I need experienced help putting all this together - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
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I need experienced help putting all this together

I posted a long intro thread a few weeks ago. Here is where I am.

I've had aquariums for decades. I am good with fish alone. I have a clown loach I bought near the beginning of W's presidency to back me up on that, still doing well, though not in the tank I am asking about. I am well versed in nitrogen cycles, filters, etc etc. All that said, I have never kept a plant alive underwater for more than 6 months (though I have never put 100% into it either).

So I have an aquarium that we've just started up in the beginning of Jan. It's a 35 gallon, ~ 30"x12"x20". 40# of EccoComplete for sub with another bag of CaribSea Natural gravel on top for aesthetic reasons. Completely cycled with 0 ammonia & 0 nitrite for a few weeks now. I have the general Sera plant supplement, plus the seachem iron. I have used these at or below the manufacturers recommendations for the past 7-10 days. I have no tests yet for any of these, or phosphates (phosphates I ill have soon).

Livestock: *most have been there from the beginning, but a few are new
4 neon tetras
1 swordtail
2 rainbows (my wife insists, I don't even positively know what type)
3 different spp of corydoras
1 long finned BNP
1 Colombian zebra pleco (L129 I think)
1 betta
2 small African leaf fish (they won't be permanent residents)
1.1 GBR (I am guessing on the sexing)
1 rainbow shark, that was relocated from a 65gal community tank to appease my wife and daughters
1.1 hermit crabs that hitchhiked in on driftwood
2 assassin snails

Plants:
Amazon swords. I have a few, one is over 20" , another just few inches.
Anacharis, in varied places across the tank
Grass. A few different types.
"Crested" Java Fern. Small
Wisteria. One, medium
Anubias, 3+. Mostly in driftwood. Rooting like crazy.
"Banana" lily 1
Red Lotus 1

Water parameters
Nitrates:10-20ppm (maybe? hard tp get an accurate read on the API test, but they are lower than anything on any fish only tank I've dealt with)
pH: 6.8-6.9
kH: 3.5-4
gH: ~7

I really don't want to get into Co2 reactors with this tank. By the conversion charts I am at 12-19ppm Co2. Plants look, moderate? the bigger sword has yellowing. Others are struggling. "New growth", as well as "Root growth", looks great, it is older established plants that look weak, or yellowing. We also may be using too much light (photo period). That needs to go onto a timer.

I just need some general direction. I think I am pretty smart overall, but the more I learn, the less I know what to do, lol.

All things considered, it's not bad. There is some yellowing of the sword leaves, especially those that float on the top.

Just any tips on what to do going forward would be appreciated.

Last edited by Fishbones; 02-07-2017 at 06:40 AM. Reason: Terrible post from my phone
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-05-2017, 10:36 PM
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Good description, and details, pertaining to "Here is where I am".

Lighting? I don't think this was mentioned (what type of light source are you using, along with photo-periods/how long your lights are on). Also maintenance; water change schedule if any? You mentioned the tank being started up and completely cycled, but in reality: it is still a very new/young set-up. "Plants look moderate... others are struggling... new growth and root growth looks great... it's the older established plants that look weak or yellowing". I lean towards that 'old-school' phrase: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Give it a bit of time, observe and keep doing what you are doing. "New growth & root growth looks great" is a good thing! IMO, a moderately lit tank with fairly undemanding plants, should do fine with 12-19ppm CO2. You have also started dosing a few plant nutrients, so time can become your friend (a lean dosing routine may be best initially). Personally, I might of held back on your initial *fauna-stocking-rate* for awhile, but that is just me (it is hard not 'caving-in' to the wife and kids).

I would definitely monitor water parameters, observe plant growth, be on the watch for excessive algae growth, and observe general fish behavior/health very closely for the next couple of months. If things start going south within this window of time, you can begin tweaking/trouble-shooting to correct problems (and/or damage control) and hopefully prevent future problems by figuring out what a good 'balance' would be for "your" tank. If you have an opportunity, please share some pictures of your set-up.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 06:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Wastewater, sorry for the delayed response. That OP was terrible, I apologize, I shouldn't try to post long text from my phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wastewater View Post
Good description, and details, pertaining to "Here is where I am".

