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Old 11-22-2011, 03:42 AM   #1
Francis Xavier
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ADA / ADG Gallery journal (how to do everything)


In the midst of doing some early maintenance in the gallery today, it occurred to me that there's never really any coverage of galleries while they are growing out: just of each individual tank once they've become perfect for that moment. To be honest, it's something I had forgotten about myself, the aura of exclusive tight-lipped exposure from any ADA affiliate about any planted aquarium or display.

The fact is, there's probably a lot that gets missed in casual observance through out the course of growing out a particular aquarium to this mysticism that surrounds the art. The result is that every now and again you get a glimpse of the spaces but never full exposure or the stories that each tank tells.

Truth be told - every aquarium and especially every planted aquarium has mood swings and shifts; highs and lows, so on and so forth.

So, I've decided that while taking care of the gallery, might as well show the processes and techniques I use to grow it out, and what better starting point than now? We just set up two of our three displays, and in the coming months (mostly with the next container shipment) we'll be 3-4 more.

Without further ado:

ADA/ADG Gallery 1:

Aquarium: Cube Garden 180-P (72"x24"x24")
Filtration: Super Jet ES-2400
Lighting: Grand Solar I x3
Co2: ADA Speed Regulator driven 10 lb cylinder, Pollen Glass Beetle 50
Substrate System: New! Amazonia 9L bags x15, Power Sand Special L 18L, Bacter 100 x2, Tourmaline BC x2, Clear Super x2, Penac P, Penac W.

Lighting Period: 10 hours (6 hours Metal Halide "Noon burst", 10 hours Compact Fluorescent).

Setup Date: 11/19/2011

Collaboration between Mike Senske, Luis Navarro and Frank Wazeter.



ADA / ADG Gallery 2

Aquarium: Cube Garden 60-P (24"x12"x14")
Filtration: Super Jet ES-600
Lighting: Solar I
Co2: ADA Co2 Advanced System / System 74-YA, Pollen Glass Type 3
Substrate System: New! Amazonia 9L bag x1, 3L bag x1, Powder Type 3L bag x1, Power Sand Special S 2L, Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, Penac P, Penac W.

Lighting Period: 10 hours
Setup Date: 05/31/2011

Collaboration between Jeff Senske and Frank Wazeter.

60-P Today:



This layout has been up a while now and has actually cycled through a few phases, from overgrown to trimmed back down (I just trimmed the layout down to the very base of the soil two weeks ago), in this case if you don't trim down the aquarium, the hair grass chokes itself out and you lose the 'perfect' moment, as well as force the system out of balance - and when the system goes out of balance you start getting algae appearing. Green Dust Algae is kind of a first warning response telling you "hey, there is something wrong, fix it" when GDA appears within 24-48 hours of a water change of 50%, then your layout is out of balance, and this 60-P, due to it's minimalist nature always, always emphasizes it.


60-P in August, right before getting 'overgrown,' you can see some of the older growth in the middle where it is dark 'green,' compared to the light green of the newer growth.

The challenge of the iwagumi is not only in the layout, but proper execution of balancing the plants and keeping the plants free of algae - to keep them "shimmering," in appearance. When plants are old they get tired and dull and don't pop. This is why the art of trimming is as important to the layout as the deployment of the initial stone. This aquarium has had many ebbs and flows!

60-P How To Video and Setup 1

60-P How To Video and Setup 2

ADA / ADG Gallery 3

Aquarium: Cube Garden Mini M
Filtration: Eheim 2211
Lighting: Solar Mini M
Co2: ADA Co2 Advanced System / System 74-YA, Pollen Glass Mini
Substrate System: New! Amazonia Powder Type 3L, Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, Penac W, Penac P.

Lighting Period: 10 hours
Setup Date: 11/20/2011

Aquascape by Frank Wazeter

The Mini M was laying dormant, but we had plants for the 180-P so at the very last minute, while we still had a bunch of left-over plants from the 180, it was decided to set up the nano as well. The driftwood used here is somewhat special: it is part of a set from the original driftwood that Takashi Amano himself brought over to the USA in 2004 for a demonstration.

Consequently - the layout should reflect and honor that origin, which is why when looking at the layout it is more a semblance of larger Amano works than it is uniquely creative.



