Rebuilding Mars - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Rebuilding Mars

Many of you know I started my newest tank, "Is there life on Mars?" way back in May. Having had reasonable success with my previous tank, I decided
to go all out this time: lots of hardscape, difficult plants, heavier bioload...

I bit off more than I could chew

Since then there has been stunted and melting plants, massive BBA outbreaks, plant eating snails and protazoan parasites, not to mention constant changes to the plumbing, lighting and flora.

This tank has taught me much about planted tank care, and I feel I am finally ready to debut:

Is There Life on Mars: The Return



Most of the work on the tank was done in the beginning on November, between the time I quit my job and the start of the holiday season. I haven't had time to post much as my wife has forced me into 90+ hour workweeks and my kitchen and living room have looked like this, respectively:



Now, with the holidays winding down, I finally have time to trim it back into shape, and start the new journal!

Here's a couple shots of uncommon weeds:
Erio type 2

Erio type 3

Egleria fluctuans

Two types of Lindernia
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post #2 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Basics
The tank is 36x18x16 inches. Commonly called a 40 breeder, holds approximately 45 gallons:/
A glass top keeps evaporation to a minimum, keeps the fish in the tank and the cat outside of it!

Substrate is ADA AquaSoil Amazonia, hardscape is some sort of lava rock and manzanita.

Fertilization
The tank gets the EI treatment:
1/2 tsp KNO3 3xweekly
1/8 tsp K2PO4 3xweekly
1/4 tsp CSM+B 3xweekly
1/32 tsp iron (gluconate?) 3xweekly
3 tsp Grumpy's GH booster 1xweekly at waterchange

50% water change weekly with tap
dKH and dGH both <2

The amounts of iron and traces is well above the recommended EI levels, but I have found it necessary to maintain healthy green coloration of the plants.
Less iron and some of the plants get pale and less attractive.

Originally I was adding much less GH booster, and was having problems with contorted growth on my Tonina 'Lago Grande'. Raising the levels of GH added has straightened that out.

For a while I was adding 1.5x the current levels of KNO3 and K2PO4. During this time plant growth seemed to be accelerated, but there was no improvement in overall health.

On the rare occasion that I break out my test kits, the water column reads 2-5ppm PO4 and around 5-15ppm NO3, so it does not seem that using the EI method
has caused any significant nutrient buildup in this tank.

LIghting

This tank uses a 2x55 watt AHsupply kit across the middle and a 2x21 T5NO Coralife fixture across the very back.


The lights are on for 9 1/2 hours total:
12:30-3:30 pcs only
3:30-7:30 pcs+T5
7:30-9:30 T5 only

Originally only the pcs were used, but because of the depth of the tank, supplemental lighting was needed for the background plants. Having the second fixture evens out the lighting for the whole tank and allows for morning, noon and evening lighting.The fish seem to really enjoy the subdued lighting in the evening, and it looks really cool

Morning

Noon

Evening
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post #3 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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Filtration and CO2

Filtration, flow rates and patterns, bubble counts and injection techniques... This is where all the problems started and all my headaches began.
Anyone surprised?

The tank started with an XP3 powering a Rex reactor at 1.5 bps, through a spraybar across the top of the left wall. This is the same setup that grew blyxa, lobelia, HC, Limnophila and others beatifully for me previously, but had mixed results with more delicate Rotalas. This time it failed spectacularly.

I'll skip all the intermediary steps I've taken the past few months, and get right to what is working
now.

Flow Rate
Flow rate is driven by an XP3 and a Gen-x 1000 needlewheel pump run inline. The XP3 gets an approximate 160 gph, and the pump seems to nearly double that when on, so I am guessing there is 8x turnover of the water column per hour.


Flow Pattern
The flow pattern in the tank has been vastly improved by removing the spray bar, and replacing it with a marineland output, similar to a plastic lily pipe. The output is positioned in the back left corner, at a 45 degree angle towards the front glass. This pushes the water down the front, across the foreground and back into the corners. This pattern does a much better job of pushing the current down into the plant beds than the previous set up, which seemed to just circulate around the top of the tank.


CO2 mist

CO2 is pumped into the system just below the needlewheel pump at a rate of 3 bubbles per second. The needlewheel impeller chops the CO2 into a mist of fine bubbles that are pushed around in the current.

I'm not exactly sure why CO2 mist is more effective than dissolving the CO2, but it does seem to be. The same rate of bps through a reactor would kill all my fish, yet with this set up they are happier than ever, and my plants look healthier than I have ever seen them.

Future Plans

The tank is finally shaping up, but there are still a few changes in the works. Some plant species need to be moved or removed, and the middle section needs to get cleaned up. There is still some residual BBA that needs to be spot treated, and the substrate has leveled out a bit and accumulated in the foreground and needs to be removed (I am so not looking forward to this).

