Grendel's 40B - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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Grendel's 40B

Finally got around to rejuvenating this tank, so I figured I'd celebrate by starting a journal-type thing...

For starters, this thing has been a pain in the *** ever since I upgraded to it from my old 29, mostly due to algae issues, some other algae issues, and finally a few more algae issues. I dosed EI religiously, I had the CO2 banging, did water changes left and right... and the crap just kept on coming. It wasn't until I stumbled across Hoppy's "PAR vs. Distance" thread (after I had neglected the poor thing for months out of sheer frustration) that I finally figured out my problem: too much light. Or, more specifically, lights too close to the substrate. With the retrofit reflectors I've had (first AHS CF, then T5HO), and how low the profile was on my hood, I was frying my plants, and just plain couldn't get enough CO2 or ferts into the water column to counter act it.

So, I ditched the hood, switched up my light set up, and have FINALLY started to get the upper hand on the algae.

Here's my set up now...


and another view from the right...


and finally one look at the inside...


What you can see in the above pics is me just growing out some plants, seeing if this new light rig would help. Below are my first attempts at scaping after I realized I was on the right track...







Plants:
  • HC
  • Staurogyne repens
  • Narrow java fern
  • Tonina fluviatilis
  • Eichhornia diversifolia
  • Rotala Nanjenshan
  • Rotala VietNam
  • Anubias nana
  • Cyperus helferi
  • C. spiralis
  • C. willisii
  • Isoetes sp.
  • Blyxa japonica (which I never actually planted - I let my last pieces of it die off last year, and it just started springing up from the substrate in teeny-tiny little plantlets when I reset everything last month... Anyone else ever seen that before?)
More stems than I'll have eventually, but they're all species I dig a lot.

Fish:
  • Dicrossus filamentosas
And, that's it for now. I'm planning on some tetras (Ruby, I think, though I have no idea how they school and a relatively tight school is a pretty important criterion), some cories (habrosus and trilineatus, I think) and a few otos. The dicrossus are fantastic fish - interesting behaviors and tons of personality - and now that one of my males is starting to mature, even more beautiful than I realized.

To those of you with open-topped tanks, I'm totally feeling you now. I'm loving the look, which really opens up the tank and makes it even more of a point of interest in the room (though the light-spill has taken some getting used to).

Thanks for checking out this thing, and I'd appreciate any questions or feedback you've got!


G

Walker of the world's wierd wall.

www.taghillcards.com
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 03:43 PM
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Very nice scape Grendel! Beautiful fish too, do they need really soft water?

A few things to consider... Have you tried this tank with a white or light gradual background (if the black isn't permanent)? It's more work since you would have to keep the glass clean, but it might accentuate the wood, hill, and overall scape.

And get some transparent pipes... they can be cheaply made out of acrylic, or expensive glass versions of course.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Very nice scape Grendel! Beautiful fish too, do they need really soft water?

A few things to consider... Have you tried this tank with a white or light gradual background (if the black isn't permanent)? It's more work since you would have to keep the glass clean, but it might accentuate the wood, hill, and overall scape.

And get some transparent pipes... they can be cheaply made out of acrylic, or expensive glass versions of course.
I don't know if dicrossus need soft water, but they've got it in my tank... Both KH and GH right at 3 out of the tap.

The black is spray-paint, unfortunately. I did it years ago when I first got the tank, which was before I realized I could use the stick-on vinyl for an adjustable look. I'd love to have the ability to switch the background whenever I felt like it, and I've thought about scraping off the black, but it just seems like more work than I want to do, TBH.

It's funny - the first thing I thought when I ditched my hood was, "Now I need some clear inflows/outflows". I've already been messing around with making my own clear acrylic pipes - just need to settle on a design (ADA style outflow versus spraybar style) and switch them over.

Thanks for the feedback!



G

Walker of the world's wierd wall.

www.taghillcards.com
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 06:18 PM
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awesome tank!

