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  1. #1

    Default Adventures in Aquaria - The KevinVA Story


    1 Not allowed!
    Hey guys,

    It's been a while since I've blogged or kept a journal of any kind, but since a couple of people have suggested it, I thought I might as well give it a shot. Unfortunately, I have already established the tank with substrate/plants/rocks/etc, so I can't show any beginning shots, but I can at least post current pics and keep them updated.

    I upgraded from a 10gal to a 75gal and wanted to dive into an all natural tank, since I wasn't feeling the artificial stuff. My 10gal had white gravel, a fake cave and fake plants. This was acceptable for a few months, but I needed more from the hobby and I would do so with the 75gal.

    I decided to use tan sand (the typical, non-fancy stuff you can get from Lowes), real rocks from my backyard, a large piece of driftwood and live plants. I wanted to cover the back and sides with tall stem plants, cover the cave with a couple of rooted plants and use some shorter swords along the front and mid sections.

    The rock cave (there are two caves next to each other from the structure I put together) would be left of center and the driftwood would be right of center, surrounded by taller plants. I thought about moss, but opted for a bare wood look.

    Anyway, I started out with the sand substrate and rocks. Washed the sand as best I possibly could and boiled the crap out of the rocks. Both procedures took quite a while, being that my boiling mechanisms consisted of larger pots on the stove and my rocks were quite large. The regular sand from Lowes was extremely dirty... I'd recommend getting something pre-washed if you can, but the price was fine. Either way, it was relaxing washing it out, but it took forever. I just hung out on my patio with a bucket, a hose and a beer, and went to town. haha

    Hours later, I was able to add the sand to the tank, arranged it so that it was somewhat flat, placed a dish inside the tank and filled the sucker up.

    Oh, before I get ahead of myself, I'm using a Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter. In addition to that, I was using a Hydor Koralia Evolution 750 for circulation. These, along with the heater & thermometer were already installed.

    After adding the water, and even after having spent hours washing out the sand, the water still ended up dirty/cloudy from the cheap sand. I turned on my filtration/circulation devices and began the waiting process. After a couple of days the tank was cleared out, thanks to the filter. Once I could see things, I began adding pure ammonia to the tank in order to start my fishless cycle.

    Then I arranged my rocks inside the tank. This was the beginning of an engaging experience, which I can now understand why so many people in Japan keep fish and planted tanks. It's more of a zen experience than keeping a fish-only or fake-plant tank. Think bonzai tree or zen garden, but aquatic plants. ;]

    From what I heard about the big box stores, their aquatic plants were pretty questionable. They are said to come with algae and snails, and kept in somewhat poor conditions. With that, I decided to take to Aquabid, which seemed like the safer bet at the time.

    After researching a bunch of aquatic plants, I had decided that I definitely wanted to use either some shorter grasses (not too short) or shorter plants for the front, so that fish can use them for comfort zones and/or grazing, but I can still see what's going on in the area. I thought about keeping the front bear-bottom, but thought it might be better for the fish to give them some foliage. I opted for Pigmy Sword Chain Plants. I purchased 8 of these and randomly placed them throughout the front of the tank.

    The background was going to be a more difficult animal, since the plants should be tall and there are so many to choose from. I immediately fell in love with Ludwigia repens. The beautiful looking purple/green leaves and the fact that these were supposedly easy to grow was a big bonus. I started with about 12 stems and placed them in the back, behind and to the right of the caves, while also placing a couple in front of the filter intake. I also purchased some (about 6) corkscrew vals and added them to the back & mid-left (left of the caves).

    After about a week or two of planting these, adding Seachem Flourish tabs and liquid fertilizer, the plants began to grow quite well (with exception to the corkscrew vals). Unfortunately, I was also on the receiving end of an algae bloom and became a new owner of a few pond snails, who continuously lays egg sacks around the tank. I'm surprised at how fast the Ludwigia grows... the swordplants, also. While the stem plants continue to get taller, the swordplants continued to sprout new chains of swordplants. No change from the vals - the bigger leaves just continued to melt. lol

    It was at this point where I started noticing this white, snotty substance around the tank on the substrate. I later learned that this stuff would turn into a brown, hairy algae. Diatoms, I do believe. It took about a week for the transition from white gross stuff to brown annoyance. It was also at this point, where I noticed a green, smooth algae was growing on my flat rock (the main cave ceiling). After a while that green turned into blue and green... which meant it must be Cyanobacteria. I cursed the Gods and continued onward.

