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post #31 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-15-2018, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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After cutting out NO3 for 2 weeks and KH2PO4 / CSM+B for 1 week and a few 50%+ water changes, it was pretty clear that the tank was in need for a reset. I saw positive responses across all plants, so now I am back to square 1 for figuring out dosing amounts, but that's okay with me.

But, no algae outbreak, no high NO3 values and some new growth on previously stunted plants has me a bit more excited to get things going again with the tank.

What new? Added some Praecox rainbows, not the best bred fish, a lot of them just "waste" away, but they were "on sale" and didn't look too bad at the fish store, so I'll take a chance with them for now. Also added an Aquatic Life Modular LED strip which is a combo of 460nm blue and 10,000K white. To me it really made the green plants pop and did not affect the red colours in a negative way. It also really helped wash out the slightly yellow hue from the Fluval 2.0. It is strictly for viewing, with very low output LED's, so it either sat collecting dust in storage, or I could try it out

I think I am going to front load macros, and dose by the textbook for micros, might do EI "light" with the micros until I see some real growth from the plants.

TDS is around 145ppm for my water change water, which after this week's 60% resulted in the tank having 190ppm, so mostly "reset" in terms of ferts + waste that was in the water a few weeks ago. I think I saw the best growth when it was just above 200ppm after 2 doses of macros + micros, which it should be after I front load today.

NO3 is right in between 5 - 10ppm, so I feel comfortable dosing KNO3 again, I'm still slightly surprised I had it 80ppm+ without me knowing a few weeks ago. Fish waste + plant uptake seems to be fairly balanced, after last weeks water change NO3 was 10-20ppm, and this week is 5-10ppm with no KNO3 dosing and a 60% WC.

I may have also seen some Fe deficiency, so I'll try out some Flourish Iron to combat my >7 pH. Check out the pic of the R. macrandra, I wonder where the stunting was.... Still not the best new growth, but certainly an improvement.

Gh - 7
pH - 7.5 w/ 1.1 drop to 6.4 w/ CO2
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post #32 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-19-2018, 07:07 AM
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Hello fellow Londoner,
Great looking tank and journal!

How many pots did it take for you to carpet?
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post #33 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-19-2018, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Hello fellow Londoner,
Great looking tank and journal!

How many pots did it take for you to carpet?
Hey thanks, PM if you want some clippings some time.

1 stem of MC or HC can get you a carpet, I've done that before after my plant shipment got lost in the mail and literally 1 stem of HC was usable, took about 2 months to fill in a 10 gallon.

As for this tank, I used 1 Hortilab TC cup of MC, cut it / ripped it into small pieces and planted along the entire front, evenly spacing each clump by 2" or so. Took about 2-3 months for it to fill in but honestly, I think a carpet fills in faster when the plants have room to grow and aren't competing with each other for space/light availability.
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post #34 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-24-2018, 05:08 AM
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Hey thanks, PM if you want some clippings some time.

1 stem of MC or HC can get you a carpet, I've done that before after my plant shipment got lost in the mail and literally 1 stem of HC was usable, took about 2 months to fill in a 10 gallon.

As for this tank, I used 1 Hortilab TC cup of MC, cut it / ripped it into small pieces and planted along the entire front, evenly spacing each clump by 2" or so. Took about 2-3 months for it to fill in but honestly, I think a carpet fills in faster when the plants have room to grow and aren't competing with each other for space/light availability.
For sure! Do you sell on kijiji by any chance? I feel like I've seen a tank that looks similar to yours on one vendor's page.

Ah I see, thank you for the tips. My tank isn't high tech though, so I doubt I can go from 1 stem. I've also heard spreading it out more, the faster it spreads. Do you know if I can break the tissue cup into as small single stems or would that be just waste of time?

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post #35 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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So the tank is almost 4 months old, looks like solving one problem leads into the next problem.

NO3 is under control, the plants certainly consume more than the tank produces. I started the week at 5-10ppm, dosed it up to 20ppm and did not dose KNO3 the rest of the week. After a 60% WC, NO3 was smack on 5ppm, so it would have been 10-15ppm prior to the WC. That's good news as before recently, the NO3 would creep up to 80+ ppm. I'm hoping I can now actively dose KNO3 without the nitrates overly accumulating.

