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Old 03-28-2013, 02:56 AM   #16
tippeecanoe
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Did a quick water test today. NH3/NH4+ is almost down to 0.0ppm as the test solution had a very slight greenish tinge to it. NO2- is steady at 0.25ppm. Need to keep feeding and monitoring. Will test again in a couple of days. I am seeing diatoms beginning to spread across the substrate and parts of the front glass. I am not too worried about these as they should begin to dissipate as the tank ages. Also, I am seeing a little bit of BGA in various places too, I'm not worried about this either as I should be able to take care of this once the tank is fully cycled. No sense in sweating the small stuff at this point. The plants are doing well and I am not seeing much in the way of stress. I have noticed that the Melon sword has begun to put out a couple of new leaves as have several of the Valls and the Lotus. Not in a hurry to move the angels. I'd really like to make the transition as comfortable as possible for them.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:27 AM   #17
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Happy Easter! I have really seen quite an increase of BGA across the substrate and over many leaves. I did a water test and things are looking promising. The ammonia and nitrite are now both 0.00ppm, however, nitrate is also. I strongly suspect, much of that suspicion based on what I've read here, the lack of nitrates has led to the BGA bloom. I opted to do a large water change and spot treat all the BGA with H2O2 along with digital removal. Diatoms also have increased as well. However, I feel this is entirely due to the tank being brand new and very green (as in not aged). I cleaned the front and sides of GDA and diatoms as well. I should have seeded the filter and tank with some "filter juice" from my 20 gal, but I didn't want to take the risk of introducing snails. I seem to be overrun with a couple of different species of MTS in that tank, and it may take breaking that tank down and sifting the substrate to get rid of them... There are so many! I'll have to start another journal for that if I decide to tackle that project. Not really certain what I want to do there.
I may need to start dosing N if the Valls, et al., keep the nitrates at a low level or it may just be that the nitrates that are being generated are so low that the plants snatch them up quicker than they can be produced. I did notice that before I dosed a small amount (1ml) of palm fertilizer, the valls that were sprouting rather pale leaves. After the dose, they have begun to show some color. The new pale leaves were translucent, almost transparent. I don't think any of the plants have been able to reach the dirt level yet. I was probably a bit too generous with the sand! Oh, just a little more...well, maybe a little more over here. Oops. While I am seeing new growth, I hope it will be a bit more vigorous once the plants reach that level.
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Old 04-20-2013, 03:36 AM   #18
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Have had things on the back burner for a couple of weeks and I had a bit of a BGA outbreak. Until yesterday, when I cleaned it all out, it looked like it had started to run its course and was beginning to dissipate and die off. The last time I cleared out the BGA, it came back with a vengeance. I was getting large mats of the stuff covering just about all of the substrate, most of the driftwood, and some of the plants. So far, I really haven't begun a fertilizing regimen for this tank and had only done a very small addition when I first planted. I think, based on what I am seeing in the tank, I will probably need to double what I've been dosing my 20g, based on the combined volume of the tank and sump (this tank/sump combination is roughly twice as large), but s l o w l y...probably over the course of two or three months or so. I have noticed many folks will ask "How much of x, y, and z fertilizer, lights, CO2, etc. should I put in my tank to make it look like the pretty pictures I see on the internet?" without fully understanding that there are entirely too many variables to consider. I cannot see getting too wound up by those variables now, my tank is too new and needs to settle down a bit more. Comparing what I have in my 20g to my 38g is like comparing apples to oranges; yes, they're both planted tanks, but they're at different stages in their evolution. For now, minimal water changes and a slight increase in the amount of nutrients, which, up to this point, has been slim to none. I have seen a bit of new growth on both the Vallisnerias and the Lotus, new runners and floating leaves, respectively. The Sword has seemed to hit a brick wall and I have not seen much growth from it for a while. It's obviously missing something. Let's see what the fertilizers will do. Of note, I did reduce my lighting period by roughly 40%, but I still have very noticeable algal growth. Like my name tag says, "Algae Grower!" I haven't noticed any foul smells or strange odors coming from the water. Although, I have seen some fairly large bubbles coming from the substrate once in a while, but I am not sure if that was from the mat of BGA or from the substrate itself. I am seeing quite a bit of photosynthesis going on when the lights are on and lots of small O2 bubbles streaming form the plants. Those are definitely different from the larger bubbles mentioned earlier. The angels seem to like where they now live and have spawned again, but still no little ones. When they are tending their eggs, they don't seem to be interested in food until they find the eggs are quite tasty. Ugh. Oh, well, I will keep trying. I may need to cover the tank so they can't see me passing by as I go about my chores. Maybe I am too distracting or maybe they're just, well, you know - inbred. I will figure this out.

