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Transparent Tank - the end

greenink

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A beginner's guide to making and learning from every mistake possible.

[EDIT Feb 2013 Here are a few shots of the tank in it's journey... so you can see where you're going.
2012-03-26%20at%2013-01-26.jpg

IMG_0934.jpg

9%20feb%202.jpg

2012-09-06%20at%2018-26-35.jpg

2013-02-11%20at%2021-48-39.jpg

END OF EDIT]

Right, I'm taking the plunge, after reading lots of journals and articles on this site. And I'm hoping you can help me get it right... This first post is going to be quite long, so please stick with it for the questions at the end!

My 72l tank set-up is pretty unusual - and I hope will interest you - haven't seen anyone else on ukaps taking this route! It's mounted in the wall between the kitchen and living room - here's a view from each side:

P1020252.jpg


P1020253.jpg


This means it's thin (just 26cm internal from front to back, 70cm wide and 40cm deep) and needs to look good from both sides - and have a view through the tank. Which means dutch style planting is out, and the aquascaping challenge is twice as hard...
 

greenink

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The history...

Like most beginners, I've learned the hard way over the last couple of years. My fish are generally healthy, but plants have just melted, died, been eaten, or fallen out of favour. Here are a couple of past iterations, which I'm putting up because this is going to be an entirely honest account, and I hope will show how far I've come (by the end :? )

(Sorry about the photo quality - will improve for my future shots I promise!)

September 2009 - things just chucked in at random, no ferts, plain gravel - pretty much everything melted
september%202009%20-%2055.jpg


September 2010 - ambitious on the planting, and a submarine which went down badly with the girlfriend (think she was right!) - no ferts, plain gravel, pretty much everything melted
Last%20Viewed%20Events%20-%204471.jpg


February 2011 - had sort of evolved amateur aquascaping on my own. Submarine (!) gone, external filter in place, big stone from the garden chucked in, no ferts, plain gravel, light tubes now two years old. Pretty much everything melted, or was floating on the top of the tank when I came down in the morning
Last%20Viewed%20Events%20-%204778.jpg


At that point I was about ready to give up on plants...
 

greenink

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A whole load of problems...

Then about a month ago I came across UKAPS and have been reading furiously, working out what I've been doing wrong. Here's my list:

1. No ferts, 20% water changes every two weeks and cleaning the biological filter media every two weeks in cold tap water.
2. No decent substrate
3. No CO2
4. Lighting tubes past their use-by dates
5. Internal heater clogging up the place
6. Poor flow
7. Stones from the garden are almost certainly putting weird chemicals in
8. Overfeeding
9. Pretty much entirely the wrong kind of fish.
 

greenink

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

So here's what I've done:

1. Got Tropica Nutrition for 7ml dosing each week, with 50% weekly water changes, and leaving the biological media alone as much as possible (!)
2. Changed the substrate for Aqua Soil Amazonia II
3a. A temporary CO2 system of TetraPlant CO2 Optimat Kit - diffused into the water through an upturned Innocent drink bottle, just to get started with
3b. A drop checker (in the post from ebay...) so I know what's going on
3c. A proper pressurised system using a FE with inline diffuser, non-return valve, bubble counter, etc, once the various parts arrive from ebay
4. Lighting replaced with LED Grobeam 500 - seeing if I can replicate George's success with LEDs - I love the shimmer - on for 8 hours on a timer
5. A Hydor inline heater, keeping it at 24C
6. Cleaned about a year's algae from the Eheim 2032 filter pipes, which has increased the flow by a factor of about 10 :clap: and replaced the green bits with and perspex clear tubes for the filter return from the tank (much cheaper than glass ones). Flow around the tank now looks pretty good.
7. Various bogwood pieces from the fish shop, which I've drilled and mounted with suckers, so I can attach them to the sides of the tank
8. Cut down on the food, and introduced starvation day once a week
9. Got rid of the two worst fish. (The shadow lurking on the far right of the picture below is one of two Hypostomus plecostomus. I have now realised they were responsible for most of the floating plants, and so they've gone back to the shop, for a tidy profit :shh:).

All the pipes are hidden through the ceiling above, into the cupboard under the stairs, which now looks like this:

8%20May%202011%20-%206.jpg


The girlfriend thinks I'm mad. The immediate result probably doesn't help that: :oops:

water%20change.jpg


Just hoping fish survive the dramatic changes... Is there anything obvious I've missed?
 

greenink

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Hardscaping (taster)

Water has cleared a bit. On the plus side, nitrate levels have dropped right down, even with all the stuff from the gravel I've disturbed up.

