Happy New Year! Yes, I am a few (weeks) days late. Don’t shoot me!
So I’m going to go back in time a little bit to tell you about my Christmas present. Santa brought me a new 20 gallon fish tank complete with stand.
The tank came in a kit from Petsmart. Now that I think about it, I should have just bought the setup piecemeal. The light and hood that came with the tank weren’t up to specs for growing plants. Even though the bulb might say for plants, the likelihood that it will actually grow anything but moss is quite unlikely. (There’s a whole long ass article about PAR and lumens and all sorts of things, all of which bored the crap out of me and no doubt will bore you too, so I won’t go into detail about that. Suffice it to say, I needed a new light).
I had read about these new compact flourescent lights that you could get at any neighborhood store (Target, Walmart, etc.) and they were only about $5 a bulb. (Most plant bulbs are about $20+.). So I decided to try it out. The only problem was that I had miscalculated. Instead of 2 bulbs, I needed at least 4. And the light fixtures I bought couldn’t handle that.
Don’t ask me why I bought plants before I had a light solution. It wasn’t the best idea, but the tank looked so bare with just gravel and flourite! (Flourite is a substrate that helps plants grow, but you can grow things in regular gravel or sand or whatever. You just need to fertilize them more. Flourite will soak up the fertilizer and keep it handy whereas inert substrates won’t.)
So while I was researching alternatives, I bought 5 sunset platys. (Tanks need to go through a nitrogen cycle, that consists of fish poop, ammonia being turned into nitrite, then being turned to nitrate and then the plants can use that to grow.). All tanks go through these, and the suggestion is to get some hardy fish that you want to keep (don’t use goldfish they poop like crazy. You’ll end up with green water, so don’t listen to people who tell you to use goldfish.)
So I bought 5 platys. 2 died, were exchanged for 2 more, 2 died (1 old and 1 new), and exchanged for 2 more. Then I realized that they had ick. Oh yes. Why did I buy these at Petsmart? I returned to the store and bought organic medicine for the fish. It cost a bundle and turned the water brown, but hey, it wasn’t toxic!
The one with the worst ick died. I finished the medical regiment and everyone seemed to be fine. After I was sure that all the ick was gone, I moved some of the fish from the 10 gallon to their new home!
Currently, there are 4 sunset platys, 2 black skirt tetras, 1 neon tetra, and 1 blue tetra. The tetras used to have more buddies. I originally bought 2 or 3, but as with all fish, they eventually die. So the one’s that are left are the really hardy ones.
In the meantime, I’d decided to just buy a new light. For a little while, I thought about making my own canopy, but the cost was almost as much as buying an already built fancy one. And then there was the fact that I would have to make it. From scratch. With tools. Yeah, no.
When my light finally arrived(without legs! I had to wait another day before I could properly put it on the tank), I started to order plants from other hobbyists.
This is what it looked like on Saturday.
You might think that the bland bland plants that you see in fish stores are the only plants possible in the planted tank trade, but that is not so. The one’s you see at the store are the one’s that are easy to grow in masse and easy to keep without much problem while at the store. Much more colorful and rare plants are available by special order. Luckily for me, a lot of plants have already been ordered by enthusiasts and sometimes they will sell clippings for a moderate and sometimes downright cheap price.
This is what the tank looked like yesterday (I tried writing this entry twice, but the iPhone Wordpress app never saved them!). I trimmed the plants at the sides, moved some plants around and I also have a few more plants coming this week.
The photo period was about 12 hours, but that was growing too much algae, So I’m dialing it down to 10 hours. Hopefully, that will get the algae growth to go down. I had to scrape the sides of the tank twice already! If this doesn’t work, then it goes down to 8 hours. If that doesn’t work, then I need to get more plants. The idea is that the plants will out-compete the algae for available nutrients.
Once all my plants are here, all that’s left is to do is make sure there’s enough CO2 and fertilizer. And just wait for them to grow.
I will try to update you when I get new plants or if there’s tremendous growth. Maybe I’ll just take a photo every Monday and show you progress. Until next time!
Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal