Richards First Scape

Richard40

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History
I’ve been keeping fish for over a year now and have a community tank. I’ve kind of just bought fish in the past for buying sake to make the community. Recently reading about plants and aquascaping has turned it into a bit of an obsession, as I’m always striving for the tank look better.

Tank Size
It’s an Aqua One 80, so 135 litres as I’ve taken out the back of the tank. Instead of spending loads on a new tank I decided after reading more and more about aquascaping to try my own tank using some redwood and lots of plants. I knocked all the back plastic out of the tank so I could change for an external filter.

Current Filter
I have been running a JBL Cristal Profi e702 for a year, but recently ordered an Oase 600 Biomaster thermo which hasn’t been delivered yet.

Current Lighting
Im currently running a Fluval Plant 3.0 light on the tank.

CO2
I’ve never used CO2 until recently when I purchased a CO2 art dual regulator with fire extinguisher.
The tank has had a weeks worth of CO2 running.

New lighting and pipework (not fitted yet)
I’ve also bought an Aquascaper glass pipework set with surface skimmer and Twinstar 600SA which again hasn’t been delivered yet with controller to set the timings.

Plants
Plants I’ve planted so far are Monte Carlo, micrantheum umbrosum, microsorium pteropus, lagenadra red, cryptocoryne willisii, limnophila hippuirdoides.

Yet to plant
Staurogyne repens, rotala H’ra, Hygrophila araguaia, Alternanthera Reineckii, Anubias petite, Hydrocotyle verticillata, rotala green, rotala rotundifolia.

Aquascape (started 2nd February shown in picture)
I had to do the aquascape whilst moving the fish. Took my Unipac micro gravel out and replaced with Tropica Soil. Temp is 24 degrees. So far I’ve done an 80% water change whilst rescaping and done two 50% water changes midweek.

Substrate

Tropica Soil

Fish and Numbers
I think I’ve too many fish in there to be honest but unsure as will be running a bigger and better external filter. I have ember, rummynose, phantom, emperor, neon tetras.
3 pearl gourami, two female and one Male. 2 bristlenose plecs, 4 corydoras, 2 pyjama loach, 1 L236 plec, 8 glass catfish, 2 Siamese algae eaters and some baby apistogramma.

Issues
I’ve noticed a lot of the Monte Carlo floating and lots of bits on the surface. I think though that it was because I planted with my fingers rather than tweezers, so lesson learnt there.

The Dream
What I want is a carpet of Monte Carlo, plants doing great with some great colours and fish to be healthy to prove to myself that I didn’t need to buy an new tank and cabinet to replace my old one I guess.
 

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Richard40

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Having trouble with Monte Carlo. Finding most of it’s lifted, bits floating all the time. When I planted it, it had no water in the tank. Used Tropica 1-2 and cut into small pieces and planted. As you can see from pic tonight, there’s barely any left. CO2 running and lime green colour drop checker. I did use my hands to plant rather than tweezers. Could this be the problem?
 

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Can't you keep replanting the monte carlo? i know its painful even with a good pair of tweezers.

Are you running EI ferts?

Carpets are high maintenance and not an easy thing to start with, I had a full monte carlo carpet but got rid of it when I re-scaped.
 

Basviola

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About planting it is possible to do with the fingers, but it will be pain in the ass long term.
You need tweezers for sure, especially for stems as you might snap/break the stems with your fingers.

Stems you often won't to plant close and dense to get the look many are going after. In that case I like to grip 2-3 stems at once and plant together. Doing this with either one or multiple stems close together in a larger area you can easily pull up the up the surrounding stems when pulling out the tweezers. Or ofcourse the stems you was just planting.
The goes for planting carpeting plants like MC and so on.

Trying to counter this I like to do the following:
  1. get the plant as far down as possible, according to what makes sense ofcourse!
  2. while still having the tweezers down in the dirt, opening the tweezers so that the dirt will fall in around the stems/plants.
  3. Sliding down my hand that holds the tweezers and push/hold the plant in place with my 'pointing finger'.
  4. Then slowly little by little pull out the tweezers.
Hope it makes sense, at least it is how I plant now after a lot of trial and error.

