Re-do 43 gal Red Sea Reefer - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 05:37 AM Thread Starter
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Re-do 43 gal Red Sea Reefer

I am attempting to salvage my Red Sea Reefer 43 gallon from the grips of a heavy BBA infestation and severe nutrient deficiencies. Iím not trying to make excuses, but after I planted it last spring I lost a loved one. In my grief my tank was neglected horribly. I am climbing out of the emotional darkness, and decided my New Years Resolution is to right the wrong my poor aquatic friends have suffered. Things got ugly in their world, real ugly! Ferts were not dosed for a long time. There wasnít a single water change or mechanical filtration rinse since I think May. I donít know how any of my fish survived except that maybe some people in my family fed them for me. I really wish I thought to take pictures of the setup prior to yanking the BBA covered rocks and siphoning all the mulm, but the thought didnít occur to me until I started writing this. The first picture is a day after the initial set up last spring. The 2nd -4th pic is after I just mucked it out, and planted a few things to replace the ones which didnít make it.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 06:25 AM Thread Starter
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Letís talk hardware. The tank has a sump refugium on an opposite lighting schedule as the display to prevent the nightly fluctuations in oxygen/PH which I feel is hard on inhabitants. Mechanical filtration Is a 4Ē 225 micron felt filter sock coming into the refugium, and a coarse sponge pre-filter in the chamber overflowing to the return pump, an Aqueon Quietflow 2300. I have an Ebojager 150 watt & Visitherm 150 watt both set to 82 f, in hopes that should one fail, the other will carry the load until I notice. Lightning the display are two Fluval A3990 Fresh & Plant LED fixtures, and an old Marineland Reef LED fixture. The sump is lit by the Ultrabright upgrade for a Fluval Edge which I was not using. Substrate is 2Ē Black Diamond Blasting Sand topped with 2Ē of SL Aqua Nature Soil (fine), effecting a Freshwater Deep Sand Bed. I attribute the survival of the Discus to the added stability the DSB & refugium lend to the setup. The DSB is my passive biological filtration; active is via a few mesh bags of Fluval Biomax which all the system water flows through between the coarse sponge and return pump. I have some more Seachem Purigen in order, as mine is black and I donít think rechargeable. I am kicking around the idea of digging out my old Fluval 306 canister filter to get more flow as I read that helps in nutrient uptake and gives plants a better chance at competing with algae. Here is a picture of the refugium, which I have already siphoned a few inches of mulm out of, but still needs another siphoning after all the settling occurred.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 01:44 AM
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Good to hear you are recovering and taking steps forward. It is hard. That's a pretty killer setup in terms of equipment and tank. Are you using pressurized C02?? Any ideas on plants or scape?? Dutch, driftwood, rocks?? I'm very partial to driftwood and mosses in scapes and a large moss covered piece of driftwood reaching the surface would do alot to tie the proportions of the tank together. What about fauna? Looks like emerald eye rasboras, cardinals, panda Corys, and Molly's or Platys? Did you mention Discus?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the welcome back; it feels good to do something again. I forgot to write about Co2. See, I had the best of intentions and was saving up for a pressurized system from Green Leaf Aquariums before things went south. I was using a DIY Co2, two rotational bottle system along with Seachem Flourish Excel until I could order the pressurized system. I just began daily dosing of Excel again along with GLAís EI dry ferts after I siphoned most of the detritus and mulm last weekend. I should be able to afford the pressurized Co2 with my next paycheck. I did mention Discus. I didnít intend to keep Discus in this tank, as all my research has indicated no smaller than 55 gallon would do. One of my coworkers had a friend who kept four Discus in his 35 gallon hexagon for 3 Years. They were obviously stunted, but seemed ok health wise. He had started with a shoal of five, but lost one in the first month and never replaced it. My coworker asked me if Iíd take them because his friend was moving and he couldnít find anyone else besides a LFS which is a death trap for fish. So I agreed to give them a try, thinking I may also set up a 75 gallon for them. Although I knew my setup wasnít ideal, it was an improvement over their old home and the guy was running out of time. He gave them to me for free. I did lose one over the summer, and another is emaciated and rough looking. So here are my unintended aquatic friends, and yes, I name my fish...so bear with me...this first photo is Gandalf The Grey begging for his pellets, 2nd pic is Bilbo Baggins, and 3rd is Galadriel looking less than majestic.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 05:38 AM Thread Starter
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My intended surviving fauna (these were here before the Discus) are two Panda Corydoras, who never were named (two did not make it), two Stiphodon Gobies named Fletsam & Jetsam, two African Dwarf Frogs -Nubbins & Dookie - five Cardinal Tetras (tragically, I cannot tell them apart so they remain nameless - 3 died over the summer), 3 Mystery snails (Grandpa, Scud, and Ronaldo), and four unnameable Otocinclus. Oh, and I mustnít forget Eduardo, my flirty Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
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My incidental surviving fauna (added for the intent of providing live food for the Discus last Spring) : three Balloon Mollies (also for hair Algae grazing) and five Endlerís Livebearers:
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2018, 04:09 AM Thread Starter
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Here are some shots after I added the scrubbed and dechlorinated Dragon Stones back yesterday. I have a few more soaking still; I want to build the rock wall as tall as possible to cover up a lot of the black background. Iím hoping that when the Dwarf Hairgrass carpet fills in I will see some lighter coloration on the Discus.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2018, 04:51 AM Thread Starter
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Here are the surviving Flora I am attempting to rehab: the first pic is Hydrocotyle verticillata. These tiny leaves are the new growth. The older leaves did not seem to enjoy the bleach dip, so Iím hoping this new growth is going to be strong and big soon.

