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Eye of the Shrimptigers

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Kyalgae, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Hey all, I figured I better start one of these as a way of better keeping tabs on my tank.


    Backstory:


    The obsession started 13 years ago, when I came across one of Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium World books. I obsessed over that book, but at that time I was not allowed to have such a large volume of water in the house. Instead I got some hermit crabs, and after eating his "friend" I still have my original crab from 13 years ago. Finally two years ago I decide it's time for an aquarium, there's nothing stopping the madness now, but I didn't get into CO2 right away, instead I wanted to raise shrimp, and try for a low tech planted tank.


    The first issue I encountered was which water I was going to use. I am on a well, but I have access to pure well water, softened water, and reverse osmosis. Initially my shrimps kept dying off even though I was supplementing a GH booster (Bee Shrimp Mineral GH+). I was using softened water out of the tap, and I figured since it was high in KH, around 8, but had no GH from my drop test kit all I had to add was GH. Eventually I to test for copper and the test was showing i had copper, so I went to reverse osmosis and I remake the water to about 200 TDS (NaCl scale) This has about 3-4 degrees of KH and 8-9 GH. I use a combination of a shrim KH/GH booster and a little extra GH booster. Saltyshrimp Shrimp mineral, and Bee shrimp mineral. After this my shrimp thrived, but my plants never really had the explosive growth seen with CO2.


    I saw pictures of the huge Discus tank Tom created, and I had the fever again. Stunning tank.


    I purchased my first regulator September of this year, and decided I would try the EI method. I made a fatal error right around the time I started the fertilization regime. I was holding some plants for someone, and I put them right into my tank without washing them. I lost about 50 shrimp that night, 95% of all of my shrimp. I felt pretty terrible about it. Sure, I could go buy more I guess, but I got attached to those little buggers. At the time I thought it was the shock of the fertilizers, but I have a thriving shrimp colony once again, and I think the plants must have been treated with something. So for the first couple months I was apprehensive. I did manage to get some nice growth, but after seeing staghorn algae appear at increasing rates I got discouraged. I am at it again, I feel like this aquarium is teaching me a lesson in patience.


    I feel like until I can get the plants I have growing well, I am not really focusing on the aquascape aspect of the hobby, my current layout is....meh. I'd be happy just seeing everything flourishing.


    The setup:


    20 gallon long


    Fluval Shrimp stratum capped with Seachem Fluorite Black


    Eheim 2213 (max flow 440 l/h or 116 gallons per hour)


    75 watt Eheim Jager


    Eheim Skim350


    EcoTech


    VorTech MP10 quiet drive powerhead


    CO2


    GLA PRO SS CO2 regulator


    Atomic Inline diffuser (Building a a reactor to replace this in a week)


    Neptune Apex controller (temp and pH monitoring)


    Lighting


    Satellite LED+ (18watts 35+ par @ 12 inches 1000 lumens)


    Satellite LED+PRO (30watts 100+ par @ 12 inches 2000 lumens)


    Plants


    Eleocharis sp. 'mini'


    Flame moss and weeping moss (this stuff never really grew like the pictures, I'm not sure what it is really)


    Java fern


    Staurogyne repens (hiding in the back)


    Anubias sp.


    Blxya japonica


    mystery plant given to me as "dwarf chain sword"


    Rotala sp. (not sure)


    The plants are 6 inches to 10.5 inches from the lights.


    These last five weeks I have was trying to pin down my issuesI dose 1/4 tsp Potassium nitrate (13.5 -- 0 -- 46.2) and 1/16 tsp Monopotassium phosphate (0 -- 51 -- 34)


    PO4 3.26ppm


    NO3 10.63ppm


    3 times per week


    Seachem Flourish 5mL


    Fe 0.2ppm


    3 times per week


    Surface scum (added skimmer)


    Low water movement? (added powerhead)


    Variable CO2 (added pH meter) edit Jan 2017: building a reactor helped a lot with this


    Temperature low? (changed to 77degrees)


    I haven't had too much luck with the staghorn, and the dust algae on the glass, however Christmas came early and I have one of those aquarium controllers that monitors my pH, so I am hoping this yields new insight on what is going on with my CO2. I find with the canister filter by the end of the day I get a lot of gas buildup of gas that burps out at random intervals. I have backed off the intensity of the lights, the LED+ is at roughly 50% and the LED+PRO is at 40%. I have the LED+ set for 10 hours and the LED+PRO set for 7 hours coming on 3 hours after first light.


