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"El Viejo"... a new aquarium path (to disaster?)

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by viejo, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    The new "el Viejo" method is a new aquarium path I'm developing. Basically consists in read all you can about everything and its mother, hear (and read) the advices from experienced aquarium hobbyists and finally... do what you can, because you are too lazy or too dumb to follow a standard way to do those things.

    Here is the new "el Viejo" aquarium project. Ingredients:
    - 120x50x50 cm tank (around 47x20x20 inches) for 300 liters (around 79 gallons)
    - 3 x 54w of T5 lighting (1x4000ºK and 2x10.000ºK - I had troubles to find other temps... but plants will grow fine with these, I wish)
    - 200w heater
    - medium size internal filter (temporary)
    - 20 liter (5 gallons) of garden compost substrate (has been soaking for a month or so)
    - 24 kg (55 pounds?) of black gravel (3-5mm)
    - 5 x Pogostemon helferi (for carpetting)
    - 2 x Hygrophila polysperma “Big leaf”
    - 1 x Microsorum pteropus “Windelov”
    - 1 x Ceratopteris thalictroides
    - 1 x Hemianthus callitrichoides ''Cuba''
    - 1 x hygrophila corimbosa “siamensis B”
    - 1 x microsorum pteropus
    - 1 x rotala sp “green”
    And a lot of white stones of different sizes (came from a friend, who used in the past for his aquariums but moved to other designs).
    Oh! And a wood piece I get from another friend. I have no clue where it came from, not the wood type. It has been in the garden from at least three or four years and it doesn't float. We soaked it for a week or more.

    The process:
    - small carpet of substrate
    - first deployment of the biggest stones, making a wall
    - medium sized stones read the wall to raise the ground without wasting substrate (I was too short of it)
    - the rest of the substrate until an inch or more were covering all the planting surface
    - around 1,5" of the dark gravel
    (in the process I used more medium stones, substrate and gravel to raise the wall, because I like how it looked when I put them at the first time)
    - adding enough water to cover all the substrate by almost 3 inches of more with it
    - planting
    - full filling of the tank

    Up today, just three plants have decided to not keep their roots in the ground (one of them was replanted yesterday, another other one decided to float just tonight and I had to go to work, and half of my "cuba" was floating, and I've decided to keep it there to fight algae, shadowing the tank and getting nutrients from the column water).

    I'm planning to add more fast growing and shadowing plants (floating egeria, maybe) to prevent the algae boom I'm expecting to raise some dangerous limits.

    The stats of my water are a bit high for chemicals (but nitrates and nitrites, that had not peaked yet), but my test kits are not good and I am not sure if I must stabilize them before the cycle is finished.

    The cycle must be faster than exepected, because the stones came from aquarium tanks and the filter has been in a cycled aquarium from four months or more. I'm planning to start adding critters sooner than expected, and they will be mainly algae fighters (SAE and shrimp... whatsoever will be tougher, because I want not to "kill" or harm really anything).

    The filter has proved to be too small for the tank, although the floating dirt has not cleared yet. It maybe will be enough for filter the tank when plants will have grow enough, but anyways the tank has not enough current to be sure any nutrients will reach every place of it. I must add a pump or another filter, I'm not decided yet..

    I want to give you thanks for all your advices (although I've not followed all of them), and will be happy to keep my butt around to continue learning from all you.
    [​IMG]

    From now I will keep things at they are. I want not to Excel it while the plants grow, and I will keep all the lighting at their max seven hours per day (I will give me more light time, but raising it slowly) until the dirt cloud disappear, to give enough intensity to the ground plants. After that, I will decide how many of the tubes and how many time I keep them on (one, two of all them).

    Wish me (and my plants) luck :p
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I would use only one of those 54 watt T5HO lights, since you don't appear to be using CO2. You have set up a basic non-CO2 tank, with nutrient rich substrate, so you shouldn't try high light. You will probably need to raise the single light a few inches to get better uniformity of the light intensity at the substrate, and reduce it a bit too. The HC isn't likely to survive, due to the coarse top layer of substrate, making it hard for the HC to root well, and HC needs CO2 to do well anyway. I'm not sure, but I suspect the P. helferi will not do well either, but the other plants should grow well.
     
  3. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    The HC, as you've predict, doesn't root well with my substrate. I though the same the day I decided to purchase it.
    The main reason to purchase it was that. My idea is to let it floating, as it does now. It will help to block some lighting while keep nutrients out of the column water.

