The Planted Tank Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Disclaimer: This is my very first post on TPT.net!!! Though, I have come across this forum many of times while doing my own research. Now, I have finally decided that it is time to turn to the community for discussion of my setup, rather than trying to piece together the information myself (which has not worked as I had hoped).

I guess the best place to start is to explain why I am writing this post, which is... I NEED HELP with my planted turtle tank.

I have been keeping turtles for the past (roughly) 20 years. In the beginning, and even up until recent (the past year or so), I was probably barely keeping the aquarium alive. However, I decided it was time for a change and dove head first (and bumped it pretty good) into making my tank the coolest tank in the world. I will skip over the history, and get right into my current situation. What I am intending to do is to keep turtles, plants, inverts, and some fish.

THE SYSTEM:

- Main Display - 125g [6' x 2' x 18" ] turtles and fish
- Secondary Display - 20g? [30" x 2' x 5.5"] live plants
- Wet/Dry filter / Refugium / Sump - this is actually 2 tanks
- 10g​
sand bed with some clams
- 55g​
wet/dry, "refugium", and sump
- The refugium has a sand bed with some plants and inverts​
- "Turtle Separation" Tank - 20g long (my turtles fight)

HOW WATER MOVES:

Starting in the main display, the water is removed with 3 overflow siphons (one is a 1 1/2 inch overflow, the other two are 3/4 inch), and goes into the first tank of my filtration (the 10g). From this 10g, the water falls out of two bulk heads I have installed and into the 55g. I have baffled and drilled the baffles in the 55g to attempt to maximize overall flow inside that tank. Once the water gets to the return pump in the 55g, it is "T"d off to both the main display and the secondary display. Following the flow to the secondary display (because we are back to the start for the main display), the water is removed from this secondary display tank with two 3/4 inch overflow siphons. These overflows send the water to the "Turtle Separation" tank, which is connected to the 10g with a "water bridge" (siphon).

CREATURES:

- 2 Red Ear Sliders (1 male, 1 female, both about 6.5" in length)
- 2 WalMart bought gold fish (about 1.5" length, have had for couple of years now)
- 10-15 of freshwater clams (varying in size from nickel to quarter [US currency])
- 15-25 Malaysian Trumpet snails (varying in size from "can barely see them" to roughly 1")
- random amounts of Ramshorn snails (piggybacked on some plants from LFS)

PLANTS:

= Secondary Display =
- 3 Amazon Swords
- 4 Ludwiga
- A bunching of Rotala Nanjenshen
- Big glob of Java Moss
- A small bunching of some other stem plant that I cannot remember the name of
- 1 decent sized Pothos (the plant is not aquatic, however, I have its roots in the tank to soak up some of the nutrients)

= Refugium =
- Another large glob of Java Moss
- A glob of Hornwort (floating)
- 2 Amazon Swords (babies just pulled from a runner about 1 month ago)
- 2 Ludwiga (clippings from some in the secondary display)
- 1 Marimo Moss Ball (about 1.25 inch diameter)
- About 6 more (varying sizes) of those stem plants that I cannot remember the name of


WATER PARAMETERS:

- I do not have these on hand at the moment, but will measure what I have kits for and edit this post
- I have been tracking pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate for a little while now. Although I do not have the specifics, my pH is always off the chart (instantly reads the highest value [I think 7.5]), my ammonia and nitrite are very close to 0, and nitrate is around 5-15 ppm.
- I have recently purchased test kits for GH, kH, and phosphate. Phosphate is around .25-.5 ppm. GH and kH are both somewhere in the 0-1 or 2 degree area (I think I may be doing something wrong when testing).


LIGHTING:

- One 100W equivalent (15 actual) LED @ 5000K for the secondary display
- Two 100W equivalen (23 actual) CFL @ 5000K for the "refugium"
- Both are on a timer from about 8AM-1PM, then from 4PM-8PM

MY ISSUES:

So this all started when I wanted to vamp up the filtration for my turtle friends to provide them with a better home. Little did I know that this would lead to me falling in love with the planted aquarium.

