Technically my third tank, I guess

Karmicnull

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Cambridge
A brief history to-date.

Won a goldfish in a fair as a child. Put it in one of those round goldfish bowls that every house had back in the eighties. Got a second goldfish at another fair and my stepfather managed to source a sensible sized tank (about 90L). We slapped it on top of the child-height wardobe in my room, and popped the goldfish in it. All the aquarium books in the library said get an undergravel filter, so I got one. In hindsight, not the best idea with goldfish. By this time I was at 3 goldfish, a shubunkin and two green tench. The tank cracked and leaked everywhere we fixed it. Astonishingly despite everything the fish survived, and when we moved to a new house with a pond, they all went in the pond. About a year later all but the green tench ended up as food for a very happy heron. We never saw the green tench. Apart from very occasionally from a distance when you would see a ripple circling the edges of the pond, a bit like jaws. When we emptied the pond out to clean and fix a leak a few years later, one was still there, skulking in the mud. The old 90L tank sat in the loft gathering dust.

When I grew up and had kids of my own the tank transferred into my own loft where it sat for the next 18 years until a combination of pestering from children and lockdown staycation galvanized me to action a couple of weeks back. Key requirement was that it had to match the furniture in the living room, which meant a light oak or pine stand. Turns out they are hard to come by. I looked at bespoke options, but they were so expensive that it ended up being cheaper to buy a brand new aqua oak 130L tank. So my old tank carries on gathering dust. Go figure.

Anyhow I did a bit of research and got all the paraphernalia that the interweb told me I needed to keep fish alive. Then we went to the LFS to get substrate, a couple of plants, an ornament (I had my heart set on a crashed star destoyer, but the LFS only had shipwrecks and ruins) and advice. I came back with some sand, a handful of plants and a sneaking suspicion that the chap I'd talked to in the shop knew very little more then I did. So we set up the tank and I decided to do a bit more research online.

This is the tank on 31st August after we set it up:

Tank 2020-08-31-b.jpg


At this point my biggest setback was the discovery that my external filter was too tall to fit in the fish stand's cupboard. You can see the tubes off to the right. That hasn't gone down particularly well. Esp. since it's in an old plastic washbasin as I was paranoid about leaks (it hasn't).

Having done this there followed a frantic amount of research, through which I learned (amongst other things) that:
- plants need to be fed.
- most of what is out on the interweb is either incorrect or at best insufficiently precise.
- my lighting was probably too bright.
- my air bubbles should only be on at night
- I don't have enough plants
- the Anubais Nana that you can't see behind the purple rock probably won't ever grow big enough to make it into sight.
- I've probably got too much sand on top of my aquabasis plus
- Test kits are interesting but not the be-all and end-all.
- What I appear to be aiming for is called a low-tech tank.

As a result...
- I have made up my first EI mix yesterday and gave my first (50%) dose today.
- there is now pond lettuce jetting round in the flow on the surface of the water
- I have a couple more plants arriving this week. Everyone on these forums seems to swear by Tropica, so I found a reseller, but they're a heck of a lot more expensive than Amazon.
- I've downloaded the water reading from Cambridge water (rock hard, slightly alkali and full of nitrates. Even though my test kit is in denial about the last of these)
- I know what a stem plant is and I reckon I need to get a few.
- I have a spreadsheet of approximately 80 fish that the internet swears are hard for beginners to kill, of which 20 will actually be happy in high PH hard water and my size of tank. Interestingly different sites sometimes give spectacularly different values for what hardness a fish can cope with. e.g. Serpae tetra can cope with between 268ppm and 465 ppm depending on which site you believe, so I think the error bars on my spreadsheet are pretty wild.

Anyhow, here's the tank as it was earlier today. Looking forward to seeing what the next week brings!


Tank 2020-09-06.jpg
 

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davidgorman74

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10 Jun 2020
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Huntingdon
For fish advice I always use the Water Zoo in Peterborough, really good guys there they will be able to advise you, maybe better than the internet :)
 

Karmicnull

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@davidgorman74 thanks for the tip - from the look of the site it's in a different league from the ones I've visited. Swapped a couple of mails with them and I'll pop up this weekend.
 

Karmicnull

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Hi @Melll I bought it at the LFS - the chap there said it was one that people usually used in marine aquariums, but wasn't more specific than that. Having a look round online, I reckon it's a live rock. Probably a bit overpriced for a freshwater aquarium, but I liked it, and given I'm going to spend the next few years looking at it, thought it was worth the investment!
 

