3 different UGF planted tanks, an experiment (56K warning) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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3 different UGF planted tanks, an experiment (56K warning)

I'm mostly starting this thread to attempt to force myself to document my experience as I go. I've already failed in the first by forgetting to get pictures during setup all three times. /lesigh.

So, without further adieu, what am I doing?

I've kept fish most of my life. (Un)fortunately that experience is tied almost exclusively to UGF tanks, un-planted, and extremely fish friendly ground sourced well water. To give you an idea, I had never experienced a fish loss, and mostly struggled with the fact that my fish constantly reproduced. I thought fish death was something only really bad fish keepers experienced. Fast-forward to moving to the east coast, and spending an entire year trying to figure out why I can't keep a fish alive to save my life. 1) PA municipal water is the suck. 2) Cheap RO units are the suck. 3) lead and copper pipes + chloramine is the suck. 4) Canister filters are needy 5) API pH strips are not accurate 6) Aquasoils + PA water = unstable acidic pH. Thus, the experiment, I want plants, I do not want canisters, stabilize pH by removing most of the pH activity of the soils, all while doing minimal water changes so I don't have to boil gallons and gallons of water each week. And just so we're clear, this isn't very scientific, each tank has too many variable changes to be comparable to each other.

Okay. On to the tanks!

Tank 1: start date 2016.07.17
Current USA Solo 5G w/ LED
(setup from the bottom up)
Penn Plax Clear-Free UGF 5.5 Gallon Aquarium (1 plate fits the Solo) operated with Hpumps nano air pump - carbon filter added, 100% Polyester batting (2 layers), Eco-Complete depth 1.5", ADA Amazonia depth 1"
Plants:
bacopa, anubias, dwarf hair grass, bulb spidery plant thing, java moss, marimo moss ball, duck weed
Fill:
PA tap water, treated with Seachem Prime (one extra drop for every 3 gallons seems to deal with my heavy metal toxicity and remaining chloramine), Dr. Tims Aquatic One and Only added at the time of set up.
stock:
bladder snails, rams horn snails
So far this has been the least stable of the tanks. It takes less than 24 hours for the pH to drop from 7.2 to 5.2, and it will continue to drop to about 4.2 over the next three days then settles there. This was the original pH issue I was having with PA water & plant substrates. ADA is by far the biggest contributor to this problem, though Eco-complete certainly does a share of it as I've tried several tanks without ADA and they still experienced the pH issue. Even after 5 complete water changes the pH is still highly unstable in this tank two weeks later.

I am beginning to see snail breeding finally. This was the goal for this tank all along, it simply never worked prior to this setup. It also seems to have gotten its copepod population under control, when I added the tap water to this tank I wasn't planning on adding fish, so I didn't bother to boil it, and it exploded in copepods and other micro-organisms. High five PA, you have some truly disgusting municipal water.

no, i am in fact not a professional photographer, how did you guess?!
http://i.imgur.com/C4V743j.jpg

Tank 2: start date 2016.07.18
Aqueon 13gal widescreen w/ Finnex Planted+ 24/7, + aquaclear 20g power filter (pre-sponge, sponge, NitraStrate)
setup: (from the bottom up)
Lee's 5-1/2 Premium Undergravel Filter 8-Inch by 16-Inch covers 3/4 of the tank bed operated with VicTsing Ultra Silent Air Pump (moderate output) - no carbon filter, Seachem Pond Matrix, 100% Polyester batting (3 layers), 2.5" Petco River Rock Shallow Creek Aquarium Gravel.
Plants:
java moss, swords, hair grass, staurogyne repens, dwarf cardinal, water sprite, water wisteria, temple narrow leaf.
all plants are in Ceramics Water Plants Planted Pots with a root tab, eco-complete, and topped with ADA Amazonia (and more river rock for those plants that refused to stay rooted in the pot with ADA). Hindsight, these should have been planted with root tab, then ADA and topped with Eco-complete. the ADA is simply too light to allow the pots to be moved around much or with anything resembling speed without disturbing the ADA soil from the pot. Moving these things around the tank reminded me of Willard Wigan's ted talk on micro-sculpting ><
Fed with Seachem Flourish & Excel once a week, only quarter doses as most of my plants don't seem to really like the stuff but do better with a little bit rather than none at all.

The general idea is that the UGF due to the odd shape of the tank only covers the middle, the edges are all on their own so that's where the pots mostly sit, hopefully preventing dead-space in the UGF itself, and the pots can be picked up for gravel vacuuming.
Fill:
Boiled/Cooled PA tap water (this has been the only way I've been able to successfully deal with pathogens in the water), Seachem Prime, Dr. Tims Aquatic One and Only, fish were added after several hours of running. The tank thus far has been perfectly stable and no fish death has been experienced. yay! okay, okay, that's a very early celebration, i'll hold off for the 6 month mark.
stock:
6 24K gold white clouds, 1 White cloud, 1 cardinal tetra, 1 dwarf puffer, 2 otocinclus, 1 bristlenose pleco, 2 ghost shrimp, 3 nerite snails, there's an amano shrimp that's supposed to be in here too, but until i know for sure my dwarf puffer isn't going to go on another killing spree (his name is Hannibal Lecter for a reason) it stays where it is safe. The puffer is fed 5 bladder snails every day, this tank's setup is designed to allow easy snail shell recovery from the large pea gravel, while still allowing rooted plants.

