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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I would like to introduce my rebuilt, low-tech, 55-gallon rainbowfish tank. I will be tracking the tank's evolution in this thread. I also need some advice. I will start with some background, but if you want to skip the details, please go straight to the tank’s setup in item #4 and provide advice about items #5 and #6.

1. My tank before hurricane Ida

Last year I came back to the hobby by setting up this 55-gallon tank. I had a low-quality LED fixture (Marineland), pool filter sand as substrate, and some low-light, low-maintenance plants. After setting up the tank, I decided to concentrate on rainbowfish. Only then I discovered that rainbows really color up with darker substrates (I am witness to this fact). To make the substrate darker, I added botanicals to the tank. Here is a video of the previous setup before and after the introduction of botanicals, when my rainbows were still quite small:


2. Hurricane Ida and its aftermath: a cool story about solidarity in the hobby

Then hurricane Ida struck. I evacuated with the family to Houston thinking we would be back to New Orleans a few days later. But the whole city lost electricity after Ida and it became clear that I might loose all my fish. I posted about my situation in the Facebook group of a local association of fish keepers and a hobbyist in Lafayette (2.5 hours away from New Orleans) who had electricity volunteered to foster my fish. So I came back to New Orleans and was relieved to see that damage to our house was not significant. I put all the fish in a trash bin and drove them to Lafayette. The lady kept the fish for more than three weeks while I waited to get electricity back and rebuild my tank. I will be forever grateful to her.

3. Rebuilding the tank

I took the sad context of the hurricane as an opportunity to rebuild the tank and make it more suitable to my rainbows. With that goal in mind, I replaced the pool filter sand and the botanicals by black diamond blasting sand. It looks amazing! I am very pleased with the change. I then decided to try more interesting and colorful plants and replaced by Marineland light fixture by the Fluval Plant 3.0 LED. Here are a few pictures of the tank, the new plants, and some of the fish:

Plant Vertebrate Water Green Pet supply


Water Plant Botany Nature Underwater


One of my Melanotaenia Boesemani “Aves Creek” males:

Water Plant Organism Fin Terrestrial plant


The most colorful Melanotaenia Parva male:

Water Plant Vertebrate Natural environment Organism


One of my Melanotaenia Maccullochi "Stark River" males:
Water Organism Fin Underwater Fish


I love the Red Tiger Lotus:

Plant Flower Petal Terrestrial plant Flowerpot


I added the Rotala Wallichi today. Very beautiful. I know, however, that its colors will most likely fade away with no CO2.

Plant Terrestrial plant Water Underwater Marine biology



I got this plant at Petco and it is one of my favorites. Can anyone please identify it?

Plant Terrestrial plant Wood Twig Groundcover


Plant Flower Leaf Terrestrial plant Tree


4. Tank set up

Here is the current setup of the 55-gallon tank:

Filtration: 2217 Eheim canister filter and one sponge filter
Heater: Hydor in-line heater
Light: Fluval Plant 3.0 LED
Substrate: Black diamond blasting sand

Fish: 3 Melanotaenia Boesemani “Aves Creek”; 4 Melanotaenia Parva; 5 Melanotaenia Maccullochi "Stark River"; 4 Panda Garras; 8 Glowlight Danios; and 1 Super Red Bristlenose Pleco.

Plants: Anubias (Barteri Nana Long Wavy, Barteri Round, Congensis, Nana Petite White, and Nana Thick Leaf), Bacopa Monnieri, Cabomba, Cryptocoryne Mioya, Echinodorus Ozelot, Ludwigia Repens, Mini Bolbitis, Red Tiger Lotus, Rotala Wallichi, Sagittaria Subulata, and Vallisneria Americana.

Fertilization: Seachem’s Flourish tabs and Seachem’s Flourish Iron.

Water parameters: PH 7.7 / Ammonia and Nitrite 0 / Nitrate 12 / GH 335 / KH 113 / Phosphate 0.7 / Temperature 77 F (25 C).

Water change: 75% once a week.

It is a low-tech setup, so no CO2.

