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45 Gallon (high); A Pikez Inspired Tank

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Seattle_Aquarist, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    As you may be aware, I was at the Aquatic Gardeners Convention (AGA) here in Seattle last spring. Unfortunately, because our local club was hosting the event I and I was busy working in the background and missed most of the presentations. Fortunately for attendees there are videos available on the AGA website. I have probably reviewed the presentation by Vin Kutty four times at this point and I decided to try a rich substrate / low water column fertilization tank. A couple of weeks ago I had my chance.

    11/25/19 I did a ‘teardown’ of my 45-gallon high tank (36” X 12.5” X 24” high). I moved the fish to an 18 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck storage container filled with an airstone, removed the under-gravel filter and replaced the nine (9) year old Soilmaster Select Charcoal calcined Montmorillonite clay substrate (which is discontinued).

    The current set-up consists of:
    1) 45 gallon high with Versa-top
    2) Fluval 3.0 LED fixture; 46 watt
    3) Marineland Magnum 350 filter
    4) In-line CO2 diffuser
    5) Aquaclear 50 HOB filter
    6) Marineland 200 watt Precision Heater
    7) Twenty-one (21) Size “00” Osmocote Plus root tabs
    8) 40# Safe-t-sorb calcined Montmorillonite clay as substrate
    First, I cleaned the tank thoroughly. Then I added the twenty-one (1) size “00” Osmocote Plus root tabs spaced on a 6” grid on the bottom. (Please disregard the 30 gallon below the 45)
    [​IMG]

    Next I placed a small amount of Safe-t-sorb calcined Montmorillonite clay on top of each of the root tabs to prevent them from moving when I was adding the remainder of the substrate.
    [​IMG]

    I added sufficient Safe-t-sorb so the depth at the back of the tank was 4” and the depth at the from was 2”; average about a 3” depth. This took the entire 40# bag of Safe-t-sorb.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I covered the substrate with a sheet of wax paper, put a dinner plate on top of the wax paper, and started slowing filling the tank being careful not to disturb the substrate. The water out of the tap was:
    pH = 6.8; de-gassed @24 hours still 6.8
    dKH = 2.0
    dGH = 2.0 – 3.0
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I installed the HOB filter, the Magnum 350 filter with diffuser, and the Fluval 3.0 46-watt LED fixture and even with the water slightly cloudy I measured PAR@99 at the substrate level without a glass cover. The Magnum 350 filter had been running on a fully cycled tank for one week and did contain some detritus. I then turned on the filters and went to bed.
    [​IMG]
     
    #1 Seattle_Aquarist, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
    Hydroponic, EdWiser and sarpijk like this.
  2. sarpijk

    sarpijk New Member

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    Hi, isn't Osmocote too potent in these concentrations? I once used tabs like these but I think that it was an overkill and I burnt the plant roots. I may have used too many tabs. Anyways I still use Osmocote but I use individual balls next to plant roots. I read this on Denis Wong's site.
     
  3. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi @sarpijk,

    I read that laying the capsules on a 6" grid pattern was acceptable. The capsules are covered by 2" - 3" of Montmorillonite clay so the 'balls' are not near the surface. The ammonia level has stayed between 0.50 - 0.25 ppm for the first two weeks, higher at first and lower now. I just checked the ammonia again today, holding steady at 0.25 after two weeks. I will be doing another post today, showing the tank when it was planted and what it looked like after one week. -Roy
     
    #3 Seattle_Aquarist, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
    sarpijk likes this.
  4. EdWiser

    EdWiser New Member

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    Always like to see different ways to do soil.
     
  5. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    11/26/19 The next morning the tank was basically completely clear. Both filters and the CO2 had been running for about 12 hours so I took water readings from the tank:

    pH = 6.1
    dKH = 2.0
    dGH = 4.0

    I also checked the PAR levels with the clear water (with and without the cleaned Versa-top glass cover). The Fluval 3.0 was set on full output on all 5 channels. The depth from the light to the substrate was 20.25”. There was no hardscape nor plants in the tank. All readings taken with a calibrated Apogee MQ-510 PAR meter.

    PAR = 105 (no glass cover)
    PAR = 99 (with glass cover)
    [​IMG]
     
    #5 Seattle_Aquarist, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  6. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    Five (5) days later I planted the tank.

