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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I decided to swap the substrate out and re-scape this tank now that my
75 gallon low tech soil tank is now cycled and settling and also now that I have another place to put fish while I tear this tank down. I put all the fish except my Rainbow Shark in the 75g and brought the shark to my LFS Sea Life. The shark was getting very aggressive and killing shrimp and beating up other fish. I purchased him without researching the species and compatibility.

The plan for this tank is a peaceful tank with shrimp and small fish. Still deciding on species. As for as the theme, I am not following a particular plan but rather I'm going to figure it out as I go.

Equipment :
2 T8s one 15w 6500k and one oversized light with slightly more watts and with what appears to be a plant Kelvin temp with more red. (The light was given to me by my LFS)

Aqua clear HOB with biomedia (established)

Heater/air pump

Substrate :
I followed the same recipe suggested by @thedood that I used on my recently set up 75g, except I mixed it up instead of layering it and I used more cat litter that was soaked in organic garden lime for a longer period than the litter used in the 75g. Also the soil was more mineralized this time due to it being outside in the sun and rain.

80/20 sifted semi-mineralized top soil and Special Kitty cat litter soaked in lime solution.

Red clay (Mexican pottery clay)
About a few handfuls dried, crushed and mixed it

10 Root tabs. I would use Osmocote plus but my county has sales banned until October.

Black Diamond blasting sand for the cap layer.

Hard scape

Large red lava rock and a small piece of driftwood (South African I believe)

Plants

Sagittaria
Anubias
1 Cryptocoryne Red Wentii
1 Cryptocoryne Bronze Wentii
Micro Sword
Java Moss
These plants were in the tank before the re-scape. I am still thinking on what else would work in this setup, suggestions welcome.


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·



I filled it up and immediately drained it and refilled again. The picture is with only one light (unknown kelvin) on.



Seachem Clarity was added to help with cloudiness but for the time being made matters worse. Now I wait to see how things go. The only thing I am worried about is the way I made the soil layer. Instead of doing exactly what I did on the 75g, I let the mud get too much water in it when I put it in. Because of this, it moved around on me and seemed to expand on me in areas and appear to be too thick on the right side. I am worried about anaerobic activity ( more than tolerable ). I guess I will just have to wait and see.

I have the established filter running and air bubbling into the tank. Tomorrow I will test the water and see where I am at. So far I just have my fingers crossed.
 

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I would toss some trumpet snails in and see what happens. I find working with overly wet dirt difficult. Has it cleared up? When I did my 20 its the first dirt tank I did that had no cloudiness and whats funny is I didnt even rinse the sand in that one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It cleared up but I had to work the dirt a little more by pressing and moving the cap layer around. I also spread the micro sword around and planted a baby Amazon sword. So I stirred it all up a bit and I went ahead and did another water change. The funny thing is that I tested the water before the change and ammonia was 0 nitrites 0 and nitrates were between 10 to 20 ppm. The 75g took a little under a week to get those parameters with an established filter. This was less than 24 hours with an established HOB with double bio media. The only thing I can equate it to is the large pieces of lava rock being porous and essentially bio media.

Unfortunately I need some more trumpet snails but I will be putting them in ASAP

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am hoping that the Micro Sword fills in the gaps eventually. I spread it around pretty thin. I'm considering adding another sword (baby) in front of the lava rocks but I'm not sure if I will crowd the big crypt nearby when it starts to grow. I found a Sword at Petco (I don't normally go there for plants) that had 4 runners coming off of it.5 Swords for 5 bucks, I had to have it.

Any suggestions for additional plants?

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Whats wrong with the 75g?
Design. Nothing is wrong per se, I'm just uncertain about the driftwood placement. I like it, but it takes up a lot of planting space. In the other thread, it was suggested to stand the bigger piece up on the left side of the tank so everything isn't so "flat". Perhaps it will look better with Anubias or ferns attached.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Yesterday I turned off the air stone in both tanks. I read that one of the benefits of using a soil (not mineralized completely) substrate, at least in the beginning, is natural co2 from the decaying organics. What made me use it to begin with, was my first experience with a soil tank where I had problems with low oxygen and plant melting, apparently from the accelerated amount of anaerobic bacterial activity in the substrate. Then I was using mostly potting mix with chicken litter in it and the amount of material breaking down in the substrate was much greater. Now that I am using a different recipe this time with less organics breaking down I thought I would see how it goes and keep an eye on things for a few days. I would like to harness any additional co2 that I can while it lasts and not drive it off with an air stone if it is not necessary to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·


Just checking in on this tank to see how things are going with it. I have been pretty much leaving this tank alone and letting things settle. My work schedule has been demanding and I have not been home as much as I would like. My 75g is in my bedroom and consequently I have been paying more attention to it. My water parameters look good: ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 10 ppm and the usual 7.6 pH for my tanks. I did notice the fungus on the driftwood though. Very hard to miss. Also it looks like diatoms have appeared on all of the leaves. I'm assuming it is from an excess of nutrients since it has a new substrate. The Sagittaria are not looking too good in either tank but I expect them too bounce back as soon as they reestablish their root systems. It is not the whole plant that is melting but rather a few leaves here and there.

I need to add some MTS and Ottos ASAP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I was at my local LFS today and they gave me something to try. It's called Flora-Spore Mycorrhizal Symbionts. I vaguely remember learning about the symbiotic relationship between types of fungus and root systems in science class but it did not occur to me that it applied to aquatic plants. The fungus makes minerals available to the plants. I'm assuming that the fungus relies on the oxygen supplied by the plant's roots, hence being a symbiotic relationship, so the benefits of mineralization can only be had around root systems. I'm curious is this fungus is present in top soil, potting mixes and especially yard dirt and adding spores may just give the amount a boost and speed up colonization in the rhizosphere. After all, nitrifying bacteria is everywhere. You can cycle an aquarium if there is ammonia present without adding bacteria, it just may take longer. Questions come to mind concerning the relationship between the fungus and anaerobic and aerobic bacteria. I do know that fungus produces co2 as a metabolic by product. Anyway, I decided to give it a go. It came in dry powder packets and I mixed it with some aquarium water and used the syringe it came with to inject it into the substrate around the plants. I will look for any noticeable changes it the plants that might not have occurred with out it.
 
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