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Old 12-28-2012, 03:21 PM   #1
Sagat
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First timer: low-tech npt tank after 1 week


Before Christmas, I decided to take the plunge and put together my first planted tank. I knew I wouldn't be able to leave it alone, so I timed it so that everything was assembled shortly before we started travelling and then left it alone for 7 days -- I was worried about burning my plants, so I only had the light on for about 10hrs a day.

After a week, water params are still zero across the board, with a pH of about 7.5. 30KH and 40GH. The water measured 80F, even though room temp is about 72F and the tank hasn't had a heater in it.

So far, most of the plants are slightly less green than I left them, with some brownish leaves on some of them. One of my balansaes biggest leaves has turned to mush, though the smaller ones seem to be doing ok.

Currently, there's a giant rock in the middle of the tank holding the driftwood down, that I hope to eventually remove. I also bumped the light cycle up to 12 hours.

On a side note, I decided to plant one in each front corner of the tank, partly because I thought it'd frame the tank nicely, and partly because I wasn't confident I'd be able to provide a good enough environment for them to thrive.

Any advice is welcome and thanks in advance!

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Old 12-28-2012, 03:37 PM   #2
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nice tank! i like that large piece of driftwood on the right. you said water parameters are 0 across the board. are you dosing with ammonia to cycle the tank? if so, you should be reading some ammonia numbers.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:27 PM   #3
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It's a good start! I see you have plant species aplenty in there. You'll find that the more you play around and experiment with plants, the quicker you'll narrow down your likes and dislikes. Good luck!
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:34 PM   #4
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You know, it didn't occur to me to put anything into the tank. I'd assumed that I'd be getting ammonia out of the MGOCPM.

I'm pretty excited about the plants I have. I built it to house bettas (either my male or a bunch of females), so I tried to stock it with as many plants native to SE Asia as I could.

I have to go to my LFS today, so I'll look into either getting some ammonia to dose the tank or some fish.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:29 AM   #5
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Default 1/4/12 Updates - WARNING: Lots of images

Time for another update. As always, any advice is welcome.

The tank currently is the home of:
  • 1 - Betta
  • 3 - Gold Endler's Livebearers
  • 4 - Oto cats

It had 7 Danio / Glowfish hybrids for about 3 days, but the betta chased them ceaselessly, even though he was added last. Taking them out seems to have focused the betta's aggression on the remaining fish, but fortunately, the betta seems content to just herd everyone under the HOB -- he generally ignores the otos, but they hang out in that corner anyway for some reason.

------
Water params
Temp: 79F
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0.25
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.2
Hardness (gH): 0
Hardness (kH): 40
Since my last update, I swapped out the 6500K light for a 10000K light, just to cut through some of the tannins from the driftwood (the other bulb is a coralife colormax).

The lights are on 12hrs a day and are activated by a timer. I'd heard there should be a light-cycle of 4hrs of dim light, 5hrs of high light and another 4 hrs of dim light, but I'm not quite sure how to pull that off. The tank sits on an interior wall and I'd assumed any ambient light it gets would be negligible.

Overall, my plants seem to just be doing 'ok'. Walstad's book should be arriving on the 10th, so hopefully that will help me tweak what I'm doing to get my plants to look nice and green.

I suspect that my lights are on too much, but that research will happen tomorrow, now that I have my observations logged.
  • Hygrophilia difformis (wisteria) - This seems to be doing ok, but has become less green.

    On the plant in the right front side of the tank, the leaves have gone transparent at the edges in a few spots. On the left side, the wisterias have grown roots that just float off the sides of it.
  • Egeria najas (narrow leaf elodea) - These also have dulled some, and generally seem to be growing slowly. Occassionally, little flowers grow out the sides.

    Some stems are branching at the sides and in those cases, I trimmed them off and planted them next to the parent stem, since I read that they tend to do that if they aren't planted in clusters.
  • Rotala rotundifolia - These haven't grown much and have lost some of their purple at the tops. I was hoping the 10K bulb would help, but I'm hesitant to add more light, since the rest of the plants are low-med light plants.
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii - You can barely see it in the midground, behind the dwarf rosette. It's kind of a dull-green, and I can no longer remember whether it's as green as it was when I bought it or more rusty-colored.
  • Cryptocoryne balansae - The biggest leaves melted, but there's still smaller leaves that are nice and green and growing.
  • Echinodorus tenellus (pygmy chain sword) - Seems to be growing well, but better in the back right of the tank than in the center, next to the driftwood. I'm not sure whether I should trim the dead leaves, but I decided to just leave it.

    It spawned a child plant, so I planted it next to the watersprite and mystery crypt
  • Mystery Rosette - I think the plant in the front next to the balansae is a wendtii, but the two plants look so different, I'm not sure they're the same plant.

    It's doing great and has kept it's color. It seems to have lifted off and is being kept from completely floating by it's roots.

