My Dream Aquarium- 55 Gallon - Plans

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Sorry to hear about your stowaway incident. Sometimes things just happen and it's nobody's fault. You will enjoy the shrimp. I bought 40 at various stages from tiny to adult from a guy on r/aquaswap for cheap. I just saw my first tank-born shrimp tonight. They do such a great job cleaning and pretty much become self regulating population-wise. Almost anything will eat the smallest babies. They are just so tempting looking swimming around, but you have plenty of cover so they should be everywhere soon. The bit of red makes a nice contrast in the back.
 
UPDATE - Algae War Continues and Raphael Saga Continues

My nitrate was 40 or 80ppm- can't tell which (they both look the same to me), so I did a 30 gallon water change today. I did it before I added the micro fertilizer for the plants (today is micro nutrients- I swap micro & macro every other day except Wednesdays when I do a 50%+ water change). I was disappointed that the nitrate didn't drop more after the Wednesday water change. I cleaned the filter on Wednesday (first time since I started the tank). I thought that would help some.

The nitrates are down to about 20ppm now, but maybe 30- it's a little redder than 20, but not enough to be 40. Still not satisfied, so I might do some vacuuming tomorrow.

ALGAE WAR: I have some kind of new hair algae. I don't bother trying to figure out which ones- they all suck. So, I decided to spot treat with hydrogen peroxide. I did some reading and, as usual, I combine whatever suggestions make sense and ignore the conflicting opinions. Most of what I saw/read was consistent for this, so that was helpful.

First I turned the filter off. I used a 3ml syringe that actually goes to 4ml and spot treated all over the tank. I put at least 10 syringes worth in there, maybe a few more, but it's nowhere near the limit for that tank. Anyway, as described, the treated areas started bubbling furiously to my delight. DIE, ALGAE, DIE!!!. I turned the lights off and waited 50 minutes before turning them back on (apparently light makes hydrogen peroxide break down faster). Then I waited another 25 minutes before turning the filter on- the idea there is that I gave it enough time for the hydrogen peroxide to break down enough to not affect the beneficial bacteria in the filter.

The water is somewhat cloudy now, but hopefully tomorrow it'll be clear and I'll see evidence of dying or dead algae.

RAPHAEL SAGA CONTINUES: My son and his brand new bride came over today. They got married yesterday in an elegant yet simple ceremony- stayed in a nice hotel (the classic Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta) and then came over to visit and have Christmas with us before heading out for a cruise honeymoon. They are both chefs, so they never have time on Christmas to come by.

They gave me a really neat sign to put inside my aquarium. I love it. It says, "Croaker Catfish Lake." Croaker Catfish is a nickname for the spotted Raphael catfish that just died a most gruesome death. I had just finished telling them the story before I opened the gift LOL.

I was debating whether to get another one, but it's settled now. I must. Otherwise the definition of "croaker" in the name of my aquarium is not the same. :oops: :oops: :oops:
 
What an interesting turn of events surrounding that fish. Hopefully the new one finds a happy home there.

On a side note, this hobby is a path of learning patience and measured response. I recall somewhere in this thread that you know you don't have the most patience for some things, but If you are doing 50% water changes regularly to keep things clean, you may want to slow down whatever you are putting into that system a bit. Whether it's fertilizer or feed, just cut back a fair share and see how things progress.

Fish really don't need much food and to be honest plants don't really need much fertilizer especially with fish waste to eat. Unless you are really trying to push growth for some reason, try reducing it. The plants will grow a bit slower, but they will be just as healthy. Also, check the lighting period. Bright lights shouldn't be on much more than 8 hrs. If you need more viewing time, insert a dark period in the middle. The fish won't care as there will be ambient room light so things won't get out of sorts.

I realize I come from the opposite side of things and really don't subscribe much to additives unless necessary, so take that in perspective. A good ecosystem is going to take care of things and changes will be slow and manageable. You have a great great tank. Starve it for a few days and come back slow with food, etc. That's just my 2 cents.
 
What an interesting turn of events surrounding that fish. Hopefully the new one finds a happy home there.

On a side note, this hobby is a path of learning patience and measured response. I recall somewhere in this thread that you know you don't have the most patience for some things, but If you are doing 50% water changes regularly to keep things clean, you may want to slow down whatever you are putting into that system a bit. Whether it's fertilizer or feed, just cut back a fair share and see how things progress.

Fish really don't need much food and to be honest plants don't really need much fertilizer especially with fish waste to eat. Unless you are really trying to push growth for some reason, try reducing it. The plants will grow a bit slower, but they will be just as healthy. Also, check the lighting period. Bright lights shouldn't be on much more than 8 hrs. If you need more viewing time, insert a dark period in the middle. The fish won't care as there will be ambient room light so things won't get out of sorts.

I realize I come from the opposite side of things and really don't subscribe much to additives unless necessary, so take that in perspective. A good ecosystem is going to take care of things and changes will be slow and manageable. You have a great great tank. Starve it for a few days and come back slow with food, etc. That's just my 2 cents.
Noahm,
Your comments are spot on, as much as I don't want to admit it. I overfeed the fish- I am cutting back on feeding them, but even with that I need to cut back more. I am going the next 2 days without feeding them.

I'm not sure where the nitrates are coming from, but certainly the excess food is part of it. Honestly, I know dang well where the nitrates are coming from, I just want to convince myself it's a big mystery LOL. The nitrates aren't THAT bad, 30ppm is not really a big deal, but I just have it in my head that I want to get it to 10ppm once and go from there.

Fertilization for plants: I'm using the EI method- I've researched it to death and I want to stick to it. It's over-fertilization by design, but it's a very commonly used method for folks with high tech planted tanks. My plants are mostly not that hard to keep, but I'm starting to bring in some and the EI method is pretty foolproof to ensure they have everything they need. There are conflicting opinions on how quickly one should start full fertilization, but EI is based on the fact that fertilizer is not what will make algae take over and in many cases fertilizer will ensure plants can out-compete algae. I waited about a month before starting the full EI method. I found folks who would say that's the right thing to do (or that I should have started it day one) and others who say I should ramp up over a few months. I don't think the fertilizer is the culprit for the algae, though- as long as you don't include nitrates in that category.

Lighting: Ok....you've got me here. My tank is only 2.5 months old. There is pretty consistent to start slowly with 100% lighting and some folks I see only run lights at 60% and then only for 6 - 8 hours. Long term there is conflicting opinions- some say you should stop at 8 hours max, others say you can go 15 hours or more at 100%. I have the tank to look at it and don't want to be squinting through the dark at it. So, I started with 6 hours of 100%, but after a week or so, went to 8, and more recently to 11 hours 100% with the idea that with a heavily planted, well fertilized tank, my plants will out compete the algae.

That HAS worked, with one exception: slow growing plants. The guy who called the auction at my club Saturday held up a bag with a rock that was covered with various buce plants. He, somewhat facetiously called them "Bruce" and said, "I think these are those plants that you put in the tank and after a year one leaf grows." I love the buce plants I have and I love the A Reneckii (sp?), but they just grow SLOW and the dadgum algae just loves to jump right on them. When that happens, the algae gets a foothold and then sneaks over to the moss and starts creeping into other plants that would be otherwise unaffected.

So, rather than just take them out and sticking to faster growing plants, I'm determined to win the war LOL. My 15 gallon tank has both anubias (slow) and faster ones- Java Fern, Amazon Sword and some kind of penny something or other. I don't have CO2 in that tank, but the slow growers still tend to be the ones that the algae lights on (when it does). I had a war for a long time in that tank and it is dang near crystal clear now. It still has black beard algae, the King Devil of all Devil Algae, but with pruning, Seachem Excel, and water changes I'm able to keep it in check.

I want to do the same thing with the 75 gallon, but it's just not seasoned enough for the natural balance to take place yet.

Bear in mind, that I don't mind algae on hardscape. There's a lot of green algae on rocks and the wood- I like that- it's natural looking- I HATE the hair algae, though, wherever it is and I don't like any kind of algae on the leaves of my plants.

