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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Changing from a reef tank to a planted tank
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Hey everyone on TPT, first I would like to thank those members who answer and give advice to us that are learning the details of a planted tank. Also thanks to the people asking the questions that I didn't know I needed answered.
Started reading posts about 6 months ago and decided to try a low tech dirted tank first. I had broken down my reef tank and sold all the livestock cleaned it completely and was ready to go. I added about 1.5 inches of nature topsoil that had been sifted, wetted down let dry twice, before wetting again and adding to the tank. Capped with about 1.5 inches of PFS. Filled with water and added plants over the next few days.



First picture is the fun part, playing in the dirt 11/24/17. Second picture after getting some plants in, no fish 11/29/17. (Missing second picture) Third picture is tonight, I have added 3 platy, 3 otocinclus, waited two weeks and added 6 rummy nose 12/16/17. Started dosing Thrive for the last two weeks, plants are growing with good color. Only had problem with the Cabomba losing bottom leave and coming up rooted. Need more plants... (One of the problems, I should listen to myself)
Thanks again
Butch
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That was my intro post on TPT. The tank did ok for a while, some plants slowly growing, others showing good growth and the Cabomba slowly fading. This went on for about 6 months, adding some new plants here and there, new fish, but I slowly lost the desire to do the weekly maintenance needed. Just wasn’t see the returns I wanted. Before I started this tank I spent a lot of time doing searches on TPT trying to learn as much as I could and continued after starting the tank. But it just didn’t seem to be working for me…

Sometime back in September I started reading peoples tank journals. I was seeing how some had success early on, but most had to go through some bumps to start seeing results. Then I came across two journals that I slowly read through.

120 Gal Dutchy Freestyle
Greggz 120G Rainbow Fish Tank


It took me about 3 months to completely read both journals and try to get an understanding of all the information within them. Somewhere along the reading I started getting the desire back. During December started applying what I was learning to my tank.

Changed my goals for my tank from a low tech to a high tech tank. Installed a CO2 system and now trying to get a better understanding on EI fert dosing (still need some work here) and got my maintenance back on track.

Need to work on my photo skills…

Thanks to burr740, Greggz and all those who have added to your journals, it has gotten me to where I'm at now.

Will do my best to update my journal :|
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Now that I have my journal started. I’m having some problems with BBA on the edge of leaves and the bottom of the S. Repens (I think that is the type of algae).



This has been a problem for a while. It did clear up when I first started the CO2 and EI dosing. I have been trying to stay ahead on maintenance, removing any algae covered leaves and any detritus I see has been removing also. Just reduced lighting period from 8hrs to 7hrs. Will spot treat with H2O2, some plants I can take out and dip treat. Going forward what I’m reading, if I’m correct, I need to up my PO4 a little and lower K, will start this after water change on Sunday.

Testing: (API)
Nitrate = +40
Phos = 4 or 5
GH = 7
KH = 2
pH with CO2 = 5.22
pH w/o CO2 = 6.34



Open to any help, opinions, directions or comments...
Thanks :smile2:
 

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I could really relate to the part where you stated that you "didn't even know the right questions to ask" when you began with planted tanks. This is so true. The hardest part is learning what it is you need to ask, it takes awhile to build a foundation of knowledge to begin even here. Or, maybe just error. That "what do I do now" is the mother of invention, lol :).

You tank is looking really fabulous- I can see that you learned a lot through reading those two journals.
Thanks for sharing your process.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies.

I have the ATI Sunpower fixture, 6 bulbs 48 inches. I'm only running 4 bulbs T5HO 54W, two each of the Wavepoint Ultra Growth and Vivoson 6500K. I also think this is part of my problem with the algae. This is on my list of things I need to do more research on.

The lights run for a total of 7 hours. Two bulbs turn on at 3 and ramp up for an hour to 100%, then at 9 they ramp down for an hour. The second set of bulbs start at 4 ramp up for an hour and at 8 ramp down for an hour. Just started this schedule on Sunday.
 

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It sure is a steep learning curve on keeping a planted tank growing right and looking good! I've been on the same journey for a while myself. Still fighting BBA as well, but I've been keeping it in "control" with a spraying of my tank during water changes and what wasn't exposed and sprayed gets a direct dose with a syringe to try to kill that too. Gotta find that happy balance for sure! Excited to see your journey progress!