other things in the tank:
iron shale, Seiryu Stone (i wish i could remember where i bought this stuff. it was an awesome supplier who supposedly traveled to japan and hand picked each rock, very affordable, and the pieces were gorgeous, each purchase set was photoed individually so you knew exactly what you were ordering instead of getting a random grab bag. if anyone knows who that might have been, throw a link please.), fluval ceramic decor, stainless steel mesh (for moss carpet, it's not working very well, too tiny)

only issue i've run into so far, and i freaking knew better, I bought a plant from petco and it brought in thread algae. but i kinda like the wafting threads along the back wall, if i can keep it from strangling my plants it could be pretty.

http://i.imgur.com/dlzXdTl.jpg

Tank 3: start date 2016.07.30
Current USA Solo 5G w/ LED
(setup from the bottom up)
Penn Plax Clear-Free UGF 5.5 Gallon Aquariums (1 plate fits the Solo) operated with Hpumps nano air pump - no carbon filter added, Aquatic Arts FilterPlus Bio-Media Aquarium Filter, 100% Polyester batting (3 layers), Eco-Complete (thoroughly washed and run through a sieve to remove the sand, yes i know you're not supposed to) depth 3", edged with ADA Amazonia depth 1/2". more bio-media, mostly to shore up the ada layer and prevent it from flowing down over the eco-complete.
Fill:
Boiled/Cooled PA tap water, Seachem Prime, Dr. Tims Aquatic One and Only
Plants:
Anubias, java moss, dwarf hair grass, green cryptocoryne wendtii, marimo moss balls
stock:
beta, otocinclus, 2 amano shrimp, random snails that hitchhiked in and the beta decided not to eat
other things:
fluval ceramic decor, glazed ceramic

the hope with this one is that it will be more stable than tank 1. Will I see some pH stability after stripping the substrate of most of its reactivity, and using minimal ADA for the dwarf hairgrass to root in? We'll see. Once the hairgrass is well established i'll add some trumpet snails to be my gravel rooters. I'm very curious how this tank is going to behave. the combination of trumpet snails and eco-complete as well as the natural bio-activity level of the two fluval ceramic decor... it will be interesting to see. My only real problem with this tank is that i lost a LOT of water volume to the 3.5" of soil. I have never set up an UGF that deep, I'm not sure what to expect from it. On the up side, after 24 hours the pH is still where it started, so that's promising. If nothing else the extreme reactivity of the soil seems to have been mitigated by washing it, I was also able to add the fish to it after only a few hours of running the UGF as there was virtually no sediment dust up. Tank 1 had sediment dust up for 10 full days and multiple water changes.

http://i.imgur.com/qOFf4Mn.jpg

Sooo, that's setup-ish day/month 1.

Now, if I can just remember to come back here next month and record how things are going. /nod.

Last edited by nakeeta; 09-29-2016 at 09:38 PM. Reason: i am forgetful!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-06-2016, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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hadn't intended to do an update quite this soon, but such is life.

tank 2
http://i.imgur.com/60Zta1F.png
13gal had a bit of a make-over. removed the foil backing that was a hold over from the previous set-up and i'd simply been too lazy to get around to removing. tossed the java moss mats, they were doing so poorly. they're sitting in a shallow DHG planter, seeing if i can't get them to recover a bit. and i know, i know, it's so gauche, i added a bubble wall. but I happen to like them. also removed the iron shale, since i'm not using DI the plants are getting plenty of minerals. overall, MUCH cleaner looking. water chemistry is still very stable, no issues with the pots or soils in the pots. though in hindsight, i'd probably only have purchased two or three S size and one L size pot. the M and XL pots are really awkward to place well, maybe in a much larger tank they'd work.

tank 1 (not bothering with an image update, it looks exactly the same) has had its first few snail deaths, and copepods are still rampant. grrr. on the up side, plants are doing swimmingly, including the DHG which I was not expecting. pH is still very difficult to keep stable.

tank 2, after a week the DHG has started to melt. le sigh. on the up side, while I did have to do 1 pH adjustment, compared to tank 1 the pH has been much more stable so far.
http://i.imgur.com/Dt11ra8.png

need to figure out the bbcodes here, i can't seem to get image resizing to work? till then i'm just tossing up direct links so people can choose or not to hit the data load as some of them will be quite large unless i decide to make a separate album of smaller images just for this thread. for everyone not on google fiber or verizon fios... i'm sorry.

-nakeeta

Last edited by nakeeta; 08-06-2016 at 07:35 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2016, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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being ultra lazy with no pictures (i take lousy pictures any ways no one wants to see those) and just getting this out so I remember where i'm at with things

purchased a new pH pen. ditched the kits and the strips. sooooo much better. no guess work, my kinda work!

