So here's my 90g (48x24x18) tank
And here are a few details
This is the result of a renewed (last?) effort to dial in an attractive, stable, and not super-high-maintenance planted tank.
I orginally set this up a couple of years ago as a high-tech, high-light tank but eventually became disillusioned following prolonged battles with algae, high maintenance, and overall poor results. Recently, I was just about ready to tear it down and rebuild it as an mbuna tank but I thought, hey, I've got all the gear, why not give the planted tank dream one more shot?
So I tore out all my stems. Actually, I tore out everything but some java fern, which had nicely colonized the mopiani wood, although much of it was blackened and full of holes (the java fern, not the wood). I cleaned everything and did twice weekly 50% water changes for a month. I also drastically cut down the lighting. I have five 54w T5HO lamps in the canopy (about 6" above the top of the tank) and took to running just one of them for 12 hours a day. I also started dosing Excel every day and a very lean version of IE (I started with the 20-40g recommendations). I had two Maxi-Jet 1200 power heads lying around so I put them in tank too. They're in the back with the outlets pointing forward and up toward the front waterline. They put a nice ripple on the surface but no splashing.
After about a month things started to look a lot better. The algae/diatoms/biofilm that had built up on the hardscape was virtually gone and I wasn't seeing much, if any, new algae appearing anywhere. Things were looking up!
Next I got my CO2 up and running again and gradually increased my EI dosing while adding a few easier plants: several anubias, some water sprite, and some cryptocoryne parva. Not sure if that latter one qualifies as easy but I was feeling confident
I've kept up with the daily Excel dosing (10ml, 50ml following the weekly 50% water change) and am up to this for EI:
1/2 tsp KNO3, 1/8 tsp K2SO4, 1/8 tsp KH2PO4 | 3x week
10ml trace (Flourish) | 3x week
I believe that's the prescription for tanks in the 40-60g range. I'm wondering if that's going to continue to be fine for my tank with lower lighting and less demanding plants.
My tap water has virtually no KH or GH so I add 4 Tbs of GH booster and 3 tsp of NaCO3 to the approx. 42 gallons weekly of WC water. That gets the KH up to 4-5 and GH to around 6. I have a pH controller set to 6.7 that controls the solenoid on my 10lb. CO2 tank. I use a DIY diffusor I made from a Duetto 50 internal filter. I leave the diffuser in the tank's internal overflow, where I also have my heaters and XP3 intakes.
A few weeks ago I was feeling really
brave and programmed the lighting timers to fire up two 54w bulbs for three hours during the middle of the day. So that's just 54w of T5HO for 9 hours and 108W for 3 hours. I have to say that the tank still looks fairly brightly lit even with just the one bulb. Those T5HOs are bright!
So at this point everything is still going pretty well. The anubias are showing me some new leaves, although the hastifolia on the left side has a little bit of algae on it. The only other algae I see is some green spot algae that starts to show up on the front side later in the week. We're talking maybe three to four specific areas each with one or two spots. The water sprite is growing and the crypt parva is hanging in there. Not sure there's any new growth but it's not melting.
My one real gripe right now is that while my water is super clear, there is a fair amount of detritus floating around. There's a ton of current in there but a lot of the stuff doesn't seem to make it up and over the overflow into the two XP3 filters. I added sponge pre-filters to the two Maxi-Jets thinking that this might help some and I believe that it has a little bit. I rinse those out in old tank water every week with my WC. Really not sure what else I can do about the suspended detritus.
So I guess I'm looking for some feedback and also some direction. Does anybody see something I could be doing better? Any potholes in front of me that I should be aware of? And for direction, where should I go with my aquascaping? I'd like to stay on the lower end of the lighting scale and don't want to deal with really fast growing plants that require a lot of maintenance. What kind of options does that give me with plant choice? And how do you think I can go forward to complement my hardscape and my existing plants?
Thanks so much!