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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello.

I am setting up a new low-light low tech setup. I have a 60 gallon tank with two 40 watt bulbs. Sitting around 1.3 watts/gallon. I am currently cycling the tank and it has nothing in it but gravel. I am running two Aqua Clear 70's.

I have had two tanks in the past and hoping to pull some experience from those.

At this time I am thinking of using some root tab product (I heard rootmedic was good, but it appears they are no longer around after searching through the forums), does anyone have suggestions? I will also be using Seachem's Equilibrium as I have quite soft water - roughly 1.3 dH of General Hardness.

Finally I hope to only have to perform smaller water changes as to not disrupt CO2 levels. I have read that water changes will introduce CO2 back into the water, and if you aren't doing a CO2 setup, you will not allow plants to adapt to lower CO2 levels. Apparently algae will adapt faster.

Thoughts on all this?

I am going to keep the post updated with pics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Update:

I have nitrites flying off the charts, and nitrates showing up. Ammonia is steadily being consumed and everything seems to be in order. Turning up the temp and adding an air pump may or may not have contributed to finally seeing some bacterial activity. It may have simply just been time. Anyways it appears that "Old Country" Ammonia is totally safe for cycling.

I have been able to obtain some plants from a local fish store. I had to go to all three stores (it's all we have for fish stores) to finally find a few plants that were worth buying. The first place was littered with BGA in his planted tank and the plants were garbage quality. The second said they had to treat the tank and that the plants didn't like it. The third I got lucky and dug a few good ones out, despite it being a big chain store. They kept their plants under tiny led lights in this fancy display on the wall and it certainly was poor conditions but the tanks were clean and the root systems actually were quite developed.

It looks like the plants are taking hold as I've noticed a drop in nitrates since adding. I've been able to obtain some DIY root tabs from a website called The Plant Guy. He's operating out of Calgary and seems to be fairly good quality. I have also purchased a load of plants from him which should be arriving tomorrow. I'm excited.

As soon as the nitrites go away, I will be looking to obtain neon tetras and oto catfish.

Here is a pic of the current state:
 

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I would recommend getting some more plants! Planting densley makes things easier. At this load you wouldn't even need to dose. I would just dose based on any deficiencies you see if you do want to dose, rather than just dosing KNO3. Yup good call on the water changes, although you probably can do some to remove some of the ammonia.


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
After further research and thinking about my setup, I highly doubt I will be dosing KNO3.

I have added more plants, as I was waiting to get my hands on more (they are so expensive for what you get..).

I am now also using DYI osmocote root tabs and will be adding in Seachem's Equilibrium. I am feeling that the Nitrate load coming from fish will be plenty.

I am still trying to stick to every 2 weeks for water changes. However I am using an air pump rated for a 60 gallon with two airs, that in combination with my two filters (both rated for 70 gallon tanks), I have quite the amount of circulation and airflow so, I am thinking with so much oxygen it most likely drives off the small amount of CO2 anyways.

I will upload a new picture soon. Currently I am running into issues with the osmocote causing the surface tension to go up due to the wetting agent, and tons of bubbles on my surface. I have read that it will go away and doesn't harm anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Winnipeg, my mistake. I was able to obtain plants from him. That's also where I got my root tabs, which I am running into issues with. Have you any experience with them?

Why do you say oto too early? Lack of algae? I was thinking I could feed them other food, I've read zucini is viable.

At this point I really need the plants to bush out until it looks anywhere near nice haha.
 

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I buy root tabs locally here in Calgary, but I've ordered and used PlantGuy's PPS Pro solution. Works well.

Otos early are fine if you plan to feed them, most just don't bother. Blanched (boiled for 1 min) zucchini, Solient Green Repashy, peppers and cucumber are my go tos. I've started leaving them in a cup of water for a couple of days before adding, and the otos devour them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I buy root tabs locally here in Calgary, but I've ordered and used PlantGuy's PPS Pro solution. Works well.

Otos early are fine if you plan to feed them, most just don't bother. Blanched (boiled for 1 min) zucchini, Solient Green Repashy, peppers and cucumber are my go tos. I've started leaving them in a cup of water for a couple of days before adding, and the otos devour them.
What root tabs do you use?

Thanks for the suggestion on feeding. Just to be clear, you boil for 1 min then put in cup of water for few days?

I will post a pic tonight of the tank.
 

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He doesn't have them listed right now, but this is the fellow:
Kijiji : Poster's Ads.

They're a clay matrix with a nutrient blend added. This is in addition to a 1/3 strength PPS Pro mix daily.

On the food front I make up about a month at a time, so I boil the lot and freeze them. Every couple of days I remove and thaw. Have LOTS to feed here so you might not need more than a slice or two a week. I also consistently offer Soilent Green, and they snack on whatever frozen or pellet food the brochis and corys miss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Little update.

I've switched to the seachem root tabs. Not sure if I mentioned this.

I am also dosing Potassium twice a week and Iron one a week.

Nitrates steady around 10-20ppm, most likely closer to 20.

Some plants are showing what I would consider decent growth in a low tech. Some aren't. Java ferns seem to be working out well, Java moss is as well. The anubias grow like stink, which I found interesting because they are said to be slow growing. The crypts are also showing fairly fast growth. The swords and Brazilian pennywort is slooowww. The Vallis is melting and the Linderia rotundifloria (if that's spelled right) just doesn't want to take, and I've read that plant grows like a weed.

Oh and I went to get new bulbs and found out they are only 32 watts each. So I'm just barely over 1 watt per gallon. Been thinking about getting a new fixture in order to get up to around 2, or just under.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another update...

Plants are starting to get established. Swords are showing some really vibrant greens and looking good. Java moss is taking off and showing quite a bit of growth. The sag along the bottom is growing very well too. Ferns have new leaves coming in, while the crypts and anubias continue their success.

I have pretty much given up on the Linderia rotundifloria, for whatever reason, it just doesn't want to grow in this tank.

I also have the 10 redtail (aka Blackline) rasboras. Picked up 6 otto catfish the other day as well.

I have now added in a piece of wood, along with another large sword and some java jerns. Also did some moving around of plants and trimming.
 

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Finally I hope to only have to perform smaller water changes as to not disrupt CO2 levels. I have read that water changes will introduce CO2 back into the water, and if you aren't doing a CO2 setup, you will not allow plants to adapt to lower CO2 levels. Apparently algae will adapt faster.
Hi Netcode,

I don't think that it works like this, especially if you are water changing once per week at 10-20% levels. You would probably have to change close 100% of the water at least three times per day for this to become any concern. The CO2 degasses out of the water fairly quickly after a water change, likely within a few minutes. It's not really enough time to provide any benefit to algae or plants. For non-CO2 tanks, you can use gluteraldehyde (such as Excel), which provides carbon to plants, and has the added benefit of keeping algae at bay. Your specific tank would do fine if you added small amounts once or twice per week.

I love the set up. Lower-light tanks are beautiful. I think if you let the plants fill in, and grow in a natural form, it would be really nice looking. You probably would only need to do some strategic pruning to enhance the depth and perspective of the scape. A ludwigia species patch, off to ether side, would add some nice red color and would do well in there, if you are looking to draw in some more eyes. Or just leave it as is.

Nice start!
 
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