13G:
hair algae went crazy. not surprising, the O2 added by the bubbler! but i will not give up the bubbler!! bubbles everywhere!!! i'll start dosing extra excel. i also cut back one of the swords that was simply so strangled by hair algae that it was actually turning brown from lack of light and nutrients. toothbrush cleanings clearly not doing enough. may consider adding another cleaner species, but honestly, i dont know of anything that eats green hair that voraciously.

looking for some new strong rooting plants, not too tall, and like strong light because they'll be up about half way in the water column, suggestions? the potted containers are doing really well as far as keeping the water parameters stable. the large substrate + containers hasn't had a flicker in water parameters and i haven't changed the water in 3 weeks. too early still to tell if the plants are going to get everything they need from them though. the last stem of dwarf cardinal gave up the ghost and floated off, the roots simply never took in the eco-complete (grrr eco-complete, grrrr), i think it needs more ADA for its soft roots. of course it's also possible that the rocks holding the ada in were causing too much pressure on the stems. either way, i'll be pulling that specific pot at some point in the next few months, refilling it with ADA and capping with eco-complete as an alternative potting mode. see how that works out. just need to figure out what i'm planting there.

i really need to pull the water sprite and let it float, it's not doing well potted. not surprising, but i was hopeful.

edit: oh i also removed the nitrastrate two weeks ago. it was doing so well on all levels i didn't feel the need, and so far the sponge i left in the HOB is doing its job solo with no issues.

solo 1:
we have baby snails. lots. and lots. and lots. of snails. super excited. i've been slowly adding calcium, just 1 drop every other week, hoping the plants will cope with the increased hardness, and my snails will grow rapidly for puffer food, i'd like to get up to 300ppm if possible. copepods are about 90% gone. dwarf hair grass is also doing quite well in here considering there's no CO2, and only the manufacturer LED light. I really hadn't expected that. water parameters still aren't awesome though. i keep getting ammonia. a few snail deaths here and there. and my anubias are getting yellow edges... need to investigate the cause for that one. i'm sure someone out there knows what deficiency that is. java fern has started to grow rapidly, i'll probably try and take the string off it soon, and shape it around the clay tree stump some more. if i had the patience for it i'd have painted it all over the clay and let it root in the humidor, but i'm too impatient for that. i want someone to make clay "trees" that you can attach moss balls to the ends of the branches, so they look like the dancing trees in Disney's Fantasia... how freaking fantastic would that be and why has no one done this yet?! that's how this is supposed to work universe... i think of awesome things, and someone else actually makes it a reality while I'm busy dreaming up more awesome things. chop chop.

solo 3:
water continues to be stable. DHG melt finally stopped, some root recovery and new shoots growing, so yay! added the malaysian trumpet snails two weeks ago. at first i thought they'd all died off, never saw a single one. finally seeing 1 moving around a bit as of this weekend. hopefully the other 3 are still alive in there too and adjusting okay. java fern is not taking off very quickly in this tank. Shinigami (betta) doesn't seem inclined to eat them... which is good since he usually considers all snails his personal meal treat.

i think i'm going to be super terrible and leave these till the end of next month, continuing with no water change just to force them to pass or fail a little faster. i go on vacation in september so i wont be home to see the havoc. perfect time really.
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Last edited by nakeeta; 09-29-2016 at 09:39 PM. Reason: forgot something!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2016, 11:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nakeeta View Post
being ultra lazy with no pictures (i take lousy pictures any ways no one wants to see those) and just getting this out so I remember where i'm at with things

purchased a new pH pen. ditched the kits and the strips. sooooo much better. no guess work, my kind work!

13G:
hair algae went crazy. not surprising, the O2 added by the bubbler! but i will not give up the bubbler!! bubbles everywhere!!! i'll start dosing extra excel. i also cut back one of the swords that was simply so strangled by hair algae that it was actually turning brown from lack of light and nutrients. toothbrush cleanings clearly not doing enough. may consider adding another cleaner species, but honestly, i dont know of anything that eats green hair that voraciously.

looking for some new strong rooting plants, not too tall, and like strong light because they'll be up about half way in the water column, suggestions? the potted containers are doing really well as far as keeping the water parameters stable. the large substrate + containers hasn't had a flicker in water parameters and i haven't changed the water in 3 weeks. too early still to tell if the plants are going to get everything they need from them though. the last stem of dwarf cardinal gave up the ghost and floated off, the roots simply never took in the eco-complete (grrr eco-complete, grrrr), i think it needs more ADA for its soft roots. of course it's also possible that the rocks holding the ada in were causing too much pressure on the stems. either way, i'll be pulling that specific pot at some point in the next few months, refilling it with ADA and capping with eco-complete as an alternative potting mode. see how that works out. just need to figure out what i'm planting there.

i really need to pull the water sprite and let it float, it's not doing well potted. not surprising, but i was hopeful.

solo 1:
we have baby snails. lots. and lots. and lots. of snails. super excited. i've been slowly adding calcium, just 1 drop every other week, hoping the plants will cope with the increased hardness, and my snails will grow rapidly for puffer food, i'd like to get up to 300ppm if possible. copepods are about 90% gone. dwarf hair grass is also doing quite well in here considering there's no CO2, and only the manufacturer LED light. I really hadn't expected that. water parameters still aren't awesome though. i keep getting ammonia. a few snail deaths here and there. and my anubias are getting yellow edges... need to investigate the cause for that one. i'm sure someone out there knows what deficiency that is. java fern has started to grow rapidly, i'll probably try and take the string off it soon, and shape it around the clay tree stump some more. if i had the patience for it i'd have painted it all over the clay and let it root in the humidor, but i'm too impatient for that. i want someone to make clay "trees" that you can attach moss balls to the ends of the branches, so they look like the dancing trees in Disney's Fantasia... how freaking fantastic would that be and why has no one done this yet?! that's how this is supposed to work universe... i think of awesome things, and someone else actually makes it a reality while I'm busy dreaming up more awesome things. chop chop.

