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Creepy Hollow

Kogre

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Perhaps premature but I have livestock in the tank now. I have 30 Rummy Nosed Tetras and 6 Apistogramma Cacatuoides ((2 males and 4 females) with 2 additional ones of a different colour strain on the way). Right about now I'm thinking stocking wise, this is almost already complete. I may get some Congo Tetra and Pearl Gourami's as a finisher, but I don't think I need to lean towards my original stocking ideas at all.

Anyway I've seen some interesting things in the last few weeks, both positive and negative.

I've got signs of hair algea in certain spots that are darker than others. I expected algea anyway and thankfully I see it on bucephalandra that's on a spot of lava rock so is easily removed and cleaned.

The Sagittaria subulata is going crazy in places. Leaves are looking more like curved vallesneria than sagittaria because of the length. This might be because of where the fert caps were placed.

I'm seeing the S Repens doing really well with healthy leaves (still early days, I know) but I'm seeing roots growing from the stems themselves. Almost as if there isn't enough nutrition in the substrate? (There might not be, most of these have been planted in sand with Tropica fert capsules dotted around the place.) Or the stems have grown too long? Either way I'm seeing new leaves on most of these plants.

The Anubias Nana is doing incredibly well. One has flowered (another one might have but I think I choked out the flowering part with string). There are visible signs of new growth, as slow as it might be.

Looking and comparing pictures from initial planting to now, it looks as though the Cryptocoryne is doing incredibly well, reaching up for the light, or extending shadowed leaves towards the direction of light.

At this stage I'm dosing 35ml of the TNC Complete every day and have been for about a week.

The Apisto's are showing signs of territory domination, which is nice to see. As I only had two males in here, I think it became unfair on the beta male which is why I ordered two additional Super Reds, I requested one as a male and the other as a female but at this stage I don't mind if they both turn up as males so the aggression can be diffused amongst the lot, instead of being singularly homed by the current alpha to the only beta. Really beautiful fish to watch.

One other thing is that I'm not seeing the Apisto's feed. I've called the person who I bought these from and they said they fed them pellets and flake. I've tried both, tubifex worms and have dried blood worm pellets on the way. They seem to casually graze and ignore any food that passes them by. I might starve the fish for a couple of days before dropping in their next meal. The RNT are eating like crazy. They'll eat anything and even hang out at the substrate to graze if anything makes it past them. I'm hoping they're not outcompeting the Apisto's, but from what I've seen suggests otherwise.
 

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Kogre

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Dosing has been upped to 40ml/day. I think I'll need to know the equivelant in the dry salts I'd need to make up the same-ish when I eventually switch. Lighting has also been increased to 50% for about a week. I don't remember doing this so I must have been innebriated. I'll keep an eye on things and tone it down if I see evidence of unsightly algae. I've been removing any signs of hair algae I see as and when I see it. I say hair algae but it just grows as one long strand so I'm not 100% sure of what it actually is. Perhaps a type of hair algae? I dunno.

I ended up trimming the Staurogyne Repens on the right and replanting the trimmings across the front of the tank, making it more dense on the right where I may have missed a few spots (but still left some gaps for the Apisto's to swim through). It's looking better in that now from the right side the Ludwigia Sp Red is visible (just barely) and it's growing a nice shade of a greeny-orange at the moment. The top leaves are not rounded like when I planted it so it looks like conversion has been taking place, I've seen loads of small rounded leaves with green tops and red bottoms floating around that I've removed, and they've grown about 4 inches/10cm since they were planted.

I had a rogue Anubias Caladiifolia that became dislodged from the right side where I had placed them between two rocks. I ended up moving this to a gap in the wood in the centre next to some Anubias Nana. The Caladiifolia have lovely striped texture on their (pretty big) leaves, so it's a nice contrast with the leaf shape, size and texture being different.

I also had a rogue Bucephelandra that fell off one of the branches, I've moved it to the left just behind the Anubias on the log, barely noticeable but a nice detail.

The Sagittaria Subulata is just going bonkers. I don't see any runners yet but the leaves are REALLY getting to some ridiculous lengths, where I'm beginning to ask myself whether I'd planted a rosette type Vallisneria that probably doesn't exist :eek:

Speaking of, I've got a couple of long bright leaves of Vallisneria that are almost reaching up to the height of the outlets. I'm hoping many more get to this height. I've also seen runners, one which is still small, and another that began growing inside the hollow where I expect it may die due to lack of light.

Everything else doesn't seem to be doing much. The Echinodorus Bleheri that had a runner extending upwards (on the right) has had the runner grow roots and the leaves that were initially tiny are growing. Not sure whether I should plant it, cut it and plant it or just leave it for now. The Reni seems to be doing their thing at their own pace. Lovely plants I must say.

