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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I intended to get back into the fish and plants thing slowly. I rescued some old tanks from a relative who had them in storage for years. This is the chronicles of my not-keeping-things-simple, return to planted aquaria.

It started a few months back when I discovered we had an aquarium shop operating in town. The last one closed almost 1 1/2 years back. Their fish and plant stock was not great, but they had a couple sad little crypt specimens in rockwool pots that looked like they might recover with some love. turned out they were listed as Wendtii but acually grew out to look more like Undulata. Also picked up some C. Parva and a few choice bits of Moss unknown, Java and some slightly larger 'leaved' varieties.

The tanks came with a pair old Aquaclear 200's and a pair of old Hagen heaters that worked in a week of testing.

Meanwhile the C. Undulata has been growing like no previous Crypt I've even owned before. Is it my Mad Plant Skillz or did I just luck-out?

Images in rough chronological disorder..

Tank filled with river sand capped stream dirt used from our water source's stream bed. Really cloudy, and planted with a few ROAK Echinodorus of unknown type(s). also adding my Java Fern, and Water Sprite.

Crypts added, could have separated them more but I didn't want to trigger a big melt, so I kid gloved them into the sand. I added a second worklight LED bulb for the left side and to reduce the shock of so much light, added a couple smaller, floating Water Hyacinth to temporarily shade the other plants. I added a few of my biggest White Cloud youngsters. Oh yes they love this 'big' old tank.

When things stabilize I think I might start treating the water with a bit of Alder cone infusion to add some tannics, and give the water filtered light a bit of a rosy glow. I may keep this single species tank, with just White Clouds for now. I like WCMM when they're couple weeks old and just getting that neon stripe, plus they forage much better than other fish I've kept.
 

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I would treat the tank with a deworming agent seeing that the substrate came from an aquatic environment.
You can leave the plants in while doing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Um, not going to happen. For one; why have the possibility of the deworming agent also kill other beneficial benthic critters. My experience with the Annelids living in our stream have been that fish love to eat them, and cause no harm.

I've been using this water for ourselves, pond, and aquariums for years, so whatever possible pathogens from the worms would have already caused problems. The color and health of my fish are any indication, if there are worms in the soil they're not a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK! It's been a few long weeks since the last time I updated, things have been happening.

My tank got overrun by algae, BlueGreen, Diatom, GreenSlime, you name it, it came for dinner and brought it's friends.

But I also have a lot of tadpoles out in one of my grow-out 40 gallon tanks outside, and they came partially to the rescue. And my tank also got quickly balanced in the days immediately following these helpers arrival. Not sure who to blame for this.

And part of the other help was a big ROAK helping of stem plants and baby Sword plants from thedood. And since it's been nearly a week since these plants were installed, they're showing phenomenal growth. I'm also doing a really mild amount of CO2 injection with a 1.3 liter bottle DIY system that disperses the gas into the impeller chamber of my AquaClear 200 filter.

Wish I could have known about this little trick back in '92, it would have eliminated the bell jar injection scheme I used before.

Anyways enough jabber, let's see pictures! You'll have to excuse the front glass images, I was photo-ing while cleaning the tank/water changing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Another update.

Well this was a 'warts and all' experiment thread. I can say that despite the persistent algae blooms, the plants are really coming along, with the Water Sprite making a mad dash to the top.


I will have to rehome the large Java Fern mass in the front, but for now it's acting as shade for the Crypt Parva carpet that's really not growing all that fast. Still BGA and Diatom struggles.

I think my choice of substrate might partially be to blame, as I used Paver Sand which, I've read somewhere is infused with a polymer to keep it 'locked' when the paving stones are set into it. Although I rinsed this quite thoroughly, I'll bet I did not get all of the polymer out, which might explain the persistent algae blooms.

Every time I'm taking photos, the fish think it's meal time, and they photobomb the close ups.
 

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I'm sorry, but I don't have any Cherry Shrimp in this tank. Can you explain further?
sorry didn't go into much detail there lol, I meant your should get some cherry shrimp :) clear some of that algae up. as long as your parameters are steady they should be fine (with proper care & food)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeah I think I'd be better served by either Red Ramshorns or Malaysian Trumpets.

I've achieved something that I previously hadn't, which is no snails whatsoever.