The plants I have left (though in various sorry states) are:

2 narrow leaf java fern
1 Bolbitis Heudelotii, looking pretty unhappy
Hemianthus 'cuba' remnants (not saved early enough from the plecostomus)
Cardamine Lyrata, half-melted - don't really like this, but am seeing if my new regime can keep anything alive
Scraps of Weeping Moss
Eleocharis Parvula clumps

So I've put in the bogwood, with Weeping Moss (scraps) tied on to it, just to start off with. Wish I could do the 'start afresh' thing that so many people here do, but the girlfriend says I have to get this tank looking good before I'm allowed another one - so I can't move the fish out without getting rid of them.

Will put up a proper hardscape shot later... this is just a taster, in silhouette:

8%20May%202011%20-%207.jpg


I need to wait until the evening to do a proper shot, as there's too much reflection around in the day. And I've deliberately not put a background behind - which I may do for future shots, so you can see how important it is to see through the tank...

Am going to wait until the pressurised CO2 is in place and I've made the hard fish-elimination choices until I get more plants. Am thinking with working around what I have until I've proved I can actually grow things without them dying, and then planning the aquascaping properly.
 

greenink

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Fish purge?

The next stage is to sort out problem number 9 - the wrong fish! This is going to be the hard bit - the ones I like most are the worst ones....

Fish at the moment are:

8 Neon Tetras
8 [red?] Tetras, not sure what they're called
5 Tiger barbs
1 Sailfin black molly
1 Guppy (female, pregnant, not happy since her chap disappeared)
4 Loaches - 2 fully grown, 2 tiny
2 Angels

...and 6 shrimp (RIP) inside the Angels and Tiger Barbs within about 30 seconds

I'm thinking I need to get rid of the Angels and the Tiger Barbs, and replace them with cherry shrimp. What about the loaches? Are they ok if I want to grow HC?

I'd like to get in some Dwarf Gouramis too - am assuming they won't eat the shrimp.

And overall, can I get away with this many fish in 73l with 7 times turnover an hour?

Comments and help much appreciated! Hope this will be a journal that gives hope to others who start keeping plants that all die... and then come to UKAPS
 

Johno2090

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9 Apr 2010
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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

These are my favorite types of Journals, People who have no real experience keeping plants alive and them showing us what our input here at UKaps can do for the plants, fish and people!

Long Live UKaps.
 

Plantgeek

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

Looking good! Can't wait to see how it turns out.

The loaches might be a problem with the shrimp.

What lighting are you using on the tank?
 

greenink

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

Plantgeek said:
Looking good! Can't wait to see how it turns out.

The loaches might be a problem with the shrimp.

What lighting are you using on the tank?

Lighting is Aquabeam LED set: http://www.tmc-ltd.co.uk/planted-tank/grobeam-500.asp. Have seen slightly mixed reviews of it, but is cheaper in the long run than replacing tubes (50,000 hrs is more than 13 years of my lighting schedule...)

It's screwed in above the tank, and then hidden by some MDF access panels.
lighting.jpg


What would the loaches do? Will they eat them? The loaches are only pretty small at the moment. Maybe I should get bigger shrimp then. Any suggestions - would really like to keep the loaches as they're very active o_O
 

L_Plates

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

Great log and love the setup. Looking forward to future updates.
:thumbup:
 

bigmatt

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

nice tank and very clever solutions to problems! The only flaw i can see is you're going to need some more comprehensive fert dosing as TPN doesn't contain everything you need. Ei is the cheapest way to do this or APFUK (site sponsors) do their own all-in-one which is getting good reviews and is a lot cheaper than big name products. Love that silhouette pic! Matt
 

John Starkey

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

Nice to see the forum is getting out there and helping new comers :thumbup: ,i love the setup in the wall,very cool,
just make sure you add plenty of fast growing plants,


john.
 

Johno2090

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

mikeappleby said:
Plantgeek said:
What lighting are you using on the tank?

Lighting is Aquabeam LED set: http://www.tmc-ltd.co.uk/planted-tank/grobeam-500.asp. Have seen slightly mixed reviews of it, but is cheaper in the long run than replacing tubes (50,000 hrs is more than 13 years of my lighting schedule...)

It's screwed in above the tank, and then hidden by some MDF access panels.

I use GroBeams and Aquarays they work wonders Imo, never have any trouble growing carpets with them so you should be set also got an 8 Channel controler on the way for mine to setup some sunsets and sunrises!

bigmatt said:
The only flaw i can see is you're going to need some more comprehensive fert dosing as TPN doesn't contain everything you need. Ei is the cheapest way to do this or APFUK (site sponsors) do their own all-in-one which is getting good reviews and is a lot cheaper than big name products. Love that silhouette pic! Matt

I agree with Bigmatt, check out EI dosing and make sure your dosing both micro and macro nutrients.
 

greenink

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

Johno2090 said:
I use GroBeams and Aquarays they work wonders Imo, never have any trouble growing carpets with them so you should be set also got an 8 Channel controller on the way for mine to setup some sunsets and sunrises!

That's great news. Let me know if you think I need to go higher than the manufacturer's recommendation of 1 Grobeam 500 per 2 sq ft of surface area :geek:. Hope not, they're not cheap! Love the controller, but can't justify it until there's something worth looking at.

