46 Gallon Bow-- Just Gettin' (re)Started - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-11-2016, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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46 Gallon Bow-- Just Gettin' (re)Started

So I've been lurking around TPT on and off for several years now, and I've finally decided to take the plunge and get started on my first official planted tank.

My background with fish goes back almost ten years now and I've kept a little bit of everything from goldfish and livebearer tanks to FOWLR and reef tanks. More specific to planted tanks, I had a ten gallon in the past that I threw some crypts and wisteria into, but it wasn't much. After my 3-4 years hiatus during university, I'm back in the game and hoping I can use some of the goodies from my saltwater tanks. Some other things that are relevant to the story are that I'm in Canada, outside of one of the major cities (so LFS and product options are limited) and I'm in medical school (so while this is a hobby I'll be spending time with, I don't have bottomless pits of time to devote).

Currently in my care I've got a 10 gallon with three platies (descendents of those I was raising last summer) and a little zebra angel I just couldn't resist. The tank runs with an AC20 and a koralia nano as well as a java fern coated (it really needs a trim) piece of driftwood. The 46 gallon I just purchased last Sunday has an unfortunate stock list, IMO, and they will be traded in at the LFS, hopefully tomorrow. It's got a clown loach and 2 rainbow sharks (all ~5") and a family of 4 odessas (who are growing on me, but I know will destroy my angel). The equipment is kinda bare with just a fluval 305 and an air stone running currently.

So back to the plan, here's what I'm gonna try out first:

Equipment
- 24" 4 x T5 from reef days (only running 2 bulbs)
- 1 or 2 Koralia powerheads (600gph, I think)
- Fluval 305
- 1.5"dirt with 1.5" pool filter sand cap

Plants
- A sword
- Nymphoides taiwan
- Anubias
- Less decided on my stem plants, depends on what I can find around here...

Fish
- Zebra angel (perhaps adding another, but the one I've got is pretty fiesty with the platies and I don't want to deal with breeding aggression)
- Harlequin rasboras
- Siamese algae eater
- Still love the look of rams, cories, or a nice variety of pleco, so I'm thinking on it

So now I guess I open it up to anyone with anything to say. Or feel free to read and leave as I've done literally thousands of time on TPT, haha. Especially if anyone has experience with sand-capped dirt tanks and cories, or any opinions for stocking, or if anyone has any other comments/questions, go for it!



EDIT:

Here is a list of the most current equipment and stocking.

Equipment
- 24" 4 x T5 AquaticLife (running 1 giesemann superflora, 1 tropic, 11hrs; 5 hours coralife 6500k at mid-day)
- 2 Koralia 1 (400gph)
- Fluval 305
- 3 bags Flourite black
- ~15 lbs Caribsea Super Naturals sand
- CO2 running 2bps (1hr before on to 1hr before off)

Plants and Scape
- Ozelot sword
- Nymphoides taiwan
- Anubias nangi
- Crypt. undulata
- "Green crypt"
- Bacopa caroliniana
- Rotala rotundifolia
- Java fern
- Ludwigia repens
- Ludwigia primrose (???)
- Potamogeton gayi

Fish
- 2 red wag platys (2 females)
- zebra veil angelfish
- 3 true SAEs
- 4 harlequin rasboras
- 5 Espe's rasboras
- hillstream loach
- ~5 otocinclus
- 3 amano shrimp

Most Recent FTS:
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Last edited by Natasha; 06-30-2016 at 09:38 PM. Reason: Update tank info
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-11-2016, 05:55 PM
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The 46 bf offers some nice 'scaping options- you could do deeper soil in the back and a sand area in front for the Cories. The back and front areas could be defined with stone or wood, but I would do a definite substrate divider to keep them from mixing. Not sure if a middle level of soil would work- Maybe the hardscape elements would take up too much space?
There is some hint of symmetry in this tank, so I would do something a bit more balanced than in a rectangular tank.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-11-2016, 08:40 PM
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My 75G was planted all the way to the front. A couple months ago I did a rescape and left and open area in the front like Diana drew, and now I can see my cory cats again! It was a good decision.


