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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am starting this blog to document the progression of my high tech planted tank. It has been a work in progress and I am just now (after months) starting to get the kinks worked out. I want this blog to illustrate the growth that can be achieved using a high tech approach. I will post photo updates regularly to give an idea of the growth rates of these plants. I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

Setup:

Glass tank - 60×18x24

Lighting - 48″ Coralife four bulb high output T5 running three 6,700K bulbs and one 10,000k. 48″ Aqueon Optibright LED light bar. Two 75 watt CFL lamps to cover the edges of the tank that the 48" Coralife doesnt illuminate well.

Filtration - One API Filstar Large canister filter and two Aqueon 75 HOB filters. One Aqueon 950 circulation fan. Two 24w “Green Killing Machine” UV sterilizers.

Pressurized CO2 system - Premium Aquatek regulator with solenoid, 5lb tank, and a large Ista Mix Max CO2 reactor on my canister outflow. Bubble count can’t be determined because it is too fast but I can drop my pH by 1.0 within an hour of starting CO2 flow.

Heating - Two 200watt heaters that keep tank ~75 degrees.

Substrate - 150 lbs of aquarium sand.

Ferts - All seachem products, biweekly dosing of Flourish, Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphate, Iron, and heavily utilized root tabs.

Rock - Sand stone (doesn’t effect my H2O chemistry so I’m lucky)

Misc - Two analog timers that run lights from 9am-7pm and run CO2 from 730am-6pm. Glass thermometer, drop checker (useless), and a magnetic algae scraper.

Chemistry - pH: 8.2 pre CO2 and 7.0 post CO2. KH and GH are both pretty high.

Plants - Rotala, bacopa, Jungle Val, Java Fern, Ludwigia, Anacharis, Cabomba, Amazon Swords, Anubias, Moneywort, Lobelia, Banana plants, and crypts.

Fish - African and South American cichlid, two Common Plecos, and four Bristlenose Plecos.

Food - Hikari Bio Gold Pellets, NLS Algae wafers, and freeze dried blood worms.

Total Weight Of The Tank - Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1700 lbs

This first picture is from March 28 when I converted from a non planted cichlid tank to a high tech setup with no artificial decor.

The subsequent pictures are spaced somewhat evenly apart and run up until May 23. Future pictures will be posted every week or so and will have their own post number and details.

The green water algae bloom happened about 10 days after I started because at the time I didn't do my homework and just added a ton of light, CO2, and ferts into the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Tank Update June 1

Yesterday I added some bacopa (front left), Jungle Val (Back left), and a new type of ludwigia that is tall with short broad leaves (middle left).

I also cut and transplanted cutting from my anacharis, moneywort, and rotala. I also bunched all of my anubias together.

In addition to the plant work, I also took a bunch of photos of my fish! I hope you enjoy!
 

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your jack dempsey will get to big and aggressive, he/she will probably terrorize the tank..
but it looks like a nice setup with the plants and cichlids, they will probably rescape the substrate and plants without asking you xD
I also would advice to just keep African of American cihlids due to differences in water parameters and behavior ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
3 month update!

Over the last three months I have neglected the tank due to starting Nurse Practitioner school and still working full time. Excuses....Excuses I know.

Anyways I cleaned her up and changed stuff around a little. I removed the middle left stone. I also added some telenthera cardinalis for some color, added a lot more bacopa, and planted some more baby crypts.

The Cabomba and anacharis where making more mess then they where worth so I removed them. My banana plants died for some unknown reason, and my Vals haven't done anything in months, but hey experience right?!?

I also added two 75 watt CFL lamps to light up the edges more as my 48" T5/HO couldnt properly light up the entire 60" tank. Since then, my rotalla has taken off in the corners.

Still planning on adding baby tears to the foreground where you see white sand still.

Fish wise I also added two small rubber nose plecos

Well enjoy the update and thanks for viewing.

Bump:
your jack dempsey will get to big and aggressive, he/she will probably terrorize the tank..
but it looks like a nice setup with the plants and cichlids, they will probably rescape the substrate and plants without asking you xD
I also would advice to just keep African of American cihlids due to differences in water parameters and behavior ;)
Three months later, the Jack Dempseys have gotten bigger (and all the fish for that matter) but peace is still being kept and all the fish look healthy.
 