Lighting? I don't think this was mentioned (what type of light source are you using, along with photo-periods/how long your lights are on). Also maintenance; water change schedule if any? You mentioned the tank being started up and completely cycled, but in reality: it is still a very new/young set-up. "Plants look moderate... others are struggling... new growth and root growth looks great... it's the older established plants that look weak or yellowing". I lean towards that 'old-school' phrase: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Bulb is a ZooMed Flora Sun, as it seemed the best short term moderately priced bulb that would fit the T8 fixture that I have. Bulb is on a glass canopy ~1" over the water's surface, ~20" to the substrate from the surface. Still researching the long term answer. I am leaning heavily towards the satellite plus pro fixture. Pricey, but seems like it has the most options as I figure out what I really need and like. Photo period varies a bit, based on when who turns the light off. turned on about 7:30-8 a.m. daily, off 8:30-11 p.m. It has been getting turned off daily before 9:00 p.m. the last week or so.

As far as maintenance. I've done 3 5gal water changes so far since the tank finished it's initial cycling. Mostly for the purpose of adding in RO water to reduce the overall hardness/gH. I normally do water changes to reduce nitrates, and here I have next to none, and actually want more, lol. It is a very new setup, and I am aware of that. The most recent hiccup since the original post, I increased the feeding a bit, especially with pellets overnight (NLS community formula), trying to get the nitrates (and possibly phosphates) up a bit, and to make sure the new zebra pleco has food at night since he's still quite shy. Backfire on that is I seem to have stressed the biological filter a bit, ~20-25 nitrites. So I need to wait that out.

As far as "if it ain't broke don't fix it", I agree 100%. My problem here is simply, I can't tell if anything is broken or not with regards to the plants. I also got a phosphate test kit today, looks to be around 25ppm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wastewater View Post
Give it a bit of time, observe and keep doing what you are doing. "New growth & root growth looks great" is a good thing! IMO, a moderately lit tank with fairly undemanding plants, should do fine with 12-19ppm CO2. You have also started dosing a few plant nutrients, so time can become your friend (a lean dosing routine may be best initially). Personally, I might of held back on your initial *fauna-stocking-rate* for awhile, but that is just me (it is hard not 'caving-in' to the wife and kids).
Thanks, that is the plan. Just trying to keep an eye out for problems, since I am not even sure what a "real" problem is. The fauna stocking is due to the fact that this is intended primarily fish tank, with the long term goal to grow out a ghost knife fish. I always wanted to learn the true ins and outs of a planted tank, so I am using it my learning project, also being as once we set up a larger tank for the ghost long term, I'd like to have that planted as well, so you know, learn on a smaller scale. I should also add, this whole setup was a Xmas present to the wife for said ghost knife, so that is the true purpose.

