I am going to go out-on-a-limb and say that this is the most valuable thread on plantedtank.net that I have come across. Well-written, informative and highly entertaining. Kudos to the OP!
My only suggestion would be to have a "lessons learned" section in the thread that summarizes the OP's take-aways.
Great thread! Thank you ipkiss!!!
, very high praise. thanks! I hope it stands the test of time as you encounter more threads. I promise I won't be offended if I lose the most valuable title
. It's interesting that you asked about a "lessons learned". I'll consider it and see where I can fit it in so that it flows with the story. Over the years, I tend to wax philosophical about things and those were the lessons I sort of brushed upon during the preface.
If I had to tell you, directly, the best lesson I've learned from this tank.. and that it still constantly teaches me.. It's patience. That really works in the grand scheme of things as this is all meant to be a hobby --unless you're out to farm the plants for a living. A hobby is supposed to follow you through life. Keep you entertained, satisfied, and content. There's no end to a tank as long as your interest in it exists. So what are you rushing for? I put this first, because this is the most trying one for me. It's even harder to have when the tank is NOT going right. Patience is key to observing any results from actions taken upon in the tank. I always forget to just let the tank do it's thing before taking the next step. Otherwise, you may overcompensate and do more harm than good sometimes.
Another good one is humility. Humility to acknowledge that guys are figuring things out every day and that new knowledge should not be dismissed. Remembering that there was a time when people surely believed that the earth was flat, that ph swings kill fish, that micro fertilizers were toxic -- just to name a few -- will put that into perspective. Humility to realize that none of us are a deity, or even an advanced being that can demand the plants to grow to your will. (See patience
) and to accept that sometimes, they just .. wont. Well, there's a few guys on here that seem to be, but they're humble enough to show you a plant that has taunted them.
I seem to have enough time for another one. Lets go with acceptance. From a budgetary stance, I've had to come to terms that I cannot, and perhaps will not and need not afford some of the amazing tanks and tank accessories that litter this forum. I will admire from a distance, be happy for their owners, and wish it brings them great satisfaction to their hobby and maybe wistfully wish that someday, I'll be in a position to have one, but that it's also entirely okay to not ever achieve that. From a skillset stance, I've also had to come to terms that I cannot, and perhaps will not and maybe need not have some of the amazingly scaped tanks that litter this forum. I will ALSO admire from a distance, be happy for their owners, and wish it brings them great satisfaction to their hobby and wistfully wish that someday, I'll have the time to hone my skills to have one, but it's also entirely okay to not ever achieve that. Otherwise, you'll just kill yourself from the stress. Remember, it's a hobby. Not a career. If it's stressing you and you're not having fun... maybe it's time to call it off. and that's completely OK too! But, if the hobby still talks to you, then, realize, as I mentioned in the beginning, you DO have a sympathetic ear in most of us and we're all "suffering" oh so happily (maybe on different levels), and you are not alone!
Oh, wait, you mean you wanted SPECIFIC tank lessons? Oh, me and my philosophies ...
The main lesson that is currently guiding me (subject to change due to above philosophies) is the triangle, the 3 pillars, the proper balance of lights, co2, and nutrients. It is the current laws of gravity for the planted tank community that I can seemingly observe. Everything you see in this journal and this time *I* will go on a limb, and everything you see in this forum can probably somehow be explained in a way that fits the proper balance. I could go into explaining, but why bother, as a fellow member has already concisely and elegantly presented it on his website: 3 Growth Pillars by Dennis Wong
If you haven't went through that site and are new to the hobby, you must. You can waste your time reading tons of other guides on many pages all over the internet, but this guy sort of collated them all together in one place. Anyway, following the 3 pillars, all the sub lessons are well, just subsets and it's important to not forget the big picture of how doing something specific will the entire tank! For example, I could go on about how the recent lesson was don't run out of micros, or, stop being cheap, or buy in advance, but really, it pales in the face of the main lesson. I lost my balance of lights, co2, and nutrients.
Of the 3 pillars, here's a few specifics I've learned. First up, my signature quote. It's almost always too much light. Of the three pillars, I feel light is currently the easiest mistake to make. Access to powerful lighting has never been easier or cheaper and thus, most new hobbyists fall into this trap -- myself definitely included. See the algae farming years.
Then, I'd have to say if you're going to do CO2, do it right. Don't halfway it. It'll just be grief otherwise. Right can mean 3 bottles of DIY with proper valving and reactors or fully pressurized, etc. But for all that is good, don't do the silly single bottle with the hagen ladder that I did. It was a cheap way to get into the game but at that level, I may as well have not played and just focused on growing types of plants without CO2 properly instead. Doing it right, also means to put in enough, to aerate your tank for good o2/co2 balance, to manage current flow. Getting CO2 properly injected cannot be underestimated. It's usually not simply open a valve and watch a drop checker.
As for nutrients, I've committed the error of simply ignoring them in the beginning. Without holistically looking at the 3 pillars entirely, I didn't recognize the interaction and it was to the tanks detriment. However, even having said that, I feel that as long as there is "some" nutrients, unless you're past the massive algae farm stage, it's usually not to blame. But if you're getting somewhere and your plants are just not popping healthy, then yes, it definitely is time to pay attention to what you're feeding them.
Here's a more specific itemized list from @Greggz
that may be more what you or others are looking for:
Greggz' contribution to a Pro Tips thread
Came across this after the original post but it's so good that I feel it should be added here for posterity. I'm sure Greggz won't mind!
Nice update! The plants look very bright and clean and happy
Are you dosing that .2 blend 3x week or what?
, it's daily as long as I can help it or remember to do it. I noticed you went to a .3 for 3x but I didn't want to go there mainly because daily is easier to remember than every other day -- especially if I'm front loading and have nothing to do on off days.