The "never fails to fail" 40 breeder - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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The "never fails to fail" 40 breeder

After years of pondering this forum and looking at all of the wonderful tank journals I decided to create an account and start a thread of my 40 gallon breeder. And what better timing.
Background info:
I started fishing keeping about 6 years ago and moved to planted tanks about 3 years ago. I started with a 10 gallon and cheap LEDs from home depot. Mostly crypts and ludwigia's. Then I moved to medium light plants and it didn't work out to well. Soo one day I walked into petco (I try to buy from LFS and not chains) and walked out with a 40 breeder since it was their $ per gallon sale. So there the tank sat, calling my name every night before it was up and running. I Started with medium light plants because I had 2 t5's on it. By the end of the month I had 2 liters of yeast co2 and algae galore. So I finally bit the bullet and bought a full system of regulated co2. (best investment EVER) I finally successfully made a not-so-great aquascape with medium light plants. So I moved on to high light. This is where I had troubles. Every delicate plant I tried to keep, would struggle and die. It was frustrating. I tried everything!! I had a nice regimen of fertz and 4 t5's running. But no plants would thrive. I could get the hardy plants to grow no problem but thatís not what I wanted. I wanted to have a beautiful scape with stem plants like Rotala and Nesaea. I would try soo hard and I could tell I had everything perfectly balanced because I conquered algae and had not seen it for months. But still all the plants I actually wanted to grow would struggle and I eventually I would pull them out. After about a month of vigorous research I found an article talking about plants and water conditions. It turns out it was nothing I was doing. It was my water!! I'm on well water and my parameters are pH 8.2, GH >1 degree, and kH a whopping 23 degrees. I have a water softener which basically replaces water hardness with carbonate hardness. What does that mean? Well the article stated that the plants can't take in the proper nutrients they need because the carbonate hardness plugs up the plants leaves so they basically aren't getting any fertz even though itís in the water.
So now what
Options: I could make do with what I have and only use plants I know grow in my water. I tried this and it lasted about 3 months before I realized I was bored without a challenge. I would sit on my computer and look at all of the beautiful scapes on here and wish I could grow some of those stem plants like Rotala and Nesaea.
Next option: new water!
This is where I am currently. I plan on using an RO DI filter to get nice pure water for my plants and fish. Can I get a woot woot!
I bought my RO DI filter from the filter guys, (very helpful, I called them up and they answered all my questions right away) Everything came in the mail.

Equipment: 40 breeder, 4 T5HO's (2 zoomeds flora sun, 2 zoomeds ultra sun) fluval 203 canister, Hydor Koralia Evolution 550, aquatop uv sterilizer inline, aquatop heater, milwaukee regulator ma957, 5# tank, inline diffuser.
RO: Ocean Wave+ 75 GPD, 8800 aquatec booster pump with transformer and pressure switch, spectrapure auto shut off valve float kit.
Plan on using a reserve food grade trash can and pump water to the tank when a water change is needed. I plan on using Kent R/0 right because my thinking is if I cut the water with my original water, it's pointless because the only thing in my water is carbonate hardness which is useless for plants. Please put your info in this as nothing is set in stone yet.
I have always been attracted to stem plants and dutch style. Plan on an aquascape like this:

Or maybe this:

I think they are the same tank just different times, but you know what I'm looking for.
Okay currently I have 4 quarter size angelfish, 5 black neon tetras, and 7 cory cats. I figure I'm full, or soon will be once the angelfish grow. Oh and I have one lonely rummynose who is the last out of 6 who now schools with the black neons. Itís quiet funny actually.
Plant list (which needs a lot of editing):
Alternanthera Reineckii
Didiplis Diandra
Cardamine Lyrata
heteranthera zosterifolia
Ludwigia Arcuata
Ludwigia Cuba
Nesaea (not sure what type yet)
Pogostemon Erectus
Pogostemon Stallatus
Rotala Wallichii
Rotala Nanjenshen
Rotala Macrandra
Rotala Indica
Moss of some sort?

I am currently in the process of switching my water to complete R/O. I have been taking it slow because I heard itís stressful for fish to go through such a change. Currently I am sitting at pH 7.0 gh 1 degree and kh 4 degrees. I think about one more what shift to make my ideal water at kH 3 and gH 5.

