• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up

70L planted - first tank


10 May 2022
Hi All

Two months in to my first planted tank, and having 'lurked' a lot on UKaps and benefited greatly from others' posts and advice, thought I would have a bash at a journal to share a bit back with this lovely community. Mindful of Mark Twain's warning that 'only those rare natures may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.' I am prepared for defeat.

I've attached some pics of what I have - 70L ebay tank (has an 'H' embossed at the centre of the rim at the top as the only clue to its origin), 500L/hr HoB filter with sintered media and coarse and fine mesh inside and a coarse pre-filter, heater set to 22 deg celsius, 3 x 10W LED floodlights on a timer for nine hours (only two on at the moment). Insane London water - GH25 in the tank, 21 from the tap, KH 18, pH around 8, according to the test. Nitrates around 20ppm out of the tap, if the test is to be believed, and between 20ppm and 40ppm in the tank.

Planting into fine gravel. Lost my vallisneria torta to terminal melt in the first few weeks, and gave up on my hydrocotyle leucocephala as too annoying. Hygrophila siamensis 53B, limnophila sessiflora (my fave), and limnobium laevigatum (recent addition) seem content. Dosing TNC Complete around 1ml about 5 times a week and TNC Fe 1ml about three times a week (53B new growth a bit pale looking, moreso than the frogbit as it happens). I also have TNC root tabs under the 53B and limnophila. Was changing 50% water around twice every 10 days for the first month or so, now down to around 30% weekly. Gravel-vac'ing where I can. Had a brief spell several weeks ago with detritus worms and some tiny 'commas' barely visible to the eye dotting around, but these inhabitants seem now either deceased and decayed or keeping a lower profile.

Diatoms appeared about three weeks ago, or so, and I added a couple of nerite snails to clean up. Very exciting. One snail likes to climb on top of the other one and then eggs appear on the hardscape a few days later, so I suspect I have a male and a female. The male is a more diligent feeder. The snails don't touch the diatoms on the 53B, so instead I rub it off with my fingers where it's most obvious and accessible. The limnophila also suffers but doesn't like this rough rubbing treatment. I'm considering delegating this task to a fish in future - otocynclus perhaps although I don't think my parameters are ideal and they don't come across as especially robust based on what I've read.

Overall, very much enjoying this new endeavour, and looking forward to seeing where things go next. Ideally I'd be able to see the diatoms fading away at some point, and I would be happy with some green algae. Willing the limnophila and 53B to get to the surface in the next month...

Plan is eventually to get some male Endlers, and perhaps migrate the tank out of the garage where it currently lives (although the garage is so darn convenient for water changes).


  • IMG_20220510_083344778~3.jpg
    677.2 KB · Views: 1,194
  • IMG_20220510_083433021~2.jpg
    1 MB · Views: 581
  • IMG_20220510_083605642~2.jpg
    2.1 MB · Views: 536
heteranthera zosterifolia is a great suggestion, it will make the tank look more full as it grows so dense and bushy. I like your idea about keeping the floating plants under control, I've not see that before.
I stuck a background on my tank today, in anticipation of putting some fish in. Whoa - it has completely changed the look! It seems much more narrow front-to-back now, compared to when I could 'look through the back' of the tank. Scapers comments about 'creating depth' make more sense now.

The other thing I have realised is that I didn't break up the 53B or the limnophila into enough separate plants when I first planted them - I was a bit too worried about killing them by snapping them into five or six bits so a pot of 53B went into just two pieces and I didn't split the limnophila at all. Lesson learned for the heteranthera which will - when I get my hands on some - be going in the left hand side of the tank which now looks even more bare with the background in place.

I saw the nerites at it again yesterday. I wish they'd focus more on eating my diatoms than spending time with each other....


  • IMG_20220512_162616364_BURST000_COVER_2.jpg
    721.1 KB · Views: 484
Backgrounds really do make a difference, I personally paint the back of my tanks with a black paint. I also have a tank with a synthetic rock background that fluval sells, which also looks nice, and a little more natural. The diatom phase will be over soon hopefully!
Big moment today - bought first fish, put first fish in tank. Several hours later, first fish still alive!

Went to buy otocinclus to help with the diatoms, and came away with a bristlenose pleco instead. Was advised that the otos were wild-caught and might not make it with my very hard tap water, and the bristlenose might be a better fit. Hm. OK. The bristlenose is just under an inch in length at the moment, and boy does it have some energy! It's doing circuits of the glass, dropping down to the gravel, flitting around the hardscape. Pretty pleased with it. Down-side, of course is that it's going to get big at some point and will probably need re-homing (unless I get permission to upgrade the tank).

I also saw the heteranthera - growing immersed - and it didn't look like the pictures. Much rounder leaves, less dense, and less star-shaped. So I passed on it. Maybe it was a different type or sub-species. I really do like the look of the heteranthera in the pictures, so maybe that thing exists in real life...

The limnophila is putting on a good growth spurt at the moment. Rock 'n roll!

End of update.
Hmm, that's strange about the star grass? I have bought Tropica's 1-2-grow cups, the plants are sort of concertinered into the cup so when you tip them out they expand greatly. The plants just look the same, only slightly smaller leaves. If the leaves are creased or bruised they turn a blue/black colour underneath. Perhaps the plant had been mislabeled.
Quick update

1. I have abandoned the 'fish feeding ring' approach to corralling my frogbit - I noticed that biofilm was forming inside the ring, and diatoms on the edges of it. Instead I've rigged up some fishing line in a sort of cross shape (the blue lines in the attached pic) and corralled it all in one of the wedges where there's no planting beneath. The ends of the line are secured to the glass using some mini sucker disks. It seems to do the job. Let's see how that goes.
2. I attached a picture of the randy nerites in action. The bottom one was doing quite a vigorous twisting motion whilst the other was atop. Is this behaviour that more experienced aquarists recognise from these types of snail? I don't think the one on top is trying to eat the shell of the one below because my water is hard as hell so no lack of calcium, and the shell itself still looks perfect as far as I can see, even after multiple 'mountings'.
3. Rather unflattering picture of the underside of the young bristlenose attached. It's doing a beautiful job clearing the diatoms on the glass and leaves. Each day I see a few perfectly clear stripes of bright green on previously completely brown leaves, where the diatoms have been slurped off. Lovely to see it flit around the hardscape and glide to a halt briefly on the gravel before scooting off again - it's got real character.
4. I have been reading on the forum about the possible link between high filter inflow current and higher incidence of diatoms, which seems to mirror my own observations. I strongly suspect that's not the only factor contributing to the diatoms, but nevertheless, I have widened the holes in my spraybar quite substantially and turned down the flow rate just a smidge. Aiming to basically maintain the 'turnover' rate but decrease the strength of the current.
5. I inadvertently knocked my thermometer off the aquarium glass (the suction cup came loose) the other day and I discover to my surprise that it floats, in a lovely vertical orientation - by design! How clever is that.

The unplanted gap on the left hand side of the tank seems to be getting bigger by the day. I wondered about getting a rosette plant instead of / as well as the star grass. Any hard water, high pH, no CO2 recommendations welcome.


  • IMG_20220516_224029472~2.jpg
    795.8 KB · Views: 420
  • IMG_20220516_223747509.jpg
    1.5 MB · Views: 376
  • IMG_20220516_164836057~2.jpg
    441 KB · Views: 387
Hi All

Quick updates

The pleco has now been named 'Gucci' by my daughter's friends because it 'lives in a palace'. I think that's more of a comment on the fact the fish is so small compared to the tank, rather than my aquascaping abilities. Previously happy to be very visible around the tank especially on the glass even with the lights on, Gucci is now very reclusive and is pretty hard to spot during lights-on (and, obviously also hard to spot with lights off).

