How to keep tanks looking so nice? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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How to keep tanks looking so nice?

Nearly all the lovely, manicured, lush planted tanks I see here are GORGEOUS. And then I look at mine, which I am pretty proud of, but I see little flaws everywhere. A big one is the plants themselves. Most of mine have "grunge" on them; spots, flecks, fuzz, old snail bite marks from before I got them- not so much algae, but just... stuff. Dust and debris from the tank. I vaccum once a week, change 25% of the water once a week, clean the filter parts as they get gunky, sometimes I rub plant leaves clean with my fingers- but it still just looks... dingy. Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 04:39 PM
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Take a picture of your tank, reduce the pixel count and then see if you notice all those little flaws .

That's a bit of a flip answer, but trust me, I can see a good number of those things in my tank as well. But, those flaws don't really show up when you post them on the boards...at least they're not as noticeable.

The other suggestion is to just keep working for optimal plant growth. Once the plants start growing quickly enough, you can quickly top plants, replanting the tops while trashing the 'gunky' bottoms. I do that a lot!!
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 04:45 PM
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How stocked is your tank Silver? The spots, flecks and fuzz, are you talking about algae?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 06:42 PM
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 09:52 PM
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Dilligence. Keeping a constant vigil. Pruning and organizing as needed rather than only once weekly. If you see a stray leaf, prune it then. If you see algae or detritus forming hit it then and there. Don't wait till it's once weekly water change time. Do more water changes more often, not only for the boost that fresh water gives but to take advantage of the opportunities for cleaning and pruning that water changes give. Many times we'll do things during a water change that we don't justify doing at random. We do more because we view it as being a bigger deal. These things make the diff between a good tank and a great one, all other things being equal.

If we need to up it to twice weekly 50% water changes and siphoning to get things where we want them then do it. Once we have control we can reduce the workload back down to something manageable. I've tried the wishful thinking method and it has failed me miserably every time. I haven't been able to find any way to get around the fact that it takes time and attention.

Amano would probably say the secret is having an army of assistants. Well, he would never admit that but it's true. Not stretching yourself thin with too many tanks is also a good idea.

When you're taking those pictures, keep them and refer back to them from time to time. Over time, things can gradually and naturally change and you may not notice it until you refer back to an old picture. You may look through them and realize that something has changed for the worse. Perhaps your line of hairgrass slowly expanded into something else and it looked better back when you had a controlled line. This is an example of how photos are helpful with keeping on top of things over a longer period.

I'm not saying every tank needs this all the time. What I'm saying is that once we set a tank up it will dictate our workload. Some need more attention than others but the plants will not stay in line because they know it's inconvenient for us get to our arm wet until Saturday.

I don't how you or anyone else performs their maintenance. I'm just saying that maintenance should be as something that is done as needed rather than something that done because it's marked on your calendar.

I pick hairgrass out of my HC forground at least every other day in my non-Co2 2.5g nano. It's very little trouble to do it that way, much less of a headache than it was when I put it off till Sunday and then had a mess on my hands.

I also use a medicine dropper or pipet to blow out and fluff up areas of the tank. This keeps algae from forming and makes water changes/siphoning more efficient because I come close to "getting it all".

"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 11:05 PM
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Darn,

I thought the answer was PhotoShop...
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Wow.. so I guess even you experts have these little issues too? I will try the "take a picture, and reduce it" trick and see how that looks. PinkRasbora, when you say stocked, do you mean with fish, or plants? I guess I can tell you everything: 15 gallon running 6 months with 6 full grown danios, 3 half grown fry. Filter: Penguin BioWheel 100. Heater. Kept at 76 degrees. 2 pieces of driftwood (one is grapevine, the other, I am not sure). Planted with anacharis, java fern, java moss, anubias, a wild onion, one cute little crypt, and a barclaya. Substrate fertilized with Aquarium Plant.com's fert tabs as needed. Under a 24" T-5 Coralife (suspected) 14 watt bulb. I know I need more light, and with that, I'll probably want CO2- those are my summer projects for after school. The tank is near a corner window where it does get additional light, but not directly. The water is faintly tea-colored from tannin from the grapevine driftwood; I didn't have a pot large enough to soak and boil it. It looked smaller than it really was in the store. =) I've started doing more little water changes more often during the week- little 2-3 gallon changes to possibly help with the tannins, and still do a big one once a week. Everything is growing well- the anacharis is always sending up new stems that I replant, and the cute little new crypt has doubled in size in only 5 days.