When planting a carpet plant - in this case Marsilea Minuta, sub divide into even groups and plant accordingly, this makes for a more even carpet and helps for a quick spreading carpet. There is about two to three of these styrofoam plates full planted in this aquarium.



Fine tipped pincettes are best for planting - in this case Small Size pincettes for carpet plants. The fine tip allows for you to release the plant in the soil, and remove the pincettes without 'dragging' the plant with you, or uprooting more soil than necessary.



The Mini M fully planted.



Day Two.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:34 AM   #2
fusiongt
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Wow wow wow it's always nice to see the "pros" do it. Very impressive stuff and hope you keep on documenting it and showing off the other tanks you guys do!
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:38 PM   #3
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As always great tanks. It makes me feel better about my tank to see them growing in because sometimes it is like "poof" perfect. And how could I get wood like what is in the mini m? I have been searching but most are light colored or only one piece.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:18 PM   #4
Francis Xavier
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ADA / ADG Gallery 1:

Having been setup this past saturday, this aquarium is in the 'daily water change,' stage.

Because the driftwood has probably not ever seen water before, even with a daily water change by next morning the aquarium looks like this:



This is normal and nothing to fret about. We just begin doing the water change.

While the aquarium is draining, I'm going ahead and trimming off any dead leaves of the emmersed plants, in this case these are crypt parva which are making the transition to submersed plants, and it's just time for these to be trimmed off to make way for the new growth.



Using 'pro scissors m curve type.'

While the water is draining, making sure to keep the plants moist under the light by spraying it periodically - don't want anything to dry out in such a large aquarium.



Drained the water about this far, draining it low like this helps prevent any green algae from forming on rocks and driftwood or plants, beneficial effect of exposure to oxygen / not 100% submerged 100% of the time:



When the water level has been filled up high enough to turn the filter back on, I turn it back on as quickly as possible - this serves two purposes, one it preserves the beneficial bacteria (which start to die en masse after 30 minutes of the filter being off if it isn't drained of water), and it kind of super-oxygenates the water as it fills.



After the water has been filled back up, adding Green Bacter to help grow the bacteria base



Super Jet whirlpool:





Completed water change / maintenance:

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Old 11-22-2011, 05:05 PM   #5
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Next up is the Mini M, which is also getting daily water changes for this week:

24 hours after the first water change:



Water looks clear right?

Well! as it turns out, not so much:



This first week in establishing the planted aquarium is especially important and requires this extra attention to detail to avoid major problems later. The whole goal is to get to stability as quickly as possible and remove problems as quickly as possible.

Here, I've drained this much water:



For the same reasons as bringing the water level down so far in the 180-P, exposing the plants and hardscape to air during the water change helps diminish algae growth.

Here the water change is complete:



I won't worry so much about the substrate line just yet - but once the carpet starts growing in earnest, then it'll be very important to start keeping that line as straight as possible.

Dosing right now is only Brighty K and Green Bacter.

Someone had asked for a picture of stand and filter earlier, so here you go:

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Old 11-22-2011, 05:10 PM   #6
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While we do maintenance on those other aquariums, checking in on the 60-P is a good idea, so thats what I do.

The 60-P right now currently gets about 7 squirts of potassium, and 2-3 of Green Brighty Step 2 (diminished in amount because of the recent trim, normally it is also 7-8 squirts just like Brighty K).

I did want to point out this particular shot:



It might be hard to see in the photo (or impossible), but looking at the angle of glass that way I am able to see a slight haze of green dust algae appearing on the glass - three days after a water change, and 1 day after a quick wipe of the glass.

This aquarium should be able to go a full 7 days before GDA appears on the glass, so what this tells me is that the aquarium is still trying to get balanced again and what the appropriate response is to do is to cut back on fertilizers, except Potassium, that is why I'm only dosing 2-3 squirts of Step 2 instead of the full 7-8.

It also means I am adding Green Bacter to the filter, because the filter media was just changed to be 100% Bio Rio, which means the filter is also going through a 'mini-cycle,' so to speak. It's not a problem yet but these are warning signs to look for and adjust your dosing scheme in the tank.

Right now that means this aquarium will get 2 water changes a week instead of just one every week. Once it's balanced again (should be a week or two away from full on growth) then it'll be jamming and will be back to only needing once a week.
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Old 11-22-2011, 06:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Xavier View Post
While we do maintenance on those other aquariums, checking in on the 60-P is a good idea, so thats what I do.

