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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone!!

Many years ago, I attemped a high tech ADA 60P setup. I had some equipment issues and eventually turned the tank low tech. Then I uprooted my entire life, took a break, and now I'm back. This is really my first high tech tank - I've been doing low tech planted for like 10 years now, but so far this tank has been more difficult than I anticipated. I'm hoping to get it turned around, documenting my progress here as I go.

TANK: Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 24x15x13" 20 gallons
FILTER: Eheim Classic 2215 - lily pipe outflow - skimmer inflow
LIGHT: Chihiros RGBA 451+ 35w 1800lm 70% intensity 7hrs/day with 1hr ramp on/off
CO2: Aquatek Mini paintball - CO2 Art inline diffuser
FERTS: NilocG Thrive half dose (half EI)

Substrate: Organic potting soil, Flourite cap, CaribSea sunset gold sand accent
Hardscape: Spider wood & dragon stone
Flora: Anubias congensis/nana petite, java fern narrow leaf, crypt undulata/wendtti bronze, alternanthera reineckii, blyxa japonica, staurogyne repens/purple, rotala (h'ra I think?), rotala wallichii, red tiger lotus, red root floaters
Fauna: 7 emerald eye rasbora, 3 threadfin rainbowfish, 4 pygmy corydoras, 5 otocinclus catfish

LATEST FTS: 3/8
1026985
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Alrighty. So, here's how it started vs how it's going. Not good. Total algae takeover... every kind, including cyano. I attribute this mostly to CO2 inconsistencies... the needle valve on the Aquatek mini will not stay set no matter how much I fiddle with it. CO2 comes on 2 hrs before the lights and it's probably close to 3bps right now. Drop checker is solidly lime green, nearing yellow by the end of the day, pH drop is at least 1.0 but I only have a liquid kit right now and 7.0-7.6 is impossible to tell apart. Thing is... plant growth is terrible. Like real bad. Everything's covered in fuzzy brown algae, BBA all over the hardscape, twisted growth, lower leaves are dying, etc. the only thing growing decently well is the AR mini. I'll post some plant pics shortly to help with a diagnosis.

I have a few lines of thought, and I'm not really sure I'm chasing the right trail.

- My CO2 is insufficient. This makes the most sense, symptomatically... but I've checked and tweaked and checked some more... bought a better diffuser, a skimmer so I could really crank it...
- My water sucks for the plants I've chosen. It's hard and high KH. Leaning towards no here, because even the easy growers like guppy grass that thrive in my other tanks are struggling in here. They get overtaken by the brown crap and melt from the bottom up.
- My light is insufficient. This makes the least sense... I know light is really the limiting factor in growth, so assuming ferts and CO2 are there, insufficient light should just mean slower and more leggy growth and not algae, right?

The other thing - because my plant growth is garbage, I have a really bad organic waste problem. I do water changes twice a week with a turkey baster, but I'd have to do like three consecutive 100% water changes to get it all cleaned up. I'm sure that's not helping, but I'm not sure what else to do about it.

If you've read this far, thank you...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
FTS from today. As you can see from the second picture, my ludwigia palustris and the rotala next to it are seriously struggling. It looks much worse than the last FTS and my CO2 has been consistently higher since then. The AR mini seems to be reaching sideways for the light... that is the corner the floaters usually accumulate in, so it's a little dim. I'm wondering if I should remove the rest of the floaters and/or increase the intensity of my light... maybe both.

Last pic is the whole corner... my other stock Nuvo 20 hillstream and my betta's 5.5g on my desk :)
 

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I'm not algae expert (except at growing it lol), but i wanted to say that your scape looks really good. I like the two level thing and the path (reminds me of the Knights that Say Nee).

That Rotala is pretty toast though, probably best to remove anything that's all covered. I don't think it'll come back, maybe time to just top it and throw the affected bits out, maybe better to have tiny healthier plants than ones that are spending energy trying to recover and not growing. How long has this tank been up and running?

Also: a quick question about your betta, what are you using to filter? I've got a little five gallon w/ an aquaclear (it doesn't have the nice dimensions that your's does though) and I worry that it would be too much flow for a betta, but I'd sort of love one. What do you think?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I'm not algae expert (except at growing it lol), but i wanted to say that your scape looks really good. I like the two level thing and the path (reminds me of the Knights that Say Nee).

That Rotala is pretty toast though, probably best to remove anything that's all covered. I don't think it'll come back, maybe time to just top it and throw the affected bits out, maybe better to have tiny healthier plants than ones that are spending energy trying to recover and not growing. How long has this tank been up and running?

Also: a quick question about your betta, what are you using to filter? I've got a little five gallon w/ an aquaclear (it doesn't have the nice dimensions that your's does though) and I worry that it would be too much flow for a betta, but I'd sort of love one. What do you think?
Thanks!! I plan on doing some major maintenance some time after Christmas and I do think I'll take the sad stems out. The tank is 4 months old now.

I have the TOM internal filter in there. It's perfect! I have seen people make flow baffles for the Aquaclears out of soda bottles, have you seen that yet?
 

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Who knows what problems that potting soil is causing; that organic waste you mentioned may be coming from that. I would start over with a new active substrate.Just being a 20 gallon tank it wont cost that much. Landen soil is less expensive than ADA and works well.

You have both slow and fast growing plants, mixing high light and low light with Annubius and stem plants. Also you dont have a lot of plants; planting heavier will help with algae. Your scape looks more geared toward swords, crypts, annubius, and moss, so you wont need the high light to grow the stems, and less light will help with the algae too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Who knows what problems that potting soil is causing; that organic waste you mentioned may be coming from that. I would start over with a new active substrate.Just being a 20 gallon tank it wont cost that much. Landen soil is less expensive than ADA and works well.