125g Mud tank.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 06:21 PM
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Nice job. I also like the ficus accent tree
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-13-2011, 04:45 AM
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Beautiful tank! One complaint though.....not enough pics!
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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UPDATE

So, no new FTS this time - I've been battling some diatoms and another brown algae that's hitting the edges of older leaves of a lot of my plants and I want to try to get it sorted out before I take more tank pics.

Anyone dealt with diatom blooms in an established tank before? I'm confident I'm still in the "high light" category after raising my lights, I'm really jamming the EI on the high end, and I have CO2 about as high as I'm comfortable with (based on how fast my fishes' gills are pumping), all in a tank that's been up and running since January. Not really sure where to look next...

But enough with the negatives. The good news is...



New fish.

I knew I'd have to order online because my LFS just doesn't get what I want and doesn't really do special requests, but I had never ordered fish online before, so wasn't even sure where to start looking. After checking on quite a few vendors, I ended up ordering from The Wet Spot, out of Portland, because they're established shippers on Aquabid, have an insanely extensive stock list (seriously - I couldn't believe it when I saw it), and they seem to have a very good reputation. Shipping was on the higher end, but within what I thought was acceptable. Anthony, their sales guy, was easy to work with as well, so I just bit the bullet.

I got some c. habrosus (which struggled a bit), some cardinals (which are doing great), some nannoptopoma sp. Peru (also doing well), and some stiphodon atropurpureus (also doing well, but are in their own tank).

Here they are...

Cories (good)


and cories (bad)


(Not sure what the deal was, but these were all DOA )

And one more to show how awesome these guys are.


Here are the nannoptopoma chilling out...






And here are a few of them in the tank...




Their color is probably a good mixture between the two pics - they're not quite as orange as the first set, and not as pale as the second.

Very cool fish, but not much information about them anywhere. Expensive, but once I saw them in stock I had to add them. So far, they're doing great too, which is comforting.

And I just realized there's no shot of the cardinals. Will remedy that ASAP. For as much as they get a rap for being delicate, they settled in quickly as as can be. I know they're a little cliche, but they really are striking in person.

More later. Let me know what you think!


G

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www.taghillcards.com
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 07:06 PM
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What a great looking tank. I really like your fish selection as well.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 07:27 PM
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One of the nicest tanks on TPT I've seen in a while. Absolutely love your scape and those nannoptopoma are SWEET. Where would one be able to pickup some of those badboys? They look strikingly similar to otos.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyzer View Post
What a great looking tank. I really like your fish selection as well.
Thanks a ton. I spent a loooong time figuring out what fish I wanted. Knew I needed dicrossus (absolutely love those guys) and then figured out some species that were nice compliments to them while still being interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by speedie408 View Post
One of the nicest tanks on TPT I've seen in a while. Absolutely love your scape and those nannoptopoma are SWEET. Where would one be able to pickup some of those badboys? They look strikingly similar to otos.
Thanks - means a lot considering how nice your own tank is. I sort of stumbled on the nannops - saw a picture of them from a stocklist a while ago and got interested, then saw that Wet Spot added them recently and about jumped out of my chair. Getting info. on them was next to impossible, but I said, "screw it" and decided to get them anyway (which I don't normally do - I sort of obsessively study fish before I decide to get them). Their trade name seems to be "Orange Zebra" otocinclus and they've been popping up with vendors since early April of this year, which might help you track them down locally.


G

Walker of the world's wierd wall.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 11:33 PM
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Tank looks great. I really love the nannoptopoma sp. Peru! What are you feeding them?


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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-24-2011, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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UPDATE
(not a very good one, though)

First, a picture of one of my nannoptopoma, doing what he does best - hanging out on some wood...



