So this is what I'm working with...

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TheFishWhisperer

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Hi! I made an intro post https://www.fishforums.net/threads/trying-to-decide.491424/ Since then I did some reading on this part of the forum and I realized I'm a complete noob when it comes to planted aquariums. I didn't even know anything about the Co2 injections. So I'm going to have to read more about that and decide how I want to go about it. I also have to save up before I really get into it (spent all my money on Christmas!). So it's going to be a work in progress for a while. Plenty of time to learn then!

But let me give you a description of what I (had) have so far. It's a standard 55g. It had sand, but I removed most of that and used 2 different substrates: 2 bags of CaribSea eco-complete planted aquarium substrate (with volcanic basalt), and one bag of Aqueon plant and shrimp sub (clay based). I admit, I have done no research on any of this till now. I ordered some aquatic grass seeds from Amazon, sprouted them in the tank (with water only up to the substrate level). I let them grow for a couple months till they were fully rooted. Then I filled the tank and got a couple plants, a couple guppies, three neons from the pet store. Tank is go. Well, the guppies murdered the neons. I never knew guppies were so hard core. Then Mrs Guppie, sadly I scared her to death cleaning the tank. Then Mr. Guppie wallowed in misery due to the loss of his mate. Meanwhile algae took over the tank and the grass ended up dying. And I noticed a snail. Darn pet store. The guppie died. The snail multiplied. One of the plants fell apart.

So now I have many snails, and one sad looking plant. So it's no big deal if I want to take the tank down and eradicate the snails. I'm not sure I want to do that though. I've read up some on snails, and I am still undecided. I do have to say though, the tank has never looked so clean (no algae either!) Granted, there are no fish in there right now to contribute to a mess.... I do have to make a decision on the fate of the snails before I move forward with the tank, but like I said, right now I'm broke anyway.

The last time I cleaned the tank I put a bunch of fake stuff in there just so it didn't look so empty. But all I want in there eventually are live plants and driftwood or something else natural....and fish, and ... snails? IDK. here are the pics I've got so far...
This was the tank originally, with the grass
BeforeTank.jpg


Here is the tank now (it's sad looking I know) But some day it will be a planted tank!
Tank.jpg


Here, the snail spawn

snail.jpg


And here's Big Papa, King of the Snail Hoard:

BigPapa.jpg


I have to get better lights for the tank too...
 
I can see from your other post that you've got lots of experience, but just wondering whether the substrate may have contributed to your deaths, I know active substrates have mixed reviews because of the way they can leech into the water column. I'm just theorising though, could be completely off!
 
OK, you're actually off to a decent start. 55 gallon is a great tank size, probably my favorite. Here are some recommendations to move forward:
1. Don't worry about the CO2 injection; that is an advanced technique that you don't need, and that usually causes more trouble than its worth. And let the snails be. They are harmless, and actually valuable (some would say indispensable) members of the aquatic ecosystem.

2. Get yourself a master test kit. I know you said you're broke, and I can identify, but you need to know if your substrate is leeching ammonia. That would explain your losses. Once we know what's happening with your water, you can move forward. So scrape up some money somewhere and get one. That's a top priority.

3. You need to get the nitrogen cycle going and/or get live plants again so fish can live in your tank. Here is an excellent article on plantless cycling.

You can also do a plant-based or "silent cycle," which is what I do with my tanks: Add a lot of live plants; once they're growing actively you can start gradually adding fish and depend on the plants (and water changes) to keep things clean.

4. Choose some easier plants. Aquatic grasses are notoriously difficult to grow, and many plants sold as such aren't even truly aquatic. Stick with some easier plants: Crypts, swords, java fern, java moss (both would look nice attached to your little rock formation) floaters such as frogbit, hornwort, water sprite. Many other choices. Once your plants are growing and/or your filter is cycled, you can start gradually adding fish.

A couple questions: What kind of filter are you running? How hard is your water? For that, you can either get a test kit (more $, unfortunately) or ask your water company.

I hope that isn't overwhelming. You're obviously doing some things right and care about your tanks. Let's get you pointed the right direction. :)
 
Hey thanks for the replies! So, the substrate...IDK. Like I said I'm a total noob when it comes to planted tanks. So maybe what I chose isn't good. I still have all the sand and could put that back in but from the small amount of research I did do it didn't seem like sand was the best option. Anyway, I'll have a better idea once I get the test kits. I'll get one for hardness levels too. I don't mind investing into this project, I just have to do it kind of slowly. I get paid in 2 days so I'll order a test kit then. Any recommendations on test kits? I know I want to be able to check ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, ph, hardness... I don't mind spending money on better quality. I always had the liquid tests kits before, not the strips.

