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).