    About 3-4 weeks into establishment and cycling, more algae began to appear - and seemingly all variations. From Cyanobacteria to brown algae to different kinds of green algae. I also now had about 48 swordplants from the original 8 I started with, and my stem plants were growing quite well. I accepted the algae and told myself I'd try to find a natural way of fighting it off. I've heard the horror stories of using Excel and didn't want to risk losing my good bacteria and the plants I had been successfully growing.

    So, I researched how to fight algae, naturally. Unfortunately, fish weren't an option for the Cyanobacteria, but some plecos, otos, other catfish and chinese algae eaters could take care of a bunch of the other stuff. Unfortunate, still, is that I would like to take care of this bloom before adding fish, especially the Cyano. Some algae would be fine, but as you'll see in the pictures ahead, the algae I have isn't very pretty and just makes the tank look like a mess. In addition to that, Cyano in large quantities can be very harmful to fish.

    So, my first option was to manually remove as much as I could. So... I did. Unfortunately, that option is short-lived, as the algae grows extremely fast.

    After removing the Cyano by hand, I decided to buy more plants to fill out the tank a bit more. I wanted some bushy stem plants and what I found to be a perfect match to my needs was Green Cabomba. I purchased about 18 stems of these and added them to the right of the tank. They would surround the driftwood and also cover the heater and provide more coverage for the filter.

    As I was buying these, I also wanted to purchase a couple of fuller plants, like Amazon Swords or something similar to add to my caves. I decided on two Anubias Barteri 'coffeefolia'. Beautiful, full plants that should provide some good coverage on the rocks/caves. Looking forward to these growing.

    Adding these plants did a pretty good job of filling it out on the right/mid. The left was still kind of barren, because of the lack of growth from the corkscrew vals.

    After adding these, I decided to get back to fighting off algae again. My second option was to provide better light and my third option was to provide more plants (filling out about half the tank with plants) in order to have the plants fight the bacteria and algae for nutrients. Since this was an algae bloom in the first stages of a new tank, I figured the addition of ammonia and growth of nitrites/nitrates would be adding additional fuel for the plants & algae to grow. So, I decided to jump right in and purchase another 50 Ludwigia repens (the price was right). I also purchased three sword plants (I assume Amazon Swords, since they weren't labeled).

    When I received the 50 Ludwigia repens, I was a little surprised, because they came in a small, cubical box. "How in the world could they fit these tall stem plants in there?!" I pondered. Lo and behold... they coiled them up like a rope or hose to make them fit. *sigh* This was unfortunate, because now they're stuck in that position... BUT I decided to use them anyway. I placed them where my Corkscrew vals were, and placed the vals in my 10gal (that's another story). I got about 20 of the new Ludwigias in there and finally ran out of room on the left, because I also planted 2 sword plants there, as well (the 3rd & 4th (they sent an extra one) are in my 10gal). The final positioning of these is still up in the air, because I'm not extremely pleased with how they look. I also planted about 10 more behind the rocks and to the right of the cave, to fill it out some more.

    Now I have about 20 Ludwigia repens floating (circling, due to the current provided by my filter & pump). I don't want to throw them away, because they're still pretty healthy, but I also don't have any place to put them. I'm pondering about moving some of the chain swords on the left to the middle of the tank and then plant the rest of the Ludwigia, but I don't know yet.

    I'm now awaiting a new light fixture that holds 2 T5 6500k bulbs. I'm going to place this fixture in the back of the tank and move the other dual lamp fixture to the front, since the one I currently have isn't a high-output fixture. The lighting doubled after adding this double light fixture... I can't wait to see how it looks with the high-output bulbs in the back. I purchased this new fixture to ensure proper plant growth, in addition to keeping algae at bay. Hopefully the combination of more plants + better lighting will have a positive effect.

    My cycle also just ended yesterday (literally). I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites & about 160 nitrates. After doing a big water change and getting the nitrates under wraps (finally got the necessary components to use my Aqueon Water Changer), hopefully the algae will subside. Then I'll be hitting it with a double/triple whammy... and eventually adding some algae eaters to kick it's butt.

