My 55-gallon tank is all set up!

It’s been a long, long, long time coming, but my 55-gallon tank — which has been sitting empty for a year and a half now — is finally set up.


55 gallon hardscaped

Original Layout

I’ve changed the hardscape from my original plan — no surprises there — but otherwise, things pretty much went the way I expected them to.

I’ve got a layer of Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix capped with Black Diamond Blasting Media (30-60 grit).  This makes for a very inexpensive planted-tank substrate. The layer of potting mix is thicker on the ends, where I want most of my plant growth; the center of the tank is mostly just sand.

I’m planning to put my kuhli loaches in this tank, along with some corydoras catfish, and I was worried about how much they’d dig up the substrate and stir potting mix into the water column.  After thinking about it for a while, I decided to put a layer of plastic needlepoint canvas under the sand to protect the soil layer.  Plant roots should have more than enough room to pass through the holes in the canvas, but kuhlis and cories shouldn’t be able to cause much damage.  I hope.

I scattered river rocks on top of the sand to add visual interest, provide little hiding places for loaches, and weigh down the plastic canvas.  Finally, I planted several stems of anacharis, which should fill in quickly for a nice backdrop.  I’ll probably add some Nymphaea lilies and some java fern later.

Lighting is provided by the DIY light fixture I posted about a while back.  I originally intended to put one of these on each end, but after I saw how it looked with a single fixture in the middle of the tank, I decided to go with that.  I really like tanks where the lights don’t stretch all the way across the tank, and I’m really happy with how this looks.

I’m using my SunSun HW-302 canister filter, filled with (from bottom to top) bio-balls, ceramic rings, and Seachem Matrix.  There’s a layer of filter floss in each tray.  It was pretty easy to prime and is chugging quietly away in a Sterilite tub in case of leaks or spillage.

Here’s a few more photos for those who like their pics. There are still a lot of bubbles from filling the tank, but I couldn’t wait to take photos.  You know how it is.