    Once the water will be clear, I will check if it's (as you say) too much light. If it does, I will turn off one of the tubes and check again. Sadly, I'm not able to raise the lighting because I have a cat with suicidal tendencies, and if I raise the light I will find it diving in the tank, and I want not to clog my filter with kitten's hair.

    Anyways, my water is giving the glass over the tank a white coat because calcium. It will block more light too.

    I supposed the pogostemon would need some support, but I wanted to give it a chance. I like it, and I don't need any of my plants to grow fast nor spectacular. I just want to see them alive and "happy", not necessary enormous.

    Let's see how it works as is, I will keep you informed :)

    Thanks again for your suggestions, and be sure I will keep them in mind for the future, although I will not follow them just now. Maybe I will change my mind about CO2. I really like how the tank looks with that amount of light.
     
  4. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    The first disaster: cyanobacteria.

    I've detected it Sunday night, and took radical measures: it had stablished over the Rotala sp. "green", and I've erradicated BOTH.
    In the place where I had the Rotala I planted Egeria. It's supposed it will release some antibiotics that kill/prevent cyanobacteria. Two days have passed and no more signs of it.

    The origin of the mini-boom (I want to remove the cause and not just the consequence) was the excessive amount of bio-load for a non-cycled tank. I had to put my platy there (five), and although I did NOT feed them, they fed themselves A LOT eating some algae that growth over the drywood. In their old tank they just ignored any algae, and they were eating it in the new tank constantly.
    It means a lot of mulm for a non-cycled tank.

    Another reason was the (as everybody said) excess of light: I've turned off one of the tubes. If the problem persist, I will turn off another one. I wanted to turn off two from the start, but a friend said me tanks have "innertia" and things must be done slowly.

    And the last one is the lack of water movement. I siphoned the gravel a bit cleaning a bit of mulm, and did NOT refill. Now the surface current of my under-dimensioned filter reaches all the tank. I'm planning to purchase an external canister with enough strenght to move the entire water column, but I'm not decided about the model yet.

    My doubts are between
    - EHEIM Professional II 2026 (up to 350l)
    - EHEIM Ecco Pro 300 (up to 300l)

    Any other brand/model with enough durability and strenght? Other advices? More things to take care about?

    I know my platy are probably dead :( but I had no choice. I removed two of them yesterday, but was unable to hunt down the other three, as they hided under the plants foliage, and I want not to disturb my plants (I had an accident with the Ceratopteris and had to replant it).

    Plants are growing well, specially the Ceratopteris, that I though it would be the hardest to grow. It's becoming a bit yellowish, but raising in height. The other plants are doing things at their pace, I wish.

    I plan to add more Egeria asap to prevent more cyanobacteria, and keep them there until my plants' load will be enough.

    I wish my fish will survive, one is my wife's favorite and other is mine. Luckily, my daughter's one has been captured and moved to the old 38... I wish it will survive the stress.

    Oh, and just yesterday I had my N peaks... poor fish.
     
  5. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    I bought the EHEIM Ecco Pro 300 after more than thirty minutes talking with the storekeeper. I don't know if the EHEIM supremacy is just a myth or it's really the best of the brands by a long margin, but...

    The main reason to discard the Professional II is the price. The Ecco costs half the cash, its consumption/wattage is less than half and it will save me cash and room to get another one for a redundant filter system if I need more filter strenght.

    The storekeeper told me about the weak points of the Ecco line before show me the Pro, and was surprised because most of those weak points were removed. I will install it today after work. Will tell you how it went.

    I have (sigh) a snail infestation in my 38 liter, and it seems some of those pests passed to the 300 with some Egeria... any ideas to remove them? Advices I got:

    - botia (will it eat my shrimp?)
    - puffers (they will eat my shrimp and bull other fish)
    - snails (it seems there are some that eat their "cousins"
    - chemicals (but I will need to remove shrimp before)

    I will try the "lettuce" trick. I wish it works and I will not risk my shrimp with hostile fish. But if anyone knows other ways, please, tell them to me. There are no apple snails nor useful ones, they are just some sort of black little pests that multiply themselves like rabbits.
     
  6. kevinicus

    kevinicus Junior Poster

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    What kind of weak points does the eco have over the Pro?
     
