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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My Fluval Spec V was overtaken by algae I just couldn't defeat. Instead of nursing my wounds, I've decided to go bigger and start a 20-High.

Hardscape - Two pieces of Malaysian driftwood. No rocks, I don't think.
Plants - Java ferns, Cryptocorynes, and anubias, plus taiwan moss on the wood.
Livestock - 1 Half Moon male Betta, 5 Corydoras Julii, amano shrimp, nerite snails

Filtration - Aquaclear 50
Light - So far, 16" CurrentUSA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus (left over from the fluval)
Sunstrate - Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum
CO2 - Excel only

This should be a lightish bioload. I plan to eventually add some sort of color variant neocaridinia. There are some gorgeous black knights at the LFS from time to time that i have my eye on.

Current plan is to set it up and run it for a while without livestock, maybe even a couple months, to let the plants establish and fight any algae. I had such a problem with algae in the small tank and never felt comfortable going nuclear on the algae because of the livestock, which in hindsight was silly. Still, because of my bad experience I am also considering running a UV filter inside the tank.

Hey, it's fun to set up a new tank. Might as well nuke and pave and go big. :)

Hardscape staged:


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My Fluval Spec V was overtaken by algae I just couldn't defeat. Instead of nursing my wounds, I've decided to go bigger and start a 20-High.

Hardscape - Two pieces of Malaysian driftwood. No rocks, I don't think.
Plants - Java ferns, Cryptocorynes, and anubias, plus taiwan moss on the wood.
Livestock - 1 Half Moon male Betta, 5 Corydoras Julii, amano shrimp, nerite snails

Light - So far, 16" CurrentUSA Satellite Freshwater LED Plus (left over from the fluval)
Sunstrate - Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum
CO2 - Excel only
I have read that balancing an eco-system in a small tank is harder than in a large tank. So maybe this time things will go better. I have found to keep algae under to control to have a 3hr siesta light period and maintain good nitrate level helps. Also when algae appears more water changes.

Java ferns, anubias, taiwan moss, shrimp are sensitive to Excel. For sensitive plants some dose small doses of Excel till plants acclimate to it. Shrimp I don't anything about. Another Co2 additive would be Brighwell Aquatics FlorinAxis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have read that balancing an eco-system in a small tank is harder than in a large tank. So maybe this time things will go better. I have found to keep algae under to control to have a 3hr siesta light period and maintain good nitrate level helps. Also when algae appears more water changes.

Java ferns, anubias, taiwan moss, shrimp are sensitive to Excel. For sensitive plants some dose small doses of Excel till plants acclimate to it. Shrimp I don't anything about. Another Co2 additive would be Brighwell Aquatics FlorinAxis.
Thanks so much for your reply.

I've read the same about tank size, and despite having had great success with nano tanks in the past, I figured that was what was going on.

I've had all of those plants/moss do quite well with Excel, actually, as well as Amano shrimp, so I'm surprised to read that. Perhaps it's because I have kept dosage low in the beginning, only ramping up to deal with algae.
 

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I've read the same about tank size, and despite having had great success with nano tanks in the past, I figured that was what was going on.

I've had all of those plants/moss do quite well with Excel, actually, as well as Amano shrimp, so I'm surprised to read that. Perhaps it's because I have kept dosage low in the beginning, only ramping up to deal with algae.
That is perplexing. Perhaps the nano tanks did better because you had more plants per space. Or perhaps since it is nano you had mostly moss and ferns.

That is interesting to know that sensitive fauna and plants can be dosed with Excel. Shall save the info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Last night I tested city water parameters. ~8.0 pH, 22dGH, 7dKH. That's some relatively hard water, and I want soft water species, but I also really want to use a Python to maintain the water in the tank, I know I'll do a better job of maintenance with its ease of use and lower cost over time compared to distilled or RO/DI. Not to mention I don't really have a lot of storage space at my home and keeping a couple 5g water containers on hand isn't really feasible.

