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75g "Dutch" Weed Farm

Discussion in 'Journals' started by slipfinger, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    I have been wanting to start a journal for sometime now, but documenting my progress either on paper or through photos has never been my strong suit and always seems to be an afterthought. I am one of those guys that brings his camera on vacation and doesn't take a single picture. But luck for me and you I did take a few random photos throughout the process.

    [​IMG]

    Past History:

    The tank has been up and running for roughly 9 months. For the first two months I dosed roughly ⅓ EI, then I flipped over to ½ EI for the following three months. Had no clue what I was doing but read that you do not need to dose anywhere near full EI with new AS. From day one I have run Co2 where it’s a steady stream of bubbles through the counter, to hard to even count. At around the five month, life was a little busy and the tank was kinda left to its own accord. Dosing and trimming were very random, Co2 had run out at some point, and water changes pretty much came to a halt. As all this was taking place there was one constant, the lighting. Four of the six bulbs would come on religiously for 8 hours everyday. As you can imagine my algae growing skill far surpassed my plant growing abilities.

    I finally had enough and I entered the tank with scissors in hand and clipped and pulled what ended up being over 75% of the plant material in the tank. When all was said and done I had a grocery bag full to the top of clipping. I restarted my Co2 system and set up a steady stream of bubbles as I had in the past. Lighting did not change, basically 4 bulbs, (two being 6400K’s, one ATI Blue Plus and one Zoo Med Flora) came on for 8 hours each day. Co2 came on one hour before lights on, and went off one hour before lights off. I started dosing full EI, dosing 6 days a week, alternating macros and micros and did a 60% to 70% water change on the 7th day. Plant growth was steady. I tried different plants here and there, of course some grow better than others. I had/have issues with AR mini, leaves curl and stunt, R. wallichii stunting after a couple weeks in the tank, but most other things i’ve tried grew ok with this routine, some even grew to good (weeds) and they ended up in the compost bin.

    TL;DR:
    • Tanks been running 9 months.
    • I let the tank crash due to lack of care and time around the 5 month mark.
    • Cleaned tank up.
    • Started dosing full EI about 3 months ago.
    • Most things grew well.
    • AR mini curls and stunts.
    • R. wallichii stunts after a week or so in the tank.

    The Basics and Current Set-up

    Tank: standard 75gal 48” x 21” x 18”

    Stand: Homemade, 2x4 carcass, skinned with cabinet panels which are all removable giving me full access to equipment.

    [​IMG]
    Carcass built and ready for black paint.

    [​IMG]
    Cabinet with removable panels (skins) installed

    [​IMG]
    Just in case someone is interested I used these little connectors to attach the panels.

    [​IMG]

    Light: 6 bulb T5HO Tek light. Has to separate banks of bulbs, two outside bulbs on the first bank and the four middle bulbs on the second bank.


    [​IMG]

    Bulbs:
    From front to back
    1. 6400K Sunblaster
    2. Zoo Med Flora Sun
    3. 6400K Sunblaster
    4. 6400K Sunblaster
    5. ATI Blue Plus ?
    6. Giesemann AquaFlora
    Photoperiod: 8h total. Currently fixture sits about 8" off the surface.
    First 2 hours and last 2 hours, two bulbs come on consisting of bulbs 1 and 6
    Middle 4 hours, all 6 bulbs on.
    I am trying to get a hold of a Par meter to take some readings. I’ll update when I get my hands on one.

    Filtration and Circulation: Hydro 600, intake and outflow (via a spray bar) setup on left side of tank. Flow is directed across the surface and runs the length of the tank.
    On the right side, Ehiem Skimmer 350 that I have plugged into a cheap timer which comes on for half hour runtime multiple times a day.
    A Koralia 850 circulating water left to right, aiming downward. This is a balancing act between not disturbing the substrate but keeping the water flowing back across the tank at the plant level.

    [​IMG]

    Substrate: 4 or 5 9L bags (can't remember) of ADA Aqua Soil.

    Co2: Custom made Harrison dual stage regulator, Clippard solenoid, Fabco needle valve and 20lb tank.
    24" x 2" PVC DYI reactor, gate valve on the outflow to control flow and to create a little back pressure to help with dissolving Co2.
    Co2 comes on 1.h hours before lights on and goes off 1 hour before lights off.

