It was mentioned in another post that maybe I should attempt a tank journal. It dawned on me that may be a great idea. I found that there was an abundant amount of information out there but it was difficult to decipher for a novice such as myself.
My background was not extensive. My first aquarium was when I was about 10 years old. I know it contained a couple Angle fish, some glass catfish, a small school of neon tetras, and what I believe was a dojo loach. That was 30 years ago, my parents did all the work, I don't ever recall a water change but I do remember a complete cleaning every few weeks, that included a bleach bath of all the rocks, filter equipment, tank, filter media, ect. I remember fish dying regularly (can't imagine why) ....after a couple years the aquarium was disassembled.
Fast forward 30 years. I bought a 30 gal cube for my 8 year old daughter. She loved it. I did some minor research and learned about the nitrogen cycle, water changes, filtration, water parameters, community fish, substrate and finally some easy plants.
I set that tank up and it has been going for over a year without a major hitch. It had a flourite base with pea gravel cap, planted with some easy crypts, java fern, anubias, and java moss. The fish are some bolivian rams, guppys, neon tetras, khuli loaches, corydoras, otocinculus, and some zebra danios.
I love this tank. I enjoyed everything about it. I most enjoyed teaching my daughters about the tank and the symbiosis of the species. I even enjoyed the weekly maintenance. I found my hobby.
My loving wife saw that I enjoyed the hobby and allowed me to expand. I bought a 60 gallon Marineland cube tank. I had to order it from my LFS. It arrived less than a week later.
I determined that I would use Flourite as the only substrate. I bought out my local petsmart and had to order more from a prominent online retailer. I also wanted a planted tank as I was more interested in the plant aspect than that of the fauna. I did my research and determined that I wanted a Fluval 406 with a carbondoser regulator. Both were ordered and arrived.
I also determined I wanted an atomic CO2 diffuser from GLA. I ordered that as well. Note: The carbondoser reg is not compatible with the GLA atomic diffuser. The regulator is low pressure. The atomic diffuser requires a high pressure to work properly. OOPS....too late. Ultimately, i ended up also ordering the carbondoser ext 5000 from aquariumplants.com.
I also wanted Manzanita wood. That was ordered and arrived. I was pleased with the selection sent. I soaked the wood for around 3 weeks. Keep in mind the aquarium was set up and was just waiting to be filled, stocked, and scaped. The wood was leaching tannins like crazy. I spent 4 days boiling the wood for about 4-5 hours per day. That seemed to help quite a bit.
Fill test..it passed
Fit test with the substrate, wood, and granite
Water, heater and Fluval 406 added.
The tank ran like this for a couple of weeks. I did not do any water changes. I did add some water to compensate for evaporation.
It should also be noted that I live in Central Illinois. My water here is absolutely straight liquid rock. Out of the tap my dkH is 24 with a gH of about 24. The pH is 8.5. I also found that my local water supply is treated with chloramine not chlorine.
I bought a RODI system from Bulk Reef Supply. I was buying distilled water for water changes. The addition of the 60 gal made this impractical. Ultimately, I also added a second utility sink and set up the RODI unit in my sump pump closet. It is still slightly under construction.
RODI system about 20 feet from tank
The tank was plumbed and a Milwaukee ph controller was added along with the CO2 reactor. I should note that while I am not a "handy man", I can usually figure stuff out. The reactor came with all relevant hardware, I also ordered an inline CO2 probe holder. Well, word to the wise, the reactor does not come "pre-assembled" ready to go. It needed nylon tape added and fitted properly to stop leaks. Needless to say, if you are using wrenches and torque plastic parts too hard....they break. I was not able to install the inline CO2 holder because...well....I snapped it in half.
This is the current plumbing. I found that I am really not good a cord maintenance.
The plants arrived shortly after.
Bolbitis Heudeloti (african water fern)
Dwarf baby tears
The water was a 90% RODI and 10% tap. The pH was 7.5, kH 4-5, gH 4-5. Using a pH, kH, CO2 chart I determined I needed to shoot for a pH of 6.6 to get a CO2 level of about 30.
I planned on using the Seachem liquid ferts to do EI dosing.
I had to add a second Marineland Aquatic Plant LED. The light spread from one was not enough. I also added 3 zebra danios and an Aquaclear 70.
It appeared that I was having a bacterial bloom. The driftwood was showing a white fuzz and the water was turning whiteish. The addition of the Aquaclear helped the water condition but the fuzz of the wood remained.
HC on 04/02
The HC seems to have taken hold and seems to be growing.
Flame Moss on 04/02
I found that the HC was not pearling and I thought I may be getting some algae growing. I took a chance a turned up the pH controller allowing more CO2. I have so far been able to reduce the pH to 6.0 according to the pH meter. According to the chart this would put my CO2 levels well over 100. I have added some danios. They don't seem to be bothered in the least. The temp is about 77f.
On about 4/5/16 the ammonia level was zero, no nitrite, and less than 20 ppm nitrate. I had previously added three danios and a horned nerite snail. The snail quit moving within 24 hours.
After the zero reading for ammonia and nitrite I added 4 otocinculus and 5 ghost shrimp on 04/06/16.
Picture on 04/07/16
This morning I found that the ghost shrimp were making a meal of the downed horned nerite. It didnt survive. I also found that two of otos had expired. The other two seem fine along with the shrimp and two of the danios. I lost one danio previously.
I checked to ammonia level and found that there had been a slight elevation. It is not longer zero.
The plants are doing well, except for the Bolbitis and H. Micranthemoides. The Bolbitis is melting into oblivion. The HM just is not thriving.
On the plus side the white fuzz on the Manzanita seems to be breaking loose, it is however, making a mess.