57L Fluval Flex setup: Dec 2018

Discussion in 'Journals' started by jcspotless, 6 Jan 2019.

  1. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Hi,

    I am newly returning to fish keeping after I would guess a twenty year gap. Its surprising both how much has changed and at the same time how much remains the same. I am in the process of setting up a 57L Fluval Flex. Change no.1: I don't believe this style of tank existed twenty years ago. As I am sure you are aware it is approx 41cm in width, with stated height and depth of 39cm but has a back compartment with three sub compartments the middle of which contains the filter media (top carbon, bottom ceramic biofilter and surrounded by coarse filter foam). The right compartment houses a submerged water pump (spec'd at 500L per hour). I have added a Fluval E Heater (100W) here. In the left compartment (which is empty by default) I have added another piece of filter foam at the bottom water inlet to stop shrimps etc entering this space. I also added UV Sterilizer (9 Watt). Lights are standard LEDs which come with system.

    So 2nd change from twenty years ago, the growth of term "aqua-scaping" I decided I wanted to try I hand at an "aquascaped" tank. After some deliberation I also wanted to "dip my toe" into use of CO2 to promote plant growth - again a change from my past experience. So I added a Tropica Plant Growth System 60 - CO2 Set a set this in the right corner of my tank.

    So the final and obviously change from twenty years ago. The ability to share all this with you all. I hope you will comment on setup and growth in this new tank and my choices (and no doubt mistakes along the way).

    The birthday for this tank was 26th Dec 2018. As you might expect a few Xmas presents went into it!

    Initial Hardscape. Fluval Stratum as substrate (approx 4kg). Added a path made from Roman Gravel White Quartz Sand. I also added a smart plug to control light on/off via Alexa (I love a good gadget!)

    upload_2019-1-6_11-13-57.jpeg

    Below is a picture of the planting on 29th Dec. I have also uploaded pics for 1st week. I found it very hard to place some of the plants in my initial planting. After 1st fill a large number detached and floated to the top and had to me replanted several times. I also had a complete disaster with the rocks and other hard scape. The rocks at back I knocked over whilst planting (as you will see in some of the future pics). The drift wood I had forgotten to pre-soak so floated too. I weighted down the wood eventually (see later).

    Planting guide.jpg
    Planting_guide_2.jpg



    I have been monitoring various water chemistry parameters. I of course dechlorinated the water (I used Fluval Aquaplus water conditioner) prior to use. I also used two 10L containers for water transport / storage / water change. I also added Fluval Cycle. But I expect to cycle to tank over the next month or so.

    Initial water parameters on Day 1:
    27th Dec 9am
    pH 6.8-7
    GH 12
    KH 7
    TDS 161
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrite 0
    Nitrate 20
    Temp 25

    I will post updates with regard water chemistry and plant growth pictures.
     
    alto likes this.
  2. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Here is a summary of water chemistry measurement for my newly setup tank. I think things are going to plan. Some may be critical of my addition of shrimp so early in nitrogen cycle but I am keeping a close eye on them. They seem for now happy and OK.
    Water Chemistry 27th Dec to 5th Jan.jpg

    Interesting to see drop in KH and GH (I guess from substrate). Also TDS of removed water. Seeing spike in Nitrite at the moment. Probably do another water change tomorrow. What do you think? Nitrate are quite high too.

    I run the UV steriliser not continuously. Algae are under control for now.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Here is a photograph of tank taken 5th Jan 2019. Please to report new growth on most of the plants particularly
    the Rotala rotundifolia. I am still struggling to root the Monte Carlo. Any tips for planting that securely? Couple days ago I added back a second driftwood and attached Christmas moss. As you can see some of that has come adrift (white glue spot). Perhaps I should have used line rather than glue but I was lazy. Shrimps seen to be doing a great job on the algae on plants. Compare the Staurogyne rubescens now compared to picture from 29th Dec. I first I thought this was dust from substrate but I think now it was diatom growth. Do others agree?

    20190105_081944.jpg
     
    alto and hogan53 like this.
  4. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    When I have a bit more time I think I will monitor pH through the day to see the affect (if any) passive CO2 diffusion from the System 60 setup. Currently I fill to 150mL each morning at same time lights go on. Lights are on 6hrs currently.
     
  5. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Another question I have not yet started any fertiliser for plants. I have plans to do that when the tank is cycled with daily dosing of Evolution Aqua theaquascaper. Sound good? Penciled in for 1 month. That's when I plan to add more shrimp and a few tetras.
     
  6. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Looks like I have a direct comparison to follow too ;)

     
    hogan53 likes this.
  7. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Finally I have setup a youtube channel and will post video there:

     
  8. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Hi,

    Time for an update:

    My tank has been up and running now for 31 days. Here is the latest picture (just after water change so a few bubbles on tank front)
    20190126_104412.jpg

    The plants are progressing as you can seen. I haven't chosen to cut them back in anyway yet. I guess I was surprised by the different rate of growth across the plants both between individual plants and between plant types.

    I now have a few cardinal tetra's (four ) and three dwarf puffers. I had read the puffers can be poor tank mates but up to now the tank population is doing OK.
    The Rotala rotundifolia continues to flourish and have changed leaf shape quite dramatically. I am also pleased with growth in moss. The only disappointment has been with
    Vallisneria Nana which has not progressed very much.

    Any ideas why? The MC is growing slowly as expected I guess. Comments and suggestions are most welcome
     
  9. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Day 45: Now have a tank full of fish! I added some guppies and some bents tetra. The puffers are doing OK but I do wonder now how they are going to do with their tank mates. Before I added extra tetra and guppies the puffers were taking the frozen brine shrimp well. Now the other fish seem to get there 1st most of the time. I am thinking about adding some snails so the puffers have some to eat just for them. What do you think? The plants need a trim too.

