New Planted Tank - Challenges So Far... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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New Planted Tank - Challenges So Far...

Hi All,

Have posted once or twice earlier - in particular regarding my pond snail discovery. The good news is that I've not seen another pond snail in over a two weeks after removing all that were discovered.

But I have a few additional challenges at the moment with my first planted tank.

My goal here is to create a medium-light low-tech tank without CO2.

I attempted what I believe is called a 'planted' fishless cycle - although in hindsight, this was a lot of work, and my battle with algae that developed while cycling the tank isn't over. Apparently there are those that advise against a planted cycle - for exactly this reason.

The cycle completed after just under four weeks. I've attached my complete Excel spreadsheet that shows all of the water parameters during the cycle (included latest measurements). Near the end of the cycle I dosed Ammonium Hydroxide four times, to 'prove' that Ammonia was dropping back to zero in under 12 hours.

Nitrites didn't 'drop suddenly' as some people report, but gradually over a couple of days and after water changes.

Parameters at present are:

PH 7.5
KH 4
GH 12
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0-0.3
Nitrate 0 (after a big water change at the end of the cycle).

Water is a little soft.

I'm using Tetra AquaSafe to condition the water in a holding tank, before pumping into the aquarium for water changes (I don't let the water sit long - just treat it with AquaSafe and then use it for the water change).

Tank: 60cm x 30cm x 36cm tank (17 gallons, 60 liters).

Filter: Eheim 2213 - flow is probably a tad under what it should be - but I'm thinking it's probably okay for now.

Air Pump: I have a small airstone in the back of the tank. I've previously only been turning this on at night.

Lights - An Aquasky 601 30W LED (um... actually a Chinese copy) - so I think this is about 2 watts per gallon. My lighting schedule is 10 hours from noon, until 10pm. There is some ambient light in the room during the morning - but the tank is pretty far from the nearest window and no direct sunlight.

Substrate - ADA Power Sand base and ADA Amazonia Aqua Soil on top, with additives (the additives were sold in a 'kit' by the LFS, so I didn't need to buy all of these as full bottles) including Bacter 100, Clear Super, Penac P, Penac W, Tourmaline BC - all placed on the bottom of the tank before adding power sand and aqua soil. I've put some Colorado decorative sand in front - as a kind of beach. And I placed one Bacter Ball on top about a week after filling the tank. The Amazonia Aqua Soil provided the ammonia for the initial phase of the cycle (it's fairly well known I think that Aqua Soil has an ammonia 'spike' to it).

Plants (after bleach dipping them all before planting - although the pygmy chain sword probably not long enough). Back: Amazon Sword (Echinodorus amazonicus) x 3. Will probably need to pull one, as these are going to be way too big for the tank. Good growth so far. Eelgrass (Vallisneria spiralis or possibly Vallisneria americana "Mini Twister") on the back right. The Vals melted about a week after planting (apparently quite common for vals). I trimmed off the melted leaves, and a new crop of leaves are coming up very nice now. Anubias (on the driftwood) Middle: Hygrophila corymbosa 'Siamensis' (not 100% sure) - and have no idea what the red-leaf plant is. Front: Pygmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus tenellus) - left and right.

My first serious algae outbreak was a short hair algae on the Pygmy Chain Sword - which I think came from the tank at the LFS I purchased this from (possibly also the snails). I spot treated with Flourish Excel (although I left it a bit late - as I'd not heard of Excel at the time) - and now there is 'white' algae on the plants - but it's not coming off, after almost two weeks (see attached pics). Wondering if I should remove the white-algae (presumably dead) covered Pygmy Chain Sword and replant with some of the runners that are appearing elsewhere in the tank.

My second algae challenge is a much longer slimy hair algae (again attached). It's growing on my red-leaved plant, Anubias, and on the driftwood and a little on the Amazon Sword. Again I've tried spot treating with Excel, as well as trimming plants, and removing as much as I can - but I have a hunch my battle with this stuff is not over.

Just over 24 hours ago, I stocked the tank with 5 Otocinclus and 12 Amano Shrimp.

