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10 year 60cm tank... did some maintenance

erwin123

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Hi, this is my first post here as I 'rejoin' the hobby.

Due to work and other commitments I had been leaving my 60cm tank to run by itself for a few years without any water change (I had like 2 fish in the tank so the bioload was manageable). The tank already 10 years old and the only plants in it were C.Wendtii 'green', 2 lonely C.Parva shoots that never grew, C.Wendtii Tropica. The C.Wendtii Green was the most prolific, sending runners everywhere over the years.

With increased work from home, I decide to start doing some renovations. I sort of vacuumed up the top layer of the soil and put a fresh top layer over it (the very bottom of the tank is 10 year old soil and bio-rocks), and added some plants. The objective is still low maintenance so I am avoiding fast growing weeds and also planting a variety and see what survives in the tank and what doesn't... of course the old soil results in dust being thrown up whenever I do tank maintenance or feed the bottom feeders, but I'll figure that out.. doesn't bother me too much though I have a new canister filter on the way.
  1. So far the surprise is the Hygrophila lancea 'Araguaia' that seems to be staying low and carpeting and the front left of the tank.
  2. The Alternanthera Reineckii in the right middle is also doing well but as the light isn't that strong it isn't spreading that much. But I just stuck one stem into a gap in the rock (no glue, no string, just shoved it in) and its doing well closer to the light and there's already a sideshoot.
  3. Helanthium bolivianum 'Quadricostatus' it grows and sends out side 'runners' easily but as new growth appears on top, the old leaves yellow and fade so perhaps not an idea foreground plant
  4. Cryptocoryne Retrospiralis This was what was written on the bag, but articles say that its just repackaged Crispulata. I have 2 plants in the tank one with more light, one under less light. The one with less light is putting up classic dimpled greenish brown leaves, the one with more light (the Oto is resting on one) has long narrow brown leaves with the barest of dimpling.
  5. Cryptocoryne Crispulata - I also bought the Tropica 1-2 grow Crispulata which are tiny at the moment, would be interesting to see the difference versus the Retrospiralis> Its supposed to grow tall enough to be seen behind the rocks, so thats where I've put it.
  6. Bucephalandra 3 various types. Apart from B. Kedagang which is an established type, the others go by unofficial fancy names
  7. Litorela Uniflora - some sad strands in the soil. Didn't work out, but I guess thats for the best so its the only North America plant while the others are Asia-Australia
  8. Vallisneria Nana - just acquired some with a view to hiding my surface skimmer in the left corner.
 

erwin123

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Replaced my old Ecco Pro 300 with a Fluval 307 and new Lily Pipes + Qanvee CO2 diffuser. The Qanvee generates really fine mist even though my regulator's working pressure is only 32psi. There is red-haired algae on a lot of the leaves, have to sort that out. I had a stalk of Hygrophila Polysperma 'Tiger' on the right where the leaves changed colour to the distinctive reddish-brown stripes, but it is really slow growing (I thought H.Polysperma grew like weeds...) The C.Retrospiralis are doing well while the Tropica 1-2grow C.Crispulata seem to be finally making some progress at the back of the tank, hopefully they will be tall enough to be see above the rocks.
 

erwin123

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Just an update to warn others of my beginner mistake. this was an old tank and I did not check water parameters before restarting my fertiliser dosing so I simply got a bottle of 2hr Aquarist's complete Fert.

Then I had a melt of the H.Lancea (fortunately they are regrowing again) and a BBA attack. So I bought a Sera NO3 test kit (seems like many youtubers recommend Sera) and it said 50mg Nitrates... oops. I did some 2 x 15% daily water changes and stopped the complete fert dosing and reverted to dosing traces using Tropica Premium, and the levels went down to 25mg and now between 10-25mg. I should be able to bring it slowly down to 10mg. (I want to do it gradually because I don't want a massive crypt melt that accompanies radical changes of water parameters... since there are a lot of crypts in this tank...:)

But just to be safe, I've gotten some Seachem Denitrate. I'm running 2 canisters for this tank and my 'slow canister' is a 2213 connected to an inline UV running about 120-150l/hr so thats within the recommended speed for the Denitrate media.

