Current 2 tanks that I'm maintaining:
First old post from a couple years back:
I have been reading the forum for a couple of years, and find the community really supportive and encouraging. Today I would like to share my 47g tank.
The tank has grown out quite a bit since being planted on 25th July, so I can provide a "fast forwarded" view for those impatient to see changes.
Pic in mid sep:
When the tank first started I played with rock arrangements in the tank:
Two large 150w industrial metal halides; a brute force method for sure, but despite the lousy spectrum, I found that they grew plants quite well. Eventually they would be switched out for BML XB leds.
About a week plus after being planted; many of the plant positions are not meant to be final. Some weeds like L. Repens are used as nutrient sponges while other stuff grew. The backbone bushes; Ludwigia arcuata at the back, Hemianthus glomeratus bushes in the mid and left have not been replanted since the start, only trimmed. Often I like to grow out plants, cut and replant the submersed portions, then throw away the entire original(poorly grown) portion from the shop.
on 14th Aug, roughly 3 weeks, still changing out hardscape to find more suitable rocks. Yellowish tinge because of metal halides:
19 Sep: Changed out rocks again. Algae on rocks because of high lighting used, spot dosed some with excel and lowered lighting. Lighting changed to BML Leds now; better colors are shown when only 1 fixture is turned on; 2 washes out colors. Also reds come out more strongly because of BMLs spectrum. Dosing of phosphates and Iron increased as tank stabilized.
Substrate lighting etc:
Lighting was 2 X 150w MH for first month
switched to BML XB dutch + BML XB 10k + CFL warm white 20w (for visual purposes as I find the BMLs still cool; warm white helps to render orange/yellow tinges). The 10k is raised 6 inches off the tank, and is on only 4 hours in mid day.
Substrate is dirt over iron rich clay + peat, capped by ANS planted tank substrate (a brand of aquatic substrate sold here).Dirt is there to save cost, disregarding costs, I would have probably chosen ADA's substrate. I prefer capping with planted tank substrate than gravel as I find it more adjustable.
Fertilization: Modified EI, water change 25% every 5 days.
Some Eheim filter, + generic CO2 system with inline diffuser.
At the same time I'm running this tiny 3 gal non-CO2 dirt tank. Tank has not been cleaned since the first day, I kept it this way to demonstrate that even if it takes higher lighting to grow carpet plants, it does not necessarily mean an automatic algae farm. For those having trouble growing carpets in dirt/non-CO2, sometimes increasing the light (carefully) may help. Having stem plants to provide plant competition against algae is advisable as well.
It has been run for about a month, and the DHG is filling in nicely. I find that dirt + reasonably good lighting in a shallow tank with some nutrient dosing grows DHG quite well.
On running higher lighting on low tech tanks; I find that if tank is kept stable, higher lighting helps growth and doesn't contribute to algae growth
The factors that I find contribute to tank stability (for a low tech tank);
- If not using CO2, then substrate impact is large; soil gives much better growth compared to commercial substrates. This may be due to soil decomposition giving rise to slightly elevated natural CO2 levels. There should be a balance of organic/inorganic composition of soil. Too high levels of organics might give ammonia spikes that trigger algae growth, too little and the dirt substrate is much less effective.
- Plant densely at the start and choose suitable plant species; some stuff really don't do as well in non-CO2 tanks. Some competitive species such as fast growing stem plants help a lot against algae. A portion of the tank should be dedicated to such species. Having 80% of floor space planted for example, is much more effective against algae than say 10% planted with hardscape making up the rest. Volume matters also, larger clumps of stem plants that stretch the height of the tank makes a bigger impact than say just using hairgrass.
- Shallower tanks seem to give better results; better gas exchange?
- Wait for at least 1-2 months for plant growth to settle in before adding any lifestock; plants would have filled in by then and bacteria action stabilized
- Find balance in the frequency of water changes (which are de-stabilizing if tap water has very different chemistry from tank water) and the need to remove organic waste through water changes. Running a very clean tank initially before the plants dig in prevents algae from becoming unmanageable.
- Consistent pruning to ensure plants are in constant growth space. Good pruning methods allow density without compromising that much on growth space
- Lower bio-load helps.
- Even though higher lighting is used, light should still (always) be adjustable. Adjusting lighting is one of the largest factors that influence growth/tank balance.
- Overall stability is important; should not changing growth variables rapidly which causes plants to re-program between fast and slow growth states
This pic is taken after freshly planted:
After few months of settling in
This pic is of an older tank with glosso carpet, with similar methods
Detail shots of large tank:
16/7/2015 - Collated most of the past pics in this post
47 gal rescaped in 2015
47 gal Hi-tech under Metal halides
15 gal Hi-tech with CFLs lamps
5 gal Hi-tech with Metal Halides
1 gal Low tech Nano rectangle Ikea vase under Metal Halides
2 gal Low tech Nano rectangle Ikea vase under CFL desklamp
1 gal Low tech round Ikea vase under CFL desklamp
3.5 gal Low tech under CFL desklamp
3.5 gal Low tech under CFL desklamp
5 gal sold at exhibition/grown under MH
Another tank (sep 2015) - still making changes to this one
15 gallon stone arc
with different lights
6 gallon seiryu stone scape
46 gallon lava rock scape
65gallon with seiryu stone