Waterbox 135.4

KrangDog

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
7
1
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34
Australia
Hi everyone,

Nick from Australia here. I'm starting a journal to document my experiences with my Waterbox 135.4. I picked it up about nine months ago, second hand from a guy getting out of marine tanks. It's my second attempt at a high-tech tank, the first being in a 20L Blue Planet a few years back which was a complete disaster. I'm not too interested in creating a beautiful, themed aquascape at the moment. I'm much more interested in learning to grow plants nicely.

I'm currently trying to keep anything and everything that I can get my hands on and I'll include a list a little lower down. I've had plenty of struggles with algae, initially with incredible amounts of hair algae, followed by staghorn and blackbeard, and now on to green spot. Only the green spot is a persistent issue now, but I'm working on that slowly. Currently mostly affecting older leaves of all plants.

I'm dosing a DIY all-in-one solution. I had tried a commercially available solution from a local manufacturer here in Australia, but had limited success and unfortunately had few options to modify it to my needs. So, after picking up some dry ingredients, I've begun experimenting with DIY.

Water changes are currently happening at 50% twice per week to try to reduce any waste or previous nutrient mistakes. I'll hopefully transition to a single 50% change with time.

My Rotalas are currently stunting and deforming at the tips quite badly. I'm trying to figure out if this is lack of CO2, Mg overdose, micro overdose or something else entirely. Opinions appreciated if you've read this far through my wall of text.

My only other real difficulty is my Ludwigia white, which i just can't get to grow. I've not been able to find out what's going wrong. It's been clinging to life for about 6 months now. Hopefully I can change this as it's a beautiful plant.

I'll include a list of details in a comment below as my post is being detected as spam-like.
 

KrangDog

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
7
1
3
34
Australia
Plant list
Crypt wendtii green
Crypt Nurii “Rosen Maiden”
Crypt Wendtii “Flamingo”
Eleocharis belem
Ammannia senegalensis
Rotala rotundifolia
Rotala macrandra
Rotala bonsai
Rotala wallichii
Alternanthera reineckii
Ludwigia sp. “white”
Ludwigia Super Red mini
Ludwigia arcuata
Ludwigia glandulosa
Erio “Blood vomit”
Erio “King Crimson”
Eriocaulon Vietnam/Pakse Laos?
Java moss
Pearl Grass
Staurogyne repens
Proserpinaca palustris
Pogostemon helferi
Limnophilia aromatica

Livestock

Blue rams
Harlequin rasboras
Green fire tetras
X-ray tetra
Ember tetras
Siamese algae eaters
Peppered corys
Ottos
Bristlenose catfish
Nerite Snails

I've shamelessly copied the following listof headings from Pikez "Rotala Kill Tank" thread.

Tank: Waterbox 135.4 (roughly 4x2x2 display with 80L sump)

Water: Canberra, Australia. Soft, Mg 2ppm, Ca 10ppm, KH 3, pH 7.6

Light: Two AI Hydra 26s, nearing max power. Giving about 70PAR at the substrate

Temperature: 25°C dropping to about 24°C overnight.

Substrate: Stratum

CO2: Pressurised. 6kg tank with inline diffuser feeding into a DIY Cerges reactor. Added the inline diffuser as I was struggling to dissolve enough by feeding the reactor directly and I read that there may be some benefit to mist anyway. Currently about 16bps

pH drop: Unsure. pH sits below the threshold of my test kit. Under 6 at lights on and about 7.2 at lights off. Drop checker yellow. I suspect my sump gasses off a HEAP of CO2.

Flow: Nyos Viper 3.0 return pump (2800LPH) with 1 x Tunze 6015 for additional flow

Filtration: Sump. Coarse filter mesh above 2 x 150um filter socks. Maxspect Bio-balls and Bio-blocks.

Macros: 12 - 8 - 15 nitrate-phosphate-potassium. These are weekly doses, but dosing daily via dosing pump with small 300LPH pump timed to mix solution before dosing. All-in-one solution prepared with micros, potassium permanganate and ascorbic acid.

Micros: 0.5ppm Fe weekly from Rexolin APN, 1ppm Fe weekly from Fe.DTPA 11%. Total 1.5ppm per week, dosed daily as per macros.

GH: Tap water is 2ppm Mg and 10ppm Ca. Previously dosing 5ppm Mg as epsom salts and 15ppm Ca as CaSO4.2H20, but dropped Mg entirely and Ca to 5ppm due to some stunting. Yet to see if dropping it will have any effect.

KH: around 3 degrees currently. I've experimented with API acid buffer, which I hear converts the carbonate into CO2 which then gasses off. I'd like it to be around 1.5 for my erios, but I might just keep it at 3 for a bit.

Water change: 50% twice a week. Waft sand with credit card cable tied to the end of some 16/22mm tube and suck the rest out with my DIY PVC "hook", straight out onto the garden. Filling with tap water.

