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Fablau 75 gallon tank

Discussion in 'Aquarium & Aquascaping Journals' started by fablau, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Hello glassboxgardeners! It's a pleasure to be here and to make your acquaintance.

    I have been a member of the Barr Report (barrreport.com) for a long time, playing with planted tanks for the past 35 years, and a friend of Jason for a while (how long Jason? Enough to enjoy your "virtual" company :))

    I am just "copying and pasting" the first post of my other one journal I am regularly updating on the Barr Report, and I'll try to do the same here as well. This is my big tank, 75 US gallons (284 liters), hi-tech. I also have a low-tech 20 gallons and a nano 2 gl tanks, but those will be for another journal... :sneaky:

    Where to start? I setup this tank back 2008, so it has been already 9 years. The tank is one of those standard “All-Glass Aquarium” tanks pre drilled with the built-in overflow, which is very convenient on one side, but on the other side it is a little cumbersome and ugly since not only takes big part of the internal tank room, but also limit your scape possibilities a great deal (and I never liked that black plastic can on the left-back of the tank).

    In any case, I have enjoyed this tank so far, despite the many problems I have experienced. But… who has never had any problems with planted tanks, right?!

    So, let’s jump on the details… get ready…


    Filter and Overflow

    Ok, from the equipment stand point, the tank is provided of an oversized wet/dry filter (I think the filter - sump - alone is about 20gl) giving me plenty of space for filters, bio media, etc. The main pump is a Eheim Compact 3000 (900 gl/hr), and the overflow is a standard Herbie I made myself from the original Megaflow system which was terribly noisy.

    Here are some pictures of my tank and all the equipment inside the cabinet:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.



    Co2 System

    The Co2 system is driven by a Eheim Compact 2000, uses a 10gl Co2 tank with a Greenleaf regulator, solenoid and bubble counter (9 years old though, the new ones may be of better quality).

    in the overall, Co2 is delivered this way:

    1. Co2 gets injected into an Aqua Medic 1000 reactor.
    2. From the reactor, flow gets into a DIY cerges 13” by 4” from a Watts water filter:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Please, note that the flow is connected to the cerges in the “natural” way: in to in and out to out so that water enters at the top and slowly goes down and sucked up from the center tube and then back at the top.

    1. From the Cerges the pipe is connected directly to the main pump intake inside the sump to return with the rest of the flow inside the tank.

    2. GAS BUILD UP VENT: at the top of the AM reactor, the vent is connected back to the intake of Eheim Compact 2000 so that gas built up has another chance to get chopped and dissolved.

    3. The output of the Eheim Compact 2000 is connected to a Sera Flora Active reactor which is then connected back to the Aqua Medic.

    I know, it is a little complicated, so I made a graphic to better understand it:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.


    And here is a picture of the overall Co2 system and Apex controller:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.



    Later in the day I get 2-3 inches of build up in the Sera reactor, but I almost see now bubbles in the tank. Also, I inject about 70-80ml/minute of Co2 and my Ph drop is over 1.3 (from about 7.20 down to 5.85):

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.


    I don’t know actually if this system is efficient or not, but the PH drop is there. Co2 starts 2 hours before photoperiod (excluding 30 minutes dawn effect) and stops 1 hour before lights turn off (before the last 30 minutes sunset effect). What I am having an hard time with (sometimes) is to keep the Co2 level stable during the photoperiod, and what I mean with “stable” I mean without keeping dropping as you can see from the pH graph above. I know that to keep it there I need to add O2, and that’s what I try doing by opening my Wet/Dry filter:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.


    And that’s my only way to add oxygen since my tank is actually closed at the top. At the top I have glass covers and then lights laid over them.


    Light

    I light my tank with 2 cheap Aqueon T8 led fixtures that can accommodate 6 T8 tubes in total, but I use just 4 (3 in the back and 1 in the front screened by a double metal mesh). In the middle, between the two T8 fixtures, I have a Dutch BML LED light which gives me a dawn and sunset effect via Apex controller.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-47-48.


    The Photoperiod is defined as follows:

    1. Dawn starts at 12:30 pm via BML Led
    2. Back lights (3 x T8 40w each) start at 1 pm
    3. BML Led stops at 25% at 1pm and remains there until 4pm
    4. Front light (1 x T8 40w) starts at 1:30 pm
    5. BML Led stars ramping down at 4pm until 8:30 pm when all lights are off
    6. Front light stops at 7 pm
    7. Back lights stop at 8 pm

    To make it simple: I have a 7 hours photoperiod with a 50-60 PAR at the substrate.
     
