The 12 gallon long lava rock scape! (Now also a high-tech 22 gallon long) - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
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I stopped by the co-op today and picked up a bunch of supplies and a few fish, including one very handsome Betta for the five gallon at work. He was in a community tank like all of their bettas so I thought he would be fine, but it turns out he's a little hate machine. I put him in the tank with my RCS colony and he immediately started chowing down. He ate shrimp that I could have sworn wouldn't fit in his mouth. I quickly grabbed as many shrimp as I could catch and took them home.

The 12 gallon isn't cycled yet- one of the things I was picking up from Aquarium Co-op was one of their big filter sponges, since there's no way in hell I'm using those cartridges that came with the aqueon internal filter. Testing the water last night it came out at 1 ppm ammonia.

I also got a tissue culture of staurogyne repens and some marsilea hirsuta from the GSAS meeting, so I planted those, drained the tank, fitted the filter sponge, added some cycled media, did a 50% water change with seachem prime, added seachem stability, and finally dropped the shrimp. At this point it was 2 am so I called it a night.

I checked the params again today, and it was at .25 ppm ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 10 ppm nitrates. Thank God for the cycled media! In my experience shrimp can handle some ammonia, but nitrite kills them quickly. There have been no casualties in the 12 gallon so far, so as long as I keep watching the water parameters until there is no ammonia I think it should be good.

As for the betta? He ate every remaining shrimp in his tank overnight. I'm not feeding him for the next week, the little guy might explode. Picture of my miniature homicidal officemate below:

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post #32 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 05:01 AM Thread Starter
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Since nobody asked, here's how I set up my substrate for a new tank. This is a 20 long I have in the works. Someday I'll get a regular dimension tank, but this is not that day.

Step 1: Worm castings. Lots of nutrients, and high CEC. Lots of organics too, so if you use too much you might be setting yourself up for algae.

Step 2: Activated carbon. You can use the dust, I use pellets as there's less of a chance of it being pulled up by plant roots. Super high CEC, it acts like a sponge soaking up excess nutrients and making them available to plant roots.


Step 3: The nutes. A lot of osmocote+ (too much?) and Mexican red clay for iron.

Step 4: Cover the whole thing in organic potting soil. If I was less lazy I would have sifted out the perlite and bigger chunks of organic matter, but I'm pretty friggin lazy. I also add more Mexican red clay at this point, not only for iron but because it mixes with the soil and makes it heavier, so if you have to pull plants the clay keeps the dirt from being suspended in the water column and it settles way faster.
If I was planning on uprooting plants frequently, I would not be using this method. It does take extra maintenance to clean up dirt around the tank with this method when you uproot things. This section of the tank is going to be dense bushes, so I hopefully won't be uprooting anything.

Step 5: Wet down the soil, making sure it's saturated and fairly compact. You don't want it mixing with the capping substrate.

Step 6: Cap it. I like black diamond blasting sand, but for this tank I'm trying aquasoil because @Xiaozhuang said so


You can see it's a pretty thick cap (1.5 - 2 inches). You don't want the nutrients rich, high CEC layer to be mixing with the water column too much.

Side question: I'm thinking of just making this a thread for the 20 long, since the lava rock scape is now low-tech (gross, I know). Does anyone know how to edit the title to reflect that?

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post #33 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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Aaand what I'm thinking for the hardscape

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post #34 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 06:32 PM
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Nice, will it be planted? Here is my 12 gallon long. Thinking of redoing it with sand floor instead of carpet plants.


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post #35 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hapa Logie View Post
Nice, will it be planted? Here is my 12 gallon long. Thinking of redoing it with sand floor instead of carpet plants.
I feel like sand does look nice, but every time I make a sandy area I just want to put more plants in it haha. Now I try and restrict my use of sand to the very foreground. I personally like the look of that carpet!

You can always switch it up and try something different for a while. I do a pretty major rescape every 4 months or so.

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post #36 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 06:45 PM
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I feel like sand does look nice, but every time I make a sandy area I just want to put more plants in it haha. Now I try and restrict my use of sand to the very foreground. I personally like the look of that carpet!

You can always switch it up and try something different for a while. I do a pretty major rescape every 4 months or so.

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Well I want to go for a clean look. Having carpet plants it gets dirty and is a decent amount to maintain. I was thinking sand floor and a big driftwood with java and anubius petite attached. Something like this but with plants attached to driftwood.


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post #37 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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You can tell it's getting nicer outside since the posts are slowing down...

The 12 g long is finally not looking so upsetting. My crazy little mixed carpet is not yet a carpet per se, but the plants have adapted and are starting to do better.


Forgive the sideways photo, but I don't know how to rotate it and I'm too lazy to learn. The components of the "carpet" are eleocharis parvula, crypt parva, marsilea hirsuta, staurogyne repens, and my personal favorite, the lobelia cardinalis "mini".


