Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Freshwater > Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks
Click Here to Login

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
 
Old 03-22-2011, 02:03 AM   #1
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Lightbulb 55 Gallon Low-Tech / Low-Maintenance Build

Just like many fishkeepers, I decided to take the plunge and begin a planted tank. My main goal is to keep this as low-tech and low-maintenance as possible.

So, here is my plan...

Maintenance:
Just like many people on here, time to perform weekly tank maintenance can be very limited due to hectic work schedules, family outings, etc. I decided today it was time to figure out a way to help minimize the amount of time I spend performing partial water changes.

On average, it takes me anywhere from 1-2 hours to perform a thorough water change. Why does it take so long? One of the reasons is because I do things “old school” by using a bucket. However, that isn’t really as time consuming as vacuuming the gravel. Before I vacuum, I move the décor out of the way so that I can get as much food/waste particles out of the gravel. I don’t have a problem doing this, (although my fish don’t care for me moving their “homes” lol), but this only adds to more time spent on the water change.

The areas of the tank that seem to have the most waste particles are the left and right sides, (where I have large amounts of artificial plants and décor). After deciding to turn my tank into a planted tank, I wanted to keep the majority of my nice artificial plants in the rear corners of my tank to help hide the air hoses and such. This leaves plenty of space in the middle of the tank to add my live plants.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been researching undergravel filters. I have heard both good and bad things about using them. The biggest complaint that I found is that they don’t suck up all the debris. What I noticed is this occurred more frequently when an UGF was used in tanks >30 gallons. I strongly believe this is due to the powerheads not having enough suction to pull from the entire area below the UGF plate. Mainly the center area furthest away from where the powerheads are located.

With this in mind, I decided to purchase a UGF, but I went with the 15/20 gallon model. This will allow me to place one section on the left side and one on the right side of my tank. The total area on each side being covered with the UGF grates will be 12”x12”. What I’m hoping is that the powerheads will help eliminate waste in these areas and, if all goes well, reduce the time to perform a pwc by half. Since this will be a partial UGF system setup, I will continue to run my HOB filter, (for obvious reasons).

With the addition of the UGF, this would leave me to maintain clean gravel in the center of the tank. As this area will be filled with live plants, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Why? Because once the plants grow and their root systems make their way through the gravel, I will need to take extra care when I vacuum anyway.

This partial UGF setup may or may not be something that others have tried, but it seems logical. The 2 powerheads that I will be using are Penguin 550’s. I already have one of these and purchased my 2nd one today. I have been extremely impressed by its performance. It has a lot of power and isn’t very loud at all.

Below is a rough draft layout of my partial UGF plan.

Low-Tech Lighting:
Now for the fun part, maintaining a low-tech planted environment. Thanks to the great advice provided by the many nice people on here, I have purchased a new light fixture to replace my (2) mildly pathetic 15w fluorescent fixtures. My main goal with my new fixture is to be able to provide enough light to successfully maintain a steady growth of my low, (and possibly medium), light plants.

The light fixture that I finally decided on is the 48” Coralife Aqualight T5 Series Double Linear Light Strip. Unfortunately, the site where I purchased it from, (Big Al’s), didn’t have the freshwater version in stock. With that being the case, I decided to purchase the saltwater version. This model comes w/ (1) 10000K 28w T5 Bulb and (1) Actinic 28w T5 Bulb. I purchased another bulb, a 6700k 28w T5 Bulb, so that I can replace the Actinic bulb with that bulb and have a full 56w of beneficial light for my plants. That puts me at 1wpg and there will be no need to implement a CO2 system.

I only have a few live plants in place at the moment, but I will definitely be buying more at a later date. Surprisingly, the ones I do have are still holding strong under my old light fixtures. In fact, I noticed a new leaf spreading on my Amazon Sword!

I will keep everyone updated once I get my equipment in, get it setup, and test it out.

As always, suggestions and comments are welcome!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	TLYT.jpg
Views:	274
Size:	68.8 KB
ID:	31798  
__________________

__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 02:18 AM   #2
Planted Tank Addict
 
daileene's Avatar


 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Fiskdale, MA
Posts: 2,561
Send a message via MSN to daileene Send a message via Yahoo to daileene Send a message via Skype™ to daileene
very nice plan...thorough and very well thought off..well done.
__________________

__________________

5G Planted|10G Planted|10G Planted #2|10G Paludarium #3|20G Long Planted|20G Long Planted#2
"Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous." (1 Cor. 13:4a)
daileene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 02:31 AM   #3
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Mr. Limpet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Northern California (Marin)
Posts: 4,505
Check out what Diana Walstad is doing. She does natural tanks.