Johno2090 said:
bigmatt said:
The only flaw i can see is you're going to need some more comprehensive fert dosing as TPN doesn't contain everything you need. Ei is the cheapest way to do this or APFUK (site sponsors) do their own all-in-one which is getting good reviews and is a lot cheaper than big name products. Love that silhouette pic! Matt

I agree with Bigmatt, check out EI dosing and make sure your dosing both micro and macro nutrients.

Thanks Johno and Bigmatt - this is exactly why I'm doing this journal - and so others can learn from my mistakes :shifty:. Having read around, I thought I only needed the Tropica Nutrition, because the fish waste would make up for the Nitrates and Phosphates that are in Tropica Nutrition Plus, given my tank is relatively highly stocked. But I can see it's better to just be precise :thumbup:.

And maybe there is other stuff needed that's not in either TPN or TPN+? (My chemistry is terrible).

Seeing as I'm fully committed to taking UKAPS advice, 2000ml of APFUK all-in-one is now on its way, and the Tropica Nutrition is being relegated to the holding pen... May go for EI when that runs out (in 285 days by my reckoning).

Now just need to rig up a backing screen for taking those promised hardscape photos.
 

bigmatt

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

cool! Fish waste is an unpredictable thing! You're using good light and pressurised co2 (good choice by the way!) so your plants should, in theory at least, go mental! Therefore consistently supplying them with loads of nutrients becomes a requirement for healthy growth. Don't worry about getting more light at this stage. Nuclear lighting levels are less important than you might think - it's much more important to get your flow, co2 distribution and nutrients right. If you add more light before nailing this it's algae ahoy! Have fun! Matt
 

hotweldfire

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

mikeappleby said:
Plantgeek said:
Looking good! Can't wait to see how it turns out.

The loaches might be a problem with the shrimp.

What lighting are you using on the tank?

Lighting is Aquabeam LED set: http://www.tmc-ltd.co.uk/planted-tank/grobeam-500.asp. Have seen slightly mixed reviews of it, but is cheaper in the long run than replacing tubes (50,000 hrs is more than 13 years of my lighting schedule...)

It's screwed in above the tank, and then hidden by some MDF access panels.
lighting.jpg


What would the loaches do? Will they eat them? The loaches are only pretty small at the moment. Maybe I should get bigger shrimp then. Any suggestions - would really like to keep the loaches as they're very active o_O

You appear to have a mouse climbing the side of your tank.

Looking forward to this one. Was in a very similar place to you a couple of months ago. You learn a lot on this site.
 

L_Plates

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Re: Mike's see-through tank challenge

Hehe, never spotted that before. What is it a monkey or something ?
 

greenink

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Lessons from week one

Yup, we have adventerous mice in Hackney. Or maybe I should be feeding the cat less...

No hardscape photos yet - the see-through nature of the tank is making photography a slightly more technical challenge than I'd thought, and have been busy all week. Happily, the postman has been kept busy too: new fertiliser, drop checker, 4 dkH liquid for the drop checker all arrived this week. (I have understanding neighbours who don't mind keeping packages.)

Photos%20-%207518.jpg


So what have I learnt?

Is immediately clear that the CO2 system I've been using so far (Optimat injected twice a day into an upturned Innocent Smoothies bottle that diffused into the water) is pretty much entirely useless, judging by the drop checker:

Photos%20-%207539.jpg


It hasn't got even close to being green at any point... So getting the FE system in is definitely a priority once the regs etc arrive, and the TetraPlant Optimat CO2 system is not recommended by me for a tank of this size (72l). Although having read other forums, it looks like I might have too much surface agitation from the filter too. Will try reducing this for a few days and see if it makes any difference.

On the plus side, went to the fish shop to pick up bags for taking the angels and tiger barbs in later for an exchange, and couldn't resist the glosso (Glossostigma elatinoides) and pennywort (Hydrocotyle verticillata).

Photos%20-%207519.jpg


Thought I'd keep them in their pots in the tank, just to see whether the new ferts and flow are making a difference - with positive results: they're looking good, and growing quite a bit even in a week. The HC is only just keeping it's tiny head above the gravel though. But on balance - on just a week's evidence - I think I'd recommend the fert change to APFUK all in one ferts (though doesn't hold itself in solution very well after you've mixed it in water - you really have to shake it up before you dose). The fish don't seem to be suffering from the nitrates in the ferts (though one tiger barb conked out this morning - could be a coincidence?).

Photos%20-%207535.jpg


Photos%20-%207536.jpg


Not going to plant these properly until the hardscape is sorted and the FE CO2 is in place. Hopefully pictures of the hardscape will be up some point this weekend.

And finally, here are pictures of the critters that have to leave...

Photos%20-%207527.jpg


Photos%20-%207533.jpg


Shame, I liked those Angels
 

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