    Oh, I also had to replace my Hydor Koralia Evolution 750 with a Hydor Koralia Nano 240. The current was way too strong for the stem plants in there. They would consistently be pushing them over, if I arranged the 750 so that it bounced off the glass. It would move the water toward the other side of the tank, where it would wrap around and push over the stems toward my filter. I would have to point the pump up toward the top of the water and flat, so that this effect wouldn't happen. This ended up being a pain in the butt and too much current. I don't think any fish I would keep would appreciate it either. So... the Nano is it. I think I probably could have dealt with the next step up in Nano variety, but for now this works. I'm also thinking about adding another canister filter to the other side of the tank, but we'll see how this works out for now. I was going to do a HOB filter for the other side, but there's no room. With the tank and the stand in place, there's no way these things are going to move without a crap load of effort, so I'm stuck with either one filter or a second canister filter.

    So, after this long-winded introduction to my tank... here are a few pictures (same view, just couldn't decide on which method looks better in regards to photography):

    1.

    2.

    3.
    You can't see most of the new Ludwigias behind the rocks, because I trimmed them down in size, so they wouldn't cover all over the place. So, while it looks barren in places, it is actually filled.

    Let me know if you have any suggestions. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the look, but the left side is pretty bothersome, with those weak looking Ludwigia, and the sword plants hidden. I think I might actually move the stems to the side & back edges and put the sword plants in front of them. Not sure... Maybe just get rid of the Ludwigias all together?
    Last edited by KevinVA; 09-10-2012 at 12:41 AM.
    Adventures in Aquaria - The KevinVA Story

    When in doubt, ask yourself... W.W.L.S (What would Lee Say)?

    Have a fish problem? Fill out and post this completed questionnaire in the General Aquarium Forum, when you start a new thread.

  2. Default


    0 Not allowed!
    I would keep the Ludwigias and see how they grow. Like you said I would move more of the chain swords in the middle and put the other plants that are floating on the left side. My opinion. I think the tank looks out standing. To me this would be a tank to keep a large school of neon tetras and a big group of emerald green cories.
    10 Gallon Nano Tank

  3. #3

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by es31710
    I would keep the Ludwigias and see how they grow. Like you said I would move more of the chain swords in the middle and put the other plants that are floating on the left side. My opinion. I think the tank looks out standing. To me this would be a tank to keep a large school of neon tetras and a big group of emerald green cories.
    Thanks es, I think I'll do that. I'll move some things around and see how I can fit the rest and then move the sword plants forward, so that they're behind the rocks and more noticeable. The stems will always grow tall (probably to the surface of the water and then bend), but swords should grow to about 3/4 of the height of the tank.

    And thanks for saying it looks outstanding. This is my first planted tank and I'm still pretty new to fish keeping, so I really appreciate that. =] I just put a black background on last night, after posting the journal, so I'm curious to see what difference that makes with the look. I didn't bother putting the lights on in the tank, since it was late, so it'll be a surprise until I see it later today - forgot to check it out this morning. :shrug

    I'm still working out how I'm going to stock the tank. As of now, I have 3 Serpae Tetras that need to be moved from a 10gal to the big tank and I was going to add about 7 more to their ranks. It's funny, because people continue to say they do well in bigger schools, but the three I have, have really enjoyed themselves in the 10gal. They also leave any other fish they're with alone, besides themselves. Could be they nip at each other, because they've established their own designated areas of the tank and in bigger schools they're too close together to establish their own piece of real estate.
    Adventures in Aquaria - The KevinVA Story

    When in doubt, ask yourself... W.W.L.S (What would Lee Say)?

    Have a fish problem? Fill out and post this completed questionnaire in the General Aquarium Forum, when you start a new thread.

  4. #4

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Lovely tank Kevin! I'll be subsribing. :)
    130g: 6 Angelfish, 2 Roseline Sharks, 5 Kuhli Loaches, 1 Otocinslus, 1 Corydora
    I've noticed that people HATE it when you point out how stupid they are, so now I try to do it politely.

  5. #5

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by MandyK
    Lovely tank Kevin! I'll be subsribing. :)
    Thanks Mandy!
    Adventures in Aquaria - The KevinVA Story

    When in doubt, ask yourself... W.W.L.S (What would Lee Say)?

    Have a fish problem? Fill out and post this completed questionnaire in the General Aquarium Forum, when you start a new thread.

  6. #6

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Before making any changes to the tank, I decided to take a before and after picture after I got home from work. The before picture still has the floating plants, but has the added background from last night.



    It's amazing what a difference a black or blue background makes in a tank. It drives a real contrast and makes everything in the foreground pop. Unfortunately, I still have a stock lens for my DLP camera (and I'm a DLP noob), so my pictures are sub-standard for aquariums. Please forgive them. ;P

    As we discussed earlier, I decided move the chain swords on the left to the middle foreground. Then I would move several of the Ludwigia from behind the rocks to the left/front side, move the Swords closer to the rocks and then surround them with more Ludwigia (on the left edge & back edge of the tank). I then populated the left side with the floating Ludwigia bunch.

    Here's an image after the move:



    So far, I'm pleased. I'm glad that the surface of the water is now clear and I found something to do with that bunch of Ludwigia, and I think it's looking a bit more organized in there. I'm also noticing that the aglae (in most places) is subsiding a bit. Additionally, the new sad Ludwigia that I planted from the 50 stems the other day are starting to right themselves. That's a relief, as I was afraid they were going to remain in their original crooked formation. The new ones are still curved/crooked, but we'll see how they look tomorrow. In a week, I'm sure they'll all right themselves pretty well. Especially, when I add the additional light.

    Now that I'm done for the night, I thought I'd take a few close-up pictures of the tank.

    The Main Cave:

    The Secondary Cave (and close-up of new Ludwigia):

    My dual-bulb T5 HO lamp comes in on Wednesday. Can't wait to replace the single-bulb T8. That thing produces such poor quality light. One single-bulb T5 HO lamp (in a 2-bulb fixture) on my 10gal made all the difference in the world. Everything looks so much more vibrant. Of course, that bulb is 10,000k and the new lamp coming in is 6,500k. Hopefully they look just as vibrant.

    I think tomorrow might be water change day. I had to get some extension tubing today to fit the changer. More updates to come!
    Adventures in Aquaria - The KevinVA Story

    When in doubt, ask yourself... W.W.L.S (What would Lee Say)?

    Have a fish problem? Fill out and post this completed questionnaire in the General Aquarium Forum, when you start a new thread.

  7. Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Damn guys sorry for your losses, I'm sure the suppliers will refund or replace them tho.

    Endangered Species 150G Journal
    Discus Grow Out 65G Journal

    'No disrespect intended, but I tell it like it is.'

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Gods Country
    Posts
    6,063

    Awards Showcase

    YOU have no Rummys?!! for you!! - SeaLady A round for the fallen this Memorial Day weekend. - Compass I don't like to drink alone..... Cheers - Cliff because they rock! and for showing them to me. - cm12setx Here's to retirement! - Slaphppy7 
    Thanks for the videos and great advice on restocking my dual 29s! - gronlaura for tirelessly showing beautiful, various fish - RiversGirl T.G.I.F.! - Slaphppy7 TGIF on the 13th with a full moon. - Taurus Spurs! - RiversGirl 
    Here's a get well soon beer, so get well ASAP. - Taurus T.G.I.F.! - Slaphppy7 feelin your pain - SeaLady Using up my winnings on my friends! - Compass Beer reduces kidney stones! - Sandz 
    T.G.I.F.! - Slaphppy7 Thx. Have another on me! - pRED Enjoy the 4th brother :-) - Taurus Bleeding blues! - RiversGirl TGIF and here's to the bleeding blues Lee. - Taurus 
    Children with Disabilities - Parkinson's Disease - VACTERL - Young Onset Parkinson's Association - steeler1 Childhood Cancer - steeler1 Anti-Tobacco - Colon Cancer - Colorectal Cancer - steeler1 Mourning - Anti-Gang - Melanoma - steeler1 Mourning - Anti-Gang - Melanoma - steeler1 
    Bone Marrow Donation - Childhood Depression - Depression - Environment - Eye Injury Prevention - Glaucoma - Kidney Cancer - Kidney Disease - Kidney Transplantation - Leukemia - Lyme Disease - Mental Retardation - Missing Children - Organ Donation - T - steeler1 Troop and Military Support - Amber Alert - Bladder Cancer - Endometriosis - Equality - Liver Cancer - Liver Disease - Missing Children - POW/MIA - Spina Bifida - Suicide - steeler58 

