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Very first tank (planted, low tech)

Joined
1 Aug 2023
Messages
60
Location
GB
Hi all,

Lovely to be here!

I have decided to set up my very first planted tank. I've been around the hobby since childhood, but have never taken the plunge, so here goes 🙂

My plan is to start with a planted only tank for at least 6 months, to ensure everything is working as it should. Then to introduce shrimp and inverts, monitor progress for another 6 or so months, and potentially introduce fish at a later date. I will potentially introduce snails prior to the six month mark if algae presents itself as a big issue.

I live in a top floor flat and don't have access to a rainwater collection system, so will be relying on soft tap water. I know there can be some issues with soft water - any recommendations for what to do re inverts?

I'm currently looking at purchasing a second hand juwel lido 200L tank. It comes with the original juwel led light, bioflow filter and aqua heat heater. I know this is a reasonably big beginner tank (I was originally looking at nano setups), however it's a good price and from what I understand, bigger tanks can be easier to maintain in terms of water quality etc.

I would eventually like to experiment with different lighting set ups and emergent plant growth, however in terms of having a complete package from the get go, I can see the positives of purchasing this tank. Depending on the ease of set up (and availability of second hand spot lights), I might go in for emergent growth sooner rather than later. I've got a few houseplants that will adapt well to this setup.

I will be going heavily planted and relatively low tech, with no cO2 dosing.

Although I do have background knowledge, I am a complete beginner with aquatic plants and would love to get this right! Any recommendations on guides for set up and first time tanks are very welcome.

What do you all think?
 
Welcome. My suggestion is to pay attention to the water, or, more accurately, mineral content of water you're about to use. Heavily mineralized water (liquid rock) is generally less favourable.
 
Thanks maq! I've since realised I've bought a behemoth of a tank (thanks @dw1305), so will revise plan by keeping it approx half full and growing emergent growth inside the tank, using the original light etc. Quite excited to see how this all goes!
 
Hi all, the journey continues! I have managed to remove a fantastic amount of coral sand out of the secondhand 200L lido and have removed the juwel corner filter (with some difficulty), palette knife turned out to be the thing 😊 the tank needs a fair amount of tlc and I need to check if some of the parts still work (however lights and heater are ago).

I've roughly planned out what I'd like the emergent plant growth and layout to look like - now just a case of finding the materials 🙂
I'm particularly keen on this effect with the slight peak through to the back of the tank:
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Hi all, semi significant progress on the hardscape! The moss wall structure is in - may need to add an airline drip feed to keep it wet the entire way up. There's syngonium and peace lily in there, nestled in the hollow of a corbo wood trunk. I've also chucked a lil bit of asparagus fern in there, sort of just to see what happens. The roots are a little submerged, but not the plant. The substrate is playsand (still very cloudy, but settling working well). The moss wall structure is egg crate with capillary matting, and behind it is a mattenfilter and heater. It's going ok! Excited for more plants 🙂
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Looking forward to seeing how this progresses. Kinda wish I'd gone with a Lido 200 (I went for a 120), but just didn't have the room. It's a great tank size IMHO.
 
Hi all, today has been joyfully mossy! Grabbed a load of terrestrial moss from my neighbourhood with a palette knife whilst trying to look as official and unquestionable as possible 😅

All the moss is attached with cyanoacrylate glue, eventually it will grow into the hardscape/ capillary matting (fingers crossed anyway). Benefits of using terrestrial moss from outdoors: cleanup crew is inbuilt, with a fantastic amount of springtails and some tiny woodlice hitchhikers I picked up during my "street cleaning." I noticed some mould on the emergent corbo catfish wood, however this shouldn't be too much of a problem with the springtails.

Doing some water parameter checks (thanks @dw1305 for the help!) and am revising stocking to work with the incredibly soft water. No shrimp or snails for me 😔 I'm not adding any cO2 or trying to raise GH or KH, as I'd like to keep this as low tech as possible for my first tank. I haven't included any aqua soil either as I'd like to keep growth slow to minimise maintenance.

Have given up on the idea of light peeking through the moss wall - slightly impossible due to the mattenfilter (d'oh).

I've also noticed some fogging on the glass when the lid is down, however this is to be expected and sort of reminds me of a terrarium. I'm quite unworried about it, as at least I know the moss is nice and hydrated. Quite happy to occasionally wipe the glass down unless I can find a fix. Any ideas?

I'd like this to be a blackwater(ish) setup, so will keep an eye out for alder cones etc. For now I've added some oak leaves. Hoping the substrate fog will settle now I've stopped fiddling with the base layer - there was a lot of debris to remove.

Any tips or advice welcome 🙂
Looking forward to seeing how this progresses. Kinda wish I'd gone with a Lido 200 (I went for a 120), but just didn't have the room. It's a great tank size IMHO.

