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70L planted - first tank

Myrio

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16 Jan 2016
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Anyway, it's clearly a rhizome plant so I've wedged it in to some wood as shown.
Hi! You should not wedge it but tie it to the wood with a sewing thread (it will rot away after some time or a nylon thread used for fishing). Plus if you do that I suggest you to cut its roots and leave them about 3 cm / 1 inch long.

About your nitrates there's no need to keep them so high, probably the test is exaggerated but even if they were at 50 ppm I would bring them at 30 ppm at least. I have read that your tap water has already enough nitrates, so don't dose them if you can.
To me it's more about Iron and micros, but you can ask in Plant Help to receive more opinions. If you have that high KH and are using an airstone, it could be that the pH is quite high. You could try dose more micros and/or use a fertilizer which has the iron chelated with DTPA, which is a stronger chelating agent than EDTA. Don't use Iron gluconate, it will precipitate almost instantly and will not be available for plants.
 

Midwife

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8 May 2021
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Down south
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).
Why did you give up on Brazilian Pennywort?
 

LFNfan

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10 May 2022
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London
Hi All

Thanks for your replies!

To me it's more about Iron and micros, but you can ask in Plant Help to receive more opinions. If you have that high KH and are using an airstone, it could be that the pH is quite high. You could try dose more micros

There is definitely something that needs fixing here.

I am also thinking that this could be micro-related, but the symptoms seem to be nitrogen-related: yellowing of older leaves, new growth smaller and slightly reddish, increasing amount of algae on the leaves (although I am currently attributing that last one to the hot weather we're experiencing here).

pH is high but has always been.


suggest you to cut its roots and leave them about 3 cm / 1 inch long.
Interesting suggestion - why would I cut down the roots? I would have thought better to preserve as much root as possible.
Why did you give up on Brazilian Pennywort?
It was too unruly for me when it came to water changes. I have found the frogbit is much more manageable for me.
 

Myrio

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16 Jan 2016
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Location
Milan
Interesting suggestion - why would I cut down the roots? I would have thought better to preserve as much root as possible.
It will be a PITA to tie it to the wood with those long roots, plus by doing that the plant will produce more fast new roots that will anchor it to the wood, with no need of a thread after some time.
I actually do this when I plant in the substrate too, the plants will develop new roots that will keep them anchored better and also they will spread better in the substrate.
 

LFNfan

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That's really interesting (and a bit counter-intuitive!).
I don't want to go all-in yet, but I've cut a few roots to see how they respond. :)
you can ask in Plant Help to receive more opinions.
I did that. I think there are a few 'macro' (in the sense of 'fundamental' rather than 'nutrients') things to tackle in the first instance (lighting and hard water). Always learning!
 

LFNfan

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@Myrio I glued the anubias to the wood :thumbup: The roots I cut are now somewhere under the substrate. And it looks like it's put out a new leaf in the past day or so. Although I would describe the colour as 'slime green' which is disappointing. I predict it's either going to brighten up or wither away.

I took @jaypeecee 's advice to lower the lighting on my tank, and after about a week the topmost Hygrophila leaves are now greening up and losing their reddish tint. The older leaves are still melting from the tip so things are not yet quite right. Am thinking about 'cutting' my water with reverse osmosis water, but not yet decided.
 

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Myrio

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16 Jan 2016
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Milan
Hi, TBH I have never seen that colour on new leaves. Leave an update in a week.
If you have used a cyanoacrylate glue and haven't covered all the rhizome with the glue it shouldn't be for that
About the Hygrophila if they were already melting before you cut the lights there's nothing to do. You will have to control the "new old" leaves.
About RO water, well it's about you. If I remember right your tap is 20 GH and 20 KH or thereabouts. You should use at least 1/2 RO and 1/2 tap, or better 2/3 -3/4 RO.
You could buy a RO system, but the thing is that your tap is really hard, it might be too hard for a simple RO System (sediments filter + Carbon filter + RO membrane). You might need something before, like a softener that removes most of calcium and magnesium and help the membrane. Plus if your tap water has low pressure you will need a booster pump too, otherwise the system will work even more slowly and produce a lot of wastewater.
You could also consider to buy RO water at the LFSs, just ask how much they want and see what you think is the most convenient choice for you.
 

LFNfan

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Quick update - that new anubias leaf is starting to go a proper green. Not what I was expecting! Let's wait and see how green it goes.

I've done some sums on RO equipment (and softener) thanks to a really patient and helpful RO supplier. It doesn't really add up for me right now. So I've stocked up on some RO water from the LFS. Is gonna mean approx monthly refills at LFS which I'm seeing as the beginning of a new weight-training regime.

Finally, trying to bring down the nitrates, I've started on TNC Lite and will be keeping an eye on plant health and nitrate levels over the next few weeks.
 

_Maq_

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23 Jun 2022
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Czech Republic
I'd like to encourage you to RO+DI. I'm not a 'technical' kind of person and was afraid of it for a while. It turned out it's not difficult to grasp and arrange in the way that suits. Now, I cannot imagine living without it. (Also, my tea is way better since then!)
 

LFNfan

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Ah, I would love to have a RO or RODI system - the 'technical' aspects would be part of the charm for me.
But the up-front and running costs, and to a lesser extent the inevitable time investment in setup and optimisation, don't stack up for me at the moment.
More generally, I need to take quite a strategic approach to my upgrade path, balancing financial, time, and 'goodwill' considerations.
 