    I don't know if that's normal or bad planting, but I separated two of the new children plants and planted them next to the watersprite on the right.
  • Echinodrous parviflorus (dwarf rosette sword) - This was doing pretty well for awhile, but you can see the big brown, translucent spot on the biggest leaf. The smaller leaves have started dying off too.
  • Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite) - They plant profile wasn't kidding when it said water sprites were easy to care for. I'm happy I managed to keep one of the plants rooted, though.

    The one on the right keeps shooting floaters into the tank, so I put hung them on the driftwood to box the salvinia in near it, stuck it under rocks and put them in other tanks.
  • Cladophora aegagropila (marimo ball) - Still green. Still round. I roll it every other day or so.
  • Salvinia Minima (water spangles) - Putting down good roots, but some of them have started to brown. It's hard for me to tell whether they're thriving and expanding, but they're definitely not as green and healthy as they were when I bought it.
  • Microsorium pteropus (java fern - windelov) - Growing happily and rooting all over.
  • Taxiphyllum barbieri (java moss) - The one I hung over the top of the driftwood seems to be doing well. The one I put on the right side of the tank on the ground collects dirt like nobody's business and seems to be only marginally less well off than the other plant.
  • Other - The driftwood is starting to grow some kind of green algae. I'm a little surprised the otos aren't eating it, but they've only been in the tank a few days. Tomorrow I'll throw some zuccini and/or cucumber in to see if I can get them to eat. They refuse to eat the spinach I put in there.

    On the front, just to the right of the elodea, you can see a white patch on the glass. That looks like some form of algae, but I decided not to disturb it to be sure.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:36 AM   #6
Sagat
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Default 1/4/12 Updates (56K)

Time for another update. As always, any advice is welcome.

The tank currently is the home of:
  • 1 - Betta
  • 3 - Gold Endler's Livebearers
  • 4 - Oto cats

It had 7 Danio / Glowfish hybrids for about 3 days, but the betta chased them ceaselessly, even though he was added last. Taking them out seems to have focused the betta's aggression on the remaining fish, but fortunately, the betta seems content to just herd everyone under the HOB -- he generally ignores the otos, but they hang out in that corner anyway for some reason.

------
Water params
Temp: 79F
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0.25
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.2
Hardness (gH): 0
Hardness (kH): 40
Since my last update, I swapped out the 6500K light for a 10000K light, just to cut through some of the tannins from the driftwood (the other bulb is a coralife colormax).

The lights are on 12hrs a day and are activated by a timer. I'd heard there should be a light-cycle of 4hrs of dim light, 5hrs of high light and another 4 hrs of dim light, but I'm not quite sure how to pull that off. The tank sits on an interior wall and I'd assumed any ambient light it gets would be negligible.

Overall, my plants seem to just be doing 'ok'. Walstad's book should be arriving on the 10th, so hopefully that will help me tweak what I'm doing to get my plants to look nice and green.

I suspect that my lights are on too much, but that research will happen tomorrow, now that I have my observations logged.
  • Hygrophilia difformis (wisteria) - This seems to be doing ok, but has become less green.

    On the plant in the right front side of the tank, the leaves have gone transparent at the edges in a few spots. On the left side, the wisterias have grown roots that just float off the sides of it.
  • Egeria najas (narrow leaf elodea) - These also have dulled some, and generally seem to be growing slowly. Occassionally, little flowers grow out the sides.

    Some stems are branching at the sides and in those cases, I trimmed them off and planted them next to the parent stem, since I read that they tend to do that if they aren't planted in clusters.
  • Rotala rotundifolia - These haven't grown much and have lost some of their purple at the tops. I was hoping the 10K bulb would help, but I'm hesitant to add more light, since the rest of the plants are low-med light plants.
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii - You can barely see it in the midground, behind the dwarf rosette. It's kind of a dull-green, and I can no longer remember whether it's as green as it was when I bought it or more rusty-colored.
  • Cryptocoryne balansae - The biggest leaves melted, but there's still smaller leaves that are nice and green and growing.
  • Echinodorus tenellus (pygmy chain sword) - Seems to be growing well, but better in the back right of the tank than in the center, next to the driftwood. I'm not sure whether I should trim the dead leaves, but I decided to just leave it.

    It spawned a child plant, so I planted it next to the watersprite and mystery crypt
  • Mystery Rosette - I think the plant in the front next to the balansae is a wendtii, but the two plants look so different, I'm not sure they're the same plant.

    It's doing great and has kept it's color. It seems to have lifted off and is being kept from completely floating by it's roots.

    I don't know if that's normal or bad planting, but I separated two of the new children plants and planted them next to the watersprite on the right.
  • Echinodrous parviflorus (dwarf rosette sword) - This was doing pretty well for awhile, but you can see the big brown, translucent spot on the biggest leaf. The smaller leaves have started dying off too.
  • Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite) - They plant profile wasn't kidding when it said water sprites were easy to care for. I'm happy I managed to keep one of the plants rooted, though.

