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Old school still good school?

1342 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  eyebeatbadgers
About 11 months ago I converted my 55 gallon community aquarium with an old forest of what I think is vallisneria gigantea into a plant-focused aquarium growing at the parameters suitable for discus (84 degree water and 6.8 pH). I've always wanted to try my luck with that fish. Obviously, before I bought any discus, I wanted to master the harder bit - plants with no algae! ;)



Apart from spot algae on my anubias, it looks great now. Then a stroke of bad luck! The cross brace of the tank has started to crack!!

Since i need to replace the tank, I decided to upgrade to a 90 gallon (which I've bought - tank and stand). I also decided to take the challenge of trying a planted discus aquarium.

Since discus like super clean water, but are relatively hungry, messy fish, I wanted a feeding area of sand where I could siphon up leftover food without having to worry about uprooting plants. A large sandy spot would be perfect for that. I love the aquascape by Ricky Cain called "The Hill" and thought it would make a great model on which to build my new tank:

Ricky Cain's "The Hill"

Here are my considerations,worries and questions:

1) I'm growing my current plants in non-porous aquarium gravel with an
undergravel filter. I rely on water column fert dosing to be moved
to the roots via that filter. With this tank change, I'm graduating
to a "real" substrate (and no undergravel filter). I'm unsure what
changes to expect (any heads up type info?)

2) There is a picture of "The Hill" after it was freshly planted
on the Dallas Fort Worth Plant club's website:
(Go to page 3 of the gallery and click the "Ricky Cain" pictures;
then click "The Hill"). If it's constructed like other tanks on the
site, it has the following substrate:

- Thin later of Eheim peat over the hill's footprint
- 2" high ring of prime flourite around the hill's footprint
- 1/4" laterite over the peat, within the ring
- 2" layer of seasoned gravel (from my existing tank?)
- The rest of the hill would be flourite

Other than the hill, the rest of the aquarium would be covered with
sand (I'd love some recommendations on which to use).

Is the substrate listed above too "old school?" "The Hill" was built in the 2003 time frame. Since alot has happened since then with substrates, should I use newer materials like Aquasoil or Eco Complete instead? I'd really like to have a tank that requires little replanting/pruning as to keep disturbances to the discus at a minimum since they are somewhat delicate and I'm inexperienced with them.

Any comments, concerns, or warnings regarding this plan would be greatly appreciated!


P.S: Following are a couple more questions I have which are not substrate related, but if you'd like to offer advice, please feel free!

1) I know "regular" java fern will grow well at 84 degrees and 6.8 pH,
but what about the plants on "The Hill?" They are Cyperus helferi,
Eleocharis acicularis, Microsorium pteropus "narrow leaf",
Microsorium pteropus "Windelov."

2) While my slow growing mass of java fern looks great (algae free),
my anubias looks sad. Some leaves are black with spot algae.
I'm wondering on which end of that algae susceptible spectrum the
Eleocharis acicularis would sit - it's it susceptible to spot algae?
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1. Your plants will absorb nutrients through their leaves, and according to some studies, more effectively than through the roots.

2. Coarse sand is best. I use Tahitian Moon sand, pool filter sand works just fine too. Just stay away from super fine stuff. If it feels like baby powder in the bag, don't buy it ( :) ask me how I know)

I like sand, and you can grow anything you'd like in it.
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