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Hi Everyone,

This journal has been a long time coming, but I wanted to be thorough and show everything I'm doing, so it took some time to get around to it. I'm going to do my best to give model numbers and links to everything I purchased, in case others like my ideas and decide to try it for themselves. This new build attempted to solve most of the quality of life problems of my last tank, so where I made those changes, I'm going to be sure to point it out! Without further ado, on to the tank!

FTS 12/30/2020:


Around the time Covid set in, my wife surprised me with an architectural drawing and plans for a new foyer, and it included a planted tank in the middle of the wall. I couldn't pass up the chance to say yes at this, and began the work to plan out the new tank.

Built in:


The trim work still needs to be done, but the plan is to build a bench and book cases along this wall, hiding the rim of the tank and truly building it into the wall. I'm trying to find the carpenter to do that work right now, but it will make a huge difference.

Substrate:
For the substrate in this tank, I used lava rock gravel capped with Black Diamond Blasting Sand. It's hard to see in this pic, but the substrate is mounded to 7-8" in places along the back.

Hardscape
There is a total of about 300 lbs of Black Sieryu Stone in this tank, purchased from Buceplant.com
https://buceplant.com/collections/aquascaping-rocks/products/black-mountain-seiryu-stone



Plants:
All of the plants were purchased at Buceplant.com, with the exception of the HC Cuba, which I bought at Greenleafaquariums.com
https://buceplant.com/
https://greenleafaquariums.com/

Ludwigia Repens sp. Super Red. This looks much more vibrant in person, but it wasn't captured well in pictures. My primary concern with this plant is some fading of the leaf flesh in between veins. I recently started dosing some Mg so I'm going to give it a few weeks to see how it responds.



Eleocharis Acicularis. This took off like a weed, and has filled in between my hardscape nicely. My biggest problem here is Cory cats rooting around in it and uprooting plants.



'HC' Cuba. This plant is slow going for me. It's definitely spreading (not growing straight up), and it looks healthy, but it's growing very slowly. Add to that the aforementioned Cory Cats, and it's a trial in patience.



Eleocharis Vivipara. I want to love this plant; I truly do, but it's eventually getting yanked for something else. It doesn't spread via runners like EVERY OTHER DAMNED Eleocharis, but instead, by plantlets at the ends of the leaves. It's ugly, and it's infuriating. I want to plant something else back here, but I need to be careful. I don't want a Val or Crypt that's going to send runners everywhere, because I won't be able to dig them up. I'm leaning towards Eleocharis Montevidensis, but I'm getting conflicting information about trimming it. Can you just trim the top like normal hairgrass, or will it brown and die?



Fauna
I don't have pictures of everything, but the stock list in this tank is:

8x Boesmani Rainbowfish (Juvenile)
9x Turquise Rainbowfish (Juvenile)
3x Torpedo Barb (looking for 3 more, but can't find any healthy stock near me, and it's way to cold out for shipping)
5x Siamese Algae Eater
6x Bronze Corydora
6x Panda Corydora
25x Amano shrimp
40x Nerite Snail

Behind the Scenes:



Lighting:
I'm using 3x sbreeflight basic, suspended from the ceiling. With both channels turned all the way down to minimum, I recorded 60 PAR at the substrate in the front of the tank. I'm leaving them only as high as needed to grow the HC Cuba (even if it is slow going). Once I eliminate all of the other causes, I might bump up the light on the far left to help redden the Ludwigia.

https://sbreeflights.com/sbox-freshwater-plant-lights/71-18-basic-fresh-water-plant.html



Filtration:
I'm using a Fluval FX6 for my primary filtration, with Seachem Matrix Biomedia and Seachem Purigen. I really didn't like the plastic outlet, but the largest Lily Pipe I could find was only 22mm in diameter. I contacted a local Glassblower and gave him the plans for a custom 1" Lily Pipe set. He shipped the outflow already, and the Inflow is supposed to be in the middle of January. I'm going to be making a separate post about the Lily Pipes, but I want to wait until they're both installed.

https://www.amazon.com/Fluval-Canis...ords=fx6&qid=1609370365&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-1
https://www.amazon.com/Matrix-4-L-1...m+matrix&qid=1609370382&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-2
https://www.amazon.com/Seachem-Puri...supplies&sprefix=seachem+puri,pets,163&sr=1-8





Heater:
I'm using an Ista 500W Inline heater, connected to a separate water loop with my CO2. I'll get to that loop later...



