So I've realised it has been quite some time since I've updated this journal. Living and working on the scape day-in, day-out I really didn't think much had changed so didn't want to bore with the same update/photo over and over. However, looking back over some photos I realised that actually whilst there isn't a huge change there is definitely a development. I guess this is really what happens with most scapes, they evolve rather than necessarily change.
Anyway, here is a quick summary of the past 6ish months.
2 July 2020 - Death of the Diatoms
These were the first photos I took after going to town on filamentous diatoms in the previous post. As you can see something worked - whether it was constant manual removal, increased oxygen by lifting the filter over night and adding a surface skimmer or just plain old time I don't know, nor do I really care.
3 Aug 2020 - General Update
Things had really cleaned up at this point. This is the photo when, looking back from today I realised how much the scape had changed and when I really thought I ought to update this journal.
28 Aug 2020 - General Update
Can't believe how spindly the Rotala was back then - suppose all things have to start somewhere.
18 Sept 2020 - Lighting Change
I think this is when I really stepped up the lighting a bit, or at least its the first photo I took from making the change. As previously mentioned I'd been running around 65/65/55 RGB or something similar (maybe 5% higher in Aug) but I think things looked a little on the yellow side for me. I decided to ramp up the ratios of red and blue to green. I can't remember the exact values but I think I was more in the region of 80/55/70. I was quite surprised that the greens didn't lose the green but I really think it helped the Rotala, Ludwigia an Buce.
2 Oct 2020 - Hose Cleaning
I think this was the first time I'd decided to do a full clean on the hoses. Normally I clean the glassware and occasionally the top half the hose where I disconnect them using the double taps - after all that's the bit I see. Whether it made quite the difference in flow I THINK it did or it was just a placebo it was a practice I was going to keep up and probably should have been doing more regularly anyway. Cleaning half the hoses and the filter but leaving these makes me think of 'a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link' kinda deal.
1 Nov 2020 - Dry Salts, EI Dosing
Well I came to my senses and decided to move over to using dry salts to mix my ferts. The rate I was going through TNC was costing an arm and a leg and for no other reason than costs I decided to make the switch. Sure you get the added benefit of tailoring the mix blah blah blah, I'm never going to do that - not any time soon anyway. I used Zeus's calc here on the forum with the comparisons to others EI mixes and away I went. One thing that is maybe a bug bear of mine is how many people (usually on social media, not on UKAPS) I see using the term EI to mean mixing your own ferts with dry chemicals. Unless I'm not understanding something it's a method of dosing which could be achieved with a commercial products, alternatively you could chose a different dosing method using the dry chemicals you've individually purchased. I don't suppose it really matters but I still get a little twinge when I see it.
8 Nov 2020 - Trim Update
Spend some time moving a few things around. I've tried to remove most of the rotala bonsai from the area just behind the carpet to behind the larger foreground rocks. For some reason I didn't expect it to be quite as fast growing as it was and it was absolutely taking over so it needed to be moved. It had rooted quite well so it was a bit of a pain trying to get it out of the mix with Hydrocotyle Verticillata and Ranunculus Inundatus. The Hydrocotyle is also a bit of a pain to keep tame, it just spreads runners everywhere constantly, it's probably the plant I trim the most and enjoy doing the least. At least the background Rotala are easy to just chop back.
I also ended up removing the Gratiola Viscidula in the left and right midground. I don't know why but it just wasn't doing well. I replaced it with Myriophyllum Guyana which as you can see in the photo has really taken off as it was planted as a tissue culture about 3 weeks prior to the photo.
I had also been battling with the Monte Carlo and Lilaeopsis Novae-Zelandiae flanking the Marsilea and swamping it. I tried to hold them back with trimming but I believe it's inevitable. They just grow so much faster and trying to pick them out of the Marsilea was, to me, more effort than it was worth. Plus I think it could look better with the MC and Lilaeopsis merged together so I'll let them do either own thing.
