Just another planted 20L - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-08-2015, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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Just another planted 20L

I've had this tank for just over a year, but this is the first time I've started to feel confident in it. A little background: I kept fish as a teen- goldfish first, then angelfish, swordtails and cory cats. I knew nothing about cycling back then! No fish for 15 years, then wanted to get back into the hobby. Bought a used tank and some equip, but I've had a steep learning curve over the year with failing equipment, a major leak, ich outbreak and all my plants nearly dying because I had the balance of light/ferts all wrong. I'm still working on that. Here's the stats:

Parameters: pH: 7.6, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrates usually 20-40ppm

Equipment: HOB biowheel- Marineland Penguin 170 plus a small sponge filter on air pump, 50 watt heater. I have a plastic baffle across the filter outflow, it was too strong for my betta.

Substrate: gravel

Lighting: T8 17w full spectrum on 8.5 hrs/day

Fertilizers: root tabs added once a month, EI dry dosing KH2PO4, KNO3, K2SO4 and Flourish Comprehensive micros once a week after 50% water change. I'm using 1/3 the norm dose since my tank is low tech, and 1/2 of that dose of the KNO3, KH2PO4 right now (because of Nitrate level)

Plants: Aponogeton Crispus, Rotala Indica, Watersprite, Java Fern, some kind of Vallisneria

Inhabitants: 1 male plakat betta (Pinkie), 9 cherry barb, 5 kuhli loaches, 1 nerite snail, countless malaysian trumpet snails

My goal up until now has just been to get my tank healthy and my plants growing. I have not had any sick fish for 6 months now, but I lost a few platies recently due to betta attacks (re-homed the remaining one). I have been keeping an online journal here http://greenjeane.blogspot.com which has a lot more detail about my mistakes, thought process and many more images. I am glad I did, because it wasn't until I looked back through old posts that I realized things started getting bad when I changed my light source (mistakenly thinking the plants needed more light) and just got worse when I started cutting back on photoperiod/nutrients (thinking the brown on my plants was algae- it was dying tissue). I have the lower light back in there now, and am following EI dosing schedule, and things are finally turning around.

Now I can start to think about aesthetics. It's all a jumble. I am planning to rearrange the plants soon. I do like the watersprite- for the different shape/texture of the leaves- but not sure about keeping it in here long term. Right now I'm thinking to move all my Rotala into the background, bring the Aponos forward (they're my favorite plant to look at) and keep crypts in the front. Beyond that I'm not sure what to do to make this look better. Any suggestions?

PS: long term I want to convert the substrate to eco-complete or something else that will hold nutrients (probably wait until I move - might happen in the coming year- and I will have to tear down the tank then anyway) and when I can afford it, I want to upgrade to a 29 or 40gal (to eventually keep angelfish).

I am still learning every day, so open to any advice or criticism. I am also still trying to learn how to get good pictures with my limited digital camera!

Last edited by JJ09; 02-09-2015 at 03:43 AM. Reason: link was messed up
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2015, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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I've been attempting to gradually rearrange my plants. Here's what it looks like now

I want apono crispus to be the centerpiece, and realized that the small-leaved watersprite and rotala stems might look better in the background. Because it's hard to catch kuhli loaches, I tried to do this with the fish in the tank. Past two fridays, I moved a few plants before changing out the water. I've now got all the rotala across the back, and have brought some of the aponos forward. They are sending new shoots up. But I've also got higher nitrates, had a small ammonia spike and some algae showed up. Now I think I ought to remove all the fishes and do all the rescaping in one go instead. But I have to catch all the kuhlis. I made fish trap out of a water bottle for this but haven't tried it yet. I cut out a lot more java fern leaves that were dying- they start looking blotchy, mottled black, yellowing, and then seem to turn bleached white overnight. There are some new baby leaves finally growing out- waiting to see if they look healthy again. This recent friday I did not dose the usual KN03 amount because of the excess nitrate I had (it was near 60ppm, down to 40 after the water change).

I like the watersprite, but not where it is in my tank and not sure how to make it fit in better. I don't want it in the middle anymore. I'm thinking of putting one stem in each back corner, or just pulling it all up and leaving some to float. Also considering moving my log of java fern to put in front of the filter intake (where the watersprite is now), because the stem plants near that keep getting pulled down to it by the flow. I appreciate any feedback or suggestions on rescaping. (This is still my first planted tank).
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2015, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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just tried to get a better photograph
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2015, 07:18 PM
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Looking good. Im a big fan of cherry barbs.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2015, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!! Yours are gorgeous -I have both your tanks in my Favorites list
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-02-2015, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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Over the past weeks I've been slowly moving some plants around. Had problems with this a few times- nitrate going way up, algae bloom. I'm holding off making more changes until there's a day I can take all the fish out, move the rest of the plants, put everyone back in when its settled down...