Other stuff to consider:
A new substrate in a new tank holds a lot of air bubbles the will escape and help pull up your plants. that is why many tap or stair their substrate before planting. This will make a mess for some time!!

I have had problems with MC flooring too... I did not took a close look at your list of fish, but I got into aquascaping having a kids tank with amount ohter fish ancistrus sp. And I think theise help a lot with the uprooting before the MC actually became rooted in the substrate.

It helped me placing some temporary stones among the plants (what ever you can find will do)
You can place them in the gaps between plants.. you know the spots where you hope the smaller clump of MC will spread into and finally grow together.

All this being said I have only had real success with growing MC emersed, so if this could be an option for you you should consider a dry start. Don't know how the rest of your plants will respond to that.

I have a dry start going right now, that have giving me loads of MC that I soon will try transferring into my other tank... with all the bully's! (acistrus)

Hope this helped you some how. Have fun!
 

Richard40

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I’ve been replanting any floating stems, but a lot implantable. I’ve bought another two pots of Monte Carlo so will try again with tweezers and see how I get on.

I am using TNC complete 10ml a day.
 

alto

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Aqua One 80 dimensions 80cm x75cmx40cm (WxHxD)
- most planted tanks you’ll see online and in those amazing contest photos are “opposite” dimensions, ie, tank height rarely exceeds depth, nevermind being almost twice depth
This brings challenges of lighting and “good” flow (especially for substrate plants)

George Farmer’s ADA 45H aquascape tutorial

Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo' is a good choice for the carpet BUT with your present fish in tank, it will be a challenge to establish
Adding an upper layer of Tropica AS Powder will help hold small/fine plants in place BUT the substrate “sifting” activity of the corydoras and loaches will still tend to uproot small plants

Given the number and types of fish, I recommended using as many “pot” plants as possible, 1-2-Grow/Tissue Culture are usually much more delicate stem and leaf structure - can you find any “mat” versions of MC?
(I’ve seen mats for HC, Lileaopsis, Eleocharis - AG should know what’s UK available)

M umbrosum (one of my favourite) should establish fairly quickly - though it often has minimal roots - definitely split up that bunch, instead planting groups of 3-7 stems a few cm’s apart
To avoid uplift by fish, plant a few cm’s deep
(In some of his videos, you can see how deeply Filipe Oliveira sinks stem plants into the substrate)
You can use the same method with the MC - if it arrives quite “short”, just allow it to grow in the cups - you should see daily growth - then sink into the substrate with just 1-2cm visible
The new Twinstar light should improve substrate PAR, though you will have some shading at tank ends as light unit is only 60cm so plan for this in your planting


Is there any way you can remove some of your fish to a temporary tank?
When the new filter arrives, you can split the “cycled” media between both filters, so any temporary bin (any food grade plastic, just choose suitable dimensions) could also have a running filter


As this is new Tropica Soil, you needn’t worry so much about water column fertilizers - for the 130 litres (which is likely less than 100l actual water volume). I’d add 10-15ml Tropica fertilizers per week ... and I often don’t begin fertilizers for 2-4 weeks depending on plants etc
(Tropica recommended dose is 6ml/50l per week) Sorry I’ve no experience with TNC

For Water Changes in a Planted Tank - I strongly suggest following Tropica’s 90 Day App with water changes at least every 3rd day (ADA recommends daily water changes up to 90%)
https://tropica.com/en/guide/get-the-right-start/
If you observe visible plant melt/debris, a 50-75% water change is recommended
If there is any “melt” of your Cryptocoryne, it will quickly happen to the entire grouping, so trim leafs back to ~1cm

(You mentioned using a mix of RO/tap so obviously this is much more involved than if just using tap, note if you can remove livestock while establishing plants, most plants are happy to grow in most water conditions- and daily water changes can take ~10min using a system such as Python No Spill Clean & Fill Gravel Cleaner
Note I just start the syphon and drain water to the garden etc, then refill from tap to tank, adding sufficient Prime etc for entire tank volume- even when only doing a 50% water change))

