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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

First of all, I'd like to introduce myself. I've been keeping planted tanks for a long time now (over 13 years), and recently I've decided to set up a nano planted tank to hone some skills.

This tank started as 35x16x21(H) cm, 11L tank (that would be something like 3 gallon and 14x6x8 inches). It was ran with a small canister filter, no heater (tropical weather where I live) and pressurized CO2 running on an airstone close to the filter inlet. Light was a horizontal 23 or 30W CFL with a very poor reflector.

First layout was a simple Iwagumi with a very fine sand substrate and some flourish tabs. This one went pretty well during the time it was setup. However, the final pic was taken when HC wasn't looking sharp.



The next post will be the current situation.

I got tired quickly because there is not much to do in a iwagumi setup, so I switched to a scape with some wood and stem plants. I also used aquasoil this time because I felt HC unrooted easily in fine sand if I let it grown. Well, all I can say is that aquasoil is definitely worse for the initial planting, but it also works fine.



The third setup had quite a few changes. First of all, I ordered a custom nano tank with a built in internal sump to make filter maintenance easier and hide all equipment. The dimensions now are 35x20x20 cm (14x8x8 inches) and the sump in the back adds more 35x10x20 (14x4x8). The light is the same reflector but with 2 13W CFL, as I felt only 1 light was giving poor coverage. CO2 is being injected in the return pump venturi. This time, I've tried a Brazilian inspired layout because that's what the cool kids do and I felt that it would teach perspective.







Everything was stable and running well until I decide to switch R. rotundifolia with R. mexicana and R. wallichi with R. H'RA. In the 2 following days, all my shrimp died (2 year old colony) and a algae outbreak started. I'm puzzled to why, because I have not touched anything else, just replanted some stuff. What makes me really sad is loosing my shrimp.

(when mayhem started)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Now the current situation!

I'm battling some very persistent cyano and hair algae for over 2 years, since I've lost my shrimp colony. I also rescaped the tank during this period.

One of the issues I think I had is that I've lowered the lights too much for a really long time, probably 10umol of PAR or so. I don't have a PAR meter available and was chasing good CO2 like mad during this time. Plants were struggling so I gave up and upped the lights back to what they were (new LED fixture). After a couple weeks, the HC carpeted again. Overall, plants seem OK but definitely not spectacular.

Anyway, here's a picture!



I have a more detailed journal on other forum, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed throw a link for it.

Hope you enjoy the long read
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Did a very rough estimate of PAR readings with a lux meter app. I've got to say that I'm not really impressed with my 2x CFL or my LED lights. The light is poorly distributed for both of them. I can see that some plants that are in areas of lower PAR (Rotala mexicana, for example) are also struggling a bit. I think I'll change the LED strips I have for 20-25 1W LEDs and see if a can get a stronger light that allows me to raise the fixture and have a better distribution.

4 reds, 2 blues, 10 cool whites and 8 warm whites seems reasonable?

On the left is the LED and, on the right, the CFLs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Got tired of R. mexicana not looking well in a place that probably does not receive enough light. The buce in front was also growing more than I expected, so went ahead and placed it under the return pipe. It's not premium space and the plant is looking a bit cramped, but buces are supposed to be tough, right? After that, clipped some R. mexicana and placed them temporarily where the buce was (in front of the Cuphea and Mayaca).

Have also grabbed a rough stem of H. zosterifolia and placed behind the staurogyne were the Rotala was. I hope that this plant is better suited for that place. It's an easy plant to shape, just have to see if it will not become too big.

Will also pay some attention to the buce to try to keep it healthy.







On a side note, I've taped some aluminum foil inside the light fixture to see if I can get some better light distribution.
 

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Looks great. Only thing I’d change is replace that white pvc elbow return with a clear pvc one, it kind of sticks out and pulls your eye away from the focus of the tank.


 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for the compliments!

DaveKS: I fully agree! Clear PVC would look a lot better, but it is not regularly available in Brazil. It would probably have to be imported and end up being very expensive after taxes (something like 50 bucks). I rather spend this money on plants. :biggrin:

Andrewss: thanks! Nano tanks really need small leaved plants and it takes some time to find species that are well behaved under your specific conditions. Sometimes it is also hard to have a good variation of texture and color, as most "small" stem plants that I like are are usually green and/or with needle leaves. I've been thinking of adding some Cabomba furcata or R. macrandra, but I'm afraid that their stems are too wide.

Anyways, I'll probably trim the Staurogyne to the ground on the next water change as it is not looking too nice and with some weird branching (lots of branches in different stages of development). After it recovers from that and the stargrass stems get back into shape, will probably do a blackout for a week to get rid of the cyano.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here we have it: staurogyne trimmed low and bucephalandra moved to the sump after a H2O2 bath. The buce was too cramped and with BBA all over it, so I guess it will live a better life in a low light, high CO2, high nutrients environment. I've just placed some R. rotundifolia to fill the gap.

You can also see how bad the cyano is. I'll wait until the H. zosterifolia develops some new growth and will try a blackout. Have anyone tried neomycin instead of erythromycin for cyano treatment? It's also a aminoglycoside and it's spectrum should be similar. I'm asking this, because antibiotics are controlled here, but neomycin is sold as bactericide for disease treatment in fish and I don't need a prescription for it.



 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Today I've started the neomycin treatment. I'm using a little less than the recommended on the bottle, but it probably is close to 80% of a full dose (after discounting substrate, rocks etc). Do you think I should repeat the dose after a water change tommorow?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Unfortunately I had more dead shrimp than dead cyano. I've counted 4 dead (which is not much), but I am sure that there are more casualties that I have not seen. Anyways, I don't want to risk doing a second dose and having more shrimp dead. Just did a big water change and everything seems fine now.