I have some Hygrophila Siamensis 53B on the way at some stage. I'll have to remove some hardscape to plant it but I want to cover the outlets with a bushy stem plant, and there is a gap just off middle that would benefit by having something planted as right you can see where I used expanding foam to join a couple of pieces of wood together.

The moss seems to be doing well. I think it needs a trim to keep growth compact as it's started to reach. I'll probably do this with a large net the next time the water level is halfway down and place the trimmings elsewhere.

I thought all but two of my shrimp had died as I'd not seen them for a few weeks. I managed to count 11 that were out and visible yesterday, so was chuffed they've not expensive been Apisto food. I've also seen quite a lot of their shed. Quite strange to see the first time I saw it, I thought it was a dead shrimp on the filter inlet but then saw a few more and have taken them out to see what it was and it looks like a few of them at least are growing quite nicely.

IMG_20210418_211606.jpg

I'll take a few more detail photos and upload them at some stage.
 

Wookii

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Looking great!!

Don't worry about planting stem plants in front of the filter inlets - as long as the leaves don't physically stick to the inlet grating, they won't affect the flow, and its actually beneficial for the plant, as it means it constantly has fresh water flowing past it.

Also, don't worry about some plants taking their time to get going. You often find with a tank things go very slowly for some time, and then just seem to hit a certain level of maturity (usually around the 3-4 month mark in my experience) and growth explodes. I imagine you'll find that with your Vallis - it'll suddenly just take off at some point and throw leaves to the surface, and runners everywhere.

On the dry salts, all you'll need to do is mix up as per the instructions (if you buy them from APFUK) and then just choose what proportion of the standard 10ml/50L dose to apply to your tank.
 
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Kogre

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Yes, I have APFUK dry salts. I just need it clarified, what did you mean choose what proportion of the standard dose to apply? You mean the standard dose would be overkill for my low tech system because the standard dose is aimed towards CO2 injected systems so I'd need to use a fraction of the suggested amount?

Thanks once again for your response as always. :)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Yes, I have APFUK dry salts. I just need it clarified, what did you mean choose what proportion of the standard dose to apply? You mean the standard dose would be overkill for my low tech system because the standard dose is aimed towards CO2 injected systems so I'd need to use a fraction of the suggested amount?
Yes, that is the one. If you don't add CO2, your submerged plants will be CO2 limited. I'd try 50% of EI and see how you get on, over time you may find even that is too much (if the conductivity constantly creeps up) and you can reduce that down further.

Carbon is the nutrient that need most of and also <"Liebig's limiting nutrient">. If you have good circulation the level of CO2 in the water low tech. is going to be somewhere in the 1 - 3 ppm range, rather than the 30 ppm indicated by a yellow drop checker.

After that it is really down to how fast you want your plants to grow, and the plants you have. I run my tanks <"nutrient depleted">, but I only use <"a limited palette"> of <"difficult to kill, slow growing plants"> and one or more floating plants (not CO2 limited) as my <"nutrient indicator"> and spare biofiltration capacity. I don't add fertiliser by rote, I just <"add some when I think the tank needs it">.

cheers Darrel
 

Wookii

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Yes, I have APFUK dry salts. I just need it clarified, what did you mean choose what proportion of the standard dose to apply? You mean the standard dose would be overkill for my low tech system because the standard dose is aimed towards CO2 injected systems so I'd need to use a fraction of the suggested amount?

Thanks once again for your response as always. :)

Yes, exactly that. EI is designed to make nutrients non-limiting in a CO2 injected tank. I dose at approximately 1/3 EI on my low tech tank currently, but I have slower growers than yours, so the 50% as Darrel suggests might be a good idea.

At the end of the day, as long as you are doing your weekly 50% water change every week, having excess nutrients cause no issues in the quantities we are discussing, so better to have slightly too much than too little in my book - one less thing to think about.
 

Kogre

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The Hygrophila turned up yesterday, as did some Bucephalandra Theia Dark courtesy of @GHNelson so I cracked on with lowering the waterline down to about 40% and planting everything in. I'm quite happy with the Hygrophila, a lot of it was longer than I had expected. I used the longer stems on the left and shorter stems on the right to prevent it looking too artificial, with a few rogue ones in spaces that were begging to be planted into. Overall, the planting itself looks shoddy to me. It'll probably look better once it's grown in. It's pretty tough reaching into the back corners of the tank, even from the sides, because of the glass supports for the (no longer present) condensation covers.