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2016, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
The 46 bf offers some nice 'scaping options- you could do deeper soil in the back and a sand area in front for the Cories. The back and front areas could be defined with stone or wood, but I would do a definite substrate divider to keep them from mixing. Not sure if a middle level of soil would work- Maybe the hardscape elements would take up too much space?
There is some hint of symmetry in this tank, so I would do something a bit more balanced than in a rectangular tank.
Thanks for the input Diana. As it turns out, the dirt thing isn't gonna happen, so I might be able to make something like this work! I'm finding the tank a bit dark right now so a sandy area would be a great idea to lighten it up. Hmmm, any ideas on methods of dividing the sand and flourite? I'll read around here and look for ideas. PS: Great diagram!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanish View Post
My 75G was planted all the way to the front. A couple months ago I did a rescape and left and open area in the front like Diana drew, and now I can see my cory cats again! It was a good decision.
See, the cories are growing on me! I'm worried I would never see them if I didn't set up an area for them to dig around.



Alrighty, so its time to update everybody as to what's gone on!

As it turns out, since our region's growing season is less than 5 months, its tough to find MGOPM. I called around 4 different places and nobody had any of the stuff around. Pool filter sand was also something I would have had to buy at a specialty store, so that plan got ditched. Concurrently, I found a great planted tank LFS called AngelFins (angelfins.ca) which had pretty reasonable prices and an interesting collection of fish and plants. If anybody in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Wellington County... area of Ontario is looking for a place, I'd recommend you check them out. The owners were great (despite having weird hours, I called ahead and they let me come in a little late after closing) and I'm pleased with what I got. Also, they had some incredibly adorable black corydoras (Black Venezuelan Corydoras - $10.00) that I've never seen. Please excuse the digression, but I'm just amazed I found such a great place!

So now I was stuck with looking for a new substrate. I thought of perhaps ADA aquasoil but after some reading, I decided that I didn't want to deal with any breakdown or having to replace in a few years. Ultimately I went with flourite black, because the colour was consistent and I can reuse it as a cap if I ever get a chance to do a dirted tank. So there's that. I also picked up anubias aflezii (unsure, have to check the ID on the receipt), an ozelot sword, some rotala indica, bacopa monnieri, and undulata crypts. I also added my existing nymphoides taiwan (which is looking TERRIBLE) and a piece of driftwood with some java ferns.

As I went home for my three day weekend (few and far between) I basically ran on double time and rinsed the flourite black, through that in, then quickly trimmed up the roots and some dead leaves and threw those in. Since my other piece of driftwood is no longer waterlogged (lame...) the anubias had to settle for having some roots anchor it in the substrate for now. The plants are only under a single T8 so I put it on a 12 hour photoperiod and I'm hoping things stay relatively happy until I get back on Monday and bring in my new (old) light and powerheads.

I've attached a quick picture that I took as I ran out the door.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2016, 03:07 PM
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To keep 2 substrates separate I have found it best to physically separate them. I generally use rock and expanding foam filler. Build a retaining wall, using the foam like mortar. Seal the holes so the substrate cannot sneak through under the rocks.

Without such a barrier the heavier material will sift though between the rocks and end up on the bottom of the tank, under the lighter material. The lighter material will tend to move around when the fish dig, and get blown into the area reserved for the other material. It is pretty easy to clean up, though. Depending on the difference in density, a gravel vac can lift the lighter material and hold it long enough to move it back where it belongs.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2016, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
To keep 2 substrates separate I have found it best to physically separate them. I generally use rock and expanding foam filler. Build a retaining wall, using the foam like mortar. Seal the holes so the substrate cannot sneak through under the rocks.
Is the foam you mention the product that is used to insulate around windows, etc?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-15-2016, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Alrighty, so I got back home, and the tank is doing just about what we'd expect. There is a bit of new growth on the bacopa and rotala, but it looked the same otherwise.

I fixed the crypt planting I had (they needed to be planted a bit deeper), pushed back the java driftwood and trimmed off some bad leaves, moved the rotala a bit further left, and moved the anubias back so that it wasn't completely blocking the sword. The driftwood is STILL floating, though I got some substantial bubbles out of it today. I brought 2 koralias from home and tried them out. Turns out one was a 1200gph that is WAYYYYY too strong (sent the rotala bending to touch the substrate, even with flow bouncing off the tank wall). I added the smaller koralia and I'm liking the flow I'm getting with the 2 400gph powerheads. The water is also still a bit 'foggy', so I'm going to have to check out whats up with my mechanical filtration in this fluval.

I tested the parameters and found ammonia and nitrite 0 and nitrate 5, pH is 8.4 (damn tap water...) Its not unexpected given that there is no biomass and the filter was working on a tank with over 25 inches of barbs, sharks, and a clown loach (thank goodness those are gone!) I decided to add my male platy to test the waters (haha) before I add my angel. I wasn't planning on adding my platies but he looks pretty good in there. Hmm. I also think I'm now okay with letting my angel fly solo. I've found quite a few comparable tanks with multiple angels and I just find they look crowded.

