BlueCalvus' Planted 55
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:49 AM   #1
BlueCalvus
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BlueCalvus' Planted 55


Hello everyone, this is my first post to plantedtank.net and I thought I would introduce myself by starting a journal on my newly set up planted aquarium. I'd also like to throw out a general "thanks" to the community for the information I gathered off of this forum while setting up my tank.

tank - standard 55 gallon
filtration - Rena XP2 X2
lighting - 48" Nova Extreme T5HO X2 54watt
substrate - Tahitian Moon black sand
decor - several rocks and one piece of driftwood
ferts - Seachem Flourish, Flourish Excel, and root tabs

flora - java fern, wisteria, amazon swords, val, crypts, and ludwigia

fauna - 9X Penguin Tetra, 9X Lemon Tetra, 5X Corydoras Sterbia, 3X German Blue Ram (longfin), 1X Sailfin Pleco, 1X Common Pleco

I've been keeping african cichlids in this tank for over 3 years but recently decided to switch it up for something different. I've never ventured seriously into the realm of planted tanks and thought that would be a refreshing way to go. The tank has been up and running for a couple of weeks now and was planted just over a week ago.

At this point I'm not intending on running C02 and am more apt to adjust the lighting down if required. I also realize my substrate lacks nutrients and am hoping I can get away with just using the root tabs. I'm not sure if I should be dosing any additional nutrients to the water column yet or if I'll get by via the nutrients produced by my fish.

Both plecos are small at around 2" and will be removed from the tank if/when they become a nuisance. The common was given to me by a friend that needed to re-house it ASAP. May replace them eventually with some otos.


Pictures taken this afternoon





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Old 03-28-2012, 03:21 PM   #2
Wasserpest
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Looks great so far. Once your plants fill in, your tank will run out of nutrients (macros), in addition plants will be carbon-limited in their growth. This is usually when algae comes in.

So I would suggest to read up on some nutrients. Root tabs are a good start, however most of the commercially available ones (like Flourish RT's) don't include useful quantities of macro nutrients (NPK), so that's something you will need to ponder. My guess is that with the double T5HO fixture you will need to think about CO2 as well. There are some other factors that play a role so it's not as clear cut.

Using "fish as fertilizer" always sounds good in the beginning, but is hard to get right with the required NPK proportions without turning the tank into an overpopulated stinky puddle. Better to add some measured powders and keep up with water changes to provide a healthy environment both for fauna and flora.
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Old 03-31-2012, 06:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Looks great so far. Once your plants fill in, your tank will run out of nutrients (macros), in addition plants will be carbon-limited in their growth. This is usually when algae comes in.

So I would suggest to read up on some nutrients. Root tabs are a good start, however most of the commercially available ones (like Flourish RT's) don't include useful quantities of macro nutrients (NPK), so that's something you will need to ponder. My guess is that with the double T5HO fixture you will need to think about CO2 as well. There are some other factors that play a role so it's not as clear cut.

Using "fish as fertilizer" always sounds good in the beginning, but is hard to get right with the required NPK proportions without turning the tank into an overpopulated stinky puddle. Better to add some measured powders and keep up with water changes to provide a healthy environment both for fauna and flora.
Thank-you for your comments Wasserpest.

After some more research and consideration, I've decided to venture into pressurized CO2. I've ordered the Atomic Paintball Complete CO2 kit off of Green Leaf Aquatics and it should be here in a week or so. I know some suggest not going with a paintball setup on a tank my size, however there were several factors that strongly pointed me in that direction. Firstly I have a lot of paintball gear and already own 2, 20oz, paintball tanks. Also I have a shop within minutes of my home that fills them for a decent price.

I also have on order a bunch of liquid ferts from SeaChem (NPK and Iron) to complement the Flourish/Excel/RT's that I'm currently using. I realize that liquid ferts are not nearly as cost effective as dry ferts, however they are easy for me to acquire whereas the later are not due to location constraints. I may be able to figure out something more ideal in the future but for the time being this will suffice.

As far as the tank is going, everything seems great! All fish are active/eating and seem very healthy. There is visual growth on all plants. The Val has grown the most (surprising since I didn't know how well it would do with the Excel dosing) and has at least half a dozen new leaves that are several inches high as well as too daughter plants off of runners that are a couple inches high.

I've got a powerhead and one of my XP2 outflows pointed at the water surface for the time being to maximize surface exchange for CO2 into the water column while I wait for my pressurized setup to get here. I have witnessed a bit of GSA growing on the glass, but it is being kept well in check by the plecos.

Will try to get some more pics up in the near future.
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Old 05-19-2012, 06:55 PM   #4
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So it's been roughly a month and a half since I started my journal and I have lots of stuff to talk about.

Firstly I am very impressed with the overall results of my aquarium thus far. I'm getting excellent plant growth and color, minimal algae growth (easily maintained via manual removal), and the majority of my fish are healthy and thriving.

Tank set-up changes:
- Most importantly I've added the GLA Atomic paintball CO2 system, operating at ~ 2 bps (still adding a cap full of Excel daily as well)
- moved my power-head for maximum CO2 distribution
- removed the nozzles and added the spray bars to the filter outlets, pointed slightly upwards for some surface agitation.
- changed placement of heater
- removed the rocks on the left side to allow more room for the plants
- changed placement of driftwood

Fauna updates:
- Lost my 3 German rams. Started with white growth on fins that then moved to their heads... wouldn't eat. Quarantined them and treated with Melafix/Pimafix to no avail.
- Donated the common pleco to fish store
- Added 6 phantom tetras
- Added 2 small angelfish

Flora updates:
- Algea was growing out of control on the java fern placed high up on the driftwood so I cut off all infected leaves and combined it with the other java fern that is shaded beneath the val
- removed sword plant that was just to the left of the right side rock formation
- Val - growing like a weed... now have at least a dozen plants with leaves upwards of 4 feet long ( I twist them around at the surface and trim off some of it... doesn't seem to kill the leaves)
- Ludwigia - so impressed with this plant... brilliant reds and awesome growth. Have removed bottoms of stems and replanted tops. Grows almost sideways in my tank and very bushy.
- Common sword - an absolute beast.. this thing is huge! Has a runner with 4 baby swords growing on it
- Red sword - another awesome plant.. getting quite large and within the last couple days has sent a stalk to the surface (sticking out about 5 inches above the water now), which I'm assuming is going to flower.
- Wisteria - have had to cut it right back 3 times now.. it's currently behind the right side rock formation. Puts out very vibrant light green leaves, but the older growth quickly browns and curls.
- Crypts - producing brown leaves... very slow growing and is the worst plant for algae growth. Cutting off infected leaves as fast as new ones come in.


And a special thanks to Orlando at GLA. Awesome customer service and I highly recommend their products.





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Old 05-19-2012, 07:00 PM   #5
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Very nice job, don't be afraid to get the dry ferts from GLA, they will save you a ton of money over liquid.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:41 PM   #6
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I am considering dry ferts. I'm in Canada though so my options are more limited due to shipping constraints over the border. Any fellow Canadians have any advice on this issue?

Forgot to mention that I'm doing weekly 40-50% water changes and I'm adding the Seachem ferts twice weekly, about a cap full each.

The pictures above were taken this morning. I did a water change and huge trim job on the plants last night.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:50 PM   #7
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Most of the ferts GLA has are farm grade or some where close so you might be able to see what you can find in a farm store.
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