The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 20 of 64 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As I mentioned in this thread (http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/low-tech-forum/118538-looking-new-low-tech-planted-tank.html) a few months ago, I used to run a lot of freshwater fish tanks but an aquarium with live plants in it before. I have been trying to bring myself up to speed and will appreciate any advice or input. Some of the following info is copied from that thread.

I want to have live plants but keep it fairly low-tech. I don't want to constantly have to be gardening, pruning, replanting etc. due to some physical limitations and reduced hand dexterity so I would like to minimize how much and how often that is needed after the initial setup of the tank.

I really like the look of Kara’s tank in this thread: (http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/low-tech-forum/107073-karas-low-tech-planted-5-footer.html)

This thread will be my tank journal:

Tank:
65 gallon Miracles tank, 36” wide x 18” deep x 24” tall with a glass top. There is 17” of clear space in the cabinet above the aquarium for lights etc. and an open section of cabinet to the right of the aquarium for filters and equipment.

Filtration:
On the right end I will be running an Aquaclear 70 and an Aquaclear 50 (total ~500 gph), media will be one Aquaclear sponge in each filter and fill the rest up with media bags full of Seachem Matrix. These filters have to be on the right side of the aquarium for me to reach them.

Lighting:
Two Hagen Glo T5 High Output 36" Light Fixtures one with a Lifeglo II and one with Powerglo 39 Watt T5 High Output Bulbs. They will be independently suspended from the top inside of the cabinet so I will be able to adjust the distance that it is above the tank easily. Following Hoppy’s advice I will start by suspending them about 10 inches above the top of the tank.

The lights will be on timers set to run for about four hours in the morning when I am around to see it turning off for the middle of the day and turning on again for several hours in the early evening. Hopefully this will reduce the chances of having too much algae growth (if I am understanding the strategy correctly) but still allow me to enjoy seeing the tank when I am around it.

Eco-complete (about 2.25” deep) for substrate with Manzanita branches and probably some river rock type stones for hardscape.

Flora:
Plants will be things like Java fern, cryptocornes, Anubias, Fissidens fontanus moss or other recommended lower care and slower growing species that I will not have to mow down or prune every week or more. This is an area that I am totally new to aquarium plants. Apparently I should have at least some faster growing plants to soak up nutrients to keep algae from taking over. I will ask for input on plant choices in a later post.

Fauna:
Fairly peaceful species like small Tetras (lemon etc.), cherry barbs, cory cats (probably Pandas), Oto cats, red cherry shrimp in maybe a few nerite snails. I’m trying to find one or two larger species that has a little more personality for some interest that won’t eat the other tankmates or get into spawning condition and beat up or eat some of the more peaceful members of the tank or the shrimp (so no pair of kribensis, even though I think they are great).

I plan on doing about a 20-25% water change every week or so and doing alternate filter cleaning and maintenance as needed. I have heard from employees at more than one local fish store that the water out of the tap here is supposed to be fairly good after getting rid of the chlorine and chloramines (I will be using Prime). Local water plant websites says: "The potable water is considered to be "medium" hard. The water hardness value is about 120 mg/L or about 7.02 grains per gallon as calcium carbonate. Chlorine and ammonia are added to the filtered water to bring the combined chlorine residual to approximately 1.3 mg/L.”

I measured these numbers out of the tap in November:

GH 8 drops 125.3

KH 6 drops 143.2

Ph 7.5 107.4

Ammonia 1.50 ppm

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 0


I was getting some much higher GH test results out of the tap the other day but will retest this week.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here are my hardscape layout ideas. With the Manzanita branches I ended up with it will look more like the right picture, but I still have to try laying out and tying together some branches to see what shapes I can get. Maybe something I between.

Is there anything better than fishing line to attach branches to each other and maybe some rocks at their bases to keep them stationary?

The sectioned off area at the front of the tank will still be Eco-complete but sifted out to be finer for the cory cats to snuffle around in.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
From the list of plants that the supplier I am leaning towards has I made the following list. Apparently: “numbers per container vary but you generally get a lot of plants in each especially the stemmed plants. Even for the Amazon swords, you get 4-8 plants in each pot.”