    I have started adding daily ferts not sure how much impact that will make. Nitrates are higher than I would like, my weekly 50% water change does impact this but I still think levels could be lower. I have added Seachem DeNitrate to space behind the tank. I will see if that has an effect but from what I read that may take some time. Good thing about the Flex is there is plenty of room to add bags of media out of sight

    20190209_105859.jpg
     
    alto, Booots and Protopigeon like this.
  10. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,038
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    You just need more plants. Plants are very effective at reducing levels of all types of fixed nitrogen.

    The most effective plants are plants with floating leaves, because they have access to aerial CO2.
    It won't have any effect in an open compartment type filter. Basically it is another type of pumice with fine pore spaces.

    The premise is that the fine pore spaces will be colonised by anaerobic denitrifying bacteria, while the outer areas will be colonised by aerobic nitrifying organisms, with a steep oxygen gradient from out to in. The aerobic nuitrification provides NO3-, which the anaerobic bacteria use as the ion donor in denitrification. I'm not keen on this as an idea, even if it worked.

    I'm a cynic, but I can't help seeing its main successful activity is allowing Seachem to sell a cheap commodity for the most enormous mark-up.

    If you have tap water with a high NO3- content (and I assume you will) could you use rain-water?

    cheers Darrel
     
  11. tayloss

    tayloss Member

    Joined:
    10 Sep 2017
    Messages:
    135
    Location:
    Fareham
    Have you seen any benefits to using the tropica CO2 kit? I saw George Farmer removed his from the Flex as the plants grow well without it?
     
  12. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    Don't really have anything to compare too. Plants are growing but I wouldn't say rapidly.
     
  13. jcspotless

    jcspotless Newly Registered

    Joined:
    1 Dec 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    herts
    My thoughts were even if it did not reduce nitrates it another high surface area surface to act as a biological filter. I was avoiding floating plants because I didn't think the reduction in light levels would be a good thing. But I might rethink that. Any suggestion of floating plant to use?
     
  14. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    9,038
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    Yes it does, <"plant/microbe" biofiltration"> is more effective than "microbe only" biofiltration because of the synergistic effects. You can't have "plant only" filtration, plants will always have associated microbes.
    It doesn't really matter. I usually recommend <"Amazon Frogbit"> (Limnobium laevigatum) on grounds of leaf colour, but think probably <"Salvinia natans"> (auriculata group) or Water Lettuce (<"Pistia stratiotes">) are just as effective in reducing nutrients.

    I originally used Duckweed (Lemna minor) because that was the floating plant used in <"phytoremediation"> in Temperate regions, Water Hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) or Pistia are usually used in the Tropics. All the plants mentioned, other than Limnobium, have some drawbacks,
    • Lemna is always slightly yellow in soft water, even at high nutrient levels when it is growing strongly, it also doesn't survive in very nutrient depleted situations.
    • Pistia has a grey leaf, and is banned from sale in the EU as a potentially invasive alien
    • Eichornia is difficult to get throught the winter, a bit big and banned in Europe.
    • Salvinia goes brownish in high light.
    Limnobium can develop <"red "tiger stripes">, but you can still assess leaf colour.

    cheers Darrel
     
  15. alto

    alto Member

    Joined:
    24 Dec 2014
    Messages:
    5,037
    Nice progress on this journal :) - I’d not noticed it previously :oops:

    Fluval Flex has an OK light, but distribution isn’t even across the tank
    I wouldn’t add any floating plants as it’s not a very efficient LED system (just a fairly basic LED strip with plastic cover for water proofing)
    BUT the lights are great fun with the after hours “rainbow” effect (I’ve not noticed any algae effects from this)

    CO2 system - Tropica’s Nano pressurized CO2 with disposable cylinders would be far more efficient than the GS 60 which is likely why you see quite disparate growth
    - I’d’ve spent my budget on CO2 rather than the UV system (though a CO2 Art system with Soda Stream cylinders may be more economic long term, I’d consider a fire extinguisher overkill on a tank this small, & placing it out of sight and safely anchored is easier done with a designated cabinet)

    To get nitrates down, try 2-3 daily 50% water changes, then as needed (which may be twice weekly depending on your fish load, especially feeding!)

    I suspect the puffers are going without, those are some very competitive tetras - snails may help but you’d need to add a few (small) snails daily

    Fluval Stratum is not the easiest soil substrate for planting - larger, less uniform particle size and more “floaty” than some all adds up to what you’ve observed with the MC ... planting in dry or damp soil is easier, make sure to really anchor plants such as MC (ie bury most in substrate)

    The Bentosi tetras are really too active for a tank this size and they will likely out-compete the guppies for food as well ... look at who’s fattest after dinner :wideyed:
    My Bentosi type tetras managed the lion’s share even once I’d removed all but 3 :eek: (from a much larger tank) - the Rams and Pygmy Corydoras were still looking thin even with frequent feedings
    I finally set up a bottle fish trap to remove the last 3, the Pygmy Corydoras are much more visible now, though the Rams do better with some sort of dither fish
     
    jcspotless likes this.
  16. Matt @ ScapeEasy

    Matt @ ScapeEasy Member

    Joined:
    17 Aug 2018
    Messages:
    923
    Location:
    Lancaster
    Check you are not dosing too much fertiliser and hence increasing your nitrate levels in this way also. I found in my own low tech tank that I needed less that the lowest dosing level on the bottle to avoid nitrates increasing.
     

Share This Page

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice