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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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Post My first planted tank - Downtree

Hello everyone! My name is Marshall. I'm a 31y/o tradesman from northern Ohio, on the lake. I'm brand spanking new here and first wanted to introduce myself a little. Like most of us I have always had the pleasure of being around aquariums, and still remember my fathers 55 from when I was 6, kept my own 10G's and 20G's mostly saltwater reefs, through middle school and high school. My 20G tall survived all these years under the care of my parents in a freshwater setting, under gravel filter, 20G HOB, but eventually made its way back to me as I returned to Ohio, from the Keys. That's where my interest in the hobby sparked yet again, and here I am!!! Years ago there were not online forums and easy access to information, and upon investigating an existing species I keep, came across the plethora of information, videos, and forums.. Naturally I dug a little deeper into the substrate (cheesy eh?). I love to write, which if that is not evident by now it will be! So... I chose plantedtank.net because the members here appear to be very nice, creative, helpful, and most importantly don't argue over the same ol stuff with googans like I've seen elsewhere. Everyone seems to have a great attitude, and have graduated over time into novice aquatic gardners and aquascapers. I am by no means even close to that, but would like to use this as a somewhat journal to this tank... And have some questions of my own (which I will denominate along the way as [X]). So, here is what I have created as a first attempt at keeping and enjoying plants, shrimp, and fish together in harmony.

Stats time!!!
June 1st, 2015 Saturation
10 Gallon, typical.
20 Gallon HOB filter with carbon, ceramics, and floss. (Yeah, HOB, I know, it's what I had)
15-16lbs Eco-Complete substrate.
Malaysian Drifwood Hardscape, which takes up easily a gallon of water maybe slightly more, no rocks.
Dwarf Hairgrass, Java Fern, Java Moss, Crypt Parva, Amazon Frogbit, Unidentified hygrophelia.
Red cherry shrimp, glow light tetras.
DIY Co2, two 850ml Gatorade bottles, Yeast. Restocked opposing 8-10 day cycles. Night time air stone 1/2 hour before sunset and sunrise. Approximately 2.2ml Flourish Excel every other day. Water changes at 25-30% every two to three days initially, every four days now, which will hopefully allow me to perform in wider timespans eventually.
DIY adjustable lighting fixture with switch, stainless steel, aluminum base and uprights. Two 23watt 6500k CFL spirals. 8 1/2 hours a day. As of now no heater, but stays between 70-73degrees as the warmer months are among us in northern Ohio again.
I did not use a root tab system like osmocote plus, only because locally I could not find the "plus" version and have yet to find out if the "osmecote" itself is sufficient or adversley detrimental to the plants, substrate, fish, etc. (maybe you can help me out with that [1]). I'm plenty aware you can order online, but as for this tank everything was purchased in brick and mortar fashion, aside from the Frogbit (terrible eBay seller, but I saved it and it is flourishing now, what was left of it.. pretty resilient stuff). And the light fixture itself which I fabricated, wired, designed myself.

I did not do a dry start method on the hairgrass but it is throwing runners anyway, despite the course substrate. I would imagine this is due to the high lighting and excel dosing. A runner will brown out initially but thrive quickly. It's not running rampant, but nonetheless running.. I did save some for a small vase style dry start/terrarium in hopes to quickly spread it and transplant it into this 10G in spots that need help filling in. [2] I wouldn't mind if you chimed in or could direct me to some further information as to how this is being done successful elsewhere.

A little break in information:
I realize attempting this in a small setting like 10G is a challenge and will require extra effort, but as long as I enjoy doing it I certainly don't mind, and I have enjoyed it so far!!!

