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Karmicnull

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Also I'm really not sure what is "mini" about AR mini? In the somewhat neglected Marina, mine is reaching for the sky!
PXL_20210926_091208648.jpg
 

Karmicnull

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I started my journey into Aquascaping on the 31st August 2020 with 5 plants, a couple of rocks, and a big ol' heap of curiosity. This is a somewhat belated anniversary post. During the last year I have:
  • Killed a host of plants (I laugh at your 'easy' rating - I can kill anything!)
  • Struggled to deal with rampant plant growth threatening to overwhelm my fragile ecosystems (ok, I can kill almost anything).
  • Caught MTS right in the middle of the lockdown. Long MTS.
  • Inadvertently caused shrimp genocide in one tank (top tip - don't do a w/c when your partner is frontlining the cats).
  • Bred a hundred or so shrimp in another tank despite a Betta who as far as I can see lives on shrimp fry.
  • Using a sandwich box from Tesco as a shrimp quarantine tank, successfully cured a shrimp with Cladogonium ogishimae in time to stop it spreading through my entire shrimp population.
  • Beaten various forms of algae.
  • Failed to grow java ferns that aren't black and spotty.
  • Built up three tank's worth of frogbit from one single plant. And now have to bin a tank's worth every week.
  • Defeated a Hydra invasion.
  • Done my first intentional aquascape with driftwood, Frodo stone and silicone glue.
  • Had a few fish die on me for no readily apparent reason. Apart from the jumper. The reason was pretty obvious there.
  • Accidentally built up a school of roughly 12 Panda Corys who spend all their time shagging and every now and then pop out another sprog.
  • Spent an evening happily blanching and freezing nettles.
  • Kept a small spiky moss in a ramekin on my desk where others might have a pot plant (I popped it there one pruning session whilst I worked out what do do with it. That was 7 months ago and it's still there).
  • Discovered that my complete inability to tell one Buce from another hasn't at all dented my obsession to collect one of every single variety. I do find the periodic ads on the forum reassuring, though - "Mixed collection of Buces for sale. Not quite sure which." I am not alone.
  • Possibly irreparably damaged my bank balance.
I thought I might celebrate with a few pictures.

The Chain Sword

September 2020:
Sept 19 Chain Sword_IMGP6526.jpg

October 2020:
16th OctoberChain Sword_IMGP6722.jpg

November 2020:
7th November - Chain Sword_IMGP6850.jpg

Jan 2021
7489 - 17th Jan Chain Sword.jpg

April 2021
7844 - 11th April Chain Sword.jpg

May 2021
8076 - 24th May Bolivian Chain Sword_detail.jpg

August 2021
8850 - August-20 Chain Sword main.jpg


October 2021
9096 - 11-Oct 2021 Chain Sword.jpg


So there you go. It takes about a year for a Bolivian chain sword to properly get going in a low tech tank with no soil to speak of. The same is true for the Vals - which you might spot in later photos.

The Panda Corys
I started with 6, then got a baby, then three died (including the baby 🙁) because - I think - I was under feeding them, then I bought two more, then suddenly there were 8 and then, uh, 11? 12? 13? Who knows. What I do know is that when they got to about 10 they hit a critical mass where they are enough so that they are always active and about and doing wildly bizarre Panda cory things - all of which are extremely tactile and involve constant physical interaction. Hands down my favourite fish.

8865 - August-20 Panda Corys.jpg


The Tank itself
I still have plans to improve this - Having rigorously analysed a whole host of spectacular tanks from others on UKAPS, I've realised that less is sometimes more. So I'm going to ruthlessly remove a crypt at some point in the next month or so.

August 2020. Back in the hobby after a 35 year break.
08-31 Tank 2020-08-31-b.jpg

October 2020. Do you feel y'all had - just maybe - been influencing me over the last couple of months?
04 October Full Tank_IMGP6679.jpg


December 2020. The rise of the Pogostomonster
7356 - 21-December Full Tank Shot.jpg

April 2021. You can still just about see some of the pink rock on the left.
7844 - 11th April FTS.jpg


August 2021. Ok it's gone now.
8850 - August-20 FTS main.jpg


September 2021 - the Pogostomonster is finally tamed!
8948 - Sept 1st FTS main.jpg


Cheers,
Simon
 

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Karmicnull

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Whoa. It's February. Where did the time go?

The tank isn't looking great at the moment (more about that later) but the fish appear to be happy, insofar as I can tell. I haven't had extensive training in reading fish expressions - and their little fishy faces aren't terribly expressive to start with. But I think they're not grumpy. Apart from the Bristlenose, of course. But he's only happy when he's grumpy, so all is good.
Mentally I feel like I've levelled up. After a boss fight with sunlight and thread algae over in the cube, I got a pile of loot and some power ups. I'm now a level 2 aquascaper, which means I get harder algae to beat, the plants are all fussier, and I have less time to deal with it all. The rate things are going I don't think I'll ever make level 3. But that's ok. I play computer games badly. I'm used to dying a lot.
Anyhow, the loot. Courtesy of UKAPS sales forum, I upgraded from my Nicrew ClassicLed Plus to a Chihiros A901 plus. There were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly the Nicrew kept falling off the coasters during WCs (back in the annals of time you may recall I perched the Nicrew on some drinks coasters to give it extra height. It has not been what I would call a robust solution). Secondly, the Nicrew was only about 75 cm long, and the plants at the ends of my tank were really not growing particularly successfully. So I installed the Chihiros, and it didn't fit under the hood. About half an hour of hacksawing later it had much shorter legs and fitted just fine. To my astonishment it's not wobbly. I really don't understand that as I have the DIY skills of a horse. That's probably doing a disservice to horses.

