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post #61 of 194 (permalink) Old 03-16-2018, 03:23 PM
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The reason I ask about GH and KH is you may have more success with genera such as Ludwigia and Proserpinaca as they're native to Florida vs. the Rotala. I've been a fan of the philosophy of going with plants that fit your tap water so you don't have to modify things as much. I don't always follow that rule, but it usually helps a lot to follow.

Cheers,
Phil

I've never regretted over engineering a system, but often regretted under engineering one.
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post #62 of 194 (permalink) Old 03-19-2018, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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2018-03 --- whaa ha happened to February?!



February is too short. It doesn't deserve an update. It's the month of love. I was too busy.. It was cold, my camera stopped working.. take your pick of excuses .. or add to them for me.

So I went to the GCAS expo in February and ehh, it was a real small expo, but I guess such is the state of our hobby. Hopefully the fact that it was cramped and crowded is signifying that they need a bigger space next year and maybe it'll be better. Didn't pick up any plants there BUT did meet a vendor who has a somewhat new store. A new LFS! The Aquarium King in Ft. Lauderdale. For you South Florida folks, it's in SR84 somewhat close by the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. They had a pretty massive custom rimless tank by the entrance that held all their plants. I got some ludwigia cuba, regular green cabomba, a mat of microswords, and a mat of monte carlo.

I liked the ludwigia cuba's emersed form but silly me, I didn't do my research and was surprised when it turned immersed. So as you can see in the left side back underneath the outflow, it's trying to convert. We'll see how that goes. I'm no burr740. That looks like a plant that needs his kind of care. The green cabomba are doing great. This is actually post trim so its been shortened a lot. You can see a bunch in the back if you look hard enough. Microswords to the left front have caught on. Montecarlo carpet to the right was pretty touchy for the first two weeks. Planting these two species were backbreaking. I split them up real good and planted small bunches. Groups of 2 to 3 plants. Even single in some cases. I was replanting little floating scraps endlessly and gave up on some days. Almost lost hope on the montecarlo because they were looking pretty ragged with only one or two bunches having new shoots. But one day when I was looking, the rest of them got real happy and now the whole batch is soon ready for a mowing.

I also had a few weeks of snail evicting. They had developed a taste for my mystery crypt and was nibbling just enough on the bottom of the stems to cause it to rot out and cut off. Had these healthy leaves just floating in the tank... curses! As I mentioned in another post, had to establish a snail free zone around the crypts. Any snail caught hovering near or on was immediately evicted. I was paranoid for the crypts because I was intending to obtain some crypt flamingos after seeing them in Triport's tank. After I was able to see my crypts survive, I promptly purchased a cup of dennerle tissue cultured crypt flamingos when they became available a few weeks back. The most I've ever spent on a plant. I'm sure some of you who have spent much more, but I'm still new at this rare plant collecting. Orchids? I've blown a lot of money on. Aqua plants? Just starting to have some ability to keep them alive so just starting to get adventurous in the selection. If you look real hard, there's two little batches sort of behind the hairgrass to the left of the montecarlo. As of this writing, I think one batch melted. I should've kept the faith and left it alone, but I couldn't resist temptation and pulled it up. I still felt a tiny, but pretty firm root ball so I cut off the melted leaves and put it back in and am hoping for the best.

True SAE is on the back right sucking on the glass when he wants to so at least he's making a show of earning his keep.

In response to @Seattle_Aquarist and @Phil Edwards, here's my findings from yesterday's water change

GH 6, KH 3: Tank prior to water change
GH 4, KH 1: Tap
GH 7, KH 3: Treated with 15ml DIY GH Booster for 30ish gallon water barrel (roughly 1tsp for 10 gallons as recommended) where I prepare my water
GH 6, KH 3: Post water change this morning

It seems like I may have lucked on some good dosing during the last water change, but will pay more attention to this in the future to make sure they stay this way. Still have yet to enact Phil's recommendation for the hydrocotyle.


