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First Planted Tank - Help with Set up plans

marzayyad

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Hi All - First time poster and about to embark on my first planted tank ever (or any aquarium actually). Want to say a big thank you to all the posters on here as the help/tutorials and amount of detailed research on this forum is amazing and has been invaluable to me as I plan. I've been researching for about a month and a half so think I've got a good basic idea of the theory, but wanted to get this out here and ask for help as appreciate theory will be a lot different to reality! Ultimately the plan is to run a high tech planted tank with a medium fish stock and medium light plants. All items are about to be delivered over next few days - should have probably got this out beforehand! -but want to sanity check what I'm doing. Sorry for the long post.

Set up -
65L / 17 G Column tank (I know..) to fit within a bookcase. 35cm(L) x 35cm(W) x 58cm (H)
Light - x1 TMC Grobeam 1500 Ultima ColourPlus (will DIY polished aluminum reflector to intensify as surface area is quite small and substrate deep).
Filtration: x2 Fluval 107 w/ Spray bar for each (the second is more for water circulation toward bottom of tank). Assume I will have to limit the circulation rate.
Water circulation/Oxygenation: Both spray bars on back wall horizonal facing toward front of the tank. One at the top and one half way down, about 30cm deep.
Co2: Ordered a Fluval kit but swapping the regulator with solenoid integrated, 2 stage, needle value etc.
Substrate: ADA Amazonia / No Cap
100w Heater

Questions:
1) Anyone have experience with 2ft depth and a single Growbeam light? The tank dimensions are small it's just the depth, I will struggle getting another light on-top of the tank, most LED bars are too long, AI Prime 16HD was considered, but more expensive and worried it's overkill, same with Kessil A160...would these be necessary? About £100 more expensive.
I want to grow :
Fissidens - Moss Wall - upper half of the tank on the back. Planted between Hygrolon and Epiweb
Christmas Moss - on Bonzai branches - lower and mid 2/3rds of tank
On substrate: Reineckii Mini and Lidwigia Reopens (or Rotala Wallichi may be too difficult)
Will I get enough light at substrate for this mix of plants?
2) If I limit the flow rate of pumps, will 2 spray bars be okay, especially the one submerged in the middle of the tank or will it create too much flow for the plants? Basically worried about circulation at the bottom, is there a better way to do this, thought of a powerhead but for little extra cost I can get the added filtration as well. Should I put the spray bars on the side of the tank? The dimensions are the same so probably will make no difference, perhaps better aesthetically as will only have a front view in bookcase..?
3) As a complete noobie - I bet there is something obvious I'm missing that would make all or a part of this plan impossible, don't hold back...
4) Bioload. I will cycle tank with no plants/fish and will probably wait a while after planting before introducing any fish. But in terms of bio-load in a small tank, I'm thinking Betta, 6-7 Neon Tetra, a few snails and maybe 3 pygmie cory (will have front 1/3 of tank with sand and rock barrier to soil behind. Is this reasonable or too much?

Diagram:
Tank Front View.PNG


Thanks everyone in advance and appreciate any honest feedback that's available. Nothing is set up yet so have flexibility in changing thinking and/or approach.
 

marzayyad

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For anyone interested this is how it's turned out after 1 1/2 months. Few pics below
Learnings:
Everyone who says having a column tank is a nightmare is right, cleaning and pruning on substrate is difficult / time consuming.
Couldn't fit 2 spray bars because the there's not enough space on the back of the tank given filter intake, outtakes x2. However, given the footprint actually the normal Fluval out-take at the top creates water movement across the entire surface anyway and having a spray bar half way down has been very important - both for normal circulation + getting Co2 diffused to the bottom.

Currently having some issues with hair Algae on the Christmas moss so have reduced light intensity to 60%, reduced lights on to 7 hours, increased Co2 bubble count and increased nutrient - using Aquascaper Complete...not sure if it's the best as I don't have anything to compare it too, seems to be doing an okay job with the Reineckii Mini but they are growing slowly. Also added a few faster growing stem plants to help with balance.
Think hair algae on the bonsai is also related to being a column tank, clearly a lot of light at the top of the tree, but needed to reach the deep substrate.

