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The Nymph's Spring (EA900)

shangman

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13 Jul 2020
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London
Something extremely fabulous happened yesterday, I picked up my new tank! It’s my birthday today, and as I can't celebrate the usual way (really missing the pub right now), I thought I'd start its journal :D

I’ve been looking for something bigger but reasonably priced for a while, I mentioned it to my dad who used his ebay magic to find me a second hand EA Aquascaper 900 tank with a stand and Twinstar light for a song! I’m absolutely over the moon, as I know they’re discontinuing these tanks and the dimensions and quality are great, I managed to miss it completely when searching myself. It really feels like the perfect size - big but not too big, with that amazing depth for the fish and the scaping possibilities - perfect for Goldilocks here.

This is tank number 4, picked up in my 9th month of aquaria-keeping, I absolutely love this hobby (and I love UKAPS too, it makes it even better to be able to discuss things with you guys, I learn so much here). In real life I'm a fashion designer who is always inspired by nature and myth, so I thought I'd choose a title that went along with that! I feel like all of us aquascapers are like Nymphs and Naiads, looking happily upon our small slices of nature and doing all we can to protect them and help them thrive, with our filters making our tanks not unlike small magical springs.

Anyway... there's shedloads to consider and I don’t think I’ll be fully setting it up for another 2 months or so, so I can learn a bit more and gather everything I need and wait for lockdown to end so I can visit some further away shops, but I thought I’d start the journal now so I can badger you all with questions about what I should do with it and get some advice, as well as post inspiration and fun stuff like that. The tanks in the shed for now until things start to come together! It has a few scratches, but for the price I got it for I shant complain. Here is a completely boring photo to show how it is now, I'm going to decorate the cabinet before I set everything up to be fancier too.

PXL_20210228_111409693.jpg


My aim for the tank is to strike a nice balance between the fish and aquascape - making my mostly South American fish as happy as possible while also making a naturalistic mini-garden with flair. I really enjoy the gardening side of keeping a planted tank - both my parents are professional gardeners (they even met while studying at Kew Gardens many years ago), but I’ve not done that much gardening since I was a kid, so I’m pleased that I seem to be a chip off the old block when it comes to aquascaping. I think I will try CO2 for the first time with this tank, so I can really try out the fancyfancy side of the hobby :p

Below are some photos of my 3 other tanks, I’ve learnt so much from each of them!

This is my first, a 60L lowtech rainwater tank with apistos <see my thread about them breeding here>, otos and kuhli loaches. I think the new tank will have a similar vibe to this, but more structured. The blue background is just my walls so will be the same in the new tank, as this one will be moved.

PXL_20210222_135255489.jpg


This is my second tank, a 45L lowtech rainwater tank which I co-own with my dad - it’s technically his tank but I do the maintenance, water changes, feed the fish, etc. He chose the plants and scaped it with my suggestions, so I don't change much. It has pygmy corys, sparkling gouramis and crystal red shrimp. We finally did the top back riparium bit this week so excuse that for now, it still needs the fabric trimmed + terrestrial moss and to grow in a bit.

PXL_20210228_1042428602.jpg


This is my latest tank, <a lowtech 23L shrimp nano tank on my desk>, which is mostly filled with mosses and a bit of buce and crypts. I learnt a lot from this one, I definitely want some moss covered wood in the new one and will do a dry start as I did with this, it makes such a nice effect. It has cherries, 2 amanos and some lovely yellow rabbit snails.
PXL_20210206_165040504.jpg



Will post about what I'm inspired by later today too :)

I’ll finish by asking some important questions...
  1. I think I want to use CO2 in this tank, now I’ll have the space with the cabinet. How does CO2 interact with rainwater, what proportions of rainwater/tapwater (I live in London so it’s quite hard) would work with CO2 & with my South American fish that like lower ph. I’m planning on turning my current main 60l tank into a breeding/quarantine blackwater tank, so this is more about health rather than breeding conditions. I ask because I know that CO2 lowers ph, and idk if I need to have some built-in buffer for that, rather than pure rainwater. I'm very new to CO2 and have mostly ignored it until now so need to catch up on the concepts.
  2. What filter should I get? Ideally one with a heater built in. The tank is 180L. Ideally not a crazy expensive one.
  3. What’s the deal with the aquasoil method vs garden soil with sand on top? Is it that much better to use the expensive aquasoil? All the fancy aquascapes seem to use it but I don’t quite get what the benefits are compared to the higher costs. Do dwarf cichlids and corydoras like the aquasoil? I want to use substrates which they can sift happily.
 