    12/1/19 Today I reduced the PAR at the substrate level to PAR@89 and added some plants to the tank. On two pieces of Malaysian driftwood I have Microsorium pteroptus v. ‘Trident’ (‘Trident’ Java Fern) one was an established clump and one has newly attached rhizomes held in place with Loctite Super Glue Gel. I also added:

    1) Persicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum'
    2) Rotala 'Vietnam H'ra' (Asia)
    3) Oldenlandia salzmannii
    4) Eriocaulon 'Vietnam' (front)
    5) Nymphoides hydrophylla (aka sp. ‘Taiwan’)
    6) Rotala sp. ‘Wayanad’ (front)
    7) Limnophila chinensis (aka sp. ‘Wavy’)
    8) Helanthium bolivianum angustifolia 'Vesuvius'
    9) Anubias barteri var. nana ‘Petite’ (‘Micro’?)
    10) Eriocaulon sp "Polaris" (front)
    11) Nymphaea micrantha
    12) Helanthium tenellum (previously Echinodorus tenellus var tenellus / micro red leaf)

    [​IMG]
     
    #6 Seattle_Aquarist, Dec 11, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
    snarkingturtle and Hydroponic like this.
  7. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    Let's jump forward a couple of days

    12/3/19 I took some pictures today now that the plants have had a couple of days to adapt ans start reaching for the light. The clump of 'Trident' on the left is starting to show heavy diatom growth, even on newer leaves. The Rotala Vietnam / H'ra is reaching toward the light and the internodes seem to be closer together. The rooted crowns of Nymphoides hydrophylla are starting to put up leaves. There are several new buds and fronds on the 'Trident' where all I attached to the hardscape was rhizomes with a few leaves. The Erio 'Vietnam' is looking heathy, the tissue culture Erio "Polaris" seems to be just sitting there, the TC leaves seem to be losing their green color. The Limnophila chinensis is just starting to peek out from behind the driftwood on the right.

    [​IMG]

    Rotala Vietnam / H'ra
    [​IMG]

    The Nymphoides hydrophylla on the right have already sent out new leaves
    [​IMG]

    Notice the Limnophila chinensis starting the show up behind the driftwood and the new fronds on the Java Fern 'Trident'; Can you spot the Anubias 'Petite' ('Micro')
    [​IMG]
     
    #7 Seattle_Aquarist, Dec 12, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  8. snarkingturtle

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    My low tech 20 gal is a safe T sorb cap over soil with DIY fert capsules and has been running for 2.5 years. My water has high KH. I started with 1/3 EI but had a lot of problems until I increased Fe and K. I ran into problems (algae, stunting of some species, general poor growth of everything) a couple times since and each time I resolved it eventually by increasing K. I know that safe-T-sorb sucks CaCO3 out of the water and my working hypothesis is that it does the same with K+ so that it is absorbed all the K+ leaching from the soil and the substrate ferts and keeps absorbing it from the nutrient inputs (fish food, ferts, water changes) for a long time. I also think that my high pH and high Ca2+ levels negatively effect K absorption. Right now I am dosing 10ppm NO3, 1 ppm PO4 (~1/3 EI) but I have to dose >22 ppm/week K or everything goes down the toilet.

    All this is to say that I am curious to see if you experience anything similar, especially since you don't have high KH. I would also encourage you to start dosing high levels of K right away and don't rely on the soil and osmocote to supply it.

    Also, I could see your images before but I can't now.
     
    Seattle_Aquarist likes this.
  9. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi @snarkingturtle,

    Thank you for your input, I will watch for Fe and K issues. I have 'refreshed' the links to google pictures....hopefully they are maintained.
     
  10. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    I apologize, it has been a few weeks since I posted so I will do a couple of posts as week to get you caught up. Here are updates through 12/9/19:

    12/4/19 Ammonia still at 0.25 ppm. Estimating CO2 at 30+ ppm. Diatoms showing up on established Microsorum pteropus ‘Trident’ so I added three (3) Otocinclus (Otocinclus vittatus ) from the 18 gallon Rubbermaid storage container to the tank.

    12/6/19 Found hair algae starting on hardscape and some plant leaves, likely due to ammonia level. Dosed glutaraldehyde (Seachem Excel strength) at 7.5 ml per 10 gallons (1.5X Initial Dose) and 4.0 ml of Seachem Comprehensive. Added two (2) Crossocheilus oblongus (Siamese Algae Eaters / SAE) to control hair algae.

    12/7/19 Ammonia at 0.25-0.50 ppm after water change. 5.0 dGH; Ca @20 ppm and Mg @ 9.6 ppm (calculated). Added three (3) Corydoras aeneus (Bronze Corydoras) and two (2) Melanotaenia lacustris juvies (Turquoise Rainbowfish). No signs of distress after two hours. dGH @5.0; ammonia @ 0.25 – 0..50 ppm; Ca @20 ppm; Mg @9.6

    12/8/19 Aquarium has a slight haze that was not there yesterday. Suspect bacteria bloom. Checked ammonia level and found it at 0.25 ppm so lower than yesterday.

    12/9/19 Noticed the two rainbowfish ‘hanging’ near the surface. Immediately added an airstone to increase surface exchange of CO2 and reduced needle valve output. Two hours later the rainbowfish were actively swimming throughout the tank. Ammonia still at 0.25 ppm, nitrates at 5 ppm. Added 4 ppm of calcium (CaSO4) and 1.04 ppm of magnesium (MgSO4*7H2O). Also added 3.75 ppm of K (K2SO4).