Fertilization:

I'm dosing EI ferts from NiloCG, with a dosing pump from Jebao. The tubes are clipped to the edge of the tank by a design of my own, that I 3D printed from ABS. Auto Dosing is a huge quality of life improvement over manually dosing every day. I'm still monitoring my fert levels and adjusting as needed, but not having to dump ferts every day is a huge help!

https://www.nilocg.com/shop/ei-based-npk-csmb-fertilizer-aquarium-plants/
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014KKCILE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010F5V0QC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1




CO2:
I have a separate loop built for my inline heater and CO2 reactor. For the reactor, I modified a Cerges Reactor to have three chambers, to help with dissolving the substantial amount of CO2 needed to drive a 125G, open topped tank with a ton of surface movement. The regulator and needle valve were purchase from @Joshism here on tpt.

Pump:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009XSGHXY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1





In addition, a major improvement was adding a ph monitor to the tank. I went out and found a Hanna Instruments wireless ph probe and monitor, that will record ph readings at various intervals throughout the day.

https://www.hannainst.com/edge-blu.html

You can then upload the recorded data, and chart your ph throughout the day. Here are some interesting findings... Initially, I was getting my full 1pt drop in ph, but it was taking a really long time to get there. As I increased the CO2 dosage to get my saturation earlier in the photoperiod, I was "overshooting the mark", and stressing the fish. From there, I increased my surface agitation to lower the peak CO2 levels, and found a nice happy medium. I HIGHLY recommend the following article from 2hraquarist for a really fascinating deep dive into the mechanics of CO2 levels

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/choosing-co2-why/how-to-push-the-limits-of-co2-safely

I went back and forth increasing both my CO2 injection rate and my surface agitation, and was able to safely push a 1.4 ph drop without stressing the fish. This wouldn't have been possible without constant monitoring.





Waterchanging
This was a big one for me. When I decided to accept the challenge of having a tank right in the middle of my foyer, it was under the condition that I have water and a sink right next to the tank. In addition to the sink, I also plumbed in a Honeywell Thermostatic Mixing Element, and have it set at 75 deg F. My syphon hose hooks over the rim of the tank, and has holes for the syphon to break at about 70% of the water, and the other end hooks over the sink right next door. I also have quick connect fittings, so I use the same hose to refill the tank.





I think that's all for now! If you read this far, I would really appreciate any comments or criticism you might have. Let me know if you have any questions!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Here are a few pictures of the fauna. I couldn't get one of the Boesmani, they're just too quick to get a good shot. I managed to get one of the Denison Barb, but he was moving quick too, so it's a bit blurry.
 

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LOL, Jealeous ! When I built my stand I had never though of going with a 6' tank. So, it's just would not do well with one tank :-(
With that said - nice start!!! Having water change water right there and a place to drain water without carrying buckets is a life saver. Your reactor should more than handle your 125g setup. Friend of my has a pair of reactors on a 700g planted tank it they work just fine. Looking at your Behind The Scenes and all the stuff you have on the shelves makes me wonder how much stuff I actually have tucked away in the 3 drawers next to my tank. Do really like your light setup - out of site which helps when viewing / taking pictures (fts).
Looking forward to how things evolve with your use of hard scape. As various plants grow in and the rock "ages" it should look very nice.
LOL, blurry fish pics - would think those were taken by me. Getting clear pics of fast moving bows is something I feel like only Gregg is good at (I'm sure there are others, just not me).

