Crypt clear stream biotope - update 9/2/16 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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Crypt clear stream biotope - update 9/2/16

Well.
It has been a long time since I set up a new tank and a long time since I created a tank journal. Bear with me! I hope it will prove useful/entertaining.

So.
How did I finally decide to set up a second tank? Here are a series of possible explanations. All contributed to some extent
1) My wife said to throw out all of that aquarium stuff in the garage - that I wasn't using! I had a 60 gallon long tank (drilled), a garage sale 28 gallon acrylic cube, and an old protein skimmer. I can re-purpose these!
2) I wanted to try a sump - the acrylic cube will work great!
3) I always thought the protein skimmer could work as a CO2 reactor. Lets do it!!
4) Tissue culture plants - no snails! No algae! What could go wrong!
5) This is probably the main reason I set up this tank. The crypt habitats shown by Discovery Planetuk on Youtube. They are awesome! I loved the clear water streams with Crypts on mounds or slopes adjacent to a rocky, sandy stream bottom. I wanted to see if I could showcase crypts in as natural a setting as I could.

This will be a mix of retrospective and a journey to see what works and what doesn't. Many firsts here for me. To start things rolling, here is the tank one hour after planting and filling (done today)





I will try to tackle the tank set up and the challenges I ran into using an existing collection of items. Please remember, I am new to many of the things being used for this tank. This is not the definitive how-to. That said, I will try to be honest about what works and what fails!

Last edited by billb; 09-02-2016 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Fixing pic link
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 05:17 AM
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Thanks for sharing, the tank looks great. What Cryptocoryne species are you cultivating?

Last edited by TaylorTurner; 08-11-2016 at 06:14 AM. Reason: Correction
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 12:21 PM
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Will protein skimmers work in fresh water? I always thought no because of the difference in surface tension between the two water types, where saltwater can sustain much smaller bubble diameters than fresh, also the reason why freshwater waves don't crest and break in the same manner as salt does.


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2016, 03:10 PM
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Looks great !!!


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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-12-2016, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys.

As promised, I will give you some more details about this build. First, I wanted to provide two links to Discovery Planetuk You tube videos that provided inspiration

https://youtu.be/aUynw5FBwHw?t=6 This is a stream in Thialand with C. ciliata.

https://youtu.be/wiO0ZhyXKug?t=31 This is from Lingga Island focusing on C. yurithiae and Boraras maculata.

Well, I had several items available stored away in the garage. Specifically:

A 60 gallon long tank drilled at both ends


A closer look at the 1”bulk heads



The tank originally was a closed loop system. This worked well, and still does on my 90 gallon tank. For awhile now, I have been interested in trying a sump and I had an acrylic cube 20”L x 18”W by 17”D. This would work very well as a sump for my 60 gallon tank. It is big enough to hold a filter sock and the large CO2 reactor I wanted to try. Pictures a little later.

Protein Skimmer to be re-purposed as a CO2 reactor/aeration system

I did not take a picture before I inserted it into the sump but I found a picture online:



You can see the small ˝” port that accepts the input from the needle wheel pump. It is located right in the middle of the 20” tall x 7” diameter column. Water flows out from the larger tube starting at the bottom of the skimmer and flowing out at the top of the tube where the white filter floss is attached. My version does not have the foam collection cup or the filter floss on the outflow. Here are a couple of pictures of the sump:



A closer look at the reactor/aerator



The sump also contains an 8”x8”x4” Marine Pure ceramic biomedia plate and a 7” filter sock. The needle wheel pump is an Aquatrance 2000s that pushes 198 gph and 720l/h of air. The return pump is a Sicce Syncra 3.5 pump rated at 634 gph. This will offer a 10x turn over per hour.

So, with holes drilled in the tank bottom, I needed to make an internal overflow. I bought a CPR retrofit over flow box. It is bigger than I need at 12” L by 4”W but, as I had two drilled holes, this allowed me to use two Durso over flows. Safety in redundancy. Some pics:





So far, this system has worked very well. A slight turn of the ball valve on the main over flow has the system absolutely quiet.