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Great start to a journal!

If you have any more spare time, Burr's original thread was the one that pretty much got me started, and you might enjoy it.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/592313-75-gallon-journey.html

And always gives me a kick to see folks posting with the spreadsheet. I do believe it helps to get a snapshot of a tank.

So here's my random thoughts.

4 x T5HO is a lot of light. Not too much, but a lot. So you will need to be extra vigilant about everything.

I'm not familiar with Nilocg micros, but at first glance looks to be on the high side of weekly Fe dosing (especially in relation to macros).

Are you using RO water? Says so on the spreadsheet, but want to be sure. Are the numbers listed for Ca/Mg measured levels? If so, you might want to be adding a bit more Ca/Mg.

Your degassed pH at 6.34 seems low, like it's not fully degassed. Have you left a glass out with a bubbler for a day or two? Just saying, with KH of 2, would expect pH to be above 7.00. How are you measuring pH?

And all in all, a really nice start to the tank. I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop and fill in from here.

Remember, it is a journey, and there will always be some ups and downs along the way.

Keep up with the journal, and post more information about your set up and pics when you can. Looks like a tank to keep an eye on.

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks @Greggz

4 x T5HO is a lot of light. Not too much, but a lot. So you will need to be extra vigilant about everything.

My light fixture has the ability to ramp up and down, may need to increase the ramp times to lower the total time at max PAR. Did reduce the photo period to 7 hours.

I'm not familiar with Nilocg micros, but at first glance looks to be on the high side of weekly Fe dosing (especially in relation to macros).

You are correct. When I when back to Rotala Butterfly, notice I had double the dose, have cut it to 15mL from 30mL. I think I finally understand how to use Rotala Butterfly.

Are you using RO water? Yes, and will try upping my Ca/Mg at water change.

Your degassed pH at 6.34 seems low, like it's not fully degassed. Have you left a glass out with a bubbler for a day or two? Just saying, with KH of 2, would expect pH to be above 7.00. How are you measuring pH?


I did try degassing a cup of water, but may not have waited long enough. Will do this again. I use a pH probe, which I calibrated about a week ago, but will check it again. I get some pearling, but not a lot.

The tank is looking so much better than it did 6 months ago. I'm really enjoying the journey now that I have it pointed in the right direction. :wink2:
 

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I did try degassing a cup of water, but may not have waited long enough. Will do this again. I use a pH probe, which I calibrated about a week ago, but will check it again. I get some pearling, but not a lot.



The tank is looking so much better than it did 6 months ago. I'm really enjoying the journey now that I have it pointed in the right direction. :wink2:
I've found degassing seems to give accurate results after about 3-5 days, however I usually check the tank water from the previous week on the next wat change day, every Friday for me. Also pH pens are notorious for needing calibration each time it's used and put away. I bought a better $50ish one and each day I test it, even back to back days and it can be off by 0.1 with the calibration solution. So buy a big jug of the calibration solution, mine uses the 4.01 and 7.0, it can do 10, but I don't read that high and thus it's actually optional for mine

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Discussion Starter #12
Update to tank:
So after letting the water degas for 3 days the pH measured 6.9, which about .5 higher than last try. The pH is dropping to 5.6 with CO2. The kH is still changing colors between 1 and 2 drops, maybe closer to 1 than 2. Thanks @Greggz and @chayos00

Reduced lighting for the second set of T5 by another hour, trying to get ahead of the BBA. Also trimmed all the effected leaves with the BBA. Mostly the S. Repen and Anubias, the Buce plants I was able to pull out of the tank and dip.
Notice my Telanthera cardinalis leaves are curling and the color on some the plants seem pale. Added Seachem Equilibrium to raise the dGH up 1 degree and a dose of 0.5g of DTPA Fe (11%).

Now the hard part, wait and see what the new growth looks like. I'm trying to learn how to read the plants and then respond.