Looking by the end of next week for plants!!

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 03:08 AM
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Very nice. I'm pretty close to having my 40b up here too.

I was also in the same boat as you with water. very hard (14-18ish) and a softener knocking down the gh but adding salt. It seemed my tanks never did well for long. Since I've had the RO, everything has just worked better.

Are your hatchets still small or is it the picture?
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 04:49 AM
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Wow this is going to be exciting! I can't wait to see what you come up with. If you need other inspiration Tom Barr has a really nice setup going. Oh and btw if you plan on having foregrounds (ei Dwarf Hair Grass, HC) you might what to reconsider the ottos but as far as I can tell your list seems to be pretty good.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 09:23 AM
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I live in a area with extreme KH and little GH too, so I do R/O water! It has made all the difference in the world!!! I have been using Seachem Equilibrium for quite a while, as it is for Planted Tanks, BUT it is MUCH HARDER to deal with compared to Kent R/O Right! The Seachem is hard to dissolve, and quickly hardens in the container to rocks. So I have to take some put it into a ziplock freezer bag and use a rolling pin to crush it up, or it takes a week to totally dissolve in my water storage container, a Rubbermaid "Brute" commercial grade trash can ( food safe)! So I am fixing to either switch back to R/O Right or try something else!

The "Brute" trash can is one of THE BEST investments I have made for my aquariums in a LONG LONG TIME! I have tried the cheap route and buying a normal 32g trash can, and had 1 split and spill 10g of water, then another little bit better regular trash can collapsed and spilled 30g of water in the living room flooding it, the Dinning room, and most of the kitchen in old Duplex!!!!!! Thank God it was a Concrete Slab foundation, so all we did was replace the carpet and pad! So the extra $20 or so would have saved me a LOT OF CASH in hindsite! SO either find a commercial grade food safe trash can or go to a farm supply and get a Water Tank, usually for sprayers, and you will have peace of mind! We use a Agri. water tank ( 35g) at my parents farm to haul water to the Corral when we have a Sick or Hurt Cow, and it is much better than 5g buckets! The tanks I am talking about are usually white, see through like a milk jug, and run $65 or so. I got my trash can at a Ace Hardware and it was $45 IIRC. You can even get a wheeled base to go in the bottom to make it easy to move, but they are like$75 for just the base! I use a furniture movers dolly on mine. Got it for $15 at Harbor Freight!

Anyway sorry for the rambling, but I would hate to see someone else ruin a bunch of carpet to save $20!

Well I can't wait to see how the R/O helps Ya and Your tank take shape!

Best of Luck to Ya!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-04-2012, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!
And sorry to hear about your buckets failing. That would literally make me straight up cry.
I am happy with all of my purchases so far.

Here is the RO setup. I have it in the house's storage room.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-07-2012, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Soo I lost all of my cory cats becuase of some freak thing. I left for school in the morning and when I looked at the tank when I came back, they were allll belly up!!

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-03-2013, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Here's an update. Got all my plants in and they have been doing surprisingly well.
The one thing I need to work on is trimming. I trim some stems and then they come back all strang and never look nice and bushy.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-03-2013, 05:59 PM
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I'm curious to find out where you got the info that plants plug their leaves when carbonate hardness is high. I've grown stem plants like Rotala, Limnophila Aromatica, Rotala Macrandra in kH 10+.

gH has a lot more impact on plant growth than kH. Don't mix them up as they mean different things.

kH will make CO2 unavailable to the plants but that's another story than the one you mentioned.

gH modifies osmotic pressure, plants need to be hyper-osmotic with regards to their environment. Raise the gH and osmotic pressure drops.

All of the above is pure speculation on my part, don't take this info as rule of thumb. I'm using RO water in my tank and experimented with both scenarios:

- Low kH, high gH
- High kH, low gH

Both need to be low, kH 3-4 and gH no more than 5-6 are good numbers. Plants still need Ca and Mg so a null gH will cause stunting and all sorts of growing problems.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I'm totally redoing my aquascape tomorrow. Had a bad few weeks of ferts and upkeep. I'll show pics but I plan to add wood and rearrange plants so they look more placed and such. I really need to focus on ferts. I can tell my stems are not growing their best. It's 100 % my fault.

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