Here is a journal of my 155-gallon bowfront tank, inspired by Burr740's tanks with black diamond blasting sand. I love Dutch setups, but I'm not necessarily trying to accomplish that now. Once I see how everything grows, I can tighten up the groupings and maybe add some streets. I'd like to get a round bush of the Rotala Indica, for example. I'm seeing tons of plants used in other tanks that I have never heard of before, so it will be nice to try those at some point. I think I have enough variety for now. I don't want to have groupings so tight that I have massive lower leaf shedding or stem melting.
I re-did the tank six weeks ago after making a mess with MTS under fluorite substrate. I uprooted some broadleaf sag and crypts, and just couldn't keep the tank clean after that. I couldn't get the plants and hardscape clean. I also had the MTS go anaerobic, but didn't realize the extent of it until I ripped it all out. It smelled awful. Plants grew great at first, but then tapered off. I guess it was the H2S! So, after seeing Burr's tanks with BDBS, I wanted something like that - clean and versatile, since I sell plants often and want the flexibility to move things around. I've also been following the dosing strategies of Burr, Fablau and Pikez on the Barr Report forums, with EI level macros and very low trace doses. I struggled for years trying to grow Alternanthera Reineckii (you can look for my old posts if you are so inclined), trying different flow patterns, high CO2, various light intensities, low nitrates, full EI and none of them worked until I reduced CSM+B trace dosing. I've never grown as nice plants as I have since lowering traces. Dennis Wong even used my old, awful, struggling AR photos in his Youtube video on the plant, showing how not to grow it! And this is after I had tried for quite some time! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HHr2SPsoxg
155 gallons, 72" x 24" x 18", bowing to 24" in the middle
Lighting - BML Dutch XB in the back, with 90 degree spread; Single 72" T8 strip in middle, to allow extended viewing, and 48" T5HO twin tube on the bowfront. I run the BML at about 80% most of the time, with occasional periods at 100%.
Filters - two Rena XP3 - 12 years old and going strong
Substrate - Black Diamond Blasting Sand - 200 lbs, makes a robust 4" substrate, maybe 5" in the back. Modest root ferts with Osmocote pellets - most just plain Osmocote, then some with O+ for traces. I'm super wary of overdoing traces - I'm the guy who started that CSM+B Toxicity Experiment threat of 2015... I also put a Jobes stick under the swordplant.
CO2 - 24" long, 3" diameter PVC Griggs-style reactor filled with bioballs. Both filter outputs feed into it, which sends CO2 rich water out both outflow pipe. I restrict the outlets a bit, creating backpressure which helps with CO2 dissolution a little bit. The filters have a strong enough flow to blow some CO2 out the reactor.
Flow - super important with a big tank. I've experimented a lot, and found best result is a single whirlpool effect around the tank. Both inlets are back left, and outlets are back left and halfway across tank, pointing right. A powerhead helps push water back left to right, and another pushes water front right to left around the bowfront and back to filter inlets.
UV - Green machine UV sterilizer, and I have the outlet above the water line to add a little O2 with the splashing return from it.
Italian and Corkscrew Vals
Crypt Wendtii Brown
Anubias Nana and Hastifolia
Ludwigia Palustris (I think - very red at top)
Java Fern on large wedge of driftwood - right side of tank
Alternanthera Reineckii (Cardinalis variety, I believe)
Hygro Kompact (tiny sprigs right now, hoping to grow in)
Here is a close-up of the left side:
And the right side:
I used to have the large driftwood with Java Fern in the center right as a focal point, in the old MTS/fluorite setup:
But this time I wanted more real estate to just have different mixes of plants. The wood on the right creates a nice "ramp" of the java fern.
Here is a shot from setting up this tank in mid-February - most of the plants actually melted after the transition - either from cold shock or possibly chloramines - since I had the fish out I just filled up the tank quickly with cold tap water, then planted them. New plants from stores were OK, but the ones I took out of the MTS tank mostly melted and then grew back.
As for fish, simple mix of guppies and platys, a small school of Black Phantom Tetras, and I plan to have a big school of neon tetras and black phantoms now that the tank is stabilizing. I've done discus before, but just don't want to deal with the high cost and extra maintenance at this point.
3x per week - 5 ppm NO3, 5 ppm K, .75 ppm PO4, 0.015 ppm Fe from CSM+B, plus a little extra DPTA iron. Copying Burr's routine of low traces, more or less.
Last week I started seeing very tiny specks of cyanobacteria. I think that's because I went a week without dosing nitrates - my API kits always read sky high, so I took my water to a store for a second opinion. Unfortunately, they also used API and gave me a sky-high nitrate report. Now I'm back to the regular dosing. I also saw 1-2 spots of GSA today, so I may need to bump dosing a little bit. Lesson learned (again!) - watch the plants, not the test kits!