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Fluval Studio 900...'Dragons Crypt' Journal finished.


Global Moderator
27 Jul 2011
Co. Durham
Hello one and all,
after spending many an hour reading and viewing some of the huge number of exceptional planted tank journals on the ukaps forum, i thought it about time i shared my 1st attempt at an aquascape.
Having kept fish for about 15 years ive always been in awe of the planted aquarium, but never been able to keep plants successfully. Recently i thought id do a bit of internet research and found a huge amount of information, related sites and retailers who specialise in aquascaping and plants. It was an eye opener, but immediately highlighted the basics of plant growth of which i had no knowledge. C02 and fertilisers with a good substrate was a start! So off i went, intent on using my old Juwel rio 180, until i saw the shiny new studio 900. I know its not opti white, nor ADA quality but i loved the look and it suited its position in the front room perfectly. Glass covers would prevent feline mishaps and missiles from my 2 toddlers!

Tank: 92.5 x 43.5 x 45cm
Filter: Fluval G6
Heater: Fluval E200
Lighting: 2x T5 HO 39w
CO2: 2kg pressurised TGM kit.
Substrate: Penac p, ada powersand s medium, ada aquasoil amazonia, unipac zambezi sand.
Hardscape: Vine wood and dragon stone.
Fertiliser: TPN and TPN+

I had trawled the North East of England searching for wood for the hardscape, and when i found the two pieces used, knew exactly the look i was going for. A trip to The Green Machine (amazing place by the way) sorted the dragon stone which i thought complimented the 'gnarly' look of the wood perfectly. This set my mind on a mainly crypt, fern and moss scape.....






The tank has been planted for four weeks now, ill continue the post when i have some more time.
Fluval Studio 900.

Hey. Looks good so far. Like the wood very much. Where did you eventually find it?

Looking forward to more updates
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Hi there and thanks.
The wood was bought from a shop called Penshaw Aquatics. It has a few fish tanks and reptiles etc. I soaked the wood for about 6 weeks and frequently scrubbed it to remove fungal growths.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Thought id continue the post with some more info.
With the substrate and hardscape sorted, i fishless cycled the tank for 4 weeks and then planted.
Water perameters at this point were PH 6.8 (guestimated from colour rendition of test kit), NH3 0 mg/l, NO2 0mg/l, NO3 5mg/l, PO4 0.25 mg/l, KH 20mg/l and GH <20mg/l.
CO2 2bps.
The plants were ordered from the Green Machine and were as follows:
Eleocharis parvula
Eleocharis acicularis
Hygrophila pinnitafida
Microsorum pteropus 'pencil'
Microsorum pteropus 'petit'
Staurogyne repens
Pogostemon halferi
Taxiphyllum barbieri
Bolbitis heudolotti
Cryptocoryne balansae
Cryptocoryne parva
Cryptocoryne becketti 'petchii'
Cryptocoryne undulata 'broad leaves'
Cryptocoryne wendtii 'brown'
Cryptocoryne wendtti 'mi oya'
Cryptocoryne wendtti 'tropica'

As this is my first 'real' planted aquascape i took lots of photos so apologies for the forthcoming barrage of shots!
Planting (09/09/11):


The first plants, pogostemon halferi:


And finally complete, and a little murky!


Fertilising began immediately with daily dosing of 2.5ml tpn and tpn+ alternately.

On 14/09/11 i was experiencing the dreaded 'crypt melt', along with Pogostemon halferi melt also!!! Filamentous algae was also apparent in the moss..... roll on the weekend for the addition af the algae crew!
At this point i added a product called 'Lithaqua' (marine mineral with high carbonates rich in trace elements)to the second chamber in the filter aimed at increasing the KH of the water as ive always worried (even with advice not too) about this as it is 20 mg/l from the tap where i live.
Co2 was also increased to 3bps as the drop checker was turning to a dark green, but not lime green.
17/09/11 the addition of 13 amano shrimp and 9 otocinclus - the algae crew - filamentous algae sorted in 2 days!
thankfully by now the crypts had new leaves emerging which made me feel a lot better about things.
The KH was also on the rise and on 18/09/11 was reading 50mg/l, again putting me at ease, however the GH was also on the rise - not something i wanted for my planned soft water fish tank. Lithaqua made no reference to increasing GH in its specs but this is all i can attribute it too as my tap water is 60 mg/l and the tank was up to 100mg/l. (presuming aqua soil reduces gh and that the sand and dragon stone are inert?)
By the 27/09/11 KH was up to 110 mg/l and GH to 120 mg/l and made me begin to reconsider its long term viability as i couldnt accurately determine a final kh/gh of the water. Water stability is also something ive learned from reading the many posts on ukaps and i wasnt achieving this.
15 Harlequin rasbora and 10 black bee shrimp were added on 25/09/11, and Co2 was slowly... very slowly... perhaps too cautiously increased until i finally reached a lime green colour in the drop checker..... 21/2 weeks after planting and at a bubble rate i cant even count!

Some of the residents:



and 3 weeks after planting:


I feel i have already learned a lot from this tank and reading through the ukaps journals and q and a pages, but ill post again soon with some more issues ive had and am currently having... hoping for some advice ;)
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Looks good, looking forward to watching it grow.