So, I try to prune the bad leaves to make way for the good ones- that works some... I'm now also trying the hydrogen peroxide thing- we'll see how it goes. The other hair algae I had went away, both through manual removal and through some spot treatment. I'm hoping the same will happen with this stuff.

Honestly, I brought all this on myself, but I'm willing to fight the fight to have lots more "up-time" with the lighting in the tank so I can sit and stare at it.

Oh, I forgot to mention- I have monte carlo I was trying to grow as carpet. It was growing straight up with thin leaves. The vertical growth is a sign of not enough light (thus my move from 8 hours to 11 hours) and the thin leaves are a sign of not enough CO2. That's when I started messing with the dKH to make sure the saturation of CO2 is higher without having to lower the PH more (it's already at 6.6). I also bought another light because the first one doesn't have enough coverage front to back (or so I decided :D ). The monte carlo is now growing much more horizontally, so the lighting change worked (probably the intensity more than the duration, much as I hate to admit it), but the leaves are still thin. I talked to the "plant guy" at the club and he said it's weird how much the same plant will differ from tank to tank, so maybe that's just how it is for this planting.

Anyway, I've learned over time that the more I have to explain stuff the more likely it is that I'm wrong- and in this case I know I am with some of this, but I'm pretty hard headed too, so I'm gonna keep after it.

I am still debating the other water change tomorrow. I'm really only supposed to do it once per week according to the EI method, but I'd like to do it once more to try and compensate for the sins of my past and see if feeding less, combined with the hydrogen peroxide killing of the algae will help tip the balance back toward the middle. I'm dang sure not going to do that all the time, LOL, so laziness will eventually kick in and I'll concede if my grand scheme of the moment doesn't work.

Having said all that, I appreciate the dose of reality you're giving me and request that you not stop pointing out crazy when you see it. Sometimes I'm pushing a rope uphill on purpose, but a lot of times I have no idea. :D
 
Oh- btw- I have a picture of my aquarium sign- I LOVE it. I just need to make the term "croaker" mean a kind of catfish and not the disposition of the catfish. I also took a video of the crazy bubbling as the hydrogen peroxide worked its magic

I checked a local fish store (a chain, but they have cool fish like knife fish and discus) but they didn't have any spotted raphael, so the hunt continues...

Here's the sign
croakingcatfish.jpg


Here's the video- note: the bubbling noise are the brine shrimp eggs I'm "cooking"
 
I have the same general issue with my light schedule. I like to see my tank and 8 hours isn't enough. My solution was to buy a second light, lol. Now hear me out. I started with one Aquarium Co-op light. It's a very good, light wise, but doesn't offer a bunch of programming at that price point. I wanted a second one for wall to wall coverage as I had some plants behind some wood and rocks where it really needed another fixture to get it. When you look at it from simple geometry, a 3" wide fixture simply can't cover the upper levels of the tank as you move to the sides.

Well, I had been running 8 hours, but once I got the second one, I run 11 but with overlapping 3 hours off in the middle of the day, so each one is only on for 8 and the intensity on the opposite side of the tank is pretty low with one off and them offset from the center so much. The single light offset gives me enough light to really look good, but gives each side (front/back) truly only 8 hours of real intense light. I run them both at 60%. I can see where your deep tank would require 100%.

Keep at it.

Cheers.
 
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UPDATE - Algae War Continues

Yesterday I vacuumed the gravel (about 10 gallons of vacuuming) and did a bit of manual removal of the hair algae I have. This stuff is brittle and not whispy like the last kind I had. I don't think the H2O2 got it all, but one step at a time.

The nitrates are down to 10ppm this morning. That's pretty good.

I'm going to trim the monte carlo and the water sprite. It's growing like crazy!! The new Rotalla Blood Red is growing also, which is nice to see. The Limnophila Aromatica is holding steady, but looking good. It should start growing as well, but it didn't really have roots, so I imagine it is establishing roots first.
 
UPDATE - New Spotted Raphael! Croaker Catfish Lake is Legit Again!
I bought a small spotted raphael catfish today (and 5 more Green Fire tetra)! I'm very excited.