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post #63 of 194 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 09:16 PM
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That GH 6, KH 3 looks perfect. If you can get that consistently, you'll be golden.

I've never regretted over engineering a system, but often regretted under engineering one.
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post #64 of 194 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 03:25 PM
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I cannot believe I completely missed this journal. Just finished reading the entire thing, thoroughly enjoyed the writing and the evolution of tank. It should almost be required reading for anyone starting in the hobby.

I believe your crypt is a Red Wendtii. It looks identical to mine (well at least how mine used to look). It is easy to think out as well as I'm sure you have some close clustered babies...yes, that is definitely the scientific term .

I'm so tempted to try a Cerges reactor since my Griggs is a huge hassle every time I clean the canister filter (have to detach hoses and drain it, otherwise the back pressure of air prevents the filter from restarting the flow). I just hate messing with something that works well in every other regard.

Looking forward to the next update.
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post #65 of 194 (permalink) Old 04-09-2018, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sdwindansea View Post
I cannot believe I completely missed this journal. Just finished reading the entire thing, thoroughly enjoyed the writing and the evolution of tank. It should almost be required reading for anyone starting in the hobby.

I believe your crypt is a Red Wendtii. It looks identical to mine (well at least how mine used to look). It is easy to think out as well as I'm sure you have some close clustered babies...yes, that is definitely the scientific term .

I'm so tempted to try a Cerges reactor since my Griggs is a huge hassle every time I clean the canister filter (have to detach hoses and drain it, otherwise the back pressure of air prevents the filter from restarting the flow). I just hate messing with something that works well in every other regard.

Looking forward to the next update.
Heh, yea, thanks for the kind words and identification of my crypt. I am pretty inconsistent about updating so I wouldn't be surprised if the journal gets buried and overlooked. I hear Griggs are the bees knees when it comes to big tanks so you're right in not wanting to mess with what works. CO2 delivery is king. Forget about inconveniences! But, perhaps the addition of a spring-loaded pressure valve on the top edge of your Griggs? Nah, you may not want to chance ruining it. How about a pressure relief T along the hoses near the top? That little pressure relief button on top of my Cerges has definitely saved me from pressure locks, but if you had made one with a housing without the pressure relief, I believe you'd get the same back pressure situation you're experiencing.

Edit:

on second thought, maybe this may be harder than I think due to the non-existence of what I'm imagining. I scoured the internetz and only found this:
https://www.waterfilters.net/pressur...tton-kits.html

Now, I'd imagine you can make a small hole somewhere and add this button but who knows what else you'd be compromising.

then, I thought, maybe let's add a T in the hosing and maybe there already exists such a PVC T with a built in pressure button, but that was a no go either. So, rats.
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post #66 of 194 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 01:03 PM
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@sdwindansea Do a Cerges, they're so much better than any other type of CO2 reactor system I've ever used. Seriously.


ipkiss,

Have you tried doing any ditch diving for plants for your tank?
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post #67 of 194 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwindansea View Post
I cannot believe I completely missed this journal. Just finished reading the entire thing, thoroughly enjoyed the writing and the evolution of tank. It should almost be required reading for anyone starting in the hobby.
+1......just read the whole thing. Very nicely done, and I am sure many can relate to your journey.

Look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
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post #68 of 194 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Do a Cerges, they're so much better than any other type of CO2 reactor system I've ever used. Seriously.
Huh, I thought with all the love for Griggs lately, I was sure u'd have been on that boat too. Or at least more ambivalent to it

Quote:

ipkiss,

Have you tried doing any ditch diving for plants for your tank?
Hah, you would think in Fl, there'd be awesome plants to collect right? I've halfheartedly tried, but, I've only seen stuff I didn't care for. I'm in South FL to be clearer. I hear the good stuff is in Central FL. I did grab some hairgrass once but that didn't work out too well. In addition, I'm probably not that good to recognize a cool plant even if I saw it because its natural state isn't the look I wanted. Also, having only a 20G limits me in what I can put into it. I'm sure its quite due for an upgrade, but .. other things always fight for my attention. As it is, I let my tank fall off the maintenance pace the last two weeks. It's funny how I used to neglect it for months (as you can see in the old journal entries) but after following you folks that I subscribe to, I realize I had to up my maintenance game and now it's so glaringly obvious if I just let it go for a week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
+1......just read the whole thing. Very nicely done, and I am sure many can relate to your journey.