I didn't really have plan or objective when creating this, it was essentially an on the whim build after visiting Aquatica Aquarium Gallery, southwest of Cleveland, for the first time. Best Aquatics store I have yet to see, very cool!!! To my point.. This is where I found the driftwood, which was said to be boiled and tanned-out.. So I went for it. That was not the case, so I guess I have created a somewhat black water environment, which is okay I suppose, as I plan to house the shrimp with leaves anyhow. Just requires a little more frequency in the water changes to make it a little more appealing to the human eye. As far as I know this won't be harmful to the glow lights, or any plants I have housed [3]. On a sidenote, it is not evident in pictures but the back side of the driftwood has a "leg" just off center to the right, which creates a nice hiding spot away from high lighting or other inhabitants. So the tannins are still seeping out in this tank, and in a bucket with another piece I bought... This, adds to my own googan status, as I was impatient because I had plants in hand and ready to get the tank started at least mentally. The only plans I did go into this with were (possibly) creating a breeding space for glowlights and RCS simultaneously, taking advantage of a carpeted substrate and natural hiding spots a planted tank offers, though I am aware there is much work to be done first.

Back to it: I will spare you the exact specifics on timing and water readings... With that said, there was a three day phase for the Eco complete to end the white cloudiness, which could have possibly also been a bacterial bloom as I initially used water from my 20G, as well as filter media. Cleared right up, but it was to return...

Enter 3 glow light tetras and 2 red cherry shrimp from 20G to fish cycle

Another phase of whitish, milky I suppose water which readings indicated was, this time, a bacterial bloom, I had the patience to leave it alone knowing this and it went crystal clear soon after.

Shortly after that there was what appeared to be an algae bloom. Java moss especially was gathering fuzz/hair and looked like it was hanging on for dear life, this soon also passed.. And everything is back to crystal clear... Maybe you can help me out on this.. I believe the algae bloom was created from the one plant I bought that was housed in a tank among fish at pet supplies plus in Sandusky... It had green/brown fuzz like algae on its leaves. Is it possible I transplanted this into my tank? I only rinsed it with leftover water from this tanks WC and softly brushed [4]. But nonetheless the brownish/green fuzz has gone away on its own. Among this algae bloom was also a one day phase where the surface of the water was collecting bubbles rather than letting the gas exchange take place accompanied by a slight oil slick... This could have possibly been protein? I have no idea but it still baffles me. One WC and it was gone. but ever since it seems as though I have reoccurring surface tension problems, nothing to the point of bubbles gathering absolutely everywhere but a little bit stranger than that. I will do my best to explain... I have really had to pay attention to my air stones.. Changed them out, tried different ones, there is never a consistent flow, even more confusing to me.. the lower the air stone the less it produces and does not produce at all at the substrate. [5]

At this point, all inhabitants are safe, one developed a little fin rot during the bacterial bloom, he has since returned home to his more comfortable school. This left 2 glow lights which revealed an "alpha", so I returned the helpless tetra back home as well. Now, the tank is housed with the single alpha glowlight tetra, and two red cherry shrimp.

I suppose that is enough for now as I'm sure I lost a few readers along the way... But those of you who are still here thank you very much and I am happy to be a part of a community such as this to have a place to communicate on our own time, and I am especially grateful to have the support of those of you with much more experience and knowledge... And those of you who can help or provide a little insight, please feel free to comment, opinionate, help with anything I have and will share with you all... Among the following...
[1] Is Osmecote (NOT Osmecote Plus) sufficient or detrimental?
[2] Any tips on terrarium or vase style emersed froth with DHG? Links would also be appreciated.
[3] Anything I have doomed to succeed in a slightly black water environment? Will the tannins eventually slow as I anticipate? I realize this is a fairly sizable piece for a 10G but is it too big, which will make me fight off tannins with endless water changes?
[4] Did I introduce the algae bloom which has appearantly passed? I am a little weary of bleach water rinsing, should I get over it?
[5] The most important one I have.. What the heck is going on with my air stones, my surface tension, gathering bubbles, lack of bubbles?? I've researched this myself to no solution, hoping with your experience now that someone has been through this before..

Once again thank you for reading, and I am happy to be a part of such a community as this. Please feel free to comment on anything!!!! Also sorry if I have trouble with pictures as this is my first post, im sure the white balance is going to be a little extreme as most pics will be from iphone!!! THANKS!!! marshall29
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Last edited by Marshall29; 06-19-2015 at 02:18 AM.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 02:25 AM
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Really liking the layout. I love how the driftwood sits in a more natural position instead of an off-balanced look like most tanks have. Makes it really unique. Keep us posted!
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 05:26 AM Thread Starter
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thanks skeelski. Will do..

