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55 Gallon Tank w/ Sump System Finished! Long!!!

Nobody may remember me, Brian aka imud at nni_com, about a year or so ago I had
been asking questions about how to get my tank setup to grow plants, and had
many failures.

29 Gallon conversions:

Well, anyway, I didn't give up; I just came at it with a different approach.
I had a 55-gallon Freshwater tanks setup with swords and a few other plants
that kept dieing.  I decided to buy a 29 Gallon tank, which I setup as my
temp tank to hold the fish and few plants that had not died, while I rebuilt
the 55.  I followed some suggestions and guides out there and used a peat
moss sub straight covered with medium gravel.  I choose this because my
water is naturally hard, gh and kh up over 18. Yeah, liquid rock, well this
worked out great.  My gh and kh are now about 10 but ph climbed to 8+.  The
plants that are in there now are taking over the tank, I canít believe how
well it worked out, Although, I still have an algae problem. Suggestions
please.  I will be getting a CO2 tank/regulator soon.  Hope this will help
both ph and increase plants growth to out compete the algae.

Why rebuild the 55:

Ok, why did I rebuild the 55, well the seals were stained with algae, and it
looked like the algae had eaten half way through the seal along the glass.

It took me about most of the summer to figure out that acrylic and glass
cannot be mixed, before I deiced to buy a large piece of glass with holes
cut in the bottom for the sump setup.  I put two drains at each side of the
tank that stand 17 inches tall, to skim the top, and an outlet in the
center.  The outlet will have a spray bar to spray water down along the back
of the tank and hopefully push debris up and into the drains.  There will be
pictures of my setup, as soon as I get a web page to post them.

What I would like to do:

I am at the point now where I want to plant the tank.  I would like to hide
the three 1 inch pipes. I thought about clear pcv, and then saw the price
tag for ten feet.  I am thinking about finding some thick branches or logs
with branches, this might be a little more scenic and natural.  Can I take
wood from a dead tree and place it in my tank, or do I have to treat it some
how? Please help.  I would also like, instead, to lie a long branch along
the bottom of the tank that branches upward, which could also provide a
depth perspective, help here too please, and give the fish some places to

Yes, I know I didnít say anything about filters/lights I got that under
control.  If any one has questions about how I built my tank would be happy
to share.

I am open to suggestions of all types, even if it does not apply to what I
was asking about above.