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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’ve kept planted tanks four times in the last thirteen years, with the most recent being a 10g in 2005-2006. I got out of the hobby, moved, and have since gotten married. My wife likes fish, so I decided to dive back into planted tanks :). After a lot of research here the last few months, I realize my first few tanks were algae farms ultimately due to too much light.
I’m trying again with a 20G “High” but with a low-medium light approach and dosing Excel to start, DIY CO2 afterwards, possibly a full CO2 pressurized setup in the future.

I find the aquascaping aspect of my tank overwhelming, and after seeing Laura Lee’s tank thread here, I’ve decided to basically copy her aquascape. I’ve notified her that I’ll be doing this and she seemed very flattered haha :tongue:. I’m going to use it as a base/guideline and add a few plants that I like in particular and maybe a different rock or two.

The Manzanita wood is on the way from Tom Barr and will order the plants shortly thereafter. I need to source some slate rock for the “cliff” view.

The tank is currently cycling via the fishless method after I found some pure ammonia from a local hardware store. I began dosing ammonia on Monday, October 10.

Fauna plan:
  • 1 Dwarf Gourami (male; short-term)
  • 2 German or Electric Blue Rams (long-term possibility if our hard water won’t prevent)
  • 10 Cardinal Tetras
  • 6 Julli Corydoras
  • A few amano shrimp
  • 2-3 Zebra Nerite Snails
Flora plan:
  • Cryptocoryne balansae
  • C. retrospiralis
  • C. wendtii (several varieties)
  • Nymphaea zenkeri -- added
  • Needle or narrow leaf Java fern
  • Hygrophila corymbosa 'kompakt'
  • Anubias nana 'petite’
  • Anubias barteri 'Coffeefolia' -- added
  • Lilaeopsis mauritiana

The only difference for me will be adding Excel dosing or DIY CO2, which Laura does not do (if I remember correctly). I will most likely dose Flourish and Flourish Iron. I may or may not add RootMedic Tabs (Complete+) – unsure yet. Lastly, I have some left over dry ferts (KNO3, KH2PO4) that I may dose as well. Obviously will be doing frequent water changes given the addition of dosing.

Stats:
20G high (24” x 12” x 16”) Aqueon aquarium with black color trim and a matching 24” black pine Aqueon stand.
Coralife 24” Freshwater Aqualight – 2x14w T5NO with the standard bulbs (6,700k in front; colormax in back) and light guard removed since it will sit on an Aqueon glass top. Will attempt an 8 hour daily photo period from 2pm – 10pm.
Rena Filstar XP1 with a pre-filter sponge on the intake; in the canister a 30 ppi coarse sponge, 20 ppi coarse sponge, and some generic filter floss stuff as a top layer. (May add Eheim Torf pellets later on to bring pH down if we decide to keep two rams).
Hydor Eth 200w (5/8”) inline heater
Flourite Black substrate (approx. 2-3”)
Oceanvisions black background
Fish food to be Kens

The tank water parameters are currently:
pH – 8.4 (yes, it is probably too high for rams at the moment – may mix in RO water to help, as well as peat pellets).
KH – to be measured tonight
GH – to be measured tonight

Pics of tank setup thus far:

10/11/2011


 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Planted it on Friday:

Cryptocoryne balansae
C. retrospiralis
C. wendtii bronze
C. wendtii green (I think)
Needle or narrow leaf Java fern
Hygrophila corymbosa 'kompakt'
Anubias nana
Anubias nana 'petite’
Lilaeopsis mauritiana








I dosed appropriate amounts of Seachem Flourish, Flourish Iron, and Excel. I then left until Sunday evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
When I returned, I noticed the leaves were wilting and turning a translucent color for most of the plants. I expected some of that from the crypts but not the java fern, etc. Oddly enough the LM seems to be doing good! My pH is 8.4 or so and the gentleman I bought them from has suggested I bring the pH down to 6.5, since that is what the plants were previously in.

So I did a 40% water change using 100% distilled water, added 4mL of ammonia to keep the cycle going (showed nitrites before the water change - cycle is nearly complete since I've had nitrites for the last 2.5-3 weeks). My tank eats up 2.5mL of ammonia every 10-12 hours.

