Greggz 120G Planted Rainbow Tank

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I think your fish might start doing illicit drugs during the evening rave hour, best keep an eye on them. The yellows are more muted on your fish with the new bulbs.
 
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Greggz

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So as I have mentioned, I have been experimenting with the custom blend micro mix that @burr740 has been working on. I’ve actually seen quite a few changes in the tank, and will document more thoroughly before long.

But something has been catching my eye lately. Mermaid Weed is a plant that can change shape/color depending on it’s mood and tank conditions. As I’ve changed over to the new micro mix, I’ve noticed a big change in mine.

So here is the Mermaid Weed from a post I made in March. And the next one is a few minutes ago. You can see how it has become much more “spikey” than ever before.

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The funny thing is that I have had conversations with Burr about this plant, and for a while we were thinking I had a different sub species. Now I’m thinking it may be the same one, just reacting to different conditions?????
 
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burr740

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It looks very happy regardless. Posted this in your tpt journal, might as well put it here too..

Its such a cool plant to watch react so fast to different things. A change in light spectrum/PAR can do it too.

Here's mine in the 50 from just now. Around 85 par at the sub, bulbs are one Trulumen flora and a 6500K

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Greggz

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For me, Saturday morning is tank maintenance day. This could be anywhere between an hour to a 3 hour job, depending on the tasks at hand. One thing about figuring out how to grow plants, is that at some point you have to trim and cultivate them. And in general, good tank maintenance makes everything about growing plants easier.

Every week I perform a large (70%) water change. Here’s getting things ready for battle.

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I try to concentrate on a few species each week that need some special attention. This week it is the left side of the tank, where the Limnophila Aromatica Mini and Bacopa Compact are out of control. Sometimes you can get away with mowing them down in place, but every so often they get so thick, there is no choice but to pull the entire bunch, trim, then replant.

And that’s what I’m doing today. So here is the before.

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And here comes the Limno Aromatica out of the tank.

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While it’s out of the tank, I take the opportunity to vacuum the area. When it gets real thick like that, it tends to collect a lot of debris. While the vac is going, I also lightly vacuum the rest of the tank. I tend to have a few places in the back of the tank where most of the debris gathers, so those areas get extra attention every week. I have a window close by so I just send the water out the window into the yard.

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Now it’s time to cut the Aromatica down. I don’t know how others do it, but here’s what I do. I kind of stack them up from shortest to longest, then cut through the whole bunch on a bit of an angle, creating a bit of rise from front to back when I replant them. I think I first saw this technique on a thread by PikeZ, and it works for me.

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Then it’s time to put them back in the tank. This is a time-consuming task. I remove the lower leaves off each stem, then replant them one by one. Here is a pic from above once I have the outline of where they will go. From there it’s filling it one by one by one………. It’s a bit tedious, but I find the whole process therapeutic. It’s kind of like meditation, and I am in no hurry.

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Then it’s on to the Bacopa Compact. Not sure why it’s called Compact, because for me it grows all the way to the surface.

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And the Pogo Kimberly was almost to the top of the water, so out it comes to get whacked down a bit. Notice the stems on this plants, they are really thick. The plant doesn’t grow too fast which is good, but it does create a lot of mass. All in all, a reliable steady grower, no drama, and a nice showy flower. Highly recommended.

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So that was the major trimming for today. Now it’s on to the regular every week tasks.

First thing is to start the pump that is in tank, and start the draining process. The water goes into piping inside the wall down into the basement drain. While it’s draining, I spray the equipment in the tank down with hydrogen peroxide, which is preventive maintenance to keep algae from creeping up over time. I also wipe the inside of the glass while the water is down.

Once the tank is drained, I flip the switch and the water from the basement RO tanks starts pumping up through the wall into the tank. Still puts a grin on my face very time I start it up. I drain the same exact amount every week. Then I add the same amount of minerals every week to the RO water holding tanks, so that the water has the same stable parameters every week.

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While the tank is filling, I measure out the ferts for the next week. I always dose both macros and micros right after a water change. I know some people say to let the tank rest one day, but I just give it a nice jolt right off the bat.

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Once every two weeks, I clean one of the 3 filters. That way it’s a steady 6 weeks for each filter before a cleaning. And once every four weeks I calibrate my pH probe. It usually drifts by about .4 to .7 by that time. Took care of that today while the tank was filling.

I also test the water every week, for GH, KH, N, & P. It’s not that I am too concerned about the actual readings, I just want to make sure nothing super wacky is going on. For me, stable is good. Todays reading were GH 6, KH 4, Nitrates 25, Phosphates 3.

