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Old 08-24-2014, 01:57 AM   #16
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It doesn't help for now, but perhaps next time just do a 50/50 mix of tap and RO and see where it is. Adding all the buffers and such sounds complicated.
Actually to me it SOUNDED simple because it looked quantitative, just do 2:1 and presto. My tap water is all over the place, and I really made a mess of the first tank, and still am working with RODI water changes to get it back down and keep it under 8.

Not at all sure what's going on here. I'm just going to proceed for a few days and see what happens, I think.

----

OK, this is impatience at work. I took a tour today and picked up some plants from 3 places - one hobbiest, one chain, one LFS (two other LFS' plants were just awful).

So here's the first attempt at planting. I'm fully expecting to have problems due to the PH and other issues, but this is going to be some trial and error.

First I dosed with Flourish Comprehensive and Iron. No Excel, wasn't sure how that would work especially newly planted. There's also a bit of Osmecote Plus under the substrate.

Here's the first -- it's an Anubis Hastifolia that I liked the looks of and looked healthy (that was at the LFS). This is in a lower light area, and guards the entry to one of the caves in the rock. Two groups (4 and 3) with a root tab in the middle of each group. I hope the rhizome is in the right depth, it wasn't pronounced and horizontal like I've seen before, just a knot.



Not at all sure if this will survive (say) a catfish living in there. I've only seen a Raphael on a thicker substrate (ecco-complete) so he doesn't dig much, but I understand in sand they do (I do have a frying pan if one gets too big and tears up too many plants).

Incidentally these photos are better than the tank looks (I'm a photographer so I cheat). The water is very white-cloudy, though the stringy stuff has mostly settled out, so maybe it's on the downhill.

This is some type of wisteria, also the LFS. It was really long, some I trimmed up a few inches. It also had both types of leaves, I wasn't sure if I should trim the air-produced leaves? This area is around the stump, and in a higher light area (plus they are high). I hope to get a lot of growth around the stump and hide the ugly pantyhose eventually. Plus this is toward the end with plumbing, so when you look from the far end I want to see plants, not pipes.



Final one for tonight (I have two more from the chain in packages that should keep). This is some kind of Ludwigia that had beautiful reds. I don't know if I can keep those growing in my light, but I put this squarely under the doubled area of fixtures so it's the best chance. It's planted in three bunches with a root tab in the middle. I just shoved the stem a couple inches into the sand, they were all twisted from floating around in the guys tank for a while. These were from a hobbiest, and by far the best deal I got today.



That's it for tonight. Planting in a 30" deep tank means a lot of water on the floor, by the way. Fortunately it's tile.
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Old 08-24-2014, 02:01 AM   #17
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Some driftwood will never sink. I have a piece I've had for a very long time, it floats and it will probably always float. Here's a picture of mine and how I was able to get it too sink and conceal how I did it. I'm sure there are plenty of different ways to do it. I simply zip tied a rock to it. First pic is the view from the front. Second Pic is view from the back.
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Old 08-24-2014, 02:05 AM   #18
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Some driftwood will never sink. I have a piece I've had for a very long time, it floats and it will probably always float. Here's a picture of mine and how I was able to get it too sink and conceal how I did it. I'm sure there are plenty of different ways to do it. I simply zip tied a rock to it. First pic is the view from the front. Second Pic is view from the back.
Nice. I might get a couple more similar works to mine, extend the "broken wall" a bit under the stump, and maybe do the same -- zip tie it to a couple roots. The problem is balance -- it has maybe 10-15 pounds upward force now, so I need to tie it at least on two if not three points around the perimeter to keep it down fully.

Thanks for the example.

----

Oh... one more interesting thing -- I dosed enough ammonia to get to 3ppm, and this evening it's barely readable (before plants). Not sure what's up with that. I did jump start with a tiny amount of media from another tank, but I would not have thought it was enough to make a dent that quick. Going to bring it back up again.
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Old 08-25-2014, 12:35 AM   #19
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So today is more plants. I decided to bring down the PH a bit artificially, so added one dose (one tablespoon) of Acid Buffer. We'll see tomorrow if it help.

The other plants are not dead yet.

So I had purchased some Dwarf Hair Grass from Top Fin from Pet Smart (also some Annubis)



They are pricey, $7.99 each, but this is a grand experiment so wanted to see how this tissue cultured stuff works in comparison to others.

