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My first thread on my First Planted tank..

Discussion in 'Aquascaping Journals' started by Jack, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hello everyone,
    Thought to start my first thread on my first experience with the planted tank. Had wondered, ever would i get some time to do this with the nature of my job and my hectic schedules. Finally on 15th of March this year, made some time and effort to get my hands wet. Sorry for the low res mobile camera photos. Since i am onboard, i don't have much of the photos with me. The below photo was taken after a week.
    IMG_0186.jpg
    It was my first trial, to see if i can really do it... didn't wanted to spend much money on this,... my first mistake. ( felt later that i should have used some quality stuffs)

    The Specs ...
    Tank - Normal Clear glass tank
    Sustrate - ADA Amazonia & Cosmetic sand
    Substrate Additives - ADA Power 4 ( Bacter 100, Tourmaline BC, Clear Super & PenacW)
    - lately ADA Be green on every Water change
    PLants - Monte carlo, Pogostemen Erectus & Ludwigia repens
    Hardscape - Stone ( Unknown source) & Drift wood - from the Local store.
    Glasswares (Inlet & Outlet Pipe, Co2 Diffuser & Drop checker )- Aqua Music
    Light - Sunsun HDD500
    Filter - Sunsun HW 302 with ADA Bio Rio Capacity - 264 gph
    Co2 - 2L Cylinder with solenoid - Chinese make - from the local store
    R.O water was used and tank was setup in my Bedroom, which had the air conditioner running most of the day. Since i used R.O water, didn't really bother to check water parameters ( may be another mistake too)
    Started with spraying the Substrate additives, then the substrate. Planted monte carlo first with great care, it had very fine & delicate roots than i thought, and then the other ones. In fact, i was careful with everything in making this first trial successful, so as not to be driven out of this hobby with the negative outcome. I wasn't too keen on the scaping part other than the plant care.

    Initial Lighting Period was around 3 to 4 hours for the first three days, then gradually increased it to 6 hours at the end of the first week. I was using timers separately for the light and CO2 ( one BPS). Since the Chinese made solenoid system was not so perfect, there is some time delay from the time it operates and the co2 bubbles can be visually seen ( it was one hell of a challenge even to adjust the BPS). So had to set the light's timer with that amount of delay have the light and co2 at the same time. Again, trying to be careful with the light and Co2, as these could be a major influencing factors for Algae issues.

    Below Photo taken after 2 weeks,

    IMG_0578.jpg
    By now, guess i should have trimmed the plants to help it to let the runners form. But i did'nt, may be the second mistake. The drift wood was releasing the tannins continuously. I kept clearing it with a hard brush. I could see folded leaves, so started to increase the light hours and Co2 2BPS and made it almost 10 hours.

    Photo at the end of three weeks,
    IMG_0675.jpg

    Was happy that, things were moving in the right direction other than for one thing. Out of the three plants, Pogostemen Erectus was dying and decaying..
    I was doing a weekly water change of almost 70%.

    Below Pic, after a little trimming at the end of 5 weeks. During the trimming, noticed that the drift wood had some brown fungus kind of stuff, along with the normal tannins. Wiped and cleared it, also found a small group of plants around the wood had the same thing on them too. But since my local store guy who was assisting me said that anything released from the wood shouldn't be of much problem, i didn't bother much. And some group of plants had some yellow pigmentation, guess because of the insufficient light reaching the bottom of the plants. Surprisingly, some offshoots of Pogostemen Erectus was sighted.

    29th april.jpg
    Think, Should have trimmed more........

    9th Week, during my time away from home for work ( 4 weeks).... Disaster....:cry:
    3rd June.jpg

    At the end of 10th week when i reached back home, all i could see was a green tank. Hope some noticed already, i too was wondering why the monte carlo in the front right side of the tank just kept growing taller, while the other groups kept on spreading runners around on a very lower level. And this cant be justified by saying, that they are trying to grow up to catch more light. Because these were the ones, whose bottom sections were turning yellow. Couldn't figure out this.

