"Roots" - First Tank After 16 Years . . .

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Wookii, 8 Jan 2020.

  1. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Right guys, I’ve been using this forum quite a bit over the past couple of months, and I’ve started a number of ‘question’ threads over that time, so I thought I’d give a little back and start a journal thread.

    My introduction thread gives a little background (HERE), but the long and short of it is I am essentially coming back to owning (well co-owning with my son) a planted aquarium after a 16 year hiatus. This has been sparked by my son asking for an aquarium for Christmas, and I seized on it as an opportunity to let him experience a fully planted high tech tank rather than the usual bubble pirate chest and some guppies.

    Ironically I’d kept hold of all my aquarium gear, including a small tank (not a nice flash rimless opti-white one, but good enough to start with), external filter, Aquamedic CO2 kit, and numerous other paraphernalia, including a few (though limited) choices of bogwood and rocks. I was therefore in a position to set the tank up straight away, but an inline heater, glassware, LED light and plants would all have to be Christmas presents on my sons Santa list.

    So we pressed on, and selected the best suited wood and rocks from my limited stash, and came up with some hardscape designs. In retrospect the wood is a little too large, but we had to shave costs off somewhere, and the design works fairly well I think for a first stab.

    The tank was set-up and started cycling 5 weeks before Christmas, and cycling was essentially complete a week before Christmas Day. As the plants were to be a gift, and I needed to be able to add livestock as soon as possible (think of a 7 year olds patience levels) I couldn’t ‘cycle’ in the normal way with plants in situ from the start.

    This is the initial set-up as it currently stands:

    Tech:

    Tank: 60 x 30 x 35 – 60 litre
    Filter: Eheim 2028 (1050 litre/hour rated) with Substrate Pro + Purigen

    Heater: Hydor 300 watt inline/external

    Light: Fluval Plant 3.0 32W with blue tooth control

    CO2 Tank: 3.15Kg

    CO2 Regulator: Aquamedic dual stage

    CO2 Diffuser: JBL ProFlora Inline

    CO2 Reactor: DIY Inline

    Pipework: Dual outlet (glass lily pipe + old Fluval inlet), single glass inlet with skimmer (+ shrimp guard)

    Substrate: Tropica Soil Powder (approx. 16 litres) + Seachem Flourish Tabs (for Crypts)

    Other: Twinstar Nano Plus
     
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  2. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Hardscape:

    As I mentioned, we were somewhat limited in hardscape choices, without going out and dropping another £100 on new material, but I chopped down a larger piece to give us some ‘roots’, and made use of the rock I had available. The aim was to try and create some depth perspective, which was actually very difficult (for me) in this tank that is only around 29cm front to rear internally.

    This was our final hardscape mockup – excuse the poor photography, these were quick snaps with the phone and without a proper aquarium light in place.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-0-59.png

    upload_2020-1-8_14-1-56.png


    This was the hardscape added to the aquarium proper, with the Tropica soil in place.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-2-33.png



    Unfortunately I made a schoolboy error and forgot to pre-soak the wood. The wood had been used in my main 260 litre aquarium 16 years ago for about two years, but it had of course fully dried since then. So I had to drain the tank, and used the cigarette filter and superglue trick to bond it all down.

    This required altering the hardscape slightly, and also gave me an opportunity to make some changes so it looked better once flooded, as the way the hardscape looked changed once water was added. This was the resulting layout (again, a little cloudy from moving the substrate around, and excuse the temporary green Eheim pipework):.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-5-21.png

    upload_2020-1-8_14-6-3.png
     
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  3. Wookii

    Wookii Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Plants:

    Foreground:

    Cryptocoryne Parva
    Marsilea Crenata
    Eleocharis Acicularis Mini
    Micranthemum Monte Carlo

    Mid-Ground:

    Staurogyne Repens
    Alternonthera Reinechii pink/mini
    Bacopa Australis
    Cryptocoryne Petchii
    Cardamine Lyrata
    Cryptocoryne Wendtii

    Background:

    Myriophyllum Guyana
    Ludwigia Arcuata
    Rotala Ammania (Bonsai)
    Hygrophila Lancea
    Eleocharis montevidensis

    Wood:
    Anubias Nana Petite / Mini / Bonsai
    Anubias Nana (ordered in error!)
    Anubias Pangolino
    Bucephalandra Lamandau Mini Red
    Bucephalandra Lamandau Purple
    Christmas Moss
    Java Moss
    Fissiden Moss
    Lomariopsis Lineata


    Because of the timing for the plants, and them being Christmas presents for my son, and trying to time deliveries etc, I decided to set up a holding/growing on tank in the garage – an old toy box with some plastic trays using the left over Tropica soil, EI ferts, CO2 injection and an old Murcury Vapour aquarium lamp.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-11-15.png

    upload_2020-1-8_14-11-1.png


    In retrospect this was a mistake really. Whilst some of the stem plants did well such as the Myriophyllum Guyana and Cardamine Lyrata, which massively increased in size and mass, several of the others suffered from some melt, such as the Crypts and the Micranthemum Monte Carlo, whilst others remained in stasis. Anyway, you live and learn!

