Parva Beach - Where Corydoras Holiday

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
Greetings and welcome to my new journal.

This is the follow on scape from my previous Island Shore effort that had become a bit old and overgrown.

For this project I wanted to go to something more wood and fern based and less high speed, high light

Friday 10th July marked change over day and I never cease to be surprised by how quick it is to tear down a scape that had previously occupied and challenged me for so many months.

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The inhabitants were transferred to a large bucket and I borrowed a filter from another tank I have to keep them happy. It's a very warm room so no heater was needed.The existing sump filter was kept running by simply sticking the tank inflow pipe into the outflow box.

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I kept a lot of the mature aqua soil and powersand mix to help acclimatise the tank swiftly and then added a generous top layer of fresh Aquasoil amazonia. There is a flexible plastic strip (a bit of worktop edge banding I happened to have) separating the sand from the Aquasoil.

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Plant wise I have:

Myriophyllum mattogrossense - From the previous scape
Bacopa Australis - From the previous scape
Rotala Wallichii - From the previous scape
Rotala rotundfolia - From the previous scape
Cryptocoryne wendtii (I think) - From my other tank
Crytocoryne willissii (I think) - From my other tank
Junius Repens - From the previous scape
Cryptocoryne parva - New (Potted Aqua Essentials)
Glossostigma elatinoides - New (Tissue Culture Aqua Essentials)
Micranthemum umbrosum - New (Potted Aqua Essentials)
Anubias nana bonsai - New (Potted Aqua Essentials)
Anubias nana - New (Potted Aqua Essentials)
Microsorum narrow leaf - New (Potted Aqua Essentials)
Tropica Taxiphyllum flame - New (Tissue Culture Aqua Essentials)

I've never grown the Parva or Glosso before and whilst I know the Glosso is supposedly a love of light but I've also seen tales of it managing v well in lower light conditions so I'll see how I get on. My hope it that it will tend to grow along the brighter boarder by the "beach". The Micranthemum and Australis leaf shape compliment each other well and here the idea is to grow in a soft green hillside behind what will hopefully become a Parva carpet along the shore line.

This is immediately after planting.

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This is two days later on Sunday and you can see how the new inflow from the sump pump is directed almost to the bottom of the tank and directing flow along the "beach". I've two targets with this, firstly, create a current for the Corydoras to swim against and secondly to direct CO2 rich water into the lower sections of the tank and particularly into the Parva and Glosso. I was using a firstly a Lilly pipe and then a spray bar with my old scape and wasn't so happy with either as far as getting good distribution into the lower areas of what is an awkward shaped tank for flow at 60 x 30 x 45. At the top of the inflow, at the water surface, there is a 6mm hole with a short length of CO2 inserted that acts as a syphon break in the event of power or pump failure that also adds some surface circulation.

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As the filter is highly effective and well matured I felt confident enough to add some shrimp and Ottos back in on Sunday and they settled in very happily so the Phantoms returned on yesterday after a 25% water change as I rather thought they'd prefer life in here to the bucket. The long term aim is that once the plants are well enough established to cope with the foraging ½ dozen small Julii or maybe Panda Corydoras will join the fray and spend most of their time on the beach :happy:.

CO2 is added via my High Efficiency Reactor design (as I detest atomiser mist) at around 4bps and light comes from a pair of excellent Giesemman Pulzar HO's controlled via the BT Interface according to this schedule that is less than full output and has some peaks and troughs during the day.

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The sand and stones are from a beach near my house and were throughly soaked and rinsed for over a week. My only concern with this is that the pieces of ground shell etc. therein may harden the water more than I might wish but so far this does not seem to be an issue.

Currently my biggest challenge is deciding how much fertiliser to add considering the fresh aqua soil and acclimatising of the new plants. I've added a little macro solution (About ¼ EI) so far and am watching the Wallichi in particular carefully as I find that to be very fert sensitive and a good indicator.

So 4 days from planting up and the water is sparkly clear with happy critters. After some inner debate I've ordered more Parva to speed things up a little.

Here's a short video showing the sump

 

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
One week on and so far so good.
Everything is growing but the shrimp are working hard digging up Glosso and littering the beach with aquasoil...

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The flame moss is alight

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I added another couple of pots of parva and am trimming the bacopa and micranthemum to encourage compact growth as well as doing general thinning and tidying elsewhere. I've been doing 20% daily water changes before adding ferts at about ¼ EI with an additional 2.5ml FE added mid week because some of the new growth was looking a bit yellowy.