For now, stay safe and clean waters.

TC
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:12 AM   #19
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Wow, I hadn't realized I haven't updated this log in over a month. Well, Happy Memorial Day or I guess it's actually Decoration Day. I heard that it is called "Decoration Day" because it was the day they would decorate the graves of those who had served their country.
I've had quite the roller coaster ride, not with the tank, just life in general. The tank is looking tolerable, not good, not bad. Livestock-wise, I woke one morning to find my male angel had decided to leap out and become a damp potato chip shape behind the tank a few days after my last post. He was quite a handsome fish, if they can be considered handsome, and I was rather disappointed he committed fish suicide. He must have leaped out very early in the morning, because I did not hear any splash or splat and I must have been dead to the world. (sigh) I was really hoping to get some babies from this pair.
My female has been doing well but seemed lost without her companion. She soon settled down and liked being the only one to compete for the small earthworms I would toss in the tank for her. I found angels really like small earthworms that I found crawling out of the pots my orchids are in when I would put them in the shower for their weekly watering. Needless to say, once the worms start drifting down, they don't make it to the substrate!
I had been fighting the ongoing Battle of Cyanobacteria for quite a while, however, through perseverance and patience, I may be close to prevailing. We will see. The plants are spreading and I have many new runners of Vallisneria. The tank seems to be filling in nicely. The lotus has shot up about eight pads and a few new small base leaves. I think it likes where it's at now that it has put down some nice roots. In the 20g, I think I had it too close to the other lotuses and it was being smothered. With plenty of room, this thing has exploded and is one of my favorites. I am hoping it will flower at some point, but don't know if they do or not. I'll have to research and find out. I may end up dirt-ing the 20g some time in the future to get the others to do this too.
The other plant that I put in initially, the sword, has come to a screeching halt growth-wise and has most of its leaves covered in algae. Well, maybe screeching halt is a bit harsh, but it does seem to grow v e r y slowly! I just can't figure this one out. This thing will put out a small 1-1.5" leaf every now and then. I did not expect the Echinodorus osiris to be this slow. Most of the swords like deep substrate and bright light and can grow quite vigorously, or so I've read. I can look under the tank and can see quite a bit of root growth directly under where it is located. It's not dead or dying, so I'll let it do it's thing.
I've been kicking around putting some kind of driftwood in this tank and had originally found a really neat piece of wood. However, it just did not seem to work with whatever "plan" I had in my mind, if one could actually call it a plan. Earlier, I did put a small bit of wood that I tied some moss to, but the size of it was too small and, quite frankly, it seemed out of place. I left it where I first placed it in a vain attempt to cover/hide the overflow pipes. Oh, darn, I forgot to take pictures of that!
I think I have found/have made a bit of driftwood that is more along the lines of what I had in my mind when I first started setting this tank up. I had been out hiking a few weeks ago and found several pieces of wood that, tied together, would make and interesting piece. Once the piece was sufficiently saturated, I was able to tie it to the original piece and it ended up being fairly interesting. The otos really seem to like grazing on it, too.
I have been going to my LFS over these past weeks to find a replacement mate for my female angel and have had my eye on a tank of angels that I really liked. To replace Mr. Decided-to-leap-to-his-death, I opted for a medium-sized, what looked to me, male fish. He seemed vigorous and held a patch of the display tank that he defended from all comers. I got him home and acclimated to the water over a period of about 3 hours. Additionally, I got a small school of seven Corydoras melini as I want to see if having something digging around in the substrate will help alleviate some of the cyano problem I've been experiencing. The 20g doesn't have any problems like this and I suspect it is because of the small school of Brochis I've got there. The C. melini were acclimatized on the same schedule as "The Replacement" and quickly proceeded to dig and sift, their faces buried practically up to their eyes. Everyone settled in nicely and colors were returning to normal. I suspect that I was able to select a male as my female angel seemed genuinely interested in the little guy and there was no fighting or threat posturing noted. After a treat of blood worms, that everyone seemed to enjoy, the two angels were practically inseparable. The corys were also swimming and eating with gusto. I am quite pleased with this acquisition.
So far, I have been successful in avoiding the dreaded snail plague and really don't want to put any MTS or their relatives in this tank. Although, something to eat the light green fuzzy algae that I've got might be useful. At this time, I have three very fat Otos who seem to enjoy the fact that they are fighting a losing battle. This is the most successful I've been with Otos and am loathe to do anything to knock down the algae level at this time. Let's see what tomorrow brings!