    I also managed to keep some moss and the Lomariopsis Lineata (which I superglued on some small pieces of slate to make them easier to fix in the aquarium later on) in a Pyrex dish on a window sill for several weeks, and with frequent water changes, it kept just fine.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-12-6.png

    It was all good in the end though, and there were enough plants with some fresh orders to plant out the aquarium quite well.

    This is the end result after planting:

    upload_2020-1-8_14-17-7.png


    Lights have been set initially for 6 hours a day at 70%,
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Livestock:

    Before Christmas I ordered a batch of 40 culled Bloody Mary shrimp from a guy on eBay, to be delivered on Saturday 28th December. That all worked out really well, and he very kindly threw in several larger mature females for around 45 in total. Given this was a cull, there are several lower grade shrimp, including one blue one strangely, and one small one with a clear band like a Rili - but given I got them for around £1.35 each, I’m very pleased, and many of them have superb colouration.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-19-13.png

    upload_2020-1-8_14-19-40.png


    upload_2020-1-8_14-20-25.png

    I also added 6 small male Amano from the Pets At Home near us:

    upload_2020-1-8_14-21-57.png


    Saturday we went to a local Maidenhead Aquatics with the intention of only buying four Oto’s, but ended up coming away with 12 Ember tetra too. They were very skittish when first added to the tank, but seem to be settling in now (hard to photograph whilst moving!):

    upload_2020-1-8_14-23-58.png

    upload_2020-1-8_14-24-53.png
     
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  5. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    High’s and Lows after one week:

    Things are doing fairly well so far, with equal amounts of success and failure, which is what I expected. The Micranthemum Monte Carlo has continued to melt back a little, but the shrimp gardeners have kept it tidy, and new growth seems to be making headway, though very slowly. Ironically the Marsilea Crenata that seemed to struggle in the holding tank, is doing well, and looks really good.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-32-29.png


    I only really bought the Monte Carlo as I thought I was going to struggle getting a decent carpet with the Marsilea Crenata. We’ll have to see how each works out in the fullness of time, but as it stands there’s a chance I might replace some of the MC with the Marsilea Crenata as I love the look of its dark green leaves.

    The Crypts have lost some leaves, but not too many so far – they seem to have completed their main melt in the holding tank - and have pushed up quite a bit of new growth, and seem to be adding a new leaf daily!

    upload_2020-1-8_14-31-0.png

    The Myriophyllum Guyana and Cardamine Lyrata continue to do well, and I have already had to trim the latter and replant the off-cuts. The Bacopa Australis has also grown well, and will need trimming shortly (as can be seen above behind the Crypt).

    On the downside, I seem to be struggling with plants in the rear, particularly the rear corner. I suspect its due to lack of light, as that area is shadowed somewhat by the hardscape though there’s plenty of circulation there for CO2 and ferts. The Ludwigia Arcuata has melted away to almost nothing, though does seem to be showing a few new small leaves at the base, so not all hope is lost.

    I’ve ordered a Ludwigia Palustris from Aquarium Gardens, and may also pick-up a Bacopa Caroliniana from Pets At Home (they have the Tropica ones in stock), as both are listed as having low light and CO2 requirements, and listed as ‘easy’, and so might be more suitable in that position.

    I’ve also lost over half of the Rotala Ammania/Bonsai, that’s seems to have just rotted away. I read this had happened to other people, but to be fair, I think some of it was being overshadowed by the Myriophyllum Guyana, so I’ve moved things about to give it a bit more space and light, and the remaining shoots do seem to be growing.

    Finally I’ve also had some melt on some of the small Anubias plants. I don’t know whether there has been some interaction with the glue (Seachem Flourish), or they incurred some damage whilst fixing, or it’s the after effects of being kept in the storage tank. On the whole though, they seem to be doing well, and pearl up nicely when the lights are on. I love the look of the Buce’s too, they look great in the tank, so I’m hoping they’ll put out some growth.

    upload_2020-1-8_14-33-55.png
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Is Glassware more trouble than its worth . . .

    Since I added the glass outlet with skimmer, I've had nothing but issues with it. When the strainer end floats properly it draws loads of air into the filter. If I add a mesh to the inside (which I have too, to try and stop shrimp getting into the filter) as soon as a couple of leaves get stuck on it, the entire skimmer part descends below to surface. Its been a royal PITA, and numerous modification attempts have failed, so its already been retired in favour of a simple JBL plain black outlet, modified to take the stainless steel shrimp guard. This has also resulted in a good 10-15% increase in flow rate!