Fixed a lot of things during tonight's 3.5G water change. Frogbit is coming in great, finally in numbers and able to tell up from down on their own, I didn't even have to take them out for the water change. The bugs were going crazy over some algae that showed up on the hygro just before lights out. Fish had his best meal of this tank, still leaves a little behind though..? Normally my glowlights act as if they will eat themselves to death if you let em.

New Co2 reactor, like mixing paint... That I don't especially enjoy but at least it always kicks!!!

Thinking about taking some length off the DHG or at least a few larger bushes of it. I would like to pull one soon and check out the root structure, and maybe do a dry start. I always try to bury the runners that make their way out of substrate to no avail. Gets me every time. I end up doing more damage probably so I'm going back to my original plan. Cap the spots that need more depth with sand. That's really my main focus I guess with this tank, as I want a short to medium grass for the shrimp (and myself). I haven't added sand since the build but I have a clever way of doing it with an airline. Who knows this may be a shrimp village when I'm further with it. For right now it's an experiment, and something on the heathier side of life to enjoy.

Fixed the air stone situation. The pump was starting to fail and the airline was in the perfect position to cause this little trick... Good ol' Elite799. I went to squeeze it and there was the problem.. Perfect flow when you squeeze the pump, less gradually as you release. I have never been inside one of these pumps but I didn't have to tonight either because I had a perfect clone unused. Works perfect, too. It dawned on me as I was reading my own journal!!! Check the pump, dummy... It really helps having a place like this to write it all down, and I'm digging the ease of the mobile format.

As for the buildup in bubbles. Could have been a combination of the air pump slowly losing over the course of a few weeks, bacteria bloom, soft algae attack combined with 3 or 4 days of no WC. Timing, IDK. I'm new to this. It's iffy. Could have easily been something on my hands though, as I work with a lot of chemicals. (Odd for a fish keeper, eh?). It would make more sense if I still fished for a living. Man I'm losing my train of thought here. Anyway enjoy the pics... Checkout the skull on that tree trunk where it turns to the ground!
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Last edited by Marshall29; 06-19-2015 at 05:34 AM.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 01:23 PM
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Great start, very tidy light installation. Sweet!
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 02:19 PM
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I'm digging the behind the tank light mount. I always preferred that look over suspending it for some reason. I was thinking of buying some frogbit on ebay too..do you think it was the stress from shipping or just bad from the beginning?
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks hetzer, thanks Valencia...

Thanks for appreciating the light fixture. I'm pretty proud of it and it was fun to design and build. It's rewarding to be able to put to use things from my own trade into this hobby, they would likely never cross... The chains can be a little clumsy sometimes as it is dog choke collar chain.. The last thing I want to do is drop it through the open top into the tank, let's pray that never happens. I just couldn't find anything THAT DAY, and used it instead. It looks awesome.. And my first design was a big lid but this one I suspended and milled out a slot with a quarter inch endmill so I could easily slide it forward or back, realizing I would have to be in and out of it A LOT for maintenance. An enclosure did not make sense!

Ah yes the Frogbit: The buyer I bought it from on eBay was akasebi, out of Denver. Timely shipping, packaged well, good communication, they even PM'd me asking if it arrived okay and on time... The problem I had is it was just the junk he didn't want in his tank after a water change, leaves, no roots, some stems, but the biggest thing was how he handled it. A leave on Frogbit can be creased over easily and will split typically in a straight line across... Imagine taking your scraps out of a tank that is being cleaned up for a water change. Then picking them out and making a fist to shove them in a bag... Nearly everything was creased and dying by the time it made it to me. But like I said it is very resilient. I didn't leave him a bad review, I didn't leave him a positive review. I just left well enough alone and tried to save it. Wasn't hard with the high light. When all was said and done I got 1, call it 1 1/2, survivable plants. Which have shot off runners and propagated at an extreme rate so I'm not mad or anything. I just could have done a much better job myself. I didn't enjoy paying for scraps that I had to make work regardless of if it will come back anyway. It would be like buying Java fern and getting beat up torn leaves with no roots, sure you can make them work eventually and float them or even bury them to grow and propagate the babies... But is that really buying it? If I were to sell it I would sell the best of what I have knowing that my tanks are providing more, not selling what I don't want anyhow. Ethics nowadays eh?

