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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Current 2 tanks that I'm maintaining:




First old post from a couple years back:
Hello,

I have been reading the forum for a couple of years, and find the community really supportive and encouraging. Today I would like to share my 47g tank.

The tank has grown out quite a bit since being planted on 25th July, so I can provide a "fast forwarded" view for those impatient to see changes.

Pic in mid sep:






When the tank first started I played with rock arrangements in the tank:
Two large 150w industrial metal halides; a brute force method for sure, but despite the lousy spectrum, I found that they grew plants quite well. Eventually they would be switched out for BML XB leds.


About a week plus after being planted; many of the plant positions are not meant to be final. Some weeds like L. Repens are used as nutrient sponges while other stuff grew. The backbone bushes; Ludwigia arcuata at the back, Hemianthus glomeratus bushes in the mid and left have not been replanted since the start, only trimmed. Often I like to grow out plants, cut and replant the submersed portions, then throw away the entire original(poorly grown) portion from the shop.


on 14th Aug, roughly 3 weeks, still changing out hardscape to find more suitable rocks. Yellowish tinge because of metal halides:



19 Sep: Changed out rocks again. Algae on rocks because of high lighting used, spot dosed some with excel and lowered lighting. Lighting changed to BML Leds now; better colors are shown when only 1 fixture is turned on; 2 washes out colors. Also reds come out more strongly because of BMLs spectrum. Dosing of phosphates and Iron increased as tank stabilized.


Substrate lighting etc:
Lighting was 2 X 150w MH for first month
switched to BML XB dutch + BML XB 10k + CFL warm white 20w (for visual purposes as I find the BMLs still cool; warm white helps to render orange/yellow tinges). The 10k is raised 6 inches off the tank, and is on only 4 hours in mid day.

Substrate is dirt over iron rich clay + peat, capped by ANS planted tank substrate (a brand of aquatic substrate sold here).Dirt is there to save cost, disregarding costs, I would have probably chosen ADA's substrate. I prefer capping with planted tank substrate than gravel as I find it more adjustable.

Fertilization: Modified EI, water change 25% every 5 days.

Some Eheim filter, + generic CO2 system with inline diffuser.

At the same time I'm running this tiny 3 gal non-CO2 dirt tank. Tank has not been cleaned since the first day, I kept it this way to demonstrate that even if it takes higher lighting to grow carpet plants, it does not necessarily mean an automatic algae farm. For those having trouble growing carpets in dirt/non-CO2, sometimes increasing the light (carefully) may help. Having stem plants to provide plant competition against algae is advisable as well.

It has been run for about a month, and the DHG is filling in nicely. I find that dirt + reasonably good lighting in a shallow tank with some nutrient dosing grows DHG quite well.


On running higher lighting on low tech tanks; I find that if tank is kept stable, higher lighting helps growth and doesn't contribute to algae growth
The factors that I find contribute to tank stability (for a low tech tank);

- If not using CO2, then substrate impact is large; soil gives much better growth compared to commercial substrates. This may be due to soil decomposition giving rise to slightly elevated natural CO2 levels. There should be a balance of organic/inorganic composition of soil. Too high levels of organics might give ammonia spikes that trigger algae growth, too little and the dirt substrate is much less effective.

- Plant densely at the start and choose suitable plant species; some stuff really don't do as well in non-CO2 tanks. Some competitive species such as fast growing stem plants help a lot against algae. A portion of the tank should be dedicated to such species. Having 80% of floor space planted for example, is much more effective against algae than say 10% planted with hardscape making up the rest. Volume matters also, larger clumps of stem plants that stretch the height of the tank makes a bigger impact than say just using hairgrass.

- Shallower tanks seem to give better results; better gas exchange?

- Wait for at least 1-2 months for plant growth to settle in before adding any lifestock; plants would have filled in by then and bacteria action stabilized

- Find balance in the frequency of water changes (which are de-stabilizing if tap water has very different chemistry from tank water) and the need to remove organic waste through water changes. Running a very clean tank initially before the plants dig in prevents algae from becoming unmanageable.

- Consistent pruning to ensure plants are in constant growth space. Good pruning methods allow density without compromising that much on growth space

- Lower bio-load helps.

- Even though higher lighting is used, light should still (always) be adjustable. Adjusting lighting is one of the largest factors that influence growth/tank balance.