I drip acclimated them and dropped them in the tank after about an hour. My new Raphael swam straight to the bottom and just nose dived into the plants (see pic below). He stayed long enough to pose for a picture and then swam off. I thought it was to find a dark place to sleep, but he decided to check out the tank!!

I have 2 videos attached below. The first was just that I was surprised he was swimming around. Then I noticed that the angelfishies were very curious about him and were following him all over the tank! They didn't touch him, but were just like, "what's this tank swimming around the tank?" LOL

His tail doesn't look right to me, but his other fins look fine. I'm hoping he's in good shape. The LFS just got him yesterday, so he's pretty new. He's a little guy, so I'm excited to watch him grow.

First thing he did was swim straight down and stick his nose in the monte carlo.
NewRaphael20Jan24.jpg


 
He looks happy and healthy. Those angels are right up in his business, lol. The tail does appear to have a bit of damage, just keep an eye on it for any rot/infection, but it should come back properly. Monte Carlo is looking great.
 
After a second look, are you certain that is MC? It looks a bit more like Hemianthus micranthemoides now that it has grown out. I know there is a bit of wild west with some of the small stuff out there. I got mine as TC from buceplants, but it hasn't grown out yet, but is pushing some bigger (albeit round) leaves up around the perimeter.
 
After a second look, are you certain that is MC? It looks a bit more like Hemianthus micranthemoides now that it has grown out. I know there is a bit of wild west with some of the small stuff out there. I got mine as TC from buceplants, but it hasn't grown out yet, but is pushing some bigger (albeit round) leaves up around the perimeter.
Thank you for bringing that up. I thought it was monte carlo because I planted it on the rocks and then moved it/removed what wasn't doing well. I went back to BucePlant and looked at the order- I got 3 pots of monte carlo and 1 of pearl weed. I think that IS pearl weed and I must have pulled out all the monte carlo! When I planted, I got them all mixed up and couldn't remember what everything was (was sick bad with Covid when the plants came in). I have been wondering why I have such skinny leaves on my monte carlo LOL. Problem solved! Thanks Noahm!
 
Well, it looks like it has found a happy place. I have been going round and round on low foreground plants, so it's all fresh in my mind. I still think my MC will fill out nicely, but I also want something to keep the Eliocharis in check. I have ordered some Utricularia graminifolia to place here and there and see if it finds a good niche to fill in and maybe block in some of the E. pusilla. I figure even if all three (MC, E. pusilla, and Utric) all get intermixed, it will still look good. I mostly want to maintain my low areas as open swimming, but have good baby shrimp and microfauna cover. I also got a cup of Staurogyne repens to bring some different green to the mid-low in a couple of places. Honestly I should have done the 40G breeder even with potential pending move down the road.

Also, you are pretty close, if you have any interest in anything I've got, let me know --it should ship there quickly in normal circumstances. I am sure some of it will become "extra" as it fills in.
 
noahm, that is a heckuva mix. I looked up the Utricularia Graminifolia- it's carnivorous! That's really cool. You think all 3 of those will intermix ok or will one take over? I have some Eliocharis (I'm trying to use the fancy names since you are ;-) ) in my small tank, but it hasn't grown well and the corys dig around it and it pops out.

I'm interested to see how they look together- all 3 of those are beautiful. I think monte carlo is my fave, followed by the U. Graminifolia. I had never seen that before- very cool. It might be a help for my tank right now (see next update)- I seem to have a bacteria bloom or something.

Hey thanks for the offer to ship- I could do the same- I cut back almost half a bucket of wisteria and water sprite- also rotala super-red. Also, I'm expecting to have a whole pile of cherry shrimp in the next couple of months, so I could share some of those with you too, if you like.

BTW, do you have a local aquarium club in Huntsville? It would be about 7 hours driving to get here and back, but you might check out the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association- we do auctions every meeting and there are a couple of bigger ones coming up. Generally, stuff can be had for way cheaper than LFS or online and there are some really good hobbyists with some interesting stuff.
 
