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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Still waiting on lots of things to arrive in the mail, but I've started my tank. My goal is to go with easy plants to see if I can get this working.

21G Long, UNS rimless
ADA la plata sand
Eheim Classic 150 canister filter (waiting on replacements for super ugly green outflow/inflow)
Finnex 24/7 ALC light - starting at 6hrs/day
UNS Mini Dual Stage Regulator for a paintball cylinder (arrives tomorrow) - No idea what level I'll start on CO2

Flora:
Planted now: Valisneria, monte carlo, bacopa carolinia, amazon sword, micro sword, red lotus
Waiting on Buce to send: Echinodorus Rose, Bucephalandra Sekadau, Alternanthera Bettzickiana, pearl weed, ludwigia dark orange, rotala coin leaf, Hydrocotyle Leucocephala, anubias coffeefolia, stag repens, brown crypt

Fertilizer plan: Thrive S x3 weekly, Aquarium Co-op easy root tabs as needed.

Fauna:
Just ideas for way down the road, once this thing is established/cycled:
4-5 cories
7 Ember tetras
3 Killifish
4 celestial pearl danios
nerite
some shrimp?


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Wow I hate that green tubing, and it's looking really sparse. Hoping those plants come soon.

Feedback welcome!
 

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I can tell it will be beautiful already. Since you are doing a high tech with lots of plants, the green tubing should kind of blend in if you have plants surrounding it. Might I also suggest that you add 1-2 more danios as they are a schooling fish? One of my absolute favorite plants is water wisteria. I think it would look good in your 21 gal high tech tank. If you don’t know what it is, google it. It’s a beautiful and lush addition to any tank. Under high light, it grows like crazy and it is super easy to propagate. That’s just my opinion though.

In all of my tanks, I have at least 1 “trophy fish” if you may. Kind of a centerpiece fish like a Gourami or something. However, if you are wanting the main focus to be on the plants, then the stocking ideas you have seem perfect. Good luck. Can’t wait for it to be finished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can tell it will be beautiful already. Since you are doing a high tech with lots of plants, the green tubing should kind of blend in if you have plants surrounding it. Might I also suggest that you add 1-2 more danios as they are a schooling fish? One of my absolute favorite plants is water wisteria. I think it would look good in your 21 gal high tech tank. If you don’t know what it is, google it. It’s a beautiful and lush addition to any tank. Under high light, it grows like crazy and it is super easy to propagate. That’s just my opinion though.

In all of my tanks, I have at least 1 “trophy fish” if you may. Kind of a centerpiece fish like a Gourami or something. However, if you are wanting the main focus to be on the plants, then the stocking ideas you have seem perfect. Good luck. Can’t wait for it to be finished.
Thank you! Funny - I was researching Gourami today because they look lovely, but I was a little dissuaded by what I read in terms of disease susceptibility and behavior. Could I keep just one for him to be happy? If so, I would totally add one.
 

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Thank you! Funny - I was researching Gourami today because they look lovely, but I was a little dissuaded by what I read in terms of disease susceptibility and behavior. Could I keep just one for him to be happy? If so, I would totally add one.
Yes, you can add one. Usually, if you add more than one male, then there will be fighting. Be careful if you are getting one of the larger varieties like the opaline or three spot, as they might pick on the tetras if they are small enough.

The Dwarf Gourami is most susceptible to disease, but like any other fish regardless of species, remember to quarantine before adding to tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, you can add one. Usually, if you add more than one male, then there will be fighting. Be careful if you are getting one of the larger varieties like the opaline or three spot, as they might pick on the tetras if they are small enough.

The Dwarf Gourami is most susceptible to disease, but like any other fish regardless of species, remember to quarantine before adding to tank.
I will give it a shot, thanks!
 

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I will give it a shot, thanks!
Looking forward to see how it develops! I’d recommend a honey Gourami if you go the Gourami route—you have to be careful though because a lot of LFS mislabel thick-lipped gouramis as honey gouramis. Alternatively you could do a dwarf cichlid centerpiece like a Bolivian ram or an apisto agassizii. I’ve kept them with amano shrimp and they haven’t bothered them. Also something to keep in mind though—amano shrimp are known to like to munch on certain plants like alternantheras and downoi, so Amanos aren’t the best high tech planted tank addition where the plants are the main focus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looking forward to see how it develops! I’d recommend a honey Gourami if you go the Gourami route—you have to be careful though because a lot of LFS mislabel thick-lipped gouramis as honey gouramis. Alternatively you could do a dwarf cichlid centerpiece like a Bolivian ram or an apisto agassizii. I’ve kept them with amano shrimp and they haven’t bothered them. Also something to keep in mind though—amano shrimp are known to like to munch on certain plants like alternantheras and downoi, so Amanos aren’t the best high tech planted tank addition where the plants are the main focus.
Maybe red cherries then? Those dwarf cichlids are beautiful. I'll definitely consider them!
 