What I was finding is rarely BGA (which I scrub off with my fingers), some occasional GSA, and mostly just soft brown gunk or dust. it looks almost like the gunk that builds up in filters. It just looks like brown dust over the leaves, and brushes off in a small cloud like dust. The substrate is river pebbles, so there's no sand. I guess if I could clear out the tannins in the water it'd get rid of the dingy yellow shade on everything. The yellowy water and the purpley bulb appear to make the water look dim. I am sure they yellow/brown rocks don't help either. I'm considering changing to sand this summer as well. I bet if the water were clearer, it'd look a lot better, but there's little chance of that happening now that I have that driftwood "steeping".
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 03:25 PM
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My tank is very much still a work in progress and I will admit that my pictures seem to naturally hide the small unsightly details that tend to grab my attention. Some of the slower growing plants get little green dots of green algae that do not show up.

My tank took a while before it began to look like a planted tank. I had to let small plants grow and arrange them by that growth. It is also taken me some time to learn how they grow so I could better judge what I trim and how it would effect future growth.

I trim twice a week, but that is maybe 3-4 snips at a time. Doesnít take long as it is usually an old leaf here or a floater there. I also didnít realize how much easier it would be with proper scissors. I started using just a plain old pair of scissors until I ran across a long curved pair. I would never try to use those old scissors again.

I do 2 water changes a week. One mid-week that is usually only about 25%. I will clean any algae I can find (usually just a light dusting on glass) and siphon and loose debris. On the weekend I do my heavy cleaning with a 40% WC, Floss change in Canister filter as well as the above mentioned actions.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 03:36 PM
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Just keep trimming plants. If the leaves dont look 100%, even if they're a little bit misshaped, trim them off - even if it means stripping most of the plant. This will encourage new healthy growth and make your tank look alot better.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Is there anything you can recommend for crazy java fern roots? I have a few java ferns tied to a small piece of driftwood, and the roots go EVERYWHERE, and are in general messy and fluffy and kind of in a wad. They also attract a lot of this dust and make it look even messier. Can we trim these, or is it better to not trim roots?
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 10:52 PM
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As long as you still have roots anchoring the fern to the rock/wood/etc. I see no problem with trimming excess roots. They aren't really there for anything other than anchoring, and if they aren't doing that then they have no purpose. Out they go.

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver
The water is faintly tea-colored from tannin from the grapevine driftwood; I didn't have a pot large enough to soak and boil it. It looked smaller than it really was in the store. =)
Is it really grapevine, or is it real driftwood that's just called grapevine because of its shape?

I'm asking because grapevine is used for terrariums and such and when I asked about using it for an aquarium at a local pet store, and they said no way because it decomposes too fast.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Ooooooh... hmm. I DO have a piece of REAL driftwood in there, with the plants on it; this grapevine one might actually be real grapevine. Huh. Rats. It looks real nice too. How long will it last, do you think? Should I "OhMyGod!" take it out now, or *might* it be okay? Darn. I'd hate to take it out... but maybe I can dry it out again and use it for my new crested gecko I'll be getting soon...
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 01:14 AM
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My tanks are always a work in progress, with time you learn how to do things and adjust them to how you want them. You learn the trade offs of the planted tank world


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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I found this entry on WetWebMedia FAQ: "Can I use grapevine wood in freshwater tropical aquarium and how should I treat it before use."

"I don't see any problem with using this wood - it certainly wouldn't hurt anything. I've used a variety of wood types, and I just hold it down with rocks until it gets waterlogged."

Does this mean it might be okay? I'm all for leaving it in there and seeing what it does; I do like it quite a bit...
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