Mr. Aqua 17G Amazon blackwater biotope-ish - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Mr. Aqua 17G Amazon blackwater biotope-ish

Tank - Mr. Aqua 17.1 gallon (23.6" x 11.8" x 14.2")
Lighting - ZooMed 24" T5 fixture
Bulb - Ultra Sun 6500K
Filter - Fluval 304
Heater - Hydor ETH 300 inline
Substrate - pool sand

Fishes - Flame tetra x7 x2, Skunk cory x2, Black phantom tetra x9 x2, Bolivian Ram x2
Plants - Anubias
Water temp - 78F (25.5C)
Photoperiod - 10.5 hours

First tank shot - 5/26/15


7/31/15


8/29/15


OK, so clumps of Anubias zip tied to a piece of wood isn't 100% accurate but I think the rest is authentic.
Lots of driftwood? Check.
Leaf litter? Check. (these are magnolia leaves from my front yard, about 10-12)
Smooth sand? Check.
Subdued lighting? Check.
Low flow? Check.
Soft, low TDS water? Uh, no.

The water in Tampa is hard, like off the charts hard.
Hardness: 140-300 ppm or 8-17 grains/gallon
PH: 7.3-8.1

Anything over 10.5 grains/gal is considered very hard. I'll have to look into getting my hands on some RO water. I have a TDS meter coming in, so I'll play around with it and see just how bad my home tap water is.

The flame tetras I got looked a little battered and bruised, and their tail fins were gnawed up. Hopefully they'll heal quickly and color up, they look pretty washed out.

Once the tank is a little more settled and the water quality is improved, I'd like to try my hand with a pair of the easier Apistogramma. And maybe, possibly, adding 7 dwarf pencilfish, but I think that's pushing the stocking capacity of this tank. And I've heard they're jumpers, so I'd have to fashion a cover of some sort.

Last edited by doinkmobb; 08-30-2015 at 12:03 AM. Reason: update fish
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 05:12 PM
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Fellow Tampa tanker here....

Yes our water is hard due to the water coming from the Aquifer (all that limestone). I personally use a RO system because I am on a well with a water softener. I have had success with tank with hard water around 8-10dGH. If you are concerned about it(I wouldnt be in this setup), check out Marine Warehouse, they sell RO water. They also have a good selection of plants if you catch them right after a shipment. This area is very pro-reef though! Good Luck!
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 05:35 PM
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Ro water may do you good. If you keep the set up low tech, you may be able to do mostly top offs with RO water and less frequent water changes (RO water gets pricey from a LFS). I think our store sells it for $0.50 a gallon or so.

FORGOT! The tank looks great. I love the look. The little school of Tetras is adorable. I wouldn't go too crazy. Maybe the pair of fish, but all those pencilfish may add up with such a small tank.

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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I'm sure the fish will do fine in super hard water, but I'd like to at least make an effort to recreate the softer, acidic waters these fish come from.

MW is the best place around, but it's still a 30+ minute drive for me. But, being from Tampa, you understand that everything is a 30 minute drive away. Depending on how crazy I want to get, maybe I'll buy an RO system. If only I had a reliable source of rainwater...like the 640,000,000,000 gallons of water that drenched my house for 3 hours the other night, and will continue to do so for the next 4 months.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 05:38 PM
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A large funnel into a 55 gallon drum. Use some gutter guard to keep leaves out. Is it worth it? Probably not, but it's an idea haha. Pretty much a cistern.

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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 06:07 PM
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So get a larger plastic tub and "collect" it...LOL...
How are you calling T5 low light...curiosity mind you.
A Zoo Med fixture(two bulb?)has rather poor reflector(from reading on here) and that
should work in your favor at that height.
But IF it's not their Reptile fixture/w one bulb...I'd suggest you replace one bulb/w the Flora sun.
And specifically from PE I would do a 7 hr max amount of hrs on the light.
You might make it 3 in the A.M. and then 4 in the P.M. so you can view when you get up and later in the day also. Those Anubias being that close to the light might not survive it still. Perhaps try the type of Pearlweed with an "M" for the first letter in each name of it. This is a picture. Both on the top and bottom right side. Grows very small leaves once out of the water and has lots of roots hanging down(Mangoves)from it
when growing on top like in the top of the wood you have.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pi...ictureid=51554
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pi...ictureid=50361
This plant would love the light and you would need to trim it every two weeks.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
So get a larger plastic tub and "collect" it...LOL...
How are you calling T5 low light...curiosity mind you.
A Zoo Med fixture(two bulb?)has rather poor reflector(from reading on here) and that
should work in your favor at that height.
But IF it's not their Reptile fixture/w one bulb...I'd suggest you replace one bulb/w the Flora sun.
Sorry, let me explain that a little better.