So far the Ottos' seem to be doing okay. They're eating algae, bellies look round, and they appear to have adapted although it's still early.

The Amano Shrimp on the other hand, are a disaster. Most have died, and the remaining are in bad shape - walking backwards, or lying on their sides.

So - after all of that...

1) Any suggestions as to what killed the shrimp? I used a small Tupperware container to acclimatise them from the LFS water, to my tank water, with 10% changes over about an hour. PH of the LFS water was 7 - but I didn't measure hardness. Could a big change in water hardness have killed them? I noticed an odour coming from the tank less than 12 hours after putting the shrimp in - same odour I detected at the LFS (actually this shop is a dedicated shrimp shop - and the odour is not ammonia). The Amano came from what I think is a heavily planted high-tech tank with C02.

Anything else? I did a 50% water change early today - and two of the healthiest remaining shrimp appeared to recover partially, but are now back in bad shape. I've not tested for copper - although the water in our apartment building is temporarily stored in storage tanks before being piped down to all the floors (we're on the 25th floor). Should I be testing for metals? Copper? I've read that the copper scare is a little overrated.

2) Is pulling and re-planting the Pygmy Chain Sword the best option for removing the 'white fluffy - dead algae-covered leaves?

3) Any suggestions concerning the long stringy algae? So far the Ottos haven't taken to it - preferring the easier light green algae on the lower areas of the glass and rocks.

4) The Ottos appear to be doing fine. They were only briefly interested in some blanched zucchini I placed in the tank last night. Hoping they have enough to eat over the long haul.

I have intermittently dosed Flourish Excel at the regular dosages to supply the plants with a carbon alternative to CO2.

I also briefly put a little ADA Green Bacter liquid additive in the tank to help promote bacteria growth - but I have no idea what is in this, and whether it is shrimp safe.

My goal was to get the tank 'balanced' with just the clean-up crew in there - before putting a light stocking of Rasbora and maybe some Danios.

Any thoughts or suggestions as to what I might try to make my tank shrimp safe would be greatly appreciated.

Confess at this point to being little 'tank'-shell-shocked, since it's been a lot of work so far... ;-)

Oh and the last picture is of a Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Light that a friend of mine modified to work with 220V here in Thailand. I'm using it to set my lighting and air stone schedule. The standby mode is great for feeding, and water changes.
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Last edited by blue_waters; 01-20-2014 at 05:25 PM. Reason: Updated filter section.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Here's a YouTube video of the build...
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking about the shrimp a bit more.

When they were first placed in the tank - they were very active, swimming and exploring. But within a couple of hours, a group of four or five had settled into a corner, almost as if they were trying to bury themselves.

I'm leaning towards a big change in water hardness and other parameters - including O2 and CO2. I've also read that during transportation they can get shocked? It was only about 30min from the Shrimp shop - and there was a little plastic mesh in the bag for them to hold onto (although they ignored it).

Or maybe my 1 hour Tupperware acclimatisation method?

The last possibility I guess is that there's something in the tank, which seems to be supported by the increase in activity of the survivors after a 50% water change. Not sure what to look for here.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-21-2014, 03:06 PM
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I've read that shrimp don't like excel. I dose under recommended levels and mine do fine.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-21-2014, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks anfield. I've also read that some people will add it to the water they use for a water change first - and not directly to the tank.

I'm going to wait another few weeks, after several partial water changes before trying a few more Amanos. Fingers crossed.

As for the short white (dead) hair algae on my pygmy chain sword, this stuff definitely does not come off. It's buried into the leaf. About 1/2 the leaves on the existing plants were clear, and so today I trimmed out all of the affected leaves, and will wait for new growth to take over (I've read over and over that patience is the number one requirement in this hobby :-)).

Also for most of the other longer slimy hair algae - which comes off quite easily, I've manually removed most of the longer growth, and my Ottos - which are doing great - seem to be doing a good job on all the other surfaces and so I'm assuming they'll take care of any new growth.
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