Back to planted tanks after 16 years . . .

Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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727
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Nottingham
Hello everyone,

After a long 16 year hiatus away from any type of aquaria, my 7 year old son has reignited my deeply hidden passion for this hobby.

I used to have planted tanks for about 5 years, way back between 2000-2004 when we lived in a one bed flat in Oxford. Such was my obsession with aquaria back then, our friends gave our flat the name 'A River Runs Through It'!

When we moved out of that flat, everything had to be packaged up and disassembled, and livestock moved on to new homes. It's stayed like that for 16 years, and across another house and county move, and remained in the back of the garage until three weeks ago when my 7 year old declared that he would like a fish tank for Christmas.

So into the depths of the garage I went. I had almost forgotten all the kit I had - two tanks with cabinets, several external filters, full CO2 dosing kit, stacks of expensive bog wood and rocks, numerous heaters including under gravel cabling - the list goes on.

In the loft I dug out an old box of books to give some inspiration to my son, including several glossy hard backed books by Takashi Amano with those glorious glossy photos of his tanks that I'm sure we've all seen. That was fortunately enough in about three page turns for my son to decide he wanted a fully planted tank, and dissuade him from the pirate treasure chest that opens every 2 minutes to release a cloud of bubbles, that he'd seen in the local aquarium shop that weekend!

I've spent the last three weeks reading extensively on the current thinking on planted tanks, with many of my google searches bringing me here to this forum, so I thought I would join up and see if I could get some direct feedback from members here.

Things appear to have changed a fair bit in the hobby since I was last involved. Back when I had my tanks, I spent countless hours trying to find a cost effective dosing solution for plant ferts - automated dosers back then cost a small fortune as only medical grade ones appeared to be available - now I see you can buy fully programmable versions off Amazon for less than 100 quid! CO2 dosing also hadn't been out long, and so the options for dosing ended at big plastic in tank spirals and the like. Now I see there is a plethora of reactors and diffusers, both in tank and inline. I also like the advent of all the in tank glassware - very nice! Finally to think I spent so much time and effort back then trying to extract the nitrates and phosphates out of my tap water with absorbant compounds to pre-filter the tap water thorough, and later a full RO unit, stripping everything out and adding salts back in - and now I've read about the EI system where we intentionally add nitrates and phosphates back in, which actually makes a lot more sense.

So a fully planted, high tech tank it is. It will be my sons tanks, but also, kinda mine too.

We'll be starting off just with my smallest tank, a 600mm 70L tank. I don't like the idea of my old potentially explodable mercury vapour halides sitting in his bedroom, so we'll be adding on the the Fluval Plant 3.0 LED unit - again to think I spent countless days in the past trying to create a day/night cycle with coloured lights to simulate sunrise and sunset, and a separate moonlight - now it all comes in one unit you can program from your phone!

I'm pressing into service an old Eheim 2028 filter which is still in perfect condition, and my old Aquamedic CO2 system with still mostly full 6Kg bottle.

The main change I'm going to make on this set-up is to automate the water changes - lugging buckets of water around a flat was the bane of my time with tanks back in the day. So as my sons room is next to the bathroom (literally the wash hand basin is on the opposite side of the wall the where the tank will be) I've decided to mount a small plastic header tank on the wall next to the aquarium tank, and will use timed solenoids to auto fill the header tank, and then drip release the resulting treated water - via a second low pressure solenoid - to the tank, with waste water going through a bulk head overflow (yet to be cut in the tank - gulp!) and back through the wall to the wash hand basin waste outlet.

This system should enable me to change up to 20% of the water daily if needed, but I will initially aim for a 20% change every three days, unless I get advise to the contrary on this forum.

I'll adopt the EI dosing system, and I'll employ one of these Jebao dosers I've seen on Amazon, to dose the micro and macro ferts to the tank, along with the necessary tap water treatment (Stresscoat etc) to the header tank.

I may open a Journal thread if I get time, so that I can track the set-up and changes.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but that's the stage I'm at right now.
 

Kalum

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8 Jan 2018
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Love a good background story and welcome back to the hobby :thumbup:

I'm sure your son will love his (your) new tank
 

Wookii

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Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
727
Location
Nottingham
Love a good background story and welcome back to the hobby :thumbup:

I'm sure your son will love his (your) new tank
Thanks - I certainly hope he does - and if he doesn't, I certainly will lol

I'm hoping the lack of manual water changes will help - that would make him lose interest in a couple of months - and he can focus on livestock carer and pruning.
 

GlenD

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26 Jun 2019
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London
Hi, there is no need for bucket water changes anyway.

All you need is a hose long enough to go from the sink/toilet/bath for syphoning water out the tank. Then a HoseLock mixer tap connector to connect to a bathroom mixer tap, fiddle with the hot cold water until your getting the right temperature, dose the tank with Seachem Prime dechlorinator, connect hose to tap and sit back and wait for the tank to fill. It so easy I can't believe I've been doing it differently for 15yr. Another bonus is that if your doing a 5L or 500L water change it's the same.

Also for fertilisation in a smaller tank, I'd just use TNC Complete, feed a few ml when you feed the fish each day.
 

Jayefc1

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Hi and welcome glad to see your bringing the next generation of scapers through hope you both get hours of enjoyment and its a good bonding tool i find with my 5 year old glad to have you with us a journal to watch is always welcome too
Cheers
Jay
 

Wookii

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Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
727
Location
Nottingham
Hi, there is no need for bucket water changes anyway.

