Set up Question for the TRUE aquascape/plant masters - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Set up Question for the TRUE aquascape/plant masters

I have a question for those of you who consider yourselves true aquascape or plant masters.

There are several of you who I believe fall into that category. I've seen some pictures of well set up tanks with great 'scapes that are healthy and well plannned. As well as others who have a firm grasp of the needs of plants and how to cultivate them extremely well, such as Tom Barr.

My question is, when you set up a brand new tank, do you guys (the "pros) encounter alage problems and other algae issues? I know that the majority of novices deal with these issues alot. But what about the veterans? Is algae upon initial set up just a fact of life?

What about Amano when he sets up his tanks? They appear to be using brand new materials with no prior set up. His glosso foregrounds are sparse and need to grow in, as is the set up for most of the plants. His initial set up on what appears to be a brand new tank is not "packed" with fast growers to stem algaes growth, so how does he avoid algae blooms?

I see pictures of tanks that are being set up and they have decent light and co2 over them and the initial set up of the plants is not one of maximum density. These tanks seem to have been layed out with a final 'scape in mind and allowed to grow in. Im curious why these tanks seem to have no algae issues. I've also noticed that these tank seem to belong to aquascapers who have good aquascapign skills, coincidence or experience? If experience, what is the secret?

I have also seen tank set up with similiar co2 and light set ups, packed with a decent amount of plants, but not really 'scaped, yet they have more algae issues. It would appear that a tank like that with more plants would have less issues than a 'scaped tank with less plants, but that doesnt often seem to be the case.


In short, plant pros, do you guys get algae upon initial set up like most novices? If not, why is that and what are your opinions on your method?
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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I also realize that a few people may not want to post a reply because they may not feel that they are aquascape masters or plant veterans. Please dont think that way. If you are a sucessful planted tank owner with experience that is relevant, please post to help others learn.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 08:45 PM
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Ancient chinese secret

I'm no master by any means but I have learned a lot over the years.

First let me start by saying that just about anyone thats been around tanks for awhile rarely starts with nothing. For myself, I have plants I have seeded tanks that I steal gravel from to seed the bacteria in the new ones.

A big key to having a succesful startup tank is biological seeding.

Don't go gangbusters with your lighting from the beginning. Keep it around 2-3 watts per gallon on a 55 or over.

Ammonia control is critical. So in that regard. Use lots of plants, light fish load etc... especially in the beginning.

Use ferts and CO2 from day one. and don't be shy with the CO2

FYI, so called experts get algae too, We just catch it before it gets outta hand.

Amano doesnt use a lot of light on his tanks, but when he does its for short periods of time.

Those tanks that are packed with plants, often times have a lot of rotting and dying plants in the less areas. Decaying plant matter will start an algae outbreak if left unchecked. How do I know this? Been there done that.

Remember this: more light= less margin for error, and vice versa.

Even the experts overlook things
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 09:06 PM
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motard- that school of neons you bought probably didnt help man...


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Marc
motard- that school of neons you bought probably didnt help man...
but they looked so fresh schooling!!


which brings me to another question, what is the opinion of fish load on initial set up, no fish or light load?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 04:34 PM
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Expert? Not me, by any means. But I can tell you some personal experiences from having set up a brand new 50 gal in March. Prior to its set up I had a 29 and two 10's with healthy, algae free plants.

I gravel vaccumed a large portion of the 29 and one of the 10's to suck up as much mulm as I could. I let it settle in a bucket and put that in the bottom of new tank's substrate (flourite/eco combination - which btw, I think looks pretty good).

I moved one of the sponges from my XP1 that's on the 29 onto the new XP2 for the 50, so each filter had one 'virgin' sponge, so to speak. The new tank I planted with some of all I had. My 'fast growers' were R. rotundafolia, and some hornwort I bought from the lfs. Looking back on it now, I realize I used too many slow growers at first - C. wendtiis and petite nanas, in particular. The petites all developed quite a bit of gs algae on the leaves. I had 2 sae's, 2 ottos and a handful of cherry shrimp as my 'clean up crew', along with 8 guppies as the initial inhabitants.

My lighting initially was a 96W ahs with reflector (have since added a 30W strip). CO2 started immediately, ferts started immediately but only half of what would become my normal amount.

As far as algae at the start, there was a little brown algae which pretty much disappeared after about 3 weeks, and some gs on the anubias leaves. I also got gs on the glass, but I have always had some of that no matter how much I up my PO4, I just wipe down weekly with my water changes.

One thing I found really interesting, was that when first set up, the hornwort was growing about an inch a day. As the other plants acclimated and started to grow, the growth of the hornwort slowed down considerably. When the rest of the tank started to look good, the hornwort got real leggy.

The tank is now doing great, and except for the glass gs, no algae. There remains a little gs on the older leaves of the anubias which I never bothered to trim off. One sae committed suicide onto the carpet and one otto didn't make it. There must be about 100 cherries in there by now and the guppy population is exploding as well.

Overall, it was rather painless. I think the major things are to:
1. Start with a ton of plants. I see a lot of pics of people's new tanks and imo, there isn't anywhere near enough plant mass there.
2. Start with good CO2 from the get go.
3. Suck up as much mulm as you can from any old tank. Folks recommend peat if you can't get mulm, I've never tried it.
4. Maintain good maintenance as you normally would.

My (rather wordy), 2 cents worth.