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I read the 25 page What actually cause BBA thread over the course of the week it's quite entertaining with twists and turns, rants and quarrels that had me thinking "..surely I've got better things to be doing then reading this" but after about 8 pages I felt I couldn't give up. Seems I feel some strange sense of achievement from reaching the end of it and well I may even be a little wiser... Happily there is no sign of BBA in here just now.
 

foxfish

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Joined
11 Oct 2009
Messages
4,599
Location
Guernsey
Hi Chris, looks fantastic.
I don't have any criticism but I wondered why you don't have more plastic media & why it is not above the water level in your sump?
I would guesse even with your present design, the filter easily out preforms a standard external filter.
 

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
Hi Foxfish,

Are well originally I had a great deal of the K1 micro media in a basket mostly above the water level but when i checked it after a couple of months only a very small amount was brown with bacteria and it seemed most of it was doing very little. So I decided to go for more of a moving bed type setup with the idea being that the media is always moving, self cleaning and repopulating with hungry new bacteria. It's only a shallow layer so that it is able to move about more freely than a thick one when only driven by the mild rain from the trickle plate.

The foam pre-filter layer above serves as a 'dry' layer. It seems to work very well and I love that I can see into it to check it and that there is no clogging effect slowing flow.
 

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
So here we are 16 days since planting and so far mostly so good.

One small drama this week mind. A shrimp somehow managed to get stuck in the outflow pipe and partially blocking the return flow to the sump and causing the overflow box to flood meaning that my wife went downstairs in the morning to find a small flood (about a litre before the pump ran dry). I got one of her looks ;) I've put a mesh shrimp guard in the overflow box for now whilst I plot more fail safes.

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Everything is growing, there are new leaves on all the crypts and the glosso is spreading but some green spot algae is showing it's presence a so I'll be upping ferts to ½ EI and reducing the photoperiod a bit (in particular turning off the moon phase feature as this has the tank partially lit until midnight which is a bit keen really).

Water changes were 50% last weekend, 20% on Wednesday and 50% yesterday.

Here is a video for historical purposes.

 

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
So 26 days in....

I had to leave the tank unattended for 5 days over the weekend with just my mother in law feeding the fish a bit daily. I turned down the lighting considerably and left it with a last dose of macros. Pheww no dramas...

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Very tricky to get photos without reflections at this time of year and now there is some striping because the LED dimming (they dim by flashing on and off very rapidly) is picked up by my camera sensor, at this level of dimming at least.

So a good trim this evening, meant thinning out the back left corner to let more light in around there, a trim of the moss (followed by a slow zen like removal of the cuttings that got away). The only plant that is really showing much issue is the Cryptocoryne Parva where the original leaves are a bit sad with algae growth but there are healthy new shoots coming up as well and I'm pretty confident they will win through. Crypts are well known for their slow settling in periods.

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The glossostigma is doing well and does not seem to have gone leggy with the reduced light and my only concern here is that it might tend to squeeze out the parva with its speedier growth.

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It's going to be awhile before any corydoras arrive however as I want everything well rooted and grown it..

In order to reduce algae risks and try and balance the needs of high and low light plants I'm keeping the lower output "holiday" light schedule I set but have added a brighter peak to it. I'm wishing I had a PAR meter to help me tune this lighting better but in the absence of that watching the plants is the only way and probably a more useful learning experience. What I do know is that 100% output from 2 Pulzar HO's is BRIGHT...far brighter than my ferns or anubias want. I've also reduced the blue/green output a little through the photo period for a warmer look. This tank gets a lot of ambient light and maybe 20 mins of dawn sunshine on a clear day so balancing that is interesting. The plants grow forward towards the windows during the morning and then up to the lights as they get brighter later in the day.

I do love the flexibility of this setup though and highly recommend the Giesemann Pulzar and BT Interface combination. Not cheap but money well spent!

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Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
I like the glosso up high. You don't see that too often. :thumbup:

Thank. Well there was this gap in the wood that was cyring out for more than just moss and I also figured it might be interesting to compare the growth between the fully water fed glosso and the rooted stuff also feeding on AS Amazonia.
 

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
Meanwhile...

Rampant growth has meant daily trimming and me questioning my light levels as well as my selection of plants and fert regime.