You have both slow and fast growing plants, mixing high light and low light with Annubius and stem plants. Also you dont have a lot of plants; planting heavier will help with algae. Your scape looks more geared toward swords, crypts, annubius, and moss, so you wont need the high light to grow the stems, and less light will help with the algae too.
Thanks for the advice :)

The soil is aged, it was pulled out of a 2 year old tank. I don't think it's causing problems- but my substrate has shifted and there are definitely some areas where the cap isn't as deep as I'd like. I do think that is letting some organics sift through to the top but it's mostly just bark.

It's more densely planted than it looks - you can kind of see in the most recent picture, but there's a huge wad of rotala and l.aromatica in the back right corner that I cut back hoping it would grow in a little more bushy. There's nowhere left to plant anything haha. It looks awful and something definitely needs to change, though. I don't know if my plants would survive the transition of a rescape... that's where I'm a little hung up. I've kind of run out of money on this project. There's a lot of directions I could take this tank in, but I'm not sure which to go.

I'm gonna do maintenance tonight. I'll post a pic and perhaps ponder some more on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Major maintenance tonight. Really cut back everything that wasn't thriving. Took all the hardscape out that I could and sprayed it down with H2O2. I see it in moments like this and think it could bounce back... but it'll probably be covered in algae in a week lol.



I think I could fit some more stems in the back there, behind the blyxa on the left. I have some myriophyllum roraima which has always done really well for me, so maybe that. Hmm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Think I'm gonna lose one of my male threadfins. He wasn't looking too hot yesterday, and today he's looking even worse. Just listless, floating around the top. I don't think there's anything I can do for him now. I started this tank with 11 emerald eyes and 6 threadfins... I woke up to my CO2 wide open and half my fish dead a while back. The pic with the battery bubbler farther up the thread - that was the aftermath. This boy might've just not fully recovered from that. Sad. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Just a quick update. Looking meh at the moment. Still lots of algae. Gonna pull the wood out and spray it down with H2O2 again next time I do maintenance. Plants are surviving at best. I need a new regulator, the Aquatek Mini will NOT stay set and I have nearly gassed my fish twice now. Problem is I have three paintball tanks already and would rather keep using them to save costs if I can. Hmm.

1025562
 

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How much are you fertilizing? I've found in my tank that it doesn't really need ferts with the aquasoil and Power Sand. I've also been decreasing my lighting. I'm fighting some hair algae at the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Like 2 squirts of Thrive a week? Pretty light. Just enough to keep my nitrates around 20.

I'm still unsure about my lighting. My red root floaters have exploded and cover a good portion of the tank now, but my stems are still losing leaves from the bottom up. I think they aren't getting enough light, but there's still cyano growing on the sand. I might try something to get them to shade the front of the tank rather than the back. A corral made of airline tubing with some suction cups maybe? I would take them out all together if the rainbows didn't love them
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
1026443


Big maintenance yesterday. Tank looks... okay? My l. aromatica is mostly dead :( There are a few tiny pieces I'm trying to save in the seaweed clip on the left. Cyano is still an issue, as is BBA on the hardscape. Plants finally seem to be growing without much algae, though. I'm really pleased with the hardiness of the blyxa japonica considering the state of the tank. I corralled the red roots to the front of the tank with airline tubing but I'm not sure I like how it looks. I was hoping it would shade the front of the tank to stop cyano growing on the sand, but I don't think it will.

Overall I'm feeling good about it. I need to buy more plants still, though I did add some bolbitis on the lower right that's hard to see right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I don't want to risk antibiotics harming any bacterial balance I've got going on. I think I'm getting closer to getting this tank to a healthy place, so I'm being cautious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
L. aromatica kicked the bucket, none left at all :(
Cyano is still plagueing me, but I have another problem. One of my male threadfin rainbows starts gasping as soon as CO2 starts getting to adequate levels. I'm wondering if it's time to move them into the community tank since they've always been a little more sensitive to the CO2 than the eyespot rasboras. Argh. I hate this Aquatek mini...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Oh, and that plant I thought was bolbitis is hygro pinnatifida haha. I hope it thrives, it's a cool plant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I think I figured it out...

I've always had to run this tank at high BPS for adequate CO2. Like 2-2.5 bps, with the CO2 coming on 2.5 hours before the lights peaked. I always felt like that was a lot, for a fine inline diffuser. I emptied my tank about 2 weeks ago, and I figured while I was hooking up a full one, I'd refill the bubble counter. That involved redoing all the seals. Now, my fish are acting gassed at far lower BPS rates. I think I had a leak... I had checked it with soap at one point, but... yeah... now I'm achieving a lime green drop checker very quickly with like 1-1.5 bps. My fish are acting gassed because I am gassing them.

We'll see if that theory holds...
 

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I don't want to risk antibiotics harming any bacterial balance I've got going on. I think I'm getting closer to getting this tank to a healthy place, so I'm being cautious.
Chemiclean is the best for cyano IMO. You can get it at Petco in the saltwater section. It murdered all my cyano and I haven't seen it since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So I have heard, but I don't really trust proprietary medications/treatments (looking at you, Seachem)
I don't have a working pH meter but here's a liquid test of gas in and gas off tank water.
1026817

I dunno that anything can be concluded from a liquid test, but it satisfies my curiosities.

I don't think this male threadfin will be around for much longer... he just looks sickly in general.
 
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