Question about the tank's intake/outlet. Did you drill those yourself or did the tank come with them already drilled and fitted?
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Hi there,
the tank comes pre drilled and its really simple to fit the inlet/outlet pipes. They are only available drilled on the left hand side though.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

This is looking great! Any chance of a pic of how the filter is connected up to the drilled part of the tank underneath - I really like the tank design too, well done :thumbup:
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

looks really good and well thought out.

ps That's a really lean dose of TPN.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Hi Gary,
thanks very much, im quite happy with it although im having some issues with what i believe may be staghorn algae at the moment, but more on that another time.
Heres some shots i just took of the filter connections to the inlet/outlet pipes.




the pipes just fitted straight onto the supplied connections. hope this helps
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

ianho said:
looks really good and well thought out.

ps That's a really lean dose of TPN.
Thanks, im a bit naive when it comes to fertilising regimes etc as its my 1st commited planted tank. Having read some of the articles on ukaps maybe double the directed dosing would be nearer the mark?
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

There was an old type of guideline of 1ml per 20 litres of TPN+, that's why a lot of people head down the EI route with larger tanks. However, i have noticed quite a few people dosing less that this of late...you have a good substrate system in place though, so you will be able to get away with less than 1ml per 20l IMO. Keep and eye on the plants and if you notice any N or P deficiencies then up the TPN+.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

I have some small holes appearing in some of the older crypt leaves and my Staurogyne isnt taking off, could this be down to n and p deficiencies?
Im also getting an outburst of staghorn algae and was wondering if this could be related to over/under dosing of one of the ferts or is it more likely attributed to the addition of livestock over the last couple of weeks?
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

I have some small holes appearing in some of the older crypt leaves and my Staurogyne isnt taking off, could this be down to n and p deficiencies?

this may be due to transition, if they are on the newer leaves then this sometimes is due to a potassium deficiency.

Im also getting an outburst of staghorn algae and was wondering if this could be related to over/under dosing of one of the ferts or is it more likely attributed to the addition of livestock over the last couple of weeks

Just remember that an OD of ferts won't give you algae, it is better to OD more so than under dose. As long as water changes are kept on top of. Filamentous algae is normally attributed to low C02 and or nutrients. What is your tank husbandry like? Are you doing daily or bi daily water changes in the first few weeks of the tanks life?
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Hi again,
oops, tank husbandry has been only weekly 40% water changes (algae scrapes substrate syphoning etc), not daily or bi daily. Ive also just incresed the photoperiod in the last week from 6 to 9 hours and am dosing weekly rather than daily.
My c02 i think is now about spot on as the drop checker shows a lime green.
I think i should maybe start bi daily water changes and double the ferts? adding daily to compenstae for water changes?
Thanks again.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

If you are starting to see algaes this early on i would up the water changes and up the ferts. Most of the successful journals on here will do daily or bi daily water changes for at least 2 weeks, especially as the plants melt and release ammonia. Also if you're not using a mature filter, this will also help. Once the plants get established then you can cut down the water changes. TPN+ will also be at it's best when dosed daily, that way the plants won't run out of what they need.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Oky doky, thanks for the tips. Ill bi daily water change and up the ferts. I fishless cycled for 4 weeks and the tank has been planted for a further 4 weeks. I now have 15 harlequins, 13 cardinal tetras, 9 otocinclus 1 c. siamensis and 20+ shrimp, would you suggest using tpn+ exclusively or 50/50 along with tpn with this ever increasing fish stocking level (and resultant natural phosphate and nitrate introduction from waste and food)?
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

@ 4 weeks the plants may still be melting a little, doing a water change every other day or twice weekly will help. You also have to look at the plant mass you have and it's a good amount of plants, personally i would stick with just the TPN+ as the TPN just provides trace and plants need just that...a trace. The fish you have aren't going to produce a lot of waste, and it's always better to have a little more nutrients than to little.
Re: Fluval Studio 900.

Thanks very much for the advice, ill increase water changes and ferts with only the tpn+ and see how i go. :thumbup:
Re: Fluval Studio 900 (update)

its been a busy few weeks so just getting round to a progress report.
As it finished last time i was having a huge staghorn algae outbreak :( , man that stuff can multiply!! Thanks to some good advice (thanks ianho).... and the power of flourish excel i seem to have won this particular battle :) . 2X weekly water changes, doubling my dose of tpn+ to 5ml per day and dosing 5ml per day excel, turned the staghorn red and all but eradicated it.

Im also just about fully stocked with fish selection now, with cardinals, rummys, harlequins, ottos and a siamensis, not groundbreaking i know, but i love all of them, the tank is buzzing with activity and im really enjoying the hobby again.

A few up to date photos.






Ive also added some monosolenium tenerum and silvania natans to the plant collection. My initial vision for this scape was to have most of the height at the right side of the tank, a triangular formation following the lines of the hardscape. However due to the long acclimatising period of the crypt balansae :rolleyes: my vision hasnt been realised as of yet, although i am being patient and perservering, (thought had crossed my mind to add a stem to the right rear) as it now seems to be putting out some healthy looking leaves, one of which has nearly reached the surface! Because of this delay i added a floating plant to give a little surface interest, and also as a comfort for the fish. I also felt the left front under the wood looked a bit open and bare, so added the monosolenium hoping for success at filling in a bit under there where light will be a little more scarce!

Im hoping for longevity with this tank, hence the reason for choosing a lot of crypts, but mostly i wanted to spark my interest again with something a little more satisfying and challenging. The progress seems to have been slow (6 weeks planted now) but im definitely beginning to see it evolving as my hairgrass carpet is filling in nicely, the crypts are becoming more densely leaved, the staurogyne seems to be finally showing signs of growing and the pogostemon halferi that melted initially also seems to be coming back (although not quite as healthy as i would like).

Crypts filling in.


Im loving watching this tank and enjoying the challenge of maintaining a planted aquarium, i know its not proportionately perfect nor full of immaculately shaped plants but for me it is satisfying just knowing that my plants are actually growing and hopefully will continue to do so! With the knowledge available through ukaps, and the quality of members tanks and journals on this site im sure ill be able to improve and expand my own understanding of this side of the hobby.

P.S. anyone know what type of snail this is, how big it will get and if its a friend or foe? They seem pleasant enough at the moment.