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Very nice! Glad to see somebody willing to try. So many of us do limit ourselves to what we are told and that really can be the wrong thing to do .
You have tried and stubbed the toe at times? So you know lots more about the tank and what works. Far better than just reading about it as we pay attention better when it hurts just a little bit.
You've got some things going that I might change or watch for problems in the future but for today, it looks great. Who knows, you might tire of the whole thing next week so you might as well enjoy the trip.
Old "bucket mouth" Dempsey is one thing I would watch as he gets bigger! Wouldn't want him to start snacking on those cute little African folks. But then he may also find they are just too small and not worth the effort?
I currently have a great big (8-9 inch?) fish who would be glad to eat a bunch of the yellow lab fry but then he is too big to catch them so it works. By the time they are big enough to stay out in the open, he has lost interest in the chase!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Very nice! Glad to see somebody willing to try. So many of us do limit ourselves to what we are told and that really can be the wrong thing to do .
You have tried and stubbed the toe at times? So you know lots more about the tank and what works. Far better than just reading about it as we pay attention better when it hurts just a little bit.
You've got some things going that I might change or watch for problems in the future but for today, it looks great. Who knows, you might tire of the whole thing next week so you might as well enjoy the trip.
Old "bucket mouth" Dempsey is one thing I would watch as he gets bigger! Wouldn't want him to start snacking on those cute little African folks. But then he may also find they are just too small and not worth the effort?
I currently have a great big (8-9 inch?) fish who would be glad to eat a bunch of the yellow lab fry but then he is too big to catch them so it works. By the time they are big enough to stay out in the open, he has lost interest in the chase!
One thing that has been instrumental in my tank has been my relationship with my local fish store. I am by no means sponsored by them but, I have developed a working relationship with them. I provide them with good reviews and direct people to them. In return they are willing to take in my unsuccessful plants and give me good prices on new plants, they also (even though I haven't need to) have agreed to take in any fish that is being abused by my big jacks in exchange for discounted new fish. By selling them clippings from my rotalla, moneywart, and baby swords I have been able to buy new plants and little cost to me. With out their help, my tank would be much harder to maintain then it currently is.

I have also realized that sometimes people will take others advice even if they have no "real world" experience in the matter, i.e cichlids in planted tanks.

While I admit that my experience may be unique to the hobby, sometimes you have to go against the grain to realize new opportunities. Who knows, six months from now my tank may absolutely fail but for now I am enjoying doing things, with success, that so many have advised against. I will keep this journal going failure or success to give real world experience to the people out there thinking about pushing the limits in terms of what is normally accepted.

Wether it works out or not, I am willing to experiment with things that have not been done on a regular basis.... Again, thanks guys viewing my journal and I hope it helps out in some small way!
 

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Actually getting to know some folks at shops is always a great way to smooth things a bit. It takes some time to find who knows and who just blows but even bad opinions can be worth considering. And finding an outlet for fish and plants is a great way to get both surplus and supply solved. I often have a surplus of fish and that leaves me with more store credit than I need.
In some weird way that frees my mind to buy some things that I would consider too high priced to want.
I wound up with an LED fixture that way. The fixture turned out to be a bad investment as it failed way too soon but then what it cost me was a bunch of fish that I did not want to keep so it did not feel too bad. I did get rid of the fish at least and they love seeing me!
Carry on , love the tank and idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One thing that has really helped is the UV sterilizer. It only runs when the main lights are on but it has allowed me to run my main lights for alot longer without getting as much algae... Especially that damn green water algae. I have actually been able to run my lights for 10 plus hours a day without any green water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sept 21 update

I recently added a new CO2 reactor and a 400GPH circulation fan. I have also been EI dosing for about 10 days. The effects have been pretty awesome! Check out the before (top) and after (bottom). Key in on the lobelia (Right of center) and the Bacopa (left of center). The other plants have been pruned so the growth cannot be directly compared. Also since starting EI dosing, the sword in the middle has put out a flower stock (left of large sword). This thing has grown from nothing to coming out of the top of the tank in only 10 days! The tank is 2 feet tall!
 

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