View Full Version : My 33g breeder tank

02-05-2018, 10:47 PM
This is one of my 33g breeders with a pair of gold marble angelfish. This pair will raise their offspring for about a week, then they slowly disappear, who knows?

But I wanted to talk more about the plants in this tank. For the longest time, I did not worry about plant growth and really only care about the fish, but I'd like to be able yup grow plants in this tank! I feel the health of the plants affect the health of the tank soooooo here it is.

The tank is dirted, yes fully dirted, and look at the growth! So pathetic! I recently added a stem of hygro angustufolia, but it hasn't really taken off at all. My dwarf sag carpet has died off, the roots don't reach that far down anymore and I've uprooted it many times trying to suck up algae. I have a pot of young amazon swords behind the DW, but they really haven't grown much either. The only thing that does ok is the java fern.

I have a Finnex Ray II on this tank, ever since I added the fixture, the plants did poorly. I may look to switch the fixture out for a while to look for improvement, but I'm just not sure it would be the fixture. The PAR ratings are crazy for such a light fixture, why wouldn't my plants grow? The spectrum is 7000k and I don't particularly like the color rendition, so I added a pink plastic filter in an attempt to shade the light a bit. The color looked better, but my plants didn't do any better. So I recently removed it and within a couple of days I got this growing in the middle where the water lettuce doesn't shade.

So I don't think it's a lack of light, but maybe a lack of co2 or ferts. I added some DIY Osmotote tabs for the dwarf sag without much success. I'm pretty sure I added some to the Amazon sword pot as well, no improvement.

I don't really want bright light that I have to supplement co2 or Excel, I'm ok with low light easy plants in there, hence my decision to filter the lighting, but with no improvement I'm at a loss.

Any thoughts?

02-05-2018, 10:53 PM
Oh and I recently added two male nerites to help with the algae. I mostly see diatom algae, and I think I've finally gotten a handle on that cyano that got out of hand when my friend overfed my tanks in June. But I've been trying to grow it back since then with no success.

02-06-2018, 12:21 AM
To me it sounds like your water lettuce is stripping the nutrients out of the water and starving your other plants. Being floaters, they have access to the most light and the most CO2, so they want to grow fast and will suck up as much nutrients as they can from the water and it's possible that the nutrients from the Osmocote is leaching out of the substrate and getting swallowed up. I recommend dosing the water column with a full range of macros/micros along with your Osmocote capsules before worrying too much about light and carbon.

As for Excel, it is great as an algaecide but it is extremely poor as a carbon supplement. I have to dig around to find it, but there were studies that showed glutaraldehyde when dosed as directed provided only a small fraction of carbon that a tank already gets naturally from gas exchange with the atmosphere. I still have an old jug of Metricide laying around somewhere but I have pretty much removed it from my pool of resources for my tanks.

02-06-2018, 02:30 AM
Thanks for your recommendation :) I forgot to mention, I started with a small dose of flourish comprehensive 2x weekly. I'll look into dosing with something more, tx. I'm actually considering that plant hormone thing by Seachem I think.

Do you think I should keep less water lettuce? I don't want to remove it completely, but will if necessary. I will comment and say I have water lettuce in anther 33g breeder tank also recovering from the latest overfeeding, and stargrass is doing much better. This tank has a deeper dirt bed, but was set up before the Fluval breeder (that's what I'll call it). Also the water lettuce was added at the same time in both tanks. The long roots died off in the Finnex breeder (although healthy), but remain long in the other tank. I recently removed a bunch of lettuce from this tank because they gathered some cyano. The infected pieces happen to be the massive ones with the long roots.

I know I can't really compare tanks like that, but I'm questioning the light fixture. The only way to know is to change the fixture without changing anything else, but I don't have the patience.

A friend of mine found 3 other Finnex Ray IIs that would light up all my breeder tanks, but I'm not sure if I should go for it, in case the fixtures are not ideal? My friend had the same issue in his tanks, I bought this one off him actually secondhand.

