In The World of Smooch - Page 11 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #151 of 157 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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I'm down to 3 fish these days; they're fine. I'm down to 2 female Bleeding Heart Tetras and one Panda Cory. They turned 11-12 years old last month, so they're cranky, old fish. Not like age matters as the tetras have always been cranky even though I bought them when they were just shy of the size of a nickle.

Yesterday I was doing some tank maintenance and one of the tetras tried to jump out. She bounced off of the backside of the lid then decided to chill somewhere in the back right hand corner until I was done. I have no idea what her issue was as I wasn't bothering any of them. Maybe they didn't like the fact that I had the turkey baster out and was getting all the crud out of the nooks and crannies of the dragon stone; I don't know. Either way, after I was done and gave the tank a small water change, she got over it and has been fine since then. My water parameters are good so the jumping was attitude, not because she was trying to get away from bad water.

I said the other day that I was done buying fish due to how having a tank with fish in it makes me crazy during bad weather and the power goes out which is true and it does, however, I may end up eating those words now that my LFS will be less than 10 minutes away. Maybe once they get settled I'll see if they'll order me some White Cloud minnows or something.

One of the reasons I bought the Ziss filter is so I can plug it into one of the two batter backups I bought for the tank. They're most commonly used for computers, but they are also good for tank filters when the power goes out. Aqua Clears work fine being plugged in that way, but they drain the batteries really fast. The Ziss filter works on a air pump, so it shouldn't be as much of a power hog if I need to use them.

I have sent a email to the person I bought the Jungle Val Nana from. I had a idea to possibly increase my odds of having success with Vals, so maybe I'll post update depending on how it goes. I don't think my idea would do any harm, but I'm not going to waste my time if I'm told it won't work.
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post #152 of 157 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
LOL I figured you had a tank!

But here's the thing. It does help seeing it, as when you mention how you dose or other things about the tank, folks can relate to what type of tank it is. Everything is relative to ones goals what type of plants they are keeping.

By the way, the tank looks good. You've got a lot of plants growing, and that is a good thing. For lots of folks that is exactly what they want in a planted tank. Nice work!

I'm the most boring person in the world when it comes to keeping my tank. If somebody wants to know something, all they have to do is ask.

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post #153 of 157 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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This is a silly thing to be excited about, but when you have a success for whatever reason, it should be celebrated. Right?

I have new growth popping out of all 3 species of Val in my tank this morning. This is a big deal for me as I've struggled with Vals for what feels like forever.

I got to this point by: Planting them, leaving them alone and using root tabs as that is what my tank needs for root feeders. I don't use many ( 4 to be exact that are placed where needed), nor do I use osmocote. Yes it's cheap, but they can also cause problems with too much nitrogen in the water column. Instead, I'm currently using these

I'm not suggesting the root tabs I have linked couldn't cause a problem if a person uses too many, but what I like about them is that they are mostly soil; plants like soil. Along with the soil, there is powder, just like one would use to make a batch of ferts from dry ferts. They're expensive for that they are and I'm thinking about making my own, but for now, I have plenty for a couple of months.

Now that I know the Vals are going to grow, that changes some future plans for my tank. Once the Vals grow in, the swords in the back are coming out. I have no attachment to them and they're going to be in the way. Depending on how the Giant Hairgrass goes, they will also need to be moved, but like with all my other plans, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
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post #154 of 157 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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After all of my mumbling and grumbling about what I was going to do with my tank and whether to add more occupants or not, I bought more fish yesterday. I don't have pictures of them, but here's the list of what I bought:

6 Giant danios
1 Angel Fish- It kind of looks like a Veil Tail, but I don't know. He or she is still a juvenile.
2 Bolivian Rams

The danios were planned. Since my tetras don't like anybody whether they be human or otherwise, I thought perhaps some dithers would bring them out and maybe they'd chill a bit. The new fish have been in the tank less than 24 hours and I've seen the tetras behave like normal fish do in that time instead of like they have spent the past 11 or so years being tortured which they haven't been.

