Photo-tracking HamToast's 30g! From rags to riches. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Photo-tracking HamToast's 30g! From rags to riches.

This is my "OFFICIAL" photographic tank track thread for my 30 gallon planted aquarium. The tank has been around for about a year, but has been struggling along and combating algae, slow growth, and plant melt. Within the last two months I have changed my approach and began getting things rolling to convert this low-tech tank into a high-tech jungle.

Water parameters will be tracked on each picture, and the tank features (filtration, lighting, fert dosing, etc) will be kept here as well. Unless I have made a change, I will not include new information on the picture. For the first month or so I'll be posting weekly updates, then bi weekly for an additional two months, finally switching to monthly.

This is where we begin the tracking. I took a picture on day 1 of dosing fertilizers and have taken one weekly since. I have decided to not trim plants back, or add any additional plants. This is to truly track progress of the existing life in the tank and not create an illusion of rapid growth by adding more plants.

The next post will explain the tank setup and parameters as of the start of this photographic record.

Our journey begins...

Last edited by HamToast; 04-30-2013 at 10:48 PM. Reason: edit
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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WEEK 1:
(may be a bit longer post then they will normally be)

Parameters are all optimal using conditioned tap water (thank you, Seachem Prime). PH 7.6, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 40 (a bit higher than I'd like, hopefully the plants begin a stronger uptake). Unsure of KH/GH. Lighting is dual 21w T5's running on a 12 hour cycle (6,500k and 10,000k bulbs). No CO2. Filtration includes a whisper 60 HoB with a pre-filter, sponge, ceramic media, and filter floss. I am also running a powerhead with a pre-filter and a UV sterilizer.

Fertilization is in the form of root tab "veggie" capsules and Osmocote plus. I am dosing a standard PPS-Pro regime and have been extremely consistent in when the dosing takes place, and making sure to dose daily.

Plants include 2 "adult" amazon swords, 2 "baby" amazon swords, about a dozen crypt lutea, 2 bronze wendtii, about 6 water sprite, and about 8 dwarf sagittaria. Animals include 2 dalmatian mollies, 1 yellow molly, 2 bumblebee platys, a dozen cherry barbs, 6 otos, about 8 ghost shrimp, and an unknown number of AS.

April 7, 2013


Here we can see the thinly spread plants, many of them suffering from melt or frequent uprooting. I began dosing ferts when I took this picture, so here is our start point. Not too impressive, I don't think. Algae is an issue, covering many leaves on the lutea and swords. Bummer.

Last edited by HamToast; 04-30-2013 at 10:49 PM. Reason: New information
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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WEEK 2:

No changes made in the tank. Parameters all the same as last week.

April 14, 2013


The quicker growing plants are already taking off, and only after a week of dosing ferts! There is also a bit of new growth among some of the lutea, and the amazon swords seem to be doing better with nice green leaves. I'm excited!
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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WEEK 3:

No changes made to anything. Water parameters the same, except nitrates seem higher around 80 (its hard to tell exactly because 40 and 80 on the color chart look identical). I'm not 100% sure why it's so high since I do regular large changes and only feed a few pinches once a day. Only thing I can think is my tank is too heavily stocked for the amount of plants, or my tap water is high in nitrates. I have some water sitting aside (treated with dechlorinator) that I will test to get my tap water parameters.

April 21, 2013


Holy water sprite, Batman! It's difficult to tell from this image, but the water sprite has grown very well in the past few weeks. There have been no plants uprooting, and the melt has completely stopped among the lutea. All of them have also exhibited new growth. I did notice a single leaf melting on the bronze wendtii today though. Algae seems to have subsided a bit, but I notice it grows on the glass still. I was hoping it would be snuffed out quicker. Overall, I'm pleased.

Last edited by HamToast; 04-26-2013 at 01:44 AM. Reason: Additional info
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 08:49 PM
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It looks like you have some good steady growth! I also like the river rocks down the middle

I literally love my aquarium(s).

20L Rimless
40G Breeder Tank
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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It looks like you have some good steady growth! I also like the river rocks down the middle
Thanks! I envision one day having this tank being overgrown with lush plants and the only places where you can see the bottom are where the river rock lays.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-28-2013, 01:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HamToast View Post
Parameters are PH 7.6, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 40

I am dosing a standard PPS-Pro regime

Plants include 2 "adult" amazon swords, 2 "baby" amazon swords, about a dozen crypt lutea, 2 bronze wendtii, about 6 water sprite, and about 8 dwarf sagittaria.
When my nitrates were 40 I started getting string algae. The only way to decrease it is to do water changes weekly.

