Testing the water

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Egmel, 11 Apr 2008.

  1. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    This is going to be a bit of a 'how not to do it' when it comes to setting up a 2' 70l (60cmx30cmx45cm)

    I've always had live plants so I wasn't starting completely from scratch, I had a pond soil/sand substrate with some healthy spiral vallis, cryptocorynes and amazon swords. Fish wise I've got 4 penguin tetras, about 7 guppies and a gold spot dwarf plec. I don't have any photos from that stage unfortunately but I'm sure you can use your imagination.

    I then decided to up my lighting, going from 15w -> 45w add DIY CO2 and fertilising with something or other and planting some more interesting plants.

    My plants arrived first so I dutifully added them all in...
    2364085376_70826a4cfd_b.jpg
    Posted my pictures with glee in TFF and asked about fertilisers. The most comprehensive reply I got back was from SuperColey saying that I was asking for trouble with so much light, so little CO2 and so few plants... Add to that the fact that most of the red tinted plants were dying slowly while I waited for my lights to arrive (Bless thelivingseas, they're nice and cheap but stuff can take forever to arrive). All in all I needed to go back to the drawing board.

    So by now I had in hand, a single DIY nutrafin kit, some TPN+, 45w of light (30w arcadia freshwater and 15w hagen aqua-glo which I think needs replacing soon) and some not very happy plants. Thankfully my cherry shrimp and MTS had arrived from Shaz on the TFF boards so I wasn't noticing any algae and the plants were starting to pick up now that the extra light was there.

    £30 on greenline later and I'd ordered what I thought was enough plants to sink a battleship (I'd included 2 x 30" collections) and a quick scout around ebay and I'd got the bits and pieces I needed to make my nutrafin CO2 a bit more beefy (namely some CO2 tubing, silicon sealant, a y-connector and a tap to go into the top of a bottle and onto the co2 line). I'd also got some 4dKh solution and some flourish excel from AE who again delivered the day after I placed my order, they must know the royal mail special handshake!

    Plants arrived yesterday and I spent a soggy evening putting everything in... :D

    2405446366_3fd82392b2_b.jpg
    1. The angle I see when I walk through my bedroom door - I've labelled the plants best I can on this page

    2405446604_cfbb025e2b_b.jpg
    2. The angle I see when sitting on my bed. (The white edged plant on the left is actually in a pot outside the tank before anyone asks!)

    (More photos including the originals on my flickr journal latest ones at the bottom)

    So, it's quite a miss-match of plants, my general idea was that everything's got 2 chances, it either survives or it doesn't. Those which thrive will probably become the mainstays of my planting schemes, those which don't will get black listed until I know what I'm doing ;)

    Things I think I need to look at :
    • Moving the CO2 drop checker onto the other side so it's not in the way of the corner view (I added it late last night and only thought about it as I took photos this morning!)
    • There is a nasty gap about a third of the way in from the left, mid level; I could move the Baby tears to its left over a bit or add some more (believe it or not I didn't use everything I bought...)
      [*} Decide on whether I want to add the remaining crypts, creeping jenny, baby tears and glosso (currently all in my breeding net suspended in the tank)
    • Leave more time to take photos so I remember to remove things like the thermometer and random bits of glassware stuck to the outside of the tank :oops:

    Today's lesson is : Always have the hardware you've ordered in your grubby little mitts before you order your plants!

    All constructive criticisms gratefully received. :D
     
  2. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Member

    Messages:
    2,685
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    IMO looks quite nice. Jungle style for sure and you're right about chucking the lot in and then choosing the ones that you can handle to start with.

    I like your comment at the end. definately correct about get everything else in your house before you even order the plants because quite often 1 item gets delayes and the plants suffer because of it.

    Don't worry about the gap on the left there. You have a perfect triangle at the moment (sloping from right to left) and I am told (I am no scaper, just a planter. lol) that this is one of the golden rules. Time will tell how much pruning you will need to do to maintain this shape.

    You want the drop checker to be in view and opposite side to the CO2 so that you can easily see it and so that it doesn't give false reactions from being too close to the CO2.

    I notice you have your NRV and bubble counter side by side and disconnected. Any plans for using these?

    Keep us updated on your progress.

    Andy
     
  3. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Thanks :)
    That was sort of the aim, Never been a fan of anything that looks too ordered, never seems to look natural enough.
    I should have known but it's so easy to get carried away.
    Well the plan was to have a sort of red band leading the eye up from bottom left to top right, it was one of those things that sort of worked semi-intentionally, but I think it's going to be difficult to maintain. As you say time will tell.
    In which case I'll probably move it a little further back but keep it on the same wall.
    Yup, I was going to use them on the nutrafin kit before deciding that I would probably be better off with a 2 bottle system... so I've got a couple of nice glass bottles (courtesy of a meeting at uni with posh sparkling water ;) ), some airline taps which will screw into the lids and within the next few days I should have a glass diffuser (Try it and see, if it doesn't work I can always revert to the ladder, it just looked too pretty! :rolleyes: ), a y splitter and some CO2 tubing. Which should allow me to make a slightly more beefy yeast kit and I'm going to use them on that (couldn't see the point in cutting up the nutrafin for the sake of a couple of weeks, as it is I can re-use it or sell it on). I've got my eye on going pressurised but I don't feel quite ready to take the leap yet... various reasons, partly cost, I have no car so getting refills would be difficult, I'm in rented accom and the landlord probably wouldn't be happy with me keeping pressurised gasses however safe I said they were and generally I have no space so things get knocked about quite a bit as I get things out from under the tank.
    Will do, thanks for continuing to take an interest :D
    Helen
     