    Observations:


    The mini dwarf hairgrass was spreading nicely, and was quite thick in certain areas, after about a week even though it was growing well, the older blades got staghorn. I've trimmed it right down in hopes to get rid of a bunch of it. There was lots off big bubbles coming up out of the root areas. The Java fern looks rough, it is slow growing (which I hear is normal?), but the leaves look tattered, and not really healthy. The anubias keeps getting green algae on its leaves, I'm not sure, but it's growing slowly as well. For a while I was trimming off the leaves that had any algae, but I soon realized I was going to end up with no leaves left on this plant. Blyxa is not doing much really, I have seen it grow better than this. The Rotala is coming back after I trimmed it right to the ground. I lightly vacuumed the top layer of my substrate, I never really did this before with my planted tank, and cleaned my filter along with this weeks 80% water change. I'm hopeful this week. I also notice I have a resident population of flatworms.....I hope they aren't parasitic, are they?


    Warning: one of these pictures contains a mess of wires. I am just waiting to build my reactor before I tidy everything up. KRaKJiK.jpg


    aOXkbpD.jpg


    tnGwMJY.jpg
     
    #1 Kyalgae, Dec 12, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2017
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  2. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Picture's Continued 8fnRoDg.jpg 8k46ZdC.jpg oOh23dr.jpg z4ZvXWU.jpg
     
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  3. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    You might want to sit down before looking at this.


    hgZ0n4W.jpg
     
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  4. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    skimming through this, that mini dwarf hair grass is worth having, damn nice.


    You for sure got weeping moss here, maybe flow/surface agitation is your problem in getting it to weep


    flame moss i do not see anywhere in the pictures


    Will finish reading your thread in a bit.
     
    #4 Dennis Singh, Dec 12, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2016
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  5. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
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    What is your PH Drop?


    That's a lot of light for the plants you have. you can backoff some more. 8-9 total hours is enough and lower the LED PRO intensity, 40-50 total par at substrate is more than enough for the DGH.


    Your highest CO2 usage will be while LED+ PRO is on so your CO2 needs to be optimized for that period. I would suggest start the LED PRO 1 hour after and end 1 hour before the LED+ and keep LED+ for 9 hours.


    Also might recommend moving away from Flourish and go with CSM+B or other chelated micro mixes. I have had issues with Flourish if used as trace, because while using it as proxy for iron, you are actually adding more of the other things, that's why Seachem recommends using their Iron or other products if you want to does higher amounts iron than their recommended dose. Users have reported algae issues with Flourish at higher doses. Gets some Fe DTPA and use that for additional iron and stick to Seachems dosing recommendation for Flourish.
     
  6. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    You can cut down your lighting period as suggested.


    As well, cut down on dosing, algae is what is hindering plant growth and your excess nutrients besides light is causing it.


    10.63 x 3 times brings you up to 30 something ppm


    and you do not need that much iron as well, excess iron will cause the green form of algaes.


    co2 is part of the key too as stated above. being above all other macronutrients


    apart from that things look pretty good


    bba, i just cannot figure this algae out, its a tough one to eradicate..
     
  7. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    It's day 2 of better CO2, yesterday I spent a good 6 hours in front of my tank slowly increasing the CO2. I have to emphasize how much of a difference the surface skimmer has made. Without that and the pH meter, I don't think I would have been able to get the CO2 to the correct range.....ever. When I didn't have the skimmer, something like 4 bubbles per second would gas my fish, now I don't even know how many are going in? 8-9? not sure. I understand why that isn't a useful metric now. I look more at the fish than the plants to see if I am at that precarious line.


    Here is my pH drop, one thing to note is that I have the skimmer come on and off on an interval, I don't like it on all the time because of the noise. During the day it's on for 12 minutes then off for 30. I measured a KH of ~3 on the day of the water change, so my target pH was 6.45, although at that pH my fish are starting to gasp at the surface, so I backed it off slightly 6.47 target. We will see how tomorrow goes. (not rinsing off my pH probe between calibration steps maybe threw it off slightly? probably.)


    W8RkPgv.jpg


    Dosing:


    Monday I dosed NO3 10.63ppm, and PO4 3.26ppm, Today I dosed the reduced amount (recommended amount) of Seachem Flourish, 1.5mL instead of 5mL giving me 0.064 ppm Iron, then I dosed 1mL of the Aquavitro Propel liquid (iron) giving me 1.3 ppm iron. This combined gives me 0.19 ppm Iron.