They came in a clump in each package. They are packed in some kind of gel, it's not very visible when you open it, but you can feel it. I decided to sort it out in water (based on a You Tube recommendation). Most planting instructions show pieces several inches long, with well distinguished roots. This stuff is very tiny, and much of it (once you separate) is actually hard to tell which is the root (well, not really, but when you get a bunch all going every which way, it's not easy to sort so they are all roots down).



One word of caution. The gel makes a MESS in a tank. Definitely clean it off thoroughly somewhere else. i did this in a QT, and it had little translucent globes everywhere. But being in water did make it easier to sort.



So this is what I ended up with, in arbitrarily sized groups.



Two packages actually goes quite a long way if pulled apart. I wonder if Top Fin expects you to plant it as a glob, however. Anyway...

Short handled tweezers in hand (since I had no long ones yet, they are coming in to a LFS soon), shirt off, towel in hand, I planted. One by one. Tedious, very. Shutting off the pumps helped, I could see better.

I'm planting in sand -- based on what I saw in videos, I just shoved much of it under the sand, definitely some of the non-root portion, in fact probably most have the majority of the length in the sand. I have no idea if that's correct, but the "roots" on these little bitty plants are so short they will not stay in sand unless a lot of the green in also pushed in.

Here's what it looks like. The goal was to have some low grasses at this end, nothing that will obstruct the view from that end. The two packages wrapped about a foot around on each side, so maybe 6" by 3-4' linearly the way I planted it.

I do not have high hopes for this -- it is the darkest part of the tank (well, other than right under the stump), and I know carpet type plants do poorly in low light.

I also ran out of root tabs, need to order some, and scatter a few in this. I was going to pick up some from the local LFS, but they are 50% higher than online. I don't mind paying a bit -- even the tax -- but really? 50%?






I was going to do the Crypts, but got quite tired of pending down for that many clumps, so tomorrow is another day.

As always, advice welcome.

PS. Water still cloudy but long stringy stuff is gone, and I think maybe, just maybe a bit less cloudy. Doing nothing about that.

PPS. Oh... forgot to test Ammonia... off to do that and dose if needed.
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Last edited by Linwood; 08-25-2014 at 02:07 AM.. Reason: corrected plant name
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Old 08-25-2014, 12:55 AM   #20
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The DHG looks great! What a cool project.

What type of lights are you running? It looks like Current Satellite Plus from the photos. I would worry that will be too low light to penetrate down to that grass... (at least that was my experience with a 125 gallon)...
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Old 08-25-2014, 01:11 AM   #21
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The DHG looks great! What a cool project.

What type of lights are you running? It looks like Current Satellite Plus from the photos. I would worry that will be too low light to penetrate down to that grass... (at least that was my experience with a 125 gallon)...
They are LED+'s, four x 48". And yes, that's a big worry whether they will be bright enough for any of what I'm doing. But I really liked them (have one on a 45G tank).

I'm optimistic -- with two the light at the bottom is visually as bright as one is at the bottom of the 45G (18"), as measured with a camera meter. That's not the same as usable power of course.

Time will tell. I got four cheaper than two x 36" e-series, which might be more appropriate, but two would cast a lot of shadows. And four e-Series are awfully expensive.

And I really wanted the toy-effect of remote control and adjustable colors. Totally not needed for growth of course, but this is all a toy, right?
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:12 PM   #22
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Oh fun I wish I could do a huge tank like this it would definitely happen once I get my own place right in the living room!!!

Sub to the thread and look forward to seeing how it turns out for you. I enjoy watching people do builds to help me learn as my 55 was my first go. And a 60p is in my near future.

Best of luck and I will be watching this closely.


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Old 08-25-2014, 05:46 PM   #23
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Love your journal. Just read it up to date. There is so much to be learned from all this.
Thank you for sharing and the time you put into it.
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Old 08-26-2014, 06:04 PM   #24
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Thanks so much for sharing your progress, I can tell it's gonna be amazing. The setup is my favorite part of the hobby, so enjoy!
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Old 08-26-2014, 09:13 PM   #25
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OK, time for an update as I am in a bit of a holding pattern.