Now keep in mind this AFTER a 70% water change. Which means my Nitrates were closer to 75, and Phosphates closer to 6 before the change. Yes, they seem high. Remember, this tank is HEAVILY stock with fish. An even then, producing lots N & P, I still dose full EI macros. If I don’t, my plants rebel every time.

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And here is the tank while it is filling. Really hard to get a good shot without the glare of the lights.

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Once the tank is filled, I also check the TDS. Today it was at 216. Before going to RO water, it was much, much, much higher. I also take a cup of the water out to let it degas. I check it about Wed. and track the number. Once again, I just want to make sure the pH is stable, and nothing has changed drastically. I also want to be sure my pH controller is set appropriately.

I keep a spreadsheet documenting everything I talked about here. I know it seems a little crazy, but it helps me to see where I’ve been, and that helps me plan where to go.

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So that’s about my usual Saturday morning. Today I started at 9:30 and got done about 11:30. I put this post together as I don’t see much about others maintenance routines, and I think it is something that should be shared and discussed more. For me it’s a very important part of the hobby. In general, a clean well maintained tank is a happy tank. And I don’t know of any other way than good old fashioned elbow grease to make that happen

Oh yeah, and here is the left side of the tank now. Tamed for now, and won’t need a ton of care for a month or so.

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toads74

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Ditto! Helps those of us that aren’t as far along the learning curve, thank you! And I’m glad to see im not the only one that drains the tank down till the fish get nervous! :D
 

tiger15

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I also test the water every week, for GH, KH, N, & P. It’s not that I am too concerned about the actual readings, I just want to make sure nothing super wacky is going on. For me, stable is good. Todays reading were GH 6, KH 4, Nitrates 25, Phosphates 3.

Now keep in mind this AFTER a 70% water change. Which means my Nitrates were closer to 75, and Phosphates closer to 6 before the change. Yes, they seem high. Remember, this tank is HEAVILY stock with fish. An even then, producing lots N & P, I still dose full EI macros. If I don’t, my plants rebel every time.



I keep a spreadsheet documenting everything I talked about here. I know it seems a little crazy, but it helps me to see where I’ve been, and that helps me plan where to go.

I read through the entire thread, which is very informative to me because your set up is closest to mine. Like my cichlid planted tank, you keep a zoo of large Rainbows in a lush aquatic garden. Most plant journals I read are all about plants with hardly visible small schooling fish. Maintaining a planted tank with heavy fish load is a different ball game from maintaining a light fish, plant heavy tank.

I also keep a spreadsheet on my tank maintenance schedule, including testing results and species I keep, for the last 30 years. I only started my first and the only one planted tank this year, which is recorded in my spreasheet. Keeping a spreadsheet isn't crazy as I own 6 fish tanks and need to know each tank maintenance schedule and requirement.

The fish load in my planted tank is even heavier than yours, as I keep bulky cichlid ranging from 3 to 10 inch. I notice you have several clown loaches. They can be problem in the future as they can get big and like to burrow in between and push plants apart. My cichid like to dig, so I stay out of stem plants and grow mostly epiphytes (Anubias, Buce, and Java fern) attached to rock. I love the beauty of your stem plants, but I can't keep them.

With heavy fish load, I also do 75% WC weekly, but the plant uptake still isn't enough to drastically bring down N and P. I am surprised you still dose N and P despite reaching 75 ppm and 6 ppm before your WC. Are you sure your plants need them or they are benefiting from the K coming from dosing KNO3 and KH2PO4 since you don't have test data for K to know the deficiencies.

You mentioned that in every WC, you spray with peroxide on exposed surfaces to combat algae. I do it too. Do you also dose Excel? I do to keep BBA out of hardscape, though my plants are nearly all free of algae.
 

Greggz

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I read through the entire thread, which is very informative to me because your set up is closest to mine. Like my cichlid planted tank, you keep a zoo of large Rainbows in a lush aquatic garden. Most plant journals I read are all about plants with hardly visible small schooling fish. Maintaining a planted tank with heavy fish load is a different ball game from maintaining a light fish, plant heavy tank.

I also keep a spreadsheet on my tank maintenance schedule, including testing results and species I keep, for the last 30 years. I only started my first and the only one planted tank this year, which is recorded in my spreasheet. Keeping a spreadsheet isn't crazy as I own 6 fish tanks and need to know each tank maintenance schedule and requirement.

The fish load in my planted tank is even heavier than yours, as I keep bulky cichlid ranging from 3 to 10 inch. I notice you have several clown loaches. They can be problem in the future as they can get big and like to burrow in between and push plants apart. My cichid like to dig, so I stay out of stem plants and grow mostly epiphytes (Anubias, Buce, and Java fern) attached to rock. I love the beauty of your stem plants, but I can't keep them.