    I have reduced my lighting period to 9 hours for the LED+ and 7 hours for the higher intensity LED+PRO as recommended by rajkm. I have the +PRO coming on an hour after the LED+ and turning off one hour before the LED+, but I think based on my pH curves I will turn the +PRO on two hours after the first light, and leave them both on until dusk, because that seems to be when I am closer to optimal CO2. My temperature is stable between 76.9F and 77.9F.


    Observations:


    I notice the fish are more active at the higher temperature, before I had them around 74-75 degrees. The Staghorn algae doesn't seem to be so happy, it just doesn't look like it's growing. It's more of a feeling, and I think it's too early for a definite answer, but I want to say things are better. I do notice a tiny amount of dust algae on the glass, but not anywhere near as much as last week. Maybe I should reduce the iron more, as strungout has advised me. I haven't quite zeroed in on my CO2 yet, but this is leaps and bounds better than where I was previously.


    I wanted to thank you both for the input!


    ​​​​​​​
     
    #7 Kyalgae, Dec 13, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2016
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  8. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
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    the PH drop curve looks good but can be optimized. There are some up's and downs which could be your PH controller switching off and on.


    I generally start my CO2 2 hours early and I have 1.2 PH drop my light start and stabilizes around 1.1 PH drop during photoperiod. I don't use the controller to control but just to read the PH.


    The optimum CO2 you see at end of day is probably because once you LED Pro switches off your CO2 uptake is reduced, however you should be hitting that point during the day multiple times because your PH controller should help you drop to that level.
     
  9. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Oddly enough my pH is more stable now. Basically I am trying to get the pH low and maintain it without the controller intervening. I don't want that thing cycling on and off multiple times.


    Observations:


    I had a single shrimp die on me at around day 2 (Tuesday), it was pregnant, and I attempted to emergency c-section the eggs. I put them in a little net by the filter outflow, but today I realized they didn't make it :( I read somewhere that that could work, though I'd try it and find out. I noticed today (Thursday) one of my Norman's lampeyes had bit the dust, although the shrimp and assassin snail seemed to have eaten 90% of it in a relatively short time. I figured I would do some basic water testing just to see if what I expected would show up.


    I noticed my KH went up from 3 degrees to 4 degrees according to my API test kit. I find this odd, why would that be? I have been topping the water up with RO, I even tested the RO water for KH to make sure I wasn't accidentally using a mixed batch of water. I have Fluval stratum and Seachem Fluorite Black. I will have to keep an eye this coming water change and see what happens.


    My GH is where I expected it to be 8 degrees.


    My nitrate test seems high I measured something like 40-80ppm, but it's hard to say with the test kit. I don't know if that's because it isn't going to test properly for the potassium nitrate? Could some going bad shrimp eggs, and a single tiny mostly eaten Norman's lampeye raise the nitrates way out of where I would have expected them to be? BEWLOLu.jpg


    Overall the algae problem is much reduced, I want to say that I haven't noticed any new growth, which is a huge positive in my books. I think that's expected though considering I had my CO2 way way WAAAAAAAY off there before I got the pH probe. I haven't reduced the amount of CO2 going in really, but this different KH measurement has me thrown off. My fish seem ok during the day, they aren't gasping, and their gills aren't flapping like crazy like i noticed on day 1 when I sat in front of my tank and watched them for 6 hours. I'm stumped. (OK, that one fish died, but I feel like that may have been at night).


    I was thinking I would just dose potassium tomorrow, since my nitrates seem way high (out of the 30ppm range). What do you think?


    Here are pH curves from the last two days, today my CO2 never shut off at all from the pH controller the minute ups and downs are from my skimmer coming off and on: [​IMG]
     
    #9 Kyalgae, Dec 15, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2016
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Knock that pH to 6.2 to 6.3 range. Drop the light to 7-8 hours tops. Only have 1 of those LED lights on at the last 2 hours and the first two hours of the day cycle. So just a 4 hour overlap.


    Water changes, do 2x a week(50-70%). Add ferts only after water changes.


    After a month or so.............the tank should look pretty good.


    RCS are "that which cannot die".


    Feed them though.


    Add GH booster also. Maybe 2 teaspoons worth post water change.


    If you are doing large frequent water changes, then testing other than the CO2 is not required.


    Just focus on that, routine water changes and add ferts.
     
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  11. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
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    Do you have any rock that would raise KH?


    if yes you should not use the PH controller because as your KH increases it tanks more CO2 to reach target. You should go with static injection at that point.


    Step up the water changes, to lower the nitrates. 2x water changes per week until tanks settles down.
     
