I have returned to bare. Can't keep substrate clean enough for my liking. Miss the sand look but like being able to rearranging the plants at will. It happens automatically as I push the driftwood around while vacuuming the glass bottom. I do it almost daily to get the crap out before it can break down. +/-5 gals a day. All the crap gets hidden under the wood so you don't ever see it. Works for me.
The daily rearrangement of the environment makes the fish more interesting/interested. Some say goldfish don't care about plants in the tank. Ridiculous. All fish relate very strongly to the landscape and plants. Observation or Anyone who has sportfished with a fish finder can tell you that. Fish follow the landscape features, they don't float around aimlessly in open water. Exploring the new layout keeps 'em occupied and behaving differently all the time. it's still not much to look at, but i am still new at it.
Will need to fertilize now that the rich substrate is gone. C. Willisi suffering, C. crisp. balensae and all other plants fine. Probably using stored nutrients. One clump of hornwort pale. Adding K+, Cal/Mag, Fe. Will add traces and excel after a little observation. Am guessing I will need to add: 5~10ppm K+, 7 Fe, traces and standard dose excel. Could probably take the light up another 32 watts then to 2wpg.
Did you paint the bottom of the tank? That helps a lot with the "empty" look
I have used the 2.99 latex sample size from home depot with great results. the sample will cover the entire back of a 125 gal
I completely agree with your statement about fish and plants. I have been moving things around for a year+ in my tank and it is obvious the fish love having a new scene as they explore unkown canyons and caves. About once a month something is changed, and no matter how small a change the fish really dig it!
+1 on the speckle paint on the underside of the bottom. You would like it, and the fish might too. I bet they miss turning the substrate. My son had goldfish for a time, and they always would pick gravel up and suck it then spit it out. It was fun to watch.
Tried black paint underneath once. It was a bit better, but still a bit empty looking. Speckled sounds interesting. Am not draining this tank though. I am hoping for some brilliant epitome of the perfect solution to strike me. Waiting... Waiting...
Foam bottom like a foam background, sculped ever so slightly to look realistic while still being easy to vac... could even make holes to put the plants in. That would still require draining the tank though it could look really awesome...
Would have to move all the slate pieces around to get at the daily poop fest below. It occured to me but I think it would be hard to deal with. Also, I think some food would slip between the pieces before it got eaten.
I plan to make a ~100 gallon tank. Perhaps I will do the slate bottom there. There's a great grey colored plumbers epoxy putty which sticks to anything and dries hard as rock and is safe for potable water systems. I'd silicone the slate down then fill the voids with the epoxy. It would add to the weight but a 100Gal is already heavy so what's the difference?
oops. No way I will need 7ppm of iron. Thats EI level. Will continue using Equilibrium at 1 tsp./week for cation replacement and some K+. Will start trace supplements with Flourish 5ml. 2x/week and Excel at 8ml./day. Will always wonder if I really have enough PO3 being produced....
Using the Equilibrium will only raise my hardness by 1 degree per month max, minus usage water changes and precipitation. I plan on doing a big water change a few times a year anyway. Maybe in the form of three consecutive 25% changes in three days. Gradual, just in case my tank gets further out of line with my tap than I think it will.
7 grams Equilibrium per week (4.55 ppm K+. .02 Fe and cal mag cations)
5 ml. Flourish per week (.05 ppm Fe and traces)
This will ensure a non limiting range/ratio for all nutrients even if my NO3 raises as high as 20ppm. without the need for EI sized reset WC's. I will start with excel every second day . When I double Excel (asap) I will double flourish. Water changes may even have to decrease or fast plants replaced with slow. Light may need upgrading.
The Hornwort which had yellowed seems to be recovering somewhat since the addition of K+. I have tons of it in there. 3-4x what it can use. Only traces remain missing. I see no need to delay adding them. Obsevrvation without them is moot. They are definitely needed.
My forms of iron, though theorhetically high enough in content, are not very stable at my pH. I will consider adding Flourish Iron which is even less stable but more available and safely overdosed. I will consider adding Flourish trace. I believe what they say about it, but it may well not apply at my growth rate.
These I will observe carefully to determine if they help.