The photo shows the AR Mini continuing to grow and Nitrates didn't seem to affect its colour at all. So I've since added some Ludwigia Sp Red since its another red plant that is not affected by nitrates, just as an experiment.

But the H.Lancea was affected by Nitrates - the leaves melted off and new leaves to grow back were green rather than reddish. Now at 10-25mg, new growth is definitely redder. If I get nitrates down to 10mg or less, I should be seeing a nice red tone on the H.Lancea. So if I am too lazy to test, I guess I can just monitor the colour of the new growth to see if I have a nitrate problem...

Strangely the H.Polysperma Tiger (which should be a close relative) wasn't affected. This is an interesting plant that doesn't seem to behave like regular H.Polyspermas? -I'm getting creeping growth with it, like the H.Lancea.

Finally, just as another experiment to see if it grows in this tank, I added some Limnophila Vietnam. If it works, I'll remove some Crypts to make space for it in front, and also to allow the AR Minis in the middle to be a bit more visible since they are doing pretty well.
 

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erwin123

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My nitrate levels seem 'stuck' at 25mg according to the Sera test kit (my tapwater has 0mg according to the same test). The tank is lightly stocked - now only 3 Densonii Bards. 2 Otos, 5 small corys and Yamato Shrimp so not exactly sure where the nitrates are coming from (old tank syndrome I guess), though at least they are not going up to the 50mg level (when I was dosing with the a complete fert with N without measuring Nitrates first...)

So I decide to remove one large stone in the middle of the tank to free up space for more plant mass, moved the Tropica 1-2 grow C.Crispulatas to where the rock was and dumped several stem plants at the back of the tank in the hopes that some will grow well and reduce the nitrates (Ludwigia Super Red is growing well but the Limnophila Vietnam doesn't seem to be growing at all - i guess water parameters not to its liking..). The C.Retrospiralis is growing well and its leaves are reddish compared to the Tropica 1-2 grow C.Crispulatas (the packaging said 30cm growth in 30 days but....). Also made space in front for Bucelephranda - tied to ceramic rings with fishing line.
 

erwin123

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My weekly update. My nitrate levels appear to have stabilised around 15mg. I continue dosing only Tropical specialised only. In terms of growth in a week, there's the rather prominent AR minis, the H. 'Tiger' on the right, and the Luwdigia Super Reds at the back left, and Rotala Greens in middle back growing ok. I moved a stalk of P. Deccanesis to the front right as it was being shadowed by the other plants at back. The Limnophila Vietnam - one stalk is ok, the remaining stalks are dying, I guess wrong parameters in this tank for it.
 

Kogre

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This looks to be growing in nicely. I especially love the growth of the red plant on the rock on the left (Alternanthera?). Nice work.
 
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erwin123

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thanks for the comments. :)

Here's my weekly update.

The AR Mini was plugged into a crack in the rock and has been growing well and I trimmed it once it reached the surface. Unfortunately, its really close to the LED so no surprise to see lots of green dust algae. Actually, over the past week I had a green dust algae attack but its such a nice shade of green, I hope it sorts itself out, but anyway this is the kind of algae that algae eaters like to eat? So I could look into getting more Otos/Yamato shrimp I guess.

Trimmed back the Rotala green and now able to see single stalks of L. Brevipes and Rotala H'ra peek out from the back and the of course the L. Super Reds are growing like crazy. (As documented earlier, I had excess nitrates so I planted several stem plants to absorb the ntirates and its working well).

The longsuffering tropic in vitro C. Crispulata var Balansae which is middle and which I was hoping to be a centrepiece plant (I was inspired by some photos on the web that use it) <some> growth. Inserted JBL Ferropol Root tabs to help it.

Perhaps thanks to my stem plants growing (and maybe the Seachem Denitrate I inserted into my slower canister filter), my once every 2 days ntirate testing shows nitrates actually hitting 0 at one point, so I dosed the complete fert after water change (2hr aquarist APT) followed by tropica specialised (i.e. no N, P ) daily. Nitrates are holding steady at 10mg or well.