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  2. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Substrate

    Well, substrate is a little messy. When I setup the tank, I used Eco Complete at the bottom with a top layer of gravel (I used to like gravel, go figure!) which made all planting extremely difficult (ouch!)… so, over time, I began adding more Eco at the top to help with planting. I also added some ActivFlora substrate in some areas. Both Eco and ActivFlora are inert substrates with a decent CEC capacity, even though I think ADA has much more CEC capacity than Eco, and I’ll tell you why I think so… keep reading…

    Fact is, nowadays my substrate depth is ridiculously high, probably around 8-9 inches (!!) because of adding new substrate, layer after layer, in 9 years of playing around… I don’t know if that may cause issues after 9 years, but that’s the situation of my substrate now.


    Water

    I have always used tap water until 2 months ago when I started trying to mix tap and RO. Tap gives me a KH of 7 and a GH of 15 (LA water folks!), and now that I mix with RO I get a KH of 3 and a GH of 7.


    Critters

    - Amano Shrimp
    - Red Cherry Shrimp (breed all the time)
    - Rummy Nose Tetra
    - Tetra Neon
    - Ruby Platies (breed all the time)
    - Albino Bushy Nose Plecos (breed all the time)

    I had a lot of fish until 2 weeks ago, then I bought some sick neons that spread some sort of disease and had a terrifying mass-death that seems to have finally stopped. Second time in 9 years. That sucks but may happen.


    Plants

    Currently I have the following plants:

    - Anubias
    - Rotala Rotundifolia
    - Java Moss
    - Micro Sword
    - Ambulia
    - Swords (I must find the will to remove them)
    - Alternanthera Reineckii
    - Alternanthera Variegated (thank you Vin!)
    - Hygrophila Sunset
    - Hygrophila Polysperma
    - Vallisneria Americana
    - Stargrass
    - Red Pantanal
    - Micranthemum Monte Carlo
    - Myriophyllum
    - Ludwigia Peruensis
    - Mayaca Fluviatilis
    - Staurogyne Repens
    - Limnophila Aromatica
    - Cabomba Furcata


    And other few plants I can’t recall their name… still learning on that.


    Interestingly, as I said above, I setup this tank 9 years ago, before moving into EI I could successfully grow amazing Rotala Nanjenshan and Alternanthera Reineckii (AR) as you can see from the pics below taken from two different tank's versions of a few years ago (before EI fertilization):

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.



    Anubias and other easy-to-grow plants like Ambulia (Limnophila indica) have always been among my favorite. Here is a full pic of the tank back in 2013 before EI:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.


    So… you’d probably ask: Why in the heck did you change fertilization style if it worked well??!! Good question… I screwed up man. I began playing with more light because I wanted to grow Glosso as carpeting plant, and at that time I thought and read that I needed more light… so I added 2-3 tubes more of what I had, and then I started having algae issues (GDA mostly), and then I moved into EI to cope with that… and here I am after 4 years. I know now a lot more than before, and I know that I have to fertilize, but maybe I need to find the right balance to have those plants back… read below for more details…


    Fertilization

    I began this tank by dosing just Flourish Comprehensive once a week. With the fact at that time I had lower light (just 3 x 40w T8) and lower Co2, that was enough for me to grow easy plants without any issues… no algae and they grew great for a while (Valisnerias, Amazon Swords, Microwords, Anubias, Ambulia and other easy plants). Here is a picture of my tank back in 2009:


    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.


    Funny thing is that at that time, I used to have a much less efficient Co2 system, much less Co2 and much more O2 because of the fact I used the old Megaflow overflow which added a lot of O2 by itself, but I used to be able to grow plants like Rotala Nanjenshan and Alternanthera Reineckii that today I am completely unable to grow (see below). Also the main pump was a small Eheim 1000, so in the tank there was much less flow and distribution (isn’t this interesting?).

    But then plant mass increased, and I began seeing some GSA around and other minor algae, then I began using the macros offered by Sachem besides just the Comprehensive mix, but that wasn’t enough to keep up with algae. Then I messed up things increasing light trying to grow plants like Glosso, and I screw up too much… then I decided to switch to EI, and I must say, things haven’t worked well ever since neither. I mean… some plants got much better, algae almost disappeared, but other plants got worse and I haven’t been able to have them back ever since. The plants that got worse are AR, Rotala Nanjenshan (it dies after a couple of weeks in my tank with EI fertilization) and Java Moss. Yes! I am unable to grow Java Moss well and I used to do with almost no fertilizers as you can see from the pics above.