I was originally looking at <30L secondhand tanks for nano setups until @dw1305 said that was too small, so instead I did.... this.
The only reason I ended up with this tank is because I got it second hand off Facebook market place with all the trimmings for £50! Eheim air pump lights, heater, tap conditioner, food, test kits, original filter all included. It felt like robbery. This tank is also ludicrously big for my tiny flat but luckily my partner is very accepting! he is adamant he will refer to whatever fish we keep as "guppies", in which case I may have to shuffle him off his mortal coil (lovingly, of course).

Thanks for the kind words everyone 🙂



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You mention ridiculously soft water…is that your tap water?

One thing to watch out for, as your tank is only half filled, is precipitate on the glass as your water evaporates (even if it is very soft). Might be worth thinking about replacing evaporated water either with RO or distilled water to minimise that.
 
Hi all,

I've seen the water report, and it is less than 2 dGH.

Cheers Darrel
For context Darrel is my dad and I've been pestering him, hence the in-depth knowledge 😂
You mention ridiculously soft water…is that your tap water?

One thing to watch out for, as your tank is only half filled, is precipitate on the glass as your water evaporates (even if it is very soft). Might be worth thinking about replacing evaporated water either with RO or distilled water to minimise that.
I'm not too fussed about giving the glass the occasional clean - I'm yet to see a hint of lime scale/precipitate in our house, so not too worried, but if it becomes an issue I will bear this in mind. thanks 🙂
 
Wish I had tap like that. I remember the water in Cardiff being very soft when I lived there.
Scottish water here. Straight from the tap:

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@megwattscreative I remineralise it up to 6dGH using Salty Shrimp for my invertebrates (also adds a bit of mg for the plants). It’s easy for me as I just buy the tub, chuck a few grams in at water change and I’m good to go. Your dad might have the necessary salts to make something up cheaper though.
 
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Grabbed a load of terrestrial moss from my neighbourhood with a palette knife whilst trying to look as official and unquestionable as possible 😅
I'm just imagining you doing this, straight-faced, in a high-vis jacket haha.

Nothing to see here! Prescribed moss control!
 
I've also noticed some fogging on the glass when the lid is down, however this is to be expected and sort of reminds me of a terrarium. I'm quite unworried about it, as at least I know the moss is nice and hydrated. Quite happy to occasionally wipe the glass down unless I can find a fix. Any ideas?
I run a small fan in my paludarium when the lights are on, which works well, the humidity then goes up to 100% again at night giving the plants a bit of natural variation. If you have a feeding hatch in your aquarium hood I think it would be easy to do something similar. Decreasing the humidity for at least part of the day will help keep your moss in good shape, it tends to grow long and stringy if kept in constantly damp air.

Be prepared to do a bit of weeding in the moss as well over the coming weeks, plenty of seeds sprouts when brought inside. What exactly turns up will depend on where you collected the moss, you might even get some nice ferns, but keep an eye out for Sagina subulata (irish moss?), that one can grow a bit too vigorous and smother other plants, so is best removed.
 
Hi all, little plant update! Everything is growing in reasonably well (with some melting from the stem plants but that could possibly be due to transport/handling). Some Ramshorn snails and ascellus also made the journey 🙂

I'm waiting for the aquatic moss to grow so I can distribute it across the tank background entirely. There's also some scratching on the front of the glass which does effect photo quality, but it's alright for viewing 🙂 perils of buying secondhand!

I am having some issues with hairy white mold (?) popping up on the moss wall, which I think I can possibly fix by airing the tank more? Any advice welcome.

I'm also not entirely sure what all the plants are (some from @dw1305, some from @Sid.scapes ' wabi kusa workshop at roots & shoots with @Courtneybst + @shangman!).

Any corrected ids welcome 🙂

So fair I think I have:

RHIZOMATOUS PLANTS
Bolbitis heudelotii
Java fern
Anubia nana petite

STEM PLANTS
Rotala rotundifola indica
Pennywort
Ludwigia rubin
Hornwort
Amazon sword
Alternanthera reineckii (thin red stems, pointy leaves)
Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite)

MOSSES (sort of)
Sußwassertang
Java moss
Selaginella kraussiana (?)
Vesicularia ferriei (Weeping Moss)

EMERGENT GROWTH
Papyrus
Syngonium podophyllum
Spathiphyllum
Terrestrial moss
Creeping fig
Spanish moss
FLOATING PLANTS
Amazon frogbit
Salvinia Natans
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Looking awesome! I hear terrarium keepers add springtails for mold, but in an open setting I don't think that would work... As for the scratching, mine is worse, and I can't even blame previous owners...
 
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