As for the sandy beach add-on, I'm still thinking on how I'd go about it. Maybe a flexible plastic piece to embed in the substrate and keep them separate? I'm not sure I'm sold on the rocks and foam divider. I don't mind a bit of substrate mixing (or some upkeep to maintain the border) and in my survey of tanks with the same idea, most just laid the substrates next to each other. Things to think about.

Check in questions for the public:
Are the current powerheads ridiculous? I'm from the world of reefing, so we love our flow!
I need to change the T5s for my light, any bulb/brand/spectrum preferences from anyone?
Any aquascaping opinions/ideas?

As always, feel free to comment. I'm all ears!

Updated FTS:
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, so I actually wrote up a post yesterday, but it seems TPT intercepted it...?

Anyways,

I arrived home to a tank that looked almost exactly the same as I had left it. There was some new growth on the bacopa and rotala, but otherwise not much new. I decided to replant the crypts (they were planted too shallow the first time), shift over some of the rotala stems to the left, push back the driftwood and trim off some poor java fern leaves, and move the anubias so that it wasn't completely blocking the view of the ozelot. I'm really hoping the nymphoides taiwan gets a grip and starts growing well. The plant has shrunk to about a third the height it was when I bought it, so I'm hoping having a proper tank with real substrate (not just a pot with gravel) will help perk it up.

I switched out the T8 light for my old reefing 24" 4xT5 AquaticLife fixture. I've got it resting on the glass top and I'm using the two white lights. I'm going to have to change the bulbs (ASAP, really) because they are several years old at this point. I'm happy with the light its putting out and I'm not finding a tremendous amount of shadow at the edges of the tank.

For flow, I tried out the two koralias I brought from home. The first was a koralia 4 (1200gph) which proved to be a hilarious amount of flow. It sent the rotala bending 90 degrees to the substrate, even when I had it bouncing off the bow panel! So that was a no go. I settled on two koralia 1s (400 gph each) and I'm liking what I'm seeing with each of the plants moving in the flow, but not being pushed over at all.

Last night I checked my water, the params were ammonia and nitrite of 0, nitrate of 5-10, and pH of ~8.4 (water here is CRAZY hard and I am waiting patiently for organic peat to come in stock at home depot!) Not surprising given that there is no biomass and the filter was serving a tank with 25 inches of sharks, barbs, and a clown loach (SO glad those guys are outta here). I added my male red wag platy last night and he has done well. My water is still a bit cloudy, though, so I'll have to look into what mechanical filtration my fluval is up to.


Today I tested my water again, with all the same but the nitrate has fallen to a clear 5. So what did I do? I added my lovely angel! I figure he'll help keep my nitrates reasonable, and heck, this is his new home, and its ready. He's still checking out the tank (especially that substrate, he has been in a bare bottom tank for 3 months), and I'm just as in love as ever.


I've now decided that I don't want another angel in the tank. After looking at several 46 gallon bows with multiple angels, I've decided that they look too crowded for my taste. I think the harlequins are still a go, and I'm still a bit unsure on cories. Maybe a ram would be a nice addition down the road, once plants have filled in a bit? I'm unsure about keeping one singly though.

Getting back to the sand beach idea, I'm stilll game for it (I'm finding the black background and black flourite to be a bit dark--shocker). The foam and rocks divider is not quite what I'm looking for, so I'm thinking of some kind of flexible plastic piece to separate the substrates? I looked at lots of tanks with dual substrates and it seems most everyone just allows them to lie next to one another.


So now we open it up to the public again.
Any other comments on the stock list? Any flora or fauna recommendations? Any thoughts on the ram? Angels? Cories?
Is my flow insane? Coming from reefing, I feel like I might be a bit flow-happy.
Any more comments on the dual substrate front?

Also, current FTSs, yesterday and today [just realized how terrible yesterday's picture is, yikes!]:
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-16-2016, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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So I guess its time to update the journal again, given that its been 4 weeks and all.

Since then, I've added quite a few things to the set up. I switched out the old white coralife bulbs for some giesemann bulbs (superflora and tropic). At first I found it a bit pink, but my eyes have since adjusted and I'm very happy with the spectra. I think my greens could look a bit greener, but I'm happy with the switch. I also just added a 3 hour period in mid-day when I will have the old actinic bulbs. I just started this yesterday, so we'll see how it goes on that front. I also bought some almond leaves for some light water tannins, which I quite like.

