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Fishly 11-29-2011 05:53 AM

Cholla 55g
This is my 55g named after its hardscape, cholla wood. AFAIK, no one else on here is using cholla wood as their main hardscape, so this is sort of an experiment. The tank is going to be emersed until I can save up the money for a pressurized CO2 system or figure out a CO2 substitute. I have some cool plants in here, so hopefully I will be able to sell some of them to help with the CO2 fund.

Hardscape shot:

The cholla wood started to grow some mold/fungus a few days ago. Hopefully it won't spread to the plants.

FTS with plants from GordonRichards:

Notice how stained the water is, even though only a very small amount of wood is submerged.

Sideways shots (sorry for the weird angle; I was trying to show the plant layout). Right side:

Left side:

This is in my bedroom, and the bright light from the tank irritates my eyes and gives me a headache, so I put some felt over the top of the light to cut down on glare. It works very well.

Plant list:
DHG Belem
Anubias Barterii
Anubias Nana
Crypt. Wendtii Brown
Crypt. Wendtii Bronze
Grandifolius Sword
Uruguayensis Sword
Ozelot Sword
Tiger Lotus Green (Bulbs)
Tiger Lotus Red (Bulbs)
Anubias nana Petite
Crypt. Balansae
Crypt. Lutea
Crypt. Pontderiifolia
Crypt. Parva

Are any of these going to have problems growing emersed?

Substrate is MTS with some dry ferts added and capped with pool filter sand. I opened some RootMedic complete capsules and sprinkled them around the substrate to provide the plants with some quick-release nutrients while they are adjusting to the tank.

Hagen GLO T5HO 2 x 54w light
Marineland Stealth (original, not Pro) 200w heater (currently unused)
Spray bottle
Saran wrap on top to keep moisture in (will be replaced by plexiglass eventually)
... that's it. Very simple setup.

I will try my best to keep this journal updated, maybe once a week or so. Feel free to send me a reprimanding PM if I'm late. :tongue: Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated, especially regarding aquascaping.

Fishly 12-02-2011 12:12 PM

I've been spraying the tank with a very weak mix of iron, CSM+B, and Potassium nitrate. The plants have been getting worse, but at least one is putting out a new leaf.

Yesterday I trimmed off all the leaves and stems that were rotting. I'm not sure if it looks better or worse without all the bad leaves. I'll put up a pic of the trimmed tank later. I also transferred some of the plants to my 25g.

I know the crypts will be okay because they have a root bulb thing that should keep them going, but I'm worried about the DHG Belem. Even with its tiny roots, will it be okay?

Fishly 12-09-2011 02:28 PM

Guess what? I got a new camera! Unfortunately, all of my pics from the last week are from the old one, but once I figure out how to use this one, the pics should be top-notch.

I played around with the tank quite a bit this week. I took out the cholla wood because it was covered in light blue mold, which I was afraid would spread to the plants.

Don't worry; when the tank gets filled, I'll put it back.

I trimmed more dead leaves...

Lowered the water level and moved some bulbs around...

And was rewarded with some new growth!

I also made a stronger solution of ferts for the spray bottle: ~1/2 tsp each of Potassium nitrate, Barr's GH Booster, Iron, Monopotassium phosphate, and Plantax CSM+B, all mixed into one quart-size spray bottle.

I think the substrate in this tank is too deep because when I removed the cholla wood there was a sulfury, anaerobic smell. Not to mention all the grey spots in the sand. It's about 3" at its lowest point, reaching up to 5.5-6" in back. I put about 1" of dirt in there, so I wanted to make sure there was a good cap, but I think I put too much.

diwu13 12-09-2011 03:33 PM

Seems like your plants are dying due to you flooding them with fertilizer? Are you spraying everyday? Also, I would agree that you capped with too much sand. You might be creating pockets of gases within the sand and that could also be leading to your plants looking unhealthy!

Fishly 12-09-2011 07:15 PM

Yes, I am spraying them every day. The plants actually seem to have perked up with the extra ferts. I was using a very weak solution up until last night. I've only had the plants in there for 13 days now and they were all in submersed growth form when they arrived, so I think they're just adjusting to emersed life.

I agree that the substrate is too deep, but I don't want to disturb the plants right now, since they're still putting roots down. I'm afraid that if I uproot them all to take out some sand, it will kill them.

Fishly 12-10-2011 02:08 AM

Update: The bulb stem in the last few pics has broken the surface of the water! It seems to be growing at least half an inch per day. There's also a little fly or moth flying around in the tank. Poor, confused little critter...

Unfortunately, no pics right now. My sister's using the camera until Sunday. :icon_frow

cableguy69846 12-10-2011 03:21 AM

Now would be the best time to uproot them and remove some sand. Those crypt roots will get huge, and then you will have a hard time getting them out. You will only need about a half inch to three quarters to adequately cap the dirt. Any more than that and you will get the anaerobic areas.