aec34

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10 Oct 2020
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Gloucestershire
Happy birthday! I am also looking forward to a lockdown (big) birthday, and might ask for a tank big enough for fish...
I’m running some v small tanks with homemade soil/sand which are going fine, so looking forward to the advice you get, and what you do 🙂
 

Conort2

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16 Feb 2018
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I think I want to use CO2 in this tank, now I’ll have the space with the cabinet. How does CO2 interact with rainwater, what proportions of rainwater/tapwater
It sounds like you’ll be going for a similar sort of fish choice of what I have. I use pure rainwater with co2. I rely on my ferts to boost my tds a bit.
Do dwarf cichlids and corydoras like the aquasoil?
They’ll certainly do ok on it. It’s soft so doesn’t damage their barbels. I kept my corydoras on aquasoil previously, however if you want really natural behaviour I’d recommend sand with a base layer underneath. This will allow the corydoras and dwarf cichlids to sift the substrate properly.

The other tanks look great so looking forward to this one. It certainly doesn’t look like you’ve only been doing this 9 months!

Cheers
 

shangman

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Happy birthday! I am also looking forward to a lockdown (big) birthday, and might ask for a tank big enough for fish...
I’m running some v small tanks with homemade soil/sand which are going fine, so looking forward to the advice you get, and what you do 🙂

Thank you! A bigger tank is always so exciting, it's the perfect birthday present since it's such a creative hobby that's good for your wellbeing.

It sounds like you’ll be going for a similar sort of fish choice of what I have. I use pure rainwater with co2. I rely on my ferts to boost my tds a bit.

They’ll certainly do ok on it. It’s soft so doesn’t damage their barbels. I kept my corydoras on aquasoil previously, however if you want really natural behaviour I’d recommend sand with a base layer underneath. This will allow the corydoras and dwarf cichlids to sift the substrate properly.

The other tanks look great so looking forward to this one. It certainly doesn’t look like you’ve only been doing this 9 months!

Cheers

Thank you! It's been the best part of the past 9 months I think, a perfect distraction.

Aha! So you use rainwater with CO2, and it doesn't crash the ph? That's good to know. Do you still change 50% a week? The only thing I'm worried about is that that's 90 litres of rainwater a week, which is rather a lot to haul up from the garden/allotment, up 2 flights of stairs and into the tank... and back out again. I'm interested to hear how people do waterchange son all these tanks in general tbh, it does seem like a lot of work. My 60L = 45L are ok for now but this is almost double (and I don't need to change 50% every week since they're both lowtech).

Good to know the aquasoil is ok for them, I did wonder whether I should grind it into a powder for the top layer so they could sift it better, but probably sand+soil under is the way to go.
 

Conort2

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it doesn't crash the ph? That's good to know. Do you still change 50% a week?
I haven’t got a clue to be fair. I have never measured PH ever. I rely on TDS to tell me what I want. The fish are from extremely acidic environments and can deal with low PH no problem.

Yes I still change 50percent. Bit easier for me as I can just pump from the water butt either directly into the tank in the summer or into my storage bin to be heated in the winter. I have just started using RO to help me out when rain is a bit scarce. I don’t have a large amount of rainwater storage so rely on regular rain which is fine in winter but can be an issue in summer.

Cheers
 

mort

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15 Nov 2015
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All 3 of those tanks are my kind of tank, so looking forward to you setting up this big tank.

Can I ask in your dad's tank is that lagenandra growing in the riparium section? If it is what is the misting regime if you both have one?
 

shangman

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I haven’t got a clue to be fair. I have never measured PH ever. I rely on TDS to tell me what I want. The fish are from extremely acidic environments and can deal with low PH no problem.

Yes I still change 50percent. Bit easier for me as I can just pump from the water butt either directly into the tank in the summer or into my storage bin to be heated in the winter. I have just started using RO to help me out when rain is a bit scarce. I don’t have a large amount of rainwater storage so rely on regular rain which is fine in winter but can be an issue in summer.

