and handle though but for now there is no heating and no filtration.

Third issue is that the plants I ordered don't fill up quite as much space as I was hoping. Some also turned up in a pretty bad state so not sure they will come to much. Hopefully will pick up a few extras at the weekend.

Plants at the moment are just selected for ease of growing and to try and grow out as quickly as possible. Over time I will probably be switching these out.

Hardscape is basically "make do with what I have to hand". I glued some bits of wood together to make a bit more of an interesting piece and used some slate to make some cave areas (may get Kribs or Rams in the future). Its not ideal. The tank is narrow front to back so making a nice scape is difficult. Add to that the limited choice of material and trying to leave spots where the light is working best and its not the nicest hardscape I have ever made. It's not too terrible either though and once the plants go in it will soften it up a lot.

Stock wise it wont be anything special. Flame Tertras, Cardinal Tetras, Glowlight Tertras, Cory's, pair of rams/kribs and shrimp/snails.

Anyway here is a photo of the mess I left it in last night after attempting to dry the living room carpet....

20210910_082923.jpg
 

Fishfaced

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So after not having a tank running for quite a few years now we picked up a little 60L tank (actually picked it up over a year ago and its been sitting empty).

She who must be obeyed finally kicked me into action so decided to go for a "low tech" planted tank. The idea being to set it up and run it as cheaply as possible. However when digging through my old fish stuff I found a full bag of ADA substrate and enough CO2 to run this tank for about a year so it will be going to a high tech EI "lite" tank eventually.

So the issues I have had so far:
The light unit is not good enough. It was purchased without enough knowledge (Modern LED lighting is new to me) and it is nether long enough to fit the tank properly or strong enough to work for a high tech setup. For now it will have to do and I have tried to scape the tank around the light (using a LUX meter to check for light drop off). The plan is to either get a light the will do the job by itself or to get a second one to work along with this one.

Second issue I have had is I was planning to use my old Ehiem 2324 canister filter. It is old though and when I set it up last night I immediately flooded the living room. I then also snapped the Valve locking handle. It looks like I can get a replacement O ring and handle though but for now there is no heating and no filtration.

Third issue is that the plants I ordered don't fill up quite as much space as I was hoping. Some also turned up in a pretty bad state so not sure they will come to much. Hopefully will pick up a few extras at the weekend.

Plants at the moment are just selected for ease of growing and to try and grow out as quickly as possible. Over time I will probably be switching these out.

Hardscape is basically "make do with what I have to hand". I glued some bits of wood together to make a bit more of an interesting piece and used some slate to make some cave areas (may get Kribs or Rams in the future). Its not ideal. The tank is narrow front to back so making a nice scape is difficult. Add to that the limited choice of material and trying to leave spots where the light is working best and its not the nicest hardscape I have ever made. It's not too terrible either though and once the plants go in it will soften it up a lot.

Stock wise it wont be anything special. Flame Tertras, Cardinal Tetras, Glowlight Tertras, Cory's, pair of rams/kribs and shrimp/snails.

Anyway here is a photo of the mess I left it in last night after attempting to dry the living room carpet....

View attachment 143187
That's looking great so far. Will look even better as time goes on.
The only thing I'd have done before filling it is put a black background on it. Make the plants stand out and add depth.
Obviously not to everyone's taste though.
Looks a lot bigger than 60ltr in the pic. Good scale of decor.
 
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xxBarneyxx

xxBarneyxx

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Yeah I need to get some black background for it as well. Always liked a nice dark background for really showing off the plants and fish.
 

Ch4rlie

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Nice looking tank, going to look good when more plants or when current plants starts to fill in the spaces and become more lush.

I have tried to scape the tank around the light (using a LUX meter to check for light drop off). The plan is to either get a light the will do the job by itself or to get a second one to work along with this one.

LUX meters, am interested in getting one of those but am not sure what is good for aquariums. Can I ask what do you use?

Looking forwards to hearing and seeing more pictures of this tank as it progresses, keep up the good work.
 
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xxBarneyxx

xxBarneyxx

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LUX meters, am interested in getting one of those but am not sure what is good for aquariums. Can I ask what do you use?
I work in a school and we have some "data loggers" that have all sorts of plug in sensors so I borrowed one of them. Not sure I would actually trust the accuracy of it in terms of the numbers it gives being correct. It works fine for seeing if one spot of light is brighter than another though.

As a brief update to the tank I have had a few (more) nightmares.

Waiting on the parts for my canister filter/heater so borrowed an enteral filter of the mother in law which was brand new in box. Set it up and there is no impeller in it. I had some spare bits and one of them fits "good enough" but was another little thing going wrong in an every growing list of little things going wrong.

Stuck in a heater as well. Came home yesterday and the tank was 32c... heater was set to 26c no idea how long it was like that for. replaced the heater with one of my spares... Not working.

Thankfully I have a bunch of heaters to hand so eventually got it going again and did a water change to cool it down. Plants are not looking too great though.

I'm torn at the moment between buying a new light and seeing how this one goes. Might give it another week and see if there is any growth going on (or if they all die off) and go from there.
 

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Ah, always get those snagging little jobs that goes wrong, happens to all of us I reckon.