The last technical challenge for me was how would I create a steep bank in such a narrow tank – only 15” wide. I was using Aquasoil and wanted the slopes to not be filled with lava rocks or other scaffolding material. Crypts have deep roots and I wanted them to have plenty of substrate. Lucky for me, I had a roll of 100 micron, stainless steel mesh. This material is pretty flexible and I cut strips of various widths to use along the contour lines of my slope. The mesh was attached to the rock work and tank bottom using aquarium grade silicone sealant. Some pics:



Last but not least, the plants!

One of my challenges was to figure out how to re-create the views from the natural habitat in my small aquarium. I needed to chose my plants carefully. In the streams, the plants grow in large groups of a single species. I also love the way some of the larger leaved species waved in the current. I needed to find small species but didn’t want a lawn of C. parva. I also wanted easy to care for species. So here is the plant list:

C. Undulata – Three of these placed right at the overflow. The only bare root plants as I wanted some size to mask the hardware. Upper left corner of the picture.



C. crispatula var tonkinensis - These are planted at the upper left hand part of the tank, right in front of the filter return. Hoping to see the leaves waving in the current. Located at the top of the picture.



C. wendtii “brown” – These will make my “wall of crypts” planted in the middle of the scape between the two large rocks. They also are planted vertically from the river bottom up to the top of the slope.



C.willisii - A recommend from Seattle Aquarist (thanks Roy). I small crypt, a little bigger that C. parva and with a little broader leaf. This plant makes up the bulk of the trailing slope on the left side of the scape. It is also used just below the C. undulata on the right hand side of the tank.



C. parva - Used along the edge of the river bottom and in the rock work. Located at the edge of the stream and extending into the sand in this picture.


Clearly a long way to go yet. Very few roots with the tissue culture plants so I am worried about how well they will stay in place. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Last – the lighting. I almost forgot and don’t have a great photo. I bought two Kessil 160WE Tuna Suns. I love the shimmer these provide. Here they are peaking into a full tank shot. Yes, it is in my garage.


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Last edited by billb; 08-13-2016 at 02:45 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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I’M MELTING!

Well that really isn’t a big surprise with crypts. I hadn’t used tissue culture plants before so I guess I was hoping they might be more resistant. Not so much. One challenge with the tissue culture plants is that the root system is not very developed. After they melt, you have little tiny rhizomes precariously planted in Aqua soil normal. It may have been better to use powder with smaller grains to hold the tiny roots better. I will now be spending the next few weeks doing as little as possible to disturb the plants!

Now, the species that I have all melted to different degrees. Let’s take these from worst (most to all melted) to best (very few plants melted)

#1 – C. wendtii “brown”



These guys are almost 100%. As a group, they did have the most roots and are staying put in the Aqua Soil so I am hopeful they will spring back

#2 – C. willisii



A close second to C. wendtii. All plants are affected but some still have intact leaves – for now

#3 – C. parva



Not the best picture. The C. parva is to the right of a really messed up C. willisii. About half the plants melted but most still have a few intact leaves.

#4 – C. crispulata var Tonkinensis



Hanging in there so far! Only been 5 days though so … we will keep fingers crossed.

# 5 – C. undulata



These three plants were not tissue culture. They came bare-rooted and were probably grown emmersed. A few leaves have turned yellow and I expect them to slowly convert over to new, submerged leaves. Just might take a little longer than their tiny cousins.

So, I will keep things as constant as I can. Will be doing daily 50% water changes and thinking happy thoughts. Will update again in about a week.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 09:57 PM
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The plants will recover. Can't wait to see this as it grows in. Great job!


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2016, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Update 8/23/16 – two weeks in and one week after the BIG MELT.

A quick update this week. Things are slowly progressing. Did I lose any plants? Maybe, it is still early yet. The API ammonia test strips are showing something between 0.5 and 1.0ppm that’s good. Still not going to add any livestock for awhile. I don’t want to disturb the tiny cryptocorynes. They can be uprooted very easily – I know from experience!