Moss wall idea has been scrapped for now, quickly realised I have enough on my plate as it is as a first time.
Fish wise; got 6 neons and 6 rummynose from pets at home. Didn't quarantine the second set of tetras (rummynose) like a noob when I got them, seems one was infected with a fungus and a few others caught it. 1 neon and 1 rummy sadly passed away after medication but all others healthy and looking good. (and now have a hospital tank set up at least).

Questions if someone can answer -
  • Given the hair algae is growing only at the top of the bonsai tree on the moss, how do I mitigate against that without starving the substrate of light...Excel? Floating plant or something?
  • Upping the Co2 is resulting the drop checker becoming yellowish towards end of light period, the fish do not go to the surface, but noticed they breath a little bit harder, no physical signs of distress other then that or gasping at surface, is that okay or is that a sign of major distress in itself?
  • When should i start pruning off the tops of the reinecki? I want them to grow bushy but they seem kinda small still I would be like removing 60% of it at the moment with a cut.
  • Fungus still present on bonsai but hoping that will clear itself up eventually, but some of it is stuck to the moss now or overlapping, will that kill the moss?

20210304_222127.jpg

20210304_222155.jpg
 

ceg4048

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Ultimately the plan is to run a high tech planted tank with a medium fish stock and medium light plants.
Hello,
My first advice is to stop thinking about plants in terms of how much light they need. There are no plants that "need" high light. More light simply causes plants to grow faster, but that also means that algae can grow faster. On the other hand, there are plants that do not like high light.
It's a much better policy to think about plants in terms of how much CO2 they need. Difficult (or so called "advanced") plants that do not tolerate poor CO2 - and that's usually because in their native habitat they are typically found only semi-submersed, so that they generally always have access to atmospheric CO2 as well as atmospheric Oxygen. Weeds that are considered hardy are those with excellent and efficient CO2 and O2 uptake mechanism and so are not as affected by poor CO2/O2.

With this in mind it is correct to interpret the hair algae as too much light for the available CO2. Reducing the light and increasing the CO2 are correct responses, however, we can go further by optimizing the timing of the CO2 and by reviewing the flow/distribution.
Upping the Co2 is resulting the drop checker becoming yellowish towards end of light period, the fish do not go to the surface, but noticed they breath a little bit harder, no physical signs of distress other then that or gasping at surface, is that okay or is that a sign of major distress in itself?
The DC should be yellowish at about the time that your lights turn on. This is a very delicate balance between injection rate and timing. You can try a lower injection rate but start the gas earlier and then turn it off earlier. The distress displayed by the fish is called hypercapnia and it is the effect that CO2 has on the Oxygen carrying ability of hemoglobin in the bloodstream of the fish.
The fish have some ability to neutralize this effect but it's better to minimize this issue by having good flow/distribution.
In your diagram above you show two spraybars separated by a moss wall. I'm not seeing any of this in the subsequent photo, so it's difficult to assess. Instead, schematically, it would be better to just place the two spraybars together, one above the other without any separation. The combined energy of the two flows would then work in unison. Of course the holes on both should face forward. The stronger the pumping power the more easily the flow will strike the front glass and cascade down the front wall towards the bottom, reaching the Alternanthera as well as the moss on the tree.
When should i start pruning off the tops of the reinecki? I want them to grow bushy but they seem kinda small still I would be like removing 60% of it at the moment with a cut.
I would leave well enough alone for now until you have fixed the hair algae. Only remove damaged leaves.
Fungus still present on bonsai but hoping that will clear itself up eventually, but some of it is stuck to the moss now or overlapping, will that kill the moss?
During your weekly water change lower the water level and clean off the fungus. Remove as often as possible.

