Not only am I new to this forum, I am also new to planted aquariums! Back in November 2018, I decided to embark on a frustrating journey to own a planted tank which ended in disappointment. However, this early journey has not deterred me from trying again! In March I did a tank "reset" to try and get things right, and maybe even learn a thing or two about something. Before I get to where the tank is at now, I wanted to give an overview of my first attempt, with the sole purpose of identifying all the mistakes I made, resulting in an imminent failure. I also encourage you all to identify things I have missed. So here we go!
Tank Dimensions: 48"W * 21"H * 18"D
Filter: Aqueon 400 Canister Filter
Lighting: Current USA Satellite Plus PRO
Heater: Aqueon 300W submersible
Substrate: Blend of Tropica aquarium soil and Seachem Flourite
CO2: 10# cylinder with in-line Dual Venturi DIY external reactor
Other: Ehiem Skimmer (Added in March 2019)
November 7, 2018: Day one. There is nothing more exciting than flooding your aquarium and planting! I believed I had everything I needed, as the soil was already enriched, and the LFS guy told me I shouldn't need to add any ferts for at least a year. HA! Anyway, things were looking very nice. And it didn't take long for things to take off.
November 29, 2018: Things are growing quickly, but still looking healthy! I decided to add 12 Cardinal Tetras to add some more colour to the tank. Water tests indicating a pH of 6.4 and still no nitrate.
December 12, 2018: Oh boy....Things have really grown, but it's not so nice anymore. There's a thick, persistent layer of oil/slime on the surface of my water. I don't understand! The parameters show zero across the board! Things should be pristine in there! As you can see, I also added more fauna, 12 Emperor Tetras, just because....got to have fish, right?!
February 28, 2019: It's just before this point that I realized, I've really messed up. I start scouring the web for solutions and root causes. Over the course of the month, two cardinal and one emperor have died, and I simply cannot keep up with the BGA that is now rampant in my tank. This image is 3 days after cleaning. I decide here to start from scratch. I take inventory of what fauna remain and am surprised to find a emperor fry. Apparently the sole survivor of it's kin. Bonus fish! Also, I've added more! Four blue angelfish.
March 1, 2019: All the flora (with the exception of HC) is removed thrown in the garbage. Driftwood and rocks are scrubbed with a toothbrush under tap water, and the aquarium glass is scrubbed. Soil and HC are aggressively vacuumed and an 80% water change is performed (fauna are still in the tank). After a refill, I set up the surface skimmer I just picked up and allow the filter to do it's thing before cleaning it four hours later. Activated carbon is replaced. 10 mls of Excel are also added and CO2 shut down. Lights reduced to 50%
March 2, 2019: Performed a 50% water change and cleaned skimmer filter (already filthy). Added new flora (to be described below). Re-scaped
March 4, 2019: Added some more flora. EI fertilizers have arrived in the mail, performed another 50% water change.
So here we are.
Blue Angelfish (4)
Emperor Tetras (12)
Cardinal Tetras (10)
Silver Flying Fox (1)
Bristlenose Pleco (1)
I realize today is March 7th, but I will save the Fresh start for another journal entry. So what did I do wrong?
Here is MY list:
-I was in a hurry.
-I didn't have ferts. The plants outgrew what little nutrient was in the soil.
-I didn't have good CO2 control. Between the iffy on-off times and the surface slime, things were all over the map.
-I thought more light meant better results. Cue algae.
-I thought my canister filter could go longer between cleans.
-General upkeep was lacking. By simply not trimming the plants adequately, circulation was affected, making it easier for algae to take over.
-I didn't understand the water parameters. And when the going got tough, I basically threw in the towel and stopped testing. I was running blind.
-Did I mention I was in a hurry? I wanted that gorgeous tank yesterday. This takes time.
I'm still learning, but I think I'm way better off than I was four months ago. Let's make this a great comeback story, okay?