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I think the green tubing will look better once the tank is filled in.

For stocking I would suggest going with fewer species and larger groups. Having a lot of different species in small numbers typically doesn't look that good in a tank. In addition, most fish will display more interesting behavior when kept in larger groups. I can definitely understand the desire to get as many species as possible though.

I really like the idea of getting killifish; these fish deserve more attention. A trio of killifish could be your "trophy fish" too. An appropriately-sized perennial killifish like Fundulopanchax sp. or Aphyosemion sp. would look stunning in a nicely planted set up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
About a week fully planted. More plants in, clear lily pipes installed, and a filter malfunction solved (fine "polishing pad" completely gross -- already! Replaced with course pad).
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It has become pretty clear that I made some big mistakes again, despite my best efforts to research this stuff. I did not sterilize my plants from Buce before planting, and of course they came with hitchhiker snails, which I'm not super upset about, but they also had algae. I also seem to have the starts of some hydra and/or planaria, which I will treat next week. I really wish I had cleaned up this stuff before installing it.
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Diatoms have showed up, which I know will clear up on their own, but so has some green hair algae, which I don't know if I should worry about now or not. I have my light at max for 6 hrs a day and am still trying to figure out what my sweet spot is for my CO2. Ph is reading around 7.1 right before CO2 comes on, and then 6.4 right when the lights come on (2 hrs later). I turned it up a little bit and will check again tomorrow. Not sure exactly how much or if to fertilize at the moment; I've read a lot of conflicting advice online. Some say go right ahead and get started, while others say to wait a few weeks. So far I've done one dose of Thrive last week, and then I did one today (of Flourish). I plan on going with Thrive once my tank is more established but was worried that an all-in-one would be overkill at this point. I'm so, so in over my head. Pretty much no idea what I'm doing. At least I didn't just throw fish in there right away like I did with my last tank.
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Currently debating whether to treat with algaecide or to wait and see how things shake out. I have a huge fear of algae because my betta's 10-gallon is really kind of gross with it right now. I was hoping to avoid some of those problems. But it seems like the more I tinker the more I screw something up. I'm seeing some decent new plant growth, but now a lot of it is getting covered in some fine algae. Ugh. And the planaria....
 

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Like you said, the diatoms will go away with time, and good job on not adding the fish right away, I totally would have made that error, and the tank looks more gorgeous than any of mine! I’m not an expert on ferts or CO2 because I currently have running a low tech that’s not very densely planted and I’ve never encountered hydra, so I’m afraid I’ll be no help on that front. As for the green hair algae, try this link, it worked well for me.
 

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There's really no need to "sterilize plants" I've never done it and I don't have snails or algae or I should say I don't have snails I don't want nor any kind of real algae, let me explain. Snails are actually good to have especially if the tank is new. I consider them indicator organisms. If they multiple too much it means the tank has too much organic waste from fish, food or dying plant leaves. They simply will not multiple to the point of annoyance in a clean tank . So if they do you need to increase water changes, feed less and get rid of dead plant leaves before they decompose.

In regards to algae, algae spores are everywhere. You will get algae if the tank conditions are right for it, unprocessed ammonia from the things I mentioned earlier, will lead to it even if you sterilized everything before putting it in the tank. You could put a piece of wood in the tank with algae on it, and it won't spread if the conditions don't favor it. Do you know the PAR you running? That doesn't look like a deep tank so you might be running too much intensity even though it's only six hours. I would reduce the intensity if so.

And the final point. If you haven't been doing at least 50% water changes weekly, then yeah you might have made things more difficult for yourself. Not doing the water changes and running too much light is the reason new tanks get algae 95% of the time. Wait as long as you can to get fish, their waste will only add to the algae issues. Dosing inorganic ferts is the way to go so dose your inorganic ferts and keep the organic waste to a minimum, that's the way hi-tech works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There's really no need to "sterilize plants" I've never done it and I don't have snails or algae or I should say I don't have snails I don't want nor any kind of real algae, let me explain. Snails are actually good to have especially if the tank is new. I consider them indicator organisms. If they multiple too much it means the tank has too much organic waste from fish, food or dying plant leaves. They simply will not multiple to the point of annoyance in a clean tank . So if they do you need to increase water changes, feed less and get rid of dead plant leaves before they decompose.

In regards to algae, algae spores are everywhere. You will get algae if the tank conditions are right for it, unprocessed ammonia from the things I mentioned earlier, will lead to it even if you sterilized everything before putting it in the tank. You could put a piece of wood in the tank with algae on it, and it won't spread if the conditions don't favor it. Do you know the PAR you running? That doesn't look like a deep tank so you might be running too much intensity even though it's only six hours. I would reduce the intensity if so.