Cheers,
 

marzayyad

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@ceg4048 thanks dude
he DC should be yellowish at about the time that your lights turn on. This is a very delicate balance between injection rate and timing. You can try a lower injection rate but start the gas earlier and then turn it off earlier.
I'll shift the Co2 on/off time and bring it forward another hour (2 hours) to optimize better against photo period. Do you typically turn off the Co2 as soon as the DC turns yellowish (I know there is a delay)....??
In your diagram above you show two spraybars separated by a moss wall. I'm not seeing any of this in the subsequent photo, so it's difficult to assess. Instead, schematically, it would be better to just place the two spraybars together, one above the other without any separation.
Thanks, I'll shift both bars to the top and assess the flow towards the bottom from there, they should be powerful enough not to cause any issues. (I scrapped the moss wall for now - biting off more then I can chew).
I would leave well enough alone for now until you have fixed the hair algae. Only remove damaged leaves.
thank you
During your weekly water change lower the water level and clean off the fungus. Remove as often as possible.
thank you
 

ceg4048

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I'll shift the Co2 on/off time and bring it forward another hour (2 hours) to optimize better against photo period. Do you typically turn off the Co2 as soon as the DC turns yellowish (I know there is a delay)....??
When the DC turns yellow (or whatever is the target color) that's really the beginning of the gas/light interaction so do not turn the gas off. You'll need another 5 hours of gas and then it can be turned off.
The best thing to do is to measure the pH at 1/2 hour or 1 hour intervals until the gas is turned off. That will give you a set of readings from which you can determine how the gas is being dissolve. We're looking for the pH to fall approximately 1 whole unit from when you turn the gas on to when you turn the lights on. The DC reacts too slowly to give you this information so it could be that you are injecting more CO2 that your fish can tolerate because of the DC's lag time. You may need to therefore reduce the injection rate to ensure that you do not continue to pump too much gas into the tank. It is a tricky balance to get enough CO2 into the water to satisfy the plants, but not so much that you poison the fish. A pH probe is best for this exercise because it gives you an instantaneous reading, but even if you do not own a probe, you can use a pH test kit. Record the pH values over the course of the photoperiod so that you can repeat and compare when you have made an adjustment. Ideally we want the lowest pH value to coincide when the lights go on and to maintain that value until we turn the gas off. When the lights go on is the most important time for CO2 to be at its maximum. Later on in the day is not nearly as important and it's OK if the pH slowly drifts upwards after a few hours.
Thanks, I'll shift both bars to the top and assess the flow towards the bottom from there, they should be powerful enough not to cause any issues. (I scrapped the moss wall for now - biting off more then I can chew).
Yeah, a moss wall on the back side is difficult. First sort out the main actors.
You can use an old toothbrush to twirl around and gently separate the hair algae. You do need to mechanically remove as mush of the algae as possible and don't let it just sit there and proliferate.

Cheers,

Cheers,
 

marzayyad

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A pH probe is best for this exercise because it gives you an instantaneous reading, but even if you do not own a probe, you can use a pH test kit. Record the pH values over the course of the photoperiod so that you can repeat and compare when you have made an adjustment. Ideally we want the lowest pH value to coincide when the lights go on and to maintain that value until we turn the gas off.
Ok thanks Ceg I need to do the ph profile ASAP, seems the Hanna ph probs are recommended, is there one in particular you would suggest?
 

marzayyad

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Record the pH values over the course of the photoperiod so that you can repeat and compare when you have made an adjustment. Ideally we want the lowest pH value to coincide when the lights go on and to maintain that value until we turn the gas off. When the lights go on is the most important time for CO2 to be at its maximum. Later on in the day is not nearly as important and it's OK if the pH slowly drifts upwards after a few hours.
@ceg4048 Here is what I got -
9.00 am (before Co2) - 7.6-7.8 (Api liquid test)
11.00 a.m (lights on) - 6.9 (ph probe arrived in post)
12.30 p.m - 6.94
1.30 - 6.89
2.30 - 6.94
3.30 - 6.94
4.15 - 6.90 (co2 off)
5pm (lights off) - 7.20
6.30p.m - 7.60
7p.m (after 20% wc) - 7.65
I'll do another test before I go to sleep and before co2 on tomorrow - I'm assuming normal ph is closer to 7.6 then 7.8 but will double check with probe. If that's the case I just need to increase the bubble count a tiny bit to make the difference on 1 full ph drop right?
Also, I thought there would be a big increase somewhere during the day as co2 uptake increases from the plants, but it remained pretty stable at 6.9ish, is that normal or is it a measurement mistake, is there always a dip in the curve? Thanks in advance and sorry for all the questions >.<
 