Pterophylum scalare (0.1.1) - In reality, I truly feel it's actually (1.1)
Otocinclus affinis (2.1) - I think this is the breakdown based on body shapes - plump female and slightly thinner males.
Corydoras melini (0.0.7) - I suspect the break down is (3.4) based on the activity and pelvic fin shapes I've seen tonight.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Be safe and clean waters.

TC
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:48 PM   #20
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I apologize if I did not catch this in your posts, but are you running CO2? What are your lighting parameters?

If you are still combating algae, cut back on your lighting periods. If that doesn't help, you might have to start dosing some nitrates, phosphates etc. Dosing excel can help combat algae as well. I see you mentioned you had use dirt for your substrate. I did not notice if you took the proper steps to "mineralize" soil. If you didn't that could be a reason your nitrates are reading zero.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:57 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForensicFish View Post
I apologize if I did not catch this in your posts, but are you running CO2? What are your lighting parameters?

If you are still combating algae, cut back on your lighting periods. If that doesn't help, you might have to start dosing some nitrates, phosphates etc. Dosing excel can help combat algae as well. I see you mentioned you had use dirt for your substrate. I did not notice if you took the proper steps to "mineralize" soil. If you didn't that could be a reason your nitrates are reading zero.
Hi ForensicFish,

Thanks for your comment! I'm not running any CO2 or adding anything specific to this particular tank other than a water top off due to evaporation and maybe a slight water change on the order of 10-20% every now and then (re: oh, I should probably do a water change). I was just doing this journal for myself as an experiment and to see where a minimal amount of maintenance in a dirted tank would lead. I really didn't want to go "high-tech" and since I live in a tropical area with roughly a 12/12 photoperiod all year (not really, more like 11/13 in "winter" and 13/11 in summer at this latitude), I chose this as a starting point for my lights. I opted not to mineralize for two reasons; first, I live in an apartment and really don't have the room to do it properly and I don't think my neighbors would appreciate the "aroma." Second, I wanted to see how the organics in the soil breaking down normally would affect the plant growth. So far, things are proceeding as expected. My photoperiod is probably too long (roughly 12 hours with approximately 2 hours of early morning sun) and I would adjust it if I wanted to limit the algae growth. My otos are quite robust and seem very happy! I think if they could talk, they would probably tell me to keep my hands to myself. The way my lotus is going, I should have some nice surface coverage soon, so that may not be a factor in a few months. My lights are two 38 PAR LED's in a couple of brooder fixtures that I got from HD that are about 9" and 25" above the water surface/substrate, respectively. I'm not certain what the PAR level is at the various levels so I will have to research to get those numbers. Initially, my vallisneria growth was rather lethargic with some very pale new growth. I think this was due to the mother plants not being able to get their roots down to the dirt level at first. Now that they've had time to settle in, things have taken off and I may have to prune them back a bit. I've got runners going all over and they have greened up nicely.
I hope this explains some of the method to my madness! Thanks again for your comment.

