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

viejo

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Jan 12, 2009
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Some of the yellow leaves are showing green nerves. It means low iron too.

I changed my feeding routine, raising a bit the amount of scales (I must feed food without phosphates).

I added a bit of iron (a quarter of the recommended dosing, and Excel (around the same).

And I added SeaGel to my filter. It's a combo of activated carbon (for tannins) and "PhosGuard" to remove phosphates' excess. Although PO4 is not a cause by itself, it can help algae booms.

And it seems I will need to raise a bit the amount of water changed each week, but first I must find a friend with trusted test sets :p
 

VaughnH

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You can calibrate your test kits and they will be adequate for fertilizing purposes, using: Calibrating Test Kits - for non-Chemists

And, I can't let this go by without commenting, "Although PO4 is not a cause by itself, it can help algae booms." Algae always have plenty of nutrients in an aquarium, with or without high phosphate concentration. So, excess phosphate does not help algae blooms. In natural bodies of water, excess phosphate can be a problem, but not in our planted tanks.
 

viejo

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VaughnH;36123 said:
You can calibrate your test kits and they will be adequate for fertilizing purposes, using: Calibrating Test Kits - for non-Chemists

And, I can't let this go by without commenting, "Although PO4 is not a cause by itself, it can help algae booms." Algae always have plenty of nutrients in an aquarium, with or without high phosphate concentration. So, excess phosphate does not help algae blooms. In natural bodies of water, excess phosphate can be a problem, but not in our planted tanks.

Ok, thanks for the tips and the comment. Anyways, as I had to purchase activated carbon for my canister to clear the water, I will kill two birds and clear the phosphates too :)
 

Tug

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IMHO, I keep my phosphates (PO4) around 5 ppm and find less GSA growing in my tank as a result. Go figure. It might seam counter intuitive but most/all algae problems are a result of nutrient deficiencies and poor water flow. I also stopped using activated carbon filters in my planted tank with no ill effect. Once your water clears up you might find less of a need for them.

Good luck,
 

viejo

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All went fine. Now I'm facing an overgrowth of my fast growing plants (nothing unexpected). The alternathera is dieing because the SAE are slowly eating it :shock:

I'm trying to locate a slow/medium growing steam plant to replace the fast growing ones, but I'm not in a hurry.

The pogostemon is growing but not multiplying :(

But all plants and fish seems ok, except for holes in the oldest leaves (lack of potassium now?)
 

Tug

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flourish excel

Hi Viejo.

Have you started dosing with Excel? If yes, are the shrimp having any problems? I have also seen weekly water changes recommended when people suggest using Excel. Are you aware of why? Do you still have a problem with BGA? Sorry for all of the questions but I'm thinking about using Excel and any feed back on using this product is helpful. What SAE do you have?

Kelp!
 

viejo

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I started, but I'm not regular dosing it. I made an initial dose (around the half recommended) and continued dosing 50% of recommended dose after each water change. My last WC was done three weeks ago (the next one is ready to be made today or tomorrow).
It really helped my plants to grow. Sadly, it helped the fast growing in much better way than the slow ones (as expected, but I was not expecting that gross difference, the fast are doubling their size weekly while the slow ones are almost the same size than the day I've planted them).

The problem with the shrimp will be (soon) their overpopulation :D Being dosing too little excel, no one in the tank has noticed it (except the plants, as expected). I've dose a little of Fe too, and nothing was damaged in the process.
But again, I'm dosing less than 50% of the recommended dose.

About feedback, I cannot say you Excel saved my tank, because I used it through very small amounts. BUT I cannot say it ruined nothing too, and I'm planning of continue using it at this pace. After each WC, I'll dose the half amount recommended (and my water changes are around 10% of the water each spare week or so). Yes, I know it can hurt my tank, but it's "the Viejo" style the one I'm testing now :p

About SAE, I made anything to get the "real" ones, just buying those I saw really as true SAE. Nothing about bullying chinese alga eaters or flying foxes. I want those fish to clean my algae not to show pretty, and I want them to continue eating algae until the doom's day. It means SAE :)
 

viejo

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The tank seems ok. I had to change some things because the tank was giving me a lot of work (pruning, basically).
I removed the background fast growing plants (hygrophila and ceratopteris) and planted an echinodorus (bleheri) for the gouramis, a small cryptocoryne beckettii ("petchii") and few plantings (from two pots) of eleocharis parvula (in the BACKGROUND).

For prevent accidents by the shocking remove of all that vegetal mass (the plants removed occuped half the volume of the tank, seriously) I spread egeria across the back wall of the tank. I'm not fully satisfied with it, but it's a temporary measure.

Water changes are 10% each spare week, and each month or two I change 30% to clean the last rest of tannin.

All fish are happy and the shrimp are multiplying like crazy rabbits. I like shrimp.

Two images: the first before the change, and the second after removing the plants. I must add an image of the new setup, but I'm busy with some homework (sigh) and cannot take images yet.





Thanks for your interest
 

lljdma06

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You're welcome.

