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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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allow myself to introduce.....myself

Hello everyone. I've posted a couple of question within the past week or two, but I wanted to "officially" introduce myself to the group. I started a 50g planted tank last November. My prior tank was way back over 20 years ago when I was 10, so I had (and still have) a lot to learn.

I had been thinking about setting up the tank when I wandered into a LFS that was closing and had everything on sale, so I went a bit nuts. Rather than doing the usual obsessive-compulsive research, I bought stuff based on their recommendations, but anyway...here's my set up:

http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jl3d...nkandstand.jpg
http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jl3d.../frontview.jpg
http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jl3de/Tank/Cole.jpg
(two more pics linked below)

Magnum 350 Canister filter (just using the sponge in the canister - no other media currently) with modified spray bar return (ugly white PVC)
2x75W heaters
4x36watt CF lighting, 6500k (about) for a little less than 3wpg - I'm using the Helios unit - anyone familiar with that?
Pressurized CO2 injection at about 20bpm (started two weeks ago)
Substrate = the gravel that they already had in the tank when I bought it used, well cleaned of course but nothing fancy
Water source = tap water from neighborhood well, not chlorinated, treated with home water softener.

My pH was 7.4ish before CO2, now it's 6.8-6.9 .
KH about 3, GH = ? (I've never been able to get an interpretable reading on this - doesn't seem to change to the color it's supposed to)
I've never had any measurable ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates, though I haven't checked in a while (1-2 weeks). Thought that was good until I read some posts about people's nitrates being too low?

Fertilization - very unscientific - I added Flourish and Flourish Trace following the directions on the label. Also CO2 as above.

Plants - some Wisteria, Moneywort, Amazon Swords (the bigger one in front is the daughter (son?) of the one behind), crypts, java fern, ludwigia, a couple of vallisneria, and an algae bell - sort of a random assortment!

Fish / Inverts - 3 panda cory's, 4 white clouds, 1 krib, 2 kuhli loaches, 3(?) oto's, 4-6 amano shrimp, 1 singapore shrimp, and 9 SAE's.

http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jl3de/Tank/leftside.jpg
http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jl3d.../rightside.jpg

So, anyway, here I am. After looking at all the info on this page and other sites, there are DEFINITELY some things I'd do differently (e.g. use Eco-comple).

I welcome any advice people have for improving the biological balance / functioning of the system or improving the aesthetics! Thanks in advance.

-Jason
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 01:28 PM
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You've got a good setup there. Your substrate is a bit coarse, but you'd be surprised at what plants can adapt to. As long as mulm can accumulate down there, the plants will have plenty to feed on. Some root tabs will help the vals, crypts and swords.

As for aesthetics, I know they are subjective, but most would agree that the large (daughter) sword in front is a bit large to be in the foreground. Moving it to the rear will help the tank look more stable.
Other than that, the biggest thing I would do is allow your stem plant bunches to thicken up. When they grow tall enough to reach the top, snip off the top half of the stem and replant it next to it. The groups need to be more dense.

As for fertilization - in my opinion, this is the area you are at your weakest. Nearly zero nitrates will make for small, malnourished plants. You need to bring those up to around 5-10ppm. Phosphates also need to be in the 0.5ppm-1ppm range. You are dosing micronutrients (Flourish, etc.) but your macros are probably well out of balance. This is a recipe for either slow growing plants, or algae.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your helpful feedback. You have a beautiful tank, BTW - I love all of the foreground plants - is that a type of grass?

As far as fertilization, I took another look at the 'Basics' article on this group - it sounds like what I should probably do is get a decent test kit for phosphates, and then dose nitrates and phosphates appropriately. Do you have a favorite product for this?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Another question for you, Sam, - I was thinking about adding a small school (5-6) of either Congo Tetras or rainbows (praecox or bosemian(sp?)) - but I have myself convinced that to do so would put me in 'overstocking territory', and I was going to try and get rid of 4 out of my 9 SAE's (though I sort of hate to do this since I had to order them online).

Any thoughts? Would that be too much if I indeed kept everything?

Jason
50g planted tank

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 02:57 PM
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if you have a home water softening unit that uses salt, don't use water from it in your tank. it adds too many chloride ions to the water, and it will cause your fish to die off one by one.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tendril
if you have a home water softening unit that uses salt, don't use water from it in your tank. it adds too many chloride ions to the water, and it will cause your fish to die off one by one.
Really? Is there a way to test for that? I haven't lost a fish in several months - they all seem to be doing well. You sound like you speak from experience, though.

Is there a general consensus that water from such a source shouldn't be used?

Jason
50g planted tank

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 03:38 PM
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NaCl or KCl

If your water softener uses KCl then it is fine for plants.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaslyman
Really? Is there a way to test for that? I haven't lost a fish in several months - they all seem to be doing well. You sound like you speak from experience, though.

Is there a general consensus that water from such a source shouldn't be used?
Well, I was losing fish, but I was also doing many other things that may have killed them.

I could have sworn that I read multiple articles on the dangers of household water softeners in both the krib and the skeptical aquarist, but I can't seem to find any of them now. This page has some stuff on it, but it is hardly the authoritative source you are looking for. If you have had no issues with the softener thus far, you can probably continue using water from it, but I wouldn't.

Edit: Here's a krib page, but it's not the one I remember
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2004, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaslyman
Thanks for your helpful feedback. You have a beautiful tank, BTW - I love all of the foreground plants - is that a type of grass?

As far as fertilization, I took another look at the 'Basics' article on this group - it sounds like what I should probably do is get a decent test kit for phosphates, and then dose nitrates and phosphates appropriately. Do you have a favorite product for this?
Thanks, the foreground is Echinodoras tenellus 'Dwarf Chain Sword'.
Definitely get a good NO3 and PO4 test kit. The Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Nitrate kit is popular and Seachem or Hagen is popular for a Phosphate kit.
As for dosing, I use Green Light (or Grant's) Stump Remover for Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) and Fleet Enema for PO4.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2004, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaslyman
Another question for you, Sam, - I was thinking about adding a small school (5-6) of either Congo Tetras or rainbows (praecox or bosemian(sp?)) - but I have myself convinced that to do so would put me in 'overstocking territory', and I was going to try and get rid of 4 out of my 9 SAE's (though I sort of hate to do this since I had to order them online).

Any thoughts? Would that be too much if I indeed kept everything?

I ran through the same problem since my SAE's came from aquariumfish.net. I had six and now only keep two in my main tank. I had to give or sell the others away...they got pretty big. Anyways, my tank has those two sae's, 6 Boesmani and 4 G. incisus, and 4 julii cories. I don't think you'll be in the overstocking territory. The tank looks sharp!!

Re-boot!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-13-2004, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgiadawgger
I ran through the same problem since my SAE's came from aquariumfish.net. I had six and now only keep two in my main tank. I had to give or sell the others away...they got pretty big. Anyways, my tank has those two sae's, 6 Boesmani and 4 G. incisus, and 4 julii cories. I don't think you'll be in the overstocking territory. The tank looks sharp!!
Same place I got SAE's! I actually sold 3 yesterday to a semi-local LFS, and picked up 6 praecox - they had a decent price and they looked healthy.

Thanks for your kind words - I feel the tank still looks pretty sloppy, but my wife really likes it and thinks I'm crazy. Nothing like OCD, right?

BTW, I measured my NO3 yesterday - guess it had been a while - my reading was 10-20. I'm currently not, nor ever have, dosed nitrates. It seems this result is a bit higher than recommended - am I in a danger zone?

Jason
50g planted tank

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