    So, with the fact I have experimented a lot in the last 5-6 years, and even since I switched to EI 3 years ago, I won’t list all the experiments I have tried, but I’ll tell you what’s my current fertilization regime:

    Macros (alternating days, 3x a week):

    KNO3: 5.62 ppm per dose
    K: 2.53 ppm per dose
    PO4: 0.86 ppm per dose
    Mg: 1.77 ppm after WC


    Micros (alternating days, 3x a week):

    Here’s tricky. I have been dosing 0.2 ppm Fe from CSM per dose since I switched to EI and until a couple of months ago (with the exception of when I tried the “detox” experiment mentioned above), then I decided to lower the dose to see if too high micros were the cause of my stunted AR and Java Moss. I started lowering them step-by-step, from 0.2 ppm to 0.15 ppm, then 0.12 ppm, etc… changing the dosing every week… (Burr knows about all this)… well, very interestingling, when I reached the dose of 0.055 ppm of Fe from CSM, my Java Moss started growing again!! After 3 years of complete inactivity! And AR started putting out some new roots and some new leaves as well (!!) So… I am now in the process to try lowering micros even more, so my current micros dosing for the next couple of weeks is going to be the following:

    0.036 ppm Fe from CSM + 0.02 ppm Fe from DTPA + 0.01 Fe from Glutamate

    It looks like my tank could be pretty similar to Burr’s. Maybe the substrate doesn’t have enough CEC capacity anymore? Or never had? And this would be an interesting discussion since I always thought Eco Complete was a pretty high CEC substrate… but maybe it is not compared to ADA AQ or others… I’ll definitively know that as soon as I’ll be able to grow AR again with such low traces.


    Water Change: 50-60% once a week.


    Current Challenges

    So… after so many years, are are my current challenges:

    - I am able to grow well pretty much all plants in my tank with the exception of AR and some Rotalas like Nanjenshan that I used to grow perfectly with almost no dosing (you may know why — Pikez’s Kill Tank tells [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10. )

    - I have BBA issues all the time and it looks like I am unable to defeat that damn thing (keep reading…)
     

    Attached Files:

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  3. fablau

    fablau Member
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    BBA

    BBA started about 2 years ago to appear in my tank, I never had it before. It began appearing on some Anubias leaves, and then it spread over some wood. Nothing really bad, because I keep it in check, but it never went away ever since. Then back in November 2015, I tried the famous “micro detox” cure which actually made BBA disappear for about 20 days (!!) as I have given evidence of it on several threads on this forums and others. But eventually BBA came back (no idea why) and then I was able to make it disappear again by increasing micros back again, and BBA stayed away for a couple of months that way… but then it came back again, and I haven’t been able to get rid of it ever since. I tried again detox cures and then re-increase micros, but no avail. It looks like my first events of BBA disappearing because of different micro dosing was either a fortunate coincidence or something else at the same time played a role together with the different micro dosing.

    Here is what I have tried to defeat that damn BBA:

    1. Different level of Co2, reaching crazy levels of Co2 by pumping over 140ml/minute of Co2 giving me pH drops of over 1.6 (!!). Wet/dry helps with that. But nothing, BBA was always there.
    2. Keeping Co2 stable as much as I could (see Co2 curve above, is that enough stable???!!)
    3. Cleaned the tank like my grandma used doing with her kitchen, keeping filters super-clean, doing regular maintenance daily and weekly, the same way Pikez is doing (my gosh Vin, how in the heck you don’t get BBA!!!) and siphoning substrate weekly before water change. But no, no avail either!!!
    4. Lowering light: nothing.
    5. Shortening photoperiod: nothing.
    6. Increasing Water Changes to 2-3 a week for 2 weeks in a row: nothing (should I try doing it more?)


    So… what in the heck do I need to do to stop this BBA? You tell me. I have tried everything. I suspect something related to plant growth is causing it, hence the fact I could make it disappear twice by tinkering with micros. Also, as I said above, I am unable to grow some plants which suggests me something is not completely right in what I am doing. Or maybe my tank is too old? Substrate too old? Go figure…

    Here are some pics showing my current BBA situation:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-57-10.