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
__________________
Mr. Limpet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 02:49 AM   #4
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Quote:
Originally Posted by daileene View Post
very nice plan...thorough and very well thought off..well done.
Thanks! I hope the UGF works out according to my plan. If not, I will be out about $10 for the UGF and I could always keep the extra powerhead as a back-up. I'm optimistic though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Limpet View Post
Check out what Diana Walstad is doing. She does natural tanks.

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
I just googled her name and skimmed a quick article. All I can say is her methods are extremely interesting! She used potting soil, no filters whatsoever, (w/ the exception of a powerhead to introduce current)... and no water changes are needed for 6 months?! Now that is low-maintenance! lol

Thanks for the reference btw! I will definitely read more about her methods.

OT: Did you get your light fixtures yet?
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 02:53 AM   #5
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Mr. Limpet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Northern California (Marin)
Posts: 4,505
Still waiting on it: (.

Yes, she is a master at it. I've been looking at her stuff for ideas too.

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
__________________
Mr. Limpet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 02:56 AM   #6
Planted Tank Addict
 
daileene's Avatar


 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Fiskdale, MA
Posts: 2,561
Send a message via MSN to daileene Send a message via Yahoo to daileene Send a message via Skype™ to daileene
does she have fish in her tank or just plants? 6 months without water change and filter, no heater, sounds impossible if there are fish.
__________________

5G Planted|10G Planted|10G Planted #2|10G Paludarium #3|20G Long Planted|20G Long Planted#2
"Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous." (1 Cor. 13:4a)
daileene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 03:05 AM   #7
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Limpet View Post
Still waiting on it: (.

Yes, she is a master at it. I've been looking at her stuff for ideas too.

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
That sucks. Hopefully it will show up tomorrow. Looking forward to your thread on it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by daileene View Post
does she have fish in her tank or just plants? 6 months without water change and filter, no heater, sounds impossible if there are fish.
There are fish in her tanks. Amazing, huh? Apparently the fish act as fertilizers and the plants act as a filter. It makes sense, but I doubt I could be successful doing something like that. Not to mention, my husband wouldn't like me getting rid of his blue gravel. lol

Edit: Link to her "Aquatic Eden" blog.
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 03:05 AM   #8
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Mr. Limpet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Northern California (Marin)
Posts: 4,505
Quote:
Originally Posted by daileene
does she have fish in her tank or just plants? 6 months without water change and filter, no heater, sounds impossible if there are fish.
She's mainly plants, but I think she does some fish. Proper balance and anything's possible I guess.

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
__________________
Mr. Limpet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 03:20 AM   #9
Planted Tank Addict
 
daileene's Avatar


 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Fiskdale, MA
Posts: 2,561
Send a message via MSN to daileene Send a message via Yahoo to daileene Send a message via Skype™ to daileene
wow...just amazing...let me go take a good look at that blog..thanks dear..i have to go to bed now...night night...thanks again..
__________________

5G Planted|10G Planted|10G Planted #2|10G Paludarium #3|20G Long Planted|20G Long Planted#2
"Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous." (1 Cor. 13:4a)
daileene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 03:23 AM   #10
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Quote:
Originally Posted by daileene View Post
wow...just amazing...let me go take a good look at that blog..thanks dear..i have to go to bed now...night night...thanks again..
Yeah, I need to go to bed too.

Have a good night, Daileene! (you too Mr. Limpet!)
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-22-2011, 09:39 AM   #11
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
Coleallensmom's Avatar


 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,943
IMO there is no real need to keep your artifical plants if you don't want to. A lot of waste does collect in a planted tank because of the inability to do a thorough cleaning of the substrate, but the fish waste provides a food source for the growing plants. Will be following!
__________________

Check out my 50 Gallon Build
Coleallensmom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2011, 12:13 AM   #12
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coleallensmom View Post
IMO there is no real need to keep your artifical plants if you don't want to. A lot of waste does collect in a planted tank because of the inability to do a thorough cleaning of the substrate, but the fish waste provides a food source for the growing plants. Will be following!
Actually, I had considered replacing the artificial plants w/ live plants once I got some nice background plants established. But for the time being, the artificials will suffice.

After doing more research, there seems to be mixed opinions when it comes to placing live plants over an UGF grate. Some state that the plant's root system could clog the slits in the grate and make the UGF system fail. On the other hand, there have been many people that rave about how well their plants are doing by having their roots in open waters below the substrate surface.