  12. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Tom Barr 6.2-6.3 would put me at 75-50 (assuming 4 KH) ppm co2 wouldn't it, that's more than the 25-35 in some of main articles. I'll have to do this when I have time so my fish don't die some more.

    Normally I do one 80% change per week, I already use a bunch of GH booster, and a combined GH and KH booster, because I use RO water. 3 KH and 8 GH is a bad range? Not optimal? I will do the extra water changes, and I'm assuming you mean add macros at that time? 2 days macro, and then micro, 3 days of nothing.


    Sunday - change and macro, Monday micro, Nothing Tuesday/Wednesday, Change Wednesday and Macro, Thursday micro, Saturday nothing.


    Im thinking I'm feeding my fish way too much on account of me being home on holidays.....3 times a day. My tank is two years old. My RCS are ignoring food they used to flock over, some Shirakura brand stuff, I find this weird, they seem busy on the plants and wood though.


    rajkm I Have switched to just using the monitor to read pH, no rocks, only wood, unless there's something coming off the substrate. I'll see what happens after the next change.
     
  13. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    I started the new water change and fertilizer schedule today suggested by Tom. I did a 50% change of my water. I couldn't help myself and I tested my nitrates again, and I was at about 20ppm. I figured I would just dose the phosphorus today. To me it makes sense, I'm within the 5-30ppm range of nitrate without dosing today, does it make sense? My KH is 4 and I did manage to get my pH down to 6.41, which is lower than before, when I have time to be at home I'll see if I can get it to 6.3, I just don't want to gas my fish. I also doubled the amount of GH booster in this water change.


    Anyway just some update pictures.....I need a real camera :p


    Pa96yXh.jpg


    Here's a new Anubias leaf with no spot algae, NICE. So far so good.


    MXreYIh.jpg


    Grass is starting to come back after the aggressive trim. Micro escargot anyone?


    OhUIpDy.jpg


    I moved the Staurogyne out front, because...well I want to at least look at it. Kind of looks rough health wise, although more bushy.


    MS2nhoR.jpg


    No staghorn on these guys......let's hope it doesn't come back as long as I stay on my CO2 and stuff. They have mild colour, not really super green, look healthy? I think the iPad camera makes them look a little more pale.


    Y1CtiBs.jpg


    I'm curious to see how things turn out in the next two weeks. I was thinking about getting some Rotala bonsai, because it looks like it has a more rigid stem less likely to be blown around by stronger water currents. Anyone know if this is the case about that plant?
     
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  14. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    They still aren't interested in food, but they are definitely doing the horizontal mambo at night, because I keep seeing more of the buggers. I'm thinking it was the 80ppm nitrates that got a couple of them.....although I didn't do an autopsy, so I guess I'll never know.


    I did back my photoperiod down to 7 hours, with a 3.5 hour overlap. The strongest light on for 3.5 hours.
     
    #14 Kyalgae, Dec 19, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2016
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If it's all RO, why not mix with tap some to get a KH of 1 or so? You do not need 3 dKH for anything specific. I'd worry less about the actual CO2 ppm from a pH/KH table as I would what the tank looks like. Fish, livestock etc. If you can knock the pH down by 0.05 unit steps and observe, you will see it's a pretty safe method, but.......only when you have time to watch.


    If there are issues, better to do 2x a week, 50-80%. If not, then 50-60% weekly.


    Generally, add macros asap after water changes. Traces if you want, a bit later.


    I feed shrimp maybe 4-5x a week at best, and whatever left over fish food.


    You cannot kill RCS unless the CO2 is insanely high. They are extremely tough. Amanos are much more touchy compared to RCS.
     
  16. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    My water has greater than 107ppm sodium, because of our water softener, and it has 0.0366 ppm copper, we have all copper water pipes. Initially 3 years ago my shrimp were dying all the time, once I switched to full RO/remineralized my shrimp stopped dying.


    I don't know why I'm rebuilding the water to 4kH............I started doing it, my shrimp were breeding and I never questioned it.......I think it was because I was told to add KH/GH supplement until I reached 200 TDS (NaCl scale) and that's what they needed, so I've been doing it ever since. Hmmm well I'll just rebuild it to maybe 2kH (I'm afraid! Lol), I guess I'm afraid of not having enough buffering capacity.....I couldn't tell you what happens when you don't have enough...bad things? So I'll aim for 2KH, 10GH.