About 3 weeks ago I started noticing some cyano, so after some research I decided it was time for ferts. I ordered this PlantGuy's Macro and Micro 1L PPS combo (free shipping), and I've been quite happy with my 5mL dosing of macros and micros daily along with a capful of excel daily. I also chose to up my flow by using the other koralia powerhead. Since then, it has slowly receded and is only present in very small amounts on a few old leaves (crypts, anubias). Very pleased.

As far as flora and fauna, there's been quite a few additions. For plants, I got some ludwigia online (which was supposed to be repens, but seems just too small to be so) as well as some cabomba and ludwigia repens from my LFS. No complaints. They also came with some egeria najas, duckweed, and snails, so those all went into the QT where hitchhikers are allowed to run wild. So far no snails in the main tank, which is kinda nice. Just last friday I got 3 1.5" SAEs (true ones, made sure of that!) and they are absolutely lovely. Shoaling, clearing off the plants, and generally being adorable. Can't complain thus far.


As for growth, given that its been a month, its been fairly minimal for most things. My bacopa is absolutely my favourite plant, and its grown 3-4 inches over the month. Just can't wait for it to hit the surface so that I can replant some stems and fill out the corner. The ozelot sword has transitioned completely to its submersed form with the longer, darker leaves and the amazing blood red of the sprouting ones. Its also shrunk down in size a bit which is a plus. The anubias (parent and two offspring) each have a new leaf that has coloured up. Crypts all have new sprouts, and I had minimal melting (maybe 5 leaves total). Not sure how typical that is, but it made clean up pretty straight forward. The java fern is doing better since I started dosing macros (I was seeing signs of nitrate and K deficiency), and I'm planning on bringing my larger fern (which is now removed from the driftwood and settled on the substrate) for a trade in. I guess the last thing to comment on is my rotala. It basically has been hanging on for dear life, not really growing at all (maybe an inch in the month). The tips have leaves growing in more densely, but the plant isn't looking particularly healthy. I'm hoping the new shoots at the substrate will start taking off since they are accustomed to the conditions of the tank. Any insight from anyone? I'd love for the rotala to grow enough that I could trim it and fill it in a bit. Ah well, in the mean time its okay.


Future plans are still to work on the sand bed. I got some black vinyl that I'm planning to use to separate the substrates and currently I'm soaking it in some water to make sure its clean and won't leach anything really vile. Still not sure where I'll get pool filter sand at this time of year. As for fish, I think I'm sold on the harlequins. Saw some on the weekend and the colours and shoaling is just lovely to look at. Still thinking about some panda cories, too. At the very least they will be tabled until the sand beach is put in.


Below is an updated FTS:
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-20-2016, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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So it looks like I'm talking to myself, but I'll continue to log anyways. Still wondering about stocking. Thinking about harlequins, panda corydoras, and maybe a male german blue ram once the tank is more densely planted.

Yesterday I finally got to put in my sand beach, and I'm pretty pleased with it. My flourite is now a bit deeper, the tank is lighter, and I like the look of the pat disappearing behind my sword and cabomba. And my two home-raised platy females from my tank last year. Any fry are likely to be eaten by my angelfish so I'm not worried about the trio growing.

I also took some not-so-great pictures today, and took a FTS with and without the actinics. The first is also a picture of my four tiny nymphoides taiwan that shrunk down with some neglect and are now very slow at coming back. They are putting down some better roots, though, so I can't blame them too much. And my crypts are looking lovely, I'm just not loving how much they blend into the wood behind them. Maybe I'll switch that for the piece on the right in the future.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-04-2016, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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So what's new? I grabbed a green crypt last weekend, a little big for my taste, but its doing well. I got a second batch of ludwigia repens, and luckily it has not melted! I secured the bunch under my heater so that it can get a little more light, and so far, its been doing well. I'm seeing some new growth, and more importantly, the leaves are not melting away as had happened with my ludwigia primrose.

I also picked up a CO2 set up, its just a JBJ reg with a 5lb tank, but I'm happy enough with my find. The previous owner had it running inline, but given my garbage fluval's sketchy seals (every time I open it up for cleaning its a battle to reseal), I won't be running it that way. Currently, its running 2 bps through a bamboo skewer and then into one of my powerheads. For now, I don't mind the bubbles, and the spread across the tank is okay.