Being inspired by some of the Buces throwing up new bright red leaves, I went to buy more. The newest in front is the Buce "Brownie Ghost" and on the left on the rock, Buce "Cherish"

In terms of plants not growing, the H. Lancea Araguaia on the front left is the oddity. It crept and spread very fast but sort of stopped growing. I pulled up some of the creeping plant in order to cut them and try to plant them vertically and noted that they had extensive roots. Hopefully the cutting and replanting will encourage some vertical growth. The H.Polysperma Tiger on the front right which has the same shaped leaves but a far nicer striped pattern continues to grow well and had to be trimmed back.
 

erwin123

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I practice safe plant disposal. i.e. I dump all cuttings into one of my plant pots and let it decompose. I also planted some just to see the result. I'm surprised at how quickly emersed leaves grow. The Hygrophila Tiger emersed leaves look nothing like the submersed form, while the AR Minis new leaves sort of look similar.

A whole lot faster than the emersed -> subsmersed conversion. There's one more in the left pot. I think its a Vallisneria Nana... cant be sure.
 

erwin123

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My weekly update. Nitrate levels remain at 5-10mg so there is no need to add N. I continue dosing with Tropica Premium

Stem plants at the back are growing well. Trimmed and replanted some. In the front right. Some stalks H."Tiger" have started bending, so cut and replant. Algae is still there including a lot of bright green algae on the AR Minis that are reaching the water surface and thus closest to the LEDs. Bought 20 cherry shrimp to add to the algae crew. I see them at places that I don't seen the Yamato shrimp so hopefully they are eating algae that the Yamatos aren't. While stem plants seem to grow at an inch or two a week, the in vitro C.Crispulate var Balansae maybe added 1/8". There is one show that sells the Dennerle full grown Crispulatas but the cost... I plan to wait for C.Retrospiralis to reappear and maybe I 'll get more of those. Decided to add more Buces to the foreground. B. Brownie Amanda, and more B. Theia
 

erwin123

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My weekly update. Nitrates levels the same. Read some posts that Tropica dosing recommendations might be lower than what is needed for a heavily planted tank so I did 2 pumps instead of 1 after my weekly water change, and daily 1.5 pumps - did not seem to cause an increase in algae so I might continue with that. There is still algae that I need to sort out but I try to take small steps - a little bit of H2O2 treatment during water change. The C.Crispulata I guess one could say its growing because you can just make out the leaves in the middle of the tank. On the other hand, the C.Retrospiralis leaves on the right have already reached the water surface.

The H. Lancea Araguia is an oddity. Initially when planted, it grew very fast horizontally along the ground, when I did some maintenance, they have extensive roots, but they have stopped growing. Admittedly the sides of the tank do not get the most light so maybe the light levels at substrate level are not enough. This is in marked contrast to the H. 'Tiger' on the right which has to be constantly trimmed. They always seem to want to bend and creep along the substrate.

Finally, the colours in this photo are different because I bit the bullet and upgraded to a Chihiros WRGB2. The built in bluetooth controller and app control is really convenient.. The only thing I would note is that because the tank is 45cm wide, I hope the plants at the back are getting enough light....
 

erwin123

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Weekly update. No change in water parameters. Continued with daily 1.5 pumps of Tropica Premium instead of 1.0 pumps and algae has not worsened, I even think the algae situation may be a little bit better. Do I dare to go to 2.0 pumps daily as long as it doesn't worsen the algae situation? Just got George Farmer's book and read how much Tropica he pumps... makes me wonder if Tropica Premium is less "concentrated" than APT Zero, in which case I might switch to APT Zero after my bottle of Tropica is finished.

After installing the Chihiros WRGB2, I found the stem plants at the back of the tank bending forward. Trimmed them and put in my Aquazonic slim LED (23w, 1" wide fixture) right at the back to give the L Super Red, L. Brevipes, R. Green, R H'ra and H.Difformis more light.