TDS is also spot on, and like the nitrates I did not see it creeping up this past week, the 60% water change reset it perfectly. I really backed off the tapwater this week, 1:7 tap:RO. Resulted in kH 2 and gH 2 which I boosted back up to 6 dgH. I used my scale instead of mini measuring set and noticed I was under boosting Mg, I was only using about half of what I should have been using. Nice catch, lets hope for a plant response.

The rest of the ferts (KNO3, KH2PO4 and CSM+B) were fairly close measuring with my mini spoon set vs the scale. But I will continue to use the scale to ensure the correct amounts are being dosed.

I'm surprised how much water is actually displaced by rocks/substrate. 2 x 18L pails is around 60%, so I'll base dosing off roughly 20 gallons.

Macros and Micros will be dosed 2 x weekly. Micros are split 1/2 EI w/ CSM+B and 1/2 EI Flourish Comp.

Not much has changed in the plant growth. Certain species are still stunted with odd growth while others seem to be thriving. One trend that has really annoyed me is the "bending" growth of most stem plants. They just don't seem to grow up, instead they grow at angles, sometimes completely horizontal. Very un-sightly to have stem plants criss-cross every direction. This is why the tank is a mess at the moment. I want to get everything growing the way it is supposed to before I really start making it look nicer. Hopefully with the recent discoveries / changes I have made the plants will begin to cooperate. See photos for the odd / sideways growth.

Overall I did a general tidy up, removed the R. Bonsai and thinned out, removed a lot of MC that was growing where it shouldn't be, the micro sword got the same treatment as the MC, runners where going everywhere. Used some plastic to make substrate barriers to as the keep things where they should be (or at least make it "easier" to keep things growing where I want them).

Cleaned out the canister, found 20 or so baby shrimp, so I released them back into the tank. Likely won't last long with the fish... but at least I know the colony is actually breeding despite my constant changing of parameters.

Any ideas on why the stem plants are growing sideways/curly/not straight??
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post #36 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 08:04 PM
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Any ideas on why the stem plants are growing sideways/curly/not straight??
Don't know for sure, but in general plants will lean towards the brightest light.

For instance, some with puck lights have noted plants all start leaning towards the pucks.

I see it in my own tank with some species, as light is brighter near center than the edges of the tank.


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post #37 of 282 (permalink) Old 04-30-2018, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Don't know for sure, but in general plants will lean towards the brightest light.

For instance, some with puck lights have noted plants all start leaning towards the pucks.

I see it in my own tank with some species, as light is brighter near center than the edges of the tank.
I'll have to snap a pic of some of the worse off species. The light is completely even across the tank and there is no sunlight reaching it either. I read Mg will cause some distorted growth, maybe my increase in Mg will help, who knows.

Topping seems to help, only until the stems reach 3/4 of the way up the height of the tank.
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post #38 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Today was a big day for me, cleaned out my pond + acclimated the pond fish from a rubbermaid tote in my basement to their summer home. I added a bunch of easy going plants from my low tech tank... Lets see what natural sunlight does to them... I also made it to my local aquaria auction and sold off a bunch of plants, not much of a plant crowd there today though.... usually these bi-annual auctions have a great plant selection + active buyers, still had a good time seeing some interesting fish up for sale. I still made time for this weeks water change on the 30 gal, and to my surprise NO3 and TDS were perfectly reset to the same as 3 weeks ago, so that means the last 2 weeks of dosing plus fish waste plus my size/frequency of water changes is finally working out to a "stable" pattern.

The only thing I have changed this past week was turning the lights up to 100% and wow.... growth was crazy on the non-stunted plants. The last hour (just as the CO2 shuts off) looks like sparkling soda... not water. Drop checker is just on the verge of yellow, still "green" but almost a light yellow, fish seem fine, the gourami takes a gulp of air every once in a while nearing the end of the CO2 period, but the rest of the fish are happy.

This week will follow the same treatment, however I may add a third dose of macro + micros at a half rate to see if there is a response. Currently I was doing 2 x weekly macro and micro doses, so this week I might add a third dose at 1/2 the rate. I'm still doing the micros @ 1/2 CSM+B plus 1/2 Flourish comp (also add an extra shot of Flourish Iron).