Going to follow along on this. I can't wait to see where it goes.:proud:

Fishly 12-10-2011 04:12 AM

I guess I could move the crypts, but I don't think my DHG 'Belem' would make it. Most of it is brown.

cableguy69846 12-10-2011 04:15 AM


Originally Posted by Fishly (Post 1629221)
I guess I could move the crypts, but I don't think my DHG 'Belem' would make it. Most of it is brown.

It would be worth a shot. It could be that the roots on the DHG are not getting any nutrients, or it is acclimating to emergent growth.

Fishly 12-20-2011 10:37 AM

I measured the substrate with a ruler, turns out I seriously overestimated the depth. It's 2.5" in front, and about 4-4.5" in back. Is that okay?

This tank has had a rough week. Some of the plants were looking bad, so I adjusted the ferts again. My original logic was that I should only put in enough powdered ferts to "dose" the quart-size bottle, since the fert to water ratio in the spray would end up being the same as if I were dosing a filled 55g. I thought there might be some kind of deficiency in the plants, so I increased the amount, as I said in my last update.

All of the plants started getting little brown spots and some leaves were melting from the tips inward. So I separated the ferts into two bottles (one each for macro and micro), thinking that maybe mixing the macros and micros was the problem. And since the droplets only partially covered each plant, and since I thought some of the fert spray might be diluted when it dripped into the substrate, I thought the plants weren't getting enough, and put enough in each bottle to dose a 100g tank.

Within 48 hours, the plants were noticeably worse. I was rereading my plant deficiency chart, trying desperately to figure out what was wrong, when I noticed what it said about K toxicity. It was then that increasing the ferts, especially when I already had soil and root tabs in the tank, seemed like a bad idea. I flooded the tank with five gallons of water, let it sit for most of the day to let the ferts leach from the sand into the water, then drained it again. I then trimmed some of the worst leaves, and have since left the tank alone.

It was so horrible to have to cut off the little baby leaves of my beautiful plants. :icon_cry:

That was about three days ago and the plants don't really seem to be recovering. Some of them have put out new leaves, but many of them have brown spots/edges and others (A. nana Petite and C. parva) have some yellow leaves. I might need to flood the tank again.

Anyway, here's what the tank looked like when it was at its worst (because I know you're all dying to see, right?):

What is this plant?

Some good news: the bulbs seem to be very happy. All but one or two have sprouted.

secuono 01-03-2012 01:38 AM

I gotta ask, why is that heater just sitting on the sand?? I thought they HAD to be submersed so they don't over heat. I also don't get what the heater even does, no fish to keep warm and it can't be heating the sand enough to keep the plants warm...

Fishly 01-16-2012 05:49 AM

The heater isn't plugged in; it's just sitting there because I haven't pulled it out yet. When I start a new tank, I put all the hardware I plan to use on it in or around the tank, so I can see at a glance what I still need to get. It often takes me a long time to set up a tank, and simply checking something off a list isn't as satisfying as actually putting it on the tank.


I haven't updated in a while, so here are just some pics of the plants, from oldest to newest. I'm going to separate them into two or three posts to make it easier for me to keep them organized. And I took these new camera, so if some of the pics seem dark or out of focus, it's because I'm still figuring out how to use it.

December 30th (or thereabouts):
Bulb Growth

No idea what this is, but when it's healthy, it's one of my favorites.

Shots of the left half of the tank:

Close-ups of the swords on the right side of the tank:

The hairgrass is beginning to recover. I'm not so sure it's DHG 'Belem'. In my submersed 2.5g, it has grown to 3" tall.

Miscellaneous deficiencies:

Alyssa 01-16-2012 05:56 AM


Originally Posted by cableguy69846 (Post 1629149)
You will only need about a half inch to three quarters to adequately cap the dirt. Any more than that and you will get the anaerobic areas..

Hmmm I thought the directions on the MTS thread said 1-2 inches for a cap!

Did I then make my MTS cap too thick??

Alyssa 01-16-2012 06:01 AM

Had to go and check, and in the stickied thread for "How to do MTS" it says this:


Step 9 – Top With Gravel

Cover the mud with more of the same border gravel from step 6. If you skipped step 6 then simply cover over the mud with the gravel of your choice. Cover the mud by about 1” in the front to 2” in the back of the tank to create a nice sloping substrate effect.
Now I didn't do a slope, but instead did 1-1/2 to 2 inch cap across the whole thing and I have been wondering if it's going to go anaerobic on me, as if stick something down into it here and there I get lots of bubbles ...

So are those directions wrong then???

Fishly 01-16-2012 06:44 AM

Edit: Ha ha, double ninja'd! I'm pretty sure the cap is supposed to be thicker than 3/4", and I've read several times that swords need a deep substrate of about 3", so that's what I did.

January 3rd - You can see the holes in the sand where I added some RootMedic balls.
Tank from left to right:

Close-up of the swords:

My two favorite plants:

The bulbs have actual leaves now!

Anubias and crypts:

January 8th
Progress of deficiencies: Slow but sure... *sigh*

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