    [​IMG]
    I think I might need a little cord management

    Water Parameters

    2016 Tap water report for my area.
    • Fe - 0.005 ppm
    • Mn - 0.0006 ppm
    • Cu - 0.008 ppm
    • Mg - 8.99 ppm
    • Zn - 0.0028 ppm
    • Mo - 0.0013 ppm
    • B - 0.023 ppm
    • dGH - 122mg/L ~7dGH
    • PH - 7.72
    Tank water according to API Test Kit
    • dGH - ~7dGH
    • dKH - ~5dKH
    • PH - Forgot to replace the cap on my PH pen. Will update when I get a new one.
    Current Dosing

    Macro dosing is based on full EI, I based my calculation on a full 75 gallons of water using Rotala Butterfly.
    Macros are dry dosed 3 days a week.

    7.5 ppm KNO3
    1.3 ppm K2PO4


    Micros are currently ½ EI which comes from Dutch Nutrient Formula Micro Mix. I mix these in a 500ml container and dose 10ml 3 days a week.
    I dose an extra 5ml/.2 ppm of Flourish Iron on micro days.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Dutch Nutrient Formula Trace Elements

    I will add some of my thoughts, concerns and goals, along with more pictures and my current and past plant lists (at least the ones I know the names of) in my next post.

    Yes this layout looks very similar to burr's, and there is a reason for that. His journal template is easy read and follow. Also tank information is in one post and easy to find. Full credit goes to Burr740! I hope he doesn't mind because this took a crap load of time to write up.

    Thanks for following along, comments, concerns, critiques, suggestions and questions are all welcome and encouraged.
     
    #1 slipfinger, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
    Nikolyator, Jason King and burr740 like this.
  2. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Saved for Plant list and current thoughts.
     
  3. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    Nice tank, but you cannot name this weed farm....no you just cannot!
     
  4. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    Great presentation, and really nice set-up. Looking forward to watching the weeds grow.
     
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  5. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    That's a nice set up. With familiar problems too.
     
  6. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Thanks guys.

    @Pikez Yes, these problems seem to be quite common. With any luck and of course the guidance and help of some the more experienced growers, I'd like to try and over come some of these familiar problems.
     
  7. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    With that tap water + Aquasoil, the only traces you need are Iron and Manganese. Get Fe DTPA and Manganese sulfate. Dose them at 0.1 ppm and 0.05 ppm respectively every other day.

    See what that does to your AR leaves.
     
  8. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Wow.....
    So ironic that you mention this I just grabbed some Manganese Sulfate from work today, we have 50lb bags of it laying around. I have to get my hands on some Fe though, other then whats in my trace mix I only have Flourish Iron.

    Before photos for reference. The AR mini below actually looks not to bad compared to some others in the tank. Wavy leaves on the variegated AR.

    [​IMG]

    I moved all these beat up, half eaten AR mini here to see if I can save them from the bin. Amano shrimp seem to love them, I've actually sat and watched them tearing the plants apart.

    [​IMG]
     
    #8 slipfinger, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  9. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    The variegated is considerably harder to flatten out than the regular version
     
  10. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Burr is right. Don't even bother with AR Variegated until you can flatten out AR Mini. Variegated just hurts your feelings. Who needs that drama.

    I had flat AR Mini leaves for a year. Then I had to go and monkey with the trace levels. (Avatar explained). Within a week, most of my AR looked like yours. I've reverted to regular trace dosing. It is a long, slow road back.

    Look at this journal: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1093577-75-gallon-dueling-volcanoes-rip-9.html

    He has Aquasoil and fish poop. No ferts whatsoever. Look at his AR. Aquasoil (or similar) + low-moderate light + moderate CO2 + decent fish load is the standard method of plant care in Asia. You don't see leaf tip stunting with this approach. The only problems with the Asian approach is that you have to accept slowness. And that Aquasoil will eventually run out of stuff. The transition step to adding ferts is a doozy. The journal above did not make that step well and crashed. ADA handles that by slowly adding tiny bits of K and Fe. N and P are usually not added or if added, they are fairy dusted.
     
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  11. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Damn, tough lesson.

    Thanks for that link Pikez. Very interesting read with a very strong message. Problem is I don't think after reading that journal from start to finish a lot of people, including myself would have came away with the message. I think without your very simple explanation it would have been missed. Very wise words.

    What I also found interesting was how many different ideas where thrown out there as to what the issue maybe. Other than yourself not many even mentioned the added ferts, maybe they missed that part. Or just maybe we over think things and in turn over complicate most things in life.
     
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  12. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    We all have giant blind spots when it comes to OUR tank.

