Eye Sore to Beauty - 65g Transformation Build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Eye Sore to Beauty - 65g Transformation Build

So this is my journal, where i will hopefully transform my tank into a dutch style beauty..... It's always been my dream but somewhere along the way i got lost...

The tank is a Juwel Rio 240, with stock internal filter + a fluval 406 canister filter and stock juwel 2x54W T5HO bulbs with reflectors, i used to run both "day" bulbs now i use 1 "nature" and one "day". The substrate is ecocomplete,

I started this tank 2 years ago and it looked like this....... Things weren't perfect but i was getting good growth, there was minimal algae, the rotala wallichii wasn't doing well. Probably since I wasn't running any CO2, I had put a bunch of root tabs in the substrate, which is Caribsea's Eco Complete. I wasn't dosing any ferts at this point and I was probably running WAY to much light.



Because this is what it looked like 2 years later, after battles with every kind of algae, I had literally lost hope in everything. I had added a CO2 Injection system but was using a diffuser that had become clogged with algae and i was barely getting 2ppm. I had sporadically dosed ferts but wasn't regular with it. I had cut down the light to 4 hrs a day. Finally my CO2 regulator solenoid died.... I wasn't keeping up with water changes at all.



Finally i decided to make some changes. I bought a CO2 reactor and a new regulator and a fresh bottle of CO2 and also purchased a pH controller and dialled the pH in to 6.4, giving me ~29ppm of CO2 at a kH of 3. I got rid of the terrible flow restricting spray bar and adjusted my outflows to circulate the water better. I purchased a dosing pump and made some pre-mixed solutions(KNO3, KH2PO4, Rexolin APN) which get dosed automatically(im currently doing 1/2 EI as there is too much accumulation of nitrates and phosphates because i don't have enough plant uptake. I also purchased new bulbs for the lights. I cleaned and manually removed as much algae ridded plants as possible and did a thorough vacuum of the tank. I reduced my feeding down and added Purigen to my filter to reduce organic waste being converted to nitrates. I've been religious with my 50% water changes.

This is the result.



I know its nothing like any of the amazing tanks here, and it honestly breaks my heart to see it like this, I don't want to give up. I know with enough hard work I can achieve something beautiful. I'm making slow progress towards my goals, and that is to have beautifully red plants and NO ALGAE!!!!. I know im going to have to go out and buy some new plants in the future, but i want the existing ones i have to be growing well before i add more. The picture doesn't do it justice but i've significantly reduced algae levels.

Any suggestions and help along the way would be very much appreciated.

Water parameters:
pH - 6.4-6.5
NO2 - 0
NH3 - 0
NO3 - 30ppm(working on reducing EI to get it lower)
PO4 - 7ppm(again reducing EI)
KH - 3
gH - 8
CO2 - 29ppm according to the chart
Temp - 28*C


Extras
RIO 240 stock internal filter
Fluval 406 canister filter
Sera flora CO2 reactor
Pressurised CO2 tank and regulator
All Blue 5 channel dosing pump which does 1/2 daily EI(KNO3, KH2PO4, Rexolin APN) and 3 mls of Excel + manually dosed trace elements.
Jaebo pH controller
Eco Complete by caribsea substrate

Rio 240L, Fluval 406 + Bioflow Inner Filter.

Last edited by ThievingSix; 09-30-2017 at 08:46 AM. Reason: update
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ThievingSix View Post
So this is my journal, where i will hopefully transform my tank into a dutch style beauty..... It's always been my dream but somewhere along the way i got lost...

The tank is a Juwel Rio 240, with stock internal filter + a fluval 406 canister filter and stock juwel 2x54W T5HO bulbs with reflectors, i used to run both "day" bulbs now i use 1 "nature" and one "day". The substrate is ecocomplete,

I started this tank 2 years ago and it looked like this....... Things weren't perfect but i was getting good growth, there was minimal algae, the rotala wallichii wasn't doing well. Probably since I wasn't running any CO2, I had put a bunch of root tabs in the substrate, which is Caribsea's Eco Complete. I wasn't dosing any ferts at this point and I was probably running WAY to much light.



Because this is what it looked like 2 years later, after battles with every kind of algae, I had literally lost hope in everything. I had added a CO2 Injection system but was using a diffuser that had become clogged with algae and i was barely getting 2ppm. I had sporadically dosed ferts but wasn't regular with it. I had cut down the light to 4 hrs a day. Finally my CO2 regulator solenoid died.... I wasn't keeping up with water changes at all.



