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Bridge O'er Blackened Water

Courtneybst

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You Thought Wrong
It's been just over a month since this tank was setup and I'm hoping this is the beginning of the road to stability and a more 'hands off' approach.
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Firstly, the random Neocaridina die off appears to have stopped or drastically slowed. Maybe once a week I spot a death but it's inexplicable at this point as there's simultaneously multiple heathy and berried Neocaridina in there, as well as new born shrimplets. Maybe some aren't cut out for the blackwater life...
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The crystal shrimp appear to be doing just fine. I've since added 6 Black Taiwan Pandas to the crew too. They were intended for my Pillar of Convenience tank but they just weren't holding up well at all, and the population halved in a week. They would barely eat, were sluggish and were almost always hiding. I was a bit worried I might stress them out even further by moving them again but I figured if the red crystals are doing well I don't see why these wouldn't and it was better than watching them slowly die. I drip acclimated for about 2 hours and the difference was noticeable instantly. They became much more active, started eating rambunctiously and some even look berried (it's hard to tell with the opaque carapaces). The black colour is supposedly dominant and the red colour is recessive so over time I should end up with more black than red, but the reds do have a good head start.
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I removed the anubias from the front of the wood structure and placed them lower down to the sides because they were getting covered in algae. It's a tricky balance providing enough light to the corners (especially in tinted water) yet not making everything up top suffer from too much light. As it's now firmly winter, the sun is lower and so the tank does get a couple of hours of direct sunlight on a sunny day. Funnily enough the susswassertang is the only thing unaffected by the high light and currently has no algae on it! I also placed a stem of Hyptis lorentziana given to me by @Alex Papp and it seems to like having the extra room, light and no whitefly.

The microfauna population is booming with all sorts of 'pods and worms which I'm sure are helping to stabilise the system.
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After doing some RO-only water changes I managed to get the TDS down to 130-150 and the GH to 5. The KH sits at 4 no matter what. I don't know how or why, and I can't add more RO without reducing everything else which is already in range. I could do a 50% water change and remineralise with Salty Shrimp GH but honestly, I cannot be bothered. 😅 The shrimp seem to be fine though so I'm not going to chase the numbers.

All the Leaves Are Not Brown
I recently went on a botanical forage with @shangman and collected some Magnolia grandiflora leaves, Oak leaves, Swamp Cypress fronds and Liquid Amber pods. I'm slowly adding little bits every few days to build up the leaf litter. The cypress in particular looks really nice, especially at this scale (although I'm low-key slightly nervous to add it because I don't see many people using it. Research says it's safe!).
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My biggest challenge in this tank is actually maintaining the water tint I'd like. I want a deep golden colour but can't seem to get there. It doesn't help that the wood was already pre treated so has very little if any tannin left to give. I've added mini alder cones, catappa, Texas live oak, and more recently oak leaves in attempt to get the colour I want. I did look at rooibos tea but decided I wanted to achieve it with botanicals only. If the oak leaves don't work, I'll try more catappa. If that doesn't work, I thought about getting a small piece of fresh driftwood (the real leachy type like river wood or mopani) and plonking it somewhere out of sight.

Other than that, it's ticking over nicely.
 

Wookii

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The cypress in particular looks really nice, especially at this scale (although I'm low-key slightly nervous to add it because I don't see many people using it. Research says it's safe!).

I always thought conifers and pines were a 'no-no' to be honest - @dw1305 will know for sure? I'd like to know as those fronds would look awesome in tank!

My biggest challenge in this tank is actually maintaining the water tint I'd like.

Alder cones are your best best - you should be able to forage a couple of supermarket bag fulls at this time of year if you can find the trees. You can always stick a bunch in still attached to the twig at the back of the tank if you don't want too many in view, and then switch them out when the tint starts to lighten again.