Anyway it came in and started to take off after I finally took what didn't die and set it aside to clean it up, basically pulled all of the yellow, or cut leaves that we're going that route, off. I only floated what was living and showing some signs of life yet. This accelerated its growth like mad... I think because only the good stuff left was able to support new growth without spending energy trying to keep dying leaves alive. Every single day I get home now... It's bigger, better, sprouting runners, letting runners off to be independent... I'm back to where I was when I paid for it, happy I have it. If you can hold off for a little while I would be more than happy to work out a shipping only agreement and do a much better job, than this seller anyway, to see you get some in an appropriate state where you can be excited to have it... If I were a competitive aquascaper and needed some to arrive in show quality or at least a day or two away from it... I would have been mad.

Reviewing the videos of what it looked like when I got it... As opposed to now. When I got it, it covered half the tank, but with garbage... I'm not even to a quarter tank yet, but in probably two weeks I will be at what I believe is enough coverage. And at the state it is in now. It is very rare.. Maybe one every five days... To lose even a single leaf.

On a side note: with my experience with Frogbit in my 20G Tall, enclosed lid, 15W T5 I believe, I tried one runner which had three leaves and starting to root. It has creeped in growth, almost none at all, but some. Could be the enclosed lid, I know for sure its not the filter which does not saturate the top of the leaves.... Maybe it is possibly my big black angelfish??? I will have to try one with roots to see if he's eating it up.

Anyways: I really would not consider myself an aquascaper nor did I really have a plan for this one... Things are just thrown around wherever. I would like to make some changes with what I have and try one or two new species of plants or moss. But for now I am happy with how it is coming along, main focus is to keep things growing and carpeting while I ponder a rescape. This tank is very young yet, and I am just happy with how it is and the experience so far I have obtained.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-19-2015, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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I have started to make a video with iMovie that I will share when I am finished, I plan on putting it on YouTube. Most I'm sure would have a much more enjoyable time watching it rather than reading all of this. I will keep working on it..
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-20-2015, 11:33 PM
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That's generous of you to offer. I'm not in any real rush right now, so I'd be willing to wait until you're ready to trim. The only caveat is I'm trying to find someone without snails.

Also, great idea to have a light that slides for easy access to the tank. I have a light that sits on my tank lid that I originally meant to anchor to the frame and never did. Now I'm glad I didn't mainly because of access. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate I suppose. Haha.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-21-2015, 06:14 AM Thread Starter
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This tanks is absolutely snail free.. I have been pondering that as well. But snails couldn't possibly get mixed in with frog bit.. Especially in this tank right now. Zero snails. I have however seen snails in a carpeted hair grass tank that look nothing like my trumpet snails in my twenty and have wondered if they have some sort of beneficial advantage to the grazing of the tanks that are very well lawned in. We can make that the next question I have [5]!! Beneficial snails on DHG. As for the bit, I'll be giving it away to my brother and sister and keeping some in my 20G tall too. But to help someone out here would be my pleasure. I am seeking your help as well, in return, just opinions I guess. Input on the questions that arise from a hooligan like myself.. Took a one day vacation from my place... Late... Chimin in. I'll be working on it tomorrow during coffee. I want to pull some of the bushier DHG and start a vase, but also propigate the hairs finer.. To achieve a lawn rather than un-intertwined bushes growing tall. I figured that would be better than mowing what good I have... Cutting the tops.. And waiting for runners. What is running of course I will leave alone... And back to sand capping and leaving the length right where it is at. I guess I am slowly burying it... This seems to be the way this tank will react positively to it! Anyways.... That's the deal!!!!