1. I am losing a very tough battle against (many different types of) algae. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria, this is probably the worst), hair algae (in a close 2nd), starting to notice some fuzz on my plants leaves (especially the amazon swords), and occasionally diatoms (slow to come back, and scraped when it accumulates).

2. My plants are not growing as lush as some of the other B-E-A-utiful aquariums that I have seen and aim to one day have.

COMBAT STRATEGY:

1. Added Seachem Flourite to the secondary display tank with the majority of my rooted plants.

2. Started adding Flourish Excel (hoping to be a quick fix for CO2, would consider pressurized CO2 if that's one of my issues)

3. Started API Leaf Zone for Potassium and Iron (was not dosing this prior)

4. WAS using activated carbon for about a month, read some stuff, took it out...

5. Was using some Seachem Phosguard, read some stuff, took it out (considering using it again after some recent research)

6. Installed and air diffuser in the hopes that it would pull some CO2 from the outside atmosphere and put it in the aquarium.

7. Getting better with my water change schedule. I will be honest here, this is my least favorite part about aquarium keeping, but I am getting better at it.

PICTURES:
Lastly, I am going to include pictures to provide a visual. Just to note, these were taken about 1 week after a COMPLETE clean of the secondary display, and a decent scraping of the refugium.

I just uploaded them, but I will have to post this thread to see where exactly the pictures will fall. I will come back and explain what each one is of.


STATUS:
- 5/8/2016
Just finished writing this initial post, which turned into a freaking essay! It is getting quite late and I'm tired, so I will stop here for now. I am sure I have some tidying up to do with this post, please forgive me, which I will try to do in the morning when I'm not falling asleep at the keyboard. I look forward to the discussions that will come of this post!!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,411 Posts
Wow! Quite an interesting challenge project. So to compare your efforts to other, may be the wrong thing to do. Somewhat like wishing one were better at water ballet because others wade so well?

Looking for suggestions, I assume? Looking at the close up of the plants and algae might make me suggest a bit less bright light in that spot. Seems pretty bright but that may be the picture .
Good luck. Interesting project and idea.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
I really like the idea. Sort of like a loop in hopes that the water going into each section will get a further cleaning from the plants and then the clams. I think you need a lot of healthy well established plants to do more work than you may currently have in those photos. They don't look 'thick' and healthy enough to help balance all of the ammonias from turtles and goldfish yet. I would look for plants that are heavy leaf feeders, or floating root feeders for this set up. I don't think the 10g planted will work as well as 10g floated plants IMHO. I'd get rid of the substrate in the 10g and have a mass of floating plants in hopes of sucking up all of the ammonias. Then you can really clean the 10g top to bottom regularly as the other tanks collect most of the mulm and debris.

But I really like the idea. It's smart to have some major water flow over the clams. Most aquarists are unsuccessful with clams because the really need the flow. I don't believe the goldfish will like the amount of flow necessary for the clams, so I wouldn't have them in the same tank. I can see a 10g for plants, a 10g for sand with clams and major current, and the 55 with snails and the turtle. Can't quite fit the goldfish in this scenario. I have never kept turtles, but assume they will eat small fish. So maybe you could keep some very small feeder fish in the 55g with them instead of keeping goldfish? Or will they eat them all up at once?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Already getting some hits on my thread, sweet! Thanks for kicking this discussion off with me guys.
@PlantedRich - yes, I am looking for help/suggestions for how to keep this hideous algae out of my aquarium. The worst is the BGA; thick mats if I don't clean constantly, covering the substrate, plants, and working its way up the glass. Also, pictures were taken with my iPhone5. I will try to get better photos.
@AWolf - the idea here is heavy filtration, due to the heavy wastemakers living in the tank. Could you suggest some plants that meet the heavy leaf feeder/floating root feeder category? Another reason for the plants, along with filtration, is aesthetics. I am trying to use them to hide some of my plumbing and provide a background as opposed to the basement wall. And yes, my turtles will eat anything that moves. The two gold fish still in the tank are the only survivors from a group of 10 or so a while back. They seem to have figured out how to dodge the turtles.