The bucephalandra I stuck on the wood, either next to existing wavy green or in one place solely (where the wavey green had detached from earlier). I still have space that is begging for more narrow leaf java fern, but I want to wait for the Ludwigia to reach a decent height before I buy more plants that could potentially cast shadows over the it. Otherwise, I'm 80% happy with it.
IMG_20210421_205925.jpg
 

Wookii

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I like it a lot. I think the Hygro has made a big improvement in giving some added depth perception and filling out those empty corners, and once its grown in, it will add some real depth of background. It's nicely heavily planted now, so you should pat yourself on the back, and sit back, relax, and enjoy it!
 

shangman

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I don't think it looks shoddy at all! It already looks lush and lovely, I really like all the shades of green you have and the mix of textures and sizes of leaves, looking very luscious already.

Would love to see some closeups of your lovely apistos amongst the foliage 👀
 

Kogre

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Thank you all for your responses. I'm also looking forward to just watching it grow in and only getting my hands wet when conducting maintenance.

So, a little surprise while trying to capture pictures of the apisto's. They've bred! It explains why there was a female in there from hell, she had darkened quite a lot and was like a cruise missile, darting around and nipping anything that came close to the center of the tank. I thought this was for territory, but suspected her unusual behaviour (when compared to the rest of the females at least) was down to her being protective possibly. And turns out she has some little free swimmers with her. I first noticed a single one swimming around by itself. I got all excited. When the mother turned up and shot back to the back center of the tank, I cheered as soon as I saw them.

A few pictures/video of the apito's and the first fry I saw here: Creepy Hollow


IMG_20210422_142727.jpg
 
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shangman

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Gorgeous!!! 😍😍😍 Now you really know you're doing things right :) They're really beautiful fab fish, the fins on those males are just stunning, like long flower petals, I bet they're amazing when they flare up.

It's really lovely to see a nice community of apistos in a big tank, looking forward to seeing more of their exploits and dynamics! Are you going to give the fry some help or just see what happens? In a tank like this I'm sure you'll get a few fry growing up either way.
 

Kogre

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Thanks @shangman. I have another male in there but he's younger/smaller and is a "double red" but looks more like a double orange to me. Perhaps he'll colour up as he matures.

Yes, when they flare up they do look amazing. There is one bossy male (I'm guessing the dad), a second orange flash and my favourite is the youngest, but he gets picked on quite a bit (picture below). I've seen his tail split all the way along which was horrible to see. He seems to be eating and hiding as much as he can when not getting his butt kicked, so once he grows out hopefully he'll hold his own at least against at least the smaller females that are knocking him about at the moment.

IMG_20210421_194402.jpg


I have a holding box but want to see how this plays out in the tank itself. I've been feeding BBS every few days anyway (trying to condition the/a female) and now I have reason to continue to do so. I'm guessing they'll all either be one gender or another and I don't really want that, but I don't mind ultimately. Whatever survives to maturity will be a nice addition to the community. Good thing I didn't run out and buy those pearl gourami's straight away.
 

shangman

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He's a cutie! I'm sure he'll grow up big and glorious with amazing stained glass fins, whether he's orange or red.

I think it's interesting to see how the fry do in a tank alone, to me the ideal tank is one where the apistos can raise a few fry themselves without our extra intervention, but idk if that's really hard. Will be eagerly following your tank to see how it goes!
What temperature do you keep them at? I think most of my baby apistos are males, even though I kept them at the temp where you're meant to get a 50/50 split. I think I've got a few females, but less than I thought at first lol, it's so hard to tell when they're tiny!!
 

Kogre

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It bugs the mother when I have my phone against the glass so she comes and gives me a sneaky display of aggression.

Hey @shangman they're kept at 24 degrees. I'll keep you posted with updates. At the moment the fry will be going a couple of days as I get a couple of batches of BBS going. I'm sure they'll be fine. I've seen them swimming around with their mum and they don't seem weak or anything.

I noticed the double red male jump in twice and get a mouthful of fry a couple of times yesterday. It wasn't nice to watch, but the mother did a good job to jump right on top of him and nip him away. It was a well planned ambush too... I didn't see him and he darted in when the females back was turned.

The S Repens has started looking a little weak. The leaves have holes in them and in some places, looks like they're melting. I'm guessing this is a nutrient deficiency and I plan on sticking some Tetra Initial Sticks around the sand where I know there is no decent substrate. I'd already done with with Tropica Nutrient Capsules but it doesn't look like it was enough, or placement wasn't as dense as it should have been. Or perhaps I should just be patient and wait for the roots to reach the capsules? I dunno. Either way it's probably a good idea to get more in. Can't do any harm.
 

dw1305

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Kogre

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Thanks Darrel.

Also I have to apologise. The picture I showed of the mother wasn't the mother of the first brood. I have a second brood in there! One lives towards the rear of the left side and the other (the one I knew about) lives in the center rear. I thought it was the same one moving around the tank, just brighter yellows. Nope, different fish altogether.
 
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