The growth is just pathetic though, in contrast to the other two 33g breeder tanks I have with two angelfish. I do WCs at the same time and started dosing at the same time. Both of these tanks in the thread also have cyanobacteria that I'm dealing with. I think it's pretty much gone in the Finnex breeder though, unless that 'algae' pictured is cyano. It's another thing I wanted to find out if possible.

02-06-2018, 02:59 AM
For simplicity, I'll only talk about the two breeder tanks, #1 will be called the Finnex breeder, #2 will be called the Cave breeder. Hope this is not confusing. I really appreciate the help :)

02-06-2018, 04:29 AM
Flourish Comp is a micro/trace mix. It has a little bit of potassium (as potash), but the nitrogen and phosphorus is almost nonexistent. If you want to stay with Seachem products, they offer nitrogen and phosphorous supplements. You could also try Thrive all-in-one liquid fert. It has been becoming extremely popular lately for those who don’t want to buy dry ferts and make their own solutions.

As for the water lettuce, I don’t see any problem in keeping it as long as you’re dosing ferts to replace what it is consuming. I kept it in my tank that is in my signature for a long time and had plenty of nutrients for everything because I was dosing E.I. and never had deficiencies. The only reason I ended up removing it is because the roots kept getting tangled up in my moss tree.

I was going to mention this in my last post but decided against it because I didn’t have any concrete info to back up the claim. I had seen lots of folks claiming that water lettuce root length was indicative of the nutrient levels in the tank. Longer roots meant there was less nutrients and the roots were seeking out anything they could find. Shorter roots meant there was an abundance of nutrients and therefore the plant did not have to go reaching. I don’t know how valid that argument is, but I know that in my high tech with lots of ferts the roots never got more than about 3”, yet when I moved them to a low tech that didn’t receive lots of supplementation the roots became longer. Perhaps this explains why the roots in one of your tanks seemed to disappear whereas this tank has very long ones? Purely speculation on my part.

02-06-2018, 06:37 PM
Tx André! Hmm not sure about the roots either, that's why I mentioned it so tx. But the long roots seem to grow longer with more organics/nutrients for me. My Finnex breeder is the one with short roots, the tank primarily in question. Sorry about the confusion. Water lettuce with looooong roots comes from my 90g with a deep deep dirt bed and higher TDS.

I'm not sure I want to go high tech on dosing ferts. 1)I won't dose when there's babies in the tank, at times that's quite often. 2) I just want to grow easy plants in a simple tank.

But honestly, the growth is so pitiful, I just feel I should be able to better grow the plants. If it's due to the water lettuce, I think I'd rather remove it, but I've had issues with this tank before I added the water lettuce. I actually added it in June when I was trying to get that cyano under control. The TDS is usually a bit lower under 100 in this tank. The other can climb up to 120.

02-06-2018, 07:35 PM
Another thought was maybe adding more fauna. I could add a BN pleco easily if it doesn't eat the eggs at night.

The reason I'm not comparing the 3rd breeder is because I recently added a male BN pleco due to fighting in the juvie tank. I feel the added bioload changes things too much. The 3rd breeder tank also has lower lighting presently.

02-06-2018, 08:06 PM
Hi tech just means you would be injecting CO2, which you don't need.

Why don't you dose ferts when babies are present? I dose a full range of compounds (KNO3, MgSO4, KH2PO4, Plantex CSM+B, and Salty Shrimp GH+) every day along with pressurized CO2 in my high grade crystal shrimp tank and have no issues with breeding. Minuscule babies are everywhere in that tank. I'm not saying you need to go crazy with fertilizers. Just add a bit of NPK here and there along with your Flourish.

02-06-2018, 08:12 PM
Ok André, so nitrogen is ok to add to a tank with free-swimmers? I just tried to keep the nitrates at 0ppm. Yeah I know, I might be tackling an impossible feat. If it's ok to dose nitrogen, I suppose I could try.