I have had a tinker with the frogbit corral - brought it more into the centre of the tank to maintain space all round the edges, and better flow around the tank. In the earlier wedge configuration I think the flow was disrupted as it got to the end of the tank. Biofilm was still present, but dissipating now.

I floated a bit of raw courgette in the tank a few days ago. I think it got a few nibbles on day two, but by day three had developed a thick opaque outer layer and by day four had to be scooped out with a spoon. May try blanching next time, see if that makes a difference.

Diatom situation seems to have stabilised (not seeing any new stuff). Which is good.

Think that's about it for now. 🙂
Hi Midwife - thanks for the tip. I have now got a freezer bag of sliced peeled courgette. Will make life easier!

I read somewhere that veggies can be put in raw, which is what I've been doing (fully defrosted of course). To make them sink I sandwich them between two clay discs that I got from some plants.

Appreciate the pointer on how long to keep in the tank - I have been leaving them in waay too long!

Going to try some runner beans, see if they are a hit. Although my pleco is so small it's hard to know if anything is actually being eaten...

Generally, I'm not sure if these veggies need to be steamed/blanched before putting in (to make them edible), or if that's just to make them sink.
Hi there,
I have a JBL food clip with a sucker to fix it on the glass.
I buy a bag of mixed salad leaves & pick out a couple of baby spinach leaves every few of days. Then I blanche the leaves by simply pouring boiling water over them until they wilt, clamp them in the clip & fix it to the tank glass.
My ottos do loop-the-loops all round the tank with excitement!
I'm assuming a small plec will behave similarly to an otto.


  • IMG_20220526_193447.jpg
    3.3 MB · Views: 394
That looks clever - they've thought of everything! I will definitely be getting one of those.

Great to see those ottos out and about on that spinach. My plec has turned into something of a recluse - at least when I'm looking! It's not yet been two weeks so maybe it's still settling in.
Quick update
The tank seems to have grown in a bit. The limnophila sessiflora has even had a bit of a trim (it finally reached the surface), and it's showing off some lovely runners. It's happy.
Our resident plec has done a really remarkable job with the diatoms - the 53B leaves and hardscape are beautifully clean, as is the glass.
I've pulled out some of the limnobium laevigatum - was starting to get quite dense. I've also tinkered with the hardscape a bit.
Thinking about my next steps - probably some more visible and diurnal fish. I saw some lovely cory Kanei at the LFS, and might take the plunge with some tetras too. Also the star grass.


  • IMG_20220609_200443183.jpg
    3.9 MB · Views: 507
Had a power cut at home this morning - courtesy of UK Power Networks with literally one minute's notice by SMS. It knocked my hang-on-back filter off and it didn't restart. I was at work and I just got back home and set it going again - about eight hours with it off.

In other news, I was going to get my Kanei today but I mentioned to the LFS that my filter was not running and they said perhaps best give it a few days with the filter back running before putting new fish in. Don't know if that's over-cautious or not. Anyway, they have my name on them for a few days, which is nice. I think I'll also get some neon tetras - seems a bit of a cliche but I like the colours and they're pretty small so won't take over the tank.

Not a very exiting update, but there it is.
Hi all
Had a power cut at home this morning - courtesy of UK Power Networks with literally one minute's notice by SMS. It knocked my hang-on-back filter off and it didn't restart. I was at work and I just got back home and set it going again - about eight hours with it off.
<"You should be all right">. HOB filters are much better for gas exchange <"than canister filters">, so your filter media is much more likely to have remained oxygenated.

Also planted tanks aren't ever <"wholly reliant on the filter microbes">, they have the <"direct contribution of the plants"> (when the lights came back on) both in terms of both adding oxygen and removing nutrients. There is also the <"synergistic plant / microbe"> effects within the substrate.
but I mentioned to the LFS that my filter was not running and they said perhaps best give it a few days with the filter back running before putting new fish in. Don't know if that's over-cautious or not. Anyway, they have my name on them for a few days, which is nice.
Waiting isn't going to hurt if they are already "yours".

cheers Darrel