The little round leaves are very charming and give a great texture. I lucked out on this one-- bought a 7-pack of random TC's and the lobelia cardinalis was one of the plants I got.

There is a definite to do list on this tank. I'm going to see if I can pick up some buce and anubias nana petite at the next GSAS meeting for the rocks. I like the weeping moss, needs a little trimming but I think it is great for a forest look. It spreads pretty prolifically though, so its better of to be planted sparingly at the start. We will see if the fissidens fontanus makes it as well. There are also some spots on the front left that seem too empty, I'm going to need to glue some more twigs in there.

FTS:

Since it's in a little nook under a cabinet, here is how I usually see it:



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post #38 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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And now a separate post for the 22 long.

I planted and flooded yesterday. The water was wicked cloudy so I didn't get any pictures. Took a couple today though.

One of the things Dennis Wong talked about (specifically in reference to Luca Gallaraga's aquascapes) was the importance of making a scape look "grounded." First photo is as it was flooded yesterday:
Second photo is after adding some rocks to try and "ground" the main structure.

It's an improvement, but there are not enough middle-sized rocks to bridge the gap between the huge ones and the pebbles, so it looks unnatural. Oh well, that's a project for another day.

I don't think I've talked about the planting yet. Here is a top down picture:
From left to right and back to front, it will be myriphyllum "Guyana", Rotala rotundifolia "Pink", Hemianthus micranthemoides, Rotala macrandra, Rotala sp. "Manipura", and Monte Carlo in front of all of them.

The idea is to have bare rock and sand in the foreground with Monte Carlo growing over the front of the rocks to help make them look cohesive. Hemianthus micranthemoides will act as a transition layer between the foreground and the bright Rotalas in the background peeking over the rocks.

Will it work? Depends on whether I can get the stems to cooperate. I'm hoping the rich substrate will help.

Note to my future self about how long my CO2 lasts: I'm replacing it tomorrow as it is down to 400 PSI.

Oh yeah, light is at roughly 30%, I'm looking for some vertical growth first before I crank the intensity to get some reds going. Here is the spectrum I am using:


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post #39 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-02-2019, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Not much to report. Tank still looks very bare since the stems haven't started poking out the back. Myriophyllum Guyana is doing pretty well, it's a very pretty little plant. Still very small stems, I expect they will get bigger as they grow but it's my first time growing this one so who knows

The rotala rotundifolia "pink" decided to grow horizontally and shoot up bright green side shoots. I trimmed it back and planted some rotala h'ra very densely next to it to see if that will convince it to grow upwards. Side note-- I tried uprooting some of the rotala, no dice. It was already rooted waaay down in the dirt and didn't want to come up without a half pound of worm castings coming with it. It's gonna be a b**** to keep this tank clean...

Pearl weed is growing well, Monte Carlo seems to have adapted but it isn't spreading yet, and the other rotalas are growing up as well. None of them are coloring up yet. I don't know if I'm not giving them enough light or if the green hues are due to all the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate leaking out of the aquasoil. I requested to borrow a par meter but haven't heard back from the club chair about it yet.
I also played around with adding some crypt parva to the front to break up the monolith of rock, and I kind of like it. I think I'm going to add a few more to the foreground just to break things up.
I also super glued in some riccardia chamedryfolia on the uninteresting pieces of rock to give them some detail. It doesn't look great now but I think it will once it grows in.
Currently blasting CO2, much higher than ever before, and I'm only getting a .8 pH drop... I can hear a faint hissing noise coming from the inline diffuser, but I covered it with dish soap and saw no bubbles... Is that something that happens? Or do I have a leak somewhere that I haven't found yet? Or maybe I've just never properly injected CO2...

-Gavin

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post #40 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-08-2019, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Myrio Guyana mini is currently dying from the bottoms up. Im going to see if I can replant the tops, but I might just move it back to my low tech tank where it was doing just fine.

Rotala manipura and macrandra are doing the best, even though it's not at the level of color I'm hoping for. That probably won't happen until the aquasoil stops leaching ammonia into the water column.

Background levels of nitrates are around 10 ppm. There are still some nitrites in the water (not much, but detectable) so I'm holding off on adding shrimp. I think I'm going to start adding fish this week as the tank is otherwise cycled. I replaced the weird Oase floating media with some regular Fluval biomedia I had left over for an instant cycle.

I like that you can start to see the plants poking our from behind the rocks. You can start to get an idea of what it's going to look like now.


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post #41 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 07:53 AM Thread Starter
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I'm updating way too often to have anything useful to say, but I wanted to jot some ideas down regarding getting rotala to grow in an aesthetically pleasing manner. I'm going to be focusing on rotala rotundifolia "pink" because I have had it under all sorts of different conditions. It has the honor of being my favorite plant so I've kept it every tank I've owned so far.

I suppose first I should define what I consider to be the ideal growth form. This is from my low tech tank, with lean fertilization and a substrate of wom castings and osmocote capped with BDBS.

Notice the bright pink tips with a pleasant orange-pink color through the rest of the stem. The nodes are dense, regular, and evenly spaced and the leaves are uniform and healthy.

Compare this to the same plant in a medium-high light tank with injected CO2, EI fertilization, and the same substrate.

Notice how it stretches sideways, is a much paler yellow green color, and has wider spaced internodes. The same pattern is showing up in most recent tank, with the rotala "pink" on the left. This one still has high water column ferts due to leaching substrate, and nosebleed CO2 levels.



The fact that the low-tech, low light tank version has better color indicates to me that nitrate limitation is very important to develop reds in Rotala rotundifolia (not a new idea by any means). The main question I have is what is causing the long internodes and creeping rather than vertical growth pattern.

The creeping growth could be explained by the higher light, but the rotala is also planted more densely in the high-tech tanks so you would expect it to grow up to avoid competing with neighbors.

Internode length might be related to a few things. It could just be higher growth rate causing the greater internode length in the nutrients rich tanks. I think the color spectrum of the lights might also have something to do with it. On my low-tech tank the lights look to be around 7500-10000K. On the other tanks I lean more towards the red and yellow side of the spectrum to make the reds pop more. I read an article that suggests that light in the blue spectrum can INHIBIT vertical growth, thereby causing decreased internode length. I don't know if it's true but I'm going to try adding more cool light and blues to the spectrum to see what happens.

There are also chemicals called plant growth regulators (plant growth retardants or PGR's in this case) that can be used in hydroponics to slow or arrest vertical growth. Many of these are carcinogenic though so I'm not going to be the one to experiment with their effects on livestock.

My challenge is that I don't want to decrease CO2 or light since the other plants like it, but I still want that short spacing between nodes and reddish color. So I'm going to experiment with natural methods like topping, different fertilization regimes, and different light spectrums to try and see what helps. Any suggestions are appreciated

In the picture below, guess which side of the tank is closest to the window?


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post #42 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-20-2019, 07:25 AM Thread Starter
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Updates:
Stocked it with 9 Trigonostigma somphongsi, added two more otocinclus, and a SAE.

I gave it the first trim on Sunday. New growth looks more dense and colorful so maybe the blue light is working, or maybe it's just because I trimmed it

There is a little staghorn on the rocks and I saw the first hint of hair algae and BBA on the rocks as well. Nothing in the plants as they are all growing pretty well. I'll treat the rocks with hydrogen peroxide this weekend as a preventative measure. There's still some diatoms and GDA as well, but I'm hoping the Otto's will keep it in check until the stool stops leaching (probably soon).

I always suspected algae on the rocks would happen. Despite the high plant mass, only about 50% of the substrate area is actually planted.


I'm thinking of adding a carpet in the front section to prevent algae on the substrate. Possibly some hydrocotyle tripartita mini on some of the rocks and some buce in the lower light areas. I think it will help stop algae, but will also be higher maintenance in terms of trimming.

Anyways, FTS below.


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post #43 of 57 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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Update on the actual 12 g long:

I think I'm going to rescape it. Already. I know it's only been a month, but there are a few things that make me want to shake things up:

1. The mixed "carpet"/ plants are my favorite part, and I rarely see them due to how high they are in the tank
2. This scape is mostly hardscape focused. I don't think there is much I can do plant wise to make it look better. I tried adding more buce and anubias nana petite, but quite frankly I don't think it helped. I could try adding more weeping moss, but I think it would take over the spider wood and ruin the look.
3. I didn't leave enough room between the hardscape and the front glass so maintenance is a bitch
4. Culling shrimp is impossible due to the rocks
5. I want to use this tank to separately condition the female somphongsi rasboras I'm trying to breed, but catching them out of this tank will be damn near impossible

Probably gonna take a "final shot" in the next few days and tear it down.

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post #44 of 57 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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A few changes since the last update: I got a new intake (surface skimmer broke) and some new plants, namely a bunch of buce. I left for a week without trimming and came back to a wall of plants.



There was pretty bad shading and the fish had very little room to swim, but everything looked healthy regardless. I took out significant plant mass, and replanted some tops. Most rotalas were fine but the Manipura looked like the bases were dying back, so I thinned it out a bit.



The good news is algae is still not a thing and the myrio Guyana has recovered and is growing well. I'm thinking about removing the pearl weed in favor of more rotala green, since the pearl weed grows absolutely out of control.

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post #45 of 57 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 02:19 AM
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Very nicely done. (thumbs up).

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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