I have kh by Seachem. Other than that, I'll have to see if Thrive is available in Canada. Tx very much for all your input :)

02-06-2018, 10:50 PM
Well I can say that I haven't seen any adverse effects on my critters from dosing, but again I haven't raised angelfish fry before. I can put the subject out there in some of my Facebook groups and try to get some more concrete feedback.

I can also reach out to the owner of NilocG, who is the main distributor of Thrive, and see if he ships to Canada for you :)

02-06-2018, 11:45 PM
Wow, that would be awesome André :)))) I do know most angelfish breeders have bare tanks and preform daily LARGE WCs. Not really my thing at this point so I'm trying to cheat with dirted planted tanks for stability really. If I raise angelfish, I remove them and grow them out in, well, grow out tanks. I can coax angelfish to spawn with good nutrition and WCs regardless of whether I have a substrate and plants. The one downside is that the larger tanks with hiding spots and a stronger flow from an HOB make babies disappear. I use bare tanks for the fry and grow out tanks.

So, I guess I'm not really sure what I wanted to accomplish...I just look at the tank and think it should be so much more. I'm going to really look at adding some fertilizers like you've recommended.

Or......I may redo the tank. I like the "natural" tank that takes care of itself.

Now that I think of it I may have been running out of dirt when I set this tank up. I think I was testing a small layer, hahaha. Well....outcome....FAIL!
The rest is gravel, so I do suspect you are right about the Osmotote leaching into the water column as well, so tx for that André :))) :+1:

02-06-2018, 11:53 PM
Or......I may redo the tank. I like the "natural" tank that takes care of itself.

Just to add to this, if I redo the tank, I'm considering using PFS. I just don't particularly like the color. And white scares me.

02-07-2018, 04:40 AM
If you decide you want to try Thrive for this tank or any others, here is the contact the owner gave me:


02-07-2018, 05:43 PM
Oh wow, that's so nice of you! Thank you so much!

02-07-2018, 06:14 PM
Oh and I have to confirm that this
WAS cyanobacteria. I removed a bunch of gravel last night, and yep, it had that cyano odor I'm pretty sure. It was dark dark green. Some pieces were transparent where the green was really noticeable, those pieces were light and picked up easily with the siphon. But some pieces stuck to gravel, and in sand it's even harder to separate. Well I removed what I could, I'm doing a large WC now and removing anything left and after scaping the glass in case.

I'm going to start regular bacteria (SeptiBac) doses on the tanks with cyano (these two breeders) to help erradicate it hopefully for good. I haven't been able to shake it completely since June, that's a long time of thourough cleaning.

I've kept my tanks simple trying to get rid of it, but I'm not having success, so time to try something else. BluewaterBoof what do you think about adding water column ferts when the tank has cyano? I used to stop with ferts when I see it, but if plant growth suffers due to a nutrient deficiency, cyano and algae will take over instead right? So I think I'm on the right track but would love your opinion!

02-07-2018, 06:50 PM
I have no experience with cyano, so I'm not going to be any help there :( From what I see, no one really agrees on how certain nutrients affect it. Tom Barr claims that increasing nitrates to 10ppm or more will help slow it down, but I hate citing just one person's views on a debatable subject even when it is someone as highly-respected as Barr.

02-07-2018, 06:53 PM
Fair enough André, tx very much for your honestly. And lucky you hahaha. It appeared at my LFS a few years ago, ever since then it's plagued my tanks here and there. Makes me think it has to be introduced somehow, but I swear the stuff is airborne.

02-07-2018, 07:43 PM
Well I've dodged the cyano bullet but I had a terrible battle against cladophora that lasted almost two years and destroyed two beautiful scapes before I finally threw in the towel and stripped the tank down. There are several types of clado - the most famous is the marimo "moss" balls folks put in their tanks - and I ended up with the most invasive kind that is virtually impossible to eradicate. Even taking out all animals and turning the tank into a toxic pool of Excel that killed off all the plants wasn't enough; the crap just kept coming back again and again...

