Monday, April 5, 2010

Ack! Hacked apart!

So, the tank looked like this on April 1st, 2010:

It now looks like this as of April 5th, 2010:

Now you might ask, WHY?! Well, the Alternanthera reineckii 'rosaefolia looked great at the top, but at the bottom the leaves had all fallen off due to lack of light, it was so bushy it had been blocking light to alot of the surrounding plants as well. In all truth I'd like to do a total rescape, however the money isn't there for new plants. We'll just have to wait for the future, until, I'll let it grow in as it is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Moving, onto the new.

So I moved across a few different state lines, had to leave the old tanks behind and all I was able to salvage was the major equipment (lights, filter, fertilizers and a few chemicals here and there). Lucky for me, eventually the wife was able to buy me a Marineland 29 gallon tank with a beautiful oak stand. Previously, for Christmas, she had also bought me a gift certificate to Dr. Fosters & Smith, which I decided that I would use to buy an Eheim ECCO 2234 canister filter. This would be the first canister filter I ever owned, and was one of the best decisions I made to date. Still, I was no where near ready to begin starting this tank. I had a general idea of how I wanted it to turn out and the supplies I wanted to buy, but I won't lie, this hobby can be expensive if you let it. To keep a very long story short, it took me quite a few months to come up with the money to buy the things I wanted, so I'll list the things I knew I wanted and eventually bought.

- ADA Amazonia I Planted Tank Substrate
- Live plants
- A decent T5 Lighting system (Eventually I bought two Coralife Double Strip T5 fixtures)
- Powder form fertilizers
- Pressurized Co2 System

The ADA Amazonia substrate alone was nearly $90. It's a clay based soil substrate rich in nutrients instead of your typical "gravel" that you would have for your aquarium. It's especially tailored for use in a tank with live plants. This was purchased from The plants I bought at first came from, the plants I bought where two bunches of Ludwigia Repens, Java Fern, Anubias Nana 'Petite', Bacopa Carolinia, an Amazon Sword and two pots worth of Dwarf Hairgrass. Everything came packed extremely well and looked great, I had filled the tank with water about 5 days prior and immediately began planting when I received the plants. One thing to note however, if anyone that does read this decideds to go the ADA Amazonia route, DO except a heavy ammonia spike for the first week or so as well as cloudiness, this IS normal, so don't plan on adding in fish or invertebrates until the tank cycle is fully complete.

This is what it looked like immediately after setting it up (5-09-09 and planted with the new lights (the fish were White Cloud Mountain Minnows). The Red Sea Co2 Generator was in use as well from the previous tank:

Not much to look at, I know.. but it takes time. This hobby is definitely one that requires PATIENCE. Most of the plants are very easy to plant, put the roots in the soil, cover them up without stirring it up too much and let it be. The Dwarf Hairgrass on the other hand is a COMPLETELY different story. It generally comes in to pots, like you see in the tank to the right, but it's grown in a bio-degradable foam. I had to cut the pot completely off and avoid damaging the roots that had grown outward, then I needed to gingerly remove the foam from around the roots, not an easy process to say the least. Finally, to achieve a proper carpet, like I had intended, you need to easily seperate the blades from each other and plug them in the soil with a pair of tweezers or something similar.

From here, i'll post the pictures that were taken to show plant growth progress among other things.


5-17-09 (as you can see, the amazon sword is beginning to melt/yellow due to lack of nutrients and Co2):



6-23-09: (The amazon sword basicly died off, as did the Ludwigia Repens.)

7-29-09: (An EXPLOSION of growth within a month, the Dwarf Hairgrass really took over. The red plant you see is Alternanthera reineckii 'rosaefolia. If you look hard and to the right, you'll notice a spiral looking plant which is Echinodorus 'vesuvius' (Echinodorus Angustifolia).

9-24-09: (Kribenis cichlids were bought, the clay pot is meant for a "cave" for them to hide". Unsightly, I know). A pressurized Co2 cylinder was purchased at this point as was being diffused through a Hagen Mini Elite.

9-27-09: (Did a MAJOR trim, hacked most of the plants away)



1-7-09: (Finally, nearly a full Dwarf Hairgrass carpet)

1-19-09: (Another trim was done, clay pot was hidden significantly)


No picture had been taken after this point up until yesterday, April 3, 2010. Through most of the first few months, I dealt with constant algae outbreaks, BBA, Blue Green Algae, Hair Algae, you name it, I had it. The key is dialing in your Co2 so that you have the maximum amount of Co2 present in the water without killing your fish and proper fertilizer dosing to go along with the amount of light you have over the top of the tank. Following the EI method of fertilization. This is a method of fertilization that basicly means OVER dosing the tank with fertilizer, but performing a 50% water change WEEKLY so that levels return to normal, that way there will never be a nutrient deficiency. Learn more by googling Estimative Index fertlizing or the EI Method of fertilization.

I obtain my fertilizers from and I personally use Potassium Nitrate, Mono Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Sulfate and Plantex CSM+B for iron and trace minerals. Dosing at 1/8th of a tsp of NPK and CSM+B 3x a week each alternating days, with no fertilization on Saturdays and the 50% water change on Sundays or late Saturday nights.

This will be the end of the "story" of how this tank came to be, from here on out this blog will be based upon current tank progress as well as other unique stories, comments or other useful information for the hobbyist abroad.

If you'd like to see the full story of how this tank really came along, you can check out my tank's journal over at The Planted Tank, a wonderful community of fellow hobbyists that are absolutely great and more than willing to help the beginner and the experienced alike. Search for me here if you'd like under the username snoz0r. I'd be more than willing to help anyone I can.

A couple of websites that I recommend visiting for information, equipment or other things in the hobby are below, some previously mentioned.

The Planted Tank
Green Leaf Aquariums (Orlando's Company, a member from The Planted Tank, a GREAT guy, very helpful and sells QUALITY supplies) (Fertilizers) (live plants)
Big Al's Online (supplies, equipment, etc)