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288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Last update: 06-23-2013

This tank aim for learning how to grow plants well, thus the scaping and setup will not be the prettiest...
Sorry for the length, trying to record as detail for problem solve, but I'm not good in organizing and editing.

The DSM phrase
Maybe I shouldn't layer rocks and sand below the aqua soil, what was I thinking...:mad:

When the setup is correct, HC spreads well. It grow slow at first as it took me some time to figure out the right setting.

The tank is ready, plants shipping on the way.

Almost 3 months for DSM, that's torturing; good thing is I have more time to prepare and study for the next stage.

The planting phrase:

  • a - Hydrocotyle Sibthorpioides
  • b - Rotala Singapore
  • c - Hydrocotyle Verticillata
  • d - Blyxa Japonica
  • e - HM
  • f - Pogestmon Erectus
Special thanks to h4n for the Hydro. Japan, frogbit and duckweed from RAOK! (and I didn't know Hydro. Japan is Hydrocotyle Sibthorpioides)

Planning how to plant:

Bad day. Partner took the mailbox key to LA. Took half day off for 2 days waiting for mail man. Mail man didn't shown up on 1st day. Suffering from insomnia for 2 days... I was overwhelmed.

Plants started turning yellow already upon open box, but condition was still quite good.

Had a hard time planting the stems, learned a lot how to prevent them floating and uprooted.

Start E.I. Planning to water change every other day. Pearling crazily especially those HC.

If it wasn't my poor skill of planting (stems keep floating up, replant a lot), water would be much more clear. The aqua soil seems not as muddy as I thought. (The salesman said it is a new version after AS2, and they longer name it numerically...)


Day 2. I decided up the E.I. a bit as frequent WC will dilute the nutrient fast. (am I right?)
Ammonia 0.25-0.50ppm, NO2 0

Day 3, 50% WC, Amonia 0 - 0.25ppm, NO2 0

Worry about the yellow leaves... hope will recover.

HoB filter with low light plants

For this I am still experimenting. Using a plastic sheet to redirect the flow. My original intention was to reduce the waterfall impact to reduce CO2 out-gas. Not sure it is making the out-gas even worse or not. I tried to measure the pH with and without the setup... but both gives 6.0, the most yellow on API pH test kit, which tells me nothing... The acidity is mostly from the aqua soil I think... CO2 off overnight gives ~6.6 pH, tap water is 7.6+ pH

plastic sheet and ripple from the bottom view.

I did a very bad job in planting :icon_redf

CO2 diffuser + powerhead misting

the drop checker react so....slow. I think I will get some Amano shrimp next week so I can observe how it respond to the CO2 adjustment (sorry shrimp I heard you are hardy)

If you are still reading, thank you. Sorry for the bad pictures.

288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks Tattooed:icon_smil

06-08-2013 night
took out an old better camera (bought in 2003...)
it is so old that battery dies within 20 min...

lazy Sunday morning, woke up at 10 and the light is already on. Turn on CO2
HM, HC and Hydrocotyle Verticillata respond fast to the carbon

Rotala's red has faded a bit... hope it is due to transition. It located at the behind corner, and CO2 mist seldom reach there... to be safe I slide the HoB intake closer to the corner, hope it will help.

Diatoms and perhaps hair algae appear on the left front corner
I noticed it yesterday and thought it was only a slight meltdown due to transition period... the size of affected area increased to 1.5x this morning. I must take action now, and maybe introduce Amano shrimp earlier than I thought!

I remember there were at least 2 threads on this forum talking about the similar issue.

will try:
WC 50% every other day(already doing)
adjust flow? That affected area have CO2 misted; besides other area are pearling and seems healthy...
lighting seems beyond okay
tried to suck it out... seems not getting off... may spot treat later if cleaning crew cannot take them off fast
heading to buy shrimp....

288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
06-09-2013 night
Add 3 amano shrimps during the mid-day break when CO2 has off for an hour.
Ammonia was <0.25, I heard they are cockroach and hope they are.
Slowly increase CO2 till the powerhead cannot take anymore, the shrimp only gulping in the surface every 5 mins or so (52 bubbles in 30 sec); backed up CO2 a bit, ~1.6 bubble per sec(38 bubbles in 30 sec) non-standard bubble counter).

I like these little creatures.

