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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone-

I have been excited about my new adventure into a blackwater tank, and thought it was about time to document what I am doing in an exclusive journal vs. intermittent updates on it in my high tech planted journal.

My thought here is to bring some light to this side of the hobby for those on this forum who are interested, and to also learn from others all that I can. It has only been a few months that I have had the tank running in this capacity, so I still have much to learn, and I am sure change.

I'll try and give a brief overview of where things where previous to the setup today over the next couple posts, then will move forward from here. The tank started on November 5th, 2018.

Specs:

Tank: 29 gallon standard tank
Substrate: Black Diamond Blasting Sand
Filter: Sun Sun 702B with 603 prefilter canister
Intake has sponge filter over it

Wood: Mopani, local oak, local Japanese maple
Other: Leaf litter- mini catapa leaves

Plants: Amazon Frogbit, Dwarf Water Lettuce, duckweek

Livestock: 12 pencil fish, 8 oto's, pair of apistogramma agassizii fire red

Here are the very first pictures I have of the tank:
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
November 12, 2018

When first putting all of the wood into the tank, especially the mopani, I boiled it, each piece for 10-20 min (cannot remember exactly how long for each. The water from after boiling was extremely tannin stained. I boiled the wood to try and decontaminate, not with the intent of removing tannins. I know mopani is notorious for leaching tannins forever, which is actually a selling point in this case!

At this point, just about a week into the tank, it is nearly black. I mean it is crazy how dark the water is, especially with running a 30" Beamswork DA FSPEC on top that puts out a TON of light.

It was at this time that the floating plants that were from @FishRFriendz were added to the tank. Beautifully package Amazon Frogbit and dwarf water lettuce. It was crazy cold the week we shipped them, but they made it in great shape, and immediately took to the water and started growing like mad!

It was here that I realized just how much nutrients these plants can suck from the water. I would test for N and there would be absolutely zero, none. I would dose 10ppm KNO3, and by the next week, zero, none. Crazy to me! More to come on this, but I have stopped dosing for a bit as I play around with things. Also, hope to have PAR reading sometime this week (but that is jumping in the future from this post! ha)

Here is a shot of what it looked like right when I added the plants:



And here is one from November 28th:



Amazing what nature can do. And here is a photo that I just love. I should take another one like it soon.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Today (ish)

The tank has been wonderful, and I am really enjoying having it part of my hobby. It is a cool contrast to the high tech planted setup that is two feet from it. People am amazed at the difference when they visit.

I ended up changing the scape quite a bit. I was not enjoying how things were lumped around the middle, no real theme or reason to placement, etc. I decided to try my hand at creating a more natural looking root structure, with some smaller intricacies with Japanese maple. I must say, I am pretty excited how it turned out.

The Oak and Maple are from my yard, cut down because I needed to prune the trees, then left to dry for a couple months.

Here are a few pictures of it quite recently. Now that I am caught up I'll work to detail in some more thoughts and plans going forward with the aquarium. For those following along, I would love to make this an area to share and discuss!

 

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Discussion Starter #6

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When I can convince my husband :).

If I am not able to, I will convert my 60 gallon over to a black-water tank with just the 4 Altums (and probably a school of larger, deeper bodies tetras like an hypehessobrycon species. Something from Rio Orinoco. That will be all the 60 gallon can support.


Edit: The altums are juveniles right now, at about a half-dollar size. I will wait awhile until they get some growth on them before I convert the tank over and do too much disruption.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'll be sure to follow along if/ when you get something like that going!

Would you go true biotope setup, or a close replication of nature? The more I research, the true biotope 'rules 'are quite intense, and seem difficult to execute correctly. Maybe one day ill explore that as I learn more and have done more on this side of the hobby!
 

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I will do my best to do a biotope true to where the Altum are found- but, I will not be too upset if I have to make concessions. So, when you have an attitude like that you mostly put together a "biotope-ish" arrangement.

I haven't spent too much time doing research yet on the plants and tetras endemic to the area. But, when I do, if I cant find what I will need to do this, I will get as close as I can.
 

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29 Gallon Blackwater Journey

Black water tanks are awesome. I started mine about 2 years ago and it’s by far my favorite style tank. It also helps that Apistogramma are my favorite fish.

Also, I’ve been looking for some water lettuce. If you’re willing to ship let me know and I’ll buy some from you.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Black water tanks are awesome. I started mine about 2 years ago and it’s by far my favorite style tank. It also helps that Apistogramma are my favorite fish.

Also, I’ve been looking for some water lettuce. If you’re willing to ship let me know and I’ll buy some from you.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Can we see a picture of your tank?



Like I said, we need a biotope/natural aquarium subcategory.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@Nlewis yes, please feel free to share a picture(s). I would love to see what you created! I also enjoy the apisto thread that you started.