solo 3:
water continues to be stable. DHG melt finally stopped, some root recovery and new shoots growing, so yay! added the malaysian trumpet snails two weeks ago. at first i thought they'd all died off, never saw a single one. finally seeing 1 moving around a bit as of this weekend. hopefully the other 3 are still alive in there too and adjusting okay. java fern is not taking off very quickly in this tank. Shinigami (betta) doesn't seem inclined to eat them... which is good since he usually considers all snails his personal meal treat.

i think i'm going to be super terrible and leave these till the end of next month, continuing with no water change just to force them to pass or fail a little faster. i go on vacation in september so i wont be home to see the havoc. perfect time really.
nice thread keep it going ! im reading it don't worry XD
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-27-2016, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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tiny update:

hit a dilemma last night, went over to petco to get my weekly bin of bladder snails and discovered a new product line. Imagitarium Filter Pads, 3 different types, one a very coarse blue pad, one a carbon coated pad, and one your standard filter floss pad. they're perfectly sized to fit the SOLO cubes. I'd really love to swap the quilt baffle bottoms in the solos, one cube for the blue pad, one cube for the carbon pad. i know the carbon pad will eventually become biomedia since it can't be swapped without a tear down and my layered UGF tanks usually run for 5+ years between tear downs. the only real hesitation i have with this is they're very stiff and i'm pretty sure i wouldn't be able to keep the actual biomedia under them like i do with the quilt baffling. but it might be worth a test anyways just to see how they perform as biomedia and filtration on their own. ....i think what this really means is that i need two more solo cubes. >< after all, there were two full rainbow iridescent bettas at petco that needed rescuing (dear Petco, do something about your betta keeping, it's inhumane and i pull at least 1 dead one off the shelf every visit.)

i'm early enough on in the project that i wouldn't lose much time, but my plants are really just starting to do well again... argh! tough call, i'll have to think about it.

also, inadvertently, one of my puffer's bladder snails decided to inhabit one of the UGF upwell tubes. i saw him today for the first time and he's much too large now to be able to pass through the bars of the flow port, so he's stuck in there until he dies or i remove him. i have often wanted to toss one in and see how long it would survive as a permanent pipe cleaner. so, we're going to test that theory out now too!

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-02-2016, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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cube 1 (snail tank)
it's coming along nicely. I'm kinda surprised, i wasn't sure what the carbon was going to do with it. i've heard so many "omg carbon is so bad for plants!!!" comments. they seem to be doing just fine. stability of tank has been improving too as it cycles and the ADA substrate stops being a pita. I have not done a water change on it since post 2, and it seems to be happy. All of the baby snails!! ppm is up at 300 now, and the plants haven't thrown a tantrum, so +1 for them. DHG is growing very nicely for the level of neglect it's getting.


cube 2 (betta)
no picture because shinagami is sleeping. it's way past his bed time and he gets really grumpy when he gets woken up. i'm not even joking, he puts himself to bed if i forget to turn his light off, and then complains to me the next day. so i bought him his own light timer. he's much happier with me these days. i've only done 1 10% water change about two weeks ago, water continues to be far more stable than i expected, getting some more plant growth And! ...another MTS showed up, yay!

13G
OMG. Baby guppies! lol. so i decided to not stress test it since i have baby guppies in it. i have nothing to feed them, but seeing as they are guppies, i figure they'll do okay eating the algae. if anyone has a good frozen food or market food to recommend for baby guppies feel free to let me know. I hadn't planned on baby guppies... but guppies are guppies. So I went ahead and did a large 50% water change on this tank to ensure it maintains good parameters. I tried to get a picture of Hannibal Lecter, 'cause he was being cute and hanging out in his "cave" between the planters on the left, but he was having none of it so you get a lame whole tank photo, and of course, baby guppy photo. You can see the toll the algae has had on the plants unfortunately. A daily dose of excel has gotten it back under control though. Other than the algae, the plants seem to like the pots just fine, I'm getting about normal, for here growth. which isn't great, and some melts, and so on and so forth. but i'm purposefully not dosing ferts, so they're getting nothing but root nutrients. The only negative I'm starting to see with the pots is that they, and only they, have a red growth on them. It's a very odd thing, it's algae of some kind, but I'm not sure what kind. The color is a sorta terracotta red, and the pleco and the nerites seem to like eating it just fine. But I find it interesting that it's only growing on the ceramic pots. I've had lots of ceramic items in tanks and never seen this, so I wonder if it's something of a hold over from the manufacturing facility. They should have been kiln fired, so I'm not sure what if anything could have survived that. Maybe something in the surface glaze/paint? Who knows. I'll keep an eye on it for now.
edit-oh i also removed the HOB. the UGF and water stability has maintained itself since removing the nitrastrate, so we'll see if it's established enough at this point to not need the HOB - which was from an already established tank and so a back up source of bacteria, and filtration since i did put fish in this right away.


and as always, remember, i'm not a photographer. beautiful pictures will never be in my threads. such is life.

-nakeeta

Last edited by nakeeta; 09-02-2016 at 12:17 AM. Reason: things!
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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1) i am the sad panda. i finally got a picture of hannibal in his cave, and it's so darn grainy you can't even tell the difference between him and the planters. i'm going to have to actually find my camera and take a real picture. bah!