- Overall stability is important; should not changing growth variables rapidly which causes plants to re-program between fast and slow growth states

This pic is taken after freshly planted:


After few months of settling in


This pic is of an older tank with glosso carpet, with similar methods


Detail shots of large tank:



16/7/2015 - Collated most of the past pics in this post

47 gal rescaped in 2015


47 gal Hi-tech under Metal halides



15 gal Hi-tech with CFLs lamps



5 gal Hi-tech with Metal Halides


1 gal Low tech Nano rectangle Ikea vase under Metal Halides



2 gal Low tech Nano rectangle Ikea vase under CFL desklamp


1 gal Low tech round Ikea vase under CFL desklamp


3.5 gal Low tech under CFL desklamp


3.5 gal Low tech under CFL desklamp


5 gal sold at exhibition/grown under MH


Another tank (sep 2015) - still making changes to this one


15 gallon stone arc


with different lights


6 gallon seiryu stone scape


46 gallon lava rock scape


65gallon with seiryu stone

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Hmm actually I think that they're phillips CFL 23w, warm white which would be 2700k or so. The pics are not color corrected, so they actually don't look as yellow as one might think ?.

For the non-CO2 tanks, I pre-soak the soil for a couple of weeks before using, and as per habit, add some base fertilizer, iron rich clay. Dosing wise, I dose 20ppm nitrates(KNO3) and about 1ppm phosphate (k2HPO4) every 2 weeks, combined with a 50% water change. I don't dose Fe until I start to see deficiencies or slowed growth. The temperature of the tanks are quite warm though (its the tropics here), all tanks run above averagely 80f, with highs of 84f-86f. Its not a static system though, dosing changes as plant reaction changes. I.e. If I see GSA on the glass, I'll increase phosphate dosing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all~ Some people say that the red is a bit too fragmented (more on the right side than left); I'm thinking of a way to make things less scattered, and may move/remove some of the AR on the right. Will also probably prune the ludwigia red in the center more aggressively, it sticks out a bit too much now. Some of the downoi is also getting quite large; the ones in the front are starting to block the rocks; I'll remove some but keep growing a smaller number larger.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Hey xiaozhuang, can u give your recepie for dirt? Im looking to grow runners like hc, glosso, dhg, etc. Also have u added fish or shrimps to ur setup?
I have dirt capped with aquarium substrate. There is peat and iron rich clay below the dirt; thats about it. The substrate isn't particularly well fertilized; I was supposed to add osmocote but I forgot. I do most of the fertilization through the water column.

I have a few cherry shrimps inside, and about 15 celestial pearl danios.... they used to be quite shy, though now they rise to the water surface to feed when they sense that its feeding time.

Bump:
Dude, your tanks are awesome. You say on the big one you are running a dutch BML XB and the 10,000K XB? Which one do you use in pictures?

Also, gotta ask, your grow those altherneria so well, why'd you never get the variegated one?
Thanks man; I only run the Dutch when taking pics, and on top of that I use a 24w CFL warm white 2200k to bring out the orange/warmer tones.

I do have the variegated one (I think). I have the AR rosanervig, highlighted in white circle: you can see the white veins



It is more pink/magenta, while the AR minis are darker red. It also grows taller. Seems to be picker though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Very nice. My lights are too cool (BML 10k Planted) and reds don't look vivid.
Send them back man. I think they do exchanges; at least the customer service is good, and the fixtures do produce a lot of PAR. Personally, I find even the dutch too cool (hence the supplementary warm white CFL).
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Looks awesome as hell man!!! Great work. I agree with your low tech methods. Exactly what I am hoping for with the S. repens carpet-which should be easy, easy plant. I once had a glosso carpet in a high tech tank and a low tech tank. Dirt with occasional fert dosing is great, I still prefer Aquasoil with Osmocote Plus pellets in the substrate. Either way, they both work. Right now I don't do anything to my low tech except pluck the occasional old or dying leaf and do bi monthly water changes. Super easy and fun tank to maintain. Your high tech tank is looking outstanding! Thanks for sharing man.
Thanks for coming by man. Aquasoil is unbeatable if you don't consider the price, which can get quite big if doing larger size tanks. I remember you saying in your earlier vids that you don't favor it, and I thought hmm I wonder how long it'll take for him to come around haa
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
That wall is SWEET! Also, I don't know if I said this yet.. but both of your tanks are gorgeous. The layout of the 47g is perfect with the variety of colors and stems, especially the red blotches! Nice job.