Ok, quick question - thoughts on the Jebao doser? I really am in need of something for dealing with micro dosing on my 3 tanks.

Now to find the subscribe button...
 

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The Jebao doser was much easier to set up than I thought. I got mine to dose on alternating days by setting the time "incorrectly". I set the internal clock 12 hours off, so it thinks noon is midnight. Then, I have each pump dosing every other day. Finally, I have my micros dosing at 23:59 and my macros dosing at 00:01. This results in alternating dosing days for the micros and macros, at noon. Lights come on at 2pm, so this works out well.

My biggest struggle with this is keeping the micros from growing mold. My latest attempt was mixing the micros with 50/50 water and excel, but it doesn't look like it worked. My next try will be a mix I found somewhere that included citric acid. I'll need to look that up again for the next refill.
 

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That's really inspiring. I never knew about the temp mixing valve. That changes everything for future plans!
A quick tip for the future, figure out how much you want to open your valve for refilling, then adjust your temp with that much flow. I found that when the temperature valve was set as low as we need it, the amount of water flow will change the temp slightly.
 

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Eleocharis Vivipara. I want to love this plant; I truly do, but it's eventually getting yanked for something else. It doesn't spread via runners like EVERY OTHER DAMNED Eleocharis, but instead, by plantlets at the ends of the leaves. It's ugly, and it's infuriating. I want to plant something else back here, but I need to be careful. I don't want a Val or Crypt that's going to send runners everywhere, because I won't be able to dig them up. I'm leaning towards Eleocharis Montevidensis, but I'm getting conflicting information about trimming it. Can you just trim the top like normal hairgrass, or will it brown and die?
Nice setup, the montevidensis is the one you want. I have it in my 3-footer and it's thicker than the vivipara, but stays clean all the way up. It's funny because I just trimmed some of the ends a few days ago just to see what happens. So I can let you know if they start to brown out.

Another really nice plant that is NOT invasive via runners is Cyperus helferi
 

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Another really nice plant that is NOT invasive via runners is Cyperus helferi
Will it propagate on its own, or does it need me to remove and replant plantlets?

The reason I'm concerned about something becoming crazy invasive, is because of my last tank. I use Crypt Balansaein the background, and I was literally cutting runners out daily, sometimes 6 or 8 a day. It had grown a web of roots throughout the entire bottom of the tank, and was like a hydra... whenever I cot one off, 2 grew in its place.

I know I'm being picky here, but Im looking for something that's going to spread by runners, but not send runners all over the damned tank. I was finding Crypts popping up 4 feet from the nearest mother plant.
 

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Will it propagate on its own, or does it need me to remove and replant plantlets?

The reason I'm concerned about something becoming crazy invasive, is because of my last tank. I use Crypt Balansaein the background, and I was literally cutting runners out daily, sometimes 6 or 8 a day. It had grown a web of roots throughout the entire bottom of the tank, and was like a hydra... whenever I cot one off, 2 grew in its place.

I know I'm being picky here, but Im looking for something that's going to spread by runners, but not send runners all over the damned tank. I was finding Crypts popping up 4 feet from the nearest mother plant.
It's a unique rosette-type plant in that instead of sending runners all over the place, they just develop at the base and can be left there or taking apart from the mother plant. It does need co2/good light.

https://tropica.com/en/plants/plantdetails/Cyperushelferi(133A)/4574
 

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I know I'm being picky here, but Im looking for something that's going to spread by runners, but not send runners all over the damned tank. I was finding Crypts popping up 4 feet from the nearest mother plant.

Vallisneria nana might fit the bill. Narrower leaves than typical val - almost grass-like. Mine get about two feet long. Runners can spread afar but easily corralled as they don't grow too deep with roots only below the shoots.
 

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I posted this in the fertilizer and water parameters forum, but wanted to add it here as well...

