Abbeysdad's 60g Journey in time - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Abbeysdad's 60g Journey in time


The back story:
In and out (mostly in) of the hobby for the past 50 years. In my teens and 20's I had a small fishroom with 8 tanks (6-10g, 1-20g, 1-29h). Life took me away a time or two, then Abbey won a goldfish at a fair which led to a few goldfish in succession, then a transition to tropical fish. About 8 years ago I went to Petsmart to get a hood/light to setup my 29h, but instead came home with a 60g Marineland set (tank, stand, lights and bought heaters filter and plastic decor).
I set it up old school with just a few fish and I was off and running. In time I added more fish and was doing 50% water changes from my country well. The fish didn't seem to be doing all that well. I had some black molly's that kept getting a mouth fungus. I'd put them in a hospital tank, treat with antibiotics until I was sure they were cured, then put them back in the display tank only to have the problem recur. About the same time I started losing fish slowly one at a time for no apparent reason. I finally tested the tank water to realize that the nitrates were through the roof. Worse still, I discovered that my well water was high in nitrates (60-80ppm)! My water changes did little or nothing to keep nitrates down in the tank!!!
I opted for an API Tap Water filter (DI) to filter my well water for water changes AND did everything I could to get/keep tank nitrates low. I used pouches of API Nitra-Zorb in the filter. Although I had routinely gravel vacuumed the gravel, I decided to switch to cleaner silica (pool filter) sand for the substrate. I got another Aquaclear 70 filter and totally filled it with Seachem Matrix and seeded it with Seachem Stability in an effort to culture anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrates into nitrogen gas. I later 'invented' a denitrate filter using nearly 4 liters of Seachem Matrix & DeNitrate bio-media. It never really worked so it was a constant 'fight' to both filter water for water changes and keep tank nitrates down.
The cost of the Tap Water Filter cartridges in addition to additives for pH and hardness made it nearly as expensive as buying spring water. I later took a cartridge, emptied it and filled it with API Nitra-Zorb. The was cost effective because it would yield about 200g before recharging with salt water.
Then began the journey with plants to create a Walstad inspired nearly natural biotope. Diana Walstad had observed 100g stock tanks with sludge in the bottom but lush green Jungle Vals growing up and out of them. She took an inch or so of organic potting mix and capped with an inch or so of fine gravel. She planted and the plants grew well. She opted for good water flow but felt that filtration and water changes would just remove nutrients the plants could use so only had modest filtration and did not do water changes. This was/is very successful and led to what is now called the Walstad method.
I call my setup Walstad inspired for two reasons: 1) I don't have 1" of washed out soil in the bottom, just 3-4" of pure silica (pool filter) sand. I feel her method had less to do with that and more to do with balancing the natural organic fertilizer through minimal filtration and no water changes. And 2) I continue to do modest weekly water changes of approximately 20%.
In addition to the new lighting and heavy planting of hardy plants suitable for low tech, I added some Malaysian Trumpet Snails whose population has dramatically increased. These snails burrow in the sand aerating it and depositing plant usable nutrients down under (their function is not unlike earthworms in my garden soil.


My tank was well established 60g Marineland, two 15w fluorescent lights, two Aquaclear 70 HOB filters, two 200w Aqueon heaters, and silica (pool filter) sand substrate.
I bought a 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7 and planted...
Jungle Val, Wisteria, Green Crypt Wendtii, Anubias Nana, Java Fern, Java Moss, Dwarf Sag, Amazon Sword.

Here's a photo series over about 3 months.

Note: I have high nitrates (40-80ppm) in my well water so I filter water for weekly partial water changes. Hoping plants will aid in purifying the water to allow for 10-15g weekly water changes.

This is ultra low tech, leveraging organics to feed plants and only adding chem ferts as necessary to keep plants healthy.

Notes:

> This has become a Walstad Inspired method. Although I do not have 1" of dirt in the substrate. I do have silica sand and lots of Malaysian Trumpet Snails. The MTS burrow into the sand and will aerate as well as deposit organic fertilizer for rooted plants. (Not unlike earthworms in the garden). I have backed off on water changes and chemical ferts. Water flow is good but filtration is minimum.

> I'm using a bubble bar on the left side. This not only increases O2 but also injects CO2 from the air in equilibrium.

> The principal 'fertilizer' (along with fish and plant waste) is high quality fish food with primary ingredients being fresh fish...

Ingredients:
Whole Salmon, Halibut, Black Cod, Whole Herring , Whole Shrimp, Whole Krill, Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Fresh Kelp, Lecithin, Astaxanthin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Natural and Artificial Colors, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Biotin, Inositol, Tocopherol (Preservative), Ethoxyquin (Preservative).

Guaranteed Analysis:
Min. Crude Protein….41%
Min. Crude Fat………12%
Max. Crude Fiber…….2%
Max. Moisture…….. 8.5%
Max. Ash……………..8%
Min. Phosphorus....(0.5%)
Min. Omega 3 ……... 2%
Min. Omega 6….…...1%
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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 03-06-2017 at 11:05 PM. Reason: update
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-01-2016, 08:55 PM
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Interesting to see the progression of plant growth. I'm starting a new tank soon and should do that.

How are the nitrates now that you have good plant mass?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-02-2016, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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How are the nitrates now that you have good plant mass?
Filters are just using sponge, bio-sponge and polyester filter floss for polish. The filters also have Fluval sponge pre-filters to prevent the fry from being pulled in.

