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I am not new to fish keeping. My dad had at least 20 tanks for most of my childhood and teenage years. We bred everything from Guppy's to discus and it was my jog to go catch shiners from the local creek to feed the piranha. After college graduation I had my own tanks. Mostly the ones we had the most success with.. Large South American Cichlids, Pleco and Pictus cats. Most of my tanks were 75 gal or larger with sumps. Average age of fish 15 years. I currently have a 165 gal Plexiglas show tank built into the wall under the staircase leading to the upstairs. Yes one tank!. Fish are Blood Parates (5) smallest is 8", Blue Acara (2 mated pairs) ~ 6" Red Rainbow cichlid (3) all boys.. Fancy Pleco's (3) 3-6", a leopard pleco 13", Pictus cats where one is 18 years old. Substrate is Std aquarium gravel, plastic plants and plastic rocks, caves and real driftwood chunks for the wood eating plecos. Yes this is a huge bio-load!. The tank has 2x 5 gallon overflow chambers and a 30 gallon Sump with Bioballs and bags or biological media. With this setup I am able to get away with monthly water changes. The tank is equipped with a Duo Current 48" Loop lighting system, Neptune apex (pH, Salinity, Temp, ORP), ATO, Leak Detectors, flow meters (3), Cor20 Pump. All was fine but the water changes were coming up on every 2 weeks. In my old 75 with similar fish I was doing water changes with complete cleaning every 6 months.

So to fight this I decided I needed refugiums. My 5 gal over flow tanks are 24" deep 12" wide and 8" deep. I used Fresh Water Miracle mud as a substrate, added Beamworks 30" Plant lights mounting them vertically with Velcro 1" from the Plexiglas. At first my goal was to simply grow algae. As the algae grew I added Nerite snails ~ 8 per tank. This was working and I was back to monthly water changes and chemistry's were perfect. I should of just stopped there but my reading on refugiums showed me plants and shrimp. I bought Jungle Val and anubias. This helped the water quality and I became hooked on the planted aquarium. The Jungle Val died over 6 months and research told me it was Iron deficiency. Easy fix... bought some Iron and trace elements. Then the problem started. I bought more Jungle Val and a moss ball and the shipment came in with Stag Horn Algae. Fighting that led to stressing them main tank and a Huge Ich outbreak now on its 4th week of intense medication and water changes is underway. 2 big fish lost so far with one fancy pleco in extreme stress.

I learned that some large Anubias and Java fern could live with my big fish because they do not need to be in the substrate. I have lots of wood cooking to mount it on, waiting for the ich to stop. I will start a thread on my progress from here towards having a planted tank. Hope you folks will give me a hand and we can learn from each other.

Bump: if someone knows how to rotate the back of the tank picture, please let me know how.


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