2) i may have discovered the real joy of potted plants. algae treatments! DarkCobra's 1 2 punch for algae treatment is way easier when you can lift the plants out, soil and all, and dunk them in a bucket! also, i may have decided "meh, f-it" and done 1 cup of H2O2 per gallon of water. o.O plants are not visibly showing any issue from the treatment so far. we'll see if there are any delayed effects. but then again, the algae isn't showing any difference for the treatment either! /peer's menacingly at the algae. DIE ALREADY!!!! i think it did actually do something... mostly because my cleaner species have all gone bananas for the anubias, and it's leaves are showing much cleaner today than yesterday. so it may be that it did work, but the algae is still attached and will require the cleaning crew to have a giant feast for the next few weeks. can anyone who's used the treatment actually say how long it took for the algae to be visibly gone?

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-11-2016, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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quick update, no pictures because i still haven't dug out my real camera.

so, follow up to the way the heck overdosed H2O2 from last week... this did some really really cool stuff. 1)of course it killed the algae dead, that was the point. 2) it acted as a natural pruning agent for old growth. it didn't kill any of the plants, it killed off only the oldest of the leaves that needed to be trimmed off anyways. this is terribly fascinating to me as i work in personal care, and of course antiaging/antioxidants are all the rage. clearly these plants youthful cells have something in them to protect them from the oxidative effects of the H2O2 that the older leaves lose... very cool. 3) it promoted a blast off of new growth on top of ditching the algae. that may have just been from the excel bath though, or the removal of the "dead weight" of the old growth.

i'm caving on the CO2 early for the 13gal i ordered a pump to transfer it over to a 40gal/hr airtubeless UGF. aaaand, i'll remove the bubble wall. /sob. maybe. i'm trying to figure out if i can push the CO2 through a mix with the bubble wall... i mean, i know i can, just will it work to provide a good dispersal is the question or will i simply be wasting my CO2.

otherwise, all three tanks are looking really good and water continues to be stable. even the snail tank! so /glee

baby guppies are growing so fast! holy cow. two female, two male seem to have survived their unexpected birth. seriously... guppies, you were in the tank less than a month before you had babies and you're already pregnant again as far as i can tell. clearly they need to go to sex ed class.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-16-2016, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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aaand a 13gal picture! ...taken with a real camera! - though i'm not sure that actually improved my picture taking ability in the slightest. ><

well, i ended up not buying new plants from the store i'd found online. so they're not the species i'd hoped to test. but they are close. the non-chain privately owned LFS actually got a really healthy selection of plants in. i've been pestering the owner for months to hire on a plant specialist. looks like he finally did. a really good selection of plants, and all the rot and algae they were previously plagued with is gone. so i went ahead and took the chance on him. i purchased some freshwater seaweed, an ocelot sword, a red melon sword, and a spatterdock. i'd forgotten the downside of buying plants from them though, their set up is so large, the plants are deceptively small looking, until you get them home and put them in your nano tank! >< so they're taking up way more space than i'd planned on the new plants doing. also, when i potted them I refreshed the root tabs in all containers. i'm not sure the wisteria i hacked to pieces is going to make it, i cut it down to 5 little stem tops 'cause it was getting way too over grown, but now its moping and threatening to die off completely. and if the hair grass makes it i'm just going to continue to be amazed by that plant's tenacity, it has been so abused.

the CO2 system should arrive tomorrow. i bought another fluval 20. i don't know about you guys, but i love that co2 system to pieces. all the issues of large scale co2 pressurized canisters goes poof! out the window with the "keep it simple stupid" design. and too, i like that if i get angsty and decide to go DIY for a few months, the diffuser pretty much eliminates all DIY system headaches. but mostly i like that i can buy 16lb bike tire co2 canisters for a dollar a pop off amazon for it, so i don't feel the need to go DIY very often when it's that cheap to run.

for those actually following along you probably notice some rearrangement. i shifted everything over, and actually set up my seiryu stones. the set i bought makes an arch, and the little one in front has a tiny cave that mirrors the arch in miniature. hard to tell at the angle i took the picture. all combined, it gave me some more room in the tank for the pots, since i was able to remove one of the upwell tubes from the UGF, and shove everything over in one corner. the pump is a Tom Aquarium Pump Power Head Dive Power 40, it's probably a little light for a 13gal, it's only 40gal an hour turn over, but it is probably slightly more water than i was moving before via air. unfortunately i cut the new tube about an inch too short. while the pump can be submerged, for my peace of mind i prefer to have the electrical junction outside of the water so that if the seal ever does die i don't end up with electrocuted fish. so i'll need to get around to cutting a new length of tubing for that soon.

otherwise, overall, I'm happy with the changes to the 13gal. except for the loss of my bubble wall. /sniffles. you are missed bubble wall!! I'll be curious to see if the extended dead-space not covered by the UGF creates problems or if the water rotation i'm able to achieve with this powerhead prevents that.

in other news, the snail tank may be getting a new denizen. the LFS has an all black crowntail betta that boyfriend has decided he wants, but other than a 1gal shrimp tank i have been trying to decide how to 'scape, i don't have an established tank to put a new betta. i'm not sure i want to throw a betta in there, if he eats my budding snail population i'll be very disappointed. we shall see. i've been looking for a new black betta ever since "I am the Night" died, an over half-moon/rose petal hybrid in all black we had, but i'm not a fan of crown tails.

i have some extremely poor quality video footage of Hannibal hunting bladder snails, taken with an older video camera that is apparently dead jim, i'll see if the footage can be rescued, or else try and capture some new footage with the newer camera.

and that's it for updates. the two 5gal's are doing awesome.