  7. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Well, I cannot tell you for sure, because she was just talking things like:

    - the closure system is... oh! they've fix it.
    - the rubbing... oh!
    - they don't come with mat... oh! They do now...

    And so. At the end, she said me: "ok, I can recommend the Ecco now" :)

    I've installed yesterday night, and if we don't count some weird vibration I don't know where it come from (maybe the lighting system), all goes plainly good. The amount of water movement is fine, and the starting system (the lever) worked pretty fine.

    I cannot compare it with other brands/models except the Eden 501, and it's a small canister that play in another league (another sport, if you want to trust me).
     
  8. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Update: The nitrates are still peaking. It seems my SAE must wait another two weeks in the "new" quarantine tank (my old 38l).

    A friend of mine and me were testing my tap water, trying to find the reason of my aquarium parameters (specially an exaggerate high ph and hardness). It seems the main fault is my bloody tap water.
    ph > 8
    gH > 22

    Trying to find alternate ways to lower that hardness, we checked the same tap water after use a BRITA water jug. The hardness was highly lowered. We could not get exact numbers because in my ignorance I used too low amount of water, but we trust them (in any case, I just want to lower it a bit, not do a full destilation).

    I am thinking ways to use those jugs' filters for my water changes. If anyone knows another way (else than RO water), please, just say it.
     
  9. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    A high GH shouldn't be a problem. Is that 22 number for GH a degrees of GH or ppm of GH? If degrees, it is high, but if ppm it is low. Have you let tap water sit for a day to see what effect that has on the pH?
     
  10. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    That hardness is measured in degrees. After the use of the B* filter, it was lowered to 15 or so. And the ph went down from 9 to 8.

    I didn't tested it after letting the water sit. Will try tonight (well, tonight I will put some water to sit).

    The problem with hardness is the fact it will affect my ph counter-attack (the measures I want to use to lower it). I doubt my plants nor my fish would be happy living in a 9+ ph water.
     
  11. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    As promised, here comes a small summary of my necropolis' evolution:

    - Nitrates zero, nitrites
     
  12. irena

    irena Junior Poster

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    You can get Assasin snails they will eat the snails that infested your tank, and it does not breed at anywhere near the high volume the others do I also read it all depends how many males you got in the tank, I think they the smaller in size. The intresting thing about them is that when you add them to the tank other snails know they in trouble and will change a behaviour and most will tend to head for the surface, but these little guys are reall assasins they will hunt down and suck the sanils out of their shell. I heard from a lot of people that they do the best job at getting rid of sanils, they do not touch shrimp. Very intresting to watch too I bet. Here is some info on them I had a better link but can not find it
    Thinkfish.co.uk - the tropical fish keeping resource
     
  13. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Those snails are the ones that I read about. If they don't breed as rabbits, as my pond snails do, are a good option.
    And I can add a pair of yoyo loaches to control them, if needed.

    Sadly, I must wait some days before being able to add more critters to my tank, I want not to ruin it now it's cycled :)

    TY
     
  14. irena

    irena Junior Poster

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    As long as I know they do not breed like pond snails, no one has a breeding problem with them. From what I read, it's not certain, their breeding depends on how many males and females are in the tank, so if you have only males or females you should not worry about them breeding. I think males are smaller in size. Just reaserch them a little more, but people are happy with them haven't seen any complains yet. And if you don't want them in your tank after they got rid of all your pond sanils I'm sure you can always find a friend or someone who will need them or add yoyo loaches, just don't dump them in a wild it could be a path to disaster in the future. :)
     
  15. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    April update.

    The water parameters are still fine. The water stills yellowish because tannins, but I can live with it (and my fish).

    The ceratopteris and the polysperma are becoming yellowish, and I'm fighting a possible GSA boom. I covered the rear side of the tank (it received some sunlight) blocking all light, I reduced the light intensity by raising the mount few inches (now the tubes are 25cm -10 inches?- over the tank), removing all reflection and reducing the light time.

    It means the three 54w T5 are "free" to deliver their light intensity to the tank and the rest of the restroom.