Look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
Thanks, I just did a round of trimming last night so hopefully things will settle down and I can take a pic for an update.
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post #69 of 194 (permalink) Old 05-19-2018, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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2018-03 A matter of perspective




A couple extra shots back in March. Who knew the tank looked so interesting from a different angle. Was inadvertently in a different spot from my usual vantage point and suddenly saw my tank as a stranger. I wonder if I can start a new thread for it. I'll call it 20G cube. I didn't "scape" for this angle but it might even look better than the normal front side...




2018-04



This plant .. Rotala Macrandra Type IV Mini. What a diva. I just can't get anything too consistent out of it. But here's a shot of a few stems of it looking pretty amazing on a good day. Meanwhile, some of its friends in the background are not so happy.



Well, that was a bad run for Ludwigia Cuba. It just couldn't seem to convert properly. As the new form came out, it be seemingly fine and then it would mysteriously just melt in the middle of the newest growth. Was also a bad run for those Crypt Flamingos. After surviving a few weeks, it just decided to melt on the new growth too and nothing I could do would save it. I split them up and tried different ones in different areas of the tank, left some alone, but alas, they all melted back to the rhizome and then after a couple days the rhizome turned into mush too. What a disappointment.

GH 7 KH 3: After last month's update, I've been sure to maintain the GH diligently through water changes. Things that are surviving do indeed seem a little happier.

"Scaping" and I use that term loosely : I felt that the microswords didn't fit on the left side front so I replaced them with more monte carlo. This stuff is .. wow, definitely my tank's cup of tea. Finally, after all these years, I have a decent carpeting plant that's easy for me. I'm just mowing that thick, lush right side patch and planting those cut stems and they're taking. "So this is what it feels like when plants are easy.." *knock on wood*

The floaters are also taking off. There's some crazy duckweed that just decided to manifest itself. I brought in some red root floaters and I swore they died off, but out of nowhere, they bounced back and brought along some duckweed friends that I never saw before. I'm not too proud to evict happy plants so I keep them. I let the "Dwarf saggitaria" which is probably some sort of originally misidentified vallisneria grow long so it sort of provides a natural 'corral' for my floaters. It probably was what enabled the sudden explosion of floaters. They seem to not like it when they get tossed around the surface a lot and being corralled allowed them to just pile up happily. This weird synergy happened by itself originally so I embraced it. Now I don't have to run any air tubing across the surface.

2018-05



Still diligently maintaining my GH 7 and KH 3. Ludwigia Red seems especially happy about it. I don't think I ever noticed how bad they got in the last few months. I knew occasionally I had some struggles with it but now that it's proliferating, I notice the difference. Dwarf hairgrass is doing pretty good lately. But notice in the lower front right in the midst of the straggly monte carlo, I happened across a piece of crypt flamingo on ebay for a good price. Wasn't even sure if it would be real since so many people mislabel it. However, it did show up and it was nice and healthy. Glad I splurged for expedited shipping instead of taking the economy free option. So, hopefully crypt flamingo rides again! Here goes another attempt!