Cheers
Oh well fair enough! I think all the fish I like also love a very low PH, so I suppose that won't be a problem. I'm very jealous that you can pump it in the tank directly, do you have any posts about how you do that? Maybe I can get a waterbutt under my bedroom window and have some sort of line and pump thing going on. The waterchanges are the only thing that gives me pause about going CO2. I have enough water (2 butts in the garden + several down the allotment so even fine in high summer), but it's just the moving it about bit that's a bit worrysome. Might have to start just considering it my weekly heavy exercise!

All 3 of those tanks are my kind of tank, so looking forward to you setting up this big tank.

Can I ask in your dad's tank is that lagenandra growing in the riparium section? If it is what is the misting regime if you both have one?
Thankyou very much! Yes it is a lagenandra, and it definitely isn't misted ever lol. My dad's an old gardener who loves rare tropical plants but refuses on principle to mist. He's dreaming of a posh ADA terrarium now so he could finally grow some of those plants in an automated way.

The lagenandra's been sitting in the back in its pot unplanted for 2 months because my dad couldn't be bothered to plant up the riparium section which he thought up, it grew straight through the mesh and had long roots going down the whole tank. Because of the colour I thought it was dead for a few weeks after we put it in, but it was fine. This week I finally snapped and we planted up the back. The edges of the older leaves are a bit crispy and the colour is a bit like sludge, but it's growing rather well.
 

mort

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That's my kind of misting regime, I have a terrible memory so never remember to mist anything.

It's quite annoying how good you are for someone who's only been in the hobby 9 months:D you do have a great aquatic touch.
 

shangman

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That's my kind of misting regime, I have a terrible memory so never remember to mist anything.

It's quite annoying how good you are for someone who's only been in the hobby 9 months:D you do have a great aquatic touch.
😂 I'm pretty sure I've managed to get in double or triple time in those 9 months due to covid!

That is a lovely compliment though, thank you :) Fingers crossed I can come up with something interesting now! :eek:
 

shangman

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Hmm I've been thinking tonight and I'm still unsure about CO2 vs lowtech because of the water changing every week in rainwater.

I think I need to do some research on how people actually change their tank water cos now the capacity is 3x+ I think it will be harder than I really thought about. I mostly thought about setting the tank up in the first month, where 'd do the very frequent water changes with all tap to make it easier, then transition to rain 2 or 3 times before getting the fish in there. And since the fish weren't in there I could add the dechlorinator while it's being added and it would be fine.

At the moment I fill 1 20L carton 2x a week (40L total), my 60L getting a 20-30L change and my 45L getting a 10-20 change depending on which I feel needs more, usually my 60L as it's more heavily stocked. I would have to keep up with these (though maybe with moving around stocking so the pressure is less I could change them less), I would still need to collect at least 1 20L a week for them both minimum, and also 90L extra for the new tank.

That new 90L is basically 5 20L cartons a week extra, and they'd be needed at the same time. ATM 1 is ok because I can fit it in my bathroom, and just refill, but I can't really keep 4 inside (during the winter). Also they are rather heavy, I'm a bit worried about lugging it all up the stairs, and then getting it down again safely with minimal spills every week and having it not take more than 1 hour. Could I do a 25% twice a week? Then I guess I could have 3x cartons refilled twice a week, once at home and once at the allotment could work. Maybe that could ease me in, and maybe also adding 20-50% tap would help, I don't want to badly affect the fish though.

If you have a 180L tank, do you change the actual 90L, or do you change a smaller amount calculating for hardscape and substrate?

What a pickle! How do you guys make your waterchanges easier? We live in a maisonette where our part of the garden isn't attached to the house, and the tank is on the second floor, so it makes things a bit more complicated.
 