I'm really hoping this CO2 will rescue my existing rotala and ludwigia primrose, though. Both are SUPER ugly with the ludwigia ~60% bare stem (lost a TON of leaves) and the rotala constantly breaking off pieces and growing the ugliest stunted growth you've ever seen. Hopefully those two can get their acts together. I'm also waiting on just a touch more growth from my longest bacopa stem before I trim and replant it. FINALLY. My last issue is this damn cabomba which keeps uprooting and breaking off leaves. Definitely a messy plant. I may switch it and the rotala to keep it a bit further out of the flow and to get the rotala in a spot with better lighting (and directly in the CO2 path). We'll see, I'll probably do it some time this week.

I might also comment on how my sandy path is doing. So far, maintaining it has been fairly easy, keeping it tidy takes only a few minutes a few times a week. My biggest issue is with my SAEs; they keep excavating the divider, which inevitably mixes the sand and flourite edges. Not something I predicted, but at least its manageable. I really like the lightness the sand adds to the tank, so I'm still very happy with my decision to go for it.

OU Ou ou, I also picked up 9 rasboras who've been in my 10 gallon QT since last weekend! While they are supposed to be harlequins, I'm pretty sure 5 of them are Espe's. I'm not really complaining, their red hue is lovely and they all school together, so its all the same to me.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-04-2016, 12:40 PM
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I love your tank--so pretty! And your pictures are so great, esp. the closeups of the fish...I am still learning how to take good tank picture (Well...really any good pictures of anything, ever, ha). I also like how it looks with just one angel--I agree about the overcrowded look in some tanks that you mention. The red platies are great, too. I always thought I would definitely have platies but in my 29 gallon I now have tetras (black neon and cardinal), a pearl gourami, and one pair of Bolivian rams so I don't think that's going to happen at the moment. But they just add a really nice pop of color...awesome.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-13-2016, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenrose View Post
I love your tank--so pretty! And your pictures are so great, esp. the closeups of the fish...I am still learning how to take good tank picture (Well...really any good pictures of anything, ever, ha). I also like how it looks with just one angel--I agree about the overcrowded look in some tanks that you mention. The red platies are great, too. I always thought I would definitely have platies but in my 29 gallon I now have tetras (black neon and cardinal), a pearl gourami, and one pair of Bolivian rams so I don't think that's going to happen at the moment. But they just add a really nice pop of color...awesome.
I missed your post! Its so quiet around here, I didn't even think to check!

Thank you for the complements, I must say, its no award-winning tank, but it keeps me happy. I'm glad you like it!
The platys are quite a bit of fun. They're arguably the busiest fish in the tank (even more than the SAEs), and they are actually really good hair algae eaters, too! It sounds to me like your 29 is full up, especially if those rams decide to breed. Might I recommend an upgrade/tank 2.0?



Also of note, I added an updated FTS with the rasboras. Love these guys, and surprisingly colourful too!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2016, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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So its been a month and a half since my last update, and a lot has changed. I'm going to try and take some pictures and post tonight once the sun has gone down.

I've added quite a few fish over the last little while. I added 9 otos to the tank in two waves about a month ago, and not too surprisingly only about half acclimated well. My pH was over 8 last time I checked so I'm not entirely surprised, but the remainders are doing well with nice full bellies. Just today I grabbed a sweet little hillstream loach. We'll see how it goes with this guy, I do have a fair bit of flow (or did until one of my koralias crapped out--need to buy a replacement) so I'm thinking it should go okay. I also snagged 3 amanos to see how they do in the tank/see if I like them. To wrap up today's purchases I got some potamogeton gayi, which I have never seen before and should be easy enough to grow. I've not got anything with fine grassy leaves in the tank so I'm excited for it to take off. For now its clamped up behind my heater until it grows out and can be planted in the substrate.

Speaking of plants, I did end up removing the cabomba. What started out so neat and tidy gradually became scraggly growth that constantly dropped leaves. So it has been gone for about a month. Everything in the tank is going gangbusters now. My nymphoides taiwan are finally growing normally (recall they started as 3 stunted 2 inch plantlets) and are now 8-10 inches tall and looking good. My ozelot sword has at least doubled in height since it sent up a spike about 2-3 weeks ago. It'll have to be moved to the back of the tank once the spike starts to break down. I'm hoping to get some plantlets so that I can send some to a friend of mine. The crypts have also nearly doubled in size as well as the java fern I have hiding out in a few places. I must admit its funny looking back at my post two months ago about trimming the bacopa. I've since had to hack at it and replant the stems twice. The plant mass has easily tripled over 2 months, which isn't bad for this slow growing stem.
Natasha is offline  
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