The water is crystal clear. Doing a 10-15g weekly water change.
With each water change I have been dosing 2-3 capfuls of Flourish Trace and 1/2 tsp of Equilibrium. Every other week, the next day after the WC I add 1 capful of Flourish Comprehensive. I'm also using Flourish root tabs for rooted plants.

The nitrates by the end of the week (before the partial water change) are at 5ppm.

At some point I may extend the water change interval to another week to see if nitrates stay low.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg of a chicken.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Update

As time went on, I followed some bad advice and cut my jungle val down to a few inches. Dustin said to 'hack it down, it would come in thicker'. It did not recover well at all. So I saw what looked like a good deal on Evilbay, but the plants brought with them BBA spores! Soon the new jungle val was loaded with BBA and spreading to other plants, so I removed all of the jungle val.

At the same time, the other plants began to stall and grow less. I began dosing with Excel. Later I decided to try DIY CO2 and increasing ferts and light slightly to get plants going again.

In the photos that follow it was time for housekeeping...
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Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg of a chicken.

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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 01-07-2017 at 12:56 PM. Reason: update
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 01:11 PM
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Dustin said to 'hack it down, it would come in thicker'.
Who is Dustin?


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Who is Dustin?
That would be Dustin Wunderlich of Dustin's Fishtanks. I bought a starter set of plants from him way back when and saw a Youtube video he did recommending chopping Jungle Val down to make it come in thicker. It just didn't work for me - the plants had been growing great until I cut them down to 3-4". They stalled and only a few sent up new shoots. I would never cut jungle val again like that....live 'n learn.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 01-07-2017 at 01:34 PM. Reason: update
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 01:59 PM
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I have had the tips look shabby and only a very small trim, never trimmed that short though.

I am not a fan of all the videos.
Occasionally I get caught up in some YouTube tank stuff.
I rate it like a movie, purely entertainment never looking for the cure.

Your tank is improving with DIY CO2 now?


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
I have had the tips look shabby and only a very small trim, never trimmed that short though.

I am not a fan of all the videos.
Occasionally I get caught up in some YouTube tank stuff.
I rate it like a movie, purely entertainment never looking for the cure.
Yes, we have to take all instructional video's with a grain of salt - some are excellent, others just aren't worth watching. Some (like DIY CO2) are just the same old thing over and over - pop bottles 'n such. I thought the jungle val advice would be good, until I got the results I got.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
Your tank is improving with DIY CO2 now?
The plants are showing significant improvement, but as I've mentioned, it's been a shotgun approach. Excel to fight the BBA, diy CO2, slightly increased ferts and light - kinda stepping up from low tech to medium tech.
Most notable is the dwarf sag, wisteria and the mystery floating plant(s) that are like anacharis. I say 'like anacharis' because I received a 1" piece of this plant as junk with my 1st plant order. Just for fun, I planted it and it grew. I trimmed and kept replanting. Then I just let it float and that 1" stem has became a fairly large plant mass!!!
At some point, I'll likely once again leave the light in 24/7 mode, continue with the diy CO2, and adjust ferts (mostly Flourish Trace and Comp) accordingly. It's all a work in progress, but of course the goal is a great looking planted tank with robust/happy fish.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg of a chicken.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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After a time, the plant growth seemed to stall. I have been experimenting with DIY Bio-CO2, along with Easy Green ferts (Aquarium Co-op) w/seachem Flourish, and slightly increased lighting (I put the Finnex 24/7 on max @10am, then back to 24/7 @3pm.

I think these changes take me to medium tech.

Plants are looking good!
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Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 07:33 PM
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Hi, I'm thinking of getting angelfish someday in future and can't decide if I should go with a 55gal, a 60 or a 75.... your angelfish look like they have plenty of room- and I like how the proportion looks of them in the tank- are they full grown? Do yours get along ok or do you feel like you will have to move one when they pair off. Just wondering.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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@JJ09 - Sadly the Angels in the early photos passed away from unknown causes. They were a mated pair, although they came from the same brood, raised in this very tank. Although they were good sized, I don't know that they were fully grown as I've seen angels much bigger.
On the up side, I have another pair now that my daughter bought me when a LFS was going out of business.
Although as chiclids, angels get an aggressive 'bad rap'. But the angels I've had have been decent community fish. Oh they're a bit territorial, especially if they after breeding and laying eggs, but although appearing aggressive, they've never really harmed any of my other fish.
I think any tank 55g or larger would be suitable for even large angels. However, I can't really speak to the issue of multiple pairs reacting to each other as I have yet to experience this. It's possible that there may be increased aggression.

Bump: Update
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Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg of a chicken.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Time for an update.

After a battle with BBA and Black Spot algae in the 60g, things are looking good again. I had to use both H2O2, Excel, and serious trimming to get under control. The water wisteria in the center of the tank did not do well after a trimming and it had some brown algae so I removed it.
I've added floating Water Sprite for water quality and algae abatement.



In new news, I've become an 'accidental breeder' having 'sold' (lfs store credit) 54 Mollies and now growing out several dozen assorted swordtails. Here's a peak at the crude setup in the basement. From left to right, brine shrimp hatchery, 2.5g brine shrimp holding, 10g fry tank, and 37g grow out.

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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 04-11-2018 at 04:53 AM. Reason: update
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 07:59 PM
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Dang, I can't see your latest photos. I've also "slipped" into breeding, it appears, with 3 batches of angels and 5 batches of guppies.


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2018, 05:04 AM Thread Starter
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Dang, I can't see your latest photos. I've also "slipped" into breeding, it appears, with 3 batches of angels and 5 batches of guppies.
Try again - I put the photos on photobucket and linked.
vanish and vanish like this.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg of a chicken.

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