The good news is the white (probably) bacterial cloud is gone. Just vanished. I assume whatever it was eating exhausted, it died.

And the tank smelled awfully for about half a day -- sour, stale laundry type smell (not sulfide, more musty). I did nothing, but it went away later. Dying bacteria?

But something is wrong with the water chemistry. One as mentioned is the PH is still high. I added now two doses of Acid Buffer (Seachem) to try to lower it down into the 7's. I still do not know the cause, but will does and check before I do the first big water change.

Now the bigger problem. I dosed for 3ppm Ammonia. The next day I had barely detectable (I suspect that test was wrong somehow), so I added a bit more, enough collectively to bring it up to 5ppm (but I thought I was bringing it back to 3ppm).

And it zoomed to a bit north of 8ppm (off the scale, but I test now by diluting the tank water with 50% RODI water, then doubling the reading).

I've had people recommend to do a huge water change, but a variety of reasons keep me from doing it, mainly I have to make a lot of water for that and wasn't quite prepared yet expecting my first change to be 30 days or so from now.

So I waited a day (no change, maybe a bit worse), and decided to try adding Ammo Chips, aka Zeolite. I put it into a HOB filter (Aqueon 75) that I had lying around (horrible, horribly noisey filter but it moves a lot of water) to see if I could take the ammonia out without a huge water change.

My goal was to get the Ammonia down around 2ppm or so, and stop -- if it went back up, the Ammonia was being generated by something in the tank (and since nothing live was there, except plants, that was a real problem). If it then stayed the same or started down, I write it off to some kind of ham fisted initial dosing and move on.

I also got a quick circulation test, that was unplanned:



This was API Ammo Chips, and it's VERY dusty. Should have known that but didn't pay attention. The shot above was about 30 seconds after, and this from the other side:



was about 40 seconds later, and shows a pretty uniform coverage, which I'll take as good news that the flow is pretty complete. Not that I intended this test.

After about 4 hours I tested the water again, and it seems definitely lower, maybe 5ppm or so (i.e. a bit darker than 2, doubled). The greens start looking alike, but it sure seemed lower.

The HOB actually wasn't very full of the Zeolite, so I bought some more (Petco this time) and washed it thoroughly in RODI water and added another 1/3 liter or so.

I didn't add more plants yet, waiting for this to work out.

Anyway... it could be the Ammonia is coming from the death of the bacteria bloom (though I've never heard of that), it could be it is soming from the Osmocote+ I have in the substrate -- that I've seen lots and lots of postings on (now that I look for it). But it's high enough it may be killing the plants, so waiting now to see if this band-aide of Zeolite will work.

Oh... I ran out of DI media, which is one reason I'm not overly interested in doing a water change, that and it will take 2 days to make enough water for a real dent in the ammonia levels (and I have only storage for 80 gallons, which might not be enough if I have to do it with pure water changes). Which would mean having the tank half-full, and probably no filters running, for a while - not great either.

And no, I don't want to use tap + prime to keep going, I'm having enough unknowns right now, and our tap water is awful, don't want to introduce more unknowns.

A new filter ordered, I'm going to move my (very low flow) Fluval 306 to this tank, just to add a bit more, primarily surface agitation in the 3rd section that has none now, and put another SunSun on my 45 G tank where I'm surprised the fish are getting any oxygen. The flow is down to a quarter or so what it was new (despite several cleanings). Piece of junk -- I plan to replace it, then take it apart and thoroughly test to see if I can tell the problem. 2 months old!!! And people decry "you are buying bad quality with SunSun" - at least there I'm not paying for high quality. Fluval I did.

Another update when there's news....
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Old 08-27-2014, 04:27 PM   #26
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OK, it's going to be a waiting game for a while. My ammonia is still over 8ppm, the Ammo Chips are not doing much (or if they are, the source is rising faster).

I got some DI media and am making water into an 80G tank, plus I can put another 10 or so in buckets. My dilemma here is whether to tear the tank down and start over (with the idea the problem is in the substrate, namely the Omsocote), or try to dilute the ammonia enough with water changes that the cycle can proceed.