I'm seeing a deficiency in my Ludwigia sp. Super Red, and I just wanted to know if I'm correct. Before going any further, this is looking very washed out from my camera for some reason, but it's actually much more red than this. The difference in color between the veins and the flesh of the leaves is still there, just the whole leaf is far more red than these pictures.

My initial guess was a Mg deficiency, but I've been adding some with my water changes, and haven't noticed a difference in 2 weeks. My hard well water is almost all Ca, with very low Mg. Should I be adding more?

Parameters:
NO3- 10ppm
PO4- 2ppm
Ca- 70ppm
Mg- 7.5ppm
CO2- 40ppm
KH- 7.5
GH- 12
ph (degassed)- 7.8
Lighting- 80'ish PAR
Temp- 76F
BDBS substrate

EI Dosing (50%, low plant mass & new tank) with CSM+B



 

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I posted this in the fertilizer and water parameters forum, but wanted to add it here as well...

My initial guess was a Mg deficiency, but I've been adding some with my water changes, and haven't noticed a difference in 2 weeks. My hard well water is almost all Ca, with very low Mg. Should I be adding more?

You're nearly at 10:1 Ca:mg where many people keep their Ca:Mg ratio between 2:1 and 4:1 so I'd say it's worth a shot....it'll raise your GH, however, so I wouldn't lard it on, maybe just double for now


Any idea what your K is?
 

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1/7/2021

I've been getting a tremendous amount of help in the Fertilizer and Water Parameters forum, and wanted to bring the information over here for easier viewing later.

In trying to diagnose a deficiency in my Ludwigia, a few different things were pointed out (in order):

With very high Ca, I need to try to get a little more Mg into the tank. I just recently started dosing 7.5ppm Mg, but after a few weeks, there has been little to no change in the leaf Chlorosis, and no change in the deformities in the new tips. While it wasn't harmful to add the Mg, it probably hasn't been doing much to help the problem.

The CSM+B mix that I've been using contains ETPA Fe, which is unstable at higher ph. With my high KH and hardness, this Fe wasn't getting to the plants. I added DTPA to my micros on 1/6 to see if there is any change. Look for an update on or around 1/28.

I was also turned on to "rolling my own" micros, and picked up the Micro package from @burr740. He was generous enough with his time to not only provide a baseline ratio to dose, but also answer a lot of my questions. This change will be happening around 2/5'ish, while I wait to run out of my current micro mix.

It was also pointed out that I've made an error in my tank by trying to have a minimalist Iwagumi style layout, and also adding some colorful stems. It was pointed out that the Iwagumi tanks you see run very lean to keep things clean, and they are able to do that because of the distinct lack of fast growing stem plants. In the event that this turns into a long term problem, then the E. Vivipara in the background is going to come out in favor of a variety of stem plants. Im not looking forward to having to trim 4" x 72" of stem plants, but if it will help with long term stability then it's going to have to happen.

I've decided to get my well water professionally tested for Ca, Mg, K, Fe, and all of the micros. I plan on using this in conjunction with the ratio that Burr gave me when mixing up my Micros.

Finally, I had tried turning my light up just a tad last week, in case that was what was slowing down my HC Cuba. The HC Cuba started growing much better, but I also started getting quite a bit of GDA on the rocks. What is the primary cause of GDA? Is it a lack of a specific nutrient, excess of a nutrient, or something else? I've read conflicting reports, one that says it's because of low P, one that says low N, and one that says it's just a symptom of a new tank, and it will clear up on its own. I'm thinking of increasing my Macros to bring my N up to 30ppm, but I'll need to buy individual macros in order to do it. As it stands, I'm using a Macro premix from NiloCG, and if I bring my N up to 30, I'll be bringing my P to around 8 (which seems high). It's nice to know that it's been the lighting that's been the limiting factor on the HC, but Im not sure how to increase it just yet without having a GDA explosion.