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    I know mine will; I just have to send them the sad picture of a bag of dead Cory's.
    Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
    Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.
    -Vince Lombardi

    Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. ― John Wooden
    Sandy Hook Elementary......Lest We Forget
    See my profile for my tanks and what fish I keep

  9. #9

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks guys. Yeah, it's a bummer. I've already talked to my guy and he said he'd give me some options either tonight or tomorrow. I know there's no written guarantee for Priority Shipping, but he's going to work with me.

    Steeler, do you use 1 or 2 day shipping?

    Honestly, I'm not even sure 1-day shipping would have prevented this. The Black Rubies seem very finicky. After drip acclimating them for about 5hrs, I tried netting two of them and placing them in the tank... That was apparently a bad idea!

    As soon as I placed them in the tank, then went stiff and hyperventilated. I don't know if any of you fish or have fished, but it's kind of like when you catch and release, but sometimes you need to acclimate the fish back into the water, due to the stress it underwent. After it catches its' breath, you let it go. That's what this was like. I guess the net was too stressful for them. Finding that out, I decided to dump them into the tank, by way of the bucket. Bad practice... but whatever. I'd rather not stress them out further. They stressed little guys recovered, but sheesh, that was a scare. lol

    Hopefully they do alright. They've already been bullied a bit by the Gourami, but I'm sure she'll eventually let up, when they don't pose a threat (hopefully). I'm sure they'll do better once they find each other, as well... only two seem to have found each other. The other 3 are by themselves... and the biggest one is about 1" long. I'm surprised the Golden Wonders didn't try to eat them yet. Hopefully that doesn't happen. I did make sure to feed them well, tonight, though. =X
    Adventures in Aquaria - The KevinVA Story

    When in doubt, ask yourself... W.W.L.S (What would Lee Say)?

    Have a fish problem? Fill out and post this completed questionnaire in the General Aquarium Forum, when you start a new thread.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Gods Country
    Posts
    6,063

    Awards Showcase

    YOU have no Rummys?!! for you!! - SeaLady A round for the fallen this Memorial Day weekend. - Compass I don't like to drink alone..... Cheers - Cliff because they rock! and for showing them to me. - cm12setx Here's to retirement! - Slaphppy7 
    Thanks for the videos and great advice on restocking my dual 29s! - gronlaura for tirelessly showing beautiful, various fish - RiversGirl T.G.I.F.! - Slaphppy7 TGIF on the 13th with a full moon. - Taurus Spurs! - RiversGirl 
    Here's a get well soon beer, so get well ASAP. - Taurus T.G.I.F.! - Slaphppy7 feelin your pain - SeaLady Using up my winnings on my friends! - Compass Beer reduces kidney stones! - Sandz 
    T.G.I.F.! - Slaphppy7 Thx. Have another on me! - pRED Enjoy the 4th brother :-) - Taurus Bleeding blues! - RiversGirl TGIF and here's to the bleeding blues Lee. - Taurus 
    Children with Disabilities - Parkinson's Disease - VACTERL - Young Onset Parkinson's Association - steeler1 Childhood Cancer - steeler1 Anti-Tobacco - Colon Cancer - Colorectal Cancer - steeler1 Mourning - Anti-Gang - Melanoma - steeler1 Mourning - Anti-Gang - Melanoma - steeler1 
    Bone Marrow Donation - Childhood Depression - Depression - Environment - Eye Injury Prevention - Glaucoma - Kidney Cancer - Kidney Disease - Kidney Transplantation - Leukemia - Lyme Disease - Mental Retardation - Missing Children - Organ Donation - T - steeler1 Troop and Military Support - Amber Alert - Bladder Cancer - Endometriosis - Equality - Liver Cancer - Liver Disease - Missing Children - POW/MIA - Spina Bifida - Suicide - steeler58 

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    I use 1 day shipping.
    Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
    Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.
    -Vince Lombardi

    Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. ― John Wooden
    Sandy Hook Elementary......Lest We Forget
    See my profile for my tanks and what fish I keep

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