On the emersed front, I found that it is really easy to grow A.R Mini's emersed. You just take the cutting, plonk it into a pot, and emersed leaves will grow after a few days.....
 

erwin123

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Weekly update. I did my regular WC on Wed, and Nitrates on Friday was 0 (so I starting dosing 2ml APT Complete and 1 pump of Tropica Premium). Before that, I had moved from 1 pump a day of Tropical Premium to 2 pumps a day which happily did not cause Algae to get worse, so I was probably underdosing Tropica Premium previously (like I mentioned, I just got George Farmer's book and read how much Tropica he pumps daily, so that was helpful to give me the confidence to experiment beyond the 'manufacturer's recommendation').

Algae of course is still in the tank but I'm not hugely worried as long is it doesn't get worse. Not looking for quick fixes, but gradual changes to my dosing regime will hopefully help my plants get healthier.

My lighting schedule is 6.25 hr a day full power (Chihiros WRGB2 67w [diffused]+ Aquazonic 23w plus about 15min sunrise/sunset), CO2 1.5bps turned on about 45min before 'sunrise'

Planting wise, I finally decided to remove a very healthy and green H. Bolivianum 'Quadricostatus' from the rear of the tank (I just left it in the corner under the filter intake as I reasoned that only a 'super easy' plant could grow there) and do some shifting to make space for Rotala sp 'Blood Red'. I've attached a shot of the rear of the tank (with the rear LED fixture removed to show where I planted it - you can also see how the Chihiros alone would not be enough to illuminate the rear of the tank). And yes, I need to trim the H. 'Tiger' again, it just grows non-stop compared to the H. Lancea....

It would be a pity to dispose of the Quadricostatus so I just plonked it onto a plastic box and emersed leafs sprouted shortly thereafter.

Finally, I spotted a baby cherry shrimp... once... I hope they are doing well and have good hiding spaces. I hardly ever see them. I see the Amanos especially during feeding time as they are always trying to steal the wafers I am feeding the fish!
 

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erwin123

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Weekly update. Still tweaking my liquid fert dosing to see how much I can increase it without causing algae problems (I still have lots of algae, just prefer not to get more :)). With 2ml APT complete + 1 pump Tropica Premium daily, I am reading about 5mg nitrates 24 hours after dosing, so I will probably maintain this dosing and work on CO2. I have also increased my CO2 but the problem is that even without CO2, my drop checker is greenish-blue rather than blue, so its not so easy to see the colour transition. But at least it doesn't go yellow. Anyway, I decided to order a ph meter from amazon and so I picked an Apera AI209 since it had 3k+ worth of generally good reviews. Still waiting for it to arrive and hopefully it will give me a better picture of how much the ph drops after CO2 is turned on.

On the plant side, I removed all the H. 'Tiger' from the front. I put the healthiest looking stem at the back and disposed of the rest. Since it was growing like crazy, I'm guessing that the spot they were in is a good place for growing plants. I removed one of the H. Difformis from the back and put a cutting in front. I really like the fresh green colour!

This was to make more space for the R. 'H'ra' at the back which I'm trimming and is forming a nice bush but oops, too low to be seen. Will need to let it grow higher. The R. 'Blood Red' are doing well and can now be seen in the photos. One surprise is the Limnophila. 'Vietnam' in the front to the left of the AR Minis. There was like no growth for ages so I thought they were a lost cause but suddenly it started growing. Maybe they liked my new dosing regime.

In the front, I planted R 'Florida' and L. Pantanal. I read that if you put in a new plant like that without any roots, you should turn the lights down to let it acclimatise. Unfortunately, I didn't do that and I kept the lights up.... my philosophy is to just plant it and see if it grows.... despite that, after 5 days, the first new growth of coloured leaves has appeared. Hopefully they will survive which is also why I don't want to make too many changes...

(p.s. look at the algae infested AR Minis behind.. at least they're still growing... trying to fix their algae issues is on my to-do list but I'll take small steps) I don't have Seachem Excel but eventually I might get some...

