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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 02:34 AM Thread Starter
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Old member returning - state of the hobby?

What's new in planted tanks?

I'm coming back after life took me in other directions almost five years ago. Back then I ran a 29g with T5HOs and CO2, to mixed success, and dosed EI daily. Buces were becoming the rage and LED lights were just taking off; Tom Barr was the scaping guru, Hoppy the lighting database, and MsJinkzd the go-to for all things invertebrate.

Is EI still the preferred regime? Can anyone besides Tom keep inverts in a high-light tank with appropriate levels of CO2? What's the first thing to check out in lighting?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 04:44 AM
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Welcome back!

Im a novice when it comes to planted tanks and all its accoutrements - so, Ill leave others to update you...

What are your plans? Have a tank you are currently setting up or a tank already established that you want to revisit?

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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I'm thinking of a 95g tank, 48x24x17, for a deep field of view, possibly drilled and using my old 29g for a sump, CO2, etc. I tend to try to do too much, so this will give me room to play around.

While I appreciate the Dutch and Iwagumi styles, I would prefer something more naturalistic yet well-balanced. Part of me likes the black sand look, which is probably exceedingly rare in nature, however, while another part likes the idea of an unplanted tan sand channel running diagonally from one rear 1/3 point to the opposite 1/3 front and widening out. The foreground banks would be planted with HC or other tiny carpet transitioning to staurogyne repens along the banks in the midground. No clue how to deal with the banks in the rear of the tank as I expect the large stems to absorb most of the light.

A crinum calamistratum would anchor the planted rear 1/3 point (sorry, have forgotten the technical term). Would like to use lysimachia nummularia aurea (Golden Creeping Jenny), myrio mattogrossense, and a red (limnophila aromatica?) for color and leaf variety. I've never had any luck adding moss/fissidens into a composition, so must resist the urge.

I really wish I could have a very large, diverse community of small fish and inverts, but I could never duplicate Tom Barr's skill integrating the inverts into high CO2 tanks. Sometimes even the rasboras had issues.

Which reminds me: when I left, aquatics frogs were having major issues with a fungal epidemic and the dwarf gouramis had something similar affecting the head. Any progress on these fatal conditions?
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:01 AM
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Not sure about frogs- but the Dwarf Gourami is still very prone to the Iridovirus.

Here is a bit about that virus in Dwarf Gourami:
Viral Diseases of Aquarium Fishes

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Ouch, had hoped that had been addressed. I had two beautiful gouramis I had to put down - strangely, in light of the article, I had each one several months before finding them weakly floating on their sides.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 03:28 PM
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Your post prompted me to do some searching of the old logbooks and to ask myself what might be different now and I really feel there is not too much dramatically different in the parts we use. The LED question if becoming more LED favored but that is still evolving as they are becoming more reliable and cheaper. Lots more available on the commercial market and parts for the DIY build are certainly more available and in a wider assortment. For the person who wants to do that, there is an almost unlimited variety of parts, methods and final results. I use a full range of tube, CFL, LED and several forms of "screw-in LED to fit each tank. I like to keep the lighting flexible, so expensive stand alone fixtures are not my choice as they are not very easy to move, change, and rearrange. I use canopies to hang the bulbs and simply screw in a different setup if I feel it is needed. The auction site is my goto for lighting and this is likely to be a new item since five years ago:
Corn Light 5W 7W 9W 10W 12W Horizontal Bulb Downlight Celling Lamp
I like them in a variety of different colors and sizes.

But the biggest change I find in the last five years is not the equipment but my thinking of what I want to do with that equipment. Looking at the logs, I was doing EI at the time and still am but almost totally different approach to the dosing! I was constantly testing and fighting to adjust, while now I feel much more free to kinda/sorta EI but with far more freedom to leave my "estimates" always be estimates and not really work as much to get it exact. I now feel exact and estimate are not really very close!
I might guess that EI is still the most common but I have moved pretty far from what I used to sweat over doing five years ago. I suspect keeping shrimp may be far more common as the hobby goes through yet another cycle.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 03:53 PM
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I'm returning to the hobby after a long break as well! I broke down my previous planted tank back in 2008ish. I just added water to my new tank a week ago.