Here it is!
PXL_20220101_105618059_chihiros.jpg


I kicked that off running at 30%. An immediate benefit was that the timer that came with it doesn't reset every time there's a power cut. We get a lot of power cuts. Also, hypothetically - because I could turn it up much brighter - it should be easier to take good photos, right? Not so far, apparently :(. A slight disbenefit was the BBA explosion. It turns out 30% was still too intense. I turned it down to 25%. When I checked earlier this evening my BBA had developed BBA, so I've turned it down again to 20%. I did a web search. It turns out the Nicrew is rated at 1,150 Lumens and the Chihiros at 14,200. Hmm. May yet have to turn it down further. In the mean time I'm slowly ramping up a bit of glut - slowly as I want the Vals to have time to acclimatise. The intent is lowering the light will stop re-occurrence, and the glut will kill off the existing incursion. The other effect of the extra light has been some GSA on the glass. Interestingly you can't see it with the naked eye, but it shows up beautifully in photos. I was a little outraged by this - after the first misplaced fit of enthusiasm a year and a half ago I've never cleaned the glass on this tank, and I'd completely forgotten how to. Eventually I realised that all those tools I'd enthusiastically purchased so many months ago ("Seven in one aquarium maintenance kit for all your fishy needs. £1.") were buried right at the back of the doodads drawer for a reason. So I dug out an expired credit card and reluctantly started cleaning. My aquarium glass is now a bit like the back seat window in the car on a cold day, with a little hole polished in the condensation to let you look out.
All this of course happened after I'd taken photos, rather than before. Be prepared for spotty photos.
On the plant front, I've had some winners and some losers. The Heteranthera zosterifolia (Star Grass), which grows like a weed in some of my other tanks, enjoys going black and shedding all its leaves in this one. The AR mini has also all died off. By way of comparison, a photo below of the AR mini in one of my other tanks - no one warned me you needed a tight lid because it would try and escape...
PXL_20211228_103417081_marina.jpg

Limnophila sessiflora on the other hand is just as happy here as it is everywhere else, and needs to be put back into its corner on a regular basis. The Pogostemon is, ok, but I think I broke its spirit when I dismantled the Pogostemonster, and it's never been the same since. Here they both are.
9539 - 2022-16-1 Moss.jpg


Excitingly I've pruned my first crypt - the big bush of Wendtii Tropica you can see above was sprouting offspring all over the place. They are now floating in my potting shed, awaiting this weekend's new scape.

Quick interlude for a Panda Cory, because, well, Panda Cory!

9463 - 2022-1-16 Panda Cory.jpg


And the final, possibly most exciting plant news is: The Return Of The Hydrocotyle! This was dead. I spent my first 9 months in the hobby painstakingly killing it. In the "plants" tab of my aquarium spreadsheet it is marked as a zero (where 4 is thriving and 0 is, well, dead). I've not seen it in this tank for six months, and then, boom! It reappears and is now happily interlacing itself through the Pgostemon. This leaves me in a quandary on how to update my spreadsheet. I don't have a Lazarus category.
9382 - 2021-12-30 Hydrocotyle Tripartita.jpg


To close, here is an arty tank shot, and, of course, the FTS.

9386 - 2021-12-30 arty.jpg



9448 - 2022-1-16 FTS.jpg


Cheers,
Simon











OK I've been watching way too many Marvel films. We all piled into the cinema to watch the latest Spiderman, and duly sat through the end credits for the now mandatory extra scene. Then I got up to go, and my children all yanked me back down for the extra scene after the credits after the extra scene after the first lot of credits. So consider this your end-of-movie final scene.


I've been reading with interest the Lean Dosing thread. In that, @Hufsa directed us all towards a fab Vin Kutty video, and from there I found my way to the brilliant Rotala Kill Tank thread over at the Barr Report (disclaimer - I've only read the first 3 hours of it, and am currently on page 30 of about 50). I've been taking extensive notes - obviously in my "ferts" tab rather than the "plants" one - and was even forced to start a new tab for memorable quotes. Despite not having read the whole thing I'm going to take the liberty of badly paraphrasing this epic of data and insight in one infogram:
1643763173350.png

Vin himself summarises by saying "If you go back and read the 50+ pages of this journal, you should come away with the same conclusion. Lots of nutrients in the substrate with nothing in the water column is the easiest method. The most difficult method? High KH water + inert substrate + EI. Most other methods fall somewhere in between in difficulty."

Which explains quite a bit. Given this tank is, well, High KH, inert substrate and 20% EI (bearing in mind it's low tech). I've accidentally made a Rotala Kill Tank. Hey.