Clean waters,

TC
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:23 PM   #22
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I am also a fan of low tech setups. They are just more natural to me.

12hrs is a very very long photoperiod. That could be the cause of your 0 nitrate measurements. The plants are awake for so long it sucks up all the nutrients, I could be wrong on this. Again, that depends on your tap water parameters. In my tank, I only add water from my tap for top offs. But I also replace a pitcher of water or two daily to add nutrients back into the tank.

It seems like you are on your way to achieve what you want.

Cheers
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:10 AM   #23
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After ForensicFish's comment, it got me thinking, "why aren't I running CO2 like everyone else?" That might cure some of my algae issues, etc., etc. However, that would get away from the initial idea behind this tank. I'm not sure if i ever put it into words, but the idea was to attempt (however feebly) to create a small rainforest stream of my imagination. In nature, what happens? Floods, forest fires ("Only you can prevent..."), droughts, trees fall in the water, etc. Naturally, we, as aquarists, might not be able to replicate everything that actually happens in nature, and I'm not certain that we really want to do so. My imaginary slice of tropical rainforest was to see what might happen if an organic soil layer was covered by a carbon layer (my activated charcoal layer) from, say, a forest fire upstream, and those two layers were then covered by a sand layer by some catastrophic flood. My rhetorical questions were these: Would the soil layer provide enough of the necessary nutrients and would the carbon layer be a sufficient source of carbon for proper plant growth? Or so my hypothesis went. My reasoning was that since the CO2 concentrations normally found in streams and rivers is much less than that found in the atmosphere, aquatic plants should be able to use a carbon source that was readily available at the root level, shouldn't they? Why add gaseous CO2 to the water column if the plants can get CO2 or other C source from the substrate itself? I am sure I am not re-inventing the wheel and doing some research that has been done already, but that's okay. Will it work? I don't know, but I am willing to try it out and see if it will. I haven't seen it done to this point. I can always re-do it if it fails miserably. Hopefully, my flora and fauna won't pay the price for my mistakes and I will be able to rectify "situations" before they become problems. It's been fun learning and observing. Many people have done a heckuva lot of research on here at TPT and elsewhere, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am amazed at the passion and dedication they have all demonstrated and continue to lend to this fascinating hobby. My education continues....

For now, be safe and clean waters.

TC

PS: Oh, yeah, pictures! The last picture is one of my patio 5g bucket with just some Amazon Frogbit flowering. I just top it off with WC water and neglect it. Was going to use it to raise mosquito larvae, but have yet to see any.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:53 PM   #24
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If you are going for the natural look, having algae might not be a big deal.