Finally i decided to make some changes. I bought a CO2 reactor and a new regulator and a fresh bottle of CO2 and also purchased a pH controller and dialled the pH in to 6.4, giving me ~29ppm of CO2 at a kH of 3. I got rid of the terrible flow restricting spray bar and adjusted my outflows to circulate the water better. I purchased a dosing pump and made some pre-mixed solutions(KNO3, KH2PO4, Rexolin APN) which get dosed automatically(im currently doing 1/2 EI as there is too much accumulation of nitrates and phosphates because i don't have enough plant uptake. I also purchased new bulbs for the lights. I cleaned and manually removed as much algae ridded plants as possible and did a thorough vacuum of the tank. I reduced my feeding down and added Purigen to my filter to reduce organic waste being converted to nitrates. I've been religious with my 50% water changes.

This is the result.



I know its nothing like any of the amazing tanks here, and it honestly breaks my heart to see it like this, I don't want to give up. I know with enough hard work I can achieve something beautiful. I'm making slow progress towards my goals, and that is to have beautifully red plants and NO ALGAE!!!!. I know im going to have to go out and buy some new plants in the future, but i want the existing ones i have to be growing well before i add more. The picture doesn't do it justice but i've significantly reduced algae levels.

Any suggestions and help along the way would be very much appreciated.

Water parameters:
pH - 6.4-6.5
NO2 - 0
NH3 - 0
NO3 - 30ppm(working on reducing EI to get it lower)
PO4 - 7ppm(again reducing EI)
KH - 3
gH - 8
CO2 - 29ppm according to the chart
Temp - 28*C


Extras
RIO 240 stock internal filter
Fluval 406 canister filter
Sera flora CO2 reactor
Pressurised CO2 tank and regulator
All Blue 5 channel dosing pump which does 1/2 daily EI(KNO3, KH2PO4, Rexolin APN) and 3 mls of Excel + manually dosed trace elements.
Jaebo pH controller
Eco Complete by caribsea substrate
I think you're doing well with all the changes you've made to be honest. Lighting may be an issue down the road as it doesn't look too intense, but worry about that later. If this were my tank, I'd do some more water changes to get nitrates down and get a couple bunches of an easy carpet plant. You get that going and plant mass will shoot way up. Dwarf Sag, or tenellus both grow quick and easy under low - med light with good ferts and co2. Get the carpet going and then start mapping out which other plants you want and where to put them.

PS - After looking at your pictures again and re-reading my post I wanted to add something about lighting. Your last pic looks a lot dimmer than the first. My comment about lighting was directed to the most current pic. Not sure why it looks much dimmer. Tannins maybe?

Nice work rehabbing the tank. You're on the right track!


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Last edited by Botia dude; 09-30-2017 at 09:09 AM. Reason: Add short bit more
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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The dimmer appearance of the lights could have been due to the camera. Here's another photo. The rear bulb is the "nature" one which has a more orange appearance. The water is actually pretty clear, but the camera doesn't capture it too well in certain lights.

Thanks for the suggestions for the carpet plant, i noticed that Dwarf Sag appears to be very similar to my chain swords. I like the look of Staurogyne repens, do you think this would be suitable as a carpet plant? When i was initially looking up planted tanks, one of the suggestions was to plant heavy, but i feel that just led to more algae, perhaps my conditions weren't right in the first place. Should i quarantine my plants to prevent algae when i introduce them?

Rio 240L, Fluval 406 + Bioflow Inner Filter.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 12:05 PM
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Someone told me for high-tech tank to work, you need to start with a bunch of plants. I started with 50+ stems in my 50g high tech and the growth is insane. Its a completely overgrown jungle that I need to rescape, but growth is incredible.

I've even lowered CO2 to 15ppm and growth is still insane! I'm dosing less than 2/5ths EI, and growth is still insane! I have 20+ different species of plants all thriving, only one species did not do well so I pulled it. After the first couple months, negligible algae on glass.

I'm not bragging, because I got lucky. But obviously something is different.

I use Seachem Equilibrium to raise GH to 7; it has many trace elements. Ei ferts are not enough, you have to make sure you have trace elements.

My lights are DIY using 3W chinese leds. IDK the par.

Also, I use MGOC soil under sand. High CEC. IDK how eco complete rates.

Just some things to think about.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 12:07 PM
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Well, good luck! I definitely found my journey to be full of false starts and semi restarts. The first pic is pretty nice. Was that day 1 or a few weeks in? The hairgrass is pretty spread out, which leads me to think its a few weeks in. At least you have a better eye for scaping than I do, so once you get your plants growing again, you'll be ok! Persistence and patience will help a lot in the meantime!