No issues to speak of with the newest editions. Tank maintenance is certainly more interesting as the danios have no fear of the siphon tube. I have to pay attention now instead of just standing near the tank while waiting for the bucket to fill up.

Once everybody settles in a bit more, I'll try to get pics to post.
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post #155 of 157 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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I should just start a regular tank journal as my camera is always having issues these days. I do have a new tank pic, but I have to wait for the battery to recharge. I'll add a picture later.

I don't know where to start so I'm just going to dig in.

I lost one of the two rams I bought 2 weeks ago. The one I lost didn't look right to begin with, but I thought perhaps a clean tank and a good diet would help; it didn't. I will be buying another ram when my LFS settles into their new location.

Bleeding Heart Tetras have ich. I'm not sure if it came from the new fish or plants I put in the tank last week. Either way, I caught it early and the tank is being treated with Paraguard for the next 8 or so days. The plants I added were Dwarf Sag and I don't really think the ich came from the plants. The person I've been ordering from lately is awesome. I think it was from the new fish.

Speaking of ordering plants, I ordered some Ruby Red Jungle Val. The whole plant doesn't turn red, just the tips of the leaves when under medium to high light. I may or may not regret this decision as I've been told that this plants' leaves can grow up to 6 feet long. I however have figured out that my favorite kind of plants are ones that 'grassy', so the more 'grass' the better. They will also provide some shade for my anubias and Java ferns although they're not having any problems. I have decided that while I have lots of broad leaf Java fern, I prefer Needle Leaf java fern which is hard to find. I like it because of its leaves. Eventually the broad leaf will be replaced with all Needle Leaf.

Diatoms have reappeared in my tank; I don't know why. They're not taking over, but they are there and it's annoying. The tank is going on 3 years old (?) so that isn't it. I also haven't changed my substrate or made any major changes to the tank, so that's not it either.

I have beefed up water changes to 40% and gone back to weekly water changes as I now have a bigger bioload than 3 fish. Nitrates are 15 ppm and there is no ammonia or nitrites. I've been testing daily for both as I feel like I'm missing something, but so far both tests have come back not showing anything. I'm using the Seachem Nitrite / Nitrate test for both of those and a brand new Nutrafin Ammonia test kit. The tank is gravel vac'd every week, there is no rotting plant debris and the filter is cleaned every couple of weeks.

I did try removing one of my AC 60's for about a week and half. I've added it back and loaded it up with my usual biomedia which is Eheim Substrat Pro. Even though I haven't seen a cycle bump, maybe a mini one occurred when I added the new fish as that is the only thing I can think of that could be a possible cause. To help out the filter, I ordered some Dr.Tim's One & Only Nitrifying Bacteria. I don't know if it actually works or not, but I didn't feel like cycling the filter in a bucket.

I don't think fish food would cause diatoms, but if there is enough junk in it, it could cause a excess of organics in the water column so the fishes' diet is getting a overhaul. The frozen food I feed a couple times of week is fine as it is thawed and rinsed until the water runs clear. What is not fine is the flakes and sinking pellets.

For flakes I'm currently feeding Cobalt which is said to be a good brand. The problem with it is: The first ingredient is Salmon fish meal, the second is wheat flour. The sinking Hikari wafers are worse. First ingredient is fish meal, the second ingredient is wheat germ. Since this topic tends to make me grumpy, I'm not going to jump on my soapbox about it, but I will say that I'll be happy when my bags of Northfin arrive. One is coming in today, the other will be here tomorrow. Clean eats for is good not only for the fish, but also for the tank. Before I settled for Northfin, I was considering ordering some fish food from Damichi, but I don't know if it is worth the money or not.