If you've made it this far in my post and have thoughts on the GDA and Macro situation, please feel free to chime in!
 

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1/7/2021

I've been getting a tremendous amount of help in the Fertilizer and Water Parameters forum, and wanted to bring the information over here for easier viewing later.

In trying to diagnose a deficiency in my Ludwigia, a few different things were pointed out (in order):

With very high Ca, I need to try to get a little more Mg into the tank. I just recently started dosing 7.5ppm Mg, but after a few weeks, there has been little to no change in the leaf Chlorosis, and no change in the deformities in the new tips. While it wasn't harmful to add the Mg, it probably hasn't been doing much to help the problem.

The CSM+B mix that I've been using contains ETPA Fe, which is unstable at higher ph. With my high KH and hardness, this Fe wasn't getting to the plants. I added DTPA to my micros on 1/6 to see if there is any change. Look for an update on or around 1/28.

I was also turned on to "rolling my own" micros, and picked up the Micro package from @burr740. He was generous enough with his time to not only provide a baseline ratio to dose, but also answer a lot of my questions. This change will be happening around 2/5'ish, while I wait to run out of my current micro mix.

It was also pointed out that I've made an error in my tank by trying to have a minimalist Iwagumi style layout, and also adding some colorful stems. It was pointed out that the Iwagumi tanks you see run very lean to keep things clean, and they are able to do that because of the distinct lack of fast growing stem plants. In the event that this turns into a long term problem, then the E. Vivipara in the background is going to come out in favor of a variety of stem plants. Im not looking forward to having to trim 4" x 72" of stem plants, but if it will help with long term stability then it's going to have to happen.

I've decided to get my well water professionally tested for Ca, Mg, K, Fe, and all of the micros. I plan on using this in conjunction with the ratio that Burr gave me when mixing up my Micros.

Finally, I had tried turning my light up just a tad last week, in case that was what was slowing down my HC Cuba. The HC Cuba started growing much better, but I also started getting quite a bit of GDA on the rocks. What is the primary cause of GDA? Is it a lack of a specific nutrient, excess of a nutrient, or something else? I've read conflicting reports, one that says it's because of low P, one that says low N, and one that says it's just a symptom of a new tank, and it will clear up on its own. I'm thinking of increasing my Macros to bring my N up to 30ppm, but I'll need to buy individual macros in order to do it. As it stands, I'm using a Macro premix from NiloCG, and if I bring my N up to 30, I'll be bringing my P to around 8 (which seems high). It's nice to know that it's been the lighting that's been the limiting factor on the HC, but Im not sure how to increase it just yet without having a GDA explosion.

If you've made it this far in my post and have thoughts on the GDA and Macro situation, please feel free to chime in!
https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/a...-green-dust-algae?_pos=1&_sid=1e56f502b&_ss=r
This is one of Dennis's articles on the topic. I seem to remember there was a more in depth article but can't find it. Basically, his take on it is to much N "Tanks with high NO3 levels (above 10ppm)" I have been working on lowering my water column N to less than 10 - and then trying to keep it less than 10 throughout the week. I still have not mastered it yet.
 

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I've been under 10ppm since the tank was set up, and have been considering increasing dosage, not reducing it. If it was *just* N over 10ppm, then I wouldn't have it. There must be some other imbalance, or series of imbalances.
 

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The common denominator that I have always found in regards to algae is light and organics, not dosed fert levels. I easily have no3 north of 40ppm in a limited plant mass tank and don't have GSA. My tank has been running for about 18 months now. Light definitely accelerates algae so the more light you have the more the need to keep the tank "clean" organically. Fast growing plants are extremely effective since they remove ammonia/waste products almost immediately. The traditional bio-filter is not as efficient. If it was you could simply over-filter you tank and not have any algae which just doesn't happen. With a limited plant mass tank you need to have a short light peak period, sometimes semi-weekly water changes and yes put carbon in your filter. Anything that will reduce the organic load.
 
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