I'll start the tank with a mix of distilled and tap water, and plan on using a mix of Seachem Acid Buffer and Seachem Alkaline Buffer to adjust the pH and KH to around 7.0/3. I'm going to try following some advice I found on the Seachem forums.

Reading around, it seems like many people feel you can let the hardness rise slowly over time to acclimate the livestock. I'm wondering if people have any experience with this, or if it's better to just have the tank at the city water parameters because it's stable and not try to doctor the chemistry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Ordered plants that should all come Thursday, some via LFS and some from the forums. Ordered Staurogyne repens, Brazilian Pennywort, Java Fern mats, Crypt parva, and the LFS has a good supply of Crypy undulata and lutea for sale as well as some good-looking Anubias and a couple Buce, plus Taiwan moss. A lot of the crypts seem pretty grungy in the tanks, I will need to clean them. Edit: Also ordered Bacopa caroliniana and Rotala rotundifolia via the forums

I intend to plant the tank Thursday and dose AlgaeFix to the tank right away to kill any unwanted hitchhiking algae.

Considering switching to Corydoras sterbai instead of julii mainly because they do better in higher temps and will be kept with a warmth-loving betta. Add to this the fact that my apartment isn't temperature controlled and gets hot in the summer which affects the tank despite my best intentions.

Added a prefilter to the Aquaclear 50 intake and picked up a Finnex Titanium 100w heater for the tank. Rearranged the driftwood in anticipation of adding a third piece based off feedback in the aquascaping forum.

Perhaps-boring update but I'm so excited to get plants in I can't contain myself and had to write something. :) Impatience is a terrible trait for an aquarist I know.

 

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Last night I tested city water parameters. ~8.0 pH, 22dGH, 7dKH.

I'll start the tank with a mix of distilled and tap water, and plan on using a mix of Seachem Acid Buffer and Seachem Alkaline Buffer to adjust the pH and KH to around 7.0/3. I'm going to try following some advice I found on the Seachem forums.
My tap water is 8.6. It decreases to 7.2. If you just let it to sit without fish in it the ph will go down. If the water from where they come from is 8.0ph there will be no problem.

Using buffers can get you into a yo yo, so I have read.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
pH has dropped to around 6.5 with 3dKH, which is wayyyyy too low to cycle. I'll have to buffer up for cycling! The wood and soil did their jobs well.

Lots of plants came today, i affixed flame moss to one vertical driftwood piece, christmas moss to the other vertical piece, and Anubias nana and coffeefolia to the big piece, using a mix of glue and rubber bands.

To plant tomorrow (floating for now): Staurogyne repens, Crypt lutea, Crypt parva, java fern mats, and brazilian pennywort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Okay, I ended up staying up later than expected and planting the tank.



Four pots of Crypt parva translates to a lot of little crypts. I ordered some plants that don't come until next week that I no longer think i have room for - Bacopa carolinia and Rotala rotundifolia. I overestimated how much room was in the tank and underestimated how much room the parva would take up. (I love parva so I'm happy to have a tank full of it.) I just set the Java fern mats on the substrate, I assume they will root themselves without me having to dig up big holes for them. I dosed API AlgaeFix as well in case of unwanted guests, and did an initial large dose of Excel.

This is the most heavily planted tank i have ever had, though it's not super dense. I'm not very good at planting, it seems, and I had a lot of trouble. Hope it takes off.

Now I wait. I'm not even going to try to cycle the tank for a month, just let the plants establish. Around Christmas I'll dose ammonia and buffer the pH up for cycling. Until then, just time to enjoy the greenery and trim the inevitable crypt melt.

Feedback welcome.