Misc: Top offs via RO water in reservoir using Smart Aqua ATO.

Anyway, thanks for reading if you've gotten this far! I'll have some photos below if I'm allowed to post them as a new member. Any comments, questions or suggestions are welcome.
 

KrangDog

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
7
1
3
34
Australia
Photos

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KrangDog

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
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34
Australia
Just an update. Keeping this going as it's going to serve as a useful log for my own reference down the track, and might just help another beginner at some point, or be an amusing read for someone who actually knows what they're doing.

I've altered my DIY ferts after discussion with someone much more experienced than me. I've also spent a lot of time reading Pikez "Rotala Kill Tank", so I've decided to decrease my micros by half. I was previously dosing 0.5ppm Fe weekly from Rexolin APN but have dropped that to 0.2ppm. Additional Fe is added as 11% DTPA Fe at 0.5ppm per week. Did that a few days ago along with a big water change and trimmed my rotala rotofundolia, and I'm seeing some small sprouts of new growth. They're too small to tell whether they're suffering the same deformation as the previous growth, but I'm hopeful.

I've also decided to try lowering my light a little.I was looking back at photos from my phone, which show my Ludwigia white to have some nice, pink new growth in early June (pic below). It still looked like crap generally, but at least had some growth. I keep a record of every time I change my lighting settings, so have gone back to the lighting I was using at that point. I'd estimate it's about 40-50PAR at substrate rather than the 70-80 I have now. I wonder whether the system was light limited previously with this lower light level, and increasing the light in mid June made it either CO2 or fert limited (perhaps contributing to the stunting and deformed growth that I've seen). I've got nothing to back this up, and it may make little or no sense to anyone else, but I'm hoping that by decreasing the light, my CO2 and fert levels become adequate and I get slower, but healthier growth from everything. We'll see. Feel free to chime in if you think I'm making a massive mistake. I've got a 10 new Rathburni Bloodfin who were gasping a little the other day so I'm reluctant to up my CO2, and I'm actually having trouble dissolving more than I currently am anyway. My sump gasses off a HEAP of CO2. I'm up to about 16bps through my CO2art bubble counter.

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I also lost an Otto and a Siamese algae eater last week after they jumped out landed on the floor without me noticing. They always seem to end up on the left hand side behind my CO2 bottle which is where my wavemaker sits. It's on a timer, turning on about an hour before the CO2. I suspect it's startling them as it turns on and causing them to leap out. So I went to my LFS and picked up a Red Sea mesh lid kit. Hopefully that stops any further deaths.

As a side note, my Nerite snails were suffering in my Waterbox. Their shells were just falling apart, probably due to the low pH when the CO2 is on. So I've picked up a little Fluval Spec and set it up on my bedside table. It's only 10L, but it'll be a nice little low tech home for them. It's got a few Seiryu stones in it (Pisces brand so I don't think it's genuine Seiryu) so they should harden the water nicely for them. The rest is made up of some ADA Malaya and Colorado sand. I'll probably add a few shrimp too.I took a few small cuttings of Ludwigia Super Red Mini and Staurogyne repens and planted them in the Malaya. I've used some media I had lying around in my sump, so hopefully the ammonia spike is dealt with quickly.

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KrangDog

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
7
1
3
34
Australia
Just a quick update. Things are improving slowly. my rotala rotofundolia is looking much better. The majority of stems are starting to show good quality new growth. Pearling nicely too.

I've dropped my macro and micro dosage down to 4/5th of what it was when I wrote my last update, but only did that a day or two so probably can't attribute any of the current improvement to that.

I also reorganised my biological media in my sump. My 300W Eheim Jager is sitting diagonally across the bottom of the sump as that's the only place it will fit meaning that my biological media had to be placed around it, essentially tucking it away in the corner. But I managed to fit some coarse sponge and some Maxspect Bioblocks under my filter socks and some Bioballs in the return chamber. There's still a few bakki rods left in the corner, but I should now have much more water flowing through the media. I did this after discussion with someone who suggested that some of my plant issues looked like ammonia burn. Whenever tested, it read 0, but I wonder if it was breaking down a little slowly, leaving enough to be a problem but not enough to show up on an API test kit. Yet to see the results from this as it's only been a few days.

Finally, I've been tinkering with root tabs a little. I managed to find some Osmocote here in Aus that doesn't contain urea so I've been adding a ball under my erios. In addition, I picked up some size 00 gel caps. I filled some with osmocote and placed them in the substrate, but also picked up some worm castings from a local free range egg supplier. I prepared it by standing it in water for a day, draining most of the water off then stuffing it inside a gel cap. That too went deep in the substrate.

I'm making a lot of changes at once, so it's going to be hard to figure out what is helping and what's not, but for now I'm just trying to improve plant growth rapidly and will figure some of the finer details out later. My ludwigia white was placed in some fresh ADA Malaya but still looks like crap...I suspect it might be on it's way out.

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