Fairly certain to get:

Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite' Dwarf Anubias: for attaching to stones or Manzanita to hide areas where they are tied together

Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae (Height: 20 cm – 60+cm Width: 15 cm – 20+cm): for along the rear wall of the tank

Microsorun pteropus ‘Narrow’ Java Fern (Height:10 cm - 20 cm Width:10 cm - 20 cm): for the bases of the Manzanita

Phoenix Moss Fissidens fontanus : for attaching to stones or Manzanita to hide areas where they are tied together and maybe to a coconut shell if I get anything livestock requiring a cave

I’m currently trying to narrow down these choices:

Probably two of these five types of Cryptocorynes:
Cryptocoryne becketii 'Petchi' Petchi Water Trumpet (Height:10 cm - 15 cm Width: 8 cm - 15 cm)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green' (Height: 5 cm - 10 cm Width: 8 cm - 10 cm)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Mi Oya' (Height: 25 cm - 35 cm Width:15 cm - 30 cm)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Tropica' (Height: 6 cm - 10 cm Width: 8 cm - 12 cm)
Crytpocoryne wendtii 'Brown' (Height: 15 cm - 25 cm Width: 10 cm - 15 cm)

Maybe:
Echinodorus 'Red Flame' Red Flame Sword (Height: 10-30cm Width: 10-20cm) look nice but may take up too large an area

For some colour probably one of these two, but I don’t know how or good reasons why to pick one over the other:
Ludwigia repens 'Rubin' (Height:20 cm - 50 cm Width:10 cm - 20 cm)
Rotala ssp. 'Colourata'

I like these but they are probably redundant with the already selected plants:
Anubias barteri var. nana Small Anubias
Microsorun pteropus Java Fern (Height: 15 cm - 30 cm Width: 12 cm - 20 cm)
Flame Moss Taxiphyllum sp.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

I will probably order my plants online for better price and selection. The risk is that I may have the plants arrive on a day different than when I have help to plant them.

If I just had a 5 gal tank filled with water to hold them in for a few days until I could plant them would newly bought plants stay alive? Or are they going to melt and then melt again when I put them in the main tank from putting them through too many changes?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,706 Posts
I will only comment on the stuff that I have specific experience with. I am sure others will be around to chime in on the various other aspects.

Fissidens Fontanus is a neat moss and looks good attached to stuff. The one concern about Fissidens Fontanus and most mosses (other than Java Moss) is that they seem to like cooler water to prosper. At 78 degrees the Fissidens that I have has not died or wilted but it hasn't really grown either. I am going to be cranking the temps down to about 75 in my tanks to hopefully benefit my shrimp as well so I am hoping that it will benefit the various mosses that I have that seem to be stuck in neutral. I actually have Fissidens attached both to driftwood and attached to a coconut hut like you are suggesting.

In my experience the java ferns don't take well to changing tanks and will look like they are dying for a while. They don't actually die but if you aren't prepared for them to go through that stage then it might freak you out if it happens. I had heard all about how easy they were to keep and I bought a very good looking large java fern attached to a rock as a sort of centerpiece and it just kept declining. Once I read up on it and saw that others had faced similar problems I just lopped off all of the bad looking stems and within less than a week I had a ton of small, rapidly growing leaves to replace the old dying ones that I had cut off. Your use might vary of course.

Is there a reason that you can't just float the plants at the top of the tank for a few days while waiting on your help to arrive?

I have put plants in a bucket of water temporarily and they have been ok but I typically toss a light at them since they have been 'blacked out' during shipping. Why not just put them in the tank and let them float for a few days. Then they have light, filtration and whatever nutrients are already in the tank water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks,

I could probably run my tank at 75 degrees if needed. I like that the Fissidens won't take over a tank of get big fronds like some other mosses but still want some growth. Willow and Christmas moss are available but are too bushy for what I want. I was deciding between Flame moss and Phoenix moss. I like them both but think the Phoenix moss will be more versatile.

Chopping down the plants and taking off leaves when you newly plant them seems wrong but I keep reading that you need to do it so I will do it. I will have multiple specimens of each plant though, so there is room to experiment by pruning off some more than others and seeing how they respond.

The tank is not going to be in place and filled until I have the help to set it up. That person is hard to get around sometimes so I was hoping to get everything done at once. The plants can be planted later but wrapping the moss on the wood might as well be done when the wood is being placed in the tank instead of pulling it out again. Since I am getting them from the same place I want to get them all in one order. I will probably float them in a 5 gallon tank until the 65 is ready.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tank is planted

The tank has been cycling since just before Christmas, so well over a month. Ammonia rose for a bit then dropped down to 0.25 ppm but has stayed there a few weeks. I’m not sure why it won’t drop further. I changed about 10% of the water and vacuumed the dirtiest gravel on Saturday (4 days ago) and another 10% while planting the tank on Sunday. Water is pretreated with prime before used to refill tank.

Here are the plants I have in there now:

Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae (across the back)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Mi Oya' (left mid-ground behind log)
Cyrptocoryne nurii (left front)

Crytpocoryne wendtii 'Brown' (right mid-ground behind log)
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green' (right front)

Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite' Dwarf Anubias (attached to various spots on the manzanta wood)

Crypts have Seachem Flourish root tabs in the substrate around them.

Tank is at 76-78o

Lighting is two Hagen Glo T5 High Output 36" Light Fixtures one with a Lifeglo II and one with Powerglo 39 Watt T5 High Output Bulbs suspended about 10 inches above the top of the tank.