I'd also been battling with quite a lot of BBA on the carpet and rocks - mostly at the opposite end of the filter outlet for a few weeks. I wasn't quite sure what the cause was as co2 is consistent but I thought maybe it was something to do with the flow blasting the inline co2 across the front of the tank and it gathering in that bottom corner and then dissipating more quickly - actually no idea. But I decided to move the filter outlet back towards the middle and pull the skimmer right to the front and see how that goes.
14 Nov 2020 - Post Trim
Just a photo of the replanted Rotala tips getting some nice colour after the trim a week earlier. Only just noticed but this photo looks super janky with the software implemented blurring on the Pixel phone, no editing just the tap to set focus.
4 Dec 2020 - Growing in and hacking down
Nothing much to report but I've just letting things grow in. I think the right of the first shot highlights what I hate about the Hydrocotyle perfectly, just sending out runners that require constant pruning and actually planting into the soil.
During the trim I decided to pull the remnants of the Ludwigia Mini Super Red from the right mid ground. It looked a little sorry for itself in the shade of the main rock and the Rotala on the right seems to have a more red than that on the left so I think it balances with just the Ludwigia on the left.
I think it was at this point I also decided the path was to be no more. Every week I think I'd spend as much time trying to maintain the path as I would doing general maintenance. I tried it and it wasn't for me - part laziness, part mindset. I think after some of my own comments and the discussions in the thread on the IAPLC scandal I'd realised that whilst this obviously isn't a nature aquarium style I'd maybe gone for a look I wasn't intending. The path was a convoluted gesture for me trying to achieve something for the sake of it. As the Monte Carlo encroaches on the sand I think I prefer the look, rather than some winding path with grandiose mountains more akin to a diorama I was leaning towards a rocky outcrop. Ok it's till somewhat of a caricature but, at least to me, it feels more 'nature'.
7 Dec 2020 - Algae is Pretty
So roughly a month on from making the changes to try avoid BBA at the front left of the tank it seems to be working. There is much less new growth and the bits that remain actually look quite pretty to me. Not that that means they're going to stay.
You can also see what is the start of some green hair/thread algae in the photo. This is about to be the bane of my existence for the foreseeable.
I also managed to pick up another 2nd hand Oase Biomaster 600 Thermo as the one I'd originally purchased 2nd hand was still dripping and I couldn't be bothered to work out why - Oase hadn't replied to my last emails so it was time to give up on it. This one I knew who it was coming from, it was only a few months old and a decent price so I felt safe this time. Thank fully it had no problems and runs like a dream. When I can be bothered I guess I'll try recoup some of the money from the first by selling the other as parts or with a slight leak - someone might be up for investigating.
29 Dec 2020 - General Update
As you can see the cardboard from Christmas deliveries came on handy. It's a real shame they never produced a shade for the Vivid 1 so until I can be bothered and there is easier access to supplies the cardboard will have to do. It makes such a difference to the viewing pleasure, the room is a nicer place to sit, more cosy and looking at the tank for more than 3mins no longer requires sunglasses.
5 Jan 2020 - Bane of my Life
So It's been about a month and the green thread/hair algae is still present but I didn't expect any less. I'd been extremely ad-hoc in trying to combat it with the run up to Christmas and insert generic excuse here
. I took extreme prejudice over the next 3 days with manual removal and water changes. I was quite surprised just how much I'd removed, and duly upset with how much remained. I guess I just carry on with removal. I had tried a 3 day blackout just before Christmas but that made little to no difference, maybe next I need to do a full week.
I've no idea what caused this, I hadn't done much different. I did notice that I'm down a couple of Otos so presumably their bodies were decomposing in the tank which could have caused a little spike. I did also do a deeper than usual clean of the substrate at the beginning of December blowing quite a lot of much into the water column but I was pretty meticulous with the water change as I knew it could cause a problem.
11 Jan 2020 - Pretty in Pink
Despite the algae still remaining the Rotala marches on and after another manual removal of the green slime strands managed to get a fairly clean shot of the stems - at least the upper ones anyway.
So that's everything now up-to-date with the tank coming up to 9 months planted. My misery is there for all to share.
Despite the troubles I am having with this algae I'm still overall happy with the scape. It is due a big trim at the weekend so we'll see how it looks and take stock for the next 3 months to see if I can get it where at want by it's first anniversary.