Some interesting planted tank methods to discuss and ponder. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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i just recently visited a fish store that specialized in plant tanks, Ocean Aquarium on Cedar St. in San Francisco, CA for those who are in the bay area. ALL of his tanks are aquascaped and I'm not talking about just java fern and anubias. These are full tanks, very developed, with various easy to medium difficulty plants. You won't find eusteralis stellata in the tanks, but he does rotala macrandra and didiplis diandra. Anyway, for substrate he uses just sand 1 mm in size (with MTS to aerate the sand). No laterite, no flourite, no eco-complete, he believes these are a waste of money because "you have to fertilize anyway." He suggests using pondtabs to fertilize the plants. He kind of turned my idea of planted tanks upside down because he advocated using ph phosphate buffers to lower the ph because "the plants need phosphate to grow and they need ph of 7 or lower. when the ph is above 7, the plants tend to grow slower." he also does not add co2. For lighting , he uses those spiral daylight compact fluorescent lights that you find in Home Depot, and the white color of the sand helps reflect light that plants can benefit from... if he had told me all these things, i would have never thought that he would be able to grow some of the plants that he had growing AND to have them grow well. But his plants are looking very nice..

If you all have any questions or anything else to add, I'd love to hear from ya!
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 08:01 PM
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There are many many ways to keep a planted tank. That's part of the fun and challenge in this hobby. Each tank is unique (although some are more uniquer :lol. Everyone has lots of different opinions, based on own experience or that of others.

For example, substrate. You will find so many combinations and variations, and each one is the best, it makes you dizzy. Truth is, all of them can work great, and all of them can fail miserably.

One question I have... do they sell the plants out of those tanks, or do they have a separate area/tanks and those are permanent display tanks?


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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 08:04 PM
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Definitely interesting. Mostly because this guy is using somewhat unconventional methods and having a certain amount of success with them. Does he actually use phosphate-based buffers regularly? Most LFS's change their display tanks water so often that the tank water parameters pretty much equal the tap water parameters, with negligble effects from conditioners of any kind.
I agree with him that regular sand can be just fine when supplemented with root tabs. Even the expensive stuff like Eco-Complete and Flourite will benefit from root tabs anyway, so lately I've been cheaping out with sand.
Not using CO2 - I doubt the plants spend enough time in the display tanks to show significant deterioration from lack of a Carbon source, but again - those frequent water changes (usually daily) probably help provide CO2 as well as traces.

What works in a store might not work at home since we generally don't have a staff on hand to change the water every day. That's just my theory on how this guy might be successful with his unconventional methodology.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
There are many many ways to keep a planted tank. That's part of the fun and challenge in this hobby. Each tank is unique (although some are more uniquer :lol. Everyone has lots of different opinions, based on own experience or that of others.

For example, substrate. You will find so many combinations and variations, and each one is the best, it makes you dizzy. Truth is, all of them can work great, and all of them can fail miserably.

One question I have... do they sell the plants out of those tanks, or do they have a separate area/tanks and those are permanent display tanks?
They sell the plants directly out of the tanks, Justin (the owner) either uproots them or takes clippings depending on how small or big they are. Also, he takes the time to teach people how to plant them, prune them, etc. When you buy fish from him, he makes a drip system for you and shows you how to acclimate the fish. He's just a really passionate, really caring guy and he wants to see your fish and plants prosper in your tanks. When you get fish from him, he picks out a male and female for you and he says, "when you breed them, you can bring back the babies for store credit/exchange." An awesome family store. Yesterday, I went to all the stores in SF. Granted, it is a very small store in a hole in an alleyway, but i got the best customer service i have ever received from a petstore.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 08:51 PM
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Very interesting indeed...I'm gonna have to make a trip there soon .

He's mixing some tried and true regimes while diverting others. It is good to see another perspective on things every once in awhile. I'd have to ask him the same question that GulfCoast brought up in regards to using phosphate buffers. It can also be done at home, but there are far more effective and more financially feasible way to do it (see further down). You would also have to keep tabs on your nitrates for awhile until you basically figure out the balance.

