New Setup... Advice Please...

JAX3000

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18 Jun 2015
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Surrey
Hi,

I haven't posted here in years, since I went plantless for a while, but now getting back into it on a more low-tech setup.

Could you please let me know if I'm heading in the right direction, or am I about to mess this up (again)?

I have the tank set up and running for a month or two now with no plants.

I have ordered the plants from Aqua Essentials and they arrive tomorrow. I have gone for only easy, low light plants.

Tank;
- Brand new Fluval Roma 240 LED (240 litres, 120 x 40 x 55)
- Standard lights that came with the tank (8 hour photoperiod)
- Fluval 306 canister filter

Sunstrate;
- Small smooth gravel

Hardscape;
- Some big smooth rocks
- Large piece of bogwood

Water Parameters (Approx.)
- pH: 7.5 (from the tap)
- dGH: 13 (from the tap)
- Temp: 25c
- Nitrate: 0 (as I filter it out, because my tap water is about 40ppm!)
- Water changes: 50% per week

Stock;
- 30 Cardinals
- 7 Redline Torpedo Barbs
- 8 Panda Corys
- 7 Amano Shrimp
- (6 dwarf Cichlids to come)

Ferts and Carbon (planned);
- EI (from Aquarium Plant Food) standard blend x 1/4 to begin with
- Neutro TerraTabs from Aqua Essentials
- Homemade gluteralderhyde solution (50% raw, mixed 30ml to 970ml water) at standard dose

Plants;
- 2 xHelanthium quadricostatus
- 1 xAnubias nana
- 1 xAnubias nana bonzai
- 3 xCryptocoryne balansae
- 2 xCryptocoryne wendtii green
- 2 xCryptocoryne undulatus kasselman
- 1 xVesicularia ferriei (Weeping Moss)
- 1 xEchinodorus parviflorus
- 2 xCryptocoryne nevellii
- 1 xCryptocoryne undulatus brown

My aim is a nice looking tank with healthy plants and low maintenance. I am not looking for super fast growth, I could do without the trimming. But I want healthy pretty plants and to have a chance of controlling algae. I don't much like algae...!

So, my main concerns are;
- Is 1/4 dose EI appropriate? (for now)
- Do I have enough light?
- Do I have enough flow?
- What else...?

Many thanks in advance.
 

Tim Harrison

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- Is 1/4 dose EI appropriate? (for now)
Sounds okay for now but be wary of deficiencies as your plant biomass increases. Also take a look at Tom Barr's Non CO2 Methods
- Do I have enough light?
Probably too much...I'd start with a 6hr photoperiod until your plants have settled in and started to grow well, otherwise you'll be increasing the chances of algae issues.
- Do I have enough flow?
It'll probably be adequate for a non-CO2 low-energy tank; you can always add a surface skimmer or powerhead later to increase flow if need be.
 

JAX3000

Member
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18 Jun 2015
Messages
78
Location
Surrey
Thank you Tim,

Good to hear I should be off to a reasonable start then...

Understood re deficiencies. I'll adjust ferts as they grow.

Pleasantly surprised to hear I have enough light and will definitely start off with 6 hours.

Also, I forgot to say, I have 2 air stones running, which must help with flow, but I intend to add another filter in the end anyway and I have a spare powerhead if I feel I need to use that.

I'll definitely read that link too.

Thanks again

Cheers
 

alto

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24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,897
I consider the stock lighting on this tank to be very low

As a comparison
Roma 240
14.5 W LED lighting, tank height (water column height) 50-55cm x 120cm long x 40cm wide

Fluval Flex 54
11W LED lighting, tank height ~36cm x 41cm long x 39cm wide (front to back)

I haven’t any experience with the Roma 240 (though I do have a couple 53cm tall tanks) but have planted up a few Flex tanks, non CO2 as beginner setups ... I consider the Flex to be low to moderate light depending upon position within the tank (LED placement/design yields uneven lighting across the tank, the glass curvature also affects light distribution)

In contrast, the Spec 19 has much higher PAR lighting, especially the updated version
An awesome Spec 19 website (that is well worth the read)

http://spec-tanks.com/fluval-spec-v-aquarium-review/

All that aside, I suggest you incorporate some faster growing stem plants for use during tank startup, I have very soft tap water and find Heteranthera zosterfolia to be very adaptable/forgiving
Limnophila sessiliflora is also grand (& very different leaf appearance & color)
Surprisingly, Hemianthus micranthemoides also grows anywhere, though deceidedly slower in a nonCO2, lower light setup

Given your plant list, most growth will be in then lower third of the tank, so I’d be inclined to add some taller stems (C balansae will be tall obviously, but usually is quite slow to establish) or add some epiphyte plants to hardscape or Tropica Bankwood style :D
https://tropica.com/en/plants/aquadecor/bankwood/

If there’s a good amount of ambient light, plants can respond surprisingly well

I believe there are a couple of Roma 240 LED journals/discussions on ukaps (within the last year or 2J1,
 

JAX3000

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Location
Surrey
Thanks Alto,

My hope is that with such low levels of nutrients as I'm 1/4 dosing EI, the low light should balance out and I can take it easy, watching it grow in nice and slow. If need be, I'll upgrade my light later, but I'm more worried about over doing it, than under doing it with light...