Your plants are all easy plants that don't require ferts. Thus would be easisier to use an all in 1 fert like a dry fert from select aquatics
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2013, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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When my nitrates were 40 I started getting string algae. The only way to decrease it is to do water changes weekly.

Your plants are all easy plants that don't require ferts. Thus would be easisier to use an all in 1 fert like a dry fert from select aquatics
I do weekly PWCs of about 30% already and nitrates still seem high. I don't have any string algae at the moment but do have slight BBA and Green algae.

As for the ferts, I had poor results using seachem products and worse results using nothing at all. Plant growth was poor and many of them were slowly dieing or uprooting constantly (with stunted root growth). Since beginning the PPS Pro regime I have had no problems with uprooting and growth is steady. Algae spread seems to have stopped and is very slowly decreasing in some areas. The ferts were not too expensive either so I am pleased with the methods.

I may give an all in one fertilizer a try on my low tech tank, but I'm hesitant to mess with anything because the balance seems perfect in that tank without my interference. Although I should be able to mix my own with the ingredients I have for fertilizer.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2013, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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WEEK 4:
I haven't been able to do a PWC yet this week and wasn't able to get the picture exactly on time. I have finals right now so things are a bit hectic. Tomorrow afternoon will be the final day of finals so I can shift my focus back to this tank.

Nothing was changed in the tank setup, but I did add a small water sprite from my other tank (you can see it floating around the top, I didn't bother planting it yet).

Parameters are all good minus nitrates, being rather high up around 80. I plan on doing daily PWCs for a few days after my finals. I should have time since I have a week break before summer classes start up. This is also the last week of a weekly photo! I'll be switching over to bi-weekly for a while.

4/29/13


Overall I am very satisfied with the progress, especially considering this tank is low light and with no Co2 injection! The lighting will probably be increased this weekend, I am looking at getting a supplemental LED strip to bring the lighting closer to 2.5-3 wpg. As for the current status, you can plainly see there has been steady growth since the start of this about a month ago. The water sprite has taken off nicely and the sagittaria has grown long grassy leaves. All of the crypts have stopped melting and are showing continued new growth and the amazons have been sprouting new leaves as well. The only plant that I can not see new growth on is the bronze wendtii. It has stopped melting though, so I can only assume this plant is extremely slow growing and just needs more time.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2013, 08:35 PM
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I may give an all in one fertilizer a try on my low tech tank, but I'm hesitant to mess with anything because the balance seems perfect in that tank without my interference.
If it works don't change it. Nothing is written in stone when dealing with nature.

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I am looking at getting a supplemental LED strip to bring the lighting closer to 2.5-3 wpg.
The wpg rule applies to T8 bulbs. I would stick with the light you have for 3 months. For if algae occurs it will occur within 3 months.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2013, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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LEDs can't be calculated easily to determine the brightness using the wpg rule but doesn't that rule still apply to T5 bulbs since the bulbs output is still measured as a function of wattage? In any case, the tank needs more light.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 03:39 PM
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Doesn't that rule still apply to T5 bulbs since the bulbs output is still measured as a function of wattage?
NO!! I have 1 T5NO and 1 T8 over my 29 G. They have the same wattage but the T5NO is brighter than the T8.

What light do you have over it now? Some of the LED light strips aren't very bright. To keep it running without Co2 I would just get a T5NO light strip from Home Depot. The light seems as bright as mine did when I had 2 T5NO bulbs over it. I don't understand why you are going to increase the light? Adding something that needs more light?

Last edited by Hilde; 04-30-2013 at 03:40 PM. Reason: grammar correction
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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I have a dual T5 setup, one bulb at 6,500k, and one 10,000k. I'm going to get new bulbs soon. The LED strip I'm looking at is not bright enough for primary lighting but is perfect to supplement light. I want to add light before I add CO2 so that I can begin keeping more difficult plants. But I understand now that calculating my light intensity will be difficult.

I also plan on getting new bulbs for the T5 fixture. Likely a daylight bulb and a color max bulb.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 06:43 PM
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I want to add light before I add CO2 so that I can begin keeping more difficult plants.

I also plan on getting new bulbs for the T5 fixture. Likely a daylight bulb and a color max bulb.
Okay now I understand your goal. You could first add Co2 and then the lights. I have seen another do it and she had no algae problems. She just had 2 clip on light over a 20G L. It is broken down or I would give you a link to it.

Color max bulbs I understand don't do much for plants. I like you bulb combo now. It is what I am thinking of doing after I add DIY Co2.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-30-2013, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Color max bulbs I understand don't do much for plants. I like you bulb combo now. It is what I am thinking of doing after I add DIY Co2.
Really? The owner at the LFS recommended them for plants. You would think I'd stop trusting their often misleading or misinformed advice. I'll look into it some more, thanks for the input.
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