5. Advice about light setup

Here is the setting I am currently using for the Fluval Plant LED fixture. It includes a short period of low light in the morning so that I can feed and enjoy the fish, followed by a stronger setting from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM (with gradual sunrise from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM and a gradual sunset from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM). Considering the set up and the plants I have, would you consider these settings appropriate? Should I change anything? Do plants like Rotala Wallichi demand stronger lighting? I want to avoid algae and that is why I am trying lower color percentages, especially for blue.

Slope Font Rectangle Parallel Electric blue


6. Advice about iron dosage

I got the Seachem Iron test, but it does not really work. I read a few online reviews which say this test is garbage. So I would like to know how to dose the tank. The instructions recommend one capful (5ml) for each 50 gallons. I have been dosing 5ml once a week after the weekly 75% water change. In your experience, is that enough? What dosage should I use? Is there any danger with overdosing Iron in a fish tank?

Thanks!
 

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A 55 gallon tank with a fluval 3.0 should probably be at 100% power. Check out some reviews showing par/ppfd. From memory at the par at the 21" of height in a 55 gallon is something like 25 which is low light. If you had it at half power it would be like 13 par/ppfd which is really very low.

You should also consider changing up your fertilizer options. Most of your fertilizer is coming from the root tabs. The root tabs contain iron and its debatable whether your liquid iron is really adding anything. Additionally excess of any nutrient (including iron) can definitely lead to algae. Personally I really like Nicolg Thrive as an all in one fertilizer option. If you really want to just stick with the root tabs then you can buy tabs from many other sources including Nicolg, Aquarium Co-Op and even some pond plant options. All of these will be cheaper then Seachem's options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A 55 gallon tank with a fluval 3.0 should probably be at 100% power. Check out some reviews showing par/ppfd. From memory at the par at the 21" of height in a 55 gallon is something like 25 which is low light. If you had it at half power it would be like 13 par/ppfd which is really very low.

You should also consider changing up your fertilizer options. Most of your fertilizer is coming from the root tabs. The root tabs contain iron and its debatable whether your liquid iron is really adding anything. Additionally excess of any nutrient (including iron) can definitely lead to algae. Personally I really like Nicolg Thrive as an all in one fertilizer option. If you really want to just stick with the root tabs then you can buy tabs from many other sources including Nicolg, Aquarium Co-Op and even some pond plant options. All of these will be cheaper then Seachem's options.
Thank you. This is all very helpful. I was going with less power in the LED colors because of my fear of algae. That was also recommended in one of Bentley Pascoe's YouTube videos. But I will increase the percentages. Thank you also for the fertilizer recommendation. I will try Nicolg Thrive.
 

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Looks fine. I just want to chime in that my Rainbows- boesemani and parva,ate my R.wallichii..twice I tried it. They also did in Tripartita quickly. They ate pretty much every fine foliage plant. Pearlweed being the exception.
I think I am giving up on stem plants anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks fine. I just want to chime in that my Rainbows- boesemani and parva,ate my R.wallichii..twice I tried it. They also did in Tripartita quickly. They ate pretty much every fine foliage plant. Pearlweed being the exception.
I think I am giving up on stem plants anyways.
Wow! That is not good news. The Wallichii has been in the tank only few days, but so far so good. The rainbows have shown no interest. I would love to keep that plant...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here is some news. I have been considering the possibility of getting a CO2 system. I thought I could not afford one, but Amazon has this system with good reviews:


Has anyone used it?

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Ok, nobody gave feedback about the CO2 system, so I decided to take the plunge and ordered one, It will be here on Wednesday. In the meantime, I went to my LFS and got more plants.

Nasea Pedicellata Golden:

Plant Flower Leaf Terrestrial plant Vegetation


Alternanthera Reineckii:

Plant Terrestrial plant Flowering plant Marine biology Annual plant


Rotala Macrandra "narrow leaf:"



Flower Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Flowering plant


I added the new plants and moved things around. Here is the current scape:

Plant Plant community Water Pet supply Aquatic plant


I decided that the open space on the right needs some plants, so I am ordering a tissue culture of the Alternanthera Reineckii "Mini" as a middle-ground plant. I will also try to develop a carpet with dwarf baby tears (Hemianthus Callitrichoides). I will keep you posted. Please wish me good luck...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
First day of CO2 injection and I decided to make a major change. There is one thing I did not like: micro bubbles all over the tank. It might be only me, but it spoils my enjoyment of the tank. So here is the solution I will be adopting: I will have the lights at 100% power from 8:00 AM from 2:00 PM, with a slow sunrise from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM and a slow sunset from 2:00 PM to 3 PM. I will be injecting CO2 in the tank from 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM. This will be my photosynthesis period. Then I will have one of the white lights at 30% in the evenings from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM. This will be my period to enjoy the tank, with no CO2 injection. Hopefully I will not have an algae problem. Any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I hear that two light periods could be bad for the plants and fish, so I am going back to the original schedule: slow sunrise from 2 to 3 pm, 100% of lights from 3 pm to 9 pm, and slow sunset from 9 to 10 pm. To solve the issue of the micro bubbles in the tank, I have ordered an inline CO2 reactor. Hopefully it will do the trick.

I got the last batch of plants today. It includes Alternanthera Reineckii "Mini" as a middle-ground plant. I will also try to develop a carpet with dwarf baby tears (Hemianthus Callitrichoides).

Plant Flower Houseplant Leaf Botany


Here is the final configuration of the aquascape with the new plants:

Water Plant Vertebrate Botany Pet supply


Second day of CO2: Everything looks fine,. The drop checker is consistently green during the period the lights are on. However, green algae is forming on the glass. What should I do to counter that? Should I reduce the lighting period?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Tank looks great so far! In a previous tank I ran a split photo period with out issues. However, I ran co2 through both periods and through the dark period in between.
Thank you. That is interesting. I will try a single photosynthesis period. Hopefully the new inline CO2 reactor will solve the micro bubbles issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Fifth day with CO2. Things are going well, but had a major setback. The Alternanthera Reineckii "Mini" are melting:

Marine invertebrates Botany Terrestrial plant Organism Vegetation


Quite upset :( Any ideas why?

On the other hand, the dwarf baby tears are doing well:

Plant Houseplant Leaf Flowerpot Terrestrial plant


The only problem is that my panda garras keep unrooting them :)

Today the cheap CO2 inline reactor I got to try to solve the micro bubbles issue arrived:

Liquid Drinkware Font Material property Gas


I will install it in the next few days and will report on the results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Time for an update. The Alternanthera Reineckii "Mini" completely melted. I was surprised to find the same plant at Petco, so I replaced the dead ones with new ones. Hopefully they will do better.

Plant Terrestrial plant Evergreen Aquatic plant Groundcover


The Ludwigia Repens are starting to change from green to red. My phone camera does not do them justice:

Flower Sky Plant Petal Vegetation


Plant Flower Petal Paint Groundcover


Here is how the tank is looking today:

Plant Water Pet supply Organism Aquatic plant


The big news is installation of the CO2 inline reactor. I connected the reactor between the canister and the inline heater:

Automotive tire Fluid Gas Auto part Bicycle part


Hood Automotive tire Fender Gas Tints and shades


The results are impressive! Here is the flow of my canister's spray bar when I had the inline diffusor attached to the canister's tubing:

Flow with inline diffusor

As you can see, micro bubbles everywhere. And here is the flow with the external, inline CO2 reactor:

Flow with inline reactor

Almost no bubbles! I am very impressed with the product. It is made of cheap plastic, and I am not sure if it is durable and safe, but it practically eliminates bubbles during CO2 usage. It adds a bit of water flow noise, but otherwise works perfectly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Time for an update. It has proven difficult to grow plants successfully in New Orleans’ very alkaline and hard water, even with CO2 injection. Several plants died or faded away, including: Alternanthera Reineckii (regular and mini), Nasea Pedicellata Golden, Rotala Macrandra "narrow leaf," and Rotala Wallichi. I also had a major outbreak of BBA. However, after getting a pH meter and doing the 1 full point pH drop test, I realized that I was not injecting enough CO2. I replaced the plants that were not doing well with Ludwigia Repens, Nomaphila Stricta, and Rotala Rotundifolia Red, and things look much better. The rainbowfish are doing well and I added a pair of Kamakas to the tank. Here is an update video.

 
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