Finally, I had some lonely stalks of L. Brevipes which I had also written off as not growing. The recent new growth showed shorter inter-nodal distances and leaves were orangey but in my tank it is a really slow-growing stem plant compared to the others (only L. Vietnam is slower....)
 

erwin123

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Weekly update. Decided to remove the H.Lancea and replace with E. Arcularis Mini. Of course, when you have Corys in your tank you end up replanting all the uprooted hairgrass regularly, but I hope to get them rooted eventually. The H. Lancea have been moved to my emersed pots and they seem to have survived. I had trouble with emersed growing of Ludiwigia Super Red so I let one stalk breach the top and sprout emersed leaves first. Then I cut and replanted - the stalk with emersed leaves is doing ok! Had to trim R. H'ra because they keep bending forward. R Blood Red on the other hand seem to have no problems growing vertically and its time for their first trim, same for the H. Difformis which seems to be a great 'what to put in that dark corner' plant.

Eventually I plan to remove most of the C.Wendtii's in the middle and replace with something shorter (maybe the L Pantanals which are colouring up nicely and growing faster than the R Floridas) so that theres a clearer view to the back of the tank. Need to find a suitable pot as I will just transfer it to emersed growing.

When I removed some of the C.Wendtiis I think I didn't remove the entire rhizome and left some under the substrate - because as you might notice in the front, the rhizomes left under the substrate have been sprouting new stalks of leaves. This is one indestructible plant.

Due to the warm weather which is hitting 30°C over in my country I gave in and got an Artica chiller so that I can run my tank starting off at 28 °C (down from 29-30) first and maybe see how much lower I need to go (lower temp= more often the chiller is on = higher power bills etc). Hopefully this will indirectly help with the algae issues by helping the plants in the tank. Buces are supposed to like cooler water.
 

erwin123

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After taking that last photo, I popped by my local fish shop and I guess I'm showing my support when I bought a DET light screen from them :). I think it makes the tank look a little more cheerful. I'm amazed at black Oyama backing paper which lasted 10 years and even though it was still very sticky, peeled off so nicely from the back of the tank.

I wonder whether the increased reflectivity of the light coloured background will be able to bounce more light from my lights to the bottom leaves of the stem plants.
 

erwin123

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Algae starting to appear on the lower leaves of the Rotala and Luwidigia. Some leaves of the Luwdigia have tiny holes - fingers crossed that they are not caused Amano shrimp (one or more of them have started eating my AR Minis). Leaves are also curling on the Ludiwigia. I know internet says its a 'difficult' plant to grow, but I'm just trying a few stems out for fun and hopefully even if I fail to grow it, at least I hope to learn something from the experience:D

But if it survives, I might get more and replace the Rotala H'Ra which doesn't seem to want to grow straight (I've got a few stems creeping along the substrate...)
 

erwin123

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Weekly update. Removed C.Wendtii in the middle (went to my emersed pot) to allow a clearer view to the back of the tank. Had to trim 2 off the L Pantanal as they reached the Lily pipe outflow. One of them was 'bent' as a result, hopefully it will grow straight after replanting. Read about the difficulties in propagating it... fingers crossed.

Had to trim more R. H'ra creeping stems. There is one stem that has crept all the way along the substrate to the right hand corner. E. Acicularis - the Corydoras have probably won. Whatever remains, we'll see if anything takes root. Also tried to Cut and replant some of the offshoots from the small amount of Limnophila. Vietnam left in the tank. I like how its so green and I feel it has prettier leaves than the R. Green.

Lowered the light for my WRGB2 to 70%. With fewer and fewer C.Wendtii, there are fewer shadowed areas. Got some more Brownie Ghost and moved them to the right side on the assumption that they do better with not too much light.

US$36 for a Chihiros Doctor Mate ordered from China... it was cheap enough for an impulse buy. In its current position, its currently bathing the algae ridden C.Wendtii with lots of bubbles (the plant is 10 years old and nearly indestructible given that I didn't maintain the tank for many years). Will post before and after photos...
 
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plantnoobdude

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After the addition of the rare plants, this tank is quickly becoming a favorite of mine! hopefully the ramosior bushes well, it's a nice plant. the pantanal seems to be growing well too, great job!
 

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