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Carpe Diem
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Welcome to TPT.

A place to start is to ask yourself "what kind of a planted tank I want" and "what is more important to me: plants or fish?".
Looking at your fish (I love Blood Parrots), you are unlikely to end up with a Dutch-type tank, with "fancy" and colorful plants.

If you want to have more live greenery in the tank, I would suggest a multi-step approach, with the step 1 being:
- go with plants that are hardy and grow well attached to wood and rocks, like Java Fern, Anubias, Bolbitis, and such. These plants do not need much light, co2, or fertilizer. If automation is a big part of your interest, then I would focus more on monitoring water conditions like temperature, TDS, macro concentration (NPK - not easy) and light control. Your bigger challenge is your bio-load (organics) and, subsequently, keeping BBA at bay. This is a good time to look into floating plants like Amazon Frogbit, Water Lettuce, Salvinia minima, Hornwort.

Once you are happy with Step 1 above, I would add plants like Swords, Ludwigia repens, Brazilian Pennywort, Ambulia, Rotala rotundifilia, Hygrophila corymbosa / polysperma / Siamensis, Bacopa. My goals would be: a) see what plants will get eaten / moved around b) otherwise, do well in your conditions c) add a wider variety and color. Once this step is stable, I would move into regular fertilization and co2 to increase plants health and growth.

A couple of thread to get you going:
- https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1282533-141-gallon-planted-s-am-cichlid-journal-%5B-mbuna%5D.html
- https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1284493-keating1s-55-gal-tank-journal-system-plumbing-diagram.html
- https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/

Have fun!
 

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Carpe Diem
Joined
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7,563 Posts
What are the dimentions of the refugium?

Adding fish to help with algae is counter-intuitive to me, as more fish = more net waste. Depending on your set-up, you might want to look into riparian set up as it will help with biological filtration and add to the ecosystem. If you still want more pets, Hillstream Loaches love and need high flow, high oxygen environment.

Growing algae in a refugium is a salt water concept and its applicability to fresh water is debatable. The algae spores just might like your main tank better.

If you are traveling a lot, injected co2 would be the last thing I would add - a single mistake or an oversight could easily result in all fish dead. I would also argue that a stable environment trumps the benefits of co2 that might be jumping up and down. Automation can fail.

I would also recommend you test and learn your water (check your water District reports) before jumping into fertilization. Adding more chemicals that you might already have in excess would not make sense. Find what is lacking for the plants first. After that, pre-mixing dry fertilizers and using dosing pumps does make sense.
 

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Carpe Diem
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7,563 Posts
Images on TPT: I gave up on TPT's image handling. I upload pictures to imgur.com first and then embed links to them in my TPT posts.
@allexx46, I keep coming back to your thread because your tank made me consider keeping Blood Parrots again. Therefore, I am going through a similar thought process, weighting cons and pros and looking for an approach.

My original comments still stand and I'll try not to repeat myself.

CO2: you will drive yourself crazy while fighting chemistry. Try to think through what will happen when you add injected co2 in your situation. Phosphate buffer + corral + pH controller + co2. Worth reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonic_acid. The end result is constant, if slight, fluctuations in kH, pH, and co2 concentration. The more you inject, the bigger the amplitude of fluctuations. Exactly the opposite of what you aim for - stability. Moreover, co2 is not a magic bullet against algae. Algae likes co2 as much as the plants and I will bet you a box of plants that, in your situation, the algae will be the primary beneficiary. The air bubblers at the back of your tank will also work against effective co2 supplementation.

Excel: aka CO2 booster aka glut aka Metricide and the rest, a) not effective algaecide at maintenance dosage b) effectively kills algae while damaging plants at effective treatment dosage c) slight, if hard to quantify, improvement in growth of some plant spicies when co2 is at low levels ( ~ < 5 ppm).

Plants: again IMHO, spend $50 and get a) 2 bunches of Ambulia b) 2 -3 Azelot / Osiris//Mellon / Amazon swords (in the order of leaf durability) c) a dozen Jungle Vals d) Red Lotus Tiger. Dump them into the tank. The swords and, likely, Vals will go through transition, dumping nutrients - increase your water changes. The parrots will move the plants where they like them - and those will be the only places where the plants might survive. With just these plants + Java Fern + Anubis you can have a fully planted, fully scapped, vibrantly green and red tank. Heck, I have fully planted tanks with less species.

But you are not done yet. You cannot leave rosette plants (like swords, vals, crypts) in containers and expect them to grow normally in the long term. They need to be freely planted and for that you would need a lot more substrate then you have now. And that leads to a vicious circle: more substrate means more debris traps, resulting in more maintenance to keep the water lean. Stem plants (like Ambulia) will do just fine held down with plant weights. Ambulia grows ~ 6" per week in low light condition, worst case you replant every couple of weeks to keep the tank green. Almost anything you add to the tank means more maintenance then what you are doing now.

I am as eager as you are to find other solutions to the large fish vs diverse plants co-existence. The above is the best I can personally do.

I have posted these pictures of my low light, no co2, lean fertilizer tanks before. Hoipefully, they will give you some ideas what is doable with just a few plants species chosen carefully.

Java Fern, Ambulia and floaters only:



Blood Parrots, bare bottom tank:



I am crazy as I am considering the same headache again:





Different times: gentler fish, different water, but still no co2:

 

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Carpe Diem
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7,563 Posts
What happened? We moved 150 mi and I gave that tank and everything inside away. In retrospect, a mistake made in a rush. I had that 75g tall tank for some 18 years.

I did a Google search on "blood parrot tank" -> pictures and my tank comes up in the second place.
 
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