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GreggZ Planted Rainbow Tank!

GreggZ

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Even if you have kept a planted tank for a LONG time, there is always something new to learn. To me that is one of the best parts of the hobby.

I mentioned earlier that I recently went for 10 days without CO2. The filter that drives my Cerges failed and it took longer than I expected to receive the part. And while I could have rigged something up in the meantime, I looked at it more like a learning experience.

The only change I made was to alter my lighting. My normal lighting is 200+ PAR of T5HO for 8 hours a day. I only ran a portion of the lights and removed some reflectors. I tested the light earlier today and it measured at 71 PAR.

I have to say I was startled at how well the tank did in general. Really didn’t look much different at all, the biggest difference being the slower growth rate. Now as mentioned above in another post the plants were well fed and in very good health so they had some reserves to draw on. But still it was intriguing how well they did.

With lower T5HO light the tank temp came down, averaging about 71 degrees most days. I also tracked the pH very closely as I was curious what it would do. My tank runs at very close to zero dKH with pure RO. Fully degassed reading right from the RO storage is 6.4. Fully degassed from the tank is 6.25. But here’s where it gets interesting. First thing in the morning the pH in the tank was consistently about 5.85. That’s a 0.4 pH drop overnight. It’s one of those things that makes you go hmmmmm??

So what does that mean? Heck I am not sure. One theory would be that cooler water holds more dissolved gas, and plants use O2 and expel CO2 at night. If anyone knows of Sudipta Shaw’s non CO2 tank the same kind of theory. Big part of the equation would be the cooler temp. Or could be a dozen other things affecting pH or bad readings or who knows what else. All I can say for sure is that the pH was about 5.85 at 7:00 in the morning and back to 6.25 at 7:00 at night. Every single day. If it’s from CO2 then that is a fairly significant amount that could have helped the plants stay a bit more stable.

So on to what’s next. Since the tank did so relatively well with the lower light, I am going to explore the lower light end of the spectrum a bit further. I hooked CO2 back up last night, but am going to leave the lights just as they are for a few weeks or a month. I want to see if I can find where the sweet spot is. A place where plants grow a bit less quickly, but still show very good color. I’ll update as I see how things go.
 
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Hanuman

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So what does that mean? Heck I am not sure. One theory would be that cooler water holds more dissolved gas, and plants use O2 and expel CO2 at night. If anyone knows of Sudipta Shaw’s non CO2 tank the same kind of theory. Big part of the equation would be the cooler temp. Or could be a dozen other things affecting pH or bad readings or who knows what else. All I can say for sure is that the pH was about 5.85 at 7:00 in the morning and back to 6.25 at 7:00 at night. Every single day. If it’s from CO2 then that is a fairly significant amount that could have helped the plants stay a bit more stable.
I doubt it is bad readings if what you see is consistent every day. I think your assessment is correct about the temperature and plants/fish/bacteria releasing CO2. I would bet that the PH start slowly increasing shortly after lights go on.
 
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GreggZ

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I doubt it is bad readings if what you see is consistent every day. I think your assessment is correct about the temperature and plants/fish/bacteria releasing CO2. I would bet that the PH start slowly increasing shorty after lights go on.
Yeah I am pretty meticulous about calibration and reading pH. And I agree those are likely the reasons. You would be correct pH did begin to rise when lights came on and did so slowly until it hit 6.25 later in the day. The first few days I thought oh something must be off but it happened the same way every day.

Yet you always have to leave room for other causes.

Not many absolute truth's in this hobby.
 

SpicyCrawdad

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29 Mar 2022
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How come you run your co2 on a third filter rather than say a dc pump?

I originally ran a fluval 407 (55gallon ugh) with a reactor out to a spray bar but I flattened my circulation pretty badly.

I now run an fx4 and just an in tank diffuser. Slowly growing tired of the insane amount of bubbles I have. I am just using the normal inlet outlet it comes with. The circulation with this combination is just about perfect though and I worry an additional pump to reactor to spray bar may be enough to turn my tank in to a washing machine.
 

GreggZ

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How come you run your co2 on a third filter rather than say a dc pump?

I originally ran a fluval 407 (55gallon ugh) with a reactor out to a spray bar but I flattened my circulation pretty badly.

I now run an fx4 and just an in tank diffuser. Slowly growing tired of the insane amount of bubbles I have. I am just using the normal inlet outlet it comes with. The circulation with this combination is just about perfect though and I worry an additional pump to reactor to spray bar may be enough to turn my tank in to a washing machine.
Your question actually brings up a couple of questions. What is the best way to inject and disperse CO2, and the more general question is what is good flow??