Macrandra is halfway to normal again, a few stems are showing normal growth but a few are still stunted. Mermaid weed is coming back nicely finally, I was down to 2-3 decent, 1" stems, the rest melted away to literally nothing. The other rotala species are doing okay, the wallichi is buried underneath the colorata, basically melted away to nothing. All stems seem to be at least trying to grow vertical again, much less sideways / horizontal / twisted growth which makes me VERY happy. So, if the plants are beginning to cooperate again I think I'll start fine tuning the layout and make it a little more presentable, but I want to give it another week or two to make sure I am having success again before moving too many things.

I removed the small melon sword, it's in the pond (was getting too big, which I was expecting). Moved some blyxa for now and found a decent sized java fern I forgot I had in there... It was growing underneath / behind a rock and the top was covered by rotala, so I tossed it in my shrimp tank and they ALL .... I mean every single shrimp in the tank.... immediately crawled on and started grazing, it was a really cool thing to see. (maybe I should feed them more if they are THAT excited for some new biofilm to munch on...)


Anyways, light on max again this week, but any sign of algae and I'm backing off again. Work is really heating up now that farmers in my area are getting onto their fields, so hopefully I'll have enough time to monitor + adjust if I need to. Day job is to help farmers grow a good crop and kill weeds.... night job is to grow healthy plants and kill algae....

Oh, one last thing! I've been noticing a bunch of members on here all seem to have a plant that they just cannot grow, mine seems to be pogostemon helferi (at least in this tank, usually it's nothing but a weed in my previous tanks). Had 6+ healthy stems melt back to nothing within a week. I want to blame my juvy mystery snail.... but 6-7 stems is a lot for that little guy to eat over a few days.... 2nd time trying that plant in this tank with the same melting. 3rd time's the charm perhaps??? Anyways, a couple pics:
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post #39 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 01:36 AM
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Oh, one last thing! I've been noticing a bunch of members here all seem to have a plant that they just cannot grow, mine seems to be pogostemon helferi.
Yeah I've heard about that not being able to grow certain plants thing

Now as to Pogo Helferi, I was successful on my THIRD attempt.

So keep in mind, things do change. And just about everyone has a certain personal frustration plant.

Even Burr.......he killed Pantanal many times over, but eventually got it right (hope you don't mind me saying so Joe, it was one of my favorites to follow in your journals!).

So point is, it happens to everyone.

And tank is coming along very nicely! Great pics.


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post #40 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah I've heard about that not being able to grow certain plants thing

Now as to Pogo Helferi, I was successful on my THIRD attempt.

So keep in mind, things do change. And just about everyone has a certain personal frustration plant.

Even Burr.......he killed Pantanal many times over, but eventually got it right (hope you don't mind me saying so Joe, it was one of my favorites to follow in your journals!).

So point is, it happens to everyone.

And tank is coming along very nicely! Great pics.
I think my problem is coming from the H2O2 dip I now do with all plants I bring in. After a few bad experiences with cyano / hydra and other pests, I dip all plants. I'm thinking the pogo helf is not a fan of the peroxide. Once work slows down I'll be making a trip to a really nice not-so-local fish store who carry a decent selection of TC plants (no dip required!!) I'll pick some TC pogo helferi and try them out.

Thanks for the kind words, and yes, I was fully aware of a few species you and some of the other active members cannot / struggle to grow

I think I threw everything but the kitchen sink at this tank and it was just too much all at once, hence the ups and downs I've been having with it. I've now taken a step back and gone to "normal" dosing with bigger water changes and more filter cleaning / more general cleaning. Makes a big difference. Speaking of that... I noticed half a dozen orange neo shrimplets before today's water change so I gave my siphon a day off and just drained water / no vacuuming of the MC carpet or detritus hot spots in hopes of saving a few shrimps for the dwindling population. Next week I'll have to get back onto removing crud, hopefully the shrimplets are big enough / smart enough to move away from the siphon by then.

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post #41 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 02:38 AM
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I've now taken a step back and gone to "normal" dosing with bigger water changes and more filter cleaning / more general cleaning. Makes a big difference.
You've said a mouthful there.