The 2nd pic is Hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan' - this is all new submerged growth; the parent plant had grown out of the water in the refugium for months. Same thing goes for the 3rd pic: Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala).

These poor souls in the 4th pic are what remains of my Echindorus vesuvius. These plantlets were all connected on a BBA covered stem, and floated around in the display for months.

Anubius nana ĎPetiteí (left) and ĎMicroí (right) are in the 5th picture. The Micro has to have all of its leaves removed because they were crumbling and ratted, not a single hole-free leaf remained and many were yellowed.

I have this mystery moss attached beautifully to these few stones in the 6th pic. I didnít have the heart to kill it, so the remaining tufts of BBA on these stones are getting the Excel spot treatment.

The 7th pic is some really ratty-looking other type of mystery moss. I was given a clump of it by a fellow hobbyist who didnít know itís ID, along with this teeny-tiny Buce clipping. I think it may be an Apple Leaf; but he wasnít positive on that either. I will be trimming this all up and removing the thread -it has been there since last April so I really hope things have attached by now.

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) is my floater; hereís a top down pic last. These guys had every square inch of my display surface covered; I am keeping some because I think they look magical. Iíll definitely never let them get that out of hand again!
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2018, 05:02 AM Thread Starter
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My new additions as of last weekend are tissue culture Dwarf Hairgrass, Alternanthera reineckii, and Staurogyne repens. I have also picked up these bunches in the 3rd picture; the red guy on the left was just labeled ĎRotalaí, and the green one wasnít labeled but I think it might be Anacharis.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-04-2018, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
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And my new clean-up crew additions are this fantastic fellow, Bob, who I am told will graze on hair Algae and BBA, and 5 of these little Nerite snails who are supposed to graze on the Green Spot Algae. I need many Amano shrimp, but my LFS just had tiny ones which Eduardo would slurp up in a heartbeat. I may go back to add those puny guys to my refugium next weekend. Boy, does my ratty moss ever long for some glorious Amano cleaning services, though!
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 06:34 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, I just looked at a picture I took last night of the ďRotalaĒ, and I think it has at least 1Ē new growth today. I trimmed lower leaves on it which were showing some algae, and to tonight after work noticed new growth on the Anacharis, Staurogyne repens, Alternanthera reineckii, and Anubius nana Ďpetiteí. My mystery mosses also have fresh new green tips sprouting up all over. Even the tiny Buce looks like itís sprouting a 3rd leaf. I keep having to replant the Dwarf Hairgrass plugs daily; the mystery snails like to burrow into the substrate when the lights come on and do some uprooting in the process. Today, though, I was delighted to see some new root growth on the bits and pieces I was painfully replanting. I hope I can achieve a carpet with it!

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 12:44 PM
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Good to hear you are getting some new growth. Always a challenge bringing a tank back to life, so to speak. Couple questions to ask...
With regard to lighting, how many hours are you running each/all fixtures? I ask as I am running a LOT of light on my heavily planted tank (thread link in signature) and sometimes question if I am running them either too long or too brite. In my setup I have, among other lights, (2) of the Fluval Fresh/Plant 2.0 lights which I believe is what you have (24"-36" model). These are some pretty brite lights when running at full power and I am not sure you have enough plant mass to support the lights at full power. If you have them dimmed down or running them less than 8 hours/day then disregard the above. Not knowing much about your old Marineland Reef LED fixture I can offer little advice regarding that light - may not be needed given the Fluval lights.

Hard to tell how big the sump is but I am guessing more than 10 gallons and less than 40 gallons. Either way, this is likely a good addition to your setup as it adds more water volume (stability). My wifes custom tank is likely similar to your tank in size/shape (this is hers) (really should add some current pics to her thread). It is running a Eheim canister filter which might only be adding about 2 gallons of additional water - have a feeling your sump is a better overall idea. Her tank has a Satellite Plus Pro (24" model) and a Satellite Plus (24" model) running about 9 hours/day. The Plus light is at full power, the Plus Pro is at about 70%. Still having some algae issues even with a large plant mass - hence the reason for asking about your lighting situation.

"I keep having to replant the Dwarf Hairgrass plugs daily" - I feel your pain, have 2 bushy nose plecos in my 75g tank that like to bump into EVERYTHING. Needless to say it takes some time to get smaller plants to root.

Based on your 01-04-2018 grouping of pics I would say plant wise your tank is looking much better. Look forward to some more progress pics.


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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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I have my lights on 8 hrs a day in the display. I like the old reef LED in addition because the blues in it make the setup look less yellow. I do run the Fluval 2.0s at full power. Iím worried I donít give my plants enough light, lol. We have opposite insecurities! This is my first planted tank besides an old 55 gal low tech Anubius setup I tore down in 2013. I am making a lot of newbie mistakes like thinking that I could make do with Excel/DIY Co2 until I could afford the pressurized Co2. Until I get that pressurized Co2, do you think I should reduce photo period to 7 hrs a day?

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Today Bob chose to end it all by jumping out of the tank while I was at work. Why, Bob, WHY?!? I didnít find him until he was crispy and gonner than gone. *sigh*
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 01:04 PM
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Sorry to hear about Bob. I have had one of my SAE jump out of the tank as well, fortunately I heard him hit the floor so I got him back in the tank and so far he is just fine.
As for the lighting, I would suggest maybe 7 hours a day and watch for more algae issues. The cleanup crews are great, but part of the challenge is finding that perfect equilibrium of lighting, ferts, co2, etc. So far, after about 2 years I am getting pretty close - but definitely not there yet.


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