Last edited by Marshall29; 06-21-2015 at 01:13 PM. Reason: unnecessary personal info
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Yesterday I noticed some daphnia or copecodes or something swimming around and on the glass... Something I was unaware of but further investigation has uncovered.. That these microorganisms are quite beneficial and it seems to me the only drawback is, aside from being unsightly, that some of the bigger adults are capable of eating fry. Sure they are sort of annoying and not pleasing to the eye, but for now I suppose I will let them benefit the water column, feed my fish, and leave them alone.

Got a pretty sizable Marino Moss Ball for the shrimp to enjoy, and to try and compete with other forms of algae. Hopefully outcompete. It's about 1 3/4"-2" in diameter. For $6.98+tax, I thought that was pretty good compared to anything available on EBay. 24+ hour quarantine, I will be dropping it in tonight! I guess it is supposed to bring one love and luck too... We'll see about that!
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Day 1 DHG vs. Day 21 DHG
THREE WEEK PROGRESS
It still has a ways to go and I need to do some trimming and repropogating... But not a bad start!!!
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 08:46 PM
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looks good!

my 8 gallon journal:
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my 35 gallon journal:
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-23-2015, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! It's coming in a lot faster than I had anticipated. Just hoping it doesn't get completely wiped out... As this tank has instabilities like I would have never imagined. Upping water changes back to 2-3 days. 30% each time. 4 days is too much, I let it go 5 days and thought I was going to lose everything. Sometimes it's blissful and relaxing to have, other times it can be a lot of work and stressful with the lack of answers. Was hoping I would find more help here!!!
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-23-2015, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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When I returned home from work yesterday I was surprised to find the tank glass somewhat covered in brown! Hoping it isn't an invasive algae of some sort. Beard? Idk... So I cleaned the glass, and did a 3G WC with water from 20G. Dropped the Marino ball in, I knew I wouldn't be particularly impressed with the juvenile look this brings to the scape, but hoping the benificial properties of it out way my disliking of the looks. We will see how it does and I will break it down into smaller pieces eventually to make it more appealing. I also introduced some filter floss from my crystal clear 20G Tall, spot dosed FXL on crypt and DHG, and moved 1 RCS in. Unfortunately I only have female RCS, as my single male took a ride through my impeller in my 20G. I would like to do a 5G WC (50%) and see what happens, but a little weary I will start a new bacterial bloom. Will have to do some research on big water changes. I would like to bring my second largest female glow light tetra over to this tank and see if her and the male will produce fry... Hoping they do! The single tetra I have in there now can not keep up with the numbers of daphnia/copecodes (whichever they are), hoping adding another will help and hopefully fry will nearly exterminate them, as I have read they are a terrific source of food for a frys first few weeks of meals. Unfortunately, if they do breed.. It would be thirty days out. The tank isn't even that old now... I'm sure to run into many more problems and questions by then.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-23-2015, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Here is a question if anyone is out there paying attention... My air stone problem is back... It is not the pump causing the failure, it is whatever is going on in the tank. I think I burnt up the last pump with whatever is going on because this new pump is now acting the exact same way... I will do my best to explain.....

The further away I get from my last WC the less effective the airstone/pump is at creating flow. To the point that at 4 days it hardly produces or does not produce at all...
Even more disturbing is that if you gently raise the stone towards the surface the flow gradually and proportionately increases... And visa versa as you drop the stones depth it decreases down to nothing...

This has me worried I have some sort of a problem with gas exchange or surface pressure... Maybe too much CO2? So I cut the CO2 production in half, only running one 850ml bottle. And that brings another conundrum to mind. The co2 stone has no problem producing bubbles!

My next best guess would be to change the airline, and eliminate that as a possibility. I've already changed/cleaned multiple stones and the problem always remains.

Just weird how it pumps as it is raised towards the surface, and not at all at the substrate.

ANY CLUES???
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blackwater aquariums, diy light fixture, dwarf hair grass, first planted, ten gallon

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