UPDATE: More Aquascape Changes and Bacteria Bloom??

Today I
  • vacuumed 10 gallons worth of crap to get as much poop etc. as I could off the exposed substrate
  • removed the 2 roots that have the rhizome plants attached so I could prune bad or algae covered leaves and treat for algae
  • pruned the wisteria, water sprite, and rotala blood-red
I had about 1/4 bucket of pruned plants. Yesterday I turned up the PH to 6.7 (from 6.6) to cut back on the CO2. The fish are fine, but I want to slow the crazy growth a little. The plants pearl like crazy and are growing great- I can dial it back a bit and still get good growth while maintaining the right range for the fish.

I have been reducing some of the "noise" in the tank lately- I pulled out a big log I had in there- just too much hardscape. Today, after I pulled out the 2 roots, I looked at the tank and realized it looks a lot better without them in there. Plus, I cannot seem to get the rhizome plants to outgrow the algae.

So, I have removed them. I spent a lot of money on those branches and on the plants that are attached, so I don't want to get rid of them, but not sure what to do. I put them in a 5 gallon bucket with de-chlorinated water and squirted a bunch of hydrogen peroxide in there to kill the algae. I left it covered in there for about 30 minutes. Then I pulled them out, rinsed them in the sink and put them back in the bucket filled with more dechlorinated water.

I have set the bucket on the floor near the door to the deck. They won't get much light there, especially in an orange Home Depot bucket, but they'll get some. I'm going to leave them there for a couple of days while I figure out what to do.

I have a 10 gallon tank downstairs that I bought to quarantine the angelfish. I also have a 5 gallon tank, but that wouldn't be big enough for the branches. I'm thinking of putting them in the 10 gallon tank with a cheap light and seeing if I can get them to turn around. knock on wood.

OH- I really don't like the way the Hydrocotyle Verticillata just grows straight up. It's blocking the rotala blood-red also. So, I bargained with my wife and I'm going to move it off to the right against the glass- just have a few of them. I might just get rid of it- if it grows all the way to the top, it's not going to be something I can look at anyway.

CLOUDY WATER: After all this, I filled the 10 gallons that were removed while vacuuming, and the water was understandably cloudy after mixing up all the substrate and messing with the plants. It has stayed cloudy, however. I'm not sure if there's a bacteria bloom or something, but it's unusual. I don't have crystal clear water yet, but it's usually clearer than it is right now.

I did all the normal tests and everything is fine- nitrates are about 30ppm- would rather have that be less, but not alarming, and certainly wouldn't cause the cloudiness. TDS is 305, which is fine.

So, knock on wood it'll clear up tomorrow. In the old days I would panic about this and would be doing all kinds of crap (adding chemicals, dumping all the water off schedule, etc.) and it would end up making it worse. Not going to touch it- we'll see what happens.

I have 2 pics below to show the cloudiness (the pic I took actually looks clearer than it really is) and to show what it looks like now as compared to when I had the roots still in there.


Here's the pic with the roots, and pretty clear
75Gal-11Jan23.jpg
and the 2nd one is without the roots, but cloudy (also notice the verticillata covers the rotala
cloudy21Jan24.jpg
 
noahm, that is a heckuva mix. I looked up the Utricularia Graminifolia- it's carnivorous! That's really cool. You think all 3 of those will intermix ok or will one take over?
My guess is, by their growth habits, that the Utric and MC will each find respective parts of the open areas that they prefer, and basically run up against each other, but not intermix much, and the Eliocharis will probably wind up popping up through both of them This will be fine with me. I'm not going to start them out mixed, but more "choreographed patches". It's the Eliocharis that I have the least confidence in managing as it regularly sends out 3-4" runners with a new plant every inch, so if the others can keep it a bit more sparse, I will be happy.

Thanks for the offer to share. I've got my own crew of cherry shrimp happily breeding, and I am pretty maxed on space, but do like to try new things now and again, so may reach out if I see something interesting in your tank. Currently I toss salvinia and frogbit quite regularly, but everything else is growing in still.
 

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