I Need Help Redesigning My Tank

Joined
10 Jan 2017
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United Kingdom
Tank: Juwel Rio 125 (3 years old)
Filtration: Internal Juwel 'Bioflow M' filter + external Eheim 2217 (with 2215 impeller to make flow manageable)
Substrate: Eco Complete (don't have a lot of luck with this stuff)
Lighting: Stock Juwel T5 lighting
CO2: None at the moment

Hey guys,

I've had my tank for around three years now, and looking back I would've done a lot of stuff differently. I wouldn't have used Eco Complete - I've never had success with it. In the past, I was using EI dosing in conjunction with injected CO2 from a JBL pressurised kit, and I still couldn't get a carpet going. At the time I had moderate success with red plants, but they weren't very vibrant.

Unfortunately, I was going through a JBL canister every 3-4 weeks and it wasn't sustainable. I believe it may be because I changed from the stock JBL ladder diffuser to an in-tank atomizer, but to get the atomizer to function at all I had to turn the BAR on the regulator up. For whatever reason, I got through CO2 like crazy.The kit I had was a 'JBL Proflora M 500. Since this time, I've stopped injecting CO2 and just do weekly dosing with API Leaf Zone.

In the future, I'd be interested in going High Tech again, possible purchasing LED lighting such as the Juwel Helialux Spectrum (anyone have any experience with this?). For the time being though, I'm just not happy with my aquascape. The substrate is flat, adding no depth to the back of the tank. It all looks a bit... worn out and amateurish.

I was hoping you guys could give me advice on how to improve my aquascape (picture will be attached). I wanted to change the substrate for something better for plants, but have no experiences changing the substrate of an established tank. Moreover, I've heard a lot of planted tank substrates can leach ammonia into the water, which would kill me fish.

Ideally, I'd like to add depth to the substrate at the back, changing the substrate if need be, and just giving the tank a more professional look. I'm not naive, and I know I won't be getting carpets without starting to inject CO2 again and perhaps improving my lighting and substrate. Nevertheless, I'm sure there's something I must be able to do to improve the tanks aesthetics?

Thanks everyone for reading, I'd appreciate any tips you have!

(Quick Note: I am not normally running an airstone. I recently purchased a Dwarf Gourami who has added a lot of pathogens to my tank which I'm currently treating.)

My Tank:

71093173_1289733681206944_1375280787678560256_n.jpg
 

tam

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5 May 2011
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I think the trouble is, it's quite a nice looking tank already. Not super aquascaped, but nice looking planted tank. What do you want it to look like? Your plants look like they are doing pretty well, so don't feel like you have to change the substrate.
 

Geoffrey Rea

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Cambridgeshire
I wanted to change the substrate for something better for plants, but have no experiences changing the substrate of an established tank. Moreover, I've heard a lot of planted tank substrates can leach ammonia into the water, which would kill me fish.
I don’t know your circumstances but when running one display tank and wanting to rescape I’ve previously just bought a really cheap second hand tank and filter to hold the livestock in the interim. This gives you ample time for the plants to grow in and for water parameters to get there. Sometimes people are happy to give tanks away for free just to get them out the way so it may not cost you anything. You have to have a place for another tank though obviously. One option.

Another option is to see if anyone local to you could hold your stock whilst you’re rescaping. Another option.

Without knowing what you’re trying to achieve it’s hard to advise really. Think about questions like: Rock only? Rock and wood? Fast growing stem tank? Jungle? Island layout? Triangular? Valley? Co2 or no Co2? Budget?

One thing I always ask customers first is how much maintenance are you willing to do weekly without fail? This will narrow down the list for you and ultimately give you a tank you enjoy from experience.
 

X3NiTH

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Joined
13 Apr 2014
Messages
944
125L tank and a JBL bottle lasting only 3-4 weeks is about right maybe under dosing CO₂ slightly. Hopefully you weren't paying full NEW price for the JBL bottle each time you needed a refill as these bottles are refillable, either from the store that sold you it (if they don't have refill stock in store then they can send the bottle away to be refilled, how long that takes tells you how many spare bottles you may require to always be able to swap a bottle out when you need it, refill shouldn't cost much more than £12), or from a place that services fire extinguishers (may be able to sell you a fire extinguisher with a decent volume and price that they can regularly refill and service for you from as little as £10 per bottle), even some paintball places do refills.