Bert
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-29-2005, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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great information so far!
Any one else? there has to be more, all you who have had good set up experience please share your opinions and procedures.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-02-2005, 10:49 PM
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I am by far no expert on this matter but I think with Planted tank, you are constantly learning and re-learning. When you are comparing one of the master in aquarium " Amano" I think we are all shy of being any where near his level;However, we all have our unique ways to deal with either Algae issue or other issues. I think smaller tank tends to be more problematic than your bigger tank. I've had hair algae issues with I first started and I see a bits of hair every once in a while but I am not particularly worry about it considering my lights run almost 12 hour at 40 Watts. I tend to agree with Bert that with proper maintenance and fertilizing, algae problem can be minimized or controlled. I've planted my Glossio with just one and now it has covered up the entire substrates. A lot has to do with your lighting, substrate and balance your plants when you are setting them up.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-02-2005, 11:33 PM
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I agree with pretty much everything I've read on this thread so far. I am by absolutely, positively, no means an expert. In fact, I would call my success with planted tanks better-than-average, but no more. Having said that, I have a follow-up question to something M.Lemay said (but anyone is welcome to answer) --- "Decaying plant matter will start an algae outbreak if left unchecked" --- This concept is obvious. It goes along with the same idea that people use in their backdoor gardens, such as trimming off dead leaves and flowers from their rosebush to stimulate new growth, however the actual approach is a bit hazy. I have this problem with some of my stem plants -- that is, leaves that turn brown, get holes and start to decay away. I see this mostly on my stem plants (stargrass and wisteria) that are the fast growers...So, the question is, is the best way to trim these to routinely uproot, chop off and replant the tops? I always thought this would be a bad thing, b/c the plants usually have large established root systems (especially the Wisteria -- man!) and I feel bad throwing that all away.
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Sorry if this got a little off-topic. Just thought that it would be a valid thing to bring up. Thanks.
-Ryan

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2005, 01:39 AM
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motard - I don't have any information to contribute. I just wanted to say "Thanks!" for asking an important question that IMO advances the hobby if answered well. I am anxiously awaiting the answer to this one myself.

(Also "Thanks" to M.Lemay for a well considered response.)

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2005, 02:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ringram
So, the question is, is the best way to trim these to routinely uproot, chop off and replant the tops? I always thought this would be a bad thing, b/c the plants usually have large established root systems (especially the Wisteria -- man!) and I feel bad throwing that all away.
-------------
Sorry if this got a little off-topic. Just thought that it would be a valid thing to bring up. Thanks.
-Ryan
The short answer is yes, throw out the bottom and replant the tops.
The longer version: If you are looking to propogate and get more plant mass then leave some or all of the root stock in the substrate, move it towards the back of the tank outta sight and replant the tops in front. The root stock,in most cases should grow new shoots. Once the shoots are big enough cut those off and replant the new shoots into the substrate. This is an effective means of doubling or tripling plant mass quickly.

Marcel
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2005, 03:14 AM
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I also think that the ammount of time and money you are willing to direct to your tank has a dramatic impact on algae growth. I am sure that Amano has an entire crew whose job is to take care of his tanks, planting, pruneing, testing chem levels and adjusting to his specs. Most if not all of us do not have that luxury. I feel that an ocasional algae bloom is par for the course for those of us who consider it a hobby. . . . But if anyone wants to front a couple hundred Thousand I would be more than happy to put my theory to the test!!!!
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2005, 12:27 PM
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Even Amano gets algae in his tanks.

If you have the 6 English Aquajournals that were produced then you can read that besides being a wiz at growing plants and an artist of the highest degree when painting with a pallet of plants, Mr. Amano's true mastery is overcoming algal invasions. He described for one tank doing daily 100% water changes with water from an established tank to overcome an algae problem. He also described for another tank completely removing a foreground plant that had been overtaken and replacing it with another species. Think about it, he started keeping shrimp because his tanks were growing algae. He routinely describes overloading a new tank with oto's and shrimp to fight algae from the start. I'm not bashing Mr. Amano, just pointing out that several of the ways we try to combat algae started with him.

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-03-2005, 12:39 PM
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Everyone will have algae to some extent...its just a matter of it becoming an eye sore or if you can actually see it. I had 46g bowfront that was a PITA to maintain because of the high lighting issues (2 x 96 watt) but eventually I got the hang of it by using EI dosing and keeping some fast growing stem species in there.

Everyone is right on about a bigger tank (55+) and a bit less light for the margin of error rule. When I moved I got rid of the 46 for a 65 and kept the same lighting so the wpg went from 4 to 3. Everything still grows fine and absolutely no algae issues.

From what eveyone has suggested so far I would recommend the same. Plant heavy at first. Getting rid of ammonia is easy if you have a lot of fast growers and lots of CO2. Without the CO2, the uptake will be a lot slower. I had my scape in mind before I set it up and I've let the plants fill in the gaps. Of course some mindless tinkering here and there have led to numerous adjustments (getting rid of a species here, adding another one there), but that's the fun part about it. Of course if you don't have fun in this hobby...might was well get out.

Re-boot!
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2005, 01:11 AM
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When I first set up my tank, I didn't have access to mulm or gravel from another established tank. I was getting algae like crazy. Until I found out that you have to stuff the tank full of fast growing plants. This actually did the trick plus watching how much I feed my fish.

About a month after I set up the tank, I was still have little issues with algae. I had extra money to buy a pH controller for my regulator that had a solenoid. The pH controller allows me to keep my co2 levels where the should be. It was easier to test my kh than my pH - which I got mixed results with different test kits.

So if you have high light make sure you are on par with the C02.


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