oh, right, forgot! i discovered one of my ghost shrimp is a literal ghost now. /shakes a fist at Hannibal. Glad I didn't put the amano shrimp in there.
and i forgot again! ...we have baby Malaysian trumpet snails!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-29-2016, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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back from vacation and... we have a 3rd generation of guppy babies... /sigh. i really really need to give those two a talk about safe sex. i'm going to clean up the snail tank this weekend and transfer over the female guppy to the 5G snail tank at least for a few months until the current generations of babies finish growing up. unless someone in the philly area wants to brood moscow green guppies? you're welcome to take them. the male is a particularly beautiful specimen... i made the poor kid working at the LFS spend about 20 minutes trying to catch him out of the 50+ fish in the tank =x, the female is equally a stunner. i'll probably give them back to the LFS though once they're a bit bigger, they treat me good. but i really don't have the facilities to raise 30+ guppies. i'm really regretting giving away my 30g column tank now, and i promised myself i wouldn't buy the new 60g till after the new year. i'll have to distribute them across all the other tanks and hope for the best with the local denizens.

no losses while on vacation. lots of plant growth. some changes to the tanks i had done before going on vacation.

tank 1, 5G cube. -most notably the bacopa has really grown in the week i was gone. the dwarf hair grass... i think? i'll need to compare photos to see. it's alive at least, which was more than i was expecting of it.

tank 2, 13G widescreen. -new plants did absolutely stunning, no die offs at all. /highfive new plant guy! the weird red stuff growing on the pots continues to grow. i can't figure out what the heck it is. if i can't figure it out by the end of the month i'm going to take it into work and send it off to analytical, see what they have to say. at this point it looks like rust deposition. which isn't totally out of the question given the state of my RO prefilter, it was solid red with rust deposits. i changed my RO filters when I got back from vacation. stagnant RO water... Mmm yummy. i really wish there was some kind of automatic daily cycle regulator that would cycle out 1G of water with or without my being there to turn on the faucet, would save me so much in filters. when i'm gone and can't do it myself they get trashed and the RO membrane itself gets horribly clogged with bacteria growth.

let's see, what else... the fluval 20 has been a bit of a pita, but maybe it's done? the bottom suction was refusing to stick to the glass properly. i've scraped the glass repeatedly and tried to move the suction around. it's just the bottom one though, so i wedged it in behind the stones so it can't pop up on me when i fill it when CO2. after my vacation though it seems to be fine. it hasn't popped up the last few times i've filled it. /crosses fingers

oh, also, i need to remember to take a photo of the underside of the UGF. i'd meant to start doing this and totally forgot. before i moved everything around it had been perfectly clean, after i moved everything around obviously stuff got a bit of a dust up and there was some mulm inside it. i want to keep track of that and see if it's building up or not. if it's building up then this layout isn't going to work, either the 40G is pulling too much through the quilt baffle or the offset of deadspace is too large for the bacteria to deal with. ....if it builds up. time will tell. photos, must remember to get photos of that.

argh! and the damnable thread algae is back. lack of CO2 for a week. hopefully we'll get that knocked out again. /glares menacingly.

those following along may notice that besides a whole gaggle of baby guppies there's a shiny gold betta in the tank now. that's Gilderoy Lockhart. Yup, that one, 'cause he's golden with lilac accents technically the 13G was his home before I appropriated it for the experiment. He in turn was relegated to the hospital tank because he'd decided to get sick and lose ALL of his fins. o.O very un-Gilderoy of him, who obviously always dresses to the nines -even for the weekend. But he's doing much better now and his fins have grown back smashingly well. I put him back in the 13G while i was on vacation because it has an auto-feeder and the hospital tank does not. He seems to be doing alright, but i'll have to keep a very close eye on him and the tank as it is now quite over stocked between him and the bajillion baby guppies as they grow up.

tank 3, 5G - no real changes in this. i had moved the water sprite over here from the pot it was slowly dying in. it's much happier now. i threaded the individual stems through some circular bio-media ceramics to weigh it down, something it always seems to prefer to both being in soil and floating free. the baby trumpet snails are doing well. they're eating the heck out of my marimo moss balls though =x visible tracks running into them. i'll keep a close eye on the damage and determine if i need to remove them or not. i figure it's probably preventing some plant eating though, so it may be a good sacrifice. i've started throwing bits of seaweed into both 5G tanks for the local herbivores, much to their delight.

So, lets see, that's what month two down? way more changes than i'd expected to have to go through already, but still, everything is chugging along quite nicely and overall i'm very happy with the low maintenance and effectiveness of each tanks set up.

only a photo of the 13g, i did take one of the snail tank to show the growth of the bacopa, but i need to edit it still.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-30-2016, 07:58 PM
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So . . . I'm not real sure I'm all that clear on what you are trying to accomplish here exactly so forgive me if I'm incorrect, but it appears that you are trying to substitute using a UGF and a dirted tank for doing water changes? As you yourself have pointed out, you have way too many factors going on in each of those tanks, for this to be considered at all scientific, and I'm not sure that you're even going to accomplish the personal goal you indicated the way you are set up. I'm not criticizing, I'm just curious as to what it is that your trying to accomplish here and how you expect to arrive at your conclusion with any type of accuracy?