The lights are on timers. Front Powerglo bulb is set to come on in the morning until 12:30, about 5 hours. Rear Lifeglo bulb is set to turn on again for several hours in the late afternoon around 4:30 for about 5 hours. I have been leaving the front bulb on for a few hours longer so far to hopefully help the plants recover from their dark shipping adventure.

Here are a few pictures:
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Question #1: My tap water has about 1 ppm ammonia in it. I add Prime to the water before adding it to the tank. I tested the pretreated water after adding the Prime and it still had 0.5 ppm ammonia. Is this ammonia that is still being detected going to harm the tank or is it “neutralized” by the Prime and is no longer toxic even though it is detectable?

From the Seachem website:
“Prime® converts ammonia into a safe, non-toxic form that is readily removed by the tank’s biofilter. Prime® may be used during tank cycling to alleviate ammonia/nitrite toxicity”

Otherwise I am adding ammonia with every water change.

Question #2: My tank refuses to drop below 0.25 ppm ammonia. Is this still due to the filters maturing a full bacterial load and it should resolve with more time or am I probably missing something?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
2nd week planted

Plants are showing some growth. Only a bit of melting at the tips of some of the crispatula var. balansae but most leaves are still ok.

The new leaves are coming in different due to being in different tank conditions, with the Cyrptocoryne nurii showing most change. There is not a clear picture of it here but the new nurii leav are dark green and nicely patterned instead of the pinkish leaves it came with.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
3rd week Planted

Moved some Anubias around to balance the tank better;

Split and replanted some wendtii 'Brown' I was not happy with when I first planted it;

Most plants showing more growth, particularly after the twice weekly water changes;

Cyrptocoryne nurii is putting out more typical green leaves instead of pinkish ones;

I did not have time to buy shrimp or fish yet, who will soon hopefully enjoy snacking on the wood fungus.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks. I always wanted a 45 tall and was leaning towards it when I went to the store to take some measurements for the cabinet design. I realized that the 65 had the same height and width, so it would not take up any more room and had the same look, but gave me quite a bit more water for livestock and substrate area to aquascape with.

The tank just had its first sign of algae. A bit of green on the glass, which I have already cleaned off, and some brown diatoms on the wood. Hopefully I can get out to the store to get some shrimp and snails today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
4th week planted

4th week planted

I picked up some fish, shrimp and snails on Saturday.
6 cherry barbs (2 male 4 female)
6 cherry shrimp
3 “algae eating shrimp” (I am pretty sure they are Amano shrimp, which is what I wanted)
6 red cherry shrimp
2 zebra nerite snails
3 horned nerite snails

The cherry barbs are already spawning even though they are still small. I have seen a few eggs but they look like they are eating them all. I don’t have the time or setup to try to raise them right now anyway but hopefully it means they are feeling good about their new home. They did shake loose a few plants while wrestling through them that needed to be retied or replanted

Everybody else seems fine as well. The shrimp are busily eating down the wood fungus and already have made good progress cleaning it up. Plants are continuing to grow decently. Nerite snails are moving around.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
5th week planted

Everyone seems to be healthy, plants, fish, snails and Amano shrimp, except for the cherry barbs that the dominant male cherry barb has been picking on. I took the two that I could find out and put them in a breeder box for now. I am pretty sure that he is mainly after them because they are red because the rest of the barbs don’t bother them and nobody goes after the Amano shrimp, which started out the same size and are now slightly bigger than the cherry shrimp. I may wait until the plants have grown in thick and try adding more shrimp then, but maybe yellow instead of red ones or only Amano shrimp.

I will probably get rid of the dominant male barb (if I can catch him) because he is constantly chasing everyone around. Ironically I think the other male is having more breeding success because he is calm and just hangs out near the plants on the left side of the tank so when the females go there to avoid the aggressive male he approaches them without charging around and spooking them away. Hopefully the remaining male won’t take on the same personality when he is the only one left but I will see how it goes.

My other option was to add another male and a female or two to spread out the chasing from the dominant one but I might just be compounding the problem doing that.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Two months planted

These pictures are from exactly two months after planting. There are too many fish moving around at once to get perfectly clear pictures.

Added more horned nerite snails, panda cory cats, Hengle’s rasboras and otto cats over the last few weeks.

Plants are growing slow and steady, which is what I want for low maintenance. The anubias nana petite is putting out bigger leaves than it originally came with. I am not sure if this is due to changes in lighting or water flow because it seems that the plants in high current areas have the biggest leaves.

I’m still doing twice weekly 10% water changes. There has been some more algae growth since I added more fish but it is only some soft brown and a little green stuff that the otto cats generally keep under control.

Cherry shrimp are being kept in the breeder box in the hope that they will have some babies. Then I will put the adults back in the tankand grow the babies larger before adding them. The fish seem to have lost interest in the shrimp as everybody settled in.
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 64 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top