Thank you both for your comments. Again, the main thing I am looking for help with is how to get a lush planted aquarium with the critters I currently have, and how to keep the unsightly algae (BGA, hair, and others) out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
I would say java moss would be a good choice for this setup. Floating plants like water lettuce and frogbit require high light. So maybe java moss and hornwort in one tank, and if you have a stronger light on the 55g, water lettuce and frogbit. These last two will cover the surface quickly, and cut light to anything below. Many low/medium light plants will not do as much work cleaning the water, so I would not include them. Until the tanks mature you'll probably have to feed fertilizer at first, and then slowly lessen as the tanks establish. Those plants need to be thick and healthy or they add to problems rather than alleviate them. Hornwort is a heavy feeder, and will drop it's needles and make a mess of the bottom of a tank unless it has the necessary nutrients. Really, all of these plants will make a mess unless happy with the amount of light and nutrient. I'm betting your tank will be really nasty from that turtle and goldfish after a while, and those plants I listed will love it and grow quickly. I'd load the 10g with java moss or hornwort, or both. I wouldn't wait to let it grow to the amount you will need. Start off with heavy plant material, top to bottom, side to side.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@AWolf - which fertilizers should I be adding for the plants you have mentioned? Also, I should note that this tank is not brand new, it has been running for about a year or so. I have since trimmed back some of the hornwort I currently have in there. One of the reasons for the hornwort trim was, as you mentioned, it dropped many of its needles and made a mess of the bottom of the tank. I'm looking online right now for some water lettuce and frogbit. Thank you for the tips!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,411 Posts
One fast growing (too fast?) plant that may/ may not be off limits to you is hydrilla. a terrible weed in warm water as it ruins the local lakes but if the water is not warm enough it may not be banned in your state. Kind of like hornwort only faster and tougher? Type of thing that can be snagged out of lakes all over if it grows too well but that is why it is banned here. But it sure makes a major fert sop while getting started! Once finding it was banned and after getting started I burned it all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
@AWolf - which fertilizers should I be adding for the plants you have mentioned?
I don't really know. It depends on what turtles are fed to some degree, and I never had turtles, so I'm not sure what they contribute to the nutrients. I'm guessing they just put out a lot more of the same kind of ferts as fish, so you may not need much fertilizer at all. I'm still learning about necessary fertilizers, and know that iron and potassium are two that need to be added in most circumstances. I'd doubt you would need much of anything else with turtles, but I could be wrong. Maybe someone else on this forum with more experience could chime in? In regard to the iron, be aware that you need to match the type of iron with your pH for optimum uptake by the plants. DTPA chelated iron would be my recommendation for pH that goes over 6.3, and feEDDHA for pH over 7.4. The latter will tint your water, however. There are quite a few threads started lately on the subject if you are interested. Search the 'Fertilizer...' category/forum. I'm testing some feEDDHA currently. Great stuff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
776 Posts
I think you may need to cut back on the light, start at 6 hours.

With two turtles you should plenty of nitrate for the plants, you may need to supplement other macro/micros.

I think you should switch to faster growing plants like water lettuce, frogbit, or anacharis/elodea. You have the added benefit that the turtles will also love to eat the trimming from these plants.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
-5/9/2016
This morning when dosing my daily Flourish Excel, I noticed my BGA carpet was looking smaller than it had the night before. I feel this may be correlated to the lighting schedule. I will take @ devilduck's advice and cut back my lighting a bit and see what happens. Also, I have ordered some frogbit and water lettuce for the tank. When I put these high light plants in the aquarium, will I have to bring the amount of light back up?