Just a couple of thoughts from my own experiences that may or may not be helpful. ADA has a low pH and leaches nitrogen for about a month, give or take . . . generally a pretty well know fact in the planted tank hobby, so unless you already cured the ADA prior to starting your experiment, I'm not sure that your getting accurate results. Secondly, in my experience having an UGF requires the owner to do more, not less tank maintenance. While you may initially get good results, failing to maintain the UGF properly (with weekly vacuuming of the tank) is going to result in detrious building up and getting trapped under the UGF long term, especially when using a fine substrate like ADA or ecocomplete, as the fine sedimentation is going to lead to inhibition of water flow through the UGF as it gets "packed" full of debris. That in turn could result in the creation of a anoxic or anaerobic zone under the UGF which in turn could result in the release of noxious gases into the aquarium by anoxic bacteria - all long term, not short term outcomes. Additionally, I would be concerned with an air pump moving enough water to keep the UGF viable long term - most who decry the ineffectiveness of the UGF have only had experiences running them with air, rather than some type of mechanical powerhead. And finally a question, are you concerned with the possibility of the aquarium suffering from OTS (Old Tank Syndrome) if you don't perform frequent water changes? Not trying to be rude, but as you are aware if you've been keeping tanks for all your life, a few months is a drop in the bucket over the long term life of an aquarium.

Don't get me wrong, personally I'm a big fan of UGFs, been running them for 20+ years and know that they work just as effectively as all the modern gadgets if they are properly set-up and maintained. Also curious to know if you've looked into or considered a reverse UGF? I've been running one of those using a ZooMed canister filter and ADA soil in combination with a couple of sponge filters for a couple years now on a planted ornamental shrimp tank without issue - still do small weekly water changes, but zero maintenance on the substrate and minimal maintenance on the canister filter.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wy Renegade View Post
So . . . I'm not real sure I'm all that clear on what you are trying to accomplish here exactly so forgive me if I'm incorrect
you are and i don't hold it against you in the slightest as i'm reasonably certain i never actually stated specific questions only generic end goals. i really didn't expect anyone to be the slightest bit interested in what i was doing -it's all too specific an application.

I am attempting to answer three separate questions, and a few related side questions. Which is why each tank is an experiment unto itself and not comparable with the other two. I am most definitely not trying to substitute these filtration methods for water changes.

they are:
1) if I rinse the ADA does it stop being a problem (so far, yes)
2) if I rinse the ADA will it still provide growth (so far, no)
3) if I don’t, will it ever start playing nice with my tap water (after 3 months, still no)
4) if soil in pots would be a problem
5) whether or not the pots create dead spaces, or other unforeseen problems with an UGF
6) figure out what plants will do well in the pots, and what to avoid
7) which method most reduces maintenance while stabilizing water parameters between water changes
8) which set up has the longest stable run

I’ve investigated reverse UGFs, and I am very intrigued by them.

I think the easiest way to understand what it is I’m hoping to learn by doing this is to understand that I don’t actually “know” all that stuff about planted tanks and substrates that pretty much every veteran here takes for granted. Literally, for granted. I’m doing this because all my years of experience keeping fish are for nothing under the current conditions in which I am attempting to keep fish. Heck, I wasn’t even aware that Chloramine was a thing when I moved here. How many people at this point would even stop to state to a newbie that you have to treat for chloramine? Well I killed the first betta I bought here before my LFS guy bothered to tell me about municipal water treatment changes. I have had to unlearn everything I knew about fishkeeping. I’ve done what searching I could to find answers to the questions I had. At the end of the day I wasn’t able to find answers to all of my questions, so I seek to answer some of them for myself. I’m definitely doing this just for me. If anyone else finds it interesting, well, all the better. Anything others care to contribute I consider bonus as I definitely don’t know all there is to know about planted aquariums. I’m willing to bet I don’t even know half of the basics that there is to know after regularly reading everything I could find for the past two years straight. I’ve learned a lot and come a long way in three years, but that’s in no way the same thing as having decades of experience, high tech experience, low tech experience, experience with dozens of substrates, lights, plant species… I mean the list is literally inexhaustible with all the things I don’t yet know. I only know one way to cure ignorance, and that’s to feed it knowledge.

-nakeeta

Last edited by nakeeta; 10-04-2016 at 11:04 PM. Reason: paste error
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-16-2016, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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been a bit since an update, nothing really going on, we're at that boring stage of tank stasis. each tank is chugging along in its own way. the new plants in the pots with the new CO2 are doing smashingly well. i've had to maintain excel dosing though even with the added CO2 to keep the hair algae in check. the 24/7 is simply way too much light for that tank. i am trying to decide how i want to run the light. currently i have a timer, but it runs lights for several things. so i can't set it specifically for this tank without affecting the others. but i don't think the day/night cycle its on will work for this tank with this light. yeah, i've just convinced myself, i'll have to get another timer specifically for this light. then i'll probably run it morning and evening with a rest period in the middle of the day. i'll miss the 24/7 cycle, but it can't be helped for now. maybe once i get some more growth, and add a few more plants, it can be turned back on.