Another shot, one week later:



Annnddd, another week after that:



Probably a good chance to list out the plant species:
Thanks to those who helped me identify some

1) Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo'
2) Java Fern (Generic)
3) Java Fern (Windelov)
4) Hydrocotyle Tripartita Japan
5) Green Cabomba
6) Mermaid Weed
7) Crypt Flamingo
8) Crypt Wendtii Red
9) Rotala Macrandra Type IV Mini (below)
10) Purple Cabomba
11) Ludwigia Red
12) Vallisneria
13) Micro Sword
14) Dwarf Hairgrass
15) Java Moss? Anchor Moss?
16) Unknown moss -- looks a little like Christmas moss but then again not.
17) Lobelia Cardinalis


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post #70 of 194 (permalink) Old 07-26-2018, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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2018-06



Just chugging along. The crypt flamingo is pushing up new leaves .. barely keeping pace with the old ones that are fading away. Seemingly a constant struggle there. I'm sure it's not helped with my spotty care compared to some of the more dedicated members. Not being able to find the time to consistently keep up with the tank has led me to do some creative things to keep the tank going semi decently. Being influenced by what I've been reading, I've pieced together an amalgam of fertilizing by haphazardly doing a little of weekly front loading, somewhat daily micros, all while watching the TDS. Oh wait, did I accidentally start practicing PPS-Pro?! Trying my best to stick to biweekly water changes, but darnit if it doesn't slip to 3 weeks without me noticing ..



Fell behind on trimming too. What--er, no, I am NOT letting it slip away again. Stems touching the top is as far as it will go! I am very happy with the hairgrass growth though. I originally was worried that it would be overrun by the monte carlo, but I constantly see them fighting to invade each other at the border. It IS a bit of maintenance, but right now I'm so thrilled at their growth that I will tolerate some more. While I am happy with the way their growth rate, I'm not sure I like the shape they have taken. I had envisioned "bands" or "streets" of different foreground plants but it's just sort of disconcerting. That middle java windelov/mossy area is also getting a little out of hand. Time to finally suck it up and do something.



After a morning of hacking away -- so much moss. And to think, I used to not even be able to grow moss! Man, what happened to all that monte carlo on the left? I guess it was so mixed up with the sprawling moss that it got all yanked out with it. This stuff just drags out whatever along with it as I'm struggling to take it out. For another big change, what's not visible is that the a major mass of moss all rode on a piece of driftwood. The driftwood is not really that pretty so not seeing it is probably a blessing. I added an extra piece and angled the original one more to try to get a cascading look on the left side. Since the wood and plants are hiding the filter intake now, I didn't need as much of the tall regular java fern so I got rid of even more of it. I'm pretty close to eliminating it altogether. It's still only there for sentimental reasons but it's sort of not working visually anymore. Brought the lobelia cardinalis back to the midground to fill up the void left by the higher angled wood. Just straight forced the issue with the hairgrass and pushed them back an inch or two. Sprinkled in monte carlo trimmings to see if they will take over the front foreground area and just rebuild the left side so that it looks a little more coherent. I'm going for a wild look with "some guidance" -- yea... that's it.
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post #71 of 194 (permalink) Old 07-26-2018, 05:16 PM
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I really like the overgrown look!
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post #72 of 194 (permalink) Old 07-28-2018, 04:29 AM
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You realize your last post is just going to encourage the rest of us to get lazy. I feel like I'm pretty diligent on my tank (never miss a weekly water change or dosing except if on vacation) and yet your tank looks so much better. Next thing you are going to do is convince me that pizza and beer/wine is good for us.
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post #73 of 194 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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You realize your last post is just going to encourage the rest of us to get lazy. I feel like I'm pretty diligent on my tank (never miss a weekly water change or dosing except if on vacation) and yet your tank looks so much better. Next thing you are going to do is convince me that pizza and beer/wine is good for us.
Thanks! I always thought YOUR tank looked mighty healthy. Distance hides things. Closer up, the plants are in no way as mighty looking as Greggz's or Burr's or Immortal's and those other guys who are itemizing their ferts to the separate micro elements. I really appreciate that they're doing that, but I don't think I have the wherewithal to keep up with that. Maybe when I retire....

As for beer/wine, can you believe what you read in the internet?