Melll

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Leicester. UK
@Karmicnull ,

It looks like a man made reef called Real Reef, it will harden your water and if it was seasoned in the sea, may well be full of mini sea creatures.
Was it wet or dry when you got it and is your water naturally soft?

But if you like it, I`ve got several kilo for sale 👍:)
 

Karmicnull

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@Melll it was bone dry - in with a box full of similar rocks. My water is hard as nails already. It measured 286 GH a week or so back. I'll take a read this weekend and see if it has changed materially. I'm not particularly keen on it getting even harder!
 
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it looks like ceramic rock, made to look like reef bones and covered in Coraline algae, I used a different brand in mine, a baked pirated ceramic, that soon seeded and hosted all sorts of life, but is inert
 

Karmicnull

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Many of the leaves of the plants I planted have died off and I've been pruning away - but there is now a tiny amount of new growth in the Alternanthera and the Helanthium! I'm inferring from this that I've not (yet) killed my plants. This means that - from a plant perspective at least - this tank is already a runaway success in comparison to my childhood one, where the plant MTBF was under a week. Whatever else happens, I'm gonna take that.

Helanthium Bolivianum Detail_IMGP6403.jpg
Alternanthera Rosaefolia Detail_IMGP6404.jpg


I've also found the specs for my light (Nicrew Classic LED plus). And learned all about PAR, which some chap on a website has very kindly measured for a range of aquarium lights.

1599780106857.png
1599780146603.png


I'm running the lights at 60%, and doing two lighting periods a day so I get to see the tank in the evening. The received wisdom on this site appears to be that there's no evidence that having a midday lighting siesta makes a difference one way or the other for a low tech tank. Which means I should be fine doing it.

Running at 60% gives me the below, which looks about right for my tank (40cm from substrate to surface, lights about 5cm above surface).
1599780376718.png


All good so far apart from the daft-as-a-brush Real Reef purchase potentially doing the impossible and making my water even harder. It is a really pretty rock though...
 

Karmicnull

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it looks like ceramic rock, made to look like reef bones and covered in Coraline algae, I used a different brand in mine, a baked pirated ceramic, that soon seeded and hosted all sorts of life, but is inert
Fingers crossed you're right! I guess I'll get some insight on impact when I check hardness.
 
Joined
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Fingers crossed you're right! I guess I'll get some insight on impact when I check hardness.
if it is the real reef brand, then its been in a glasshouse submerged growing marine algae and as its some what cheaper than korallenwelt or aquaroche, it might well be made from a cement shell blend.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm not particularly keen on it getting even harder!
You are fine, the water won't <"get any harder"> from adding more calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Because your water is from a chalk aquifer it is already fully saturated with Ca++ and HCO3- ions. A limestone, or concrete, rock will add potential carbonate buffering, but that would only go into solution if you added a lot of acid.

Have a look at <"Nerite snails....">.

cheers Darrel
 

Karmicnull

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Hi all, You are fine, the water won't <"get any harder"> from adding more calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Because your water is from a chalk aquifer it is already fully saturated with Ca++ and HCO3- ions.
Thanks Darrel - I had suspected from what I've read that the Cambridgeshire water might already be fully saturated. I'll still test out of curiosity, but in a much more relaxed frame of mind :)

Simon
 

Karmicnull

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A Planting update!

When I went to the LFS to get substrate and rocks I bought an arbitrary selection of plants too. They were:

Alternanthera Rosaefolia ("Magenta Water Hedge")
Anubias Barteri var. Nana
Eleocharis Acicularis ("Dwarf Hair Grass")
Helanthium Bolivianum ("Chain Sword")
Taxiphyllum Sp.("'Spiky Moss")
Vallisneria Americana/Gigantea

There's a photo of the tank with this lot in earlier in the thread.

Then I read about the <Duckweed Index> and got some Pistia stratiotes ("Dwarf Water Lettuce") off Amazon. My water lettuce was very happy and started growing roots. More research lead me to find out about <Surface Agitation in a low tech tank>. So I adjusted my spray bar up a bit, which gave plenty of agitation. That's when I learned that Water Lettuce and Surface agitation is a bit like Moths and Flames. Or Pier jumping. Pick your simile. I'm fairly convinced that taking regular dives to the bottom of the tank and resurfacing upside down, whilst potentially giddy fun for my lettuce, is not actually good for them. Other people have had the same problem, so I pinched a solution some people used and have penned the lettuce in with some airline. The time-honoured sacrifice of personal freedom for safety.
11-Sept Pond Lettuce Pen_IMGP6416.jpg


It's not as aesthetically pleasing as I would like, but it will suffice until I come up with something better.

