Finally upgrading my all plastic tank to all natural!

foxgirl158

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Hello!

I have a 30 gallon bowfront tank that currently houses two platies, a mom and her one surviving baby. Around 3 months ago, I had 20 babies. I believe most of them died because of the paint flaking off of the plastic rocks. So, I decided enough was enough and started prepping to finally swap the tank to all natural.

A little bit of background:
I bought this tank secondhand in November of 2020 as a last minute effort to save some fancy goldfish I had outside in a shallow trough. The decorations all came with it, so the plastic wasn't my choice. Eventually, after joining this forum, I learned that multiple goldfish should not be kept in a 30g, and despite my best efforts, they all died. Then I started keeping platies, and most of them have died from what I now believe to be poisoning from the paint and random swings in pH, which I am attributing to the paint as well. My ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate were all at good levels.

This brings me to today. I've been meaning to swap the tank to natural for a while, but I haven't had enough time to do it. After I lost the second to last platy fry yesterday, I called my uncle who knows a lot about fish and asked if he could come over to help me swap the tank out. He said yes, and is coming over this evening.

The plan:
I have had a 5g bucket set up and cycled for some time now in preparation for the fish to go in while we're swapping the tank. The nitrate is a little high, but I'm planning on taking some of the water from the 30g and replacing the bucket water to hopefully help mediate that for the time being. Once the fish are removed, my uncle and I will remove all of the old clown substrate and throw it away. Then we will clean the inside of the tank, the glass top, and all of the hard water crusty bits from the outside part of the filter and hood. I have this bright blue plant which I will be removing, but for the time being I am going to keep the smaller fake plants because they will still have good bacteria on them, and I don't want to swap everything out at once.

I have river rock substrate washed and ready, along with a gorgeous piece of driftwood. I will be transferring some vallisneria from a planted 10g that I have to the back of the tank, and an Anubis plant to the driftwood. I'm looking for more plants, such as an Amazon Sword, and plants with some color such as red in them, however I haven't found any locally yet. Once the tank is set back up, I will let it sit empty for a day to let it settle while I continually test the parameters. Then, I will re-add the two original platys, plus three other fry from a 10g, and a nerite snail. I'm hoping to eventually add more community fish and make it a real community tank!

Here is what it looks like currently. I can't wait to update this journal as my uncle and I transform it!
IMG_20220808_125505544.jpg
 

Rocky998

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Awesome Fox! Definitely following this!
Good luck Foxgirl
 

Wills

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Yeah this sounds awesome :) Great job planning everything so well too!

Only thing I'd consider is going for a sand substrate rather than gravel - sand gives you more options in terms of livestock and sand is better at holding plant roots.

Your plant list sounds great! Red plants are tricky but some of the Ludwigia species go red pretty easy, Red Camboba could be a good option and is a bit easier to find these days. Some Crypts could be a good choice like Alibida Brown, which is a deep red colour.

Wills
 

jaylach

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I question adding current tank water to the temp container. It may be the paint causing issues but could just as easily be something else. By adding tank water to the temp container you are increasing the chances of passing on the issue even if it is the paint.

I am also in the process of switching from plastic to live plants. Good Luck with your project! :)
If you have problems finding future plants I recommend WetPlants for online orders. I've only ordered from them once but the results were awesome. All plants healthy and larger than expected.
 

Rocky998

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I question adding current tank water to the temp container. It may be the paint causing issues but could just as easily be something else. By adding tank water to the temp container you are increasing the chances of passing on the issue even if it is the paint.
That's what I did when I completely re-scaped my tank.
It helps with the temperature inside the bucket and gives them familiar water parameters
 

Rocky998

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There is a difference here though. I'm sure that when you did this the initial tank was healthy. That does not seem to be the case here. :dunno:
True but it's best to not put them into a tempature shock.
What you can still do is do half and half. Half tank water and half tap. It will be warmer than the tap but not as lethal as the tank water. Just be sure to treat the added tap
 