    I've also added an Eheim skimmer - amazing little devices, so that'll be staying.

    The main inlet lily pipe seems to work okay, but again its fairly large, rigid, and difficult to adjust accurately. Previous inlets I've had were easily adjustable to direct the flow any which way you wanted it. I've seen it looking great in so many tanks since I came back to this hobby a few months ago, but I seriously don't think I would bother with glassware again.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2020
  7. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Location:
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    Two weeks in . . .

    Well, things seem to be going well for the most part. I've added the Ludwigia Palustris which is a really beautiful looking plant, and seems to be doing well. I've also added the Bacopa Caroliniana, which isn't growing a great deal at the minute, but I suspect it needs some time.

    The Rotala Ammania/Bonsai has finally disappeared completely, so I won't be bothering with that again. I plan to take off-cuts from the Ludwigia Palustris when it grows some more, and add these to the space left by the Rotala, as it really is an attractive plant so far.

    I've also moved some of the Monte Carlo from the front area and replaced with a Tropica pot of Marsilea Crenata, as the Monte Carlo still seems to be struggling, and I think the dark green and clearly defined leaves of the Marsilea look much more attractive:

    upload_2020-1-8_14-58-24.png


    The livestock continue to settle in well. The Embers have become very confident, and buzz around my tweezers when I'm trying to replant, like Robins around a gardeners spade!

    The Oto's also happily feed on both lightly blanched cucumber and Hikari Algae Wafers:

    upload_2020-1-8_15-5-51.png
     
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  8. Zebra3

    Zebra3 Newly Registered

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    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey UK
    The tank is looking good and should look great once it's all more established. Thanks for sharing the setup and the stories to go along with it.

    I'm also suffering some melting on freshly planted Micranthemum so feel your pain there but here's to the bulk of it perking up once it's fully happy with its new home. I'll be watching your updates as you look to be a few weeks ahead of me in that recovery process ;)
     
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  9. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Got fed up with the Monte Carlo looking sickly, so out it’s come, and in with two fresh pots of Marsilea Crenata.

    upload_2020-1-12_17-54-58.jpeg

    I’m not sure why the Monte Carlo struggled. I could have just been poor plant quality (from an eBay seller), the stint in the holding tank, or maybe insufficient light?
     
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  10. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Location:
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    A note on plants from eBay . . .

    Anyone reading this journal will have to forgive me occasionally posting some random ramblings on here - this journal is also intended to be a selection of notes to myself to remember 'next time', as I have a terrible memory generally!

    This note is on plants from eBay sellers. I purchased quite a number of plants from eBay sellers. The main reason for this was seeing the tiny in-vitro pots from Tropica, selling for £5 a pop. A 5cm pot of plants for £5 didn't seem like good value at the time, so off to eBay I went. eBay sellers were selling what appeared to be similar in-vitro quantities for as little as £3-£3.50 each, often with '4 for the price of 3' offers. That seemed like a good deal?!

    I was careful in choosing only sellers with 100% feedback. The plants I received were generally in good health, or appeared so, and seemed to be a decent quantity (but what do I know!). Over the fullness of time, I think I must have lost 30-50% of these plants.

    It wasn't until after Christmas that I finally ordered a couple of Tropica in-vitro pots. These things must be like mini Tardis's - once the plants are out and broken up, there appears to be many more plantlets than was apparent from looking at the pot - there's no way I could get them back in the pot if someone asked me too! As it turned out, one Tropica in-vitro pot resulted in the same quantity of planlets that I got from two or more in-vitro portions from the eBay sellers. So whilst the Tropica are more expensive individually, they are apparently better value.

    The Tropica plants also appear to be better quality. I have lost precisely none of the Tropica plants I have bought, even the potted ones. The potted Aquafleur plants I have bought have also been decent too. Not quite of the quality of the Tropica ones, but still pretty good.

    Long and short of it, I think I'm going to stick to Tropica plants going forward.
     
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  11. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    A note about surface skimmers . . .

    So a little while ago I bought the Eheim 350 skimmer. At first I though it was great, it cleared up the surface slick I was experiencing, and had the added benefit of improving the distribution and flow around the tank.

    Unfortunately I didn’t do enough research on it when I got it, and didn’t read some peoples experience with this killing machine.

    For some reason one night, the Eheim decided to suck the floating head down below the surface. In the morning when I took it out, I found one of our prize Embers dead on the foam with about four shrimp. Luckily the shrimp were still alive.

    So, after a bit of research I set about making a mesh guard for it, like this:

    upload_2020-2-7_17-9-50.jpeg
    upload_2020-2-7_17-10-4.jpeg

    I thought that had solved the issue for good, and everything was fine for a couple of weeks, although the Eheim was a pain to service requiring me to completely remove it from the tank in order to unclip the body and remove the foam for cleaning.