  4. john starkey

    john starkey Member

    Messages:
    1,593
    Location:
    worcester
    Hi egmel, what you will find with the jungle style setup if it grows well you will be pruneing all the time and you will be moving things around to achieve the look you want, but most of all you need patience as the plants grow it will develop diffrent shapes, good luck john.
     
  5. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Member

    Messages:
    2,685
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    I have a car so in one respect I am better off than you. However I don't drive, the wife does so I am in the same boat as you. lol

    This is one reason why I went the disposable cannister route as I could just order them off the internet.

    However I spotted the same bottles in Halfords a few days ago at £10.29 for 600g (in your case 6-8 months supply) so I will probs just pop down to them whenever I am in need from now (quite literaly 5 mins walk for me but 1 minute on the bike. lol)

    As John says lightwise you have the same W of light over your 70 as I have over my 125 and growth is fast in mine!!!. This doesn't take into consideration that I only use 30W for the whole 10 hours with the additional 15W being used for the central 10 hours. With this in mind and seeing you have lots of stems in there you will be an expert at pruning by the end of the year. he, he.

    I would suggest that the crypts you are considering wether to use or not that you make the decision to definately use them because: 1 - they will be additional mass to fight the algae. 2 - They are much slower growing and will be less of a 'handful'. 3 - Once established most crypts look great,

    Once you get the glass diffusor (assuming it works for your setup) you will never go back to the ladder I assure you. They look great and work 10x better than the ladder.

    Good luck with the pruning
    Andy
     
  6. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Thanks for the comments John, I'm really looking forward to this and seeing how it all changes, I'm sure this is all going to be a great learning experience :) (One of those things which says 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do it again!' according to Douglas Adams)

    Co2 at Halfords, ay? Hmmm, they're cycling distance for me too... will have to investigate :twisted:

    I've got the hang of hacking stuff back in the garden, though I fear this may require a bit more of a delicate touch...

    Ok, I'll see if I can squeeze the crypts in over the weekend. I think last night I just got to the point where I'd spent several hours planting and wanted my tea!

    It is a case of assuming the diffuser works, I love the look of it I just hope I can get the pressure, if not then maybe it'll be an added push to get the big boys toys CO2 system ;)
     
  7. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Member

    Messages:
    2,685
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
  8. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Woo thats an amazing change, love it!

    Sam
     
  9. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Basically the same as what I've gone for only the one I chose has a funky spiral in it... something I'm going to regret when it comes to cleaning it I imagine :rolleyes: If it works ok then I'll probably end up getting a backup too.

    Thanks Sam, I realised fairly quickly after my first order came through that if I wanted to get the instant look then I was going to have to buy quite a few plants! I ended up getting 2 of greenline's 30" collections (#726), the Nymphaea Maculata, moss balls and Rotala Macrandra so just over 150 plants according to the website... I have to admit I didn't count them in ;)
     
  10. Azaezl

    Azaezl Member

    Messages:
    145
    Location:
    cambridgeshire
    Your tank looks fantastic! :D Well done!

    I think you probably would have found you had a few more plants then ordered, every time I've purchased from greenline I've always got extra plants. I count them everytime just to make sure :p Even when I got a 200 plant fast grower set I sat and counted every one and I had over 250 plants.

    Looking forward to seeing how it develops over the next few weeks :)
     
  11. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Thanks :D
    Yes... well, right now I'm pulling off the dead leaves on lots of crypts that didn't like being transplanted (but most have new ones coming so I'm not too worried). It's all settling in and some of the stems have started to reach for the stars. Realistically it's going to be a couple of weeks before it's photo worthy again so what I might do is take some intermediate photos and then when it's looking stunning <fingers crossed> put up the before and after shots! ;)

    In the mean time the bits are arriving from my new souped up DIY CO2 and I have a paper deadline which I'm trying to get some results for... the later really should take precedence but you know how it is ;)
     
  12. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Ok so I felt it was time for an update.

    I unfortunately discovered an intruder on Friday last week, there were 2 of them and by the time I'd found my net they had decided it was time to scarper. I had a quick search of the forums but without a photo to go on and only some alcohol addled memories (well it was a Friday night!) I guessed at them being some form of isopod (had similar colours and markings) and didn't worry too much. Yesterday morning I spotted one again and was quicker off the mark to catch it, especially when I realised that it didn't look anything like the pics of isopods!
    The intruder
    2451079253_537e58f805_o.jpg
    A couple of threads later and it was identified as a dragonfly larvae :eek: Definitely something to be got rid of and if I wanted any of my cherry shrimp to survive then I needed to find the other one too.

