After being an avid reader of this forum for quite some time, I've finally got around to posting a summary of the first 8 weeks of my first attempt to establish a low maintenance, dirt substrate planted aquarium.
: 48 x 18 x 24 (90 gallon)
: 2 x 54W T5HO, 7 hour photoperiod with a break
: Mineralised organic topsoil capped with pool filter sand
: None, but recently added some DIY osmocote root tabs
: Eheim 2215 x 2
: Pearl gouramis, platies, neons, peppered cory's, siamese algae eaters, otos
: Chain sword, micro sword, crypts
: Java fern, amazon sword, bacopa, anubia,
: Corkscrew val, water sprite, hygro. polysperma, ambulia?
: 7.4 (pH), 0 (NH3/NH4), 0 ppm (NO2), 5-10 ppm (NO3), 4 (KH), 4 (GH)
Week 1 - Image is straight after planting. Only running a single 2215. 6 hour photoperiod.
Week 2 - Major cloudiness over the first week or two requiring 50% water changes every few days. Low ammonia, no nitrates. 7 hour photoperiod.
Week 3 - Added some water lettuce to soak up any excess nutrients from submerged soil. Bacopa and Val not going well. Upped photoperiod to 8 hours. Tank cycled, added neons (x20) and SAEs (x2)
Week 4 - Added otos (x2). No algae problems, very minor brown and thread algae. Runners on chain swords, emersed growth dying off. Cloudiness no longer a major issue, putting it down to a bacterial bloom.
Week 5 - No camera! First signs of nutrient deficiencies appearing in chain swords. Bacopa and val still melting. Reduced the frequency of water changes, as nitrates are barely above zero.
Week 6 - Added pearl gouramis (x6). Water sprite, hygro, crypts, lilaeopsis all growing.
Week 7 - Added DIY gel capped osmocote root tabs for swords. Nitrates now reading 5-10ppm with increased fishload and reduced waterchanges.
Week 8 - Added platy (x3), peppered cory (x4). Removed water lettuce, reduced photoperiod back to 7 hours. Added 2nd eheim 2215 as I had visible particles in the water column. First major prune. Tank starting to take shape, but still not happy with left hand side due to the val and bacopa failure. Temporarily added watersprite to LHS. Too early to tell if higher nitrates and osmocote have affected the swords.
All in all, I expected more issues in the first two months especially the presence of more algae and ammonia spikes, both of which I've managed to avoid so far.
I'm open to suggestions for the aquascape on the LHS and ideas on why I've had trouble with the bacopa and corkscrew val.
For those interested in a whole lot more detail pls check out my blog which I'm updating regularly. I'll post an update periodically on here.