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Old 02-09-2013, 01:46 AM   #1 
Sagat
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Picture journal of my planted 20L (WARNING: lots of pix)

First, many thanks to OldFishLady, for all of her help and advice in How to: Natural Planted tank

Before Christmas, I decided to take the plunge and put together my first planted tank. I knew I wouldn't be able to leave it alone, so I timed it so that everything was assembled shortly before we started travelling and then it sat for 7 days. Since I was new at this and because I was worried about burning my plants, I only had the light on for about 10hrs a day.

Water Params
In the entire time the tank has been set up, I've never had any measurable amount of ammonia or NO3. Once, I had an NO2 reading of .25ppm
pH has pretty consistently been about 7.5.

Currently, there's a giant rock in the middle of the tank holding the driftwood down, that I hope to eventually remove.

-------------------
Date Started 12/21/12
Lighting
Coralife Aqualight T5 30" (6700K / 6700K)
Substrate Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix / Pool Filter Sand

[Stem plants]
Hygrophilia difformis (wisteria)
Egeria najas (narrow leaf elodea)
Rotala rotundifolia

[Rosette plants]
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Cryptocoryne crispatula
Echinodorus tenellus (pygmy chain sword)
Echinodrous parviflorus (dwarf rosette sword)

[Floating plants]
Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite)
Cladophora aegagropila (marimo ball)
Salvinia Minima (water spangles)
Microsorium pteropus (java fern - windelov)
Taxiphyllum barbieri (java moss)

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Last edited by Sagat; 02-09-2013 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:59 AM   #2 
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One week later

This is what the tank looked like after sitting untouched for a week. I didn't have any fish in it, so there were no sources of ammonia to help feed the plants.

On the right side of the tank (first image) is my first attempt to use the java moss to grow a carpet -- That's really not a good way to grow a carpet... :)

Look how nice and pink my rotalas are! (last image)
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:15 AM   #3 
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Wow looks great. I've had mine planted since about december. I've only noticed minimal growth. Sucks :/
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:16 AM   #4 
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One month later...

At this point, the balansae on the right pretty much disintegrated and disappeared, so I ended up planting some wisteria there instead. At the same time, the other plants in the tank went through similar stages of change. All of the wisteria ended up dropping their leaves after they grew new ones that were better adapted to my tank's conditions.

The salvinia and water sprite took off like mad. ESPECIALLY the water sprite. I ended up replanting some of that in front of the driftwood, wedging some under the rock holding the driftwood down and then floating two other branches on top of the driftwood with the java moss to help hold the salvinia in place.

Remember that rotala rotundifolia? It stopped being pink, then browned out. Eventually it sprouted new, greener growth.

Some white spot algae also appeared on the front of the tank and grew to about the size of a dime. It turns out that's normal in a new tank and quickly gets starved out by the other plant life.

I also I started noticing little white bugs hopping around the water, which turned out to be copepods. Also normal.

I also learned that after you take the metal band off your plants, you're supposed to separate them out for planting. Duh.

I transplanted some of the wendtii from the front left corner in front of the driftwood on the right and went back in and started thinning and replanting the rotala. The last picture shows some of them before I replanted and Beatty trying to look cool.

Throughout the entire time, that darn narrow leaf elodea (aka anacharis) wouldn't stay planted in the substrate. That's because of a combination of that plant liking to float and because I wasn't planting it where the roots were sprouting.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:25 AM   #5 
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Month Two (today, basically)

By the time the second month rolled around, I had enough growth that I took all my cuttings and converted my 29G from a traditional gravel and fake plant tank to another dirt planted tank.

I also had something in my tank (probably the MTS) churn up all of the wood chips in my MGOCPM so that instead of decomposing underneath the sand cap, they're doing so on top of it. :/ It looks cool, though, so I've just let it do it's thing instead of trying to submerge it back under the cap.

Today
Today I learned what scuds were! Yuck, but also kinda cool. I had taken my rasboras and Beatty out, because they had stressed each other out to the point of developing what I think was slime disease, an opportunistic fungal infection that can appear with stressed out fish.

As for the plants, after dropping their leaves and growing ones better suited for my tank, my plants have all really taken off. The tank's being lit by dual coralife 6700K lamps, but I'm noticing that having the fixture rest on the lid is causing the plants in the front half of the tank to stretch back towards it, especially the C.Wendtii in the front-right of the tank.
Egeria Najas (narrow leaf elodea): The new growth has leaves that are at least half as long as they were when I bought it and twice to three times as curly. What causes this? I can't seem to find any information on it, or I'm plugging in the wrong terms to search for.

Echinodorus tenellus (dwarf pygmy sword): This did ok for the first few weeks, but now all three plants are yellowish and growing slow. they also aren't as rooted into the substrate as I expected them to be. The only thing I can think of is that I picked spots to plant them that weren't as rich in potting mix as the other areas in the tank.

Echinodrous parviflorus(dwarf rosette): This was doing pretty well for awhile, but you can see the big brown, translucent spot on the biggest leaf. The new growth is coming in kinda pale. It's possible it's rooted in mostly sand and I've considered straying from my low-techiness and fertilize it.
Challenges
At this point, it seems that the advice "if the plants are healthy, everything else will follow" to be pretty much on target, but I haven't yet attempted to treat fish in the tank because I'm afraid I might kill the plants somehow.

Instead, I took the easy way out and put them into a quarantine tank where I can dose them with aquarium salt and change their water frequently.

I need to do alot more reading on treating sick fish in a planted tank, so that when it eventually happens, I'm not frantically looking for information at the last minute.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:33 AM   #6 
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SCUDS (not shrimp)

They look like little shrimp from the side and alien creatures from the top.

I have no idea how they got in there, except that they probably hitched a ride on some plants I bought, but they're generally just a part of any ecosystem.

My rasboras and Beatty had all been acting twitchy and weird before I QTd them all, and I was worried they had some bizarre parasite. On top of that, Beatty was consistently fat. I thought he was eating the zucchini I had left out for the otos, but NOW I suspect he's been snacking on these little critters the whole time.

I guess now that there're no predators in the tank, the vermin all came out and are playing. They'll be in for a big surprise when the seven dragon ladies I got from Chard56 show up, since this is where they'll be living.

Fishybitty: Thanks! I discovered that light can make all the difference. It can be pretty challenging to make sure you have the right amount of light.

I also learned that proper light intervals are crucial. I'm using a 5-4-5 interval, which means 5 hrs on, 4 hrs off and 5 hrs on again. The main reason for that (which Diana Walstad covers in her book) is because CO2 in the water depletes as the plants use it for growth. When that occurs, algae starts to win out, because they're excellent at growing with minimal CO2.

Turning off the lights gives CO2 a chance to diffuse back into the water and prevents algae from growing. Then when the lights come on, the plants can continue to outcompete the algae.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:10 AM   #7 
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Scuds look exactly like the Copepods I have in my reef aquarium. Maybe their freshwater Copepods? If it's anything like reefkeeping, it's a good sign of a healthy tank and good food source for the fishs.
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:25 AM   #8 
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my betta loves scuds, how are they still alive in your tank? XD
I used to have a scud jar, they ate the ewwy stuff that grows on the filter outflow
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:17 AM   #9 
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Heh. It's funny you ask aokashi. All the predators (Beatty and 5 rasboras) are in hospital tanks right now. The only thing left are my 5 Otos and the scuds seem to realize they're not interested in them.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:26 AM   #10 
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how deep is your substrate btw? try sucking out the tannins, some plants love more light :P

Last edited by ao; 02-09-2013 at 10:32 AM.
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