On the Co2, doing a calculation today, I got 0.8ppm (based on 6.9pH, 4kH, 35gal). Of course that is all based on the API test kits, and my interpretation of the colors, so more than a bit of an error range. I put a tiny amount of SeaChem acid buffer in the tank (< 1/4tsp). That should drop the pH a touch, and according to SeaChem at least, should convert some of the carbonates into dissolved Co2. I am looking heavily into the DIY-type Co2 kits, with citric acid and 2 2 liter bottles, etc. But still trying to get my head around all the parts of those systems. Can you even use a "reactor" that fully mixes the co2 into the water in the return line of a filter with a DIY type system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wastewater View Post
I would definitely monitor water parameters, observe plant growth, be on the watch for excessive algae growth, and observe general fish behavior/health very closely for the next couple of months. If things start going south within this window of time, you can begin tweaking/trouble-shooting to correct problems (and/or damage control) and hopefully prevent future problems by figuring out what a good 'balance' would be for "your" tank. If you have an opportunity, please share some pictures of your set-up.
That is the plan. But again, with the plants anyways, what are strong signs of problems? Yellowing leaves aren't that bad of a sign? Or is that because the tank is new? etc etc. I'll post a few pics soon.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 07:06 AM
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Sword plant's are heavy nutrient hog's from both the root and through their leaves.
I might want some type of root tab at the base of these and might consider some type of fertilizer for the water perhaps once a week after weekly water change of 50% min with current stock.
I use macro/micro mix from Planted Aquarium Fertilizer - Home once a week or twice a week with my tanks and it provides everything except phosphates which feeding fishes can provide (phosphate in many fish foods).
You can also buy the macro and micro nutrient's separate, but early on I try to provide a little of all nutrient's.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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A full pic, then closer in by thirds...
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 07:53 AM
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The vallisneria will grow well in pH from 7.0 to 8.0
Can trim the val's below the brown area's by cutting them with sharp scissor's at an angle.
Lighting, no matter what the PAR ,is easiest variable to control, and eight hours total for the day would be plenty.IMHO
In NON CO2 enhnanced tank, longer lighting period only makes plant's realize lack of CO2 for longer period = more struggling for that which is in short supply.
Not to say NON CO2 low energy tanks don't perform well cause they can.
Just can't drive the growth with more light than you can provide CO2/nutrient's.
Something to keep in mind when upgrading lighting due to possible plant's that require a bit more light energy.
Ability to hang the lighting over the tank or dimming features, allow one to adjust more easily the amount of light energy beaming down upon the leaves .
Just mentioning the lighting due to expressed desire to upgrade from T8 as in one bulb??
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips Roadmaster, and the link. All that helps to put it in a bit of perspective. Not infusing Co2 means I should go lower on the ferts & light?

I have some SeaChem root tabs, I was already thinking of putting one under the larger sword group.

As far as lighting, that is why I was thinking of the satellite pro plus, allows me more control, which could be useful once I figure out how much I really need.

I had been considering trimming that grass down, though I wasn't sure with everything still being new if it was a good idea. So you'd trim it off? I may do that tomorrow.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 09:04 AM
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Believe you are on the right track/understanding.
Would trim as mentioned,only below the brown area's.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 02:40 PM
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Pictures can really help out in a lot of situations. Thanks for sharing. Looks like you have some nice projects coming together!

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Believe you are on the right track/understanding.
Would trim as mentioned,only below the brown area's.
Definitely some good suggestions and tips from roadmaster. Nice thing about these forums is there is always someone willing to help out in one way or another.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the tips guys, I really do appreciate it. Trimming of the vals will happen tomorrow. On the same note, What about these pics, sword, anubias, and wisteria. I really don't even know how to judge this stuff. Just go through and clip all the dying stuff, leaving the base of the plant and all healthy looking leaves?
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 07:48 AM
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Well damaged leaves(holes,brown leaves,etc) are not likely to repair themselves, and would not want what nutrient's are available(see macro's/micro's) being wasted by these damaged leaves in an effort/hope for repair that won't happen.
Would only remove the worst.
Is fairly new tank yet,so would not be inclined to begin trimming off too much of anything except for the leaves with damage.
Would hope fishes are not contributing to damage also depending on habit's of species being kept.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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That was my overall thought process, any damaged leaves are just to the detriment of the overall plant.

As to fish damage, some of it may have been from a rhino pleco that was in there from the start, though he has been transplanted to my other tank a few weeks ago. He's been replaces by an albino LFBNP and a Colombian zebra pleco. The zebra has shown no interest in plants at all so far, and the bnp seems to only attach to the darker/dying ends of grass (at least all I've seen). I'm pretty sure all the holes in leaves I've seen have been there since the rhino was in the tank. I'll have to track after I pull any damaged leaves. Other than that, I have seen the swordtail nip a bit at the anacharis and the brown bits of new growth at the tips of the java fern. But there is no noticeable damage to any of that.

Last question. Should i leave the yellowing, undamaged sword leaves? The couple that have no physical holes in them?
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 08:56 AM
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I'd leave em alone and see if the nutrient's(macros), and Micros like iron and magnesium didn't improve their Appearance.
Iron and magnesium in most micro or trace mineral mixes.
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