Here are the pictures

C. wendtii var brown – these guys are leading the way on the recovery spectrum. I would guess that over half are showing new growth.



Here is a closer look – but still a lousy picture!



C. crispulata var tonkinensis – these guys have experienced a little more melting but most retain some leaves. I will be happy to see new leaves pop up.



C. willisii – Well, these guys are not jumping back quickly. Most look like this:



There are a couple with a small leaf. Hard to see but it is there. Most do not show anything yet and I am hoping I didn’t lose most of these plants



Last but not least, C. parva. This one was slow to melt but it finally did. All except for this one plant that retained two leaves. Those are the only signs of life with C. parva. I hear it is a slow grower so perhaps the new growth will be delayed too.



A final comment. You can see the stainless mesh retaining walls in the pictures. My early replanting efforts exposed those. At this point I am going to leave things as they are until the plants root and grow. Nothing to lose by waiting to back fill – the tank isn’t really a show piece at the moment! Patience, patience….

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-02-2016, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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9-2-16 update

Quick update. Things go slowly with Crypts so I will be updating less frequently.

First, one tactic I am trying with this new tank is to use Hornwort in place of stems as a rapid growth competitor to slow algae. It doesn’t need to be planted and, so far, it is growing like crazy. Probably doubled in size over the last three weeks!



I do have some algae and diatoms starting. Pretty easy to remove and at some point soon I will add some Otos and Amano shrimp. Hoping to get the plants rooted before I have critters in here. The tank is cycled with zero detectable ammonia right now. I am still doing 50% water changes every other day.

So here is the latest on the Crypts:

C. wendtii var. brown – still doing well. These pictures are taken looking down from the top during a water change.



This is a closer look. You can see some algae but also see some of the patterns present in the more mature leaves. Looks pretty nice!



C. undulata – A few new leaves and many older ones. I expect these to change to a longer submersed form eventually.



The undulata is positioned at the end of the tank under the overflow and the Maxspect gyre. I really like the flow patterns from the gyre generator in the 60 long tank. It really looks like a stream with everything on the bottom flowing in one direction. Here is a closer look at the setup



C. crispulata var tonkinensis – slower than the C. wendtii but new leaves are present along with some older ones. Looking forward to seeing how these look as they mature.



C.willisi and C. parva – still lagging. There are three willisi plants that have early, tiny leaves. The rest, including all of the parva, are no shows. We will see if I get any of these to come back. I have heard it could take a long time so I will keep waiting!

Thanks, and I will check back in a few weeks

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-02-2016, 11:14 PM
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Loving it all except the almost total melt, wow. They should bounce back though. IME crypts melt more in higher flow areas and you have a good amount of flow there so maybe there is something to that? Anyway I LOVE crypts, my favorite type of plant for sure. I think you did a great job of manipulating the substrate and I look forward to watching this tank grow. I am just starting to setup an overflow/sump planted tank myself so you've got my attention.


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-03-2016, 12:15 AM
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video of the gyre in action please. want to see the crypts swaying.

My journals:
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-03-2016, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Myswysins - Thank you! I think that introducing tissue culture plants to a new, unstable tank probably contributed to the melting a big way. Didn't know about flow contributing too. Oh well. Planting on a Thursday is probably also bad!
This is my first tank focused on Crypts but I have another tank and really love these plants. As for the sump, so far so good. I do like how the water level stays constant in the aquarium!

Etane - This might take awhile! The crypts right now are barely sticking out above the substrate. Wish I had taken a video after planting.

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 04:16 AM
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Crypt clear stream biotope - update 9/2/16

This tank looks great! Crypts are awesome plants, they'll grow well in my super low light 10G (albeit slowly) where most stem plants die.

IME willissi are pretty difficult to grow. Not as hard as I hear parva are, but harder than the wendtii group for sure.

What are you running for co2?


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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 04:21 AM
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Not sure if you mentioned this already and i missed it but what type of sand did you use in the foreground? I really like the look of it.


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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-05-2016, 05:19 AM
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This is going to be a beaut once it grows in... Really like the sloped look. Can't wait to see the progress!
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