It is also true that fish stores change their waters quite often. Where I used to work at, we did a water change once a week, and more on certain tanks depending on the inhabitants. Even if he does water change once a week and the fact that he fertilizes using liquid ferts, it sounds quite a bit like Tom Barr's method.

Lighting and CO2 addition. He might not have to add CO2 also due to the light intensity. Less light means having to add little to no CO2. Another thing to consider is how much light reaches the tank. That all depends on the reflector (if at all), the depth of the tank, as well as a few other factors.

Some other points to consider in regards to using buffer. A look at their water report reveals pH values that falls in between the range of 8.9-9.6 (9.2 avg.) with alkalinity and hardness averaging 40 and 39 respectively. Just imagine how much you would have to add to alter it...
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GulfCoastAquarian
Definitely interesting. Mostly because this guy is using somewhat unconventional methods and having a certain amount of success with them. Does he actually use phosphate-based buffers regularly? Most LFS's change their display tanks water so often that the tank water parameters pretty much equal the tap water parameters, with negligble effects from conditioners of any kind.
I agree with him that regular sand can be just fine when supplemented with root tabs. Even the expensive stuff like Eco-Complete and Flourite will benefit from root tabs anyway, so lately I've been cheaping out with sand.
Not using CO2 - I doubt the plants spend enough time in the display tanks to show significant deterioration from lack of a Carbon source, but again - those frequent water changes (usually daily) probably help provide CO2 as well as traces.

What works in a store might not work at home since we generally don't have a staff on hand to change the water every day. That's just my theory on how this guy might be successful with his unconventional methodology.
Hi Sam, Yes he does use phosphate buffers for all his tanks and he only fertilizes the substrate. I suppose that any other fertilizer is from fish food and from water changes, which I'm guessing he does once a week but I'll have to confirm that during the next visit. If you have any other questions to ask him, I'll be glad to relay the message.

No, the plants are not deteriorating at all. Just to clarify, the plants are not newly arrived and tied up with metal ties and then shoved into the substrate (like so many other stores do). These plants are established, rooted into the sand substrate, and growing in...All the tanks are "jungle-like" in look and not "freshly planted" aquascapes. When you buy plants from him, you will be getting plants that are submersed growth, rooted into the substrate, and healthy. He will not sell you plants if they happen to not be doing so well.

Also, he does not have a staff to help cover. He and his wife are there everyday. His daughter comes in to help out, too, when she's not at school.

Another great tidbit about the store: The new fish arrive on Monday and he doesn't sell any of those fish on that day. If you ask, he will say, "Come back on Saturday or Sunday, and I'll hold it for you if it is doing well." He has a good variety of killifish, corydoras that i've never even seen before in my life (he had to pull out a book and show me the profile), and other interesting fish..
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ibn
Very interesting indeed...I'm gonna have to make a trip there soon .

He's mixing some tried and true regimes while diverting others. It is good to see another perspective on things every once in awhile. I'd have to ask him the same question that GulfCoast brought up in regards to using phosphate buffers. It can also be done at home, but there are far more effective and more financially feasible way to do it (see further down). You would also have to keep tabs on your nitrates for awhile until you basically figure out the balance.

It is also true that fish stores change their waters quite often. Where I used to work at, we did a water change once a week, and more on certain tanks depending on the inhabitants. Even if he does water change once a week and the fact that he fertilizes using liquid ferts, it sounds quite a bit like Tom Barr's method.

Lighting and CO2 addition. He might not have to add CO2 also due to the light intensity. Less light means having to add little to no CO2. Another thing to consider is how much light reaches the tank. That all depends on the reflector (if at all), the depth of the tank, as well as a few other factors.