Video of the tank:
https://youtu.be/ASsmbb7c9Gs
 

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You should break up the java fern some and attach them to something. More than likely they won't grow good that way. That Parva looks pretty big.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You should break up the java fern some and attach them to something. More than likely they won't grow good that way. That Parva looks pretty big.
I tried breaking up one of the java fern mats yesterday, but found that the rhizome was not contiguous. I discarded the side that i had unthreaded, cut down the mat medium, and lightly buried it in the soil to get it some nutrients, taking care to not get the rhizome buried (I hope). I left the other mat intact, experimenting with the form for now. If it starts looking bad I'll try to get some small wood and glue the rhizome segments to it. Thanks for the feedback, will be interesting to see how it goes.

And yes, it's bigger than the parva I've had in the past. I had one "stem" of the parva melt completely away overnight, leaving the roots behind, we'll see if it resprouts. Otherwise just bits of crypt melt here and there over the past few days, trying to stay on top of it.

I'm trying not to disturb the Staurogyne repens cuttings, they are easy to dislodge if I root around too much. Just topping off the water dislodged one. I'm barely dosing the water column with nilocg's Thrive, 1/2 dose 1x a week he suggested, so hopefully don't need to do any water changes right away.

Also dosed API AlgaeFix one more time last night as a preventive measure. Tank is running a divided 8 hour light period, morning and night. More waiting ensues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Okay, tested ammonia just to see and had 1ppm of ammonia, unexpectedly to be honest as I had read several times that the Fluval stratum doesn't leach ammonia. Maybe from the melting crypts? I dunno, either way I should get the cycle going so I dosed 2/3 tsp baking soda to get my KH/pH up so my cycle will succeed (in the past I had my cycle stall because the pH was too low for the bacteria to develop).

Found some snails in the tank, dang it. Hitchhikers from somewhere and so much for API AlgaeFix killing inverts. :)

Water has cleared nicely, crypts melting everywhere, Staurogyne repens growing fast:

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
10 days flooded and the ammonia is creeping slowly down, it's below 0.25 ppm currently. I added a bottle of Tetra SafeStart and it has done its business on the Nitrites as well (I have had success with TSS, your mileage may vary). Crypts are melting still, but also seeing some small shoots from melted crypts so that's a good sign. Staurogyne repens is growing in nicely. The Brazilian pennywort seems a bit stagnant but we'll see how it goes, with plans for a Betta I wonder if I shouldn't just float the pennywort. Christmas moss is growing well, the flame moss seems just to be surviving -- especially the flame moss in the outflow of the filter is looking a little pale. All in all, things seem to be going well. Slowly but surely my bio filter seems to be establishing so I anticipate adding ammonia tomorrow night. Added the weekly ferts today and have been keeping up with Excel daily.

Thanks for looking.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I ended up pulling the pennywort out of the substrate (where they had rooted rapidly) and floated them. I'm going to want something floating in the tank and Pennywort seems like a good choice to me. We'll see how it grows in -- I ordered a couple veg-clips to pin it to the side until it develops mass. Tank is definitely cycled and I did a 75% water change yesterday to lower the nitrates, but the bioload it can handle isn't high, yet. It takes 24 hours to consume 1ppm of ammonia, and I should really wait to stock the tank until it consumes 3ppm in 24 hours. But I also found the perfect half moon betta, so I bought a small betta tank from Walmart and picked up the fish from the LFS. I named him Watson. I'll add him to the main tank when it's ready and will keep the small tank for a hospital.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, the tank is fully cycled, so I did a nearly-full water change yesterday in the morning and added the Betta at night. He immediately started exploring the plants, which was nice to see. I drip acclimated him but had the drip too fast I'm afraid, so I hope he will do okay, it was only about 40 minutes before the box was almost full of water.

Photos of the Betta in the plants:



 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That is a great looking Beta. I think you will be fine since it was coming from similar water I'm assuming. What LFS(s) do you use? You need an updated full tank photo :).
Thanks! I'll get a full tank shot tonight or tomorrow, I was too lazy to get the tripod out last night.

I prefer Aquatic Warehouse for no particular reason, but Pet Kingdom is also good. My 3-year-old son prefers Pet Kingdom, though, because of all the "creatures" as he calls them -- he's particularly enamored with the snakes.
 
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