Sammy Islam

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Python water change system just makes life easy but obviously wastes a lot of water, which goes against sustainable water changes. I connect mine to the kitchen tap and i can do 80% water changes while "hoovering" in about 15min. The only thing i ever have to lug about is the filter when it needs cleaning, that's hard enough, theres no way i could do it with buckets and i'm young 🤣
 

alto

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Python water change system just makes life easy but obviously wastes a lot of water,
The only water I waste water using my Python system is while balancing the water temperature - though that’s actually just water straight out of the tap and not sure how that would be any different with any refill system (perhaps the Python is even more efficient at this stage as filling individual buckets would require more temperature balancing - assuming the tap is turned off between each bucket fill)

When syphoning water from tank via the running tap water, the ratio is 7parts tank to 1 part tap, so that seems fairly efficient
Of course I just start the syphon at the tank as I would with any other gravel cleaning tube, and then gravity drain to garden or toilet
Cautionary Note:
  • if you happen to syphon up livestock, and don’t notice immediately, having the drain set in a tub outside improves recovery chances (and a bit nicer for the fish than being scooped off the grass ... OK it was only one fish, once)
  • if you drain to (very clean!) toilet a nice big net can improve recovery
Of course if certain fish were not extraordinarily determined (obsessed!) with sneakily swimming UP the syphon at every opportunity, this CN would not be required

Not that any of this helps with transport of rain water UP two flights of stairs

ETA actually I do waste some water for the Python system as I always give the hose a finally rinse with hot water - makes it nice and flexible to recoil
I’ll also rinse the parts between tanks
But is this “waste” or just good sense .....
 

mort

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Do you have enough capacity to store and collect enough rainwater for it to be a prominent part of your wc routine? In the summer I really struggle to get enough water and I'm quite lax on wc tbh.
So I either have to use my ro water (pump waste straight into the empty water butts for use on the garden) or cut the water with more tap. I have south american soft water species and they don't mind the slight change in chemistry.
 

shangman

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Python water change system just makes life easy but obviously wastes a lot of water, which goes against sustainable water changes. I connect mine to the kitchen tap and i can do 80% water changes while "hoovering" in about 15min. The only thing i ever have to lug about is the filter when it needs cleaning, that's hard enough, theres no way i could do it with buckets and i'm young 🤣

The only water I waste water using my Python system is while balancing the water temperature - though that’s actually just water straight out of the tap and not sure how that would be any different with any refill system (perhaps the Python is even more efficient at this stage as filling individual buckets would require more temperature balancing - assuming the tap is turned off between each bucket fill)

When syphoning water from tank via the running tap water, the ratio is 7parts tank to 1 part tap, so that seems fairly efficient
Of course I just start the syphon at the tank as I would with any other gravel cleaning tube, and then gravity drain to garden or toilet
Cautionary Note:
  • if you happen to syphon up livestock, and don’t notice immediately, having the drain set in a tub outside improves recovery chances (and a bit nicer for the fish than being scooped off the grass ... OK it was only one fish, once)
  • if you drain to (very clean!) toilet a nice big net can improve recovery
Of course if certain fish were not extraordinarily determined (obsessed!) with sneakily swimming UP the syphon at every opportunity, this CN would not be required

Not that any of this helps with transport of rain water UP two flights of stairs

ETA actually I do waste some water for the Python system as I always give the hose a finally rinse with hot water - makes it nice and flexible to recoil
I’ll also rinse the parts between tanks
But is this “waste” or just good sense .....

Thank you for all of these replies and info, it's super super helpful! I'm definitely going to get a Python water changer, at the very least for taking the water out every week. I think I can keep a good amount of it in the summer for watering the windowboxes, currently my 60L water is all the houseplants needs so it's not as wasteful. In an ideal world outside my window I could have a hose and a waterbutt to store the waste water for plants in the garden, but the downstairs neighbours are old and strange so probably would be weird about it sadly.

The fish getting sucked up is a bit scary! I think I'll set it up to drain in the sink with a dedicated seive in an overflowing bucket or something so if any fish do get sucke dup they're ok. I was thinking that I'd take out 1 bucket a week first to get all the mulm and stuff on the sand which if I do ever suck up fish or shrimp is where they get got, then the rest can just be pure water change from the top in an area of the tank without too many floating plants.

Do you have enough capacity to store and collect enough rainwater for it to be a prominent part of your wc routine? In the summer I really struggle to get enough water and I'm quite lax on wc tbh.
So I either have to use my ro water (pump waste straight into the empty water butts for use on the garden) or cut the water with more tap. I have south american soft water species and they don't mind the slight change in chemistry.