As for the Co2, the atmosphere contains c02 that gets dissolved into lakes, rivers, oceans etc. Also, decaying animal and plant matter also gives off a co2. We forget that we have microscopic system (even at 200g) growing In our living room, so small that we have to add things like c02.
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Old 11-10-2013, 08:26 AM   #25
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It has been an eventful past several months and this journal has paid the price. The fish and the tanks are doing well, but I've had to decrease the amount of time I've been able to spend on TPT. After reading what I had written last, I have to admit that I had to replace The Replacement with The Replacement of The Replacement as the former had also leapt to his death. Ugh. Needless to say, I fabricated a netting barrier to keep all further forays into the non-liquid ether to an absolute minimum. That seems to have worked quite well and I've not had any other events of that nature.
Since then, I have had to fight an invasion of MTS (yes, the dreaded Malaysian Trumpet Snail) and have been vacuuming them out whenever I do a water change. I know I may never be rid of all of them, but I seem to be able to keep their numbers down to a more respectable level. I think I may have introduced them fighting a bit of hair algae.
Why I opted to add the snails I'll never know, stupidity I guess, but I think I was wrong thinking they might take care of some of the green stuff. At one point, I had a bit of green water going, hair algae, cyanobacteria, and diatoms. Finally, I did a huge water change and plucked out as much of the green stuff as I could without stressing the fish out worse than they already were. Luckily, everyone seemed to make it through fine and the water cleared nicely.
Fast forward to the end of October. Over the summer, we, the fish and I, were still having a bit of a problem with algal growth. The otos did not seem to mind a bit, but it seemed to overwhelm the E. osiris at times and often covered the Valisneria sp. What I ended up opting for was an alternating time cycle for each light and a bit of window screen between the lights and the water surface. Reducing the light cycle and the light intensity seems to have really limited the amount of algae I am getting, yet the plants seem to be doing well, too. The Valisneria sp. is still growing vigorously and the E. osiris is finally showing a bit of new growth as well. I say 'finally' because it grew so slowly and just seemed to languish in the conditions it was in. I think because of the length of the photoperiod I had, I was causing the algae to out compete the slower growing plants. What is odd, though, the E. osiris is not that slow of a plant growth-wise based on everything I have read so far. This particular plant has always grown slowly and its leaves always seemed to get covered with algae. So far, things are looking promising. I'll keep monitoring and see what happens.
The angel pair. I think I've finally made a breakthrough and might have a successful brood of babies raised by their parents. The female was one of the original seven angels I bought when I had a 150g. Having to downsize to an apartment, it was a bit disappointing letting that beautiful tank go, but I kept the female and the male she paired with. When she and her mate were in the 150g, they would spawn and guard the eggs, but something would always eat them the next day. I strongly suspected it was the pair of Ancistrus sp. that would forage about at night. When I had them in their temporary quarters of the 20g, they spawned and went through all the motions, but the result was the same. When I moved them to the Angel Haven, again they spawned and would guard the eggs, but the eggs would be gone the next day.
I was really quite disappointed in my abilities as a fishkeeper to be able to breed and raise the brood of an egg laying species. I've been able to get most of the popular live bearing species (mollies, platies, swordtails, guppies, etc.) to reproduce, however, I had not yet been able to crack into the egg layers. I've seen other peoples' stories. Their successes have been through perseverance and sometimes through luck or the odd bit of chance. Well, I've finally had my little bit of dumb luck after quite a bit of perseverance.
The other night, Wednesday, I observed the angel pair spawning. Nothing out of the ordinary, just like they had done previously. The spawning substrate, like before, was a length of PVC pipe. Instead of leaning it against the side of the tank as before, I suspended it from the center brace. I think this did two things; first, it kept it up off of the substrate and away from any snails, and secondly, it allowed the pair to set up shop and keep the other fish away without being boxed into a corner. I had also fed them a bit differently. I gave them some live mosquito larvae and frozen bloodworms before they spawned. I continued to feed them after they spawned and while they were guarding. This is something I had not done in the past since I thought that my presence would stress them out and make them eat their eggs. Now, I think that they were more stressed by hunger than me.
The following morning, the eggs were still there, the parents fanning and guarding carefully. I fed them in the morning and later that night.
Friday morning, the day I should have seen something (or nothing as I usually did) and sure enough, the parents were tending tiny wigglers. The male was catching any that fell off and carefully spat them back onto the pipe. The female was doing the same. Holy cow! I hadn't gotten this far, EVER! I tried to keep my intrusion into their space, which extends well into the living room, to a minimum, and peeked at them from a distance from time to time. I went to bed that night expecting to wake up to a cleaned off pipe, but truly hoping the fry would be there in the morning.
This morning, Saturday, I woke up and peeked carefully around the corner. To my delight, the fry were still there wiggling away though slightly rearranged through the tending of the parents. Some of the fry seemed to stay where they were laid and hatched, but others seemed a bit more adventurous or just happened to be nudged off their spot through a bit of current or an accidental brush of a fin. This evening, I could see a bit of color tinting the fry and the tiniest eye spots becoming visible. Needless to say, I've got my fingers and toes crossed for tomorrow morning. I feel like a kid at Christmas!
If some survive and get to the point where they are free swimming, I will post pictures and monitor their growth that way.

That is all I have for now. Until tomorrow, clean waters and be safe.

TC
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