I'm rather pleased with myself. Vin did it in 50 pages, and I did it on my first day with some help from a chap in an LFS who (it turned out) also knew nothing about planted tanks. I am now determined to grow Rotala. I'm giving myself a challenge to succeed before the next Labour government (somewhere between 3 months and 30 years). I'm going to follow in the hallowed footsteps of @plantnoobdude and @John q, buy a Rotala (and on a matter of principle some Pinnatifida) and go for some form of low -N dosing and a pile of root tabs. Haven't worked out what yet though. I've still got another 20 pages to go first.

Cheers (again),
Simon
 

erwin123

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Vin is using the word"Rotala" as a synecdoche for Lythraceae (I've achieved one of my life goals which is to use the word synecdoche in an internet forum). So you should look at not just Rotalas but Ammannias, Cupheas, etc.

Some Rotalas are actually very easy to grow and you don't need kill tank conditions to grow them well, such as Rotala Rotundifolia and its variants like "Blood Red" & "Hra", Rotala Indica 'Bonsai'. I'm sure there are more, but these 2 are currently in my low tech tank. So when it comes to Rotala for your kill tank, what you want are the Macrandras and its variants, the more exotic the better :cool:

I like Vin's description of the top right hand corner as "one guy in Cedar Rapids" :D
 

Hufsa

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Yay we're all going on an adventure! 🤩
Im sure some of the lean dosing haters are secretly laughing at us but I think trying different methods is fun and exciting, a good way to learn more about how it all fits together, so they can laugh all they want.

Love the update, and the infogram! 😍
Im excited to see the rescape :thumbup:

One little note, I think your panda cory would be even better with a slightly cleaner substrate, its barbels and fins could be a little bit longer, but its not like super bad as it is. I say it with the best of intentions :geek:

Cheering you on from Norway! :thumbup:
 

erwin123

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To be fair, I think there is a common misconception when beginners read about EI is that too much ferts causes algae/harms the livestock and its totally right for the EI folks to set the record straight on this matter. I confess that before I came to UKAPS, I also thought that too much ferts caused algae and that EI folks did large water changes to reduce the amount of ferts in their tank!

Actually, whether I dose high or low, I always get some algae, but as long as my plants are generally healthy, I'm ok to live with a certain amount of algae in my tank. :cool:
 

Hufsa

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To be fair, I think there is a common misconception when beginners read about EI is that too much ferts causes algae/harms the livestock and its totally right for the EI folks to set the record straight on this matter. I confess that before I came to UKAPS, I also thought that too much ferts caused algae and that EI folks did large water changes to reduce the amount of ferts in their tank!

Actually, whether I dose high or low, I always get some algae, but as long as my plants are generally healthy, I'm ok to live with a certain amount of algae in my tank. :cool:
Definitely agree, that is an important bit of the learning experience to undo all the old nutrient fearmongering. I was thinking more along those who say there is absolutely no benefit to do lean dosing, and that all plants basically have the same requirements, which seems not to be the case.

Edit:
I would almost say if one wants to try lean dosing to solve algae problems, they are not ready. If one wants to try it to grow a certain family of plants better, thats a better outlook.
 
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Karmicnull

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EI is the perfect regime for a beginner IMO - it doesn't matter what your water is, what your substrate is, you're going to be able to grow most plants. Low, tech, low light, ~20%,EI, and tap water is I think the best way in for someone new to planted tanks. Chances are you'll get good plant growth and minimal algae problems without too much effort. Once you've got that under your belt you can branch out - RO water, CO2, Lean, whatever takes your fancy.
 

Hufsa

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Yeah that really is the genius of EI, its the most foolproof method.

I will be lagging a bit behind y'all (love this word) with the experiments, since injected CO2 is new to me im gonna run foolproof EI for a while to make sure ive got all the basics nailed down with gas also.
 

Karmicnull

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I think your panda cory would be even better with a slightly cleaner substrate, its barbels and fins could be a little bit longer, bu
Thanks - I think it may be more gravel than dirt per se - the substrate is kept pretty clean by the shrimp. I've been gradually trying to remove the gravel during WCs, but it always comes up with a host of shrimplets, so I need to have time to rescue them. There is already one existing nice sandy patch for the Corys to cavort in. Usefully it's at the back of the tank where I can't see it. More learning in scape design needed there I fear. I will redouble efforts to give them a mostly sandy tank.
 

Hufsa

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😊 I should add, if you say that to some cory keepers they will be quite triggered and be all "tHeY ReQuiRE sAnD OmG grAvL BAd", but its more nuanced than that.
Corys ARE found on gravel in the wild on some occasions and their barbels are perfect, there is video proof out there.
I think Cory from Aquarium Co-op did a video on it.
They should have a decently sized area of sand in the tank, but thats so they can engage in natural sifting behavior.
If you keep a dirty sand substrate it doesnt matter how fine grained it is, if the bacteria load from below gets too high the barbels will be eroded and sometimes also the tips of the fins, since they spend so much time on the bottom.
I just wanted to prepare you for some potential pushback on your new learning 😁
 
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