The 60-P right now currently gets about 7 squirts of potassium, and 2-3 of Green Brighty Step 2 (diminished in amount because of the recent trim, normally it is also 7-8 squirts just like Brighty K).

I did want to point out this particular shot:



It might be hard to see in the photo (or impossible), but looking at the angle of glass that way I am able to see a slight haze of green dust algae appearing on the glass - three days after a water change, and 1 day after a quick wipe of the glass.

This aquarium should be able to go a full 7 days before GDA appears on the glass, so what this tells me is that the aquarium is still trying to get balanced again and what the appropriate response is to do is to cut back on fertilizers, except Potassium, that is why I'm only dosing 2-3 squirts of Step 2 instead of the full 7-8.

It also means I am adding Green Bacter to the filter, because the filter media was just changed to be 100% Bio Rio, which means the filter is also going through a 'mini-cycle,' so to speak. It's not a problem yet but these are warning signs to look for and adjust your dosing scheme in the tank.

Right now that means this aquarium will get 2 water changes a week instead of just one every week. Once it's balanced again (should be a week or two away from full on growth) then it'll be jamming and will be back to only needing once a week.
Frank,
I appreciate you pointing out the GDA and explaining how you guys at ADG deal with it - cutting back on water column ferts. It's a bit contrary to those who say ferts and algae aren't related so it's interesting to see that's how you handle it. Maybe we can all learn something here.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:20 PM   #8
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Frank, how often do you maintain your filters on these tanks? I notice you mentioned you are adding Green Bacter to the filter initially. Is this the same idea of seeding a new filter? I really appreciate the detailed approach you are taking to this tank setup. I often feel these are just as important to the hobbyist if not more so. Also, I must say that was ingenious with the sprayer being in the tank water. Also, what makes you decrease fertilizers when others say increase them? I am intrigued on this as much as Jeff is.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:22 PM   #9
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Honestly Jeff,

it's easy to get very confused with GDA and plant growth with ferts - because the honest truth is that it's not quite exactly cut back on ferts = less GDA. In fact in many circumstances I could dose very extensively in the aquarium and get zero GDA for 7-8 days (normal 'ideal' conditions).

What the important thing to note is that if you get GDA after wiping the glass and doing a water change within 24-72 hours you have a balance problem with your aquarium and unless you solve it will perpetually have GDA or worse problems.

The trick isn't so much the dosing of fertilizers as it is getting the aquarium back into balance - it's appearance isn't a direct correlation with too much fertilizers, what it is a direct correlation with is a bacteria imbalance in your biological filtration and the amount of fertilizing you're doing vs. plant growth.

So if you had your filter off too long? you're going to have an algae bloom until the biological filtration recovers. If you just did a major trimming and are still dosing too much? Algae bloom. If you don't trim and the system gets choked out with too much growth? Algae bloom.

Balance.

So the counter-measure in THIS case is:

Dose Brighty K in normal amounts, dial back the Step 2. Dose Green Bacter (beneficial bacteria), dose excel. Dial back the Step 2 until the problem dissipates (still occurs but isn't occuring as badly) and hold your dosing level there. Slowly increase the amount of dosing after the next water change and keep dosing Green Bacter.

As your plants grow in healthily and the bacteria grows in to compensate - you are able to again increase dosage with the growth and not cause any problems.

Basically you shouldn't get any GDA until 6-8 days after a water change. That's normal.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:25 PM   #10
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Frank,

Thanks for the insight. I guess sometimes things aren't as simple as we'd like to make them.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:27 PM   #11
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I still don't feel like I'm explaining it precisely correctly. I'm going to have to think on it a bit. I mean my straightforward thought process is this:

Problem occurs. Tank is not in balance.

Deploy these specific techniques to fix the problem.

Aquarium is balanced again.