I think I can store enough rainwater, I have 1 waterbutt at home and 5 at the allotment, and I'm going to upgrade the one at home and maybe add another onto our shed, this summer there was still enough water, even though I drained 2 at the allotment for the pond there. Do you get a bit lax on a CO2 tank? Good to hear that your fish don't mind, I think cutting with tap at least a bit is the way to go, and once te tank is established I can think about trying to get more rainwater for the more fancy species like Dicrossus (which I would v much like, but not if I can't look after them with the water properly). What % of tap do you cut your rainwater/RO with?
 

Sammy Islam

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12 Mar 2019
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692
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Hertfordshire
The only water I waste water using my Python system is while balancing the water temperature - though that’s actually just water straight out of the tap and not sure how that would be any different with any refill system (perhaps the Python is even more efficient at this stage as filling individual buckets would require more temperature balancing - assuming the tap is turned off between each bucket fill)

When syphoning water from tank via the running tap water, the ratio is 7parts tank to 1 part tap, so that seems fairly efficient
Of course I just start the syphon at the tank as I would with any other gravel cleaning tube, and then gravity drain to garden or toilet
Cautionary Note:
  • if you happen to syphon up livestock, and don’t notice immediately, having the drain set in a tub outside improves recovery chances (and a bit nicer for the fish than being scooped off the grass ... OK it was only one fish, once)
  • if you drain to (very clean!) toilet a nice big net can improve recovery
Of course if certain fish were not extraordinarily determined (obsessed!) with sneakily swimming UP the syphon at every opportunity, this CN would not be required

Not that any of this helps with transport of rain water UP two flights of stairs

ETA actually I do waste some water for the Python system as I always give the hose a finally rinse with hot water - makes it nice and flexible to recoil
I’ll also rinse the parts between tanks
But is this “waste” or just good sense .....

Good to know that i'm not wasting loads of water, i thought it would have been more. Does it matter how "open" the tap is? Or is it always 7 to 1 regardless?

Thank you for all of these replies and info, it's super super helpful! I'm definitely going to get a Python water changer, at the very least for taking the water out every week. I think I can keep a good amount of it in the summer for watering the windowboxes, currently my 60L water is all the houseplants needs so it's not as wasteful. In an ideal world outside my window I could have a hose and a waterbutt to store the waste water for plants in the garden, but the downstairs neighbours are old and strange so probably would be weird about it sadly.

The fish getting sucked up is a bit scary! I think I'll set it up to drain in the sink with a dedicated seive in an overflowing bucket or something so if any fish do get sucke dup they're ok. I was thinking that I'd take out 1 bucket a week first to get all the mulm and stuff on the sand which if I do ever suck up fish or shrimp is where they get got, then the rest can just be pure water change from the top in an area of the tank without too many floating plants.



I think I can store enough rainwater, I have 1 waterbutt at home and 5 at the allotment, and I'm going to upgrade the one at home and maybe add another onto our shed, this summer there was still enough water, even though I drained 2 at the allotment for the pond there. Do you get a bit lax on a CO2 tank? Good to hear that your fish don't mind, I think cutting with tap at least a bit is the way to go, and once te tank is established I can think about trying to get more rainwater for the more fancy species like Dicrossus (which I would v much like, but not if I can't look after them with the water properly). What % of tap do you cut your rainwater/RO with?

I haven't sucked up any fish so far, any fish that have entered the inlet thing quickly swim back out. But i have found a way to guard against that, i insert one of the plastic plant pots that aquarium plants come in to stop fish from being sucked up if they decide they want to swim into it. Also depending on where you want to connect the python you may need to purchase the brass adaptor.
 

ScareCrow

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28 Jan 2019
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I don't think that you really need to worry too much about pH crash that is often talked about. There are a few threads on here but I think the links below are the best at explaining the reasons. When setting up the amount of CO2 to dose, generating a pH profile is a good idea. That way as long as your regulator delivers a consistent amount throughout your dosing period, the change due to pH should only be around 1pH.
PH drop?
Will c02 kill fish due to ph changes?