Replant 2 uprooted plant, add some pre-soaked soil, 50% WC, slow the flow a bit. Ammonia is 0.25 - 0.5ppm, add few more drops of prime. pH is 6.2, I heard acidic water shifts the ammonia equilibrium to ammonium, NH4+, which is less toxic. The shrimps are doing ok so far.
The shrimp don't stay at the HC melting area at all. Now I suspect if it is caused by diatom.
May be it was caused by the excel I add, which I pour slowly into the HoB cartage:

If that's the case, that's pretty stupid I made.
Change my way to dose from now on.

6-10-2013 night
the smallest shrimp got suck and trap inside the HoB:eek:, and survive!

ammonia is <0.25ppm
one shrimp stuck at the HoB intake, died
temporary fix with a simple prefilter

max out the current on both HoB and powerhead, up CO2 to 2 bubble per sec, no gulping
pearling less, leaf esp. HC and hydro. sp. still seems a bit yellow, HC's leaves seems not as big as before.
the melt patch is recovering. some hair algae start appear on hydro. sp and the heater; small amount of algae appears on glass, not sure is GDA or GSA

288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
ammonia is <0.25ppm
Verified against the tap water...tap water is 1.0ppm now:eek: (I remember last year was almost 0, i tested on several dates as well)
re-verify against distilled water , it seem to me that the yellow at 0ppm appears "greener" than I expect.

Confirmed that the algae on glass is GDA as I can rub them off easily.

Hair algae appears slowly as well.

Some leaves of Blyxa Japonica losing its red pattern as well

The melt patch have almost recovered. (pretty sure it wasn't diatoms :icon_redf)

Overall plants appears yellow to me, should I take some action already? give them more time to recover? or its just the color temperature of the bulbs?

Esp. those HC, they seem "weak" in certain way... stems are "skinny", not as round and tough as the DSM phrase, also some leaves begin turning dark and rot; they still pearling 1 hour after light is on though, just not as strong as before. Put another light close to the HC, it pearls slightly more... I guess there are some issue on my lighting, will try to fix it on weekends. (it is hard to angle the clipper lamps in my setup, some spot don't got enough light covered)

Some leaves have brown edges now:icon_cry:

Not enough nutrient due to frequent wc? (will 2x the dose)
light too strong? clamp light spotting on that Hydrocotyle Verticillata for 3 days so far; (will try to fix the light distribution on weekends)
not enough CO2?

doing better after I spot the light on them:red_mouth
also the temporary nylon pre-filter

to do list for this weekends:
  • fix lighting
  • add 3-5 amano shrimps and a BN Pleco

fixed the lighting, better light distribution
up CO2 and EI
Pleco become less shy
2 shrimps molts, I can see 4 of them active mostly, not sure the 5th one is dead or alive.
Removed the sponge inside the powerhead, theoretically this will help CO2 dissolve better as the sponge "clog up" the bubbles before they got hit by the impeller; but it doesn't seem so (from both the drop checker, pH and the behavior of the shrimp) Maybe the sponge actually help the CO2 stay longer in water, thus increase the CO2 efficiency in overall.

Most plants pearls pretty good, except the HC
leaves are small and yellowing :help:

Should I up fertilizer even more? considering 1/5 surface with floating plants and plants in HoB... may get a NO3- test kit
ammonia < 0.25, 0 NO2, pH 6.6~6.8 (6.2 with CO2)

tomorrow I will try lower the light intensity a bit, keep CO2 high
Currently reading
The size of the leaf of the HC in the shaded area does appear larger, that's a good hint

288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Most plants are doing ok, even some are pearling slightly, except the HC
Here are some other problems:

Rotala's red is fading. As long as they are still "healthy" I'd focus on other more major issues first.

hair algae: remove by hand, just a little bit here and there
diatoms: spot treat with H2O2 once before WC, some of them died off
GDA: scraped off for the front glass, leave the rest for the BN Pleco

diatoms? also the leaf got burnt slightly from H2O2
also, Ammonia finally reach 0 (or less than 0.125ppm) today, hopefully these algae issues will fade away
HC's bad health:
My setup was way too much light: 18W CFL x2 12" above substrate, :icon_redf)"
made a wooden rack yesterday, for temporary

now 2 light sits 20" above
most plants pearls less now, HC completely stopped pearling

Here's my analysis: due to strong light, HC demand A LOT CO2, but there are not enough -> massive died off + shrink in size + yellowing

and this was the condition right after flooded :icon_cry:

I tried to crank up the CO2 as high as possible, but I think I have reach the max; I'm now feeding the CO2 to powerhead, to a degree gas burped out from the powerhead, and Amano shrimp slightly got stressed.

with 4dkh solution
tank water kH is 2 degree
left is when CO2 is on
middle is after I shake the solution for 10 mins (to degas the CO2)
overnight the color turns blue and off chart (AS lower the pH)

approximately pH6.2 to pH6.6, but I don't know how to read the concentration from pH/kH table....
irrc that table is assuming pure water with only CO2 is the only factor affecting pH

Today is day 3 after I lower the light intensity, it seems no improvement for the HC yet.

should I
  • keep waiting for recover, give it time
  • lower water level, so CO2 concentration goes up (does it work? I'm running out of idea now)

Less visible rotting HC, bottom line the snails are doing good job cleaning
those brown stuff (diatoms?) on leaves keep showing and disappearing
lower water level, theorically CO2 concentration should get higher, but the outflow from HoB hit harder as well... hmm...

the dosing schedule I have been doing:
Day1: 50% WC, 1tsp barr's GH booster, 7.5ppm NO3, 1.3ppm PO4
Day2: .5ppm iron from CSM+B + iron mix, 5ml glut. (skip if shrimp molt)

starting tomorrow, WC will be every 3 to 4 days, will add 2.2ppm K2SO4 with CSM+B too, see if extra K helps(doubtful, but why not try it)

ammonia 0, kh 2d, gh 7d, no2 0.25 (yike... have been 0 in the pass)
change lighting distance from 20" to 18", photo period 3.5-1-3.5 hours
Algae population decreased noticeably, little GDA, very few brown on leaves, very little hair algae. (cleaning crew + ammonia leech/spike has over)

some new grows for most plants;
I don't know how to describe the HC... mixed of yellow poor and tiny leaves, and new small green leaves, very little larger leaves here and there... so I'm not sure they are dying slowly or recovering slowly

Get 12 neon tetras, drip acclimation in progress.

50% WC;
smallest amano shrimp molt again (I hope it is just growing up, more likely a drop in tds trigger it?)
one neon got NTD I guess, isolated; I hope other won't got infected.
no2 dropped back to 0, ammonia 0

a closer look at HC, it seems recovering slowly
I am considering making a internal co2 reactor...
but for a simple setup it seems not worth the effort

288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
6/23/2013 some photo update
Plants doing well generally. Trim some wildly grown Hydrocotyle Sibthorpioides. HC looks a bit sick but I believe its recovering slowly.

One of the 10 neon came with NTD

Isolated on a jar
Using AS to lower the pH to match the main tank water, dripping to provide oxygen, lots of floater to absorb waste...
Sick neon still quite active with somewhat bright color, if condition turns bad will euthanize it. :(

Other neons don't have symptoms developed yet, keeping close eye on them.

Hydrocotyle Verticillata has many new growth and push itself off the soil :icon_redf

Temporary barrier, should have modified for better look already :icon_redf

Another barrier for flakes

Current emeremersed setup, looking for a deeper box

retired emeremersed setup

30 Posts
Wow, very impressive journal. Some very clever ideas to keep the floaters and flakes together and to minimize the outflow of the hob.

Very interesting watching from dry start to the current state and reading about what you're trying.

Keep it up! :)

288 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks 1better :)

Quick updates:
new floating plant barrier

6/28 - 7-8
As soon as 8 Rasbora Hengeli added to tank, 0.25ppm NO2 spiked out :icon_neut
WC changed form every 2 days to every 3-4 days, meanwhile adding prime daily
on 7/8 NO2 reduce back to 0ppm
after reading more, I realize heavily planted tanks go through "silent cycle" instead of normal cycle

7/5 NO3 test kit arrived, 160+++ ppm :icon_redf
resume 50% WC every 2 days, cut KNO3 (have been double the dose, was trying to rule out the possibility of poor HC due to K/N deficiency)
upped K2SO4 to ~5ppm 3x a week.
7/11 NO3- finally dropped to ~20ppm
luckily most species in tank are hardy and NO3- mostly come from KNO3

HC doing better now, leaves are still small, but I can see more very tiny bubbles pops out during photo period than before. All yellow leaves has gone.

Add a 3W LED as moonlight, so I can enjoy the "light-off tank" after work.
Noticed the leaves got spotted are getting bigger bubbles, so I lower the lighting fixture 1-2 inch closer to water.

Overviews as 7/11

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