So there's that, I'll get all the readings hopefully by next week. I'll have to order the kit because I have no car. Besides that, the filters are the Emperor 400 HOB. There's 2 of them but I only have one running now. The other one was kind of noisy like I got some sand into the motor a while ago. I'm considering investing in a new filter(s), and that's another reason for joining the forum to get some ideas of what might be the best filtering system for planted tanks. Like I say, I don't mind spending money on quality. Maybe I'll try starting the other filter again. And if it's still real noisy a new filter might be my next purchase.

Also, the snails....should I be giving them something to eat then if I'm going to be keeping them (I have kind of grown fond of them). I guess that's it for now. Thanks again for the replies!
 
Sand would work and so would normal fine gravel. You don't need active substrates to have a lovely planted tank, just a few root tabs. And no, don't feed the snails as there's plenty of algae and biofilm for them to much on for the time being
 
The substrate you have is probably fine. The single 400 will probably be adequate for filtration. I recommend putting it toward the center brace so you don't get dead spots on the opposite side. But even if you do, that's easy to fix with an airstone or powerhead. Do some looking online for instructions to take your impeller out of that noisy filter; it's probaby an easy fix. My Marineland HOBs would need a new impeller shaft about every two or three years, but otherwise ran great until I discovered canister filters.

I like the API master test kit and hardness kits. Strips are OK for keeping an eye on things, but they aren't usually accurate enough to get started.

The Captain is right: Don't feed the snails. It only encourages them. :)
 
Yeah thanks. I was actually checking out the API kits. I can't center the filter any more than it is. I usually keep airstones or the like running to circulate the water but the dumb air pump was dead when I tired hooking it up. So, that, another purchase I'll be making. I've tried canister filters in the past and didn't have much luck, one stopped working all around, and the other ended up having some issue where it kept pouring water out all over the floor no matter how many times i thought I resolved the problem. Out of curiosity, WhistlingBadger, what types of canister filters have you had luck with?
 
Yeah thanks. I was actually checking out the API kits. I can't center the filter any more than it is. I usually keep airstones or the like running to circulate the water but the dumb air pump was dead when I tired hooking it up. So, that, another purchase I'll be making. I've tried canister filters in the past and didn't have much luck, one stopped working all around, and the other ended up having some issue where it kept pouring water out all over the floor no matter how many times i thought I resolved the problem. Out of curiosity, WhistlingBadger, what types of canister filters have you had luck with?
I've run SunSun ones, the cheapos off amazon, and gotten lucky with them. Others say they're junk. The 150g tank I take care of has an enormous Eheim that has been running for at least 15 years without a hitch.
 
So I was reading the article linked above on the Plantless cycling... I probably don't want to do that with the snails in there right? Adding ammonia? I think I'll try to do the plant cycling thing. I'm going to have to look into options where to get plants. I'll see what my local store has next time I have a ride out that way. I'll check out some on line places too, but I'll have to pay attention to the cold weather issues. Well, I'll wait till I get the water tests done first, and probably try to come up with a budget to spend on plants, because I have a habit of going overboard sometimes. I'll keep this thread updated. And I really appreciate having you folks to discuss this stuff with! It's great to be part of a community again!
 
Hey, the kits came early! So, I have 0 for ammonia and nitrites. Nitrates are present, but not quite at 20 ppm, I'd say it's more inbetween 5 and 10. So IDK what that means. I'll include a picture of the test. pH is high, around 8. And hardness is pretty hard, inbetween 7-15 GPG or 120-250 PPM. I only got test strips for the hardness. But I did get the liquid kits for the others. So here's the picture of the Nitrate test:
Nitrates.jpg
 
I suggest you test your tap water for nitrate. Many places have nitrate in tap water, and the USA allows up to 44 ppm. (You'll see it quoted as 10 ppm but that's using a different scale which converts to 44 ppm in the scale our test kits use).

If there is nitrate in your tap water you need to subtract that from the tank nitrate reading to see how much nitrate is being made in the tank. Also check any plant fertiliser ingredients for nitrate.
 

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