02-07-2018, 08:00 PM
My good friend dealt with clado. I think I might have had it, it has a weird odor as well correct? Short tuffy green filamentous strands, but I think higher lighting brings it on because it didn't stay around for me luckily. Well, every tank can bring is turmoil sometimes I guess...

02-07-2018, 08:37 PM
I don't know about the odor, but yes it is very tough short strands. Like fur, almost. In my tank it started as a small little furry patch on the glass, about the size of a blueberry. Looked just like a tiny marimo ball was trying to grow on the glass. I tried picking it off with my scaping tweezers and it held fast and I didn't get much. I was still new to the hobby and couldn't ID it, so I didn't know the true nature of the beast that was soon to come. I left it alone as the little tuft didn't seem dangerous in any way. Released its spores at some point shortly after and that was the beginning of the end. I had very strong light in the tank and was growing hemiathus callitrichoides "cuba." It worked its way into the carpet and established itself as a permanent pest. I may have some old photos in a journal around here...

02-07-2018, 08:42 PM
Yep, I can't seem to grow traditional carpet plants without getting some kind of green filamentous algae. Carpetting plants and moss are a nightmare when that type of algae hits. But as my tanks are now, they are medium light at best, so I haven't seen it in a while.

02-07-2018, 10:42 PM
Wouldn't anything that effects bacteria affect the cycle?

02-08-2018, 08:34 PM
Is it the SeptiBac you are referring to? The SeptiBac bacteria isn't nitrifying bacteria, but it will affect the cycle I believe via competitive exclusion. I think it helps the cycle, although I can't remember how :doh: I really thought it was similar to heterotrophic bacteria, but I have to reread about it. All I know is it doesn't hurt, It's cheap, so I thought why not try it. I knew at one time the strains of bacteria......

02-08-2018, 08:45 PM
Btw, now I'm not so sure it all was cyano. While cleaning the tank yesterday, I noticed more of that brown rubber algae on the glass when I scraped it. I couldn't see the algae on the glass, but some peeled away and accumulated on my blade. So I scraped the whole tank down and sucked up the algae. I found some heavy pieces on the DW area, it didn't smell like anything. I really tired to smell it lol. My guess is that some cyano was mixed in with it, so I'm back to square one trying to figure out what it is. All I can think to do is remove it when I see it.

I've recently started a siesta for these two tanks as well. I haven't seen much of an improvement but I'm giving it more time. These things take a while sometimes as we all know.

On a happy note the pair spawned after the WC a nice big spawn thumbs2: Maybe I'll take the plunge and try to raise them now that life is a bit calmer. I've been thinking lately I want to seriously get back into my tanks, I'm feeling the excitement again thumbs2:

02-08-2018, 09:55 PM
I've been thinking lately I want to seriously get back into my tanks, I'm feeling the excitement again thumbs2:

That's great news!....congrats on the new spawn

02-10-2018, 05:22 PM
Aww crap. They ate the eggs. Not sure why, but I think they've eaten their eggs the last few times now that I think of it. I added a siesta to the algae/cyano breeder tanks about the same time they started eating the eggs and I'm pretty sure I saw them eating the eggs when the light turned off. I ended up skipping siesta, the eggs remained that night but gone yesterday morning.

I took a good hard look at the tanks and fish last night. I fear my fish are too thin. So I've started a new thread regarding that. I'll take a look at the state of the tank after I deal with the fish.

02-10-2018, 11:12 PM
All of them...? Yeesh...

02-10-2018, 11:36 PM
All of them...? Yeesh...

No not all of them, but another male is looking like he's getting really skinny. His female partner is petite, but I'm not sure. I for sure have a platinum male angelfish who is thin for sure. With the other two passing away from the same thing in another tank, I'm passed paranoid :(