    Well, I wrote everything I could write about my current and past tank situation. Now, I am eager to know your thoughts about it, and if you have any thoughts about how to tackle BBA more of what I have already tried, let me know!

    I'’ll post my current tank’s pictures in the next post.

    Thank you all guys.
     
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  4. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Here are some pictures of my current tank status:


    Full Tank:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    From the left angle:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    From the right corner:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    Right-front view. The nice AR is from Vin (Pikez). Those few stems of Red Pantanal is what is survived from the nice batch I got from Tom (sorry Tom, I did what I could!). For Pantanal, 50% RO seemed to help, but it looks like low traces also helped...

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    Left side:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    Right side:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    AR Variegated from Vin (Pikez) Thanks! I love this plant!:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.



    My resurrected Moss since I am dosing low traces (finally after 3 years I see it back!!):

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-25_8-59-15.
     
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  5. fablau

    fablau Member
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  6. Jason King

    Jason King Founder
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    Super stuff Fab! Again another great journal, the full story is brilliant.

    Fab out of interest what is the water turnover from tank to sump to tank? 10X?

    I know that cutting the traces down got rid of the bba but your plant health started to suffer as a result..? does your bba appear in the same areas all the time? Once it comes back.

    I'm really starting to like black backgrounds more than white again, it just blows the plant colours out of the tank better than white.. at least for a Dutch/hybrid style.
     
  7. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Thanks Jason!

    Yes, I am currently using a Eheim Compact 3000 which is around 750gl/hr, but I have used a Eheim Compact 2000 for years and had no issues (528gl/hr). Actually, with the new tank remaking, I'd like to get back using that smaller pump because of two elements:

    1. Much more silent.
    2. Much less consumption (half wattage)

    Mostly, as I said, because I didn't see any difference on a bigger turnover. As for circulation, I'd prefer to add an additional small circulation pump instead, if necessary, but even with that, I didn't notice any difference. If you look at my old tank pictures, I used a Eheim 1000 at that time, and I don't think I had plants issues at that time because of "low circulation", considering the mass I used to have!

    Basically, what I'd like to do with this new tank, is to "simplify" things. I'd also like to simplify the Co2 system. The one I have now (pictured above) is way too complicated. As you know, on the barreport, Vin got the same excellent results by using just a single reactor... I also used to use just the AM 1000 reactor and never had problems! So... simplify... simplify...

    As for the BBA story, as I testified on several thread and forums around, I could make BBA disappear in just 1 week by reducing traces... but eventually it came back, after 3-4 weeks, and persisted for a few months until I raise traces again, and it disappeared again in just a few days. BUt for some reason it re-appeared again after a few weeks, and even though I tried again to lower or increase traces, it never went away.

    So... after hundreds of different dosages, I began to really lower traces to reach x2 Burr's dose of 0.02 ppm Fe from CSM with the goal to have at least my AR and Java Moss back, that got stuck since I moved into EI (too many traces probably...). And Java Moss started to grow again, as well as AR (not perfect yet), but.... as you know from my journal on the barrreport, that was probably too low for my tank (not sure 100%, but most probably...), so I have more doubled that now, giving 0.05 ppm Fe from CSM per dose, 3x a week, for a total of 0.15 ppm Fe from CSM a week.

    Some plants got better, but others are still not perfect. and of course, BBA is still around... and I to be sincere, I want to remake the tank MOSTLY because of this damn BBA that has plagued my tank for the past 3 years. Hopefully that'll go away!

    I'll give a more detailed update of my tank tomorrow (if nothing happen here to prevent me doing that, you know, kids' family stuff...)

    Thanks again :)
     
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  8. Jason King

    Jason King Founder
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    Fab in my last scape i used a cerges on its own but with a Eheim marine needle wheel pump to chop the co2 before the cerges then back into the sumps last chamber and it worked great, it looks like a busy setup but pretty straight forward.

    No bba for the whole year in was running anyway.

    I'm not saying it's related to bba but it simplifies things, not as much as a Defusser but no co2 mist for the 1.2 pH drop.

    More details here
    https://glassboxgardeners.com/threads/jasons-120x60x45-tank-setup-modified-eareef-1200s.473/page-12#post-5146

    And you probably seen my cerges build before ?
    https://glassboxgardeners.com/articles/how-to-build-a-cerges-co2-reactor.2/
     
  9. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Yes, I saw that, great setup and built. I tried the "chopping" thing for a long time, didn't make much difference by what I have now. Fact is, I never had BBA until 3 years ago. The first 6 years I had this tank, never had a speck of BBA. Just some GSA and GDA, once in a while... mostly before I started dosing EI.