The tank looks good. Good call on the egeria. You needed some extra stuff in there after you removed so many plants.

llj
 

viejo

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The "half year later" report:

The tank is working fine now. I have some aestetically issues I can live with, and some nasty consequences of bad initial choices. Let's summarize my tank:

1- 120x50x50 cm (300l)
2- Eheim ecco-pro 300
3- 3x54w T5 (HO I think) raised 30cm without reflectors nor hood (I use the "spare" light to keep the room lighted :p
4- no CO2, no ferts, no dosing, no nothing
5- 10-20% water changed every spare week

Critters:
- ~20 red cherry shrimp (they were around 80 but...)
- 2 botia striata (they learned how to hunt my red cherry shrimp)
- 3 botia yoyo
- 6-8 Siamese Alga Eater
- 7 otocinclus affinis
- ~25 danio rerio
- 2 gourami trichosomething (both females, I think)

Growing plants:
- a lot of egeria (I keep it because it grows fast, and I'm preventing a new cyanobacteria's attack incoming from the substrate)
- few eleocharis parvula (just planted)
- Microsorum pteropus 'Windeløv' from the day 1... I had few hopes about it, and it keeps its bushy looks... I think it's the plant I had more success with (except the fast growing ones I had to keep out)
- hygrophila corymbosa siamensis
- rotala rotundifolia
- echinodorus (I'm not sure the variant now)
- criptocoryne (I'm not sure the variant now)

Dieing plants :( :
- alternathera
- pogostemon

One thing that surprised me:
- my SAE decided to develop an addiction to alternathera and pogostemon... from time to time they EAT those plants' leaves... the pogostemon now have a really sad look :(

As I said, the tank is running fine, but I think it will be a disaster soon. Why? Because I took a bad choice from the base.
The substrate I choosed was not a bad idea: using garden substrate it's a good thing that helps plants to root and be fed. BUT I did NOT checked its chemicals properties, and my water has been suffering from it.
Additionally, using stones to "raise" the level of the substrate has proved to be a bad move too, because it left a lot of "holes" on it. Those holes became a time bomb. They been filled with water, and that water became a nice nich for cyanobacteria to grow. The "holes" near the glass are full now, and I bet a lot of holes I cannot see are keeping a nice colony of those nasty bacteria too.

It means sooner or later I will have a cyan carpet flowing from the ground, and it will be too hard to fight.

Solution: learn from there and start from scratch. More or less.

Soon I will make a call to arms to a bunch of friends and we will empty the tank, keeping the plants and critters, the filter and it's bacteria colonies, and some other things while we get rid off the garden soil.

My idea is to put a thin carpet of aquarium nutritive substrate (1cm or so), a thick carpet of silex sand (used in pools' filters, it's chemically neutral, it's supposed) and some of the big rocks and black gravel to scape.

The initial though is to clear all those things with water from the tank WC, trying to give a chance for some nice bacteria to stablish.

Re-plant, refill and put the critters. With the cicled filter and using the most possible water from the stablished tank, I think the tank will be near cicled. I will test it daily again to be able to put the critters out of the tank if I see nasti peaks of bad chemicals, but I think I will NOT have them now.

Any additional thoughs? The plants will be used to my water, and I think I will not need additional "soil" this time. But the idea is to move a bit more in the direction of a low-light low-tech, with spared water changes as I do now.

I will keep you informed in another "journal", if I can put my ideas in the real world...
 

viejo

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Yesterday I spent a lot of time (seven night hours) with a pair of friends re-doing the tank.
We removed anything from it and started from (almost) scratch.

The main reasons are shown in the last message. An additional unknown fact is the bubbles the substrate was producing from time to time seemed to be metane. It's not a joke, when we started to remove the soil, we fainted because the nauseabund smell.

For the new scape I used almost all plants from the tank, and changed just the substrate and decoration.

1- 10kg of sera floredepot (yes, it's less than half the amount recommended by the vendor, but hey, I will dose if I see I need it)
2- 50kg of silex sand (used in pools' filters)
3- the same "dragon head" (wood naturally shaped)
4- four rocks (the white wall of the original scape was black when we removed it, and I wanted not to keep them, because they showed no contrast with the new sand)
5- the surviving plants:

- egeria (just a bit, as ever, to prevent ciano)
- few eleocharis parvula (I will give it two years to form a carpet in the front :p)
- one bush of windelov's fern
- one of java fern (or cryptocorine, I don't remember)
- a "big" echinodorus (to allow the shy fish to hide)
- few plantings of rotala
- a bush of cryptocorine (I think)
(I will check the names when I'll reach home tonight)

The refill process before planting:
http://lh4.ggpht.com/_mADuIW3UPQc/SoqEeAEl6DI/AAAAAAAAAEk/T6BQKIUjOPQ/s800/p8181734.jpg
The new aquascape:
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_mADuIW3UPQc/SoqEeiviA5I/AAAAAAAAAEo/tndZ6cHQV-g/s800/p8181745.jpg

I'm not surrendering my thoughts about a low tech, low maintenance tank, and I'm sure if I used the proper garden soil I could prevent some fatalities I had to prevent just by removing it. But I wanted not to start a research around all my garden soil's vendors in my neighbourhood :p

The fish look fine after the change (I just had two losses). But I will wait few more days before say they are fine. Wish them luck.