And the final point. If you haven't been doing at least 50% water changes weekly, then yeah you might have made things more difficult for yourself. Not doing the water changes and running too much light is the reason new tanks get algae 95% of the time. Wait as long as you can to get fish, their waste will only add to the algae issues. Dosing inorganic ferts is the way to go so dose your inorganic ferts and keep the organic waste to a minimum, that's the way hi-tech works.
From what I gather online, my PAR is about 60. I'll try to figure out how to adjust intensity, thanks. Or maybe just run it for 4-5 hours until things stabilize?

I have been doing smaller water changes but more frequently -- maybe every other day or so. Like 20%. So, not huge changes, but pretty frequent, so hopefully that has helped?

Thanks for this. Will keep up with Seachem flourish for a while. I assume that by inorganic fertilizer you mean not NPK (i.e., macros)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There's really no need to "sterilize plants" I've never done it and I don't have snails or algae or I should say I don't have snails I don't want nor any kind of real algae, let me explain. Snails are actually good to have especially if the tank is new. I consider them indicator organisms. If they multiple too much it means the tank has too much organic waste from fish, food or dying plant leaves. They simply will not multiple to the point of annoyance in a clean tank . So if they do you need to increase water changes, feed less and get rid of dead plant leaves before they decompose.

In regards to algae, algae spores are everywhere. You will get algae if the tank conditions are right for it, unprocessed ammonia from the things I mentioned earlier, will lead to it even if you sterilized everything before putting it in the tank. You could put a piece of wood in the tank with algae on it, and it won't spread if the conditions don't favor it. Do you know the PAR you running? That doesn't look like a deep tank so you might be running too much intensity even though it's only six hours. I would reduce the intensity if so.

And the final point. If you haven't been doing at least 50% water changes weekly, then yeah you might have made things more difficult for yourself. Not doing the water changes and running too much light is the reason new tanks get algae 95% of the time. Wait as long as you can to get fish, their waste will only add to the algae issues. Dosing inorganic ferts is the way to go so dose your inorganic ferts and keep the organic waste to a minimum, that's the way hi-tech works.
Oops. My PAR at 12 inches is 124 according the manufacturer! No wonder the algae. I will try to reduce intensity by 50% if I can figure out how...
 

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Oops. My PAR at 12 inches is 124 according the manufacturer! No wonder the algae. I will try to reduce intensity by 50% if I can figure out how...
That would probably be too much for your setup. I don't see anything that would require that type of light and I definitely wouldn't run peak for 6 hrs, maybe 3 and the rest dim. I actually have the 23/7 CC model on my 12G so I think the remote is the same if your having trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
That would probably be too much for your setup. I don't see anything that would require that type of light and I definitely wouldn't run peak for 6 hrs, maybe 3 and the rest dim. I actually have the 23/7 CC model on my 12G so I think the remote is the same if your having trouble.
Yes, I just had it on max for 6 hours because I was having trouble figuring out the remote configuration. I had the light come on at the same intensity for 6 hrs with an outlet timer. Anyway, I played with it last night and think I have it somewhat figured out. Do you think I should just customize a 24/7 cycle and leave it on instead?

Maybe:
9am-12 dim (what would you consider dim?)
12-3pm max
3pm-9am off
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Decided to go nuclear on the algae, which I've determined is rhizoclonium. Did a ~50% water change, full dose of excel, and now will cover the tank for...72 hrs? Just found some posts from Tom Barr on this type of algae and decided not to mess around. Just going to get after it and start over with better light/CO2 parameters in a few days 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Hopefully this all is entertaining to someone out there 😁

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I guess one thing I have going for me is that I'm in the far NW corner of Washington state, so its dark AF right now. Not too hard to keep the tank blacked out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Update at 6 weeks. Things might be improving. My filamentous diatoms seem to have slowed down (or the shrimp and otos are keeping it in check), and my plants are showing some healthy growth again after I played around a bit too much with the light settings. The monte carlo has resumed some growth, although the old crappy stuff has some staghorn growing on it. Will spot treat with excel this evening after my water change.

Still not too happy with my pearl weed, which I chopped way back because it looked terrible, or my rotala, but I think I now have my light settings dialed in better and now will probably bump up my fertilizer to see if they respond. The crypts also show some signs of pinholing, which I think is potassium deficiency. I've replaced some bacopa caroliniana with pogostemon octopus and some alternantera green with some water sprite. I also took out the microsword because it was just covered in algae and replaced it with dwarf sag. Better choices for me, since they seem to be a lot more robust/forgiving.

I've since added 12 ember tetras, 3 otos, some red and glass shrimp, and 3 white cloud minnows. There's also some random fry in there, who hitchhiked in with my otos. Possibly guppy or maybe a platy? I'll add some panda cories in a month or so.
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