We all know wine is beneficial in moderation, but the new propaganda, no doubt fueled by pro-beer groups is that ... beer, too!

https://muscleandfitness.com/nutriti...-eating-should

This one is pushing it about beer!
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-f...drinking-beer/

I got nothing for pizza ..
unless you take your pizza with flat crust and arugula or broccoli rabe!
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post #74 of 194 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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2018-07

First, here's a picture for @JJ09, the consistent fan of my tank's more ..err.. overgrown looks . It's the view from the left most side glass. If you look close enough, you can see what my "mass" of stuff hides. A super useful as heck sponge pre-filter. I got it back in the day with dreams of having shrimp in this tank. They never really survived for whatever reason so now what it affords me is the ability to practically ignore my cleaning my fluval 206 canister -- and yet another bad, lazy habit.



Next up, I did not know vallisneria can flower. After all these years, this popped up out of the blue. Wasn't even sure what it was. I'm there topping off the water and suddenly I notice this odd runner across the surface. I think, huh... I don't recall an odd leaf like this and I swore I just trimmed the Vals not too long ago. These things really shoot up. So as I go to remove it, I see this on the end, along with one spent bulb and one to come. They only seemed to last a day and I'm glad I got to see it as I already missed the first one.



And here's the tank as of yesterday's wild "guidance" trim.



If you're noticing that the images seems a little bit clearer than previous ones, your eyes do not deceive you. For the first time, I'm doing "post-processing" in my pictures. I was always a fan of what the camera can capture -- partly because I'm stubborn about using the camera to get the shot I want and I feel a little bit of cheating when I digitally create what I want. Perhaps misguided as the camera itself is digital and well, it probably does a bunch of processing itself. They teach you in operating systems (for IT guys) that software=hardware so, ehh, I've decided to revisit my earlier convictions. And the other "real" reason is that I suck at photoshop Just too lazy to figure things out, load it in, mess with it and then save proper copies. Well, enter google photo's new editing feature for dummies. I was trying to do some simple brightness adjustments, and I accidentally discover the POP feature.



As google defines it, the pop feature enhances color more against grey backgrounds. I don't know truly how the algorithm works, but it definitely looks awesome to my eyes. As you can see in the above pic, I promise that I only turned up the pop and didn't add color. I thought about adding color, but that seemed too blatant

Also, the pic was taken with a different camera, my Galaxy S9, which I realize seems to go a little too bright by default (and probably does a ton of processing --hence my rethinking mentioned earlier). However, I suspect its small sensor compared to my old Lumix GF3 is allowing it to take pics at a much lower ISO setting with ease and getting clearer details - like individual hairgrass blades and moss stems. Maybe I'll be embracing it more for future pics. I hate to admit it, but I simply don't have the talent or my old m4/3 setup just can't get a better pic. I did a side by side yesterday of this shot and the GS9 shot won out for this posting. Maybe I've finally outgrown that camera.

Anyway, enough rambling about pics.. about the trimmings,

The ludwigia red in the back was hacked off real low because I didn't like how I did it last time. The splitting of the stems was a bit too high and started to show its awkwardness above the midground plants. Now, you can barely see them and hopefully the new shoots will be hidden behind the lobelia cardinalis. Monte carlo is spreading on the left side to form up that carpet that I was hoping to fill up on the front. Amazing how such a small change tidies up the cohesiveness of the whole look. Perhaps it's partly because everyone does it or because its the "proper" thing to do, but yea, it definitely looks right now instead of the previous blocky transitions against the glass that I had between the different carpet types.

The left side, as I mentioned in the last update, is now comprised of two driftwood chunks and as I've sort of bridged them up, I noticed that it sort of formed a cave. I decided to embrace it and cleared up more moss in that hole and tidied up the windelov to all go upwards in a more uniform look. That gaping cave also conveniently leads straight to the filter intake behind it so no doubt that has improved the flow in this tank a bit. No takers fish wise though. They don't seem interested in it at all.

Everything else, I'm just trying to keep them up with a modicum of health so that they can survive trimmings and my continued "lax" treatment. Fingers crossed!
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post #75 of 194 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 01:46 PM
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Wow. Just read through this. The difference between the first pic and the last is incredible!
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