Basically when the aquarium plants aren't "sparkling," there is something wrong. Sparkling is the magic moment.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:32 PM   #12
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No problem. Would you mind saying a bit more about the role biological filtration plays in a planted tank. It seems we read a lot that the plants do most of the bio filtration and the beneficial bacteria isn't given a second thought with practices like keeping a pH that is so low the bacteria no longer function, etc.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
Frank, how often do you maintain your filters on these tanks? I notice you mentioned you are adding Green Bacter to the filter initially. Is this the same idea of seeding a new filter? I really appreciate the detailed approach you are taking to this tank setup. I often feel these are just as important to the hobbyist if not more so. Also, I must say that was ingenious with the sprayer being in the tank water. Also, what makes you decrease fertilizers when others say increase them? I am intrigued on this as much as Jeff is.
Well, I'll say it's very, very important to regularly maintain your filters. Not maintaining the filter leads to decreased flow, increased amount of crud in the filters, leading to less efficient biological filtration, etc etc.

I would recommend cleaning the filter once a month. At least once every two months. Realistically once every two months is fine. You're just trying to remove excess gunk build up from the filter. By 'washing' the media in a bucket full of aquarium water.

Now, with the Super Jets, every 6 months I take a part the pump and clean out the impeller blades and wipe any algae forming on the impeller (which happens in all filters, decreasing flow), which just so happens to be much easier to do on a Super Jet than on an eheim.

Green Bacter is a highly concentrated nutrient source that basically acts to feed the bacteria - not directly add to it. I wouldn't necessarily seed an aquarium with bacteria, more just start fresh and build up the bacteria from there.

Using Bacter 100 (the bacteria itself) preseeds the aquarium with all of the beneficial bacteria that occur in planted aquariums, and Green Bacter serves as a food source for decomposition, etc. This helps keep the bacteria healthy and thriving, which in turn leads to a healthier aquarium.

This is also why I oxygenate the water at night and during water changes - the O2 feeds the bacteria.

Decreasing fertilization is done because when you have an excess due to imbalance and resulting stunted growth it does no help and does more harm than good. Now, when the aquarium is on the up swing, then it's okay since the excess is rapidly absorbed by the growing plants. It's all an ebb and a flow - sometimes it's the right answer to increase fertilization, sometimes it's the wrong answer. In the case of the 60-P: it doesn't need more fertilization, it's growing back in strong, healthy and quick without it, but the aquarium itself needs balance because GDA is appearing 24 hours after a water change - which means that the fertilization of traces needs to be dialed down until the aquarium corrects itself. (Brighty K / Potassium should always be dosed no matter what in an aqua soil amazonia aquarium).
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff5614 View Post
No problem. Would you mind saying a bit more about the role biological filtration plays in a planted tank. It seems we read a lot that the plants do most of the bio filtration and the beneficial bacteria isn't given a second thought with practices like keeping a pH that is so low the bacteria no longer function, etc.
Let's elaborate on that a little more.

To start off, here's a picture of the 60-P's Lily Pipe being raised right before lights off for aeration at night:



We don't do this for the plants - sure it helps them some for oxygen at night when they respirate, but it's primarily for the bacteria and biological filtration.

Much of the bio filtration is dependent on oxygen, as well as other bio-mass to flourish. They feed off of by-products of the environment, but like any organism without the proper nutrition, won't thrive.

This technique is so powerful, that you can actually turn around an aquarium that's old, tired and filled decayed growth and green algae on leaves within about a week by draining the aquarium half full of water and letting the lily pipe run, then filling in the morning, then draining again at night for 7 days.

By the 7th day the layout will be healthy again - although that's a very, very specific kind of problem that that solves.

While plants do contribute to the biological filtration - they play a definite role in purifying water in many circumstances, and of course, they uptake ammonia.

However, they don't do the primary role of biological filtration - that still lies at the microscopic level with the bacteria. This isn't something that's immediately measurable by plant growth rate - but rather by plant health. When you've achieved proper biological balance, the plants literally "sparkle."

Balanced is a state where it takes about 6-8 days or longer for GDA to appear on glass, and the plants 'sparkle' in appearance.
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Old 11-23-2011, 07:27 AM   #15
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Wow, this thread delivers! I've learned more just reading this thread than I have in the last several months.

Please keep up the great work. I'm sure there are a lot of people reading this that are learning a ton as well.

I'm going to be posting in my thread tomorrow about the issues I've been having and things that I've done to alleviate it. I'd love if you wanted to stop by and give your opinions on what I need to do to move it back toward a top notch aquarium.

I'm definitely subscribing. Not only are the tanks you're working with gorgeous, your commentary and theory behind set up/maintenance/problem solving is priceless.
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