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64l First Tank In Berlin

Discussion in 'Journals' started by pmucka, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. pmucka

    pmucka New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2019
    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    2:24 AM
    Hi Everyone,

    Welcome to my journal. As I mentioned over in the intro section, this is my first planted tank and first tank in over 10 years. It's a 64L 60x30x35cm rimless tank that I'm keeping here in Berlin, Germany. The tank is about a year old and has been progressing decently, although I noticed after about 7-8 months that I started having some problems keeping growth steady in all my plants. I've created this journal hoping to get some input on my tank and get all my plants growing consistently and continuously.

    In this post, I'll consolidate a journal I've been keeping scattered in a few places, but I'll also post my individual journal posts from the past year. If anyone has some input on these, please let me know but I'll provide more steady information from here on out.


    Equipment:
    64L rimless
    Nicrew Classic LED Plus
    Dirted (Teicherde) with black sand on top, sloping from 2-3.5cm in the back
    Used Eheim 2213 with glass lily pipes
    Autofeeder
    Heater


    Plants:
    Java moss
    Java fern
    S. repens
    R. rotundifolia
    H. Zosterifolia
    Hornwort
    C. wendtii
    Monte Carlo
    H. tripartita
    Anubias nana

    Fish:
    11 neons + 1 cardinal
    4 guppies
    4 amanos
    3 otos
    3 nerites

    Quick Setup notes:
    • Tank took a while to cycle since I didn't supplement any NH3 to kickstart it
    • Planted very heavy from the start, never had any severe algae problems
    • Removed a hill on the right side of the scape by digging up the supporting lava rock underneath (a real nightmare)
    • Ferts have been a work in progress (more below)
    • Generally plants grow, although sometimes in spurts



    Most recent tank params:
    pH: 7.5
    NH3: 0ppm
    NO2: 0ppm
    NO3: 15ppm
    PO4: 10+ppm
    kH: 7
    gH: 10

    40% Water change every 1.5-2 weeks, with 2/3 RO 1/3 tap

    Ferts:
    0.8g KNO3 every other day
    ?? KH2PO4
    1 pump MikroSpezial every other day

    Issues:
    I think my major problem right now is flow. My filter seems to have a mind of it's own. I'll clean it and then the flow drops again after just a few days. It's a used Eheim 2213 with 2 coarse filters followed by some Eheim bio media and then 1 medium filter pad. From what I've read on the forum, I could do myself some favors by removing most of the bio media and maybe swap out all the pads for coarse ones. Unfortunately when I recently switched out a fine filter pad for a medium one at the top, I didn't really gain as much flow as I hoped My thinking is that as the plants filled in this created even bigger dead spots in the tank, especially at substrate level. Will swapping out the filter media for all/mostly coarse pads help my flow out? Would I be better off with a new filter? I'm also aware that lily pipes, especially those with narrow diameters like I have are not ideal so I'm considering swapping them out for bigger diameter pipes and a spray bar.

    Which brings me to my second issue, ferts. I used RotalaButterfly's calculator for low light and was dosing ~1g KNO3 per week, which wasn't cutting it at all. I wasn't getting good growth with this, which I usually gauge by how hard the Monte Carlo carpet is pearling. After that I got sloppy and wasn't really keeping track of what I was doing, probably dosed way too much micros (noted a good bit of BBA) and maybe too much KH2PO4 (Green spot algae). While I was ramping up my KNO3, I think I hit my tank's sweet spot and it seemed like everything was growing really well for a few weeks (Mid-Feb). I tried and failed to find this balance point again and the plants haven't looked as good since. I can tell that adding at least some KH2PO4 helps, but it doesn't make total sense to me because my tap water is quite high in PO4. Considering switching to 80% RO water to get better control over this. Hoping some folks can look at my plant pics, some of which have definite deficiencies.