Tropica has an excellent series of Plant Handling Videos, showing growth and trimming as well
 

alto

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Fish and Numbers
I think I’ve too many fish in there to be honest but unsure as will be running a bigger and better external filter. I have ember, rummynose, phantom, emperor, neon tetras.
3 pearl gourami, two female and one Male. 2 bristlenose plecs, 4 corydoras, 2 pyjama loach, 1 L236 plec, 8 glass catfish, 2 Siamese algae eaters and some baby apistogramma.
Well done on acquiring an L236 pleco :)
I’d make sure he has a suitable “cave”

I suggest limiting your tetras to a couple species, this would allow you a decent shoal number of each (nice for watching behaviours you won’t see when fish are kept in smaller numbers)
If you do prefer that brilliant mix of tetras, I’d rehome the Pearl Gouramis (your tank is very overstocked, not just in terms of bioload but also “space” for individual fish types)

Loaches - I’d set up a separate tank for them or rehome, they tend to be poor plant tankmates (substrate disturbance. physical activity causing bruising of delicate leafs/stems, biting holes in plant leafs, biting through stems etc)
If plants are already established and then loaches are added, plants are much more able to withstand loach “play”
Depending on your loach species, they may be more/less happy as a duo - again check Seriously Fish species profiles or the Loach Forum (awesome Loach source for many years)

Bristlenose plecos - it’s very common for them to rasp plant leafs, so it can be a challenge maintaining good plant growth/minimal algae But some bristlenose can (apparently) be good planted tank citizens (just none I’ve observed ;) )

SAE - even the smallest mature to ~15cm + and they tend to quickly prefer fish food over algae
Like loaches they can be a challenge in (especially smaller) planted tanks, they really shine in larger groups in bigger tanks (and can mature to somewhat aggressive/territorial fish, especially when kept in smaller groups in smaller tanks)

Obviously this is your tank so choose the fish you like :)
 

Richard40

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Thanks for the detailed replies guys. My thoughts are that firstly I'm removing a lot of my fish stock. Loaches, corydoras, Siamese catfish, Bristlenose plecs, ember tetras, phantom tetras and emperor tetras. I think like you say this will stop the movement on the bottom near the monte carlo which is affecting the growth.

Alto the dimensions are not as deep, 75cm is the cabinet depth, the true depth is about 47cm, however with substrate I measured it this morning at 42cm. I think once the loach etc are gone this week, the monte carlo will be ok especially when the Twinstar light arrives and I get that connected, if not I'll buy some pots on mesh and replant that way.

Regarding ferts - I've had a couple of holes in my plants so am just dosing 10ml TNC complete each day at the moment to combat that. With my Crypts I cut those down as I had seen the video before I planted.

I'm experimenting with the water. I bought a hose pipe that I attached to my kitchen tap, turned on the water hot and cold and refilled the first time straight into the tank and added Prime. However, all my phantom tetra have white spot and can only think the water change stressed them that much this is why it occurred. At the weekend I did it slowly through a colander but still need to improve this. Contemplating buying a water pump that I'll place in a bucket in the kitchen sink, pre dose the bucket with Prime and pump the water back into the tank rather than dosing straight in. I believe George Farmer uses this method.
 

alto

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I've had a couple of holes in my plants so am just dosing 10ml TNC complete each day
If plants are recent, and this is occurring in older emerse growth leafs, it’s really just part of the leaf breakdown under aquatic conditions
If you’re seeing damage in new aquatic leafs, it may be nutrient related but also may reflect fish activity

all my phantom tetra have white spot and can only think the water change stressed them that much this is why it occurred.
I’m sceptical of this
While Ich may be present in fish in very small numbers, it usually takes more than a water change to trigger an outbreak
In another thread you mentioned
Tested nitrite, ammonia and nitrate recently. 0 nitrite, 0.25 ammonia and low nitrate
I’d sooner suspect this water report and the overcrowding creating sufficient stress ..... or if you’ve added any fish (or plants) in recent weeks
(I prefer in vitro plants as there is no chance of fish disease - many lfs will end up placing some fish in plant tanks, or will go from hands/nets in fish tanks to hands/nets in plant tanks ..... I’ve even seen (very) ill fish in plant sale tanks)

