Sacha's nightmare before Christmas

Sacha

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3 Jan 2014
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London
Evening all!

Some of you have been following the saga of my low-tech Juwel Rio 240, which has now been reborn!

This tank was first set up in 2018, with a soil substrate topped with gravel. No Co2 but liquid carbon and half EI dosing. It was running beautifully for the best part of a year (pic), but around 6 months ago I started getting serious algae problems. I won't bore you all with the details but this video should give you an idea of what state the tank was in a couple of days ago...

Long story short, yesterday I bit the bullet and tore the tank down completely. Swapped out the old soil & gravel substrate for inert Unipac sand, threw out all the old plants (there wasn't a single one that wasn't covered in algae), scrubbed away at the walls, hardscape etc. and restored the tank to 'like new' so I could start afresh. 8 hours and £120 worth of plants later, and here's the result.....


I'm pretty pleased with how it's turned out. I'm hoping that in time it will grow out into a nice bushy 'jungle'-style tank, something along the lines of this. My plan is to run this as a low-maintenance tank (monthly water changes) with lean dosing and relatively slow growth (but no algae!)

Set-up specs as follows:

Tank: Juwel Rio 240
Lighting: 2 x Juwel Multilux LED (2x29w = 58w total) - 7 hour photoperiod
Filtration: Internal Juwel Bioflow upgraded (1000 lph); External Eheim Professionel 3 600 (1250 lph)
Substrate: Unipac sand (inert)
Livestock: 9 rummynose tetra; 7 cardinal tetra; 5 red phantom tetra; 4 otocinclus; 1 rosy tetra; 1 silvertip tetra; various snails (ramshorn / MTS)
Fertiliser: 7 x JBL kugeln root balls (ferrous clay / insoluble iron); Weekly quarter dose of EI
Water: Currently a 50/50 mix of RO and London tap, tank TDS is around 340. Will gradually move to 80/20 mix of RO / tap.

I think that's everything for now. I'll update this thread as I go along but would welcome any comments / suggestions / criticisms / words of wisdom etc. I'd be particularly grateful for any advice on a lean dosing regime - I'm going to go with a weekly 1/4 dose of EI for the time-being but if anyone has any other suggestions please let me know...

Wish me luck!

Sacha
 
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I'd be tempted to turn off one of those led units to limit potential for algae... it looks stunning, congrats - it will be great being able to sit back and watch the tank over Xmas!
 

Sacha

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3 Jan 2014
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London
Thanks all! :)

@Matt @ ScapeEasy: I wish I could. Juwel have helpfully designed the unit so it's impossible to run one bulb on its own. If you disconnect one of the tubes, the whole unit just stops working. They do sell a "Helialux" dimmable LED unit, but it's the best part of £300, and I can't justify that spend just to reduce the light intensity! 58W works out at around 1.2wpg, so I wouldn't call this "high light" as such.

The good news is I have a very large quantity of Frogbit arriving in the new year, so I intend to reduce light intensity considerably by using floating plants...

Merry Xmas all!
S
 
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Good plan RE frogbit. You can also cover 0art of the tube with kitchen foil should you wish.

Merry Xmas!
 

Sacha

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998
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Quick update: There was still a bit of empty space in the sand so I bought some red plants today to fill it out - Lagenandra meeboldii red, Alternanthera rosaefolia and red tiger lotus.

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The red tiger lotus is hiding at the back so I'll get some photos of it once it grows out (if it grows out!)
 

Sacha

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Quick update for 2020!

Fish all doing well. The plants seem to be settling in OK - they haven't all rooted yet but seem fairly healthy. The S. Repens in particular is growing nicely (slowly but nicely) - see second photo below.

I noticed a small amount of thread algae starting to grow on the Pogostemon so I've introduced a little clean-up crew: 6 Amano Shrimp to accompany the 4 Ottos already resident. 2 of the shrimp are very large, 1 is medium sized, but 3 are very small. I found one of the smallest ones poking around inside the internal filter a few hours after introducing them, so I've done my best to cover up all filter openings with sponges. I'm confident I've managed to shrimp-proof the filter now. See photo below of one of the large ones investigating the S. Repens.

I've also done a couple of water changes to pure RO to reduce the TDS down to 205.

I've got a decent amount of floating plants in there now but think I need to bulk this out a bit.

Aside from that just a small amount of dust algae on the glass which I removed when cleaning the tank this evening - probably a result of natural light coming in through the bedroom window...

Fingers crossed!

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Sacha

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Quick update 5 months in - so far so good!

The floaters grew like mad and I now realise I was running this tank at very low light for a few weeks. I have removed a large proportion of the floating plants and restored to a moderate lighting level. Some plants are doing better than others (e.g. the Stauro didn't do well so I replaced it with some Crypt Parva, and the Swords have been decimated by my hungry Ottos). But (fingers crossed) only very minimal algae and slow but steady growth. I have also moved to monthly water changes, which is a relief.

I am debating what to do with my driftwood in the centre of the tank. For whatever reason the Java Fern just isn't doing well at all. I am struggling to choose between the following three options: 1) Remove the java fern altogether and leave the wood bare as a contrast to the plants; 2) Replace the JF with either more JF or Anubias; 3) Replace the JF with Java Moss or Christmas Moss.

Any thoughts?

Cheers!

Sacha

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Conort2

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Looks really good. I’d either leave the wood bare or replace it with anubias petite. I can never seem to grow Java fern well without CO2. No idea why as it is supposed to be bomb proof!

cheers

Conor
 

AqueousJungle

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21 May 2020
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Stauro tends to does off initially for me too, but then can grow again if left in situ.

Never heard of otos eating swords - perhaps they were eating diatoms off them and the plant was also struggling at the time?

monthly water changes are very infrequent indeed - how are you dosing the tank and are you finding that nitrates and kept in check (by the floating plants perhaps?)

I’ve seen lots of people struggling with Java fern in low tech setups... not the hardy plant lots of people think it is... maybe it’s fussy on water parameters? I think decent flow at the rhizome helps and decent amounts of light (places nearer the surface for stronger lighting for example). If you end up replacing it I would go with Anubias to maintain some height in that location (rather than the moss).

An excellent and lush looking tank though overall👍🏻
 

Sacha

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3 Jan 2014
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London
monthly water changes are very infrequent indeed - how are you dosing the tank and are you finding that nitrates and kept in check (by the floating plants perhaps?)

Hi there,

If you read around you'll see that many people run low-tech tanks with no water changes (or water changes only every few months). See these threads:

https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads...-to-no-water-changes-in-low-tech-tanks.28095/
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/low-tech-no-waterchanges.10101/

This is similar to the 'Walstad Method' and I am using root tabs for ferts, with weekly macro mix to ensure the Nitrates don't bottom out (as you rightly point out the high plant mass will keep the nitrates down). If my 'duckweed index' indicates an iron deficiency I will dose a small amount of trace.
 

Sacha

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3 Jan 2014
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998
Location
London
I'm contemplating replacing the old damaged swords at the back with another background plant... Also buying a red tiger lotus for the far left midground (in front of the vallis and behind the crypts).
 
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