Is the wall in your house?! Also, how many CPD do you have? They seem pretty comfortable.. I noticed they are hanging around the middle-top of the tank within your pictures. From what I gathered, they tend to shy towards the bottom layer of tanks.
Thanks man, the red AR minis are really performing ha. The CPDs do tend to be more shy, at least at the start. I find that mine tends to cluster at the surface when they sense you're gonna feed them. If I mess around the tank very regularly, pruning etc, it makes them more shy also. If water parameters are off, they become much less active quickly. So quite sensitive in that sense. I have about 16 of them in the tank, along with about 10 micro rasboras as dither fish. I think rising to the surface may not be the most natural thing for them, as they usually pick around the mid/bottom, so nowadays I try to feed them sinking stuff that hits the mid/lower regions to not disrupt their natural tendencies so much.

The wall is a fabric with pockets sewed into it; with a drip system with timer at the top that waters the entire wall twice a day, the water drips off at the bottom into a trough that flows into the drain. The pockets are filled with soil/peat and the fabric wall is mounted onto a steel grid for structural integrity. We had the contractor do most of the construction together with the rest of the apartment. Its basically a vertical terrarium I guess; and for a start we chose hardier plants that can creep and attach onto the fabric (The one with heart shaped leaves is the common money plant, the longer leaved ones with white edges is Chlorophytum bichetii, and there is also some sygonium mixed in). Might introduce some colors etc when I get a better sense of how well the system is working. Has been running for about 3 months now and I've done quite a bit of pruning to keep it even. The fabric wall can get a bit unsightly if exposed, but dense planting hides it quite well. Compared to planters, a fabric wall with pockets is flatter, but only allow smaller plants. Its flatter and lighter construction is easier/less costly to mount than having a frame for larger planters . The watering system is also relatively simple; water drips quite evenly through the fabric background from the top. I think if larger planters were used, each horizontal panel may need its own drip system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
We need some updates dude! Maybe a video?
Haa I do have a description vid, if you don't mind my odd accent at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXWdlaz16RI

I'm thinking of changing out the staurogyne repens for something else though, so maybe that'll be a major update. Else stuff looks quite the same except more grown in; and the bushes are quite big by now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
What are you thinking of putting in the place of the Staurogyne repens?
Hee thanks! I'm thinking of either Limnophilia Vietnam, or maybe blxya; the long leaves would be a better contrast and blxya has a yellowish/reddish tinge, which I prefer to staurogyne's green in this case. Just got hands on some new rocks and can't resist tweaking the hardscape as well. I removed the medium left rock and replanted the entire mid. I realized that my foreground was unnecessarily large, and thus intend to push out the mid, with some additional layers for added complexity. Replanted the arcuata at the back to match the growth rates of the now-redone mid ground. Will post pics when the dust has settled.

Another thing that I realized along the way is that the variegated AR gets quite large. Not sure to force-prune it to be smaller or limit it to only perhaps a couple of stalks on the left side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Thanks guys...

On another note, I'm very interested in your low-tech tanks. I'm sure other members are curious as to how you created the low-tech tanks as well. Maybe create a new journal?
Hmm I should do this, been a bit tardy in keeping track of the low tech tanks. I think the setup matters quite a bit, because there are fewer factors to manipulate in a low tech setup, but I also wanted to do a bit more experimentation before giving recommendations to people; so I've been trying on tanks with slightly different dimensions and soils.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Thanks for stopping by! Hmm It's a combination of trimming off the tops to a height that I want, and pre-emptively pinching/cutting off tips that start to grow towards a direction that I don't want it spreading to. For L. sp red, the rooted stem is quite strong if its healthy, and the top can be trimmed off repeated; side shoots sprout fast. The whole bunch in the 47g are branches that come off from about 4 mother stems that root into the substrate. I felt that the trimming for the L. sp red is actually poorly done in the pics compared to the L. Arcuata; it can be contoured in a very exact manner, but I must have missed it when I took this set of pics.