A few things I have found different: Many more shrimp-specific tanks (and many more shrimp), lots more Bettas (went from a handful of sad jars sitting in the pet store to scores being offered for sale on Aquabid and plenty of people breeding them), a larger variety of plants available (probably the maturing of "e-commerce'), and many more options with regards to equipment (like cheap Chinese CO2 regulators, pumps, etc. And of course the ubiquity of LED Lighting.

I'm "frugal" and in my last stint in the hobby I built most of my own gear (including the lighting) but this time around great LED lighting is cheaper than the parts to build a VHO set-up.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:47 PM
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Things I found different:
  • Aquascaping 'styles'.... 7 years ago- if you could create a bonsai it was a feat. Now they sell ready made trees, etc. And more emphasis on the 'dutch' style with lots of red plants, CO2 advances, etc.
  • The dosing has simplified AND become more complicated... there are decent 'all in one' types like thrive. But the understanding of water parameters (testing for calcium, gh/kh phosphates, etc) is more advanced and one must be careful. I was dosing simpler formulas, I was corrected, now dose thrive plus equilibrium, etc.
  • The lighting is far more advanced, LED's are a 'thing' now. 4 color not just UV white.
  • Availability of plants.... transport has become easier, and you can even buy them off amazon and have them delivered next day VS being sequestered to LFS. 'Cultures' of plants are devine as they are generally pest free.
  • Fish strains have become more elite... but bloodlines have become more muddled. Hard for me to find a endler that isnt a hybrid.
  • Aquariums have become more sleek with better quality filters.... the day of 'betta bowls' is only for children when you can pick up a fluval and have a complete system.

Edit: Why only Tom bar for inverts? I think many (most) of us do without issue as long as we dont dose with copper or some mess of that due to the lighting demands for red plants and Co2.

Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful (as long as they cycle!)
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer View Post
What's new in planted tanks?

I'm coming back after life took me in other directions almost five years ago. Back then I ran a 29g with T5HOs and CO2, to mixed success, and dosed EI daily. Buces were becoming the rage and LED lights were just taking off; Tom Barr was the scaping guru, Hoppy the lighting database, and MsJinkzd the go-to for all things invertebrate.

Is EI still the preferred regime? Can anyone besides Tom keep inverts in a high-light tank with appropriate levels of CO2? What's the first thing to check out in lighting?
Good old T5HO still works pretty darn well, and you will find many here using them. They still look great and grow plants, that is for sure.

As to the rest, well those are all long conversations, with EI being at the top of the list.

My suggestion is to find some tanks in the journal section that have similar goals to yours, and see how they manage their tank. Might give you some good ideas.

Good luck and welcome back. Be sure to start a journal so that others can follow along. Everyone enjoys seeing a new tank getting started.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 10:41 PM
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Wanted to chime in on OP's original question with a couple thoughts myself, as I was on a tank-hiatus for a number of years until just a year or two ago.

One trend I've noticed is a rise in popularity of blackwater-type tanks. Now, I will admit, not the best route if you are going for a lush looking tank. But because of it's surge in popularity, there seems to be a surge in popularity of multiple varieties of floating plants and rooted plants with floating foliage as a result. Fish species diversity that is actually available in the trade has also increased due to this.

There are also a good number of DIY automation systems popping up here and there for everything from a simple temperature-control thermostat on up to lighting with customized schedules, real-time weather patterns, and wireless control.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 07:15 PM
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there seems to be a surge in popularity of multiple varieties of floating plants and rooted plants with floating foliage as a result.
+1 floating plants.... it's now a thing. I dont keep them except for my daphnia cultures.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer View Post
What's new in planted tanks?

I'm coming back after life took me in other directions almost five years ago. Back then I ran a 29g with T5HOs and CO2, to mixed success, and dosed EI daily. Buces were becoming the rage and LED lights were just taking off; Tom Barr was the scaping guru, Hoppy the lighting database, and MsJinkzd the go-to for all things invertebrate.
MzJinkzd aka Rachel O'Leary is still around but her store has a slightly limited selection right now because she had a super tough year last year. She had a double knee replacement and while she was still recovering her husband was in a terrible motorcycle accident and her daughter had a mental health crisis and needed to be hospitalized around the same time. So she needed to take a break from selling anything and is just ramping that back up again. She still makes regular Youtube videos though and she's one of my favorite channels to watch.