While there are lots of reasons to not use CO₂ in a tank the cost of the CO₂ should not be a limiting factor for success if a tank requires it. You just have to sort out the cheapest supply route.

If you plan on rescaping then get everything you need to do the job beforehand and plan lots of time to do it (so as not to be rushed and end up mucking it up, literally), have the fish out into a suitably large container using their tank water, use your heater to keep the water warm and an air pump with air stone to get some water moving (or use a the internal filter if you can). Uproot the plants and let them float in another container, if you rinse of their roots so they don't cloud the water then you can place them in with the fish to give them some extra cover. Clean the tank, hardscape it, plant it up, refill it and when the water is suitable for the fish and up to temps add the fish go back in, job done.

Know exactly what you intend to do beforehand (impromptu almost never looks as good as planned does) and test out substrates first away from the tank so you have no major surprises later when performing the actual task like capped substrates swapping themselves around when the water goes in because one is less dense than the other. Giving yourself lots of time allows you to be more patient when planting up because depending on the substrate some of them may not play nice when it comes to holding plants in place.
 
Joined
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I think the trouble is, it's quite a nice looking tank already. Not super aquascaped, but nice looking planted tank. What do you want it to look like? Your plants look like they are doing pretty well, so don't feel like you have to change the substrate.
I guess I'm just not happy with it. It might be looking at the same thing for three years, or comparing my tank to people on YouTube or on this forum. The flat substrate bothers me, and even hightech I never got a carpet going (although that may have been more to do with flow).

Ideally I'd want something with a higher level of substrate at the back to add depth, and maybe a mix of plant based substrate toward the rear and the very front could be sand.

As for the plants, most are okay but the carpeting plant at the front is slowly dying.

Quick question: would two t5 tubes with reflectors be sufficient for a high tech tank? I calculated them to be more lumen than the expensive Juwel Helialux Spectrum LED designed for growing plants.
 
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Joined
10 Jan 2017
Messages
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Location
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Without knowing what you’re trying to achieve it’s hard to advise really. Think about questions like: Rock only? Rock and wood? Fast growing stem tank? Jungle? Island layout? Triangular? Valley? Co2 or no Co2? Budget?

One thing I always ask customers first is how much maintenance are you willing to do weekly without fail? This will narrow down the list for you and ultimately give you a tank you enjoy from experience.
I've been thinking triangular aquascape, sloping from right to left. Trouble is I know Juwel internal filters suck water from both the top and bottom, and I'm not sure if putting substrate near the bottom of the filter will impede this. I like rock, but my water is already liquid rock and I'm not sure if adding a lot of rocks will raise the PH too high, so probably rock and wood.

I wouldn't want to do more than around 2 hours maintenance a week.
 
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Joined
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Messages
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While there are lots of reasons to not use CO₂ in a tank the cost of the CO₂ should not be a limiting factor for success if a tank requires it. You just have to sort out the cheapest supply route.

.
Thanks for the advice. I'd say my last attempt at high tech was ruined mainly by low flow, which should be fixed with the external filter, and the JBL CO2 kit. A lot of diffusers need a pressure of around 3 bar, and the regulator doesn't like going above 2 bar at a maximum.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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If you plan on rescaping then get everything you need to do the job beforehand and plan lots of time to do it (so as not to be rushed and end up mucking it up, literally), have the fish out into a suitably large container using their tank water, use your heater to keep the water warm and an air pump with air stone to get some water moving (or use a the internal filter if you can). Uproot the plants and let them float in another container, if you rinse of their roots so they don't cloud the water then you can place them in with the fish to give them some extra cover. Clean the tank, hardscape it, plant it up, refill it and when the water is suitable for the fish and up to temps add the fish go back in, job done.
This is a really good plan. However, I'd use either ADA Amazonia or Tropica soil. i've heard both of these can leech ammonia for a while... is this true? In which case, I'm screwed unless I sell these fish, although i reallyl like my angel so i'd prefer not to
 
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This is a really good plan. However, I'd use either ADA Amazonia or Tropica soil. i've heard both of these can leech ammonia for a while... is this true? In which case, I'm screwed unless I sell these fish, although i reallyl like my angel so i'd prefer not to
Tropica is not known for leaching large amounts of Ammonia.

