110 Gallon w/ CO2 - first tank in over a decade

jwitt

New Member
Sep 22, 2021
6
4
3
Belleville IL US
My last planted tanks were a 29 and a 10 with some moss, java fern, a few struggling swords, etc. I was amazed at the improvements I saw in water quality, livestock, and maintenance with even a sad little collection of plants and a crappy light. Ever since then I've been watching the hobby improve and waiting for an appropriate time to do it for real. I found a very old text file with some ideas, and as I was browsing for a used 55 or 75 I ran across an old Oceanic 110 so I took the plunge. "Hey, no hurry on this" I thought.

The guy I got the used gear from left some gravel and a bit of water in the tank, plus a full canister filter. Well, so much for not being in a hurry if I wanted to take advantage of a seasoned filter! And so I burned a hole in my credit card. Eco Complete substrate, a pile of driftwood and some Pogostemon stellatus came in. All the while I'm wondering if I managed to keep enough bacteria alive. Old detritus was my main source of ammonia, plus some sprinkles of flake food. Driftwood went into the bathtub for several changes of hot water over a couple days, getting it soaked and removing some tannins.

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Fortunately, tests were looking good. I had a bit of ammonia, some nitrate appeared, but never a detectable amount of nitrites. Slightly worrisome, but perhaps that bacteria fared a bit better during the move while others took a bit more time to bounce back. Shortly thereafter, it was clear that I had a functioning biological filter. Then began the waiting game while my big order of plants, fertilizer, and a better light was processed.

As luck would have it, the shipment of plants and fertilizer was delayed by a day, which meant it showed up at my house 2 hours before I left town for the weekend. So much for having a fun day of planting. But at least I could get the plants I was able to ID into the right places and make educated guesses on a few others. I chucked in root tabs and set up a grow-out area on the right. The long term plan is to propagate everything that succeeds and then when I have plenty I'll redo that area to make it more visually appealing.

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The following week I decided a bit of livestock was in order, so I started building my school of rasboras and added a trio of Siamese algae eaters (one of which recently decided to sandwich himself between the glass middle support and the glass lid). My new 5 foot light came in too, so I set it for a 6 hour photoperiod and programmed the used AquaSky for viewing light when the main one is off. The following week I added a cheap tiny wavemaker for circulation, a small skimmer, some Vallisneria, nerite snails, and some moss. I began to observe some new growth, and one stem plant that was uprooted showed root development. Boy is that viewing light nice at night! My default program has no white LED at all, but I pop it on for a short time as desired, as shown here:

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Then last week I thought to myself "I've come this far, why don't I just..."

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Here's the tank today. Things seem to be headed in the right direction.

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And that's the story so far. Drop checker is showing blue-green at various places and pH tests, as hard as they are to read, support those readings. Plant growth has certainly taken off in a matter of a few days. My little group of Neocaridinia shrimp are doing shrimp things, as they should, which I take as a good canary in the coal mine since they're sensitive to water parameters relative to other creatures. I think I nailed my CO2 on/off times, but I'll need to inch my way toward 30ppm and get a pH meter. I feel I'm in a good starting place with a 6 hour photoperiod acting as my limiting factor. Next step is the showpiece livestock, a shoal of rainbows!
 
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jwitt

New Member
Sep 22, 2021
6
4
3
Belleville IL US
Here we are a couple weeks later. 6F 4M Melanotaenia trifasciata Goyder Rriver are happy in their new home and things are going more or less according to plan. I'll continue along this path, and hopefully in a couple months make some decisions to add some contrast, texture, etc to my plant selection and placement. No reason to rush things even though it's tempting.
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jwitt

New Member
Sep 22, 2021
6
4
3
Belleville IL US
Since the last picture (which was a couple weeks old at the time of posting) I've had a bit of brown diatom action, which hasn't spread to a bothersome degree. More ramshorn and bladder snails have popped up and I've observed the bladder snails earning their room and board. This morning I noticed my two biggest rainbows practicing their dancing techniques to try and impress the ladies! Certainly not as impressive as videos I've seen of mature ones, but none of us start out good at that stuff.

The Vallisneria along the back still isn't doing too well, but a couple plants are starting to put out new leaves. Good enough for me, if they succeed I'll have more than I need. If not there are plenty of other options to use behind the hardscape.

After diatoms, my next unwanted visitor is spirogyra or some similar filamentous algae. It's not going out of control, just a few strands over the last couple weeks, but I'll have to keep an eye on things. I might need to bump my fertilization routine up a bit. I'm currently sitting around 5ppm NO3 and 1ppm PO4 throughout the week. Will continue running a 6 hour photoperiod. As far as I can tell, my CO2 is fairly decent, starting in the mid 20s ppm and ending the day near 30ppm. Once I have a probe I hope to be able to measure pH more accurately than the API kit allows.

Most of my little horticultural experiments are going well - test trimming and propagation seems to be working. But I sure wish those tiny Pogostemon helferi would settle in and start growing. That would be quite an accent plant. They're so small it's easy to uproot them during weekly maintenance.
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