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post #31 of 61 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 01:58 AM
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You seem to be doing a lot of the right things, as your tank is looking just great !.

But I'm wondering why you're now saying that..... 'discus are all but out of the question' ?

Doesn't look like it to me - your tank appears, to me, to be just begging for 5 or 6 discus - lol ......but why is it you're seemingly backing off ? Just because of your lowering of the tank temp ?
Why did you feel the need to do that ?
Am i missing something ?
Very curious.
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post #32 of 61 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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Haha!! Paul!

You know I said that and then started looking at discuss again tonight talking to the wife.

I sure would like to... my concerns are water changes and a little fear of the unknown.

I'm really pretty happy with my 40% weekly water changes. If a side effect of doing 40% weekly changes is that my discuss stay smaller, then it would be a benefit to me.

Lowering the temp is kind of an experiment on the BGA (cyanobacteria). I had read that it blooms under low o2 and accelerates under higher temperatures. So I figured I would see if I noticed any effect. That with higher nitrate should eradicate the issue.

Saying discuss are out of the question is untrue. I'll retract that statement. Nothings going to happen over the holidays, but the wife keeps saying she wants something bigger in the tank, and I would really like for that to be discuss.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, that really helps.
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post #33 of 61 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 05:54 PM
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Glad to hear that.
And I can certainly appreciate your concern about wcs, and a little fear of the unknown - many of us go through that prior to taking up discus-keeping.

However, if you're comfy with 40% weekly wcs, you can get away with that without difficulties, IF you first get good-sized, more mature discus from a good quality, well-experienced & reliable source from the get-go, and are prepared to pay a little extra attention to a good tank-cleansing routine at wc time.

The rest is a piece of cake, as healthy discus stock with reasonably well-developed immune systems, are a very hardy aquarium fish.
They're just a touch more intolerant of poor water quality and conditions, that's all.

I really hope you eventually decide to give it a try - and you know I'll be there to help you every step of the way.
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post #34 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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January Update

Things are going well, pearling away like crazy! I'm thinking by next month I should be ready to add some discuss.

8ml PPS-Pro #1 (Macro/NPK)
1/8th tsp Plantex CSM+B dry
8ml Excel
8ml Flourish Iron (evening)

No3 ~5
P04 0
KH 5
GH 4
PH 6.8
TDS 186ppm (Switching to RO, was 260 before last WC)
Temp: 80

Misc Notes
No carbon in the filter (never have)
Seachem Purigen for chemical filtration

Lesson learned this month...

Never trust a single source for your PH... and I took it a little lightly over the holidays, with so much going on its hard to spend any real time working on the tank, but something didn't seem right. I'm not fully sure what the malfunction was, but I can only assume there is some issue with my calibration liquid, probe or something else. At any rate my PH has been higher than I would have liked (7.4ish) which means that for my target KH the CO2 level was much lower than I had wanted. Lost a few Otocinclus, but the other fish have been troupers. Any rate I have 4 PH sources now (2 meters & 2 test kits) and they all show the right numbers. Thread details here if you're more interested.

My tap water has turned for the worse, out of the tap has been fluctuating between a TDS of 200 to 250 and the KH has been over 8, which is way too high. The overall instability of the tap has lead me to what I wanted to do anyway, go RO. So I installed a RO unit, and have begun the transition with a 25G change over the weekend. I didn't buffer it since my tank water was very high as it was (KH about 8 and GH about 10), this dropped everything to my goal (KH of 4-5). I wouldn't mind seeing the TDS lower, but that will happen over time. The long term replacement water will be buffered with Seachem Equilibrium.

Algae is under control except the damn BGA (Cyanobacteria), its been a daily struggle, and I'm getting good at my cleanup techniques. I'm expecting this to remedy itself as I make the full RO switch, I can only assume something in the tap water that is making it thrive. Oddest thing, I've always done RO in the past, and never seen this stuff, so lets hope.

Anyway thread is useless without pictures.

January by bbrackeen, on Flickr

20130106-DSC_1503.jpg by bbrackeen, on Flickr

20130106-DSC_1505.jpg by bbrackeen, on Flickr

20130106-DSC_1516.jpg by bbrackeen, on Flickr

Last edited by bbrackeen; 01-07-2013 at 03:13 PM. Reason: added misc notes, image resizing
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post #35 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-12-2013, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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I call all out war on the BGA (Cyanobacteria), and have resorted to a EM (erythromycin) dosing. I know EM is a last resort, and if you have any ideas on what I might be doing wrong speak up. Otherwise if I spend any more time cleaning and working on this tank my wife is going to think I'm obsessed... Wait..

I dosed 1600mg erythromycin (200mg per 10gallon). 24 hours later I dosed another 1600mg.

I have seen within the first 24 hours all of the BGA turn pale and translucent.

Cyanobacteria vs Erythromycin by bbrackeen, on Flickr

After 48 hours it appears that it has all disintegrated; what is left is very pale and no longer iridescent as it usually is. I can report no problems with ammonia or perceivable stress to the livestock (including amono shrimp). I know you normally should do another 2 doses of EM, but I bought all the EM at the fish store (it takes a lot to dose this size tank). I think if I can just get a foot hold on this stuff, the elevated nitrate (shooting for 15ppm+) and cleaning regiment should keep it away for good (crossing fingers).

After 2 days I did a 25% water change and have started using replacement water of the following makeup.

RO Remineralization (per 5 Gallons)

4g Seachem Equilibrium
2.5g Seachem Alkaline Buffer
.47g KNO3

This results in replacement water with the following primary parameters

3 dGH
4 dKH
200ppm TDS
.2ppm Fe
15ppm Nitrate

In my effort of finding a better way to clean the BGA, I repurposed some of my beer brewing equipment. Without further adieu, I am pleased to introduce..