ceg4048

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Hi marzayyad,
OK, it looks like you're close and lights ON coincides with the lowest pH more or less.
I'm assuming normal ph is closer to 7.6 then 7.8 but will double check with probe. If that's the case I just need to increase the bubble count a tiny bit to make the difference on 1 full ph drop right?
Yes that's true as far as the injection technique goes. The important thing is that you grasp the idea of what you are trying to accomplish. You can always play with the injection rate and timing to get closer to your goal.
Also, I thought there would be a big increase somewhere during the day as co2 uptake increases from the plants, but it remained pretty stable at 6.9ish, is that normal or is it a measurement mistake, is there always a dip in the curve?
Well there are several factors at play here. Firstly, most of the plants you have are slow growers, especially mosses, so they will not uptake vast amounts of CO2. As you are aware by now, increasing the light energy would increase their CO2 demand and therefore increase the growth rate, but which also increases the risk of algal blooms. Additionally, I believe you only recently set the tank up correct? If so that means the plants were grown emmersed and so the leaves are not yet very good at being aquatic, so their efficiency is poor. I explained the reasons in the post Cause of death?
So basically, the amount of gas being injected exceeds or equals the sum total of [gas escape to atmosphere + plant uptake].
This is the main reason why CO2 is an ever changing issue in the tank and why having a good probe, frequently calibrated is an essential tool for detecting the changes that occur.

Hopefully the adjustment you made to the spraybars is working. I always cut up a few tiny pieces of paper and drop them on the surface to help visualize the flow pattern. The paper should cascade down the front glass and migrate towards the back when they reach they get near the substrate. I use paper or non-edible material so the fish don't gobble them up before they are able to illustrate the flow. You should see the Alternanthera leaves, as well as the Echinodorus leaves in the back gently swaying in the current. Hopefully the moss fronds are also in motion, indicating they are getting CO2 delivery.

Cheers,
 

marzayyad

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Additionally, I believe you only recently set the tank up correct?
@ceg4048 Thanks Ceg, Mini has submerged for a little over a month and mostly new leaves now I think. Stem plants a couple of weeks so are shedding off their leaves and growing new ones. The article you wrote is great very informative, ty.
Also the dual spray bars at the top are getting good circulation right across the tank, I can see most plants pearling (one side a bit more then the other though) all plants now have a gentle sway.
I'm going to remove any damaged leaves, try and mechanically remove some of the hair algae (doesn't look like its increasing at a crazy rate) and see how things go over the next few weeks. Ph was closer to 8 on testing so think 6.9 perhaps is actually pretty good for lights on and no physical sign of distress for the fish.

When do you think I should try to increase the photo period up from 6 hours currently, not sure if the algae will physically disappear on it's own? Should I only increase when I'm certain there is minimal new algae growth....tbh I'm quite happy with slow growth saves on the aqua gardening, if that's the case, is it strictly necessary to try to increase it, like you said, it just speeds up growth but they look healthy currently.

Thx for all the knowledge/advice - I'll update you in a few weeks hopefully with some good news re hair algae :)
 

ceg4048

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When do you think I should try to increase the photo period up from 6 hours currently, not sure if the algae will physically disappear on it's own?
Hi marzayyad,
I'm relieved to hear that the distribution appears to be reaching a good proportion of the leaves and that the pH drop is in the right amount. I know that it's tempting to move forward with the lighting but really, until new leaves grow in and are producing, I would caution against making any changes. The easiest way to upset the apple cart is to mess with the light.

Most algae, especially CO2 related algae, usually wont just go away even when we fix the conditions. Remember that what we are doing by fixing the environmental conditions is that we are helping the plants to become healthier so that they can resist the attacks. The existing algae has to be forcibly evicted and the affected leaves removed, as their current ill health attracts more algal attacks as if they were magnets. If you cannot pull the hair away from the moss due to entanglement then it is better to snip off that leaf or moss frond and remove. You can alternatively dose the tank with Excel or equivalent and that will serve to both improve the available CO2 as well as being toxic to the hair. The algae will turn pinkish and should be easier to remove.

Remember to continue with massive (50% or greater) and frequent water changes and dose your nutrient after the water change.

Cheers,
 

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