    Here's a longer and more philosophical explanation:

    That journal is worth reading for most people. The OP set up the tank following classic Amano method, which has been polished and perfected to allow noobs to achieve a degree of success without much thought about ferts and CO2. It is all there. You follow the rules and focus on aquascaping. The assumption is that you are after the aesthetics and that you are solely appearance-focused. That you are not interested in the science and reason behind the horticulture. That heavy lifting has already been done by Amano. Took him a decade to nail down and ADA staff have since perfected the method. I'll be in Singapore in a couple of days. There are Amano style tanks everywhere that tiny country - malls, restaurants, car repair shops. Big tanks too. The car repair mechanic is not worrying about pH drop due to CO2 or arguing about Gluconate or DTPA form of iron. The mechanic feeds the fish, squirts some goo into the tank and goes about his day. They don't deal with all this existential hand-wringing bulls*t that we go through. Put another way, when normal people turn on a computer, they check email, social media, play games and then move on. And there are others who are focused on the inner workings of the computer - how the design and cooling of the graphics chip affects their gaming. Guess which group we are?

    But back to the journal link: the tank was successful for a long time. Then the fish load + declining macros in the aquasoil + plant biomass was no longer sustainable. Not surprisingly, algae set in. The options were to reduce light, feed the fish a little more, reduce plant mass, and possibly add very small amounts of supplemental macros. All of that would have been the ADA approach. But that's not what happened. A plea for help on TPT brought out all the 'graphics chip' crowd with all their turbo-charged ideas. Some of the advice was just plain, well, unenlightened. Most proposed suggestions were parts of high-tech approach. You cannot easily mix and match features of drastically different approaches without knowing consequences. It was doomed. I, posting as Saxa Tilly, urged him to stick it out, but he quit in frustration. I get it. I've been there. I've quit the hobby for the same reason he tore down the tank.

    If you can accept fewer plants and slower growth, try the Amano approach. Keep the tank at 30-40 PAR. Decent CO2. Little or no ferts. I promise you that your AR leaves will be flat as pancakes. But what you and I and many here are doing is 'turning everything to 11' and seriously pushing growth. It's exciting. The gadgetry and tech wizardry is fun. It's a razor's edge and slip ups are easy. Your Burr Style tank needs to do EVERYTHING that Burr does. If you slip, you're screwed. And Burr will be the first to admit his method has yet to be perfected. Like Amano, it might take him 10 years, but until then, know the approach. And keep in mind that adding half dozen retina-burning bulbs, wowza CO2 pH drop, massive doses of ferts are inherently destabilizing.

    And THAT'S why AR looks like crap.
     
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  13. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    @Pikez You have no clue how much I appreciate the time you take to explain things. You defiantly have a way with words and your passion for the hobby is evident in all your responses.

    On another note, my Fe showed up today. I am out of town for the next 3 days to celebrate Canada Day. I'll be returning Monday just in time to do my weekly water change.

    My plan is to start my new micro dosing Pikez suggested based on my tap water report the following day.

    Currently my plan is to leave everything else as it has been, photo period, Co2 and Macros. I want to make sure I am only making one change at a time, so if I see changes I can with some degree of certainty pinpoint what has caused the change.

    The more I read the more I realize which direction I should be steering this tank, but the 'need for speed' is so strong.

    @burr740 I believe I read in your current journal that you where mixing and dosing Fe and Mn together. Any tips on how you mixed your solution? Distilled water? Did you add anything to it to combat potential mold? Is mold even an issue with this mix?
     
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  14. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    Ive used both tap and distilled water, cant say Ive noticed any difference. I think Tom just uses tap for his micros

    Add the water first, then add 5-10 ml distilled white vinegar. Swirl it around and let it sit for couple of minutes. Then add the ferts.

    I usually do 5 ml vinegar to 500 ml water, 10 ml to 1000 ml, but I dont think it's all that critical how much.

    The vinegar acts as a mold retardant, but more importantly drops the alkalinity to help preserve the micros in a usable state.
     
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  15. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Thanks for the info @burr740

    No issue with mixing them together?
     
    #15 slipfinger, Jun 30, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  16. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    Quick update.

    Back from my little Canada Day get away. The tank has not been touched since Thursday, which was also the last time it saw any dosing, which was macros. Since last weeks water change the tank has only seen macros and about 15ml of Flourish Iron no micros at all.

    First thing I noticed other then the original stunting of the R. wallichii was one stem looked a little sad. May mean nothing, but I have a feeling its telling me I maybe a little low on micros, we'll see what comes of it in the next few days.

    [​IMG]

    The shrimp are continuing to have a hay day with my little test plot of AR mini. Might be time to give up on these bad boys.

    Current condition.

    [​IMG]

    Last Wednesday.

    [​IMG]

    As mentioned, one of my goals is to actually start to scape the tank. I messed around and moved a few plants, even trying my hand at a street of Limnophila aromatica. I figure if I start out by keeping each group a little more compact and more space between the groupings I'm heading in the right direction.