    I bought some more plants to fill two holes, some Rotala 'Bonsai' and some Alternathera reinekii 'Mini'...then I made the mistake of buying 6 more strawberry rasboras, when I introduced them into my tank, it was about half degassed, they were immediately at the surface gasping, my other fish were fine. Valuable lesson learned, fish need time to adjust to CO2 levels, so I'm setback I think, I won't be able to pump as much CO2 as before until these new guys adjust. I just hope staghorn doesn't start coming back while the fish are acclimating, I reduced my light a lot more for the time being in anticipation of not being able to inject as much co2....but I am starting to understand what you mean about how the tank looks.


    Overtime I should be able to increase my co2 more as my fish adjust, although I still don't really understand when I will have reached the sweet spot for plants just by looking at them. Is there ever a time when you are reducing your co2 because them plants don't look as good? I would guess probably not? I hear you saying "look at how the plants respond" but for someone as inexperienced with plants as me I really don't know what specifically I'd be looking for. Mostly I'm just aiming for nice clean healthy leaves (no holes or ragged edges), but I don't know what every plant is supposed to look like at peak health yet....if that makes sense.


    I did start growing microworms though, the fish go nuts for those things!


    Thanks for the advice Tom, and Merry Christmas, are you asking for a pony this year?
     
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  17. newportjon

    newportjon Junior Poster

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    Great tank!
     
  18. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    The night of the 20th, the last post I made, All 5 of 6 of the new fish I bought died, I think it must have been too much of a shock for them. Sad. There were no bodies left however, anytime something dies it's usually gone in short order, the assassin snail, flatworms, shrimp make the bodies disappear. I shouldn't have take them home with me. The 6th fish died some time late, it was pretty skinny looking when I received it, I did put him in a tank with no CO2 but that didn't help.


    The next day I readjusted my CO2, I watched the tank, stayed home. I had to do this, because I turned the valve lower for the new fish, everything seemed OK...


    I went out to do some Christmas shopping, fed the fish in the morning the next day.


    "Bye Kyle" the fish said, waving at me with their little fins, "Thanks for looking after us so well!"


    I came home to carnage...bodies everywhere! Fish dead in the tank, and even a fish dead outside the tank!


    A real morale killer. I had only been gone maybe 6 hours and the bodies in the tank were almost gone.


    5vy0rbi.jpg


    ikxHGna.jpg


    feSRtuU.jpg


    lA1AAtl.jpg I kept the lights off in the tank, I have injected no CO2 for a couple of days. Nothing else has died. I suspect CO2, but I am also suspicious of the new food I fed them, the colony of microworms from the local fish store, maybe there was something inside them? Who knows. All in all I lost 10 fish in 4 days, and that's a very rare occurrence, one of those fish I had for a couple years.
     
  19. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Today is a new day, it's also Christmas Eve, hopefully I get some Christmas luck. I have completed my CO2 reactor. The parts came in and I assembled everything yesterday, and I briefly test fired it up today to see if the thing worked, a part of me expected it wouldn't, but it does! Hallelujah! We are getting back on track now, and no pesky bubbles clouding up everything. Is my reactor oversized? Maybe.......it's a 2" schedule 40 PVC that's about 45 inches long in total. I am running an Eheim Classic 250, I thought my flow would be reduced, but I really don't notice any loss. I am still using the Atomic inline diffuser upstream from the reactor, that way I didn't have to do any funky hole drilling for a CO2 tube. I have filled the reactor with those plastic blue bioballs, the ones that have a lot of space in them. These: [​IMG]


    They have these 1/2" PEX to 1/2" MPT fittings, which are for that plastic PEX pipe, but it fits the Eheim 4004940 (12/16 mm) tubing perfectly! Sold under the AccuCrimp brand here in Canada. I didn't use PVC cement on those, the package warned against that. I did leave one 2" adapter unglued, and used plumbers tape to seal it in case I have to get into that in the future. I will be dropping my KH to 1-1.5 neighborhood as per Tom's recommendation over the next few water changes. I'll probably bring my GH up to 8.


    I also fixed that bird's nest of cables, I know, finally! TeqacZy.jpg


    eDGF6Ex.jpg


    xq5g64r.jpg


    OPlSGfj.jpg
     
    #19 Kyalgae, Dec 24, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 24, 2016
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  20. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
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    Why is your reactor lying flat instead of tall?


    when you add new fish always acclimate and add them after degassing the tank. I usually run a airstone for 2-3 hours until my PH is high enough, before I add fish. I have even added fish after water change at night. Reduce your CO2 for a few days and up it slowly.
     
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