The Siphonator 2000

With the smaller hose and regulated flow it makes cleaning the BGA off leaves and the dwarf tears a cinch.

Also a few shots of the "Fish Lab".

and a full under tank shot (lot going on under there)

Finally an update on the PH situation. Seems like the PH probe is dead, which is a inconvenience but not a huge issue. I need to know how to work without it (its taking about 5 seconds per bubble to maintain about 6.6-6.8ph) . So I added a drop checker ($7 eBay special). Since my makeup water is 4 dKh its as simple as adding a few PH indicator drops.

Last edited by bbrackeen; 01-12-2013 at 06:13 PM. Reason: image saved
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post #36 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-03-2013, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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February Update

The BGA is gone, and I've been fighting a little staghorn and hair algae, but nothing I would find threatening. I added a couple of SAE to replace the jumpers, some amano shrimp and a group of Panda Cory cats for substrate cleaning.

I've had a new algae appear, that looks like BGA, but is powdery when it is fanned off, and is mostly on the java moss, which is doing phenominal. I've added a Magnum 350 canister filter and moved the intakes around and I'm much more pleased with the amount of flow. I think a single canister is just not enough for this tank especially with the eminent threat of discus. Just not enough turnover. It came with a bit of activated carbon, and I've been running it a few days. Why not, and so far the results have been pleasing, as I've had less of that powdery algae on the moss. I assume its the reduction of organics the carbon is absorbing.

Temp has been steadily increasing, and I'm around 81 now, and my goal is to hinge on 82. All other parameters are the same as before, TDS is slowly falling and is around 250ppm now. I expect it to stay around this range as my makeup water is at 200ppm using Seachem Equilibrium and Alkaline Buffer.

Did a lot of trimming, everything was getting way to bushy and I put the canopy back on. Next post hopefully will be with new fish from Kenny.

February.jpg by bbrackeen, on Flickr
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post #37 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-03-2013, 08:25 PM
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Wow - this has been a fun thread to read. Your tank has come a long way and looks really good now.

I'm with DiscusPaul in thinking that you should definitely go about adding some discus in there...
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post #38 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-03-2013, 09:04 PM
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that last shot is gorgeous. great job
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post #39 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the kind comments! Itís been a labor of love for sure.

So I've been thinking....

That tank was one of the inspirations for doing discus, and obviously played into some of my decisions on this tank.

I'm thinking of removing the center log, the stems (which is kind of growing tired and shedding a lot), and thinning out the hygro. Letting the tears and spread out to the rest of the tank... Much like the Amono tank, but with my current hardscape on the left and right.

Its feeling a bit too busy right now, and I think a little simplification would help in maintenance overall.

Which by the way... I received 4 discus from Kenny's Discus Wednesday. They have been settling in and doing well. I had to settle with a little smaller fish to get the strains I wanted, but I think things will work out fine.

Anyone have thoughts on the re-scape?
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post #40 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 08:24 PM
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Looking good!
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post #41 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-10-2013, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, so here is the re-scaping. I'm really liking it. For the first time the tank is really staring to show some design. I still need the carpet to grow out, which shouldn't take more than a few weeks.

20130210-DSC_1622.jpg by bbrackeen, on Flickr

The discus really like hanging out by the tree, which was the plan. They can still run into the left side and hide out if they want, but the majority of the time they are staying out.

20130210-DSC_1629.jpg by bbrackeen, on Flickr

The dark one is normally a little lighter purple, but I guess I caught him on an off moment. They are eating well, mostly frozen blood worms, but I'm going to start weaning them off FBW, and onto tetra color bits this week. I installed a eheim dual automatic feeder into the canopy; half flakes, and the other half color bits. They nibbled on them, but spit them out after. I give them a couple of days and they'll have this down to a science.

All is well!

Last edited by bbrackeen; 02-10-2013 at 10:39 PM. Reason: fixed broken image
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post #42 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-10-2013, 11:07 PM
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Absolutely stunning tank. I love the driftwood. The discus look great.
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post #43 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-11-2013, 01:27 AM
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Amazing! You really integrated the swords well!!!

The only thing that is bugging me is the big driftwood on the right.....I just think it stops the wonderful flow of the aquascape that is coming from the left side of the tank. I understand that your idea of a "tree", but the "uprightness" of the driftwood is halting that flow made by the slope coming in from the left.

As you can see in Amano's tank that you pictured earlier, there is little or no vertical lines at all because it stops the flow of the aquascape.

Sorry if what I said was a little too harsh, that was the critic in me talking .
But I seriously think that you should do something about that driftwood.

Good luck!!!

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post #44 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-11-2013, 02:08 AM
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Overall, your tank and the discus look just superb ! Keep up the good work - I'll bet it's a great satisfaction to you.
All the best for the future.
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post #45 of 61 (permalink) Old 02-11-2013, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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No worries at all... I love to talk about designs.

When I did the layout I did so with the "Golden Selection" in mind. If you were to draw intersecting triangles from the top left to the bottom right (following the hardscape slope), and then the same from the right treetop to the left; the layout follows the 3/5ths rule (well at least was my intention). The layout style I chose was based off Amano's U-Composition. (See Nature World Aquarium book 1, page 156-159). My success, as with most things artistic, is subjective to the viewer.

Not much I can do about it now though since its attached to 18" of slate under 3-4 inches of substrate. lol... (makes it easy to come up with excuses to keep it doesn't it)

The discus seem to really like it since they all hang out around it most of the time. When I added it my thoughts were of the lakes around where I grew up (east Texas), most of the fish seemed to congregate around tree tops sticking out of the water; as most of the lakes are flooded valleys.

The idea was the discus would do the same, without some type of structure on that side of the tank I worried they wouldn't spend time over there.
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