If you’ve been following my blog for a while (read: several years), you may remember when I first got my 29 gallon aquarium, just short of three years ago. Apparently this time of year is aquarium-season? Looking back at older posts, that adventure started with a betta I couldn’t say no to, also… The dumbo half-moon betta (Jack) that I saw at PetSmart is what got me looking into small tanks (I settled on the Fluval Spec III), and then I ended up reading up… and entering full research mode… on planted aquariums, which is how I ended up back in this current stage of “REDO THE AQUARIUM!”
After drooling over too many photos of heavily planted aquariums, and realizing that even though the lights for an aquarium to provide a “high” amount of light weren’t affordable in 2006 (LEDs have totally changed the game), they are now… and I decided to redo my aquarium. There’s a chance this redo may actually involve a new aquarium, if I can get my hands on another 29 gallon. I want to paint the outside of the back of the tank black, for a solid, clean backdrop, which will be much easier with an empty glass box to work with. I’ve also seen aquariums with black silicone sealant instead of clear, and they look nice.
So far, I’ve already ordered quite a few of the new parts I’ll need. I bought a Finnex Planted + 24/7 light fixture, which simulates sunrise and sunset over a 24 hour period, as well as being noticeably brighter when at max brightness than the LED light fixture I’ve been using. It’s got some other fun features, like setting it to be a cloudy day, or to simulate lightning, but the 24 hour cycle is pretty nice! I took a video (see below) of the light on demo mode, which speeds up the 24 hour cycle to around 2-2.5 minutes or so. Please forgive the shakiness of the video, and the algae!
Next up on the list is pressurized CO2, which will help the plants thrive. I’ve ordered a regulator with a solenoid from Green Leaf Aquariums, as well as tubing and a diffuser. There’s a risk of suffocating fish if the CO2 runs while the tank lights are off – the plants won’t convert CO2 to oxygen without light, so my CO2 will be on a timer. I was lucky enough to get two CO2 bottles – a 10 pound and a 5 pound – from one of Destin’s friends, so that helped with cost considerably.
I’ve also been struggling with options for a new substrate. The one that I’d hoped to get due to a great review on Spec-Tanks, UP Aqua Aquasand, is indefinitely out of stock on Amazon, as well as just about anywhere else that looked legit online. My next runner up, ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia, has great reviews… except that it leaches ammonia terribly for the first few weeks, and some reviews state that it can break down and get “muddy” after a few years. If I was setting up a brand new tank, and didn’t already have fish, the leeching ammonia could be a bonus, to help get the nitrate cycle going, but it puts me in a bit of a pickle already owning fish. If I’m able to get a new aquarium, I’ll be able to let it cycle in the new aquarium before swapping fish over… otherwise, I’ll have to put it in a plastic tote with a filter running on it for a few weeks before I can change anything over, which is also do-able.
In either of these scenarios, I’ll need a second filter. Even though I’ve got an AquaClear 50 Power Filter (from before I added goldfish to my tropical tank), I’d been looking into canister filters, planning to get one in the next few months, but I got home from work the other night and found that the impeller on my AquaClear 70 Power Filter had stopped, and the motor was much warmer than usual to the touch. Once I pulled it apart and cleaned the impeller – I didn’t see anything jamming it – it started working again, but now I don’t trust it. This moved up my time frame quite a bit – a Fluval 406 canister filter is due to arrive on Tuesday.
I’m so excited to keep moving forward with this, although I’m sure the slow plant growth will drive me batty! I’m still deciding which plants I want, but since I haven’t ordered substrate yet, I’ve got some time to decide. I’d love some suggestions!
tl;dr – I’m redoing my aquarium with loads of plants and it’s going to be awesome 🙂