    Pic after trimming,
    IMG_0152.jpg


    12 weeks passed by, and one thing went unnoticed, that the brown fungus or algae started spreading slowly onto the plants around the drift wood. And i too was careless on cleaning the drift wood. By now, i was adding ADA be green on every water change. Taught my wife about the little care she could do in my absence to help me out...

    Week 13

    IMG_0304 (1).jpg

    Week 15
    The brown fungus was easily visible on several places of the right hand side of the tank.Tried some frequent water changes, some frequent pruning... And it was getting worser as the days passed by... Removed the drift wood from the tank. Was worried and trying to find solutions on the internet... Went through many forums... Felt that i should have been a part of some Forum, in which case i would have had some experienced hands guiding me throughout this journey. By Week 16, the condition was uncontrollable and it was painful to keep on pruning and do frequent water changes... Painful because it had lost its charm.... not because i was tired.. Some methods from the internet were so complicated, that i couldn't dare to try them.

    Worsening Stages.....
    IMG_0505.jpg
    IMG_0535.jpg
    IMG_0536.jpg

    Finally, the same local store guy came to my rescue with a solution of spraying Micro bacteria on the plants. So dried the tank, mixed the tablets and sprayed onto them. Left the tank without water for about half an hour, then refilled it. Keeping my fingers crossed, left home the following day back to work...

    My wife was updating me on the progress. And she had sent me the below pics couple of days ago... Looks like that, they are recovering... Guess, will come to know in another week's time.

    IMG_0757.jpg IMG_0758.jpg

    Sorry for the long history, just wanted to put up a chronology, so that i can let the readers and members tell me where i have made mistakes and what all could have been done to improve myself. And finally some questions,
    1. Thumb rule of filter capacity to be 4times the cap. of tank/per hr is right or any suggestions ?
    2. Is Dry start method the better one or is it applicable case by case basis ?
    3. Lighting duration in the initial stages ( though it depends upon the plant type and planted density)
    4. Enlighten me with Co2- light-algae relationship ?
    5. Will all kinds of aquarium woods keep on releasing tannins and slime or just few of them.. heard ADA drift woods are pre-treated....

    Jack

    @greenfinger 2 @keithgh @isla @sushant
     

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  2. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Jack.

    You tank is developing very fast and should be a great home for the Betta when its finished.

    I would like to see a little more rock height at the back LH corner.

    Regular good trimmings will thicken all the plants up.

    Re the Betta I would like to see some floating top cover for him at the moment he does not have any shelter from your lighting.

    Keith:):)
     
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  3. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Thanks Keith, I was thinking about little rescaping this tank without affecting much of the existing plants after I reach home this time. Add some more rocks and drift wood if I get a good one. Unfortunately this time am struck at work until end of August.
    And for the betta, he had his hiding places where he normally rests. But everything is lost due to frequent trimming. What do you suggest for floating top cover.

    Jack
     
  4. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Jack
    Its what you can get.

    A safe and easy to grow is Wisteria or Water Sprite, run a mile from Duckweed or similar plants as they can become a big problem especially Duckweed.

    Keith:):)
     
  5. isla

    isla Aspiring Aquascaper

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    air con water , .... could have a lot of bacteria ... and perhaps need to be complemented with mineral .
    why start with 3 hours of light ?
    do you monitor pH ? seem that a 0,1 electronic device is better than drop checker .
    leave the wood in water (somewhere else ) to release tannins
    do you use step (ada ) system ?
     
  6. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Will try Water sprite.. Hope its available.
     
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  7. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Not the Aircon water, R.O water was used. Sorry for the Phrasing... have corrected that already to be clear.
    Just mentioned Aircon, because the temperature of that room is mostly stable around 25C. Guess thats fine for the plants.
    And to me, drop checker was working out well. Guess, it depends mostly on the positioning of the checker in the right place of the aquarium. After i changed the location to the bottom part of the tank, the lag in the indication was much lesser. Of course electronic devices are one step higher, will try that too in the near future. thanks for the suggestion.
    Reg the DW, i had kept it submersed with a weight for almost 3 weeks removing the tanins once in a while before placing it in the tank.
    Dont know about the Step system u have mentioned.
     