With regard to your water situation, if you are intending to add CO2 to this tank, I'd focus more on changing the water on that to keep parameters consistent than on your non CO2 tanks. I'd gradually ease off the water changes on the other tanks, until you're down to 25% on each per week and even then I'd be tempted to cut that 50:50 rainwater and tap. As long as you do it gradually the fish won't mind, long term the plants probably will show signs of the reduced CO2 availability and iron due to the harder water but you could try a siesta period with the lighting and increase dosing of iron, to make up for it. I assume you'd have more fert dosing in your CO2 tank to compensate for the increased plant growth so the conventional approach (with EI anyway) is to do a 50% water change per week.
 

Another Phil

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1 Jan 2015
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To avoid sucking up fish I have a piece of fishing net rubber-banded to my siphon hose. Rockpool type fishing net as sold in The Range for £1-£2. aquarium nets are too fine and get blocked by mulm. Sainsbury sell reusable fine mesh bags in fruit&veg for 30p if you are just siphoning water.
 

mort

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I don't run co2 on the tanks anymore because I saw no improvement by doing so. I do keep things simple and have riparian growth out of the top. In truth I don't think I need to do water changes on the tanks but it makes me feel happier and does no harm.
 

shangman

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I don't think that you really need to worry too much about pH crash that is often talked about. There are a few threads on here but I think the links below are the best at explaining the reasons. When setting up the amount of CO2 to dose, generating a pH profile is a good idea. That way as long as your regulator delivers a consistent amount throughout your dosing period, the change due to pH should only be around 1pH.
PH drop?
Will c02 kill fish due to ph changes?

With regard to your water situation, if you are intending to add CO2 to this tank, I'd focus more on changing the water on that to keep parameters consistent than on your non CO2 tanks. I'd gradually ease off the water changes on the other tanks, until you're down to 25% on each per week and even then I'd be tempted to cut that 50:50 rainwater and tap. As long as you do it gradually the fish won't mind, long term the plants probably will show signs of the reduced CO2 availability and iron due to the harder water but you could try a siesta period with the lighting and increase dosing of iron, to make up for it. I assume you'd have more fert dosing in your CO2 tank to compensate for the increased plant growth so the conventional approach (with EI anyway) is to do a 50% water change per week.
Ahh that's great, the pH crash is what I was worried about - that without some hardness the CO2 could make the pH go lower by more than 1. I definitely won't add the fish for a good few weeks after adding CO2 (if I do it), so I can monitor and understand it, it's totally new territory. Thank you for those links they explained it really well... oh I just realised it was @dw1305 who explained it! Good to know that if I cna manage to get it up the stairs, then 100% or 90% rainwater would be fine with CO2.

I think your waterchange suggestions are really good, the other tnks are full of plants including floating & emergent, and with a lower fishload I think smaller changes would be fine. I'm going to test out doing the changes with the new tank so I can get used to it/do some weigh training before the mega tank begins!

To avoid sucking up fish I have a piece of fishing net rubber-banded to my siphon hose. Rockpool type fishing net as sold in The Range for £1-£2. aquarium nets are too fine and get blocked by mulm. Sainsbury sell reusable fine mesh bags in fruit&veg for 30p if you are just siphoning water.
:oops: Yes this is deinfitely what I'll do, makes total sense. Do youvac your substrate before you siphon most of the water?

I haven't sucked up any fish so far, any fish that have entered the inlet thing quickly swim back out. But i have found a way to guard against that, i insert one of the plastic plant pots that aquarium plants come in to stop fish from being sucked up if they decide they want to swim into it. Also depending on where you want to connect the python you may need to purchase the brass adaptor.
Will try that, I'm sure I'll have plenty of plant pots soon! Will have to investigate what kind of adaptor I need for the python, probably the most expensive option ffs 😂
 

aquascape1987

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@Sammy Islam, with my python, I only use the tap siphon function to get the siphon going. I blast it for about 3 seconds max, and then unscrew the pipe from the fitting, and place the pipe in a drain at lower level than the tank. It drains a lot quicker this way than trying to go through the green tap valve, and virtually no water wasted.

As for preventing the loss residents, I either put my net on the tank end of the pipe or the other end in the drain. Once sucked up a Betta, and it got stuck in the green bit and killed it 😩 For some reason, fish just cannot resist getting too close 🤷🏻‍♂️
 
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