Same attention to detail will get you there with planted CO2 tanks. Your frontosa tank is very clean and I know how messy big cichlids can be. Do the same and problems should be minimal with your new endeavors. What are the water parameters in your part of New Z. BTW, love those humps.
Very nice Frontosa planted tank. What type of Frontosa do you have?
I also keep one Zaire Frontosa in my large cichlid planted tank. I use a lot of epiphytes attached to larva rock, and a few rosette and stem plants secured in hydroponic pots to prevent digging. I don’t plant anything in the substrate which is barely 1/2 inch to cover the bottom. Why do you want CO2 since your epiphytes are already thriving and appear free of algae. I use CO2 so I can have a couple color stems.
You and I have demonstrated that with proper aquascaping, big cichlid can coexist with plants. I also don’t find high bio load cause algae, as my cichlid eat and poop a lot. But I’m diligent to clean filters often and do weekly 75% WC.
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Sorry for the late response. I finally manage to get some water tests done.
KH 90 ppm
GH 150 ppm
NO3- 0 ppm
In the US my plants used to thrive under virtually identical conditions. Here in NZ not at all. That said, I have never reached good stocking levels in NZ. Stupid mbuna keep killing each other faster than I can ad them.
I wonder if I should just try adding fertilizer for the plants. CO2 for a 2000 liter setup is going to be pricey!
If you want to grow a lot of the difficult plants,,ie some rotalas, downoi, buces, etc...you will need CO2 but I have had some luck with a good quality fertilized substrate like ADA with no CO2. You could try that. Best and most cost effective ferts are the dry ferts which can be ordered in US from aquariumfertilizer.com and hopefully can be shipped to NZ. KNO3 may be a problem to ship depending on NZ laws.
Your water parameters are almost the same as mine so there is no reason you can’t grow plants. I notice in your Mbuna tank the plant mass is too small, which is an invitation for algae invasion. You need to have high plant mass to outcompete algae at the start. If you can’t get enough Java fern to fill up, get a big chunk of cheap Hornwort as temporary plant mass and dispose of it when the desirable plants are established.
I struggled with bba and other algae at start up too. I dosed Excel (glutaldheyde) following Seachem recommended dosage, and sprayed with peroxide on exposed plants and surfaces during WC when the tank is drained, and the algae was gradually gone. Having CO2 will make plants grow faster, healthier, and get rid of algae even faster.
Mbuna is not the same as Frontosa. Fronts are peaceful colony cichlid that work well with plantts. Mbuna are ultra territorial and plant eater. There is dominos effect in Mbuna aggressiveness. When the colony is reduced by killing, the smaller colony becomes more dangerous to the next weakest fish the gang will focus on. So the killing will continue till one fish stands. Growing plants with large cichlid is possible, but one needs to be selective on what type of plants and fish can be housed together, and Mbuna is not one that fits IME.
Good advise from Tiger15...Look thru the fert site for information and then go about finding KNO3, Fe G, PO4 source, K2SO4, etc. As a chemist, this should be no problem if all are available in NZ. Rotala butterfly on this site will provide dosing info for your tank size...My water parameters are very hard so I use an RODI filter to bring down the TDS. Your water should grow most plants, IMHO.
Can you get Seachem Flourish comprehensive in NZ? I dose Flourish after weekly WC and dry DTPA iron every other day. DTPA Fe lasts longer in my alkaline water which ranch from 7.8 to 7.0 pre and post CO2 period.I am busy reading up on EI. ;-)
Macronutrients should be no problem to procure. I need to do some research on what to use for trace. The common brands sold in the US are not available here, and mixing those myself seems a bit of a hassle - especially if I could find something ready made with a bit of research. I might hit some plant stores tomorrow.