  8. jasonperry

    jasonperry Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Jak
    Nice tank!
    When you say you (used or use) ro is that on its own or do you mix with tap?
    Using ro is a grate method if its understood and used correctly ,its a process that the water gose through to strip everything out so pritty much no nutriant value is left after the process.
    Looking at ur issue It could be an imbalance in your water column from lights ,nutriant and fluctuations in co2 and low flow.

    Lights could be too intense for the amount of dosing your doing so basically the more light you throw over your plants the plants become more demanding for nutriant and c02 ,because the growth rate is increased so the plant basically become more hungary.

    If your dosing more and have no results s this can be an insufficient flow problem, flow plays a massive importance in planted tanks it helps to deliver the (co2 & nutriants) to all the leaves and roots of the plants, and help prevent dead spots were waste builds up.
    The recommendation of flow is 10x the tank needs to be turned over per hour.

    I understand your keeping a betta in your tank so low to moderate flow is vital for these fish so a couple of little powerheads pointed in different direction towards the plants is a grate method of getting good flow to your plants especially carpeting plants.
    So setting them on timers 1hr apart this will allow nutriant and c02 to be delivered.

    Iv made all the mistakes and had nothing but algea issues in the first biginner stages of the planted tank hobby.

    Its all about keeping balance something iv learnt in the past few years, lower lighting (depending on what plants are kept ) (so looking at lower lighting period s), good flow ,non limiting nutriants , non fluctuations in co2 (note can be caused from insufficient water flow) plants adapt better in these conditions than algea.
    I hope Iv been helpful if there is anything iv missed i know these guys will help dont give up you have a nice lil thank there regards
    Jason.
     
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  9. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Jack

    There is plenty of information for you to think about.

    Water Sprite can die back at first as long as a few pieces survive it will take off very fast.

    Keith:):)
     
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  10. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hi Jason, thanks for the informative post.
    I have been using R.O water from the small R.O drinking water plant at my home. Guess some nutrients were added for human consumption, not sure about for the plants. And i have been using ADA be green only after 3.5 months. Until then never dosed anything other than the Substrate additives added initially.
    If noticed, i had changed the position of the Co2 diffuser at the back corner so that it gets dispersed throughout the tank with the Outlet pipe's water flow. As far as the flow concerns, the HW 302 canister have the capacity of almost 1000 ltrs/hr. and the tank i have, is only around 40 ltrs. Just not sure about the life of the pump inside.
    What i have read from internet sources, Monte carlo does well with low to high lighting and its a very tolerant plant for beginners like me. The light sunsun hdd500b has 2 x 15W T5 lights. So that's 3oW for a 11 gallon tank. But i will keep your point in mind " Its all about keeping balance" . And i would be glad if someone could throw more light on keeping this balance.
    Initially i thought the three things(Light, co2 & substrate additives) were in balance, since i never faced any problems for the first three months. And i would say, the culprit was the drift wood. The kind of brown fungus or algae was found first on that drift wood, from which it had spread everywhere. Or may be, my assumption could be wrong and there could have been an imbalance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
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  11. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    When using RO water it is a good idea to reconstitute it to ensure your plants are getting enough calcium and magnesium. Commercial liquids are available, or you can make your own using some easily available dry chemicals.

    By the looks of your plants, reduced flow and CO2 could have been the cause. If the carpeting plant is monte carlo and it is growing vertically, you do not have enough light. This would also explain the loss of leaves at the bottoms of your stems.
     
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  12. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hey Shawn, thanks for the suggestions. By reduced flow, you mean the flow volume of 10x mentioned by Jason or flow velocity. If its the latter one, i too have felt sometimes, the force is not so strong to stir up until the bottom. Does this varies with the Brand ? Will increase the light if 30W isn't enough. Reg the calcium and magnesium, any specific brand suggestions?
     
  13. jasonperry

    jasonperry Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Hey there jack.

    When I say 10x flow that is how many times the tanks volume is filterd per hour.

    So having a filter strong enough for your tank will be more efficient thats the (reduced flow problems not having a strong enough filter for your aquarium size),
    This counts for the flow aswel, having a good flow rate filter for ur aquarium helps carry the nutriants c02 and help remove waste and deposits build up in them dead spot areas.
    Sorry if I didn't explain clearly.