I dosed appropriate amounts of Seachem Flourish, Flourish Iron, and Excel again.

I will be testing nitrates in the next hour and can dose N-P-K since I have the dry ferts.

Help! Any reason why the transition has been so rough? BTW, my photo period is 8 hours per day.

Newest pics after the water change 30 minutes ago are below:











 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Tank has finished cycling finally since I added Tetra Safe Start to complete it.

Last evening I noticed some hair or brush (BBA?) algae (very light gray in color) appearing on my anubias plants.

I need to do a 50% water change since the nitrate levels are super high. I may pull it off then - will post a pic later tonight. I took a dropper this morning, filled with 2mL of Excel, and shot it directly on the BBA. I think that should help?
 

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Hello! Your tank is coming along great so far. A few questions...
1) What are those little bubble/clear things on your slate? Are those like marbles?
2) What are you planning on doing to the left side of your tank? The right side looks really good. I read about how you're trying to make a cliff so would the left side be the "ocean" or the "drop off?"

Dosing the excel right on the BBA is definitely the way to go. That's what a lot of people prefer doing rather than dosing the entire water column. Another way to get rid of the algae is to introduce some amano shrimps after you do that large water change. Since you said your tank is cycled already just lower the nitrates and the amanos should be good to go!
 

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Looks great! I have the same tank, stand and light - I had it very lightly planted for a while and plan to go back to it (since I went back to plastic plants my Corydoras are hardly ever seen)

I think I'm going to raise my light a few inches high and try an El Natural with dirt substrate but haven't thought that through yet - first need to build a canopy to match the stand.

Sent from my BlackBerry 9650 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I thought I had scared everyone off or something lol.

diwu13: the little disc looking things are stones from our wedding where we had fish bowls and those little disc looking things as the substrate for each table at the reception :). The plan for the left side of the tank is to allow the Lilaeopsis mauritiana to grow in and send runners, creating a carpet. The few patches I have now are really tall and will be chopped in the coming weeks/months vertically but I want to see it spread some first :).

I didn't know amano shrimp at those! Where is the cheapest/healthiest place that I can get some of these online? I think my local PetCo sells them too but labeled as "Japanese Shrimp".

Since I added the Safe Start, my nitrates are OFF THE CHARTS (+100 ppm or so). I am doing a BIG 50% water change tonight and re-dosing Excel (in addition to having DIY CO2). I will try to be careful of Excel levels but I want to get our first fish tomorrow evening: 6 Julii Corys and 10 Cardinal Tetras. Can I add them all? And the "Japanese Shrimp" too, if they are in stock :).

The Safe Start stuff is amazing!! I used it in the past when it was "Bio-Spira" .. worked great then too!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Nice tank... love the wood scape..

the anubias is probably too near to the light, hence algae grow fast there. probably u can try position it a bit lower?
I may do this later but the algae is tank-wide -- not just a single plant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looks great! I have the same tank, stand and light - I had it very lightly planted for a while and plan to go back to it (since I went back to plastic plants my Corydoras are hardly ever seen)

I think I'm going to raise my light a few inches high and try an El Natural with dirt substrate but haven't thought that through yet - first need to build a canopy to match the stand.

Sent from my BlackBerry 9650 using Tapatalk
Doc7, good luck to you on your tank!! I thought about going El Natural but decided I didn't want the hassle of a dirt tank that I've got no experience with. Hopefully you will do great with it!
 

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I didn't know amano shrimp at those! Where is the cheapest/healthiest place that I can get some of these online? I think my local PetCo sells them too but labeled as "Japanese Shrimp".

Since I added the Safe Start, my nitrates are OFF THE CHARTS (+100 ppm or so). I am doing a BIG 50% water change tonight and re-dosing Excel (in addition to having DIY CO2). I will try to be careful of Excel levels but I want to get our first fish tomorrow evening: 6 Julii Corys and 10 Cardinal Tetras. Can I add them all? And the "Japanese Shrimp" too, if they are in stock :).
Not sure if what pecto has is really amano shrimp but I'm sure you can ask them to clarify what they are. If they are amano's they can tolerate a wide range of parameters but will not be able to breed in freshwater. Amanos will also eat algae in insane amounts! So if the ones at petco fit those, then they probabily have amanos.