Since the last pic, I've moved watersprite into the back two corners, moved all the smaller aponogenton front center, moved a few crypts from center area to sides, and trimmed to replant a lot of rotala stems across the background.

I'm still not so good at taking pictures. Here's three more detailed ones, patched together into a sort of panorama shot

I'm happier with it, but still has a long way to go. I've also added sponge prefilter to the intake, and the intake tube now has some kind of black algae growing on it. I scrape it off, it comes back and shows up on rotala leaves nearby (why those are trimmed back, I was cutting out the worst parts of the plants)
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-02-2015, 04:18 AM
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VERY NICE 20L you have there!!!

Really like the plant selection you have gone with! Fish too, they are some of my faves!

To take care of the algae on the intake tube of the hob filter I usually just take the tube completely out of the tank/filter then you can scrub it super clean, and that will usually take care of the problem. If it keeps returning, like there are some micro spores of algae in the texture of the plastic I usually will scrub it clean like usual, then soak it in a bleach and water solution in a big enough container to completely submerge it for at least 15 minutes, then rinse it in as hot of water as you can stand to hold it under, next do the same to the container that you were soaking it in, lastly fill the container back with straight water and add 2 to 3 times the amount of directed dechlorinater and let it soak for another 15 min. and it will be free of algae for sure! That is what I did to my hob filter tubes, and even would do it to the entire filters if I was able to remove the motors if a tank had to be torn down due to illness, buying second hand equipment, or severe algae outbreak. Learned about it when working for a friend who had a aquarium service business and LFS!

The only thing I would mention on arranging your plants is that you might try moving the log with the java fern on it to in front of the filter output. Everything I have read, and every time I have placed my java ferns in the flow of water they have been happier and have grown better!

Other than that, keep up the great work! You have got a very nice 20L! Your Crypts look GREAT and the rest of your plants and fish look very happy!

Take Care!
Drew
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-02-2015, 10:36 AM
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Thanks for the update. Your tank is looking great! The last time I tried growing rotala, the lower portion of the stem always went bald.

Thanks for the tip on used equipment, Boxxer. I've found some great, but grimy items on craigslist. Had to pass it up since it had caked on dried algae. I'll keep it in mind next time.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-02-2015, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips BoxxerBoy. It is an old, secondhand filter, but I never had this black algae grow on it before I put the prefilter on. I did take it off and scrub outside the tank a few weeks ago, but I guess not thoroughly enough. I'll try what you said.

I had thought of moving the java log before, just to hide the filter stuff. If it helps the ferns grow better even more reason. I'll do that when I have time to take out fish and move more stuff at once.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-23-2015, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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My oldest (2.5 years) and favorite fish, the male betta, died recently. I am surprised how much I miss that little fish. Tank needed a change (for me) so I just covered the backdrop panel with a light tan cloth, to see how it looks. I like the colors of the cherry barb against the paler background, the tank overall looks a lot brighter and plant shapes stand out to me more, but this could be temporary.

I've scrubbed algae off the filter intake tube and rinsed the prefilter sponge for the first time. Still some dark algae on plant leaves, but that could be because I forgot to add root tabs last month- I've noticed when it goes too long between adding tabs the plants start to get algae.... The vallisneria is getting taller and sending out new runners, the aponos I moved to center are starting to put out new leaves, but the java ferns still look awful. I cut out all the leaves mottled with dark spots, now there are just a few small clean ones left. Discouraged with that.

I think I will move the java log to the other side (or move the filter to its side?) so it gets more water flowing over it, as suggested. But that means moving the largest aponogeton and several crypts, and whenever I move so many plants I get ammonia/nitrate spikes and the fish seem to suffer. So I'd want to take the fishes out and do a big water change too....

(Happily my crypts never seem to mind getting moved- I've done it several times and never had any melt. But the aponos do take a long time to recover from that.)
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-23-2015, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Ha- never mind that! Reading more threads on substrates I found a link and there is a tractor supply in 20min drive- so next week I am going to go get some STS and try adding it to my tank.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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These inhabitants and plants are soon moving up!

I just got a 40gal tall and am prepping it with the new substrate, will move all the contents of this tank into that one in a few weeks here. So jumping this to a new thread- my new-to-me 40gal Tall.

Meanwhile the 20gal still looks like this (algae is dissipating, java fern seems to be growing back)


can you tell I love aponogeton crispus- I can't stop taking pictures of it:





all my other plants are doing better now too




I know vallisneria is usually a background plant but I like seeing how the runners spread against the glass

even the java fern has been improving slightly
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