In additon, all my shrimp have been removed or murdered by my checkerboard, so it is time to copper the tank and kill off all the plant eating pond snails and foreground disrupting MTS
Once the MTS are gone, hopefully my UG will form a tighter carpet, otherwise I will switch to HC or maybe the mysterious microsword I have a tiny piece of will grow out.


Other than that, it is just letting the plants grow out, and hopefully soon I will have the tank I always wanted

Thanks for reading, Rupert says "Happy Holidays!"
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post #4 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 12:58 AM
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wow, nice writeup. Rupert is an awesome cat name :P

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post #5 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 01:27 AM
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Nice looking tank


Can you tell me the name on these plants.......

thanks!
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post #6 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minsc View Post
That's alot of BBA in the lower right corner

But nice looking tank!

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post #7 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-24-2008, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clwatkins10 View Post
wow, nice writeup. Rupert is an awesome cat name :P
Thanks! It has been such an adventure, I'm hoping someone can learn from what I've done wrong, or alternatively, point out something I can still improve on.

As for Rupert, I originally wanted to name him Glen Danzig, but that got voted down So now his full name is Rupert "Ripper" Giles Trouble Kitty. Or something like that

Quote:
Originally Posted by lopez_316us View Post
Nice looking tank


Can you tell me the name on these plants.......

thanks!
Thanks! Those are Cabomba furcata and Rotala wallichii. I'm surprised the Cabomba isn't more popular, it seems to be easy to grow, just light hungry.
Rotala wallichii can be difficult to grow at its best, it is actually a pretty good indicator species for CO2 levels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZooTycoonMaster View Post
That's alot of BBA in the lower right corner

But nice looking tank!
Thanks! There is a rock under there somewhere...
Every single piece of hardscape looked like that not too long ago, until I started spot treating with excel.
Yay Excel!
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post #8 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-25-2008, 02:06 AM
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[quote=Minsc;749209]Filtration and CO2
the mysterious microsword I have a tiny piece of will grow out.


Looks a lot like Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae, or cobra grass to me. Does it curl some at the tips?

Edit: By the way, love the plants. FWIW, money well spent.

Without Algae, death of mankind would be inevitable.
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post #9 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-25-2008, 06:07 AM
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Algae problems aside I've liked this tank a bunch since you first posted about it... not sure if I've ever commented on it. It truly does look like an alien landscape and I mean that in a very cool way. I'm not sure how I missed that it is a 40 breeder the first time.
I really like the evening lighting as well. Glad you posted up the fert regime too as I'm doing pretty much the same thing. Not doing the iron straight up but using a little flourish and epsom salt for a little GH boost. Must be working well for you, that Erio in the front has exploded during the timing of these pics.

Speaking of the pics... strangely they make me want a pint.
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post #10 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-25-2008, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Looks a lot like Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae, or cobra grass to me. Does it curl some at the tips?
It curls a bit, I guess... hard to tell. All I know is that it was imported by AquaForest, so it probably isn't common. Do you know of any good pics I could compare it to? I would love to have a positive ID.

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Originally Posted by MrJG View Post
Speaking of the pics... strangely they make me want a pint.
Thanks for all the kind comments, I really appreciate it. I really like where you are going with your 40 as well

Not sure why my tank is driving you to drink, but I approve
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post #11 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-28-2008, 12:52 AM
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Where'd you buy the Marineland filter return output?

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post #12 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-28-2008, 01:31 AM
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Not sure why my tank is driving you to drink, but I approve
Could have something to do with this haha:
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post #13 of 70 (permalink) Old 12-28-2008, 04:54 AM Thread Starter
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Where'd you buy the Marineland filter return output?
I bought it at my LFS. It used to be available at drsfostersmith.com, but I don't see it anymore... I'm not entirely convinced it is any better than just running the normal Rena output (no jet nozzle).

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Could have something to do with this haha:
Gotcha

[shameless plug]If you would like to drink a pint from a glass just like the ones pictured, they are available at the low price of $15 a piece at www.BreadandBadger.com. Proceeds from the sale of the glasses will occasionally go to supporting ThePlantedTank and it's sponsors and power sellers, The Aquatic Gardener's Association, My local LFS and small companies around the Portland area. Mostly just to my landlord and the bank that owns my car though. Remember, we believe drinking beer from hand etched glasses go into the heart and carry the happiness and relax time with Nature Aquarium.[/shameless plug]

As for tank news, it is very difficult to take quality pictures of my QT tank...
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post #14 of 70 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 04:41 AM
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so how has mars been doing? any updates?

Wilson
10g Globe l'Attente - As of 8/10, gone nano-reef!
46g High-Tech, last updated 1/14
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post #15 of 70 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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It's doing very well, thank you. There is a local plant swap coming up soon, so it is a big mess right now as I'm holding off on a big trim. Look for an update around the end of the month.
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