LED lighting has come a long way in the past few years! I still have a tank with T5HO's but the others have all converted to LED lighting.

¸.·´¯`·.´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸><(((º>
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 04:13 AM Thread Starter
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OP here. Thanks to everyone for the input and well-wishes.

EI: I was dosing pretty much by the book at the time - fire and forget, then wash away the excess on the weekend water change. I'll have to research how that's changed unless someone would like to chime in.

Tom Barr and inverts: at the time, Tom was the most prominent person advocating keeping inverts in a high tech tank, at least that I was aware of. I was never able to duplicate his success - probably a combination of much less PAR than expected from my T5HO fixture and inconsistent CO2.

By the way: I WAS dosing extra iron for the red plants. Was that a hidden issue?

Floaters: I was ahead of my time apparently. I tried to keep some of everything, duckweed aside, off and on. Never had any long-term success with Red Root Floaters, my favorite, of course.

MsJinkzd: I'm so glad she's still around, especially after such a rough time, and am already drawing up a list.

Lighting: I had a quick look around the lighting section but didn't see Hoppy's PAR database by fixtures in the stickies. Hope it's still around somewhere.

Water parameters: I'm surprised there isn't some sort of in-line auto-test to replace those old chemical color tests. I'd rather vacuum mulm than deal with those.

Automation: I'm looking forward to seeing what's possible now. Getting someone competent to look after the aquarium while I was away was always difficult.

Shrimp: there were tons of new, crazy-expensive bloodlines coming out when I left. Given time (and counterspace), I'd love to have another shot at an OEBT and PFR tank.

Getting back to the hobby and up to speed.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer View Post
OP here. Thanks to everyone for the input and well-wishes.

EI: I was dosing pretty much by the book at the time - fire and forget, then wash away the excess on the weekend water change. I'll have to research how that's changed unless someone would like to chime in.

Tom Barr and inverts: at the time, Tom was the most prominent person advocating keeping inverts in a high tech tank, at least that I was aware of. I was never able to duplicate his success - probably a combination of much less PAR than expected from my T5HO fixture and inconsistent CO2.

By the way: I WAS dosing extra iron for the red plants. Was that a hidden issue?

Floaters: I was ahead of my time apparently. I tried to keep some of everything, duckweed aside, off and on. Never had any long-term success with Red Root Floaters, my favorite, of course.

MsJinkzd: I'm so glad she's still around, especially after such a rough time, and am already drawing up a list.

Lighting: I had a quick look around the lighting section but didn't see Hoppy's PAR database by fixtures in the stickies. Hope it's still around somewhere.

Water parameters: I'm surprised there isn't some sort of in-line auto-test to replace those old chemical color tests. I'd rather vacuum mulm than deal with those.

Automation: I'm looking forward to seeing what's possible now. Getting someone competent to look after the aquarium while I was away was always difficult.

Shrimp: there were tons of new, crazy-expensive bloodlines coming out when I left. Given time (and counterspace), I'd love to have another shot at an OEBT and PFR tank.
As far as water testing you have devices like the SpintouchFF by LaMotte and the Reefbot

Automation you can use a Apex or GHL controller If you just want to be able to set timer schedules and be able to turn off outlets for maintenance easy get a Kasa wifi power strip

THe problem with a "Par Database " the par is not being checked on your own aquarium I use a Par meter for my own tank and light it according to my own tank and not a tank set up just to check lights.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 07:04 PM
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As to EI it is still in use but some people have modified it by making there own micro fertilizer:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...ix-thread.html

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...ng-thread.html

CSM+B is a good micro fertilizer but it has it's issues. Iron EDTA is only stable at a PH of 6.5 or lower. and zinc and copper are at very low levels. Most tap water has a lot of zinc and copper due to metal pipes so many fertilizers you buy have very little to no zinc and copper in them. Also the nutrient balance was designed for farms not aquarium. So people have gotten better result by using iron DTPA Stable to PH of 7. they then add to that Mn,Zn, Cu, Ni sulfate salts plus boric acid and sodium molybdate. The every other day dosing, lighting, and CO strategy is still basically the same.