the only real update is we have birth 3 of moscow green guppies. 1 survivor from birth 1, a female. 3-4 survivors from birth 2, and we look to currently have about 6 birthed from #3, we'll see how many of them survive. i've pulled all the other fish tank mates out and put them back with their respective schools. most of them were in here simply to add stock to the tank and be early warning detectors for problems. the guppies appear to be inclined to stock the tank all on their own. i did separate the male and female for a week, but they're way too bonded at this point. they sat and moped on the bottom of each of their separate tanks and refused to eat for a whole week until i put them back together. it was like watching puppies meet their favorite person after a whole day of being gone, they were so excited to see each other. i don't have the heart to break them up after that. so, they get their own tank. which means I need to build another betta tank, otherwise Gilderoy is just going to keep eating the babies, which isn't good for him, and the guppy parents will keep trying to fend him off, which isn't good for either of them. i researched tanks some more, but the solo still remains the best deal even though i don't even use half of what they ship it with. so that's what i'll be buying for him next month. it will have to wait till then as my car took a dive last week and cost me a damn fortune to fix. i could have replaced the engine for less but my mechanic talked me out of it. he adores this car's engine. i don't really understand. he swears up and down he's never seen one so clean. i can't take any credit for it, i bought the thing used, and i bring it to him for all repairs. if it's awesome. it's his awesome not mine. but i digress. Gilderoy will have to wait.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-05-2016, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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just a small update and some photos for growth monitoring.
new plants are ridiculously huge. i still need to get a few more smaller plants for two of the planters side pockets. duckweed decided to hit critical, i've had to start scooping out handfuls of it weekly to keep it from totally covering the water surface, but it's finally cutting the light down enough that i haven't done an excel dose in weeks with no outbreak of algae, so that's good.

here's a side image showing how far the wisteria has grown since I cut it down and replanted it about a month ago.


propagated some S.rapens to the 5gal betta cube that the dwarf hair grass never recovered in. one tiny thread is still hanging on otherwise the rest is gone. which is unfortunate. pretty sure that's the nail in the coffin for soil washing. but i told myself i would run this for 6 months, so it's running 6 months. who knows! maybe magic will happen. yeah, i don't think so either.m

the snail tank finally has a sustainable population to feed the dwarf puffer, unfortunately after 3 months the ADA soil is still messing with my pH in this tank. not daily, but enough that i still wouldn't dare put a fish in this tank that i want to live. bacopa is all the way up to the water line now. this photo was taken a couple weeks ago. it seems to have hit some kind of critical mass and just started shooting off like a weed. dwarf hair grass continues to grow low and slow, and i'm still impressed it does so.


i can't even begin to believe how many baby guppies i currently have. the juveniles of this breeding pair are very flashy. i've decided to call them aurora guppies 'cause they wear baby blue "dresses" and have long shining blonde "hair" i tried to get a picture but there's simply no way my camera will take a picture of a moving fish with anything like focus.

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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been ages it seems since i followed up on keeping this journal going. not much going on, other than i finally gave into the inevitable and rebuilt the 5gal snail cube. 5 months... just could quite make it 6. it was making me angry looking at it day in and day out. doesn't help that that's the tank that sits on my desk i guess. note to self - don't put the potentially worst tank of an experiment where you have to stare at it constantly. ...of course i also did that on purpose so i could keep an eye on it when i stocked it. but since i never stocked it, doesn't matter!

the baby guppies are all growing up beautifully. unfortunately, my ability to not take a picture that you can see anything in continues to amaze even me. i mean, seriously, the laws of probability suggest i should, at some point, by pure luck, happen to take 1 photo of a moving fish in focus. but no. 100+ plus photo attempts later, and this is my best effort. /smh

LOL
well, maybe if you squint you can pretend that's how it would look if you had bad eyesight!
regardless, the offspring are stunning, i'm very happy with this guppy pair. I'll have to start culling soon. ...hate that part.

and of course i got so caught up in taking blurry pictures of guppies, i didn't realize i'd only taking 1 photo of the whole tank and it was so absolutely horrible, even by my standards, i refuse to post it. but it's pretty much a solid mass of green now, the swords are absurdly huge, with the ozelot being about 4-5 inches above the top of the water line. i pull a double fistfull of duckweed weekly. the seaweed and javamoss had covered about half the bottom completely before i cut it back again. the wisteria is rampant - i'd pull it, but with so much overstocking in this tank as the guppy babies grow up i don't dare remove the water column cleaning they're doing for me with their fibrous roots. The containers and root tabs are doing really well. I don't know how much longer they can hold up on this level of growth without eating up all the nutrient in their soil containers though. the co2 combined with the solid duckweed growth continues to keep the hair algae down to only one part of the tank where I actually want a little bit to grow for my otos and baby guppies.

here's the snail 5gal rebuild.
since Shinigami's tank has been doing so spectacularly, i more or less duplicated it. however I did run over to petco and buy one of their carbon spray coated filter pads that i discovered way back when, and used that in place of quilt batting for the bottom. will be interesting to see how that behaves. Also, I was out of pumice so I used the last of my NitraStrate instead. hate to use that stuff where it doesn't serve a visual component, but whatever. happy 5 gallon here we come!
I replanted all the bacopa that had been in there, the dwarf crypt sword thingy, and added a different log, more java moss, and added some freshwater seaweed. the java moss and seaweed i'll let fill in the floor.

water is still clearing up, i flooded it about 10 minutes prior to taking that picture because i'm an impatient person and also i'm running out of time today.
if you can't tell, i like my tanks to look less lawful good and more chaotic neutral.

lastly, shinigami's tank. been a good long while since i grabbed a picture of this tank, i'm always home too late in the evening to catch it when the light is on.

as you can see it's turned into a jungle, and i like it that way. also, it's overdue for a cleaning. i purchased automatic feeders when i went on vacation and that one keeps giving me trouble. it either over feeds or under feeds. need more shrimp.
also, i'm pretty sure all those snail egg sacks are dead. they've been there for what seem like ages but none of my cleaners are inclined to eat them. what's up with that?

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