I'll send you a PM on the dwarf wate lettuce, I would be happy to share. In a week or two I should have a whole bunch extra. Hopefully we can find a week with decent weather too! It's getting cold again!
 

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Can we see a picture of your tank?



Like I said, we need a biotope/natural aquarium subcategory.
This is the tank in various stages, the top picture is of its current state. I wish I had more wood and less plants, but can’t bring myself to remove the plants. It’s by far the easiest tank I have to maintain and my favorite. It’s currently housing several species of Corydoras, otto’s, green neons and several generations of Apistogramma Panduro.





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@Nlewis that really is beautiful. With being successful spawning the apistos, any recommendations? I have only had mine a few months, and do far no action. The female may still be a bit young? I am not sure. They are apistogramma agassizii fire red.

I too would like to have this tank create a few generations!

As for the botanicals- did you use tannin aquatics or another source? I really like the look of more natural litter on the substrate, but I have yet to place an order. Still trying to decide what I would want, or if I would go for the $25 mystery package they offer.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
As the lights came on today I noticed that the flow was nearly nothing. No surface agitation from the spray bar at all. So I disconnect to see the flow rate, and it had to be around 1 gallon per couple min.

The culprit was the foam pre-filter that I added. I realized I did not clean it this week, and it was pretty horribly clogged. The foam is also quite dense, maybe a little too dense for a pre-filter. For the time being I have removed it and instantly the flow went back to a decent rate. So now I have just the standard intake on, and no foam at the moment. When I have more time I'll need to experiment a bit and decide what I want to do.
 

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Search around for foam with larger pores and make your own. I really only use one to keep shrimplets in the display tank, so I'm not tasked with "saving" a few dozen from the filter at each cleaning = faster filter service. It's just a bonus that the media is way easier to clean / way less dirty because of the pre-filter. I use the Fluval edge sponge, but I'm thinking of looking for / building a pre-filter sponge using one with larger pores. Replace often because 1) sponges are cheap 2) keeps pores cleaner = more flow 3) piece of mind your filter motor is working slightly less.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Search around for foam with larger pores and make your own. I really only use one to keep shrimplets in the display tank, so I'm not tasked with "saving" a few dozen from the filter at each cleaning = faster filter service. It's just a bonus that the media is way easier to clean / way less dirty because of the pre-filter. I use the Fluval edge sponge, but I'm thinking of looking for / building a pre-filter sponge using one with larger pores. Replace often because 1) sponges are cheap 2) keeps pores cleaner = more flow 3) piece of mind your filter motor is working slightly less.
That is some good advice. For me using the sponge was two fold: 1) to keep the media/ filter cleaner longer and 2) if (hopefully when) the apistos spawn I didn't want any fry sucked up.

I think I ordered these current fine ones off the bay and they were insanely cheap. When I have some time later on I'll put a fresh one on and see what that flow is like. It might be as simple as changing/ cleaning one or two times a week.

If that is a no go I'll look for something a bit more course and go from there!
 

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That is some good advice. For me using the sponge was two fold: 1) to keep the media/ filter cleaner longer and 2) if (hopefully when) the apistos spawn I didn't want any fry sucked up.

I think I ordered these current fine ones off the bay and they were insanely cheap. When I have some time later on I'll put a fresh one on and see what that flow is like. It might be as simple as changing/ cleaning one or two times a week.

If that is a no go I'll look for something a bit more course and go from there!
I ended up having to DIY a filter guard as the edge filters are just too dense, cheap and easy to find yes. I happen to have some SS mesh from when I made a cover for my overflow. I made a SS pre filter for my Aquaclear 110 I have on a tank in my garage. Doesn't clog and when it gets close it it, it's just leaves sucked onto the screen.
 

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@Nlewis that really is beautiful. With being successful spawning the apistos, any recommendations? I have only had mine a few months, and do far no action. The female may still be a bit young? I am not sure. They are apistogramma agassizii fire red.



I too would like to have this tank create a few generations!



As for the botanicals- did you use tannin aquatics or another source? I really like the look of more natural litter on the substrate, but I have yet to place an order. Still trying to decide what I would want, or if I would go for the $25 mystery package they offer.


Agassizii can be a bit tricky as they can be finicky when choosing a mate. I had some Fire Red and Abacaxis have successful spawns but with no grow outs. The biggest thing is to ensure they feel comfortable.

I have ordered from Tannin twice. Both times I just bought whatever pods I liked. FYI, I love the banana stems. For leaves I just use hard wood leaves from the yard.

Later on as the tank ages the tannins will fade to the point it becomes a “clear water” biotope. I chased tannins for the longest time trying to recreate black water with a small bit of success. When that happens Robios tea is your friend.

I’ll get some pics of the Panduro babes for you later tonight.


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