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-30-2017, 01:34 PM
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The simple answer is to pack it full of fast growing plants from the start and base your lights and ferts on that large plant mass. Once you've attained the mass you need you may then start replacing some plants with other more difficult more demanding stems common in Dutch setups. You need to start with several types of crypts and perhaps some large masses of Bacopa Caroliniana and maybe even ferns (I love ferns and with C02 they really can be stunning).
Get an idea of the shape you want and placement. Shorter plants in front, mid ground plants, and background plants. Personally I don't care much for stems. They require a substantial amount of maintenance to look nice.
My suggestions
Crypt Parva
Crypt Lutea
Crypt Lucens
Crypt Becketti
Some kind of java fern
Bacopa Caroliniana
Anubias coffefolia
Hygro corymbosa compacta

You should start with a good amount of each.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2017, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions. I went to my LFS and got some bacopa and some amazon swords and some Staurogyne repens because they didnt have any of the other carpeting sp. Its difficult to get certain sp. of plants in Sydney, Australia, particularly because of import restrictions meaning "rarer and popular" variants tend to get snapped up very quickly. There is a growing market for tissue culture, and the staurogyne is a tissue cultured plant. Hopefully it does well.

I also introduced some otocinclus sp ?affinis. 6 of them from QT to the main tank, they've all started eating my algae which is a good sign, hopefully with their assistance, plus regular water changes, increased CO2, and appropriate nutrient levels i can get on top of the algae.

One thing i'm confused about is when EI says the target ppm is 7.3 for something, does that mean that when i test my water at the end of the week it should be 7.3, or is this before accumulation?

Water parameters after a 60% water change;
pH - 6.44
NO2 - 0
NH3 - 0
NO3 - 30ppm(but looks a FAR lighter red that it did before, im using the API test kit so its difficult to tell)
PO4 - 1ppm
KH - 3
gH - 5
CO2 - 29ppm according to the chart
Temp - 28*C



The new swords.


and the bacopa, with a rainbow fish that likes to be in photos.



And thedude1 i'll keep an eye out for the crypts you suggested, my LFS didn't really have many, and the ones they had were half dead.
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Last edited by ThievingSix; 10-01-2017 at 11:44 PM. Reason: water parameters
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2017, 09:14 PM
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I guess I missed the Australia part. That's tough. What about java ferns? Windolev, trident, etc? Bolbitus? The problem with stems is that many lose their lower leaves need to be topped off. It's a pain. S. Repens was that way for me. There is alot to be said for anubias dominated scapes as well. Crypts are hard to come by? That would be awful. They are one of the greatest gifts to planted tanks.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2017, 10:23 PM
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Love yr boesemani rainbows... the colors are top notch
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-02-2017, 10:04 AM
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[url=https://ibb.co/iF7ZLb]
Thanks for the suggestions. I went to my LFS and got some bacopa and some amazon swords and some Staurogyne repens because they didnt have any of the other carpeting sp. Its difficult to get certain sp. of plants in Sydney, Australia, particularly because of import restrictions meaning "rarer and popular" variants tend to get snapped up very quickly. There is a growing market for tissue culture, and the staurogyne is a tissue cultured plant. Hopefully it does well.
I don't know where abouts in Sydney you are but I know that AllFish2U in Kingswood is currently ditching all of their marine stuff in favour of having more plants. When I was in there last week they had a good selection of different sword plants along with the standard issue type of stuff. They'll soon have a 12 foot by 4 foot tank which I think they are going to do nothing but plants in. They have a few tissue cultured options but seem to heading for bigger specimens.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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I live more "metro" Sydney. I've been to;

Auburn aquarium - generally the best selection, revamped shop under new ownership. I've never got sick fish from here. Plant selection could be better.
Aquaristic - hit and miss, sometimes has great livestock and plants, sometimes not. Store was half under renovation when i went. They didn't have much.
Sydney Discus world - wide selection of plants and livestock, most of the fish i've got from here have diseases, the plants are covered in various algae.
Eastwood aquarium - STUNNING!! selection of corals, no fresh water.
Strictly aquariums - had a few longer stem plants, but nothing exciting, didn't have crypts. Broad selection of livestock that looked in fair health.
Petbarn/pets paradise - chain store, can have common plants but i'm concerned about diseases from here.
Hurstville aquariums - didn't have much live plants, had more saltwater corals and livestock

This is generally my weekend run of aquariums. I'll try out allfish2u when i head out west.

The most common stock is wisteria, swords, java ferns, banana lilly, hairgrass, anubias, java moss and a few others. Everything else is a rare find or has to be purchased online.