    Plant-specific:

    • Stargrass: Looked great after it took off pretty early on, but since then it's got this melting with black lines in the leaves and sluggish growth. Sometimes it will randomly take off and look healthy. Considering the position, I'm guessing this is flow related and it's not getting enough CO2 or ferts, especially deep down in the plant.
    • Rotala: Grows, but older growth wilts/melts and goes brown. I'm also thinking this is flow related because it's close to the stargrass, in the part of the tank that has poor flow.
    • Monte Carlo: This one was really my own doing. I had a nice healthy explosive carpet that was thick and beautiful. One day I stupidly decided to give it a trim and it has never really bounced back…. Occasionally it will get a patch or two that looks like its recovering, then it will just melt again and look all crappy. Sad stuff, I was thrilled that I finally got a nice carpet going…



    Overall, looking back at my pictures, it seems the tank was doing a bit better about 8 months ago once all the plants got settled and then again in mid-Feb. I'm guessing this is for the reasons mentioned above (flow is REALLY sticking out to me), as well as substrate depletion and excessive plant mass. I popped some EasyLife sticks into the soil, although they didn't really seem to do much IMO. Was hoping they'd save my MC carpet but no dice. As far as plant mass, I chopped the hell out of the tank yesterday and am planning on finishing the job this weekend…

    Any advice is appreciated. I will take some more detailed plant pictures over the next few days to address the possible deficiencies.


    Thanks,

    Patrick

    Freshly planted
    20190522_212620.jpg

    Filling in, 2 months in
    20190714_204222.jpg

    Removal of rightside hill
    20190725_004924.jpg

    Placement of reconstructed hardscape piece
    20190807_224431.jpg

    6 months in
    20191101_204528.jpg

    9 months in
    20200220_212452.jpg
     
    #1 pmucka, Jun 2, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
    DeepMetropolis likes this.
  2. pmucka

    pmucka New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2019
    Messages:
    8
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    3
    Local Time:
    2:24 AM
    So, some minor updates:

    So since my last update, I tried to address some of my issues like flow, aeration, and ferts.

    Flow was improved with a good filter cleaning and replacement of all the pads with slightly coarser ones, although its still not as powerful as I remember (Eheim 2213). I remember when I got this filters (used) last year, even with fine pads it was really like a jet coming out of the lily pipe when clean. I probably should've just gone with a 2215, or just a different brand in general since it seems the consensus is that Eheims are pretty under-powered, although I do think that the flow around the tank is decent. Not ready to give up on this guy yet though! I will continue to optimize and reduce filter contents while still maintaining clean and clear water. I'm thinking at least one filter pad could go... is it alright for my filter to have some dead space in it? Going to stay on top of cleaning it as well, maybe every other water change would help out.

    As far as aeration, it was a pretty simple fix. I just raise the lily pipe so I get some bubble action while I'm at work and lower it when I get home. The fish and shrimp are much happier for it.

    Which brings me to ferts. I've been dosing ~800mg KNO3 and ~150mg KH2PO4 3x per week alternating with 1 pump of Aqua Rebel MikroSpezial (skipping weekends). Over the last month I crept this up, just to see where the balance point was with algae (not much higher than what I was already dosing). So, I thought my problem must've been flow which I troubleshot as best I could. And nothing. If anything, the tank got worse during June. I went away for a hiking trip this past weekend and added a bit extra macros before leaving and came back to my tank being a bit of a mess. Some stringy algae here and there, pipes looking fuzzy, the usual suspects. So, by deduction, I decided it had to be a problem of CO2. Thinking back and looking at the pictures above I noticed that when my tank was looking it's best, I was definitely dosing CarboLife. The first time I stopped this was because a package got lost (neighbors had it). The second time though, I just kind of gave up on it thinking that it wasn't doing much and that my problems were actually probably macro related (which they were, at that time). BUT, the other day I added 2mL to my tank and BAM! stuff was bouncing back within hours. My super ratty Rotala got nice tips on all its stems and even the stargrass was looking better. I'm going to do some dusting to get rid of the algae and then re-incorporate CarboLife.

    Hopefully I'll have some nicer pics to share in a couple weeks.

    In their place, here are some sad deficiency pics :(. I got rid of a lot of the anubias that was covered in algae. Also, you can see that one of the guppies is in time-out for bullying the others hehe.

    20200602_233107__1594309860_48335.jpg

    20200602_233127__1594309876_61322.jpg

    20200602_233143__1594309892_62084.jpg

    20200602_233153__1594309912_76382.jpg

    20200602_233219__1594309926_39891.jpg
     
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