    (Using good directed spray bars or lilly pipes help enhance a more overall flow pattern across the water column.

    What I mean by adding a couple of low lph power heads...
    If ! your filter isnt quite strong enough to get a good efficient flow pattern.
    Set power heads in different directions at differnt times aprart this will help change flow patterns across the water column this is a grate method to deliver nutriants and co2 more efficiency and help prevent dead spot areas.

    (But keeping in mind to be careful since you have a betta in your tank and you only need a slight nice movement of flow in the plants its getting a sweet spot :))

    Wave makers would be a grate investment,
    I used them in my reef tanks to give a more overall (vigorous flow rather than a straight jet )type of flow. This is more efficient and effective Than the coupel of power heads i mentioned as wave makers carry out vital water movement around the plants and rock or in my old case coral.
    Using a low lph wave maker
    directed towards the carpet plants is a very effective way to get good overall flow and this way you havent got a load of ugly power heads in different places of the tank
    ;) .
    Sorry if iv over talked about flow but its a no1 massive importance in keeping planted and reef aquariums (think of it as a mail man delivering mail its all ok haveing the items for people you need a delivery man that to deliver the goods its how water flow works in the aquarium your filter or powerhead is tge delivery man ha ha sounds silly but thats how I understood it :)

    Right any way as for your little algea issues 9× out of 10 its somthing out of balance weather its the lighting to nutriant and c02 fluctuations and lack of flow problem, somtimes dw can carry algeas hidden inside the wood and eventually can expose its self I know that from keeping marine and using dead rock also using dw myself.

    normally fungus builds after a while usually in non soaked dry dw or not been soaked for very long and usually fish shrimp and algea eater eat it so its normally gone after a coupel of weeks.
    You said it started on the dw so there could of been a dead spot in that area due to non efficient flow and waste build up sometimes a little algea on the dw is normal depending on the type if anyone experienced the type of algea jack has you could add to this.

    Hope I was helpful id recommend you do some research on algea and the causes for each this will help you get an idea what your up against and help identify what types of algea.

    Oh I almost forgot as for your fertiliser the (ei salts method) is a grate way of dosing if you chose dry or bottel batch id recommend it to the on the shelf already made up products dont get me wrong there is some really good ones on the market if you know what to go for, but long term ei salts is more cost effective and a grate way to manage the nutrition for your plants ;)
    regards jason ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
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  14. jasonperry

    jasonperry Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Apologies jack I tend to over type and ramble I kinda do that ha ha:/ its how I deliver info from my tiny brain ha ha please say if I over ramble and end up repeating myself. :/
    Im happy to help any one if in my knowledge if I dont know I will not give false information. And the guys on hear are very supportive ;)
     
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  15. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Oh come on brother, thanks for your time to explain things. Since i am newbie, i need this shot. Can take more... keep it coming.. :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
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  16. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Jack,

    That is a good question. Stagnant water in places can lead to leaf loss. The spin lily pipe is great for an overpowered filter on a small tank. I use one on a small tank with an eheim 2211. Otherwise it would create a whirlpool. Even with the spin there is water moving in every part of the small tank, this is the important part. Turnover volume is important, velocity less so. You just need to be sure you have water moving in all parts of the tank, it is needed to break the leaf barrier. Generally a broad slow flow is preferred over a strong targeted flow. Each could equal the same turnover, however does not deliver nutrients and CO2 in the same way.

    I would start with improving your flow and CO2 delivery. Then see how it goes before doing anything with the light.

    Bettas do prefer low flow. It is always important to match your scape plans with your fish.
     
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  17. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I will try to inspect the canister filter foams under the Bio rio, and if required will clean it up a bit with the tank water to remove some debris to increase the flow.
     
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  18. jasonperry

    jasonperry Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Shadow mac
    Thanks for smoothing the edges I tryed to edit my write up the best I can to make sense and brake it down what I was trying to explain ;)
     
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  19. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    If your filter is not overpowered for your tank size, you could try a different outlet to improve water movement. My spin is on a 3 gallon tank.
     
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  20. Jack

    Jack Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Got it shawn, may be i'll give a try with lily type. thanks
     
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