Last but not least, I ordered a bag of Seachem Gray Coast. I don't know if a fluctuating KH and GH could cause cycle problems, but since I want to make sure I have all my bases covered, I'll be adding some of this substrate to my current substrate to help stabilize KH. I won't be using the whole bag, nor will I be covering my current substrate. Small amounts will be mixed in when I gravel vac until the KH remains stable. Because I'm back to doing large water changes, its all over the place. I don't need more things driving me crazy, I have more than enough crazy in my life as it is.
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post #156 of 157 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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I said I would post a pic in my last update. My dog was sick so that was more important than posting tank pictures. Unfortunately I lost her to a large, gross, tumor that was discovered in her liver. It was inoperable and she was in pain so we did the right thing. Being dog-less hasn't been easy and I haven't been dealing with it well; this too shall pass.

On to a lighter subject...

My camera is too slow to catch the Giant Danios, so what looks like weird hair algae in the middle of the picture is actually fish. They remind me of the seagulls on Finding Nemo. If they could say "Mine! Mine! Mine!" every time I feed them, they would. "Frank" the Angel fish was hiding behind the Java ferns on the left, but you can see the Ram. Speaking of the Angel and the Ram, they were having a dispute yesterday over who was going to be in one spot. It wasn't serious and no harm was done; there lots of flaring. It was my son who decided the Angel should be named Frank. I don't know where or why he came up with the name and I haven't bothered to ask.

Speaking of the Giant Danios, I've lost count of how many plantlets of Dwarf Sag and Dwarf Val that have died at their expense. I can't add plants that only have a few roots to this tank as the 'seagulls' uproot them in their mission to find any bite of food they come across. The Italian Vals, Jungle Val and the newly added Red Ruben Vals are fine along with all the Anubias and Java ferns, but to add anything that would be considered 'delicate', fehgetaboutit.

The Red Ruben Vals came in Saturday; they're going to melt and need time to adjust. Seeing as the Giant Danios can't play nice with plants, I'm going to buy more. I sent out a email about getting more Needle Leaf Java fern and it seems as though it isn't easy to find, so I'll add it when I can find it. I have found that plants ordered closer to home come in less stressed than those that have to make the trip across the country, so I'm going to stick to getting plants that way.

The Bleeding Heart tetras that I've been talking about forever died Friday. The only other original fish to this tank is my Panda Cory who is still hanging in there at a old age of 12.

I had 2 things of Giant Hairgrass; one of them was pulled this morning when I did tank maintenance as it wasn't doing well. They have been in the tank for a few weeks; the one I pulled didn't really develop new roots. If I left it in there it was just going to continue to shed and pollute the water column, so I'm down to one.

In my last post I grumbled about diatoms which I seem to have gotten a handle on. I can't say it was one specific thing that fixed the problem as I did pretty much what I said I was going to do. I changed the fishes' food; pitched what was equal to fish junk food. I dumped a entire bottle of Dr.Tim's All in One Bacteria in the tank, have continued water changes as usual and discovered the pump that I added isn't doing what I need it to do. There is nothing wrong with the pump itself, I just haven't found the ideal place to put it.

Food for whatever reason likes to collect along the back wall of the tank. I do vacuum back there, but apparently I wasn't doing it enough and the java fern that is along the dragon stone on the left also tends to be a food and gunk collection spot. It would be reasonable to move the pump to the right side of the tank and have it hit those areas and it's a simple thing to do, but at the moment I don't care. It is just as easy to make sure those spots as well as the java ferns themselves are well vacuumed every week. Moving the pump isn't on the priority list, I'll get to it at some point.

Other than that, the tank is what it is. I accidentally killed a anubia by doing the very thing people are told not to do. I put a root tab too close to it's roots and it melted as a result. I need to find better spots for root tabs.