That will work too - fresh mopani gives out a tonne of tannins - I was thinking of doing the same myself in the new tank by sticking some in the sump, as its readily available from most LFS.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I always thought conifers and pines were a 'no-no' to be honest - @dw1305 will know for sure? I'd like to know as those fronds would look awesome in tank!
I'll be honest, I don't know.
although I'm low-key slightly nervous to add it because I don't see many people using it. Research says it's safe
"Safe" would be my guess. Taxodium distichum has a thin, deciduous leaf, so not like most other conifers.

cheers Darrel
 

Courtneybst

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Alder cones are your best best - you should be able to forage a couple of supermarket bag fulls at this time of year if you can find the trees. You can always stick a bunch in still attached to the twig at the back of the tank if you don't want too many in view, and then switch them out when the tint starts to lighten again.
I think another forage is due. I'll see if I can locate the trees nearby!
That will work too - fresh mopani gives out a tonne of tannins - I was thinking of doing the same myself in the new tank by sticking some in the sump, as its readily available from most LFS.
Yeah I've only used it one time in a very small quantity but from memory it was a bit of a tannin factory which is perfect!

I'm headed to my LFS on Saturday so I'll keep my eyes peeled.
I'll be honest, I don't know.
I think I will do some more research and get some solid testimonials from other botanical users before trying it. I would hate to accidentally kill everything after all of that...
 

shangman

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I collected some of the swamp cypress too (when I saw it I was like OMG, cos I've been talking to an aquarium friend from Texas who has them growing near him in lakes and could recognise that fabulous orange leaf anywhere now), I'm thinking of testing it in my extremely neglected shrimp tank with like 5 shrimps in it, it grows all over the everglades in Florida and other parts of the US all in water, so I feel like it's a pretty good bet.
 

Courtneybst

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and Alnus cordata in car parks etc.
Out of curiosity, why car parks? 😅

I assume it's something to do with limited leaf drop? But that one's totally lost on me, I'll admit.
it grows all over the everglades in Florida and other parts of the US all in water, so I feel like it's a pretty good bet.
True! Also thanks for pointing out our friend Kory's 'Morrison Springs' biotope tank which uses Cypress knees, and there appears to be the leaves in there too. I've messaged him to double check he used the leaves!

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(Photo credit: Kory Franco)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Out of curiosity, why car parks?
Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) is often planted <"as a landscape tree in supermarket car parks etc">. It is cheap to buy, difficult to kill and will grow in very poor conditions etc. The other advantage of these situations is that there is usually somewhere to park, close to a tree.
Darrel must spend a lot of time frequenting car parks
I don't like shopping, so if my wife forces me to go to the supermarket I often refuse to get out of the car and have a toddler "toys out of the pram" tantrum in the car park, forcing her to lock me in the car until she returns.

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

plantnoobdude

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Great news!

Kory confirmed that the bald cypress is the exact same leaf he used in his tank. So they are definitely safe.

View attachment 198133
The leaves look identical to rotala hra, uncanny!!

Anyway, I usually collect botanicals, but stick to the basics. Alder cones, beech leaves and oak leaves are my go to.
 

Courtneybst

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I'm going to have to try and find myself some of that then! I'll be interested to see how long it lasts in your tank before it starts to break down. It looks fairly tough, so hopefully quite a while.
I'll try it and let you know!

They are firm but not as rigid as they look. I was really attracted to the colour but also the scale for a tank this size since the fronds are the length and width of my finger.
I've been having the same issue with keeping the level of tint up despite catappa bark and alder cones.
I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling despite using the classic 'tannin bombs'!

I've heard the the presence of plants can affect the longevity of the tint. 🤷🏾‍♂️
The leaves look identical to rotala hra, uncanny!!
You're right! If they are long lived I might prop some up in the background amongst the crypts and see what affect that gives. Easy low tech rotala, doesn't need lights, ferts or even water! 😅
 

Courtneybst

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I believe light is also factor that breaks them down.
This is really interesting! I've never heard this before.

The tank does get direct sunlight so that could explain it, considering it's such a small body of water.
Just like everything in life; if you want it, you can't get it but if you don't want it, you can't get rid of it!!
My 120P tank where I'm not trying to develop tannins (but don't mind) is lightly gold stained after a week and has been set up since July! Always the way...

The same when trying to grow algae for algae eaters!
 
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