    Well the tank did need a good prune, and I figured I'd have a better chance of finding the damned thing when there were fewer plants in there. So at 10pm last night this is what I started with.
    Pre Pruning.
    2454339088_16288c2072_b.jpg

    I pulled out all the stem plants to prune them and hunted for the little blighter with a torch, although I saw a few shrimp (phew) I failed miserably to find the mini-predator. I shall just have to hope that it makes a break from the undergrowth again at some point at which time I shall catch it and dispose of it.

    I was possibly a little heavy handed with my pruning, but there are 2 good reasons for this. The first is that everything had grown lots and needed to be returned to a manageable size. The second is that many of the stem plants had lost their lower leaves over the first few days, possibly the shock at the change in conditions, possibly the dislike of my insistence that I was going to at least try to remove any snails eggs with a bleach dip before hand. Either way things are looking a lot better now if a bit smaller!

    I've included 3 final photos, the first is with all 3 lights ( 2 arcadia freshwaters and one hagen aqua glo), the second with just the dying hagen aqua glo and the last is the photoshopped version which sort of shows what I feel the tank really looks like. (rose tinted glasses perhaps!) - Yes, I know there's a couple of bits uprooted, I didn't notice until after I'd taken the pics and by then it was gone 11pm and past my bedtime. :oops: They were pushed back in this morning and it looks much better for it! :D
    Post Pruning (Full Lights)
    2453514331_9bdf5c3e26_b.jpg
    Post Pruning (Dawn/Dusk Light - Hagen Aqua Glo on its last legs)
    2453514947_acb61b0916_b.jpg
    Post Pruning (with the help of photoshop!)
    2453515793_fc67827d2b_b.jpg

    I set up my DIY CO2 system with the intention of besting the nutrafin kit... but it has a leak. So at the moment I'm dosing flourish excel whilst the bottle caps are being sealed properly. Hence why the drop checker is blue.
     
  13. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Very nice :)
     
  14. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Thanks Sam.

    Unfortunately I'm still battling with my new DIY CO2 kit, either there isn't enough pressure being generated to force out the micro-bubbles from my nice glass diffuser or I still have a leak to find. I'm going to put the ladder back on it for now and maybe get an infinity diffuser from AE when I have some cash available.
     
  15. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    Just a little update on what's happening in my tank...

    I had a small hair algae issue and had fun dealing with that but it's mainly under control now. I then discovered that my 'noon' lights weren't coming on during the day so the whole tank has been running on only 15w... :oops: A lot of my stems lost their lower leaves :( but that's all fixed now and everything is getting back on track :)

    This is how it looked this evening
    2591271598_8256b6a4aa.jpg
    The cabomba was added yesterday and I'm hoping it does well, at the moment it's malting all over my tank and there are little bits getting everywhere!

    My lily seems to be thriving
    2590438015_e9162e52f8.jpg

    But I also have some new inhabitants :(
    2591278692_511a2e9832.jpg

    As usual all photos (plus more) are in full res on my Flickr account
     
  16. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    what sort of DIY co2 system are you using Egmel?

    You may encounter issues when trying to use a diffuser disk with a non pressurised system. Diffusers take a serious amount of pressure to push the gas through, normally more than a DIY system will be producing. You run the risk of splitting your bottles and/or seals.
     
  17. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    I've got 2 2l coke bottles with tail pipes sealed and bolted into the lids. (they're usually fuller than that now so the pressure builds up more quickly)
    2534616980_de782b169d.jpg
    It's been driving a sprio type diffuser quite happily for about a month now, but I've just bought a couple of little nano ones from ebay as I'm hoping they'll be easier to clean! They arrived this morning and are so diddy compared to my current one, I would estimate that the disc is a third of the size!
    2534614360_ca01e83c90.jpg

    I think the weak point is the t connector in the first image, if anything is likely to blow it will be this, if it does then it shouldn't be too messy *fingers crossed* I did debate putting in a pressure release valve (like a pressure cooker!) but never got round to it.
     
  18. Matt Holbrook-Bull

    Matt Holbrook-Bull Founder

    Messages:
    963
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    well that certainly looks like its working well :) nice job
     
  19. Egmel

    Egmel Member

    Messages:
    724
    Location:
    Guildford, Surrey, UK
    It wasn't without it's pains, I started off with some nice airline taps in the lids in place of the tail pieces. The theory was that you could keep the pressure in the system whilst the changing bottles. These were connected into nice glass bottles (no pressure worries there) and it was all going to be F.A.B... until I discovered that the taps weren't airtight at high pressures... and the new tail pieces wouldn't fit in the glass bottles!

    Another reason for switching to the nano diffusers is that it doesn't always work that well. In fact, I've never been able to get that level of bubbling since. The pressure's still as it was but the bubbles only come from one or two points on the disc, I've tried bleaching it to no avail, I reckon I must have either damaged the disc somehow or, like everything else in my house, it has succumbed to our hard water and blocked up! Hopefully the nano ones will be longer lasting... :?
     
  20. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,285
    Location:
    London
    Looks great :) I had a system like that on my tank before I went pressurised and also used a glass/stone diffusor without any problems. Keep up the good work :)
     

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