About every 4 months I allow the current batch to grow longer, then do a replanting of tops (where the top node to bottom has no branching).

I think that trimming and allowing side shoots to sprout allows more self-organization (because the plant will grow in a way that doesn't shade itself that much), it makes for a neater, denser bush. Replanting tops kinda resets the plant form to be competitive against surrounding plants. In the search for neater tanks I've been doing alot more pruning and almost no replanting for tops (until after many months). Just a theory based on observation though. It seems to apply to other plants as well. The effect is most apparent in the Ludwigia arcuata (orange background bush); where the dense bush must be achieved through trimming and allowing the side shoots to self-organize to fill up the space. If I just grabbed a bunch of them and planted them side by side, they'll grow in a vertical competitive manner instead of spreading out. I've been wanting to do a video to demonstrate this (because people don't seem to talk about it much) , so I've replanted the entire middle of the tank (start from scratch with sparse stems) and pruned it into a bush like in the pics over the past few weeks. The bushes have grown back in over the past month though, so in a week or so I'll finish my video.

Using an older set of pics to illustrate:
When background stems are planted individually, abeit densely... they each struggle to outgrow the neighbour:


After allowing it to grow out further, before doing a very aggressive trim:


After it has grown out; with self-organization with respect to neighbouring plants:


I know you were asking about L. sp red. But the pruning technique is similar, except that Sp red spreads sideways quite abit more than L. Arcuata. I'm thinking of trying a large pruned sp. Red background for the next tank though Hmm...
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Dude, that was one of the most helpful posts on pruning I've ever seen.

And I've never overly thought about it but it seems like it's make sense. I take it as well that using side shoots as opposed to replanting tops would also serve to make trimming easier, as if the plant isn't becoming multiple competing plants it probably does not grow upwards as much or shade everything ever right?
Thanks man, yeah that's what I think happens. Even downoi exhibits this in an interesting manner. However, depending on how the plant growth shoots form, not all are suitable for pruning into dense bush form. Rotala rotundifolia/wallichi, Hemianthus glomeratus, Ludwigia arcuata/brevipes, Limnophila aromatic/vietnam are some examples of plants suitable for dense background bushes. Ludwigia repens is one of the worst; it grows wide and open with large flattish leaves. Some others like Rotala macrandra/Ludwigia pantanal prefer to be unshaded, and doesn't form alot of side shoots (and look nicer with a single large shoot).
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
The first video of the trimming/pruning series is done; for you guys reading these posts there is nothing new... I think. I just transferred the info here into video format; the actual trimming vid will be done probably within these 2 weeks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSngM7OVpPc
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
hi thanks for visiting !

I tweak the dosing slightly as the pruning cycle changes, as the ludwigia arcuata bush makes up quite a bit of plant mass in the tank. I ease off the phosphates for a bit everything I deep prune the large bushes.

So the cycle goes like this:
Water change 25% every 5 days - due to usage of limestone (seiryu rock) in the tank, the KH rises everyday, so I choose a more frequent WC schedule but change less amount. After WC, the KH will usually be around 5-6 and rises to 8-9 on day 5. This also corresponds to a TDS flux between 130 - 200. The dosage is pretty lean for a heavily planted tank...

- I dose a larger dose after the water change and use smaller doses towards day 5 to keep the TDS more stable. Fe/Traces by CSM + B dosed daily as EDTA doesn't last long in high KH tanks

After WC
Day 1:
I dose 7ppm magnesium by MgSO4
6ppm nitrates by KNO3
5ppm potassium by K2SO4 (on top of what is given by KNO3)
0.3ppm phosphates by KH2PO4
0.05ppm Fe/traces by CSM + B

Day 2:
0.05ppm Fe/traces by CSM + B

Day 3:
3ppm K
3ppm N
0.1ppm PO4
0.05 Fe/Traces

Day 4 same as day 2 and day 5 same as day 3...

This puts potassium/Nitrates in the range of 15-30



Some tweaks depending on what I see:
Colored stems not as richly colored as they are; increase dose of phosphates/ Fe + Traces

Leaf issues - check potassium (rare except at the start when dosing was even more lean)

Sometimes I do some the odd algae; some dust/cladophora - tend to go away with better CO2 control but I find cutting down phosphates seem to help also, especially in high light tanks.
 
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