And yes, I'm quite sure turtles are waste factories (this was the main reason for going to the trickle filter). My nitrogen levels should be sufficient from them. Also to note, they are on a mostly pellet/shrimp/cranberry diet (one of their food containers had shrimp and cranberries), with the occasional trim from my plants (they like some more than others).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
-5/9/2016
Also, I have ordered some frogbit and water lettuce for the tank. When I put these high light plants in the aquarium, will I have to bring the amount of light back up?
Probably. If you have a large mass of healthy plants and fertilizer available, high light can work well without algae exploding. Lowering light duration or PAR, but keeping large plant mass and ferts will create more algae issues in my experience. I am of the belief that high light is much easier to work with than low. I keep high light as a constant, and work my ferts and plants around that constant. So I lessen or add ferts/plants when I get algae, but keep the light the same. For me that is ultra-high light @ 8-10 hours.

One thing that needs mentioning is the fact that too many plants also causes algae. As my floating plants gain mass, I have to pull much of it out or up the ferts. If they use up the ferts too fast, the algae begins to take off. Instead of adding ferts, I think it's smarter to just pull some plant.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
-5/13/2016

I have added some water lettuce and frogbit, as suggested. I am keeping my lighting at 6 hours for now while the new plants adjust to the change. From both of my orders (water lettuce and frogbit) the plants lost about 95% of their root structure during shipment. The water lettuce was more noticeable as the dead roots formed a huge rotting mass in the bag they came in, while the frogbit wasn't nearly as bad. Is this normal for these types of plants to lose their roots being shipped in the mail? What is a good way to promote healthy regrowth of their roots?





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
-5/13/2016

What is a good way to promote healthy regrowth of their roots?
High light, and with your turtles fertilizing the tank they should regrow...or actually, they will reproduce.

What will happen is the large parent plants you have there will put off babies that will be much smaller, which is what you want for an aquarium. The size you have is more pond size from what I can tell. Depending on light and ferts, water lettuce will reproduce rapidly and take over the top of the tank. Offer it some aquarium ferts like iron and potassium to supplement the turtle ferts. I would also recommend increasing the light to 8 hours at least. They are happy with light just inches from them in my setup. (Four 13 and 23 watt cfls over 29g.)

When I bought mine, the roots were like you described. The fish loved eating them and cleaning up the mess. Otherwise, you have to net out the dead and dying roots as they acclimate.

Looks good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
- 5/15/2016

Seeing some root regrowth from both the water lettuce and frogbit. I just today lengthened the light period to about 8 hours (from about 8-12, and then like 4:30 - 8:30). I haven't seen any hair algae in a while (although I did just do a thorough cleaning on the planted tank in back), but the BGA is still prevalent. However, the BGA seems to not be spreading. I am going to remove the bulk of the mass of the BGA and see how quickly, if it all, it comes back.

Thank you all for the help so far!! I feel that since I have been posting on this forum that my tank is doing, and looking, better. Cheers!





EDIT:

And the turtles LOVE the trimmings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
- 5/20/2016

Things are looking pretty good. Just one concern is my floaters are turning brown/yellow. Some of them have died off, many of them are propagating. The images included in the post show the yellowing/browning of the leaves and the distance that my lighting is from the floating plants.

Also, I have started my first cycle of dry fertilization. Going with an EI application, ordered the ferts from GLA, and went with the 4 pack (Macros + traces). Excited to see how this affects the health of my plants.





As always, any help/recommendation/opinion/etc. is appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
- 5/20/2016

As always, any help/recommendation/opinion/etc. is appreciated.
Looks just like my lettuce and frogbit when I first put them in the tank. They are hardy and will adjust by getting a bit smaller. Many leaves turned yellow and brown edged, and melted for me as well, but they reproduced faster than they died as they acclimated and I adjusted ferts and light to get the best green healthy growth. My roots were sparse at first, but became 'fluffy' and full/long after about a month of adjustments. You really won't be able to kill the lettuce, unless you cut off the light for many days. It's tough. The frogbit is also extremely hardy. You will have a mat of green in no time. The frogbit can survive completely underwater for many days. It may get crowded and grown over by the water lettuce, so grabbing a handful of the w lettuce and throwing it in with the turtles every two weeks may be necessary to keep an equal amount of both.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top