With heavy fish load, I also do 75% WC weekly, but the plant uptake still isn't enough to drastically bring down N and P. I am surprised you still dose N and P despite reaching 75 ppm and 6 ppm before your WC. Are you sure your plants need them or they are benefiting from the K coming from dosing KNO3 and KH2PO4 since you don't have test data for K to know the deficiencies.

You mentioned that in every WC, you spray with peroxide on exposed surfaces to combat algae. I do it too. Do you also dose Excel? I do to keep BBA out of hardscape, though my plants are nearly all free of algae.
Boy that has a nice ring to it “Rainbow Zoo Aquatic Garden”. If I ever rename my thread, that will definitely be it!

And I agree, keeping a fully stocked tank does present its own set of challenges, but like you, I have been keeping fish for decades, and that is not going to change.

Now as to Clown Loaches, I’ve been keeping them for a very, very long time as well. I start off with a group of small ones. They grow very slowly. In about 4 years or so, when they get to the 5” range, I trade in the group in and start over. My LFS is happy to have them, as someone is always looking for large ones. The wholesale cost is crazy, so at that size they are a quick sale.

I haven’t had any issues with them tearing things up. In fact, they rummage through the thick patches of things like L. Aromatica mini and Penthorum Sedoides and find any stray food there every day. I know they create a large bio load, but I like having them, so be it.

Now as to K, I dose K2CO3 into my RO water holding tanks each week. It adds about 25ppm K, which is probably enough on it’s own. I’ve tried going with the theory that there is enough N & P just from the fish load. Every time I test that theory, the tank rebels. It just doesn’t work in my tank.

I’ve got a theory that the uptake of nutrients from fish waste & ferts are different. I have no scientific reason at all to think that, but it is what I observe in my tank. Interestingly, I am dosing extra heavy on P right now, and the tank has never been better. Again, without any basis other than my observations, I am beginning to suspect that there might be a sweet spot in the ratio of N to P. Mine is in the 10:1 area, and when I am there things in general just seem to be better. The longer I have been in the hobby, the less I am worried about actual values than relative values. If fish and plants are all healthy and happy, what’s the difference really?

As to Excel (or metricide) I used to dose it regularly. I have found that the closer I get to having my lighting duration/intensity, ferts, CO2, surface agitation, 02 levels, flow, tank maintenance, etc. all in balance, there really is no need, and I see no benefit.

Anyway, those are observations from my particular eco system. Each one is different, and the tricky part is finding that balance that works in each particular tank. I haven’t seen a “recipe” yet that will work in all situations. Heck, I still haven’t figured out mine completely, but I feel like I am getting a little closer all the time.
 
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edelry.junior

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Hey Greggz, if I am not mistaken, the Mermaid Weed is Proserpinaca Palustris. If this is correct, I have experienced something similar. I have seen it change shape like that when I was playing around with Fe/traces. Your case though is much more extreme. I have seen differences like that between my CO2 and NON-CO2 tanks. Good to know people having similar experiences.

And about the spreadsheet: I do the same man.Glad you mentioned :)
 

Greggz

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Hey Greggz, if I am not mistaken, the Mermaid Weed is Proserpinaca Palustris. If this is correct, I have experienced something similar. I have seen it change shape like that when I was playing around with Fe/traces. Your case though is much more extreme. I have seen differences like that between my CO2 and NON-CO2 tanks. Good to know people having similar experiences.

And about the spreadsheet: I do the same man.Glad you mentioned :)
Yes it's Proserpinaca Palustris, and it definitely changes a lot. It's like a mood ring for the tank.

And funny on the spreadsheets, several have now mentioned they do so as well. Good to know, as I am always curious at to how others go about things.
 

tiger15

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My understanding is that there is only one form of nitrate, but phosphate is more complex as there are organic and inorganic forms, and completing with metals. So not all P are the same, and you can have high P reading that. Isn’t fully available to plant.
 
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Vijay

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Hi Greggz! Great write up on your maintenance routine. Your tank and fishes look great!

Can you please let know on your daily/weekly dosing (ppm) of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Micros? Is there any other element that you dose in addition to these?


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Greggz

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Hi Greggz! Great write up on your maintenance routine. Your tank and fishes look great!

Can you please let know on your daily/weekly dosing (ppm) of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Micros? Is there any other element that you dose in addition to these?


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OK am I nerdy now if I have a spreadsheet for that too??? Maybe I am because I do.

I am in no way advocating this dosing for anyone else. It just happens to be what is working for me right now, and is always subject to change/tweaking.

And keep in mind I do a really large water change every week (80+ gallons), so I have been dosing everything on water change day, then again 3 x per week. My micro mix is from @burr740, who has been greatly helpful to me in so many ways. Thanks Burr!

