Both Anubias & Java fern (Microsorum) do quite well with lower light levels - much easier to grow them with minimal algae when shaded especially when plants are new ... as you can imagine from their slow growth rates, it’s a good while before they have mostly submerse leafs
Diatoms usually responds well to increased water changes, time rather than increased light levels so I’d tread cautiously
Eg, daily water change for a couple weeks
Also with limited plant volume and mostly slower growing plants, I’d go with a lean nutrient dosing method (think ADA rather than EI) - especially as you have “messy” fish already contributing to waste/organic load - it’s not just that they eat a lot (relative to tetras etc) but they are also inefficient digesters
(I assume you include vegetable type matter in their diet)
“Vegetarian matter” is most definitely in their diet, they’ve been happily shredding the vals since I put them in!
I’ll take a look at ADA dosing and lower the dosing to once a week instead of twice to start with.
The reason for increasing the light was two fold. First the diatoms have been slowly getting worse since I removed the 7w led from the tank. Before this things were only on certain plants. Increasing ferts seemed to get some new leaves on the Anubias. Secondly the tank simply looks too dark for my tastes. It only has two 15w T8 bulbs and a 3w blue led at the moment.
In the interests of keeping costs down before Christmas (kids first then pets) I tried to use what I had (light) rather than buying something new (phosphates). I’ll increase the water changes too
The ADA lamp is only on for 4hrs in the middle of the 8hr T8 photo period at the moment my plan was to slowly increase this by half an hour each week.
I meant to add a message about that. The sand was too fine and kept getting sucked up the syphon. You can see the base glass starting to become visible in the earlier shots. Instead of replacing the sand I went for something heavier and got a bag of standard aquarium gravel from my local fish shop. It’s around 3mm grade. It’s better but at the last clean I really had to dig into it to get the muck out. Somewhere on here someone mentions attaching a plastic fork to the end of the syphon nozzle and use this to agitate the substrate.
This is the stuff: https://www.fishkeeper.co.uk/post/new-aqua-range-aqua-substrates
It doesn’t have a specific name that I can see but the product code is AS5013.
I just dropped into my local Maidenhead Aquatics and bought the gravel they had in stock, it looked about the right size not to get sucked up without being too large for the fish to sift through.
Is it possible to switch over to T5 from the T8?
That will give you better PAR as T5 design tends to higher intensity even at similar wattage, most T5 will appear brighter
As you have the ADA light, try again but begin with 30min, after a couple days extend to 45 min etc - with slow growing plants, this needs to be a slower process than if a mix of fast and slow plants
In order to establish new (tastier) plants, add some elodea etc for fish to snack on, try floating plants such as Limnobium laevigatum (sorry not clear on the common name as it seems to vary rather a lot) as the roots should distract the gf
“Duck weed” the tiny single leaf floating plant that is an aquarium scourge - unless you have gf
(I suspect a gf forum has loads more ideas)
It’s often not that easy/fast to establish Vallisneria from “bunch” plants - instead invest in some aquarium nursery pots such as Tropica’s Vallisneria range (these are ones I happen to be familiar with), note that some Vallis species are slower, more difficult than others
If you’ve a gravel only substrate, I’d open some of Tropica’s Nutrition Capsules and add to the Vallisneria planting zone
Algae crew - with gf I’d add a few larger snails such as “mystery” snails (the blues are really lovely), also zebra Nerites (look for larger specimens) (I find the “onion” and “tiretrack” Nerites to be overly generous with their egg laying - white spot decor everywhere )
I believe you’re adding CO2 so I’d try adding Bolbitis - check with Aquarium Gardens etc for when a larger shipment arrives from Tropica - this will give you more “instant” plant and it’s a much faster grower than Anubias species
Crinum calamistratum Is also not very palatable (but expensive for a larger specimen)
You might also enquire after the XL pot range - some of the swords might manage gf depredations if plant is big enough etc to start
Any root plants, I’d add the additional nutritional support to the gravel
I can’t do a straight swap to T5 bulbs as the ballast isn’t powerful enough but I could get a pair of T5s to run alongside the T8s - I have found it harder to source T5s at the right length (438mm I think) so thought a dimmable LED might be a better long term investment here. Something like the Fluval Aquasky Bluetooth.
I might try the ADA lamp again, thanks for the suggestion as to how to get it started.
There are three bunches of Elodea and Limnophilia in there at the back already and it worked pretty well until I added the Vals.
I did try smaller floating plants but they were eaten so quickly it would have cost me a fortune! Flow is also too strong for small floaters it just pushes them all into the water column.
I deliberately don’t plant the substrate so I can take everything out of the tank and give it all a good clean. I have been considering planting some containers though so your advice here gives me more confidence this is a good approach. Thank you for the plant tips too, much appreciated!
I hadn’t considered snails in case they turned into goldfish playthings, but if I could source some large ones that might work.
Roughly 60 cubed, nearer 55 but only 51 under the hood. 438mm is the length of the 15w T8s and with the ballast caps on they only just fit. So I’d be looking at 24w T5s, which are the same length. They aren’t impossible to find just less of a selection to choose from.
Ok, slight change of tack. Vals didn’t stand a chance against the aptly named Nibbles, so out they go. A. Rosaefolia just isn’t recovering, more N might have helped but I don’t have any so sticking with Micros and K for now, out it goes. Anubias are thriving, some Java fern doing well, some not so. Cryps just doing their thing... slowly...
A generous batch of B. Japonica is on its way care of @Kalum - looking forward to getting that in here somewhere, let’s hope Nibbles leaves it alone.
CO2 pressure is dropping, almost in the red so will need a refil.
Lighting period increasing slowly to 9hrs has introduced some hair algae but only on the Vals, will keep an eye out and knock it back again if necessary.