I've been thinking triangular aquascape, sloping from right to left. Trouble is I know Juwel internal filters suck water from both the top and bottom, and I'm not sure if putting substrate near the bottom of the filter will impede this.
Could you silicone a piece of a CD case over the inside of the lower inlet to force only the upper inlet to be used? Would the internal filter be required with your external in place?
 
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Tropica is not known for leaching large amounts of Ammonia.
Low enough I could add it to an established tank with livestock?

Could you silicone a piece of a CD case over the inside of the lower inlet to force only the upper inlet to be used? Would the internal filter be required with your external in place?
I could, although I went to my LFS today and it looked like they had the bottom of the filter covered by substrate and everything looked fine, even without an external filter. As for removing my internal filter, I'm apprehensive about that as i don't want to remove all the BB from the filter and cause an ammonia spike. Additionally, while isn't really required with my set up, it helps keep the tank above the recommended flow rate for high tech tanks, in addition to adding another direction of flow to avoid dead spots. Plus removing them is a pain; they're siliconed in - probably to keep you buying Juwel filter pads etc.
 
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Low enough I could add it to an established tank with livestock?
I've not experienced it directly myself but I would believe so. Could someone else chime in to confirm? This would seem perfectly possible if my years of research and been correct!
 

Tim Harrison

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1. If you want a complete rescape you'll need to remove everything including fish and put them in a holding tank. That way you can take your time scaping and don't have to worry about ammonia etc.

2. Use Tropica Aquarium Soil, it doesn't leach too much ammonia. Although if you remove your fish etc you don't need to to worry about that. Tanks usually cycle in a week or so either way.

3. Yes two T5's will be enough to grow any plant you'd like.

4. Fire extinguisher CO2 kits are the most cost effective, get a new regulator with an adjustable working pressure valve check out CO2 Art.

5. I think you'd perhaps be better removing the inbuilt filter and adding a canister filter. You'll need the extra flow to distribute the CO2 effectively and efficiently anyway especially if you want to grow a carpet. It's easy to remove the filter, I've done it twice all you need is a sharp knife and a bit of patience.

6. Don't worry about adding rocks, if your water is high in carbonates they are unlikely to make that much difference if any.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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1. If you want a complete rescape you'll need to remove everything including fish and put them in a holding tank. That way you can take your time scaping and don't have to worry about ammonia etc.

2. Use Tropica Aquarium Soil, it doesn't leach too much ammonia. Although if you remove your fish etc you don't need to to worry about that. Tanks usually cycle in a week or so either way.

3. Yes two T5's will be enough to grow any plant you'd like.

4. Fire extinguisher CO2 kits are the most cost effective, get a new regulator with an adjustable working pressure valve check out CO2 Art.

5. I think you'd perhaps be better removing the inbuilt filter and adding a canister filter. You'll need the extra flow to distribute the CO2 effectively and efficiently anyway especially if you want to grow a carpet. It's easy to remove the filter, I've done it twice all you need is a sharp knife and a bit of patience.

6. Don't worry about adding rocks, if your water is high in carbonates they are unlikely to make that much difference if any.
I already have an external filter, an eheim 2217 with a 2215 impeller (as the flow was too strong for the fish). I'm thinking of just leaving the internal filter in to create another direction of flow. My JBL regulator has got adjustable working pressure but doesn't like going over 2 BAR.

Would a couple of 25 litre buckets with a heater in be sufficient for this fish whilst I rescape? Assuming I don't take too long, the fish would be fine, right?
 
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