    That's why I want to tear down the tank and start over, I want to see if BBA is actually caused by high organics in this tank where the substrate is almost 9 years old, and 6 inches thick (!!), or something else I am not aware of... we'll see!
     
  10. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Update:


    Hello everyone, here is an update of my tank. As usual, some plants got better, others are the same as before, and others got worse (why??!!)

    But in the overall it looks like higher traces made some positive difference. I have been dosing 0.05ppm Fe from CSM 3x a week, for a total of 0.15ppm Fe from CSM a week. Leaves got greener and less necrotic between leaf veins.

    Another funny story: I measured NO3 again, and it was still around 5ppm after 21ppm of dosage in the past week! What the heck??!! Well, so, Purigen is overruled, then... what else? I can't believe my plants suck so much nitrogen from the water column, they never did in the past (at least until 3-4 months ago when was the last time I measure NO3)... so, maybe the substrate??! Well, we'll find out as soon as I'll remake this tank (re-making planned for the week between April 1st and April 8th)...

    Also, I am getting slowly back to full tap, and that's what I'll use in the new rescaped tank. My plans for this new tank is to "simplify" things as much as I can, so... just tap water, no more messing with RO. I started using RO a few months ago ust for the sake of Pantanal, but didn't make any difference... also, as we know, that isn't really needed for Pantanal. So... simplify... simplify...

    In the meantime, I am enjoying Anubias flowering, AR finally growing again, and, of course, my beloved BBA, always present.

    Form today, I have also reduced light a little bit, which means LED and 1 of the 4 t8 lights are going to fade out 1 hour before than usual. I want to see now if by reducing light anything is going to change. I won't touch anything else for the remaining days before the new tank re-scape.

    Ah! And I also forgot... some plants got "translucent" leaves... no idea why. I don't even remember the name of that plant, you can tell me, below... thanks for following and I am eager to know your thoughts on all this. Some more details below...


    Flowering Anubias:
    [​IMG]





    AR Variegated growing and multiplying, despite BBA always there around:
    [​IMG]


    Regular AR, growing again:
    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-26_17-40-26.


    Translucency in some leaves... why's that??!!
    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-26_17-40-26.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-26_17-40-26.


    The stunted stem of Pantanal never recovered, and I trashed it away today:
    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-26_17-40-26.


    Whereas another stem took off once traces have been incremented:
    [​IMG] upload_2017-3-26_17-40-26.


    A couple of stems of Cuphea finally look better:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Strange thing, the ones inside the small pot with ADA AQ never recovered and just deteriorated.... go figure. No idea if that was a nutrient issue or something else??!


    Anyhow, I'll keep experimenting and posting results on here.
     
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  11. Keith

    Keith Administrator
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    Fablau

    I don't think I have every seen a post like that, it looks extremely Hi Tech but the results are all there.

    Keith:cathug::cathug:
     
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  12. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Thank you Keith! I think similar results can be achieved with less complication, and that's going to be my goal as soon as I remake this tank. I'll try to keep you posted guys along the way... thanks for following!
     
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  13. moss-maniac

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    Welcome Fab
    and thank you very much for your interesting articles. :clap:
    Your tank looks wonderful, like a little paradise garden -
    I enjoyed very much to watch it - everything so healthy looking.

    So no I go on to make my way through your articles ... :whistle:
     
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  14. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Thank you Evelyn, appreciated! It's never done learning with this hobby... that's probably the beauty of it!
     
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  15. Jason King

    Jason King Founder
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    I'm with you there Fab, its what keeps you interested, even after years there is always something more to teach yourself.
     
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  16. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Yes, it's a challenge, all the time. I began playing with planted tanks when I was 14 (32 years ago), and I still haven't grasped the "right" way to do it. Maybe I'll never find it, but I get closer and closer... at that time I used to go with my dad to catch wild fish and finding live plants in small creeks around home (Italy, around Milan, a lot of water around there), and I could make them grow with plain gravel and just water changes once a month. No ferts, etc... Co2 appeared a few years later on the market, but was so expensive that for me was like sci-fi stuff... good times though :)

    Nowadays we have everything available at our fingertips, and still, problems are always there to solve!
     