I think what I may end up doing is stick w/ my plan to place a few live plants over the UGF grates in the rear of the tank, (once the plants are established enough to cover the airhoses). I will have my large decorations placed in the center of the grates, so no plants will be located in this area. I can then place a few plants in the foreground area. This should help eliminate a large root system from clogging up the grates.

I got confirmation that my order shipped today btw, so hopefully I will get it in before Friday. I'm really anxious to get setup, because well, I already started putting together my plant list.
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2011, 12:18 AM   #13
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
ejaramillo01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: South California
Posts: 2,289
Send a message via MSN to ejaramillo01
Really interesting!! Looks like you have been doing a lot of research and I congratulate you for it.

People like you, willing to try something new, help us all to understand the options available.....and learn from your experience.

I will be following!!
__________________
=================================
Edgar
https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...es-103339.html
ejaramillo01 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2011, 12:49 AM   #14
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Quote:
Originally Posted by ejaramillo01 View Post
Really interesting!! Looks like you have been doing a lot of research and I congratulate you for it.

People like you, willing to try something new, help us all to understand the options available.....and learn from your experience.

I will be following!!
"A lot of research"? That, my friend, is an understatement. I don't recall researching this much when I was in school! lol

With me working full-time and being a busy wife and mom, my free time is extremely limited, so I had to do something to simplify my tank setup. This may be a success or it may flop, but it doesn't hurt to try, right?

I appreciate the compliment btw, although it's really not necessary.

Glad to have you along for the ride!
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2011, 11:42 AM   #15
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Build Begins This Weekend!

I just checked the status of my order and it looks like it will be here tomorrow!!

Hopefully nothing is damaged in shipping so I can begin working on my project this weekend. I'll need something to do seeing as how we're expecting SNOW!!

I'll keep everyone posted.
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2011, 06:26 PM   #16
Planted Tank Addict
 
daileene's Avatar


 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Fiskdale, MA
Posts: 2,561
Send a message via MSN to daileene Send a message via Yahoo to daileene Send a message via Skype™ to daileene
cool beans... can't wait...
__________________

5G Planted|10G Planted|10G Planted #2|10G Paludarium #3|20G Long Planted|20G Long Planted#2
"Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous." (1 Cor. 13:4a)
daileene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2011, 08:09 PM   #17
Aquarium Advice Regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: El paso, Tx
Posts: 68
Really interested on how this works for you. I will be following.
__________________
stephens0813 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2011, 08:14 PM   #18
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Mr. Limpet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Northern California (Marin)
Posts: 4,505
Quote:
Originally Posted by McLumpy
I just checked the status of my order and it looks like it will be here tomorrow!!

Hopefully nothing is damaged in shipping so I can begin working on my project this weekend. I'll need something to do seeing as how we're expecting SNOW!!

I'll keep everyone posted.
Pictures please!

Not that I'll steal any of your grand ideas .

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
__________________
Mr. Limpet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2011, 11:38 PM   #19
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Limpet View Post
Pictures please!

Not that I'll steal any of your grand ideas .

Sent from my Epic 4G using Aquarium
LOL Pics will definitely be posted. I just hope my fishies don't get too upset when I start moving things around. They're pretty good about staying on the opposite side of the tank though, so it should be easy enough to setup the UGF.
__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2011, 11:59 PM   #20
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
McLumpy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Posts: 843
WTG Big Al's!

I received my order from Big Al's today and I was extremely impressed! They packaged all the items really well and nothing was missing. Their shipping dept definitely knew what they were doing and I couldn't be happier w/ my first purchase!

I haven't opened the boxes containing my fixture or bulb yet, but I have no doubt that they made the trip ok. There was so much bubble wrap around them that I had to use a knife to cut it off, (and managed to cut my finger in the process lol).

Anyway, it looks like I have some work to do.
__________________

__________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
My 55 Gallon Planted Community Tank Thread | 55G Pics
My Low-Tech/Low-Maintenance Build Thread | Freshwater Compatibility Chart
McLumpy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
5 gallon, 55 gallon, build, low-tech, maintenance

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Low-Tech 10g Planted Build Aquarium1 Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 429 03-29-2011 03:21 PM
5 gallon low-tech rusilja Show Off/Photography 6 09-24-2010 08:11 AM
planted 10 gallon low tech log Jnam Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 30 03-27-2009 09:08 PM
10 Gallon Low Tech Photo Journal E-cubed Members Freshwater Tanks Showcase 60 12-19-2008 09:47 AM
10 gallon low light (15W), low tech planted tank filter? TomK2 Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 7 03-16-2005 11:55 AM







» Photo Contest Winners







All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:14 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.