The only other thing is macros are more than NPK. calcium , magnesium and sulfur are also macros. Again in most cases these are common in tap water but not always. Since many fertilizers including magnesium (including CSM+B) many soft water tanks are not getting enough calcium. A GH booster of 3 parts gypsum (calcium sulfate to 1 part epsom salt Magnesium sulfate can be used as a very effective GH booster.In my opinion many of the EI problems people were blaming on co2, light, and flow were Ca, Mg or micro deficiencies.

As to shrimp there have been 3 thing that I have seen.

I had a iodine deficiency in my RO water tank. Basically my shrimp would just site there like they were asleep. No swimming or foraging. I keep my tank dosed with potassium iodide to 0.01ppm of iodine to avoid this issue.

Many people use potassium bicarbonate to maintain KH Others use Sodium bicarbonate. One person couldn't keep any snails alive and eventually he found that by switching from potassium bicarbonate to sodium bicarbonate. his snails didn't die. This makes sense because animals do need sodium. Also there is one plant commonly used in aquariums that does need sodium, Dwarf hair grass. While it would grow in my aquarium it was very slow. I have been adding Sodium citrate recently to my RO aquarium (about 2ppm sodium) and the growth has improved. Dwarf Hair grass is a member of a small plant group called C4 plants that uses sodium to process CO2.


And most recently one person observed that all berried shrimp were dying before the egg hatched. He eventually swapped out the ADA soil and has since had successful shrimp reproduction. So you might want to go with an inert substrate instead of one that reacts with PH and KH.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8...all-die-3.html

Bump: As to EI it is still in use but some people have modified it by making there own micro fertilizer:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...ix-thread.html

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...ng-thread.html

CSM+B is a good micro fertilizer but it has it's issues. Iron EDTA is only stable at a PH of 6.5 or lower. and zinc and copper are at very low levels. Most tap water has a lot of zinc and copper due to metal pipes so many fertilizers you buy have very little to no zinc and copper in them. Also the nutrient balance was designed for farms not aquarium. So people have gotten better result by using iron DTPA Stable to PH of 7. they then add to that Mn,Zn, Cu, Ni sulfate salts plus boric acid and sodium molybdate. The every other day dosing, lighting, and CO strategy is still basically the same.

The only other thing is macros are more than NPK. calcium , magnesium and sulfur are also macros. Again in most cases these are common in tap water but not always. Since many fertilizers including magnesium (including CSM+B) many soft water tanks are not getting enough calcium. A GH booster of 3 parts gypsum (calcium sulfate to 1 part epsom salt Magnesium sulfate can be used as a very effective GH booster.In my opinion many of the EI problems people were blaming on co2, light, and flow were Ca, Mg or micro deficiencies.

As to shrimp there have been 3 thing that I have seen.

I had a iodine deficiency in my RO water tank. Basically my shrimp would just site there like they were asleep. No swimming or foraging. I keep my tank dosed with potassium iodide to 0.01ppm of iodine to avoid this issue.

Many people use potassium bicarbonate to maintain KH Others use Sodium bicarbonate. One person couldn't keep any snails alive and eventually he found that by switching from potassium bicarbonate to sodium bicarbonate. his snails didn't die. This makes sense because animals do need sodium. Also there is one plant commonly used in aquariums that does need sodium, Dwarf hair grass. While it would grow in my aquarium it was very slow. I have been adding Sodium citrate recently to my RO aquarium (about 2ppm sodium) and the growth has improved. Dwarf Hair grass is a member of a small plant group called C4 plants that uses sodium to process CO2.


And most recently one person observed that all berried shrimp were dying before the egg hatched. He eventually swapped out the ADA soil and has since had successful shrimp reproduction. So you might want to go with an inert substrate instead of one that reacts with PH and KH.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8...all-die-3.html
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