I’ve used a Python System for years with no apparent issue - I add 1-2 X Prime dose for entire tank volume (and more as I’m near a Chlorine Dosing Station) as I refill the tank
I mix hot/cold to a few degrees below tank temperature (never add hotter water) depending on how much water I’ve removed, I’m much more careful of matching when doing an 80% water change (than a 50%)
I add the water back at a good rate (pretty much top tap speed But my water pressure is only moderate) running it through an Eheim inlet tube
 

alto

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As you’ve Ich in the tank, wait to rehome fish as even those without obvious spots will have higher levels of parasite (and the stress of net-bag-transport-new home will likely trigger an exponential increase in parasite levels)

You can (safely) remove fish to a treatment tank as long as water quality is maintained and the temporary bin is suitable size etc
Expect Ich life stages to remain in the planted tank for a couple weeks even if all fish are removed
 

Richard40

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Been a week now and most have lost the white spots. Turned temp down to 24 as getting a lot of leaves floating on the surface.

I have Tropica soil in there but considering some Tropica Soil Powder to help the roots for some of my plants. Thoughts?
Having to turn down CO2 as PH has reduced more than I wanted and I have had a couple of fish jump out.
 

Zeus.

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CO2 is a tricky beast, which most folk struggle with some time. Seeing your new to CO2 the most culprit is fluctuating CO2 levels during the photo period

For it to work for plants it needs to stable from lights on for the first 4-5hours is the most critical time and it needs to be consistent.

if you are struggling with CO2 stability, or are having difficulty keeping high concentrations, then it's best to focus efforts on the first half of the photoperiod and not worry so much about the second half. If you are running very strong lighting then you are really pushing the plants and it's necessary to have the CO2 going. After 4 hours, if you turn the gas off, the water stays saturated for a couple of hours after the valve closes and the concentration trails off. So if you have an 8 hour photoperiod and you turn the gas on 2 hours before lights on, you can turn the gas off after 6 hours. So the gas is still running for 8 hours but it's on-off cycle is offset by the amount of time you turn it on prior to lights on.
We know that Rubisco is hugely expensive and consumes a lot of resources to produce and to maintain. In low tech tanks, where the CO2 concentration is low there is a much higher density of Rubisco in the leaf because you need more of the protein to capture the small amounts of CO2. In gas injected tanks, the Rubisco density in the leaf is lower.
we know that when the plant senses that high concentrations of CO2 is available, it responds by reducing the production of expensive Rubisco. When it senses a lower CO2 concentration it must increase Rubisco production, however because this protein is so complicated and heavy, the increased production requires 2-3 weeks in order to change the density in the leaf to match the new gas concentration level. So it is much easier to reduce production than it is to increase production. When increasing gas injection therefore, it hardly takes any time to see an improvement in health. When lowering the concentration, the plant will suffer because it must now ramp up Rubisco production to account for the loss of CO2 availability.
So the pH needs to be stable otherwise the plants are changing their Rubisco concentrations all the time and can run out of energy and the plants suffers leaves die and algae loves dying leaves and thing get out of control.

The higher the [CO2] the more plants thrive but your livestock wont so 30ppm CO2 is considered safe which is the green colour on your DC ( Drop Checker)
 

Zeus.

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Are these decent settings?
Yes and unknown.

The Unkown part is how stable is your pH and the light intensity

Need to do a pH profile. Take pH from before lights on every 30mins till CO2 off. I aim for a stable pH of no no change in pH to within 0.1pH.

When you pH is stable then you can say if your DC is green 2hrs after lights on your [CO2] is 30ppm for photoperiod
 
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