Some other points to consider in regards to using buffer. A look at their water report reveals pH values that falls in between the range of 8.9-9.6 (9.2 avg.) with alkalinity and hardness averaging 40 and 39 respectively. Just imagine how much you would have to add to alter it...
Eric, you won't regret it if you go there. It's amazing. Take your time to look at each and every one of the tanks. ALL of them are beautifully aquascaped. Also, he has a few rare plants so be on the lookout for them. I'm very interested in going again too, but can't handle the driving in SF, if you go, can i carpool with you? I can drive over to your house so you don't have to do any extra driving. South bay is a piece of cake for me.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 03:34 AM
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LOL, I see you're still spooked about driving in the city. Sure, I'll let you know when I plan to head on out there.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 07:01 AM
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Yup, Oceans Aquariuim is definately THE place to go for planted tanks. Everysingle tank there is truely a beautiful aquascape of plants and fish. I myself am a newbie to this hobby, and once I had found Ocean's I dont go anywhere else to buy my plants. The quality of plants there cant be compared to other LFS. The plants in my tank that are from Ocean's are doing so much better than the ones that I bought at other stores. The owner is truly passionate about the entire hobby and is more than enthuiastic to share his vast knowledge with you. If you live in the area, you should definately check it out.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 12:53 PM
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Well, if for no other reason, the biggest possibility he is having so much success is all the personal attention the tanks recieve, which is in stark contrast to the severe neglect that is so common at most LFS's. Sounds like a nice place to do business with.

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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by EvilKen
Yup, Oceans Aquariuim is definately THE place to go for planted tanks. Everysingle tank there is truely a beautiful aquascape of plants and fish. I myself am a newbie to this hobby, and once I had found Ocean's I dont go anywhere else to buy my plants. The quality of plants there cant be compared to other LFS. The plants in my tank that are from Ocean's are doing so much better than the ones that I bought at other stores. The owner is truly passionate about the entire hobby and is more than enthuiastic to share his vast knowledge with you. If you live in the area, you should definately check it out.
Hey Ken, did he teach you how to grow planted tanks? Are you using his methods? When I asked him, he said, "Trust me, you don't need all that flourite or eco-complete, I have an affordable way to grow plants. Just listen to me." The next tank i start, I'm going to follow him.

He's funny, too. He said , "I been doing this for 18 years, around the same time as Amano. He is famous now and I'm not....YET."
:lol:
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 09:32 PM
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Ocean is a very cool store. He pulls out Amano's books to give examples of aquascapes. Most of his setups are low light, so he doesn't need Co2. I like the tank that is filled with java moss and the planted goldfish tanks. As for the soft water, I think not having Co2 slows the plants a lot more than hard water would, IMO. I like Albany more for buying plants, because it seems like a lot of the plants on display are not for sale. His bunny is pretty friendly.
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-03-2004, 10:12 PM
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I just want to clarify this -- he is growing rotala macranda with low light and no CO2? He doesn't even use something like Excel?
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-04-2004, 03:36 AM
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Ocean rocks the house!! You know almost all of Justin's tanks are filtered with the plants as well, also very unconventional. On any given day you will find something incredibly rare and cool (gets endangered/rare fish from Steinhart to breed and sale). You get great prices from him as well. Just be careful buying fish though, I have gotten dirty fish from him on several occasions, so definitely quarantine. He will even Aquascape your tank for you if you live locally, right there at the store, no charge!

For those that know, dig those ka-crazy Betta's in the screw boxes!!! :lol:

Only negative,

I just wish the store didn't have to look like a Korean Mafia front!!

29 Gallon Standard Moderate Light Planted tank
Lighting: 2x27 Watt 6500k P.C. Lights of America Outdoor Fixtures. 2x 20 Watt N.O. Flor. w/ Sylvania Gro Bulbs (9350k I think). Both are retrofited into a diy 12" tall canopy, with a 4" Diameter Clip on fan facing the opening in the back to circulate the excessive heat from the lighting.
Filtration: Tetra Tech 150 (modified to make very little disturbance.
Aquarium Systems Mini-jet for more circulation.
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 02-04-2004, 03:39 PM
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I just want to clarify this -- he is growing rotala macranda with low light and no CO2? He doesn't even use something like Excel?
I might be wrong... but I think he isn't exactly growing them. It's a store after all... I suppose he plants them and keeps them well and alive until he sells them.


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