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post #42 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Couple pics of some previously stunted plants finally showing promising growth.

P. palustris is looking good, no colour yet, but at least its growing.
R. macrandra is looking okay, not the greatest, but at least it's growing again.
nesaea pedicellata is finally showing new growth, it has sat there with absolutely no new growth for 2 months almost, every water change I threatened to take it out, but I really want to grow this plant so I left it. Nice to see "some" new growth coming in.

Definitely going to up my ferts a bit, I'm not sure I am dosing enough to keep up with the nutrient demands. TDS has decreased throughout this week despite moderate feeding and a second macro / micro dose so.... plants consuming more than I am supplying??

Random pic of one of my female apisto agassizii 'fire gold'. I have 2 females and a late added male who needs to colour up yet. Both females are picking on him quite a bit, I'm hoping that feeding some decent food to fatten him up will get him to bully back a bit, he was in rough shape at the fish store, but was only 1 of 2 males they had. I'll snap a pic when they are getting frisky and he is displaying his finnage.

Might hook up my auto doser and dose flourish comp for 1/2 EI daily + flourish iron for EI daily. Front load macros and 3 x weekly the other 1/2 micros from CSM+B. (I hope that makes sense). I have been noticing that after a water change and front loading macros + 1 x micro dose the plants do much better, but slowly lose vigor over the rest of the week. So by supplying micros daily and a front loaded concentration of macros I'm hoping to see more vigor late in the week.
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post #43 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 02:03 PM
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This tank is beautiful!!
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post #44 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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This tank is beautiful!!
Thanks, I still have a long way to go yet. Plants are finally starting to grow a little nicer, so I'll have to start thinking about better groupings / placement of certain species.

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post #45 of 282 (permalink) Old 05-20-2018, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Not much to update, plants are beginning to cooperate, about 50% of the previously stunted stems are growing again, still having that "sideways" growth, rotala species are the worst. I'm just removing them completely now if they are showing sideways growth, I've given up on trying to correct it. I'm also noticing a lot of new shoots bring produced from nodes going up the stems of a lot of species, bacopa and ludwigia are the worst. Very un-sightly, I would much rather have 1 healthy stem growing to the surface without all the new shoots going up each node.

Any way to fix this? Could spectrum be causing sideways / new shoot growth?

Over all everything is doing well, still waiting on my male apisto agassizii 'fire gold' to start showing his colours. Shrimp population is slowly growing which is nice, found some more in the filter today during the cleaning (surprisingly clean clean clean inside the filter, 2 polishing pads are doing their job I guess).

Hacked the MC carpet way back, would I do another carpet? Likely not.... 2.5" of MC carpet is nothing but a nightmare, what a mess that was.

What stayed the same:

Dosing EI 'daily' rotala butterfly recommendations, with 1/2 flourish comp. and full flourish Iron.
Dosing 3 x weekly of 1/2 EI CSM+B.
Running a lot of light now (justt for fun) 1 x 36" fluval 2.0 @ 100%, 1 x 36" Aquatic Life modular LED strip 50/50 cool white / actinic and 1 x 24" current satellite LED+ @ 100%. No algae 1.5 weeks into running this setup.

What has changed:
Front loaded 3 x macro doses.
Adding my auto doser (waiting on pump heads in the mail) to ensure I am dosing micros daily. I'll likely add a daily metricide dose just because I have an extra slot in the auto doser and extra metricide laying around.
Still 7 hour photo period, getting a gas bubble built up in the reactor, so I adjusted the positioning to hopefully stop that, still getting the 1.1 pH drop, drop checker is light green all day, and just turns yellow as the last 30 minutes or so of CO2 in on.
I've been slowly removing rocks as plants fill in, this is giving me more room for plant species and placement.
Got rid of all java ferns and most anubias, they were just not growing the way I was hoping for, tossed them in my 5.5 shrimp tank and of course they are loving the new biofilm. (just has another encounter with hydra in that tank, nuked it with fenbendazole).

Lastly, I added 100ml pouch of Purigen, I figured now that the plants are cooperating / adjusting the scape I should get the water looking pristine. Anyways, here's a couple pictures, FTS and a mamma shrimp in some blyxa.
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