EDIT: I've found that Nutafin KH test kits register as zero when a tank reads below 1 dkh. Salifert KH test kits do read and register below 1 dkh, so if anybody is having KH issues and is wondering if their tank really has zero for a KH, try the Salifert test kit. It is simple to use and you'll be better off knowing rather than fudging with water chemistry like I've been doing.
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Last edited by Smooch; 06-10-2019 at 05:12 PM. Reason: Forgot something...
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post #157 of 157 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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My ability to overlook the obvious is something else sometimes; it is a talent I'm not proud of.

In my last post I said I had a handle on the diatom situation. I need stop doing that until I know for sure as they came back. I had a "Ah-ha" moment yesterday; so maybe third time is the charm.

I've been surfacing vacuuming my tank for quite awhile. I figured it was doing something good as my nitrates don't get over 20 ppm and TDS levels at their highest are in the 200 range. When levels get to that point, it is at the end of the week so tank maintenance gets things back to where they should be. There was nothing to indicate that there is a problem except that TDS meters do not say what is causing the levels to rise and then there is the other issue I hadn't considered; plant mass.

The bulk of the plants in my tank at the moment are java ferns and anubias. All of the Vals that have survived the nonsense of the Giant Dianos are sprouting new growth, but they haven't been in the tank long enough to develop a root system that covers the bottom of the tank. So while it is great that I've been surface vacuuming around those, there is no need for me to allow mulm and gunk to collect and gather under the anubias and java ferns as they are not 'planted' in the substrate. They are never going to use all that gunk and at the moment, nor are the Vals, Dwarf Sag, ect...

Yesterday I rolled out of bed and got my sleeves wet. I removed the big dragon stone on the left side of the tank as it was restricting water flow. I adjusted the water pump so that it bounces off the back wall of the tank as that is where I'm having problems with dead spots. The only two plants that are actually planted on that side of the tank is a small Amazon Sword and a crypt, everything else is java and anubias. All of the plants sans those two were pulled out, then I vacuumed and vacuumed some more. Just moving the dragon stone alone caused a puff of nasty as I haven't been pulling out on a monthly basis to clean it.

Since I was making a huge mess anyway, I decided to make use of the bag of Fluval Stratum I have. I bought it as I'm growing out some Crypt Undulata via emersed in a 2.5 gallon. They're doing well, but because they're crypts, they're taking forever. I digress. Fluval is like Seachem with their claims that their substrates only have 'light dust' which is total BS, but since I wasn't dealing with the whole tank, I dealt with endless rinsing with minimal grumbling. I ended up adding a couple of cups worth of stratum to the substrate I have. I'm pretty sure after a couple of years the Flourite and Eco-Complete that has been in this tank and the tank before that isn't doing much at this point.

The tank got a 50% water change by the time I was done. The water was crystal clear again after a couple of hours. Nitrates are still on the higher end because I disturbed everything. They are not crazy high, but since it is roughly 20 ppm post water change, the tank will get a second water change today and TDS levels are now down into the low 100s. I checked it this morning and it was 116. Yesterday before I started it was in the 220 range. This tells me that there was a whole lot of crap in the water column. I also ran a ammonia test late last night and will do another today just to make sure it is still at zero.

Next week the tank will get this same treatment on the right side. The dragon stone on that side is actually two pieces and since they are easier to manage and provide a good place to put anubias, I think I'll be keeping those, but that is subject to change. All of Vals including the Red Rubens are now in the center of the tank, so I won't be disturbing too much when I do another deep vacuum. The center of the tank will get a surface vac as usual and I'll be light-handed when I mix the stratrum in to prevent plants from becoming uprooted.

If this doesn't fix the diatom issue, I will honestly be able to say that I have done everything.

EDIT: Tank has had it's second water change. If I haven't gotten this situation under control, diatoms will be back by the end of next week.

ph: 7.2
Ammonia: 0
TDS: 88 This was before I added RO Right
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: Between 10-12

Everything looks good to me, but that doesn't mean anything. Fish are happy and begging for food as usual.
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Last edited by Smooch; Yesterday at 11:12 PM. Reason: Update after second water change
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