As for the LUX meter, I understand what you mean, yep, some are not the most accurate but as a guide its fine to use to ive ideas about your current light set up.

Some heaters can be calibrated, so I wonder if its worth for you to research online for your brand of heater and see if this can be reset or calibrated back to the correct heat settings. There are various methods, not all work but sometimes they do.

Am surprised a brand new in box internal filter had no impeller in it, kind of defeats the point of the filter really with no impeller!
Might be a silly question but maybe the impeller is in a separate bag in the box itself?
 
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xxBarneyxx

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Some heaters can be calibrated, so I wonder if its worth for you to research online for your brand of heater and see if this can be reset or calibrated back to the correct heat settings.
Sorry forgot I was going to reply to this but was busy at the time. That's really useful info. I have kept fish on and off for over 2 decades and never knew this.

So I got myself a finnex light unit which turned up today. Quick test with the light meter and the output compared to the nicrew is double in the center. 5 inches out from the middle the light output is still higher than the nicrew in the middle. The light spread is much wider and brighter.

Some photos below. It was a bit gross because I have purposefully not been doing any water changes. The aquasoil I have will release ammonia at the start so have just let it do its thing to start the cycle off.

Having said that though I still don't have my external filter working. I got a new seal for the main body of it but need two new O rings for the pipe connection part. Hopefully will get some tomorrow if there is any the right size at the local hardware store.

Before clean up. Not bad amount of growth considering I just left it alone for 2 weeks.
20210924_183515.jpg


Hair grass not looking happy due to not getting enough light. Have seen it come back from this before though.
20210924_183614.jpg


Lots of gross biofilm and gunk on the spiderwood. Also some bonus hair algae and dirt everywhere.
20210924_183632.jpg

Dirty slate and yellow water. The aquasoil will also make the water yellow/green for awhile at the start.
20210924_183641.jpg


So all in all, pretty gross. But that's ok. This is why I like getting the plants established first. There will always be a gross phase in a new tank and with no fish in there I can just let it run its course with no worries.

Anyway after a bit of a trim/replant and clean up and setting up the new light I have this:
20210924_214312.jpg

Much better looking.
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20210924_214412.jpg


Tomorrow I'm actually going to sort out my mother in laws marine tank which has been neglected a bit due to her poor health. At some point over the weekend though I will get the CO2 hooked up and mix up some ferts to really get the growth going.

I'm really not liking the slate either. My Mrs likes it but I don't think it works with the wood and takes up a lot of space. I had put it in originally as I was thinking of getting kribs or rams and a cave would have been good for them (the slate covers pic pipe). Not sure I want to go that route now though so don't really need the caves.
 
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xxBarneyxx

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The O rings I got didn't fit so ordered some which turned up today. Tomorrow I should finally be able to get the external filter up and running and then I can ditch the internal filter and heater.

Yesterday I got the CO2 hooked up. The internal filter doesn't have enough flow rate to use my normal diffusion tricks so I chucked in a ladder diffuser. At about 1.5 bubbles per second its actually probably getting a good 90% diffusion which is surprising as I didn't have a lot of luck with it before. This is currently getting me on the higher end of where I would want the CO2 to be but I haven't started dosing yet. 1 bubble per second with a good diffuser is about what I expect I will need for a tank this size.

I do have a bunch of dry ferts already (like several KG worth). However they haven't been stored in the best of conditions and are very old, I'm unsure how usable they are going to be. The mono potassium phosphate and potassium nitrate "look" ok but I'm no chemist. The rest all look fairly damp and clumpy. I have ordered an EI starter kit which should give me enough of everything to keep me going for about a year on this tank.

I will be going with EI dosing but probably at about half the normal levels for macros due to the aquasoil, then will see how things go from there. In the past this has worked fairly well for me.

Fair amount of hair algae but that's pretty normal at the start with aquasoil (at least the old stuff). It leeches a lot of ammonia to begin with. If I did daily water changing for a couple of weeks it would probably solve the problem but I'm in no hurry and its basically free ammonia to kick start the cycling process a bit before I do it properly. I expect once I get things properly going it will burn itself out in a few weeks.
 
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Small update, mostly just for my own info when I look back later :)

I got the external fixed and hooked up finally. Cost about £20-30 in new seals and bits but is working great. Think this filter is about 15 years old and has been run on a load of tanks over the years. I even gave it to my MIL for a couple of years for one of her tanks.

I didn't have a spraybar so did a quick DIY job with some dark coloured tubing. It was going to be a temporary solution but actually doesn't look too bad and will blend in quite well once the plants grow in.

CO2 I have running high at the moment, have been dosing some old ADA Brightly K until the EI stuff arrives. Plant growth is actually fairly good but hair algae is going crazy. Have done a few water changes and removed what I can by hand. I expect it to last another few weeks and hope to get a bit more plant mass in there to take care of it quicker. In my experience with the ADA aquasoil this is pretty standard unless you get like 80% of the tank planted with fast growers and do a lot of water changes for the first couple of months.

I did get some more wood to go in there. Think I'm going to take out a lot of the slate and put the wood in. This will give me a lot more planting room and look a lot better (hopefully). Once I have done that I will look to pick up some more plants to go in the mid-ground and carpet the front.
 

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