Regarding height from an aesthetic point, the Echinodorus parviflorus, which is actually two plants are as tall as the tank, (though they are yet to convert to submerged, so hope it doesn't suffer too much), but it should be a nice tall plant. Also the Cryptocoryne balansae are already pretty tall. Plus I have attached the Anubias nana bonzai half way up a tall piece of wood (that is almost the height of the tank too), that looks pretty cool for now. I'll post pics when I can, maybe later.

Do you suggest the faster growing plants to keep from a build up of nutrients, which could cause algae? I hadn't though of it...! Now the tank is pretty well planted up... I could grab a few cheep stems from the LFS, just to serve a purpose. Is this worth doing? I intentionally avoided stems, as my experience is long gangly flimsy things, searching for light that never look good in my tanks.

Cheers
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
My aim is a nice looking tank with healthy plants and low maintenance. I am not looking for super fast growth, I could do without the trimming.
You might want to consider the <"Duckweed Index">, it was designed for this sort of situation.

By using a floating plant you take CO2 availability out of the equation.

cheers Darrel
 

JAX3000

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18 Jun 2015
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Location
Surrey
Hi Darrel,

Thanks for the info. You just reminded me, I have a few little Frogbit floating about too. I'd forgotten them, as I impulse bought them some time ago, but having not added any ferts, they've almost curled up and died, but I hope what is left will now perk up. If not, I'll buy some more, I like the way the roots look anyway and I'm sure the fish like them. Corys keep laying eggs in the roots!

So this is a pretty easy to get used to method of ferts regime monitoring is it...? I'll try it...

Also just thought, going back to the fast growing plants idea from above, what If I threw a few Cabomba or something in floating...? They'll suck up excess ferts with an abundance of C02 and light...? Am I even making sense...?

(I'm concerned I'll cut my already low light to even lower if I'm not careful...!)

Cheers
 

alto

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I have a few little Frogbit floating about too.
These can surprise you with their recovery
If your frogbut (Apple prefers frogbUt over frogbit :rolleyes:) never looks great, it can be due to excessive surface movement or very soft water

Sunstrate;
- Small smooth gravel
This means that water column fertilization is really the only nutrient source (a high fish density tank can supply a surprising degree of nutrients including significant CO2), so you should definitely dose daily, and ensure sufficient nutrients


- Homemade gluteralderhyde solution (50% raw, mixed 30ml to 970ml water) at standard dose
This may/may not perform the same as the stabilized aquarium market brands, definitely handle with care (keep well out of reach of children and pets)
As with fertilizers, I’d dose daily
Store any solutions in dark bottles, cool temp, etc


the low light should balance out and I can take it easy, watching it grow in nice and slow.
My concern is more that PAR will be very low, especially at substrate level - obviously see how you get on
(note that floating plants will further limit light)

Cabomba - can actually be quite challenging to grow “well” (depending on species as well), it wants to be fast growing with lots of light and nutrients etc. I’ve seen it do surprisingly well in gold fish tanks - lots of ammonia etc from GF (+ food/waste breakdown) and cooler water are likely factors

Echinodorus parviflorus, which is actually two plants are as tall as the tank,
Cryptocoryne balansae are already pretty tall.
See how this gets on - both will need to generate new submerse leafs from the rhizome (at substrate)
Depending on the present leaf structure, they may rapidly/slowly disintegrate etc

Note that deteriorating leafs should be removed as they generally cost more for plant to upkeep/repair than they contribute
 

JAX3000

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Joined
18 Jun 2015
Messages
78
Location
Surrey
Thanks for all the advice Alto.

On the Frogbit... (I'm on Android and I didn't even have to correct that. Proof possitive that Android is better than Apple! :p) I have hard water, but now you mention it, I do have lots of surface movement. Since not injecting Co2, I had assumed this would not be an issue, but I'll see what happens here.

On substrate, I actually set the tank up for large-ish central american cichlids and was only going to attached plants to wood, but a change of heart in favour of a less aggressive community set up opened up this whole planted thing again. So, inert it is, but there are 15 root tabs in there and I'm daily dosing with EI on 1/4 standard dose.

Having read more and more (mostly by ceg on here) I'm less concerned about over fertilizing (in case of algae) and more concerned about under fertilizing (in case if algae!) So I think I'll up it slightly to approx 1/3 standard dose. Then when growth takes off I'll judge and maybe up it again to 1/2 and so on...

Re Glut, the raw stuff is locked up in the garage and the diluted mix is in a cupboard behind a chilproof lock and in a chilproof bottle. But thanks for the word of caution...

I'm not going to add any more plants at this stage and the lighting is what it is... for now. In time, I may (and realisticly probably will) upgrade and knowing me I'll have the whole tank turbocharged with co2 and what-not by this time next year, but for now, I'll keep on dosing and see what happens. I'm determined to be properly patient and take small steps and may just leave it as it is. If it ain't broke... etc...

And I understand the Balansae and Parviflorus may lose it before they make it, but hey-ho. I'm not looking for instant gratification and if they make it in the end, I'll be happy....

I'm just loving having some greenery in the living room again right now!

Cardinal Tetras and Redline Topedo Barbs look SO much better against a planted background! :)
 

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