    Sadly a couple of weeks later, I came home from work to find an Oto dead in one of the inlet gaps in the skimmer head. It had somehow managed to get it’s nose caught on the mesh, and it’s head wedged in the gap in the skimmer head. So out came the Eheim skimmer and into the drawer of failed items.

    I searched around and decided I liked the look of the All Pond Solution’s SKIM-2 skimmer:

    [​IMG]

    I didn’t have high hopes as it appeared to be a cheap Chinese unit available under a few different brands, but I like the apparent simplicity of it.

    I’m pleased to say my concerns were unfounded. The SKIM-2 has the been running for around three weeks now and and I have to say it’s simply superb.

    I did modify the inlet weir with some mesh, to prevent very small shrimp getting in:

    upload_2020-2-7_17-20-54.jpeg

    I also replaced the stock filter floss square with some black filter foam so it was less visible against my black tank background.

    The entire weir area is much larger than the Eheim, even though the overall unit size isn’t significantly bigger, which means even when quite a few leaves are stuck to the outside, it still operates without an issue, whereas the Eheim with mesh would block and start sucking in air within a day.

    It’s also infinitely easier than the Eheim to maintain. It’s simply a matter of removing and rinsing the weir head:

    upload_2020-2-7_17-22-50.jpeg

    Picking out the filter sponge with some tweezers and washing it out:

    upload_2020-2-7_17-23-28.jpeg
    upload_2020-2-7_17-23-45.jpeg

    Then simply a matter of replacing the sponge with the tweezers to push it to the bottom of the housing, before adding the weir head back in:

    upload_2020-2-7_17-25-8.jpeg

    All in all it take less than a minute! So far I’ve only had one shrimp go in there - whilst I was cleaning the weir - and getting her out was simply a matter of lifting the sponge up until she flittered off.

    5 Stars and a thorough recommendation from me!
     
  12. SRP3006

    SRP3006 Member

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    I've wondered about these skimmers, even though I haven't managed to kill any of my fish I get seriously fed up with it blowing bubbles everyday if the tiniest bit of plant gets stuck. I too wrote them off as cheap and not worth a try so thanks.

    By the way where did you get your fertz tube holder? Kinda like that, beats my elastic band and cable tie
     
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  13. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Thanks. The fert doser bit was from eBay:

    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https://www.ebay.co.uk/ulk/itm/332724333636

    I have to use a bit of CO2 tubing between that and the Aquamedic non-return valves, as the standard silicone tubing tends to slip off over time.
     
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  14. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Figured I should post a few updated tank shots, and then realised I didn’t actually have an original FTS from when everything was initially planted. This this was soon after planting (27/12/2019)

    upload_2020-2-8_10-18-22.jpeg

    And this is as of yesterday:

    upload_2020-2-8_10-19-29.jpeg

    Things seem to have grown in quite well. The moss has really taken off, reaching the surface in many areas:

    upload_2020-2-8_10-20-33.jpeg

    upload_2020-2-8_10-20-58.jpeg

    One thing I have come to realise though, is that I put the hardscape far too high in the tank, and I think the wood pieces are too large, I can’t actually see all the rear stem plants from the front of the tank. So a note to self for the next time I rescape!
     
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  15. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Babies!!!!

    We came home this weekend after a blustery journey up the M1, and I was just pulling out a few bits of moss that had a bit of algae on, and what do I see all in amongst the layers of moss:

    upload_2020-2-10_19-9-55.jpeg

    Loads of little baby Bloody Mary’s. After finding a couple of batches of dropped abandoned eggs the week before, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. Needless to say, I’m well chuffed!
     
  16. Andrew T

    Andrew T Member

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    You can always move the stems to the side and put some smaller Wood/rock pieces with a different texture moss in the back for added depth.
     
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  17. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    Thanks Andrew - which side did you mean, the left or the right? I kind of want to keep the right side open. The left side I do want to fill with stems, and that was the intention, unfortunately this Fluval light doesn’t have the minerals! I do have a Chihiros Vivid 2 on order. Not for more light output, but more for a wider spread of light, and maybe a little better colour rendition.
     
  18. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    I forgot to add - I added some new inhabitants to the tank a couple of weeks ago - another impulse purchase, bit they are so damn cute:
     
  19. Wookii

    Wookii Member

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    upload_2020-2-14_16-56-32.jpeg

    Unfortunately, despite adding 8 of them, they appear quite shy, and spend most of their time in the depths of the tank out of view.

    I may add some more though I’m conscious of overstocking. Anyone any thoughts on that?
     
  20. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    Try some micro worms, they really like them, and will come out to hoover them up.

    Cheers Darrel
     
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