If the tank was just home to thousands of Ostracods there wouldn't be such a problem. But the fish like eating them. And in the same vein, these fish would also be eating the baby shrimp, if not scarfing down the growing young ones.

Shrimp, at least either Crystals or Red Cherry are just far too expensive locally for me to be buying. I have a starter group of Crystal Black's in a 2.5 gallon. But I don't think our water is anywhere near hard enough to make Red Cherry shrimp happy, and I'm not keen to play with water hardening experimenting right now.
 

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Um, not going to happen. For one; why have the possibility of the deworming agent also kill other beneficial benthic critters. My experience with the Annelids living in our stream have been that fish love to eat them, and cause no harm.

I've been using this water for ourselves, pond, and aquariums for years, so whatever possible pathogens from the worms would have already caused problems. The color and health of my fish are any indication, if there are worms in the soil they're not a problem.
But if those things get under your skin....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
But if those things get under your skin....
I'm not getting what angle your working at from here. I know what critters come out of our taps, Ostracods and some tiny Annelids. We have a pool filter upstream of the pressure tank and I clean it once a month, I see the creatures we filter out, Been here 19 years and it hasn't changed.

I know you folks get chiggers, I'm not aware of any water chiggers in this area or my neighbors would also be talking about it.
 

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Please tell me about your substrate, as I used some natural sand, combined with pool filter sand in my tank. You call it streamsoil, is there any dirt/organic matter in it? The stream from which mine came runs fairly briskly, so it was mostly sand, I only dredged up a few leaves and twigs, nothing soil like for sure. And after observing it, there didn't seem to be any life in it.

I'm asking because my next tank is likely to be an even more natural blackwater setup than I have. I'm looking at going with re of a dirt/muddy bottom, covered with a fairly deep leaf litter bed. I'm hoping to get a wide variety of tiny critters populating it, to provide a built in food source for the fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Please tell me about your substrate, as I used some natural sand, combined with pool filter sand in my tank. You call it streamsoil, is there any dirt/organic matter in it? The stream from which mine came runs fairly briskly, so it was mostly sand, I only dredged up a few leaves and twigs, nothing soil like for sure. And after observing it, there didn't seem to be any life in it.

I'm asking because my next tank is likely to be an even more natural blackwater setup than I have. I'm looking at going with re of a dirt/muddy bottom, covered with a fairly deep leaf litter bed. I'm hoping to get a wide variety of tiny critters populating it, to provide a built in food source for the fish.
Our water source for our house is a very small stream, Oregon coast rainforest, clayish with sandstone chunks. and lots of old driftwood tangles. There a few critters living in the water: Scuds and Ostracods and some tiny pinkish Annelids. I mixed it with a bit of our yard's subsoil and did a two month long top soil mineralization on the mix. It should be pretty inert and not have much of any organics.

The thing is the natural life you intend to include is not used to tropical temperatures and may not take well to living in warmer waters, there's a chance they will, the Ostracods in our water don't seem to mind 72~74 degrees. I think more the exception, than the rule here.
 

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Our water source for our house is a very small stream, Oregon coast rainforest, clayish with sandstone chunks. and lots of old driftwood tangles. There a few critters living in the water: Scuds and Ostracods and some tiny pinkish Annelids. I mixed it with a bit of our yard's subsoil and did a two month long top soil mineralization on the mix. It should be pretty inert and not have much of any organics.

The thing is the natural life you intend to include is not used to tropical temperatures and may not take well to living in warmer waters, there's a chance they will, the Ostracods in our water don't seem to mind 72~74 degrees. I think more the exception, than the rule here.
Thanks gramps! I appreciate your description of the substrate. Coincidentally, my local terroir is quite similar, with clay/sandstone making up the majority of it.

And I figured I'd be pushing the limits of temperate invertebrates' tolerance of warm water. I think I will likely have to source micro-critters through fellow aquarium keepers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
A month and a few weeks and the tank needs a heavy trim, as in the fish were giving me the stinkeye because they could barely turn around without bumping a stem plant. It is a big change from last March where I still had BG and Diatom algae and not real healthy growth, plus the surfaces of sponge filters were all covered in BGA

I'm running about 17 watts of work-light reflectored A19 LED lighting with DIY CO2 injection. Probably qualifies for high light levels..

Before..



And after the trim..

 
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