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  17. Keith

    Keith Administrator
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    fablau

    I started about 50 years ago and remember be amazed at the Under Gravel Filters in Aquarium Magazines. Today little has changed their design and they still work as well as ever.

    I now use them under my Terrascapes to get the water directly to the bottom of the substrate with out disturbing the plants.

    Keith:cathug::cathug:
     
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  18. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Of course, I remember those filters as well! My father used to have a small aquarium with those filters, a lot of work to clean them up. It's a great idea to use them for terrariums!

    Amazing how "old technology" can still be useful today :)
     
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  19. fablau

    fablau Member
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    Update:

    Hello everyone, the past two days have been crazy, I have been able to re-make my tank completely... which means:

    1. Tear it down everything.

    2. Clean/sift all the substrate (crazy job, not recommend to anyone!)

    3. Put everything back with a (kinda) new design.

    Ok, before to show you the new tank and some pictures of the hard work, here are the last pictures of the "old" tank. Nothing really new with plants compared to the previous 2 weeks, BBA always around, etc... rest assured: The main reason I have re-made this tank was to try to get rid of BBA. As I said multiple times, this tank was almost 9years old and so a re-scaping/re-making was long overdue...


    Here is the old tank:

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.

    [​IMG] upload_2017-4-4_13-12-56.


    Now, the new scape and the hard work in the next thread...
     
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  20. fablau

    fablau Member
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    New Scape

    As you may recall, my substrate was almost 9 years old, and very deep... it was about 6 inches deep (!!) and, even worse, it was a mix of Eco Complete, gravel and other stuff (some ADA AS and more)... which was very compact in some areas that I couldn't even plant plants well, and who knows wht was going on inside with such a depth. So... instead than buying new ADA AS or new Eco, or anyway new substrate, I have decided to go the "cheap" way and try to recycle the old substrate. I have read other people doing that successfully (Nicpapa on the barreport.com for example), and also, I want to wait to move to AS until I master the "water column dosing" regime correctly. It is just a challenge with myself. By using ADA AS I feel "cheating" in some way, because I still haven't find the best way to grow plants with inert substrate with just water column, and I know that with AS my plants would grow great just because of that... so... next time. I really want to be able to grow plants in inert substrate pretty much like Burr on the barreport.com is doing (Burr: kudos to you!!)... call me crazy, but isn't what this passion is all about??!

    So... the plan was:

    1. Removing everything from the tank in this order: plants, wood and rocks, fish, shrimp, substrate.

    2. Cleaning and sifting the substrate to separate gravel from the finer Eco Complete.

    3. Put everything back trying to find a new design.

    4. Simplify the "technical" side (mostly Co2 injection).

    The main goal of this re-scaping was this:

    A. Try to get rid of BBA once for all.

    B. Trying to cover that damn black, plastic overflow cover that dominates the left side of my tank.


    In order to cover the black plastic overflow, I have tried several different arrangements of wood and rocks, but at the end I have decided to go the old way: let the plants grow against that thing to make it disappear naturally. Any attempt to cover it with wood and rocks resulted in a crappy design, even because in that location the width of the tank is limited, so I couldn't really find a good way to make it work. Sure thing: My next tank will not have anything inside!!

    There was a deal for this re-scaping to work: make it in just 2 days. Taking advantage of the fact my kids were home the whole week for the Spring Break, I could use some help of my son, but I had to make it in just 2 days because the rest of the week we had other "stuff" to do (you know, you know... if you have kids and a family, you know what I mean...)



    STEP 1: The Removal

    The removal of plants and hardscape, took about 1/2 hour. Thanks to my 10 years old son we could make it pretty fast. I prepared 3 different totes: all three for plants, 1 for shrimp and baby fish, 1 for adult fish.

    [​IMG]


    Catching all fish with the empty tank, took about 15 minutes. Catching all shrimp and baby shrimp (don't forget those if you have a son!) took 2 hours. By the noon of Sunday, the caught was over. In the afternoon I begun the hard work of cleaning and sifting the substrate...


    STEP 2: The Cleaning and Sifting


    To clean and sift the whole substrate took me 3 hours straight (ouch!!), I have no idea how I could have that much substrate in my tank, I took out something like 10 buckets filled to the top of it. Crazy.

    Here is the "work station" for the cleaning and sifting of the substrate:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]









    And here is the tote collecting the coarse gravel:
    [​IMG]






    And here is the tote collecting the fine one (the one I have used for the new scape):
    [​IMG]








    A crazy work I really don't recommend to anyone. I don't think I will ever do it again. The problem is that when you start, you have no idea how long it is going to take and how hard it is going to be... you realize that after 1/3 of the work, and it is too late to change idea!