Meanwhile I bought a few more plants, mostly from aquarium gardens:
Cryptocoryne crispatula
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Brown
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Tropica
Hottonia Palustris (water violet)
Hygrophila Costata
Hygrophila Siamensis 53B
Microsorium Pteropus Mini (Petit Java Fern) - and some Seachem Flourish Glue

Then had a lot of fun adding them in, during which time I learned that:
- You think you're buying one plant but in practice you could find there are anything between one and thirty
- Seachem Flourish glue does indeed work underwater. And if the bit of Java Fern you're trying to glue is sufficiently small you end up with your fingers firmly attached to the rock whilst the fern floats away. Still it all worked out eventually.

11-Sept Full view_IMGP6413.jpg


11-Sept detail - Hottonia Palustris_IMGP6417.jpg
11-Sept detail - Cryptocoryne crispatula_IMGP6418.jpg



So that was last night. This evening, I discovered 4 illegal immigrants had snuck in with the plants. Presumably arrived as eggs; currently little transparent snails slightly larger than a pin's head. There are presumably more I haven't spotted. My next task is to identify the species and decide whether to grant them citizenship or deport them.
 

Karmicnull

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KPI update. Looks like the ceramic reef rock (as Daryll predicted) isn't affecting water hardness

1600293857995.png


I'm assuming the high nitrates is because I'm dosing ferts. Mind you it could be down to fundamental indecisiveness on which specific shade of pink a solution is after 10 mins. I can see why everyone flags these tests for being imprecise. TDH is great as it's (1) instant and (2) not subject to my flawed interpretation.
 

Karmicnull

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Snail update. I have decided to grant the snails citizenship. They were born in the tank, and I think that qualifies them. Also I feel mildly sorry for them. The shell to snail ratio is quite high, and the shells keep getting pushed over in the current. The poor things are struggling a bit, but they soldier on snailfully. To date we've counted 6. They clung together in one small patch of the tank for the first day or so, but are now venturing further afield. My best guess is that they are Ramshorns.


Ramshorn Snail - maybe-_IMGP6505.jpg


I also have at least one other unexpected resident. It was a small white triangular blob with bulges at each point of the triangle. I found it crawling enthusiastically across the glass. I may however have accidentally hoovered it up as I haven't seen it since the last water change. My working theory (based on yet another google picture search) is that it's a copepod. I shall keep an eye out for its return.
 

Karmicnull

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Plant update. The bottom leaves of the crypts are melting, and all the original growth from the one lonely Helanthium has almost completely melted away, but there is new growth, so I'm still feeling optimistic. The Hottonia on the other hand looks amazing. This is currently my favourite plant - I love the colour and the leaves. Notwithstanding all that, the big success story is the water lettuce. Now It's safely corralled away from the spray pipe, it's much happier and its roots have bushed out. Simultaneously the Vallisneria Americana has quietly grown, and one tip is now touching the lettuce root. This means I have leaves at every depth. I reckon that must unlock an achievement. Also one rebellious lettuce has left all the others, snuck other to the other side of its pen, and somehow managed to help its child escape. I can only approve.

Hottonia Pulustris again_IMGP6516.jpg
Water Lettuce meets Vallisneria Americana_IMGP6506.jpg


Pond Lettuce escape plan_IMGP6507.jpg
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Nitrates should read 40 rather than 4.
I'm assuming the high nitrates is because I'm dosing ferts.
Mind you it could be down to fundamental indecisiveness on which specific shade of pink a solution is after 10 mins.
Yes, there is definitely something a bit strange there. I don't know why the tap water reads 0 ppm when the given value (from Cambridge Water) is ~38 ppm. @alto might have some ideas?

There is a slight possibility that your tap water has been through a nitrate stripper. Have a look at the water report in <"possible BBA">

I wouldn't worry too much about the nitrate value (whatever it might be), your plants should help suck it up and reduce it. Assuming your Pistia does OK, and you can use <"the "Duckweed Index">, you may find you can reduce your EI dosing without compromising plant growth.

cheers Darrel
 

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