Hello. Sorry to those of you that have been wondering what happened to this tank. Anyways, a lot of changes have happened since I last updated. Anyhow, the tank was doing fine but the crypts weren't growing at all. They would keep on growing but once they got to a certain height, they would just melt on me. I had the proper ferts (rootmedic tabs with rootmedic dosing after every water change) and the light was ok (23 watt CFL raised 8 inches above the tank). However, I was still stumped as to why my crypts were suffering. So, after doing some research on the forum, I read somewhere that crypts didn't do too well in low KH values. I checked my KH and it registered at 0-1 dKH. It seems that the Fluval Shrimp Stratum did a great job of lowering my KH and PH. Almost too good since my water was already soft to begin with.
So one day, I decided to swap out the substrate and start the tank all over. I drained the tank, removed all the plants and hardscape, and started to remove what was left of the plants. The floaters and subwassertang were healthy, but the crypts were near death. I then began to shovel out the FSS. After giving the tank a good cleaning, I let it dry out for a few days. My betta was temporarily residing in a small critter keeper.
After a few days, I started pouring in my new substrate, black beauty blasting sand. I then started planting some new crypts and placed the hardscape down. I filled the tank up and added the subwassertang to float around in the tank. To help suck up the ammonia and nitrates, I introduced giant duckweed to the tank. I switched my bulb from 23 watts to 13 watts to prevent any algae problems. To keep my betta safe, I kept him in the critter keeper for about 1 weeks. The last thing to do was insert root tabs into the substrate. I did daily testing and my params other than Nitrates were stable. They were a bit high, at around 40 ppm. I wasn't too worried because I thought the floaters would take care of it. To boost the GH and KH, I dosed GH booster and baking soda until both of my values registered at 7 dKH.
After another week, I introduced my betta into my tank. He was happy at first, aggressively attacking w/e food I dropped for him. But then one day I had found him dried up and dead outside the tank. I dunno what happened but when I checked the nitrates, they had spiked to dangerous levels. I wasn't sure but I think when uprooting some plants, some of the root tabs got exposed but were hidden under the subwassertang. So, I did the best I could do. I changed 50% of the water and added some amazon frogbit to the tank. The nitrates were cut in half but they were still too high. I added some more floaters and did more changes. Luckily for me, I was able to obtain some nice nitrate sponges during a local swap meet this past Sunday. I added them all to my tank after a water change and checked my nitrates. They were dropping fast. They went from 80 ppm on Sunday to 40 ppm as of this morning. Anyways, once I get my nitrates low enough and my other params stable, I plan on turning this tank to a home for neocaridina shrimp.
The current flora stocklist is:
Dwarf water lettuce
Hygrophila polysperma "Ceylon"
hygrophila sp. 'tiger'
trident java fern
needleleaf java fern
Cryptocoryne willisi x lucens
C. nevellii, willisii, x lucens hybrid
Assorted hitchhiker mosses
Thanks to those I met during the NYC swap meet, who gave me the awesome floaters and stems.
The only fauna in the tank are MTS, pond snails, ramshorn snails, daphnia, and some hydras.
Here's some pics of the tank now. It's been six weeks since I restarted the tank.
The tank as of last night.
Taken this morning. The long stem plant in the background is hygrophila polysperma "Ceylon". It's really taking off in my tank. (Thanks szenic!)
Here's a Cryptocoryne willisi x lucens. It's growing slowly but steadily.
Anyways, once my nitrates are under control, I see if I can start adding some shrimp soon. Not sure what kind yet, but I'll figure it out.