I guess I'll just have to chill for a couple weeks and try a blackout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
About 6 months ago, I've noticed a dip in my CO2 pressure gauge, so I thought it was time for a refill. As I have 2 cilinders, I went to the shop and filled the spare one. Turns out it was only a cold day and the working cilinder was still full and CO2 kept going strong. Fast forward a long time, actions against covid-19 start taking place in my country and I was completely chilling (regarding my tank) because the spare is full. Anyways, the day that my CO2 ran out came and I swapped bottles, but there is a catch: the filled spare bottle was empty :rolleyes:

I guess there is a leak in the valve or something, but here I am out of CO2. I've contacted the shop and luckily they will be able to refill the tank on monday, so, until then, I have this beautiful sight in my home:



SUPER EDGY AND MODERN!!!

I've decided to run the blackout until then and I hope that this will give me the edge against cyano. Let's how things go after I hook back the CO2.
 

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Nice idea, take the opportunity to Black out! Hopefully Monday works out for getting co2 sorted out again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Decided to shoot a quick video after the blackout. Plants strggled a bit during it, but i guess they're looking better now. I'm also dosing glutaraldehyde for the moment to see if it also helps. Overall, you can see a lot of BBA in the rocks and some cyano close to the substrate line, but the reproduction rate seems more manageable.

After placing the aluminum foil in the light fixture, I've noticed that the Rotalas and the Cuphea are getting redder. I've measured the PAR output like before and the edges of the tank are getting close to 60 umols while the center is closer to 100 umols. Rotala mexicana, which was the plant struggling the most before, also developed some brownish stems and its getting fatter. Placing it in a CO2 rich region and with stronger light may have done the trick.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Today I've felt that the tank developed nicely from the last trimming. The color on most plants was also pretty good, so I took some pictures.

Frontal shot


Nice color from the Cupheas and a good color for the Rotala H'ra (at least from what I've had previously)




All R. wallichi tips are pink/bronze




Staurogyne came back compact


R. mexicana is getting fatter
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's been some time since the last update. I've discovered some things that were causing issues and yesterday I've made some slight changes to the layout, so it would be nice to document it here.

First of all, H. zosterefolia was not a good choice for the right side of the tank. It was not growing as I wished and it was too large, so I yanked the stargrass out, took the Bucephalandra out of the filter chamber, cut it into smaller portions and placed it where the stargrass was. Also, in the corner, there is a Rotala that I bought emmersed as R. indica and I expected it to be true R. indica (Rotala 'bonsai'), however it is some R. rotundifolia variant. I'm not really interest in keeping 2 R. rotundifolia variants and R. mexicana is causing some havoc in its current place, because it is growing quickly and disrupting flow (and CO2) for my mayaca. So, I've trimmed the mexicana to the ground and replaced some of the rotundifolia with it. I did not replace it all in a single session, because I'm afraid that there is not enough light for the mexicana in the corner, but we'll see.

Bucephalandra and R. mexicana in their new places


R. mexicana mowed to the ground.


I'm also trying to figure what's up with the Cuphea. I've noticed that it was (heavily) shedding it's lower leaves, which suggest a macronutrient problem (including CO2). I use a dosing pump for my DIY solution and decided to measure its output. I found out that it is not reliable and was dispensing half the amount of what I intended. After fixing this issue, the plant stopped shedding and appeared to be growing well. However, last week, after the water change, almost all tops stunted, and it is having a difficult time recovering. Yesterday I've trimmed all the stems, removed bare/ugly ones and replanted unstunted and lightly stunted tops. Maybe I should root feed it more with some osmocote+? I know Vin Kutty found out that Lythraceae have issues in high column dosing and I could probably revert to a leaner dosing (currently a little bit above EI), but those issues are seen with harder water and my water is pretty soft (KH and GH <2,5 year around).

Cuphea is one of my favorite plants, so I'm willing to adapt tank conditions to better suit it.


Anyways, here are some other tank shots. After upping macronutrients, I've noticed that most plants are less red. I had my doubts over low dissolved nitrates and red coloration, but I'm starting to change my mind. Anyways, I still don't believe that better reds are a result of nitrogen limitation, just lower nitrate concentration. This could be just me nitpicking on how people usually explain this phenomenon and not really a problem with the theory, but is something that I would like to better understand and discuss.

FTS


R. wallichi is still displaying reasonable coloration.


An angle that i really like.


Thanks for checking it out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Apparently, the R. mexicanas are not loving the new placement. They're getting progressively smaller growth on its tips. I've always thought this was related to poor CO2 availability, but I can see mist in the region and it also has good flow from what I can tell. What do you think it is?

[



Anyway, a pretty Cuphea stem!

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
This time I did a 'Tom Barr' and cut a little strip of HC in the front using a plastic card. I've seen him doing this in a youtube video and thought I could use this technique too. My plan was to remove some stems that died after I spot treated the area with glutaraldehyde. I've done a quick vacuum of the opened area, but I'll probably have to cut a bigger strip to be able to better reach the soil with my siphon. Right now I still can see gunk and would like to remove most of it.





I've also uprooted and replanted all of my H. micranthemoides. This was done to remove as much debris as possible and to remove old bottoms. I'll probably do this to every plant on the next few weeks, one or two species at a time. The next one will be the H. tripartida.



 
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