So I put four little Omsocote+ spheres in a glass of about a pint of RODI water:



I did not cover with substrate, but if I see a sharp rise in Ammonia then I'll pretty much condemn the Omsocote+ as the source of my problem. If I see just a trace... well, no idea. But at this point my priority is less to make the ammonia go away, than to determine if it's accidental (something I did in dosing), or being continually generated by something in the tank. And I can keep cycling -- the 8ppm is a bit high but probably won't kill the BB. It may kill the plants, but if I have to pull out the substrate and redo, they are dead anyway.
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Old 08-27-2014, 08:55 PM   #27
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I would recommend you take your anubias out of the substrate and attach them to the driftwood. I cannot tell if you buried the rhizome or not. If you did, it will eventually kill the anubia. I love your DIY dual spray bars.
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Old 08-27-2014, 09:11 PM   #28
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OK, it's going to be a waiting game for a while. My ammonia is still over 8ppm, the Ammo Chips are not doing much (or if they are, the source is rising faster).

I got some DI media and am making water into an 80G tank, plus I can put another 10 or so in buckets. My dilemma here is whether to tear the tank down and start over (with the idea the problem is in the substrate, namely the Omsocote), or try to dilute the ammonia enough with water changes that the cycle can proceed.

So I put four little Omsocote+ spheres in a glass of about a pint of RODI water:



I did not cover with substrate, but if I see a sharp rise in Ammonia then I'll pretty much condemn the Omsocote+ as the source of my problem. If I see just a trace... well, no idea. But at this point my priority is less to make the ammonia go away, than to determine if it's accidental (something I did in dosing), or being continually generated by something in the tank. And I can keep cycling -- the 8ppm is a bit high but probably won't kill the BB. It may kill the plants, but if I have to pull out the substrate and redo, they are dead anyway.

Yeah I heard osmocote can do that if you put too much into the substrate. I actually just made root tabs instead of placing directly into substrate and hopefully that will release the ammo slower. I haven't had a reading of ammo yet and it's been about a month of using it now. And I have 12 or so tabs in a 55 gallon


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Old 08-27-2014, 11:10 PM   #29
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I would recommend you take your anubias out of the substrate and attach them to the driftwood. I cannot tell if you buried the rhizome or not. If you did, it will eventually kill the anubia. I love your DIY dual spray bars.
I did not bury the rhizome. I was hoping to cover the driftwood (which is in a lower light area) with something like flame moss, i.e. something a bit more of a complete cover. These Anubis have really nice, fully formed leaves, more like a land plant.

Won't they be OK in sand with the rhizome out?

Quote:
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Yeah I heard osmocote can do that if you put too much into the substrate. I actually just made root tabs instead of placing directly into substrate and hopefully that will release the ammo slower. I haven't had a reading of ammo yet and it's been about a month of using it now. And I have 12 or so tabs in a 55 gallon
I used one of the little cups that come in the bottle, eyeball guess a bit less than a tablespoon, in the whole tank bottom. I really went light.

I also put quite a few Seachem root tabs, but I assume they are not the problem.

I'm starting to doubt that is the issue. The glass test so far is showing zero (though it's only been about 6 hours, so that may be way too soon).

I also dragged out my big 80 gallon water tank and found it was only 65 gallons - so much for my memory. It's about a third full. Still haven't decided what to do. A part of me wants to tear it all up, fix the floating driftwood properly, remove the rubber mat (just in case) in favor of egg crate. But it's probably a lot harder getting that substrate out than putting it in.

Another possibility that I'm leaning toward is removing about 100 gallons, then I can put about 75 back (65 + 2 buckets), and the rest should make up over about 12 hours or so, and I think the filters can stay off that long without harm to any developing bacteria. Actually I can probably run them part of that time, it will just be noisey.

That's a lot of water to waste if the problem isn't solved, but it's a lot easier (other than my impatience) than yanking everything.
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Old 08-28-2014, 03:42 AM   #30
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I say just give it some time. I cycled all of my tanks with 8 ppm ammonia. I kept it at 8ppm for a week and then it dropped to 3ppm, kept it at 3ppm until I saw nitrite. From there the cycle went fast, in about a week. When the ammonia and nitrite dropped. I added 3ppm ammonia and it was gone within 24hrs, nitrate was the only one showing. You are dealing with a large amount of water. Fix the driftwood, secure everything and it get running. Give it a few weeks and plan out your back up options while you wait. And figure out your r/o storage and easy water change options. Don't rush or make a hasty decision.
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