Yes, it's the two bulb fixture, with only one 6500K bulb on. And on the acrylic insert shield that protects the bulbs from getting wet, I covered a large portion of that with black contact paper and electrical tape in a haphazard fashion. The picture I have up is just with electrical tape on the shield, the contact paper blocks out much more light. I'll try to get a picture of what I'm talking about.

If the Anubias is unhappy, I'll reduce the photoperiod or block more light. Hopefully the water begins to stain up nicely, which will reduce the usable light also.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 06:44 PM
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Great...I have an Odyssea two bulb fixture on a 10g(yea, I know) and my Pettite even on the bottom of the tank got completely covered/w GSA.
Took out one bulb and the GSA has(over a couple of months) gone away.
Don't know if a single bulb in Flora sun would be bright enough. They tend to have poor visible light, but have both blue and red in them. I usually only use one in conjunction/w another type of bulb for the brightness of that second bulb.
Right now in one of my two 10g tanks I have a Reef sun on for 9 hrs and in the middle
a Flora comes on for 3.5 hrs.
Looks like you got it under control. Give the fishies some time, they will color up.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-29-2015, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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Here is the tank without the modified splash shield in place. Super bright, the fish were immediately not amused by this. This is only the one 6500K bulb, it's blinding with the 10K bulb on too.



Here's the original picture in the first post with just random electrical tape on the splash shield.



Now with contact paper blocking off more light.



Same camera settings for all shots.
And here's the splash shield.



I was messing around with my TDS meter also, here's my readings.
Tap water - 215 ppm
Water from the PUR filter - 215 ppm
Tank water - 415 ppm(!)
Tank water after changing out about 4 gallons - 357 ppm

Tap water isn't as bad as I thought and apparently the PUR filter does nothing. The tank water reading seems high, but there's fish, bacteria and algae living in it and decaying organic material. I've never taken a TDS reading from any aquarium I've owned before, so I have no baseline to...base that on.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-29-2015, 01:47 PM
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This site seemed pretty good at explaining TDS and helping with the testing:

http://www.theaquariumsolution.us/td...-should-i-test

I've never checked it personally and likely never will unless I plan on setting up a RO system to change my TDS more than just tap level.

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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-29-2015, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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I made some homemade blackwater extract today. I grabbed 12-15 magnolia leaves from my front yard, threw them in the food processor with some water, strained the muck through a media bag and got some nice, dark, tannin-y goodness.



And it made the tank look excellently murky. Here's a shot with the camera set to auto white balance, making it look clear somehow.



I set the white balance to 6500K and retook the shot. This is an accurate representation of how the tank looks, a nice amber tinge.



Not bad for $0 and 8 minutes worth of effort.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-29-2015, 09:49 PM
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Nice nice !!!

I too setting up a Amazon Biotope for my Apristogramma.

I put lots of almond leave and alder cones if you can find some.
those cones can stain your water in no time with just a couple.
and very good for your fish too. :-)
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-30-2015, 05:22 AM
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another natural way to soften your water is to slowly filter it through sphagnum peat moss. this is what alot of the guys over on apistogramma.com seem to do to make their water more appropriate for blackwater species.

on a separate note, a 200 ppm increase over your tap water is pretty strange. I am assuming you are also not adding any ferts (bad idea if your only plants are anubias), which makes it even stranger, though I have no idea what could be causing that high an increase. even when I go 3 weeks without a water change in one of my tanks with tons of detritus and mulm, it only rises about 50 ppm over the tap.
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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-31-2015, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skoram View Post
another natural way to soften your water is to slowly filter it through sphagnum peat moss. this is what alot of the guys over on apistogramma.com seem to do to make their water more appropriate for blackwater species.

on a separate note, a 200 ppm increase over your tap water is pretty strange. I am assuming you are also not adding any ferts (bad idea if your only plants are anubias), which makes it even stranger, though I have no idea what could be causing that high an increase. even when I go 3 weeks without a water change in one of my tanks with tons of detritus and mulm, it only rises about 50 ppm over the tap.
I thought about putting some peat in a media bag and sticking it in the Fluval. With the extract though, I can add in a little or a lot, depending on how clear the tanks looks.

I did add a little bit of ferts when I first put the anubias in, just to give it a jump start. It could be related to that; I don't plan on adding any more ferts to the tank, so I'll see what the TDS meter says at the next water change.
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-02-2015, 06:01 AM Thread Starter
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More fun with the TDS meter
Tap water - 265 ppm
Top off water sitting in a bucket - 270 ppm
Tank water - 370 ppm

TDS measurement of the tap water is 25% higher than it was on Thursday. Intredasting. I've got 3 gallons of distilled water waiting to go in when I do my next water change.

I found some info on what TDS means to a fish in a physiological sense - http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-general-articles/total-solids-tss-tds-freshwater-aquarium-188697/
And this part stood out: "The TDS in Lake Tanganyika is around 400 ppm. Compare this to the near-zero TDS in many Amazonian streams." Keeping tetras in an environment better suited to a Tanganyikan cichlid is most likely not doing the fish any favors.

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