Rio 240L, Fluval 406 + Bioflow Inner Filter.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 07:01 AM
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Living in the Mountains means most of those shops are sorta difficult for me to get to really but it's good to know what is out there. The other fish shop in the Penrith area is Fish City Aquarium in Penrith. They have some plants but stuff like crypts are a mixed bag and the rest of the plants are pretty much the standard selection although last time I was in there they had a few red tiger lilies which I'm looking at for when my tank is at planting stage. Allfish also have a website with a selection of their plants that they will ship out. I did notice recently that they have a few specific crypt varieties listed. I'm hoping to be able to get most of what I want from the two Penrith based stores as it's not too hard for me to make a detour on my way home in the afternoons.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-05-2017, 12:40 AM
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The most common stock is wisteria, swords, java ferns, banana lilly, hairgrass, anubias, java moss and a few others. Everything else is a rare find or has to be purchased online.
First of all, love the Boesemani's! And always good to see another Rainbow tank on the board. Based on your location, you must have quite a selection available.

As I'm sure you know, the plants you listed above are pretty much low light plants. T5-HO over a 65 is pretty high light. And in my experience, low light plants + high light + ferts = algae. If you intend to keep mostly low light plants, I would try removing the reflectors, and maybe even raise them a bit, which might decrease your PAR enough to keep algae at bay. With those plants, you might require very little ferts, if any.

If you intend to go high tech with stems and showy flowers, then things are different. Then you are going to be searching for a balance of light/macros/micros/CO2. You might even need MORE light, depending on how hard you want to drive the tank.

I see you have about a 1 point ph drop. Personally my tank does better with a larger drop, closer to 1.4. I also see where you are reducing EI ferts based on your K & P readings. In my heavily stocked Rainbow tank, I still need to dose EI levels to keep the plants happy. I'm not too concerned about the readings, more about how happy the plants look. Once again, that's just what works in MY tank. You will figure out what works best in yours.

And it sounds like you are getting more serious about tank maintenance. That's good. In general, a clean tank (substrate, filters, regular trimming, removal of dead leaves, etc.) and large regular water changes keeps plants (and fish) happier. I change about 75% per week (again that's just what works for me).

Remember, there is no one set recipe for a planted tank. It takes some trial and error to figure your tank out, and I'm guessing it will just better and better over time. So good luck to you, and I look forward to following your progress. Subscribed.

P.S. I'm sure a few of the Discus guys might chime in, and most don't recommend high tech + Discus. I have no personal experience, just what I have read from them here.


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-07-2017, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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I've always wanted a high tech tank, but obviously i've struggled to keep stem plants alive. I think i'm heading in the right direction now though. Reducing EI to 1/2 has given the following after 1 week.



pH - 7.3(after my CO2 bubble counter sprung a leak) -> 6.4(after i bought a new one)
NO2 - 0
NH3 - 0
NO3 - 30-40ppm(looks red, but not a dark red)
PO4 - 1-2ppm
KH - 3
gH - 5
CO2 - 29ppm according to the chart

I think these are more respectable levels than before. I did a water change and added some equilibrium and trace as well. I'll continue to monitor nitrate in the coming weeks because i have a feeling uptake will increase with the increased plant load. The CO2 bubble counter sprung a leak a day before water change, luckily i had a new spare lying around and fitted it, now everything is running fine again.

Personally i think i'm gradually winning the battle against algae. Everything seems "greener" all the plants look like they're growing well. The anubias? has sprouted a new leaf. The oto's are doing their job quite well. At the moment i'm just letting things "grow out" to maximise my uptake of nutrients and outcompete the algae.

One thing i did notice, the plants at the top of the aquarium are sprouting more leaves and appear healthier than the ones at the bottom. Is this normal? or is a sign that the light isnt penetrating through as much as i'd like?

Quote:
P.S. I'm sure a few of the Discus guys might chime in, and most don't recommend high tech + Discus. I have no personal experience, just what I have read from them here.
100% agree, i got the discus as a "gift" from the gf and now i'm kind of stuck with them. They're a beautiful fish, but they definitely need their own tank, with less light and less competition for food. Plus their high temp requirements mean I'm running on the high end of temp for most of the fish and on the low end for discus, which isn't good for either. Im looking at moving them out but honestly i dont think anyone would want them. They're certainly not doing as well as i'd like and i'm limited by params of other fish.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-13-2017, 02:12 AM
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Man those rainbows are I like the jungle look personally, donít know if thatís what your going for but I like it. But the colors on those rainbows are so nice. Would you sell them and ship them to the US? LOL JK


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