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The only thing that isn't romping away is the Cryptocoryne parva which is unfortunate for a scape called Parva Beach.... However patience is the name of the game with crypts right and Parva shouldn't be any more demanding than the Glosso which seems to be enjoying itself and new Parva shoots are arriving. I do wonder why have I got supposedly light loving Rotala, Juncus and carpet plants alongside Anubias and Ferns.... because I like a challenge I suppose!

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The phantoms are very happy with the dim grotto created behind the wood and hang out there quite often when they're tired of sparring with each other.

Thread of the week for me has been http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/...rd-water-and-switching-to-alternatives.37923/ from Jack12 who after years of struggle with EI and his hard water switched to RO and Tropica Specialised with surprisingly positive results. This got me curious so I bought a bottle myself and have been using it all this week instead of the half EI dose I had been using. I haven't noticed much difference really but after I few days I doubled the standard dose because the new growth was looking a to pale and yellowy. The attraction for me of simple pumps of one product is that it is far easier to entrust such a simple dosing to someone else when I'm away and on this size of tank the increased cost isn't a big issue. We shall see but sometimes I think I'm just fiddling about too much! To that end I've also reduced the light intensity a little further because the idea of this tank is for it to be slower and lower maintenance and not require intense flow and CO2 management!

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Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
Well now....

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I've upgraded the pump in my sump to an Ehiem Compact 2000lph because I wasn't happy with circulation I was getting before or with the amount of heat my Iwaki pump was producing. I haven't measured the throughput but it it must be at least 1000lph and the reactor is now working better with little to no burping but rather producing a nice level of micro bubbles instead. I've also made a mark 2 surface skimming outflow that is better arranged to deal with the higher flow rate and also functions better as a skimmer and includes a shrimp proof foam pre-filter.

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The beach however is getting pretty green, rather short on Parva and a little over BBA'd... Yes all this upheaval with flow changes, CO2 running out and hassles stabilising the output from the replacement cylinder and the like has upset the tank balance and made for a brief algae rush a couple of weeks back. The green stuff that made a strong is now well into decline and the BBA / Staghorn stuff isn't spreading. I'm removing bits here and there and just watching what happens while I adjust CO2 ferts etc. I'm now supplementing the Tropica Specialised with trace mix which seems to be making a positive difference and

I'm not very happy with the look of the scape though with the mix of slow anubias, ferns and fast stem plants. I'm hatching a plan to crypt the tank out but not rushing into anything just yet.

One thing that's for sure though is that glossostigma really doesn't need loads of light at all. I have it growing happily into the very shadiest parts of the tank..
 

Chris Jackson

Member
Joined
23 Apr 2014
Messages
725
Location
Falmouth, Cornwall
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About a month later.

I decided that the look of the background stem plants were not what I was after so I trimmed them back heavily and transplanted some more crypts from my other tank back there. They are doing the melt and slow grow in thing just now whereas the Parva is overrun by the glossostigma and making the title "Parva Beach" seem a tad ridiculous. The algae issue I had seems well into decline now so I may invest in another batch.

I've certainly had more algae problems with this little tank than I've ever had with my big 400ltr job and I'm suspecting one of key factors with that is the amount of ambient daylight this tank gets. The big tank is in a very dim hall area under the stairs and gets light almost exclusively from the tank lighting whereas this is in a quite bright kitchen/family room and gets dawn sunshine for ½ an hour or so on a clear morning as well. I reduced the light intensity previously but it still appeared quite bright for perhaps rather more than necessary and whilst the algae wasn't in rampant take over mode it wasn't in particularly sharp decline either. So two weeks ago I decided to switch to a shorter period with a higher intensity peak in the middle and this seems to be working well. The light loving glosso and micranthemum is now growing more strongly whilst the algae has also moved into more rapid decline as well which has to be a like. I've leaned back on fert dosing alongside the reduced light and biomass and am just watching the plants and guestimating which at the moment means just 1 pump of Tropica Specialised twice a week. I've not adjusted the CO2 at all and have a drop from 7.6 and night to 6.7 during the day which I'm quite happy with for a slow grow tank like this with a kh of 5-6.

As of yesterday there are also 4 rather pretty Corydoras Napoensis in there but they steadfastly refused to pose for the camera this evening preferring instead the cosy quiet of the grotto behind the tree...
 
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