I wouldn't add in ALL the livestock at once. You'll want the beneficial bacteria to become used to the new bioload you introduce into your tank. You can definitely add the amanos and the cories. Then wait a week and add in the tetras to be safe. If you do decide to add them in all at once be prepared to do daily water changes for about a week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Last evening I did a 45% water change (9 gallons) to remove the very high level of nitrates in preparation for buying/adding our Julli Corydoras tonight! Once I removed the water, I used a dropper to spot treat the algae .. about 3mL of Excel on one anubias and 2mL on another. I then added one more general capful since my DIY CO2 bottle doesn't seem to be producing much at the moment (may need a new mix). My pH measures 6.8-7 now (YAY! First time it's been THIS low! Typically it's 7.6). I'm glad since the plants initially came from a very soft water tank: pH ~6.6 or so.

I also added the appropriate amount of Seachem Flourish and Flourish Iron.

I plan on dry dosing KNO3 tonight if the nitrate levels aren't off the charts. If they are, I may wait another day or two. I'm seeing some pin-sized holes in my plant leaves - signs of potassium deficiency.

After reviewing some pics of BBA algae, I don't think I'm dealing with that algae type. Mine is much more gray in color - in fact, it is light gray. I tried to take a pic below for your reference - thoughts?



 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Added some fish last night - yay!

6 Julii Corydoras (although they may be Corydoras trilineatus [three-lined cory's])
1 Amano Shrimp
1 Ghost Shrimp (he came along for the ride)

And we also added 3 new plants:

1) Ludwigia Repens
2) Bacopa Caroliniana
3) Banana Plant

Fun!





 

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Hm... your algae looks more like mold but I'm quite sure it's like brown algae. I had it growing on my DW at some point until I spot treated with excel. It looked nearly identical to the picture you posted. It made my DW look "darker" in areas haha. It went away after 2 spot treatments so I guess we'll just wait?

What were your nitrate levels before introducing the fish? And amanos and nerites are both very good algae eaters. Having both in your tank will pretty much guarantee you not have algae!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Nitrates were still near 80ppm last evening before adding fish, even AFTER my large water change a few nights back.

I neglected to clean my pre-filter sponge, though, which I think is the source of alot of my nitrate build-up.

I'm going to clean it off tonight in some tank water that I will remove for another 25-30% water change.
 

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How are those corys doing so far? Does it feel like they have enough space? I have a 20G high as well and am considering some panda corys.

Also I see your planned fauna includes a dwarf gourami and a pair of GBRs. I would strongly urge you to reconsider that combo, as the pair of GBRs alone won't do very well in a 20 gallon high footprint, let alone with the rest of a stocked tank. In that small of a space they become very aggressive, and the more fish you have in the tank with them the more problems you'll run in to. With no overhanging plants or caves, they will be even worse. They may even go after the corys. I very badly wanted at least one GBR in my 20G high, but after what I learned about them I've decided against it myself.

I'll be following your thread!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
How are those corys doing so far? Does it feel like they have enough space? I have a 20G high as well and am considering some panda corys.

Also I see your planned fauna includes a dwarf gourami and a pair of GBRs. I would strongly urge you to reconsider that combo, as the pair of GBRs alone won't do very well in a 20 gallon high footprint, let alone with the rest of a stocked tank. In that small of a space they become very aggressive, and the more fish you have in the tank with them the more problems you'll run in to. With no overhanging plants or caves, they will be even worse. They may even go after the corys. I very badly wanted at least one GBR in my 20G high, but after what I learned about them I've decided against it myself.

I'll be following your thread!
The corys are doing well but it's just day 2 :).

The fauna will be either a dwarf gourami OR a male GBR - we have opted out of the matched pair because it will just be too crowded in the tank. We may try the male ram and see how he does... who knows until we try?

But last night we found out the dwarf gourami may eat our plants AND/OR bother the corys. Thoughts? I guess they are more aggressive than I originally thought, from what the fish guy said..

We would really like a "showpiece", colorful fish. Any other ideas?
 
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