Advise on substrate and Scaping of existing planted aquarium
I live in South Africa and here planted aquariums aren't really as popular as in the U.S.
I have been into planted aquariums for about 2 years now and a lot of my time are spent on the internet looking for advise
on how to improve my planted aquarium but never find a direct answer to my problems so I thought of giving this forum a try.
Getting the supplies are a real battle and pretty expensive when you do find it therefore I mostly go the DIY route when I can.
My current set-up as follows:
Aquarium Size: 79cm x 41cm x 49cm or 31" x 16" x 18" - 150 liter (40 gallon) high with 50 liter (13 gallon) 3 stage sump system,
Water Test: PH - ranges from 6.8 to 7.0 , KH - 4, Ammonia NH4 - <0,05 ppm, Nitrite NO2 <0.01 ppm and Nitrate NO3 10 ppm
Substrate: JBL Proflora mixed with Sera Floradepot capped with Black diamond sand,
Lighting: 55w LED High Light and 4 x 5w 6500K UG10 LED downlights - (note: these are a second option I recently added to try and get rid of some algae)
Fish: 10 X-Ray tetra's, 4 Cardinal tetra's, 6 Glow Light tetra's, 5 Buenos Aires Tetras, 1 Rainbow shark, 1 YoYo loach and a couple of other tetras one of each species (saved them from LFS where they did not have mates in their tanks lol)
Fish food: Sera Vipagram Tropical Fish Flakes, Sera FD Mixpur Freeze dried treats, Tetra Spirulina Wafers and Tabimin, please not I dont feed all of this at the same time !!
Hardscape: 1 Large piece of drifwood and several smaller pieces, i think these are Mopani wood.
Plants: Egeria Densa, Vallisneria, some Echinodorus species, Java Fern, large Anubias Barteri, 2 x Lilly plants (dont know what kind, not sure if its tiger lilly) and some Rotala Nanjenshan.
Fertilizers: JBL Ferropol when doing water changes, JBL Ferropol 24 every morning 4x drops and DIY CO2 - I use 2x 2l bottles with Brewers yeast/sugar recipe and seems to work ok.
Maintenance: 20% water change every Wednesday and every Saturday. Saturday includes trimming of plants and removing of algae and diatoms (brown algae) and water tests with JBL Combi Set.
I want to redo this tank but my biggest trouble in doing this is the substrate !!! Im not getting much results with the current mix of substrate I have and the Rotala Nanjenshan are really struggling.
I also noticed my Vallis aren't making as many shoots as in previous setups I have had before. Some of my plants are covered in diatoms at the moment and all I do is cut of the leaves containing diatoms. As for the rest of the plants, they are doing fine I guess.
Would it be advisable to go with Organic potting mix as substrate or should I use Organic topsoil ? I have heard that potting soil reduces the PH therefore topsoil is a better option.
Can I add a bit of Canadian Peat Moss with the top soil or will this also alter the PH levels ? Is it OK to use playsand as a cap ? This is usually silica sand which causes diatoms (brown algae) and I already have an issue with this in my aquarium.
Another thing that bothers me is what style of planted aquarium to go with. My sump inlet and outlet are positioned on the left hand at the back of my aquarium. A Dutch style aquarium wont work as the water outflow will ruin the scape on the opposite corner. A Triangle style means I will completely close by filter box and the depth of the aquarium is maybe to small to do a proper Island style layout. Can someone please let me know what they recommend I do regarding the layout ?
How can I reduce the diatoms and the algae in the aquarium ? Maybe use the 4 downlights as described in the info at the top or should I continue using the 55w LED High light ?
Thanks in advance for taking time to read the thread and for any answers.
See photo of my aquarium, please note photo contains the 55w LED light