The feel-good 20 gallon - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-08-2019, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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The feel-good 20 gallon

Let me start by saying that since I've joined this forum, I've had a great time reading through others' journals. I read through much of Burr's journal on his Dutch tank, and I was totally blown away. Then I'd read through other journals, where people would write stuff like "I'm pretty much a total amateur, this is nowhere near as good as so-and-so's tank."

Well, this is called the feel-good 20 gallon because I'm here to make those people feel good about themselves.

First off, I'm a total noob. I've forgotten the names of half the plants in my tank, and I am pretty bad at aquascaping. Second, this tank has had a rough life. I headed off to college about a year after I set it up, so for 2/3 of past 4 years it's been taken care of by my dad. He's a reef guy (I am too, but I reef vicariously through him), so his ability to take care of my tank is pretty limited. He basically doses ferts, feeds, and changes CO2. I'm grateful for this, but that means that every time I come back from school, the tank is in pretty rough shape. To make things worse, I had an awful bladderwort outbreak, culminating in me completely redoing the tank in December. I threw away most of my plants because they were too filled with the stuff, so I left a very rough and rather bare tank behind me.

I came back for the summer to an equally rough and bare tank covered in hair algae. Yesterday I took everything out of the tank, cleaned everything, clipped/pulled the billion aerial roots off my stemmed plants (jeez, that takes forever), and replanted it all.

Now it looks less bad, but it's still pretty sparse, the plants aren't very healthy, and the water is quite cloudy.

Hardware/maintenance:
Tank: 20H Aqueon
Light: BeamsWork DA FSPEC 24", 11hs/day
Filter: Marineland Penguin 150. Running a foam prefilter, a coarse sponge for biological filtration, and a nylon pad for mechanical. I know it's not enough filtration.
CO2: DIY. 2 2L bottles using brewer's yeast; each is changed when it stops producing CO2, which comes out to about one bottle each month. Drop checker came loose, and I haven't had a chance to set it back up.
Water changes: None for the past 5mo. About 10gal in the last week. From now on, 5gal every other week.
Dosing: Flourish Complete and Flourish Iron as directed on bottle. I was dosing Trace as well, but I ran out.

Plants (left to right, back to front):
Background
Rotala indica
Crinum calamistratum (a tiny single sprig)
? (Red stemmed plant with long, narrow leaves.)
Hygrophila difformis?

Midground
Rotala rotundifolia?
Lysimachia nummularia?
? (It's a sword that I bought years ago. It's never done well - I really need to add root tabs.)
Cryptocoryne spiralis?
Bacopa caroliniana?

Foreground
Cryptocoryne wendtii?
Cryptocoryne ? (Might be Crypt. flamingo; I'm having trouble identifying it. Broad, oval leaves ~3" long that are green on top and pink on bottom.)
Pogostemon helferi
Cryptocoryne parva
Bacopa caroliniana again?

Livestock:
6 ember tetras
3 pygmy cories
1 Siamese algae eater
7 cherry red shrimp
1 assassin snail

And now the disaster itself:



I will say that the algae isn't as bad as it looks. All the fuzz on the wood is dead - that's been dry for months, and I just didn't feel like scrubbing it off before I put the wood back in.

This tank is probably going to be taken down in a month or two, unless I can make one of my parents want to keep it. I'm moving back across the country in August, and I'll be setting up a high-tech 40b out there (you may have seen me planning that in this thread).

For now, I just want to have fun with this one and see what I can do with it, and I want to get my act together before I start on a high-tech tank. Roast me, what am I doing wrong? (Also, I'd much appreciate if you could help me nail down for sure what plants I have.)
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
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The cloudiness is coming down, but I'm noticing some shrimp hanging at the very top of the tank - I wonder if CO2 is too high. Better get that drop checker back in there ASAP.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 03:01 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
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I did a bunch of maintenance today. The tank is looking better, but still isn't great. I had to pull out a bunch of hair algae, and plant growth is still pretty uninspiring.

I'd been putting off refreshing the CO2 because the drop checker had been removed (and the reagents lost), but I finally bit the bullet to make my own 4dKH solution and used that with a few drops of bromothymol blue. I redid one of my two 2L CO2 bottles, and it's putting off a pretty good stream now.

Hopefully the CO2 will help reduce algae and improve plant growth.

Before:


After:


Any thoughts on why my tank is in such a slump? Even with a dimmer light and no CO2 I was seeing better growth than this. Is my current lack of Flourish Trace dosing possibly to blame? Or do the plants just take a while to re-root before growth continues?

I hardly feed the tank, and I reduced my photoperiod by an hour, but the algae doesn't seem to be getting any better.
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