    The one on the right keeps shooting floaters into the tank, so I put hung them on the driftwood to box the salvinia in near it, stuck it under rocks and put them in other tanks.
  • Cladophora aegagropila (marimo ball) - Still green. Still round. I roll it every other day or so.
  • Salvinia Minima (water spangles) - Putting down good roots, but some of them have started to brown. It's hard for me to tell whether they're thriving and expanding, but they're definitely not as green and healthy as they were when I bought it.
  • Microsorium pteropus (java fern - windelov) - Growing happily and rooting all over.
  • Taxiphyllum barbieri (java moss) - The one I hung over the top of the driftwood seems to be doing well. The one I put on the right side of the tank on the ground collects dirt like nobody's business and seems to be only marginally less well off than the other plant.
  • Other - The driftwood is starting to grow some kind of green algae. I'm a little surprised the otos aren't eating it, but they've only been in the tank a few days. Tomorrow I'll throw some zuccini and/or cucumber in to see if I can get them to eat. They refuse to eat the spinach I put in there.

    On the front, just to the right of the elodea, you can see a white patch on the glass. That looks like some form of algae, but I decided not to disturb it to be sure.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:24 AM   #7
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Wow. It's been a long time since I updated this... The last one didn't go through because it was too big, and then I never got around to figuring out why.

It's been an interesting two months...

First month:
  • I started noticing little white bugs hopping around the water and eventually figured out they were copepods.
  • White spot algae showed up and then disappeared.
  • Learned for the first time what it means for plants to acclimate to their environment. It was extra fun discovering how many different leaf forms H.Difformis has.
  • Learned that after you take the metal band off your plants, you're supposed to separate them out for planting.

Second month:
  • Discovered how fragile otos were in the first week.
  • Had my endler livebearers get stressed to death by the betta
  • Had enough growth that I could turn my 29G into a planted tank with cuttings
  • Removed my betta temporarily to make him forget his territory and try to bring some peace for the harlequin rasboras that replaced the livebearers
  • Had my betta develop clamped fins from what now seems to be slime disease.
  • Had my harlequins ALSO develop slime disease a few days after removing the betta and finally pieced together what was going on in my tank.
  • Had something in my tank (probably the MTS) churn up all of the wood chips in my MGOCPM so that instead of decomposing underneath the sand cap, they're doing so on top of it. :/ It looks cool, though, so I've just let it do it's thing instead of trying to submerge it back under the cap.
  • Discovered what scuds were!

Today
After dropping their leaves and growing ones better suited for my tank, my plants have all really taken off. The tank's being lit by dual coralife 6700K lamps, but I'm noticing that having the fixture rest on the lid is causing the plants in the front half of the tank to stretch back towards it, especially the C.Wendtii in the front-right of the tank.
Egeria Najas: The new growth has leaves that are at least half as long as they were when I bought it and twice to three times as curly. What causes this? I can't seem to find any information on it, or I'm plugging in the wrong terms to search for.

Echinodorus tenellus: This did ok for the first few weeks, but now all three plants are yellowish and growing slow. they also aren't as rooted into the substrate as I expected them to be. The only thing I can think of is that I picked spots to plant them that weren't as rich in potting mix as the other areas in the tank.

Echinodrous parviflorus: This was doing pretty well for awhile, but you can see the big brown, translucent spot on the biggest leaf. The new growth is coming in kinda pale. It's possible it's rooted in mostly sand and I've considered straying from my low-techiness and fertilize it.
Challenges
At this point, it seems that the advice "if the plants are healthy, everything else will follow" to be pretty much on target, but I haven't yet attempted to treat fish in the tank. Instead, I chickened out and put them into a quarantine tank where I dosed them with aquarium salt to help them heal through opportunistic infections that are the result of stress. I need to do alot more reading on treating sick fish in a planted tank, so that when it eventually happens, I'm not frantically looking for information at the last minute.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:28 AM   #8
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Default Two weeks

Shots of my tank at the two week mark:
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:31 AM   #9
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Default 6 weeks

Built a moss wall to cover up the ugly sawed off back of the driftwood
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:22 PM   #10
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It's looking good! Theres definitely a lot of learning to go with the first planted tank. Sorry about your fish getting sick! I made a lot of mistakes before finally figuring it out. It will start getting a lot easier

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Old 02-09-2013, 05:55 PM   #11
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What filter are you using? Your water looks tea-colored in all your shots.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterN1986 View Post
What filter are you using? Your water looks tea-colored in all your shots.
Probably tannins from the driftwood. Nothing some some fresh activated carbon cant clear up in a week or so.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:26 PM   #13
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Yup.

It didn't bother me and my betta seems pretty happy with it. Since the height of the tank isn't very high, I figured it would be ok to leave it.

If I use activated carbon, do I need to be worried about losing any anything? I did some water changes to help with the tannins since that seemed to have minimal impact on beneficial things in the water column (minerals et al)
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