 

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Discussion Starter #15
Update, wanted to do this last weekend, but was sick for the past week. There is some improvement with some plants and algae. But my hygro pinnatifda melted overnight on me and the crypto wendtil leaves keep getting bba. One good thing about being sick, was able to control myself from wanting to do something to the tank and just sit back and watch what was going on with the plants. Did add 100 micro sock, last Friday, to my sump trying to get to ultra clean tank. Was able to do my water change on Sunday and the new filter sock was already needing changed.
Caught about 10 Platies out of the tank and took them to LFS. Crazy think is I only bought 3 in the beginning and still have 10 or more in the tank, more thinning to come. Picked up 10 amano shrimp to help with continued algae control.
Going to do back to back 50% water changes this weekend to reset nutrient levels. My N is about 80ppm and P is 5ppm, per API test. Will measure after second water change and dose for N to be between 30 and 40 and keep P at 5. Test N this week to try and see what the plant uptake is. Not dosing K because of the amount that is added using Equilibrium, KNO3 and KH2PO4. Will continue micros dosing with Plantex CSM+B at the level of Fe 0.1 ppm per day with my auto doser.

My golds and want lists.
Tank Golds:
  1. Continue learning about dosing fert and effect on plants
  2. Tank maintenance, achieve ultra clean tank…
  3. Lighting, get new bulbs for better color and adjust for max grow with minimum algae.
Wants for tank:
  1. New bulbs
  2. Flow meter
  3. 2nd CO2 tank
  4. pH controller


Need to do a little trimming...

 

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Discussion Starter #16
Update, been two weeks sense my last update. The back to back 50% water changes seemed to get most of the tank back to going in the right direction. Was able to save some of the Hygro Pinnatifda and the Mermaid weed after most of it melted on me. Also the BBA is slowing down and going away on most plants.

Dosing, after water change I test my N and P and dose to bring the levels of N to 40ppm and P to 10ppm, this gives me a ratio 4:1. Dosing higher P then before and still not adding any extra K. K is added from KNO3, KH2PO4 and the Equilibrium I add at the water change. Will continue micros dosing with Plantex CSM+B at the level of Fe 0.1 ppm per day with the auto doser. May not be getting the best growth out of all my plants, but at this time just trying to get everything growing is my gold. The only plants that are not doing well is the Lagenandra Meeboldii and the Golden Nesaea (that was the name at LFS), just started melting over the last week, may be due to lowering the amount of K I’m dosing. Will stay with this dosing routine for the next couple of weeks.

Going forward, I need to add some more plants to fill in the tank.


 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well this update is way over do. The tank has been through some good and some not so good times, sense my last update back in March. The tank was going along, I was trying to learn more by doing minor adjustments and wait and see the results.
Then life got busy and we had some family issues which took my time away from the tank. Less water changes, not staying on top of my dosing and just general maintenance. Some of the plants started going downhill and the BBA was taking over.
Well about a month ago got back into rhythm on the tank maintenance. Decided that trying to keep a high tech tank was a little more than I could manage right now. Going low tech for now. Turned off two of the 4 blub and started removing the plants that were in bad shape and trimming up the rest. Got back to doing my weekly water changes. Started dosing excel at 30ml a day to see if I could finish cleaning up the BBA. The BBA has receded and I’ve since reduce it down to 15ml and will continue over time, until I’m not dosing any.
This is the tank now after some recovery. Hope the image is right...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Notice the BBA on the edges of my java fern, so went back to dosing 20ml of excel. Also reduced the lights to 7 hours total on time, with 3hrs ramp up and down. The nitrate are down about 5ppm after water change each week, dose as needed, trying to maintain nitrates at 10ppm and phosphates between 2 and 5ppm. (Hard to tell the difference the API test kit.) Will keep this routine for the next couple of weeks. Plants seem to be doing well.

Found a new store with good aquascaping supplies and after looking at all the 2019 AGA Aquascaping Contest tanks, well you know, I needing to add some hardscape to my tank. Hope to get the new scape done this weekend. :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well after two days of rescaping, this is where I stopped. It seems you can never get everything were you want it, need time to look at the tank, then make an adjustment, then look at the tank, and make an adjustment...:help:


Will try to wait and let thinks settle in and grow some before making any more changes. :icon_wink
 
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