LFNfan

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Couple of pics of that new leaf - still a bit pasty compared to the others, but a decent size and definitely signs of chlorophyll!
 

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LFNfan

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Quick tank shot update - plants seem much happier after I brought the light levels down about a month ago, and started 50/50 RO /tap water. I'm dosing alternate days 1ml of TNC Complete and TNC Lite, and keeping up the weekly 50% water changes.
I sprayed the tank background black last week, after the pieces of black paper I'd stuck up there finally fell off. I'm really pleased with how it looks, even after coming down off the spraypaint fumes.
The fish seem pretty happy, although the pleco is a bit of a jerk towards the corys at feeding time. To be fair, it's the corys nibbling the pleco's algae wafer when they have their own food at the other end of the tank! They are quick as a flash and take the pleco in their stride.
The corys have a lovely bit of orange to them which has me thinking maybe some copper harlequin rasboras for the mid-level of the tank could work quite nicely, especially with the new black background.
Regards all
 

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LFNfan

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Quick update - still following the single light regime and 50/50 RO/tap. Aside from the anubias, the plants are unhappy, and so I'm not entirely 'in love' with the tank at the moment. The frogbit is slowly melting and has rubbish roots, the 53B has cracked older leaves, and the limnophila is losing its older fronds leaving just exposed stem. I am putting this down to rather inconsistent fert dosing and dropping the light to just six hours, from eight over the past month or so. To be a bit more consistent with the ferts, this week I've started dosing TNC Complete and TNC Lite on alternate days, 1ml a time. Will give it a month and see how that goes.

On the up-side, the pleco and the corys seem pretty content.
 

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dw1305

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Hi all,
The frogbit is slowly melting and has rubbish roots
That looks like it might be a <"magnesium (Mg) and / or an iron (Fe) deficiency">. They are both much more likely in hard (calcium (Ca++)) rich water. You would need an <"iron chelator that works in harder water">.

I'd try some extra magnesium. The easiest option is magnesium sulphate heptahydrate (MgSO4.7H20), you can buy it really cheaply as <"Epsom Salts">.
still following the single light regime.....and dropping the light to just six hours, from eight over the past month or so
I'd both turn the <"light intensity up"> and have a <"longer photoperiod">. This is what @Christel (<"Kasselmann">) says:
Hi, I have been a passionate plant aquarist for more than 45 years. All my 11 plant aquariums with in total 4000 liters have a day length of at least 12 hours of lighting, as I cultivate many species and I use an average value for the day length. There are species such as Anubias, Bolbitis, Bucephalandra that grow in the tropical rainforest and they have a slightly shorter day length due to the shading of the trees............
That way you can take <"lack of light"> out of the equation and your floating plant has <"already removed CO2 availability"> as an issue.

Once light and CO2 are out of the way it <"only leaves the mineral nutrients">.

cheers Darrel
 
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LFNfan

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Thanks Darrel - really appreciate that, and the links.

More light! I have upped the photo period to 12 hours - that should give the plants a better opportunity to actually use the nutrients in the water (!). Feels like a bit of a rookie error that one. What was I thinking.

My very basic lighting setup means I don't have much fine control when it comes to light intensity. I think I will leave that variable alone for a couple of weeks and then reevaluate. A bit of history - I had been struggling with bleaching on my 53B, so reduced (halved!) the light level in August this year.

I've got some TNC Fe (DTPA) handy so will start introducing that to 0.5ppm. The TNC Fe states 1ml/10L to get to 1ppm, so for 60L to 0.5ppm I think I should be dosing 3ml. Should that all go in at once?? And then top-up after every water change (if I change 30L I dose 1.5ml)?

I already mix in about a flat tablespoon of Mg with each water change, so, every couple of weeks.

Always learning! Many thanks
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I've got some TNC Fe (DTPA) handy so will start introducing that to 0.5ppm.
See what happens, even if it is an iron deficiency it will take a while for growth to improve, because the <"plant can't shuffle iron (Fe) around its tissue"> and only new leaves will be healthier.

I'd try a bit more fertiliser, have a look at <"Floaters">. I'm using <"Solufeed 2 : 1 : 4"> at the moment and that looks to work quite well, but I have softer water than you (I'm a <"rain-water user">).

cheers Darrel
 

LFNfan

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To add 10ppm of NO3, I think I'd need only 1g of Solufeed 2:1:4 for my 65L tank.
Not sure if this is right because rotalabutterfly seems to indicate that dosing 4g of TNC Complete would add just shy of 1ppm N - maybe this needs multiplying by 4.43 to get to NO3? Even so, that's quite a difference.

Doing a bit more thinking on this, I realise that putting the lights on for longer will enable the plants to consume more nutrients. But I suspect my 'nutrients in / nutrients out' balance is off because my NO3 tests are always showing on the redder side of orange; 40+ppm (too high). The other way nutrients are getting in the tank is from feeding the fish - half an algae wafer and seven or eight catfish pellets a day.

Is there a way to 'balance' things better without relying on the 'water change' reset? Add more plant mass, less fish food, lower dosing seem to be the options (I'm already doing 50/50 RO/tap).

SourceEffectCumulative
Tap NO3+20ppm+20ppm
TNC NO3+5ppm+25ppm
Plant usage-10ppm+15ppm
Fish food+15ppm+30ppm
Water changereset+20ppm
 
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