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True but it's best to not put them into a tempature shock.
What you can still do is do half and half. Half tank water and half tap. It will be warmer than the tap but not as lethal as the tank water. Just be sure to treat the added tap
Look kid! Don't argue with your elders! Just kidding!!! ;) I am FULLY aware that you have more knowledge about this stuff than I. :)

I agree about the temperature shock but, if the heater will fit in the temp container, I'd just move the heater to the temp. Since the temp container is only 5 gallons it would not take much time to bring up to the current tank's temperature. I doubt that the current 30 gallon tank would even show a noticeable drop in temperature before the 5 gallon container was up to par. Remember that the 5 gallon container is cycled.
 

Rocky998

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Look kid! Don't argue with your elders! Just kidding!!! ;) I am FULLY aware that you have more knowledge about this stuff than I. :)

I agree about the temperature shock but, if the heater will fit in the temp container, I'd just move the heater to the temp. Since the temp container is only 5 gallons it would not take much time to bring up to the current tank's temperature. I doubt that the current 30 gallon tank would even show a noticeable drop in temperature before the 5 gallon container was up to par. Remember that the 5 gallon container is cycled.
Lol. Thanks, I just try to help when possible.
That could also work! Now that I think about it, the tap may be a bit warmer than normal meaning it MAY be ok to use straight tap (treated).
 

jaylach

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Lol. Thanks, I just try to help when possible.
That could also work! Now that I think about it, the tap may be a bit warmer than normal meaning it MAY be ok to use straight tap (treated).
Actually, when doing water changes, I always match the new water temperature to the tank. It is actually easy to do this. I always have two thermometers. One is an exterior strip on one side and bottom of the tank. The other is an internal thermometer held to the upper opposite side of the tank, I go by the average... Anyway, when I do water changes, I pop the internal thermometer off its suction cup and use in the replacement water to match temperature by adding more cold or hot water.

What would worry me is an ammonia spike after adding the fish to the temp container although, with just two, I doubt that it would be a big factor short time. Problem is that, since apparently, there was some sort of pathogen in the initial tank it needs to be totally sterilized. Can't just move the current filter as that would also carry any possible pathogen. The 30 gallon is going to need to cycle..
 
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Rocky998

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Actually, when doing water changes, I always match the new water temperature to the tank. It is actually easy to do this. I always have two thermometers. One is an exterior strip on one side and bottom of the tank. The other is an internal thermometer held to the upper opposite side of the tank, I go by the average... Anyway, when I do water changes, I pop the internal thermometer off its suction cup and use in the replacement water to match temperature by adding more cold or hot water.

What would worry me is an ammonia spike after adding the fish to the temp container although, with just two, I doubt that it would be a big factor short time. Problem is that, since apparently, there was some sort of pathogen in the initial tank it needs to be totally sterilized. Can't just move the current filter as that would also carry any possible pathogen. The 30 gallon is going to need to cycle..
I use a garden hose that reaches the tank through the garage... I just hope I can find something to do when winter hits.... I cant lift the bucket to pour it into the tank.... Too many things can go wrong I'm afraid
 
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foxgirl158

foxgirl158

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I will make sure to test the bucket water frequently throughout this 24 hour period to make sure nothing is building up :)
 

jaylach

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I use a garden hose that reaches the tank through the garage... I just hope I can find something to do when winter hits.... I cant lift the bucket to pour it into the tank.... Too many things can go wrong I'm afraid
Even with my small 20 gallon cube I'm not about to lift and pour 10 gallons of water if I do a 50% change. I use a 1.5 gallon pan to add the new water in steps.
 

Rocky998

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Even with my small 20 gallon cube I'm not about to lift and pour 10 gallons of water if I do a 50% change. I use a 1.5 gallon pan to add the new water in steps.
Thats not a bad idea!! I may try that sometime with a pan from the dollar store!
Anyways lets not hijack the thread lol
 

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