    Overall tank view, notice the 2"-3" of new growth on the Limnophila chinensis (aka sp. ‘Wavy’)
    [​IMG]

    The Erio 'Vietnam' is looking good, the Otocinclus and SAE have cleaned off a lot of algae and diatoms
    [​IMG]

    The Rotala H'ra / Vietnam and the Oldenlandia salzmanii are looking good, the Nymphoides hydrophylla (aka 'Taiwan') have put out a multitude of leaves
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    It's been too long since I updated this thread; no excuse except for the busy Christmas season. Anyway, when I last left you the pictures were as of 12/9/19. Here are are my notes and some pictures from 12/14/19 when the tank had been set up about 3 weeks.

    Here is a full tank shot. Notice thePersicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum' poking through on the left; how the Nymphoides hydrophylla ('Taiwan') is filled in; and the Limnophila chinensis has shot up well above the driftwood. Not bad after three weeks.....and no algae to speak of??!!
    [​IMG]

    The driftwood with the established Microsorum pteropus 'Trident' seems to be adapting well[​IMG]


    The Rotala 'Vietnam / H'ra' is starting to fill in nicely.

    [​IMG]


    Yes, that Limnophila chinensis is about 3" taller than the driftwood after 3 weeks.

    [​IMG]


    Even the Anubias barteri var nana 'Petite' is showing signs of recovery with new leaves sprouting almost weekly.

    [​IMG]
     
    bshenanagins likes this.
  12. bshenanagins

    bshenanagins Junior Poster

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    Glad to see your tank thriving thus far! I myself am using Safe T Sorb as a base layer, to then be covered with an inch or so of mineralized soil, and capped with Amazonia II. Your tank looks quite clean, did you rinse or attempt to clean the Safe T Sorb prior? It seems fruitless to do so based on what I’ve tried.
     
  13. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi @bshenanagins,

    The concept seems good however I would probably consider putting the dirt first (1/2" max), then a thicker layer of STS (3/4"?), then top with the Amazonia II. In answer to your question, no I did not rinse the STS prior to putting it in the tank. It went straight from the bag into the aquarium. I used to take the time to 'pre-charge' and rinse (repeatedly) the STS but I wanted to see if this could be done 'quick and dirty' and it seems to be working our well. Wait until you see how it looks after a month and six weeks! -Roy
     
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  14. bshenanagins

    bshenanagins Junior Poster

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    Yes I read about “charging” It but I have pretty hard water from the tap so I’m looking forward to it sucking up the kh. I was thinking of doing what you said, adding another layer over the soil with the safe t sorb. I could use the extra height anyway, thanks for the tip.
     
  15. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Keeping the soil as the bottom layer makes it less likely to be brought to the surface by the plant roots when pulling, replacing, and moving plants.
     
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  16. bshenanagins

    bshenanagins Junior Poster

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    How’s the progress with this one?
     
  17. Seattle_Aquarist

    Seattle_Aquarist Guru Class Expert

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    Hi @bshenanagins,

    Good question! I haven't updated this thread for several weeks so let's get it more up to date. The last pictures I posted were from 12/9/19. Here are some other shots of the tank with dates and comments:

    Here is a full tank shot taken on 12/21/19, approximately one month after I set up the tank. I do a 33% water change weekly at which time I add 3 ppm of calcium using CaSO4 and 1 ppm of magnesium using MgSO4 (both because our water in Seattle is extremely soft) I dose with Seachem Comprehensive 2X per week (for micro-nutrients) and rely on the Osmocote Plus 00 capsules I put in at the beginning for the remainder of the nutrients. Notice the Rotala H'ra / Vietnam is doing well as is the Limnophila chinensis (aka sp. ‘Wavy’). I thinned the Nymphoides hydrophylla down to one plant (from 3). The Persicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum' continues to grow well as do the Nymphaea micrantha and Erio 'Vietnam'
    [​IMG]

    On January 5th I took a couple more pictures. Here is a full tank shot again. The Persicaria sp. 'Kawagoeanum' continues to shoot up and the 2nd and 3rd stems are just starting to poke up above the Microsorium pteroptus v. ‘Trident’ (‘Trident’ Java Fern), the Rotala H'ra / Vietnam is really starting to fill in strongly and the Erio 'Vietnam' is growing well also. I am regularly removing the longer leaves from the Nymphaea micrantha so they don't overshadow the other plants. I have trimmed the Limnophila chinensis (aka sp. ‘Wavy’) twice now, taking the stems tops to the LFS for store credit.
    [​IMG]

    Also taken on 1/5/20 a closeup of the Rotala H'ra / Vietnam showing how well it is filling in and growing. The Erio Vietnam is becoming well established with lots of new leaves.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. bshenanagins

    bshenanagins Junior Poster

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    Yes the Rotala H’ra is looking lovely indeed. Nice progress with the STS
     
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