Unfortunately, he's the only one left . He's the only one to be consistently active - one disappeared after two days, and the others just sort of languished away... Moved around as little as possible, not interested in algae on the glass or plants, wouldn't touch zucchini or algae wafers. I found some info. referencing their low survival rate and theorizing it's connected to bacterial cultures in their bellies that die out while in transit to the US/LFS which seemed to fit what I saw with mine, but nothing definitive. Sad to see happening, but this last bugger seems pretty happy.

Everyone else in the tank is doing well. Cories are bipping around like little puppies, wagging their tails everywhere... Cardinals have had exactly zero issues and are settling in well... One of my dicrossus females is carrying some eggs (never had fish spawn before, so not really sure what happens next - anyone?).

In terms of algae, I think I've finally kicked the GDA to the curb. Barr made an off-hand comment to someone else in another GDA thread about upping Mg as a way to fight it, and I figured I'd try it as well. Went from 1/8 tsp once/week to 1/4 tsp twice/week, and that seems to have done it.

Other than that, still battling some brown algae. I have no idea why, but I seem to avoid the BBA, cladophora, and hair type algaes in exchange for the diatoms and GDA. You can see it here for yourselves...







As you can see, it's affecting some of my plants pretty seriously. My staurogyne and HC are essentially dead because of it - they'll grow a few new leaves, but at that point everything else subsequently starts getting covered by brown gunk. When I trim the affected stuff off, the process just starts from scratch. One step forward, two steps back. My C. willisii and a. nana have also been hit by it pretty hard, and while it's not killing them like my stauro and HC, they're not making any forward progress at the moment. My eichhornia and blyxa are growing great, and my r. nanjenshan seems unaffected by it too.


Here's my tank specs, in case anyone feels moved to help me troubleshoot...
  • 40G breeder (36x18x16)
  • 2x39 watts T5 retro-fit with AHS-equivalent, top end reflectors - approximately 25 inches above the substrate, 8 hour photoperiod
  • CO2 with in-line Rex reactor - 3+ bps (bright yellow drop-checker). 1/2 tsp N, 1/2 tsp K, 1/8 tsp P three times/week
  • 1/4 tsp Mg, 1/4 tsp Ca two times per week
  • 10+ ml CSM+B, 2x recommended Excel three times/week
  • weekly H2O change - 75+%
  • moderate (IMO) fishloadL: 13 cardinals, 7 c. habrosus, 5 dicrossus, 1 nannoptopoma
Any ideas on what to do to fight this brown crap? I'm leaning toward trying some window screen over the lights next, to see if maybe I'm still to photo-excessive.

I'll do another H20 change here soon and get some before/after photos for my next update.


G

Walker of the world's wierd wall.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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I know it's been a while, but here's a quick update!



1. I cut my dosing and my issues with brown algae eventually went away. Not sure exactly what the link was, but I'm adding about 2/3rds of what I was originally dosing and all that crap is gone.

2. Now that my narrow java fern has filled in enough, I've pulled all the stems I had in the beginning except the eichhornia. I eventually want to take even that away, push the rocks back a little, add a little bit more a. nana in front of them, and then have some crinum calamistratum twisting out of the middle. The long I'm in the hobby, the more I think low, low maintenance is the way to go.

3. Added some DIY acrylic in- and out- pipes (still need to do one more, obviously). Not very well done, but they get the job done.

4. Added some eleocharis "Japan" and while it's a great plant that will look perfect in there, it's taking FOREVER to fill in. I knew it was slow growing, but this has been a little excessive. The good news is that the pace has picked up noticeably in the past few weeks. Hopefully that trend continues.

5. Just did a big trim of my eichhornia, so things look a little sparse in the middle. I'll add an "after pic" as soon as it grows back well enough.

6. Finally, your ideas, feedback, and questions would be awesome!


G

Walker of the world's wierd wall.

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Last edited by Grendel; 09-26-2011 at 12:53 AM.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 02:22 AM
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I love your tank when it grows in it will look amazing. and I am glad you figured out how to control the diatom algae. I look forward to following your progress and good luck!
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 03:07 AM
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