    Let's refresh the inventory:

    - H2O: 300 liters

    - 3x54w T5 bulbs 25cm over the tank (without reflectors)
    - EHEIM Ecco Pro 300 external canister
    - 200w heater (it's not working fine, because I've put it at 23ºC and it puts my water at 26º... I must tune it a bit lower)

    - three bushes (I've started with just two pots) of hygrophila polysperma "Big leaf" (they grow like a pest)
    - a bush of ceratopteris thalitcroides (from a single pot), that is mostly yellow
    - a small plant of microsorum pteropus "Windelov" (it doesn't grow, but still alive)
    - small plantings of hygrophila siamensis "53B" (it just survives :()
    - a small plant of micreosorum pteropus (surviving too... not the "Windelov" one)

    - 20 danio rerio
    - 6 juvenile SAE (around 5cm)
    - 2 juvenile SAE (around 6cm)
    - 4 botia loachata
    - 2 botia striata
    - 3 red cherry shrimp (two of them about to suffer an egg explosion :p )

    My nails disappeared two days after I introduced the first two botia (loachata). The algae problems are being reduced and the white rocks are being cleaned by the SAE (slowly but regular).

    And that's all... at the moment I'm feeling fine with small spared water changes in a routine:

    - each week I change 30 liter (10%)
    - each two weeks I change 30 additional ones (20%)

    I will keep this routine until the water clears, and then will start again with the plant rotation: adding medium/slow growing plants and removing the fast ones when the slow will be enough growth.

    It's alive, and it works thanks to your advices ;)
     
  16. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi there, sounds like you've got a lot going on.

    The tinting from tannins you can take care of by boiling the wood, assuming it's not too big. I find it takes a solid 12 hours of boiling, and changing the water in the pot over 3 times to take care of it.

    Does the heater at least change the number of degrees by which you turn the dial? Some types, like Jager, will hold to +/- .5 of a degree, but their calibration will be off, and need to be set before they're accurate.

    The yellowing of plants can be one of a few deficiencies. Nitrogen, magnesiumWhat's your fertilizer routine looking like right now? I find this site is good for initial deficiency ID: Plant Physiology Online: Symptoms of Deficiency In Essential Minerals It's for terrestrial plants, so not all the same symptoms show, but the broad description and pictures are good.

    Keep in mind though, that if you don't dose the right amount of everything, you'll be skipping from one deficiency symptom and algae bloom to the next based on which nutrient is limiting growth.

    Compressed CO2 might not hurt. Some plumbing to do bigger water changes would probably help, too.

    -Philosophos
     
  17. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Zero nitrates in the water is a bad idea, especially with that much light. In fact the whole goal of eliminating nutrients in the water is a bad idea. In my humble opinion, of course.
     
  18. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    My fault, the numbers are reversed, I'm bad with names. Zero nitrItes and 12-25 nitrAtes.

    I'm trying to find time to buy Excel, that will be the only addition to my water until I'll know for sure what my plants claims for. All the nutrients, atm are provided by fish :D

    About the water changes, my tank is a "Viejo" style one, not an EI nor a Natural. Not a dutch nor an Amano. Its aquascape is something like "I like how it looks" merged with "it will be useful done in this manner". And its water changes are though to be spared and minimal. I'm not in a zone where the water can be wasted.

    10% each week with additional 10% each spare one. 30-60-30-60-30 and so, until my micro-ecosystem will be stablished, then I will try to lower them more. The whole idea is to reach the "Natural" style amounts (50% every six months) but keeping a bit more critters and controlling a bit more the parameters.

    And for now is working. With algae, but fish and plants are growing. Not perfectly, not at their full potential, but there is no sickness in my tank. Enough for a beginner ;)

    I will take a look at your link, I'm sure I will get some additional information about my plants' needs, thanks :)

    (about the yellowish water, I'm sure it's because tannins, and I'm not worried yet... they will disappear, if not this year, the next one :D)
     
  19. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Discussing with a friend about the yellow color of my plants' old leaves, that seems a sign of low nitrogen (I have nitrates around 12,5ppm if my test doesn't lie me), we noticed something I'm begin to be worried about.

    The "Viejo" style uses garden substrate, and the one I've used had between 200 and 400 mg/l of phosphates. As I've used 20l of substrate, it means I added around 6g of PO4 in around 250l of water.

    My "brute" numbers give me around 24ppm of PO4. I think I have a potential problem here, right?
     
  20. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Do a test for phosphates and find out. If you've capped the substrate off with a thick layer of inert sand, and the substrate is coarse, it may not leech very quickly. On the other hand, if the nutrients leech fast and it looks like potting soil, you may have already rinsed a good part of it out of the substrate already through water changes.

    -Philosophos
     
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