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tiger15

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I think he meant 0.125 or 1/8 tbs DTPA Fe to get 0.13 ppm Fe. I dose the same at 1/8 tbs to achieve 0.2 ppm Fe in my 75.

He uses recomposed RO water, so he adds more minerals. I use tap water on dolomite substrate which is rich in Ca, Mg and CO3 will likely achieve the same mineral balance.
 

Vijay

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Thank you! Spreadsheet shows NO3 between 20-30 ppm and PO4 between 2-4 ppm. I interpret that these are numbers you see after the weekly water change. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

4 ppm PO4 4x a week seems to be a lot compared with general EI recommendation. Any reason why you dose at this level?





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LRJ

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@Greggz Awesome post about your maintenance routine, dosing, record keeping, etc. Always helpful to get a detailed look at how people who are successful in this hobby run their tanks, and a reminder of how much behind the scenes work goes into that success.

I have a question. Your GH testing at 6 seems surprisingly high given your doses of CaSO4 and MgSO4. Is there something else contributing to the tank's GH? I'm curious, because I am in the process of transitioning from tap to RO and have been working on figuring out the right levels of reconstitution.
 

Greggz

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I think he meant 0.125 or 1/8 tbs DTPA Fe to get 0.13 ppm Fe. I dose the same at 1/8 tbs to achieve 0.2 ppm Fe in my 75.

He uses recomposed RO water, so he adds more minerals. I use tap water on dolomite substrate which is rich in Ca, Mg and CO3 will likely achieve the same mineral balance.
Yes, that's a typo, 0.125 DTPA Fe 1/8 tsp per dose. And yes, RO water, so I add minerals back in.
 

Greggz

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Thank you! Spreadsheet shows NO3 between 20-30 ppm and PO4 between 2-4 ppm. I interpret that these are numbers you see after the weekly water change. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

4 ppm PO4 4x a week seems to be a lot compared with general EI recommendation. Any reason why you dose at this level?
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Yes, those numbers are after the water change. My tank is well fed heavily stocked and creates quite a bit of N.

I've been messing around with PO4 numbers for some time now. I had a stretch in August where I went down to 1.3ppm for a few weeks, then went to zero. Many plants started melting and losing leaves. Solid growers like Hygrophila Corymbosa Compact literally melted down to stubs. I started picking up the dosing, and good news is the stubs started quickly growing back into healthy plants. I kept on increasing it over the last few months and settled on the current dose for now.

Like I have said, I have no scientific reason, but suspect it has something to do with N/P ratios. With my tank generating plenty of N, it seems like I need a healthy dose of P to get the best out of plants. And that leads to a quick funny story on P values. I once received a batch of P mislabeled as N. I dosed it for about a month. Couldn't understand why my P values were through the roof. Well, I was dosing P at N levels. But you know, the tank was doing great, no increased algae, plants doing great, and P levels were easily 10+, too high to read with my kit. So I am not too concerned about dosing high levels of P in MY tank.

As always, only based on observations in my particular tank.
 

Greggz

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@Greggz Awesome post about your maintenance routine, dosing, record keeping, etc. Always helpful to get a detailed look at how people who are successful in this hobby run their tanks, and a reminder of how much behind the scenes work goes into that success.

I have a question. Your GH testing at 6 seems surprisingly high given your doses of CaSO4 and MgSO4. Is there something else contributing to the tank's GH? I'm curious, because I am in the process of transitioning from tap to RO and have been working on figuring out the right levels of reconstitution.
LRJ thanks for the kind words. On this board in particular I consider myself someone just stumbling along trying to figure things out. I will say finally two years after starting this journey I'm pretty happy, but it's been through a ton of trial and error. Still have a ways to go to get the levels of some on here, but as always will continue to try and improve.

And it's interesting that some people actually read those numbers. You have made a good observation about GH. The last stage of my RO system is a remineralization filter. It adds back some minerals/GH back into the water. I also use the RO for the kitchen and fridge, and I find it makes the water taste just a bit better. So I start with a GH of about 2 or 3 right from the RO system, then add back in more minerals to further reconstitute the tank water holding tanks. Hope that helps.

And keep in mind I am on a well. Going from very high TDS water going through a softener to RO water was a big step for me. Will be interesting to see how it works for you.
 
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Vijay

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Thanks for the feedback on P dosing.

I can relate to this to some extent. I have H. Corymbosa Compact for 6 weeks now. Bought healthy looking plants from Burr, but they were losing a lot of leaves/melting slowly over the first 3-4 weeks. I used to dose only 0.5-0.8 ppm PO4 3x a week, but have increased it to 1.5 ppm 3x a week for the past 1.5 weeks. Results have been positive - Corymbosa seems to have stopped losing leaves and there is decent new growth. All other plants seem to be doing comparatively better too. No out of the ordinary algae growth too.


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