    Anyway, as I said, after 3 hours of work, I had a completely new, well washed substrate. I hope it'll work!


    Here is the tank, empty and ready to be cleaned with good elbow grease:
    [​IMG]









    Note the line where the old substrate was! Bu the end of Sunday evening I was dead and flat on the ground, almost couldn't move. The re-scaping took place the day after (yesterday)...



    STEP 3: The Re-scaping

    Putting back the substrate took about 15 minutes, and this time I wanted to be sure to not have a too deep substrate. I decided to keep 2 inches in the front, and about 3-4 inches in the back. The fine-filtered Eco Complete was perfectly sufficient for this.

    The hardscape positioning took about 30 minutes, to decide how to put wood and rocks. Actually it is mostly wood (regular driftwood nothing fancy), with some rock that sustain it here and there... as I said above, my first goal of hardscape was to hide the damn black plastic monolite, but that would have cause a "piling" of stuff that I really didn't like... after 20 minutes of different tries, I decided to let plants grow against it as I did in the past. That worked and will work again. I just picked dense plants such as Rotala Rotundifolia and Limnophila aromatica, they are short now, but by getting taller I should be able to make it "disappear".... I hope so [​IMG]

    So, here is the hardscape with some Anubias on it:
    [​IMG]








    The block of Anubias you see on the left side, was actually a driftwood covered of them that I didn't touch and positioned there. I like it. The central wood is a little big, but at the end, this landscape looks like is making the tank appear larger, which is a good thing. If the scape makes your tank look bigger, it is a good thing indeed. If you see anything that could have been improved, please, let me know!!

    Next time I'll try to use Manzanita. Still waiting for Tom to send me some... he's a busy guy, you know...


    And here is a shot of the tank today:
    [​IMG]









    Plants need to settle, and I hope to be able to grow them well. The Ambulia on the left side it is a little bit too dense for now, but I'll adjust it step by step according with the other plant's growth.

    So.... what style is this? I think it is still a "dutch free style"... no strictly Dutch, but for sure not "Nature"... call it as you like, it is the best I could come up with. I tried to put red and green plants alternated, create some group plants and a "street" of Lobelias... but as I said, still too early to see the definitive design. The huge wood int he center should also be covered mostly by plants. We'll see...


    Feedback is very welcome!!!!



    STEP 4: Simplifying the Equipment

    Ok, I said it earlier, with this new scape I also wanted tot take the opportunity to simplify things and my life... so, I made these changes:

    1. Changed the main pump from the Eheim 3000 to the Eheim 2000. I know, "less flow can't be right!!", but I can assure you, I have alternated both pumps several times, and I have never seen any clear difference in plant growth... so, I opted for the less consuming and much, much more quite Eheim 2000. I think it is still pretty powerful for this tank. Tank is 75 gallons, and this pump moves around 530 gl/hr. And you have no idea how quiet it is... You have to actually check getting closer or by touching it to understand if it is running, it is completely silent.

    2. I want to simplify the Co2 system. I read Pikez on the barreport.com getting rid of cerges and using just the Sera 1000 reacotr, and I wanted ot try that as well. So... I removed everything and hooked just the Sera 1000 to a small Eheim 1000 pump, and made it run in the afternoon. I got over 1.1 pH drop in 1 hour with the usual amount of Co2 I pump (about 70 ml/minute, a lot!), which was a good sign. The problem was that the gas accumulated pretty fast at the top, and after 3 hours, I had too much mist in the tank. I didn't like it. So, this morning I have hooked the cerges after that Sera, and I'll see today if mist is reduced. I hope so!

    Here is a pic of the new Co2 system (simplified):
    [​IMG]









    And here is a close-up of the gas build up after just 1 hour running:
    [​IMG]









    By the end of the day, it'll be half way down... I'd be really curious to know from Pikez how much Co2 he pumps in his Sera. He said no appreciable gas is building up at the top of it for him, so something must be different: either he pumps less gas than me, or his pump is much more powerful that the Eheim 1000. Eheim 1000 pumps 264 gl/hr, which is 1/3 more than what Sera recommend for that reactor (185 gl/hr minimum).

    That's all for today. I'll give you an update soon!

    Feedback is very welcome... thanks for following!
     
    #20 fablau, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
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