    [​IMG]

    On my way home I just had to make a little detour and stop at my LFS. Not that I need another plant in this tank but I picked up a Tropica 1-2-Grow cup of Hygrophila 'araguaia'. I've always loved the colour and look of this plant, can't wait for it to grow out.

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow I start my new Pikez's micro formula dosing routine. As mentioned I am not going to change anything else in the tank, only thing that changes is micros for minimum 2 weeks. After that we'll see how things are looking and adjust as needed.

    I also got the go ahead (from the wife) to start a new little project, which will totally change the future scaping of this tank. Hint, it involves 2 40B's and a rack........
    I'll be posting about this project in its own journal in the coming weeks.
     
    #16 slipfinger, Jul 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  17. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    That isn't great, but if you feel like messing with it, it will continue to live on that basis. I should know. Mine's looked like that for two years! As I find truly meaningful improvements, it gets better. Still not there though...
     
  18. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    So its been a week since I started only dosing Fe DTPA and Manganese sulfate at a 2-1 ratio, .1 ppm Fe and .05 ppm Mn. I'm dosing no other micros other then what my tap water is suppling. Macros have not changed and remain at full EI levels.

    I'm wondering if I will run out all the other minor micros between water changes, which is currently once a week. We'll see how this goes for a few more weeks then maybe consider doing twice a week water changes.

    I have yet to notice any real difference, but didn't really expect to see major changes in such a short time.

    On another note I am starting to question my Co2 levels or my pen/probes reliability. I bought (birthday present to myself) a new Ph monitor, one that the probe remains in the tank at all times and provides continuous real time readings. I've calibrated it a few times but it is not telling me the same story my old pen would tell me. The old pen told me I was getting a 1 point + drop in the first hour and another ~.6 throughout the rest of the photoperiod. The new monitor says i'm only getting ~.6 or so drop in the first hour and only dropping another ~.4 or so till it turns off. I don't know which one to believe. For the sake of the money I spent I hope the new monitor is right but for the tanks sake I'd like to think the pen was right. Plants seem to be pearling just as hard as ever. I have not touch the Co2 system at all since, so it should not be a factor. I guess I will see if I can borrow a non bias Ph pen and see what it says.

    Few pictures.

    FTS

    Cryptocoryne wendtii which is probably close to 10" wide. Time to sell this baby as its taking up to much real-estate.

    One of my big girls with a load of eggs, to bad they wont survive.

    Finally a quick shot of my little AR mini test plot. Some new growth is present but leaves are still coming in a little twisted and deformed. The shrimp seem to be leaving the plants alone since I start adding some extra food to the tank.
     
    #18 slipfinger, Jul 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
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  19. Dman

    Dman Subscriber

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    Send me that female, I will send you the babies :) tank is looking good.

    Dan
     
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  20. slipfinger

    slipfinger Article Editor
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    FTS as it sat last night, tank looks a little different today. I didn't up load a picture from today because I just finished a water change and the tank was a little hazy.

    I need to figure out how to resize photo's.

    full.jpg

    I sold a bunch of plants today so I could make room for a couple of new additions. All my profits went to purchasing these two stems below.

    full.jpg

    Yes, I am a sucker for punishment. I was able to source out a couple of stem of Pantanal. I just had to see if I was able to kill this plant as well as others, wish me luck! You'll also notice the tissue culture of Mermaid Weed in the picture as well, can't wait to see this plant grow.

    I am now a week and a half into my new micro dosing routine. I think its still a little early to jump to any conclusions but if my AR mini is any indication, its working or something working. Its been a long time since I've seen leaves this flat and straight. I even have one variegated variety that is looking pretty good if you ask me. No clue why one out of about 10 plants seems to being doing better than all the rest.

    full.jpg

    full.jpg

    But there are a couple of other issues that have started to creep up. I am getting a little bit of GSA on some of my plants, plants i've never seen it on before. I upped my Po4 the last couple if Macro doses we'll see if that starts to reduce it. Also my R. wallichii is starting to get some BBA on some of the old crappy looking stems. I am going to go in and clean out a bunch of the crappy stems and thin the lot out in hopes of get some more flow around them.

    Something weird is up with the Bacopa caroliniana. Some stem seem to be stunted while others are exploding. The stem on the right has very small narrow leaves compared to the one on the left which has leaves the size of a quarter. This is the first time I have seen this plant do this or look like this in my tank. Anyone have any experience with this plant and what it might be trying to tell me?

    full.jpg

    Finally a picture of my little AR mini experiment plot. Maybe my eyes are bad, but I think I see a little improvement? At least the shrimp are not feasting on it anymore.

    full.jpg
     
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