All you need is a hose long enough to go from the sink/toilet/bath for syphoning water out the tank. Then a HoseLock mixer tap connector to connect to a bathroom mixer tap, fiddle with the hot cold water until your getting the right temperature, dose the tank with Seachem Prime dechlorinator, connect hose to tap and sit back and wait for the tank to fill. It so easy I can't believe I've been doing it differently for 15yr. Another bonus is that if your doing a 5L or 500L water change it's the same.

Also for fertilisation in a smaller tank, I'd just use TNC Complete, feed a few ml when you feed the fish each day.
Thanks for the suggestions, but I'll stick with the plan for the header tank and auto-water changes - that'll be the easiest of all - literally having to do nothing for water changes lol

Plus I'd never feel comfortable adding the chlorine and chloramine rich tap water we have in Nottingham, directly into my tank - I'd much prefer to get rid of it first.

I'll check out the TNC complete, but really have my eye on the full EI system.
 

Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
Messages
727
Location
Nottingham
Hi and welcome glad to see your bringing the next generation of scapers through hope you both get hours of enjoyment and its a good bonding tool i find with my 5 year old glad to have you with us a journal to watch is always welcome too
Cheers
Jay
Thanks. Yeah, the bonding side is nice - we've already spend a good few hours sorting through by old bog wood - and he's already design a couple of hard scapes!

Yep, I'll try and sort a journal out if I get chance - at the very least it would be good to provide a historical diary of the tanks progress to look back on further down the line.
 

alto

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24 Dec 2014
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Despite the automated water change system, substrate siphoning is still recommended :)


(and this is a very well maintained tank :D)

Mark Evans ukaps Journals are well worth the reading time :cool:

One of my all time favourite aquarium scapes
Mark Evans 120 x 55 x 55 Journal

Mark Evans ‘Blue Sky’ Iwagumi

Maybe journaling is another project to share with your kid - it’s wonderful to be able to track tank progress
(and it’s useful in case of any issues ... not that you’ll have any :angelic:)
 

Tim Harrison

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Welcome :)
Nice story, and one that's familiar to many of us, including myself; we all return to planted in the end ;)
A journal is a marvellous idea. It'd be great to follow your journey.
 

Wookii

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Location
Nottingham
Despite the automated water change system, substrate siphoning is still recommended :)


(and this is a very well maintained tank :D)
Oh absolutely, the automated water changes won't replace regular maintenance - just remove one of the big chores. I have an old Fluval canister filter set aside exclusively for vacuuming

Mark Evans ukaps Journals are well worth the reading time :cool:

One of my all time favourite aquarium scapes
Mark Evans 120 x 55 x 55 Journal

Mark Evans ‘Blue Sky’ Iwagumi
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/blue-sky-iwagumi-overgrown.15651/

Thanks I'll check that out - it's very much the style we're hoping to achieve - albeit on a smaller scale, and a triangular layout rather than convex due to the limited tank length - though I doubt it'll look as good as that one you've linked to, but we can all dream!

Maybe journaling is another project to share with your kid - it’s wonderful to be able to track tank progress
(and it’s useful in case of any issues ... not that you’ll have any :angelic:)
Lol it'd be nice not to have any issues, but I doubt we'll escape that easily - I've never had a tank that didn't have issues at some point or another. I have pre-warned by son that, despite the beautiful Amano images he's been looking at, he shouldn't get dismayed if he comes home from school one day to a pea soup tank, or brown algae everywhere.
 

Wookii

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Nottingham
Welcome :)
Nice story, and one that's familiar to many of us, including myself; we all return to planted in the end ;)
A journal is a marvellous idea. It'd be great to follow your journey.
Many thanks Tim, I'll endeavour to get the journal up and running. I have some images of my sons hardscaping mock ups, so I guess I could start with that.
 

Wookii

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On a slight tangent - I’m sorting through some of the rocks I have from my old tanks, and I notice some of them have developed red stains like rust, which does scrub off in the sink. The rocks do have kind of a metallic sheen, though I’d be surprised if they actually contain any iron. I think they were originally purchased from Maidenhead Aquatics.

Can anyone help identify them, and confirm whether or not this is something to be concerned about? The rear one is particularly heavily affected.

upload_2019-11-15_15-31-15.jpeg
 

Tim Harrison

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Looks like some sort of metamorphic rock, possibly schist or gneiss. Probably is iron, either way I wouldn't worry about the rock influencing water chemistry too much, it should be fine.
 

MaverickGR

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14 Oct 2019
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I have tried similar rocks in a small planted cube. We call them "iron-stones" here. They killed any snail or shrimp that I added in the tank. I would advise against them.

Στάλθηκε από το Mi A2 μου χρησιμοποιώντας Tapatalk
 

MaverickGR

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I did measure copper levels before adding the snails and it was within normal range. I assume it was the iron that killed the invertebrates.

Στάλθηκε από το Mi A2 μου χρησιμοποιώντας Tapatalk
 

Wookii

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I have tried similar rocks in a small planted cube. We call them "iron-stones" here. They killed any snail or shrimp that I added in the tank. I would advise against them.

Στάλθηκε από το Mi A2 μου χρησιμοποιώντας Tapatalk
Thanks for the feedback, though these rocks have been used with shrimp in the past without any issues, so I guess they should be okay - it was just some of the newly developed staining I was concerned about - though it has taken 16 years to get like that!

Also I was under the impression that iron wasn’t a problem for inverts?
 

MaverickGR

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image-0-02-05-3953c56e014e250b3eb0752674b03dd70663fd46b1d2b9a5e386040fb890a65e-V.jpg


Here is a pic of my stones, along with the dead snails... I also thought that iron would be safe for the inverts, but I assume the levers were over the roof (I didn't have a test for it). Alternatively, it could have been some other metal released by the stones...
 
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