180 Gallon Low Tech Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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180 Gallon Low Tech Tank

I was hoping to get a critique of how to make this tank better-- more appealing. I am thinking that there are issues of proportion, lack of variety of plants, and color.



First of all, this tank poses a challenge: this is a tank of earth-eaters, so the top layers of exposed sand gets shifted by a continual sifting of the fish for food.



Obviously, this poses a problem for many fine stem-rooted plants. But, vals, crypt spiralis, and swords seem to be able to handle the shifting of sand. I was told that I would never get plants to grow in an earth eaters- tank, but I have been successful--- in a marginal way.


It is very low tech, with eco-complete base with sand cap: root tabs at base of plants, EI dosing of Seachem NPK, Flourish, and Iron every 5 days after water change ( 24 hours after water change). I dose by what each bottle says on back. Dose Excel on this same schedule.


Lighting: Licah 72 inch LED light


I am sure that lack of Co2 is a continual problem because of the BBA I have constantly fighting.
Anyways, any suggestions on tough plants or plants that would add interest, variety, color?
Any suggestions on placement of hardscape: rock, wood, etc... I am willing to alter!
Thanks!


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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 09:38 PM
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I would even out the substrate at the front so it's level, ideally with it also slopping gently upwards towards the back (adds depth).

Add some smaller rocks of the same colour/style so you have more graduation in size.

It would then add some anubias wedged into the gaps around them and the base of the wood.

Is that twisted vallis you have at the back? I would be tempted to try the regular straight kind, it's a bit stronger growing and taller - you should be able to get a nice dense coverage in the two back corners of the tank.

It looks like you have fairly tough plants, you should be able to keep them fine without CO2, but you want fertilser and circulation. How long are your lights on? That another common issue - try turning them down a bit or shortening the period they are on to help with algae.
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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions!
The substrate I can make even, not that it will stay that way for very long, but...
Yeah, I have to continually move the substrate from front to back because that is primarily where the fish sift.
I tried Jungle val several times and was so disappointed that it wouldn't grow well for me- not sure why.
The Val on the sides is Italian val and it does do well, but like you said, it doesn't get very tall.
The Leopard val is the val that is almost reaching the surface, I recently planted it in the last month or so, and it looks like the one I need more of.
That is a great idea about the anubias at the base of the rocks, I didn't think about that. I really like the bigger leaved anubias. Maybe Ill try that.
The light is on for 8 hours a day and has a siesta during mid-day. The light is pretty powerful, and just may be too strong for then plants that I have.
Should iI be dosing more?
I have two really powerful filters on this tank- 2 FX6's- I think circulation is good.
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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 11:23 PM
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Itís looking good. I have found the Italian vals grow taller under more intense lighting, but then have to battle other issues.
I agree with Anubias in front.


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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Itís looking good. I have found the Italian vals grow taller under more intense lighting, but then have to battle other issues.
I agree with Anubias in front.


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You provided me that Italian val, you know.
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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-08-2018, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
You provided me that Italian val, you know.


I was hoping it was still growing for you


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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 02:43 PM
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I forgot you have diggers - I'll forgive the wonky substrate

I think if you can get the vallis to fill out it would look really good, so time or planting more of the leopard vallis is probably what you need most.

If you like the bigger leaved anubias, you could try some of the very large varieties in the back among the vallis e.g. Lanceolata. It's got long narrow leaves and can be 30-40cm tall. Tied to a rock and dropped in at the back might look good.

For further forward you could mix a few varieties of anubias - there is a golden version of nana with lighter green leaves I grow mixed in as it's a nice contrast to the other darker ones. If you were feeling brave you could wedge some smaller crypts in right against/between the rocks and see if that gave them enough protection to stay rooted.

Have you considered a black background? I wonder if it would make your fish/plants pop more compared to the light one. Just taping some black paper behind is a good way to decide if you like it better without going to much trouble/cost.
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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 02:49 PM
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It looks like you have a two-island effect going so that should be your focal. I would remove anything tall that isn't "anchored" to the "islands" as it takes away from it.

You should have the branches toward each other in the middle so there is some continuity between the two islands. The ight is kinda dim, but shore up the bottom part of the island with more plant rock to keep the focus there. You can add smaller plants, rocks scattered around, but if they are two big or two much it will take away from the look.

That's my opinion anyway.
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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 10:58 PM
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I read your post, viewed the image, and made my opinions. Then I read the comments you have already: all my thoughts are mentioned (good community, here). A few smaller rocks in front of the large, perhaps a few small plants among them.
The val in the front corners is perhaps better toward the back. Having it there reduces the impact of the ‘islands’. Just my eye on it.
Looks better than my overgrown mess, well done.


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I can only grow plants when they're completely under water. Everything else is doomed.
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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-09-2018, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the great recommendations!
I will work on them and post "the after" to show you the (hopefully) progress made by them

*I do think that the Val growing on front sides is what is throwing my mind off now that you mentioned it. \
The plan:

*I will order some anubias to tie to the rocks at base, a mixture of sizes... and for variety of color, I think I saw Buceplant had a golden variety that was already attached, growing to rock I could just set 4-6 among the base.

*Im still kind of confused about what I should do with the Vals, however. Should I promote tall growth with the Leopard val in back corners and behind Island or should I just maybe stick with the Italian val which stays relatively low in my tank.

*Since I am attempting a dual Island effect, should I take out the sword directly in middle? Leave that area clear?

*Ill get more rock, smaller type to build up and fill in along base of island . I have heard that it is better not to use round rocks, that it looks too "contrived"- their word- not mine. I do have a small amount of petrified wood that I have tucked in here and there, maybe could add some more, but smaller pieces.
Here is a closeup of these two island sides.


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post #11 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 12:44 AM
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I really like it. I don't know if a crinum calastratum will work without C02, but it sure would look nice!! Or pack the rear portion of the islands with needle leaf java fern or bolbitus and do some anubias nana up front. I would suggest you stick with the look you've got and add some plant mass. I think it's really nice though.
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post #12 of 58 (permalink) Old 06-10-2018, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Dude

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #13 of 58 (permalink) Old 07-04-2018, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #14 of 58 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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My geophagus have grown so much in these past few months that the way this tank was aquascaped was beginning to cause issues. I needed to open up a larger section of the substrate to allow the geophagus to sift the sand ( which is pretty much what they do all day). Also, have started to notice some breeding behaviors in the Biotodomas. So wanted to create little nooks and crannies where they could mark off territories and possibly spawn.

With the consideration of the needs of the fish in mind, if have any suggestions on how to make this better : plant suggestions or hardscape, please do!


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180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #15 of 58 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 09:15 PM
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I think it looks great just like that! Only thing I'd try is a black background so your pipework disappears and your fish contrast well. But even without looks very cool.
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