My tank is 120G (545L) and I run three filters. There are two Rena XP-L's with spraybar returns and one Rena XP-XL that drives my 20" Cerges reactor. With the Cerges there is never a bubble of CO2. I know some people will claim that having bubbles is somehow better for the plants, but personally I just don't like the soda pop bubble look.

So next is what is good flow? I think flow is often misunderstood. People read you need good flow so they start adding all kinds of powerheads and pretty soon plants are waving around frantically trying to stay rooted. That is not good flow. In fact, it can create more problems than it solves. There are some plants that simply do not like high flow, and there are many algae that love high flow. The most common is BBA which will often show up right in the path of the strongest flow.

Years ago I had a large piece of driftwood in my tank. I could induce BBA into a spot just by aiming directly at it. It was very repeatable.

In my experience good flow is a wide gentle laminar flow.......with a purpose. My spraybars are aimed up at about a 45* angle to the surface. The holes have been drilled out to make them larger, reducing velocity but not the amount of flow. Think of a garden hose. Put your thumb on the end of it and you have increase velocity, but you have not increased the flow rate.

The water flows across the top towards the front of the tank creating good surface agitation (oxygen). Then it rolls down the front glass and across the substrate towards the back of the tank. This moves most all detritus to the back bottom edge of the tank. It gathers there and is easy to vacuum up and remove.

The third filter has the output split so there are two returns one in each rear corner of the tank. Splitting the return decreases the output velocity by a lot. The output is aimed back inward at the spraybars. So the CO2 laden water hits the flow path going across the surface, down the front glass, and across the substrate.

This filter only has course filter pads and bio media as I want the flow rate to be stable. So really it's acting more like a pump than a filter. I could use a pump but I would have the flow rate set very, very low.

So if your still with me I'm guessing that's way more than you wanted to know??:D:D
 

SpicyCrawdad

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Yep. I've read your article over and over and over. I have kind of a weird setup with no room beneath the tank. Just some small space beside it as it sits on a window sill (no sunlight of course). Trying to come up with something that both looks pleasing and is functional has proven difficult in this location. Thanks for the info :)
 

GreggZ

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After 10 days with no CO2 I got it back running on Monday. As mentioned above going to keep light levels low for a while now (71 PAR). Tank perked back up with CO2. Here's from a few minutes ago. Scape is a jumbled mess of indecision. I always figure if I stare at it long enough some inspiration will eventually hit me and I'll tidy it up.

20220402_183834.jpg
 

plantnoobdude

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After 10 days with no CO2 I got it back running on Monday. As mentioned above going to keep light levels low for a while now (71 PAR). Tank perked back up with CO2. Here's from a few minutes ago. Scape is a jumbled mess of indecision. I always figure if I stare at it long enough some inspiration will eventually hit me and I'll tidy it up.

View attachment 185727
is that samolus parviflorus red and hyptis laciniata? I've heard both are pretty weedy. must be a lot of work maintaining this tank😅
 

GreggZ

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is that samolus parviflorus red and hyptis laciniata? I've heard both are pretty weedy. must be a lot of work maintaining this tank😅
Yes and yes and it IS a lot of maintenance. Almost everything in there is weedy.

This type of tank is not for anyone. I enjoy the process and consider it cheap therapy.

But most importantly I enjoy sitting across the room and enjoying the view.
 

Quagulator

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Glad to also join up on this forum!

Tank looks good Gregg, I've been missing the updates as of lately.

What are your opinions on LFS not allowing their employees to sell individual rainbows? Happened to me twice at 2 different stores - they could only sell pairs. I understand they don't want to be left with all females after the males have been picked through but... I've also never seen a for sale tank with only females left in it (with no regulation on selling pairs) so I'm torn on whether to be upset with the policy or understanding of it.
Regardless, I told both stores no thanks and walked - one thing I have learned in the hobby is to try and not settle for anything less than what you want. If you put the effort and have patience, eventually you will source what you really want.
 

GreggZ

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Glad to also join up on this forum!

Tank looks good Gregg, I've been missing the updates as of lately.

What are your opinions on LFS not allowing their employees to sell individual rainbows? Happened to me twice at 2 different stores - they could only sell pairs. I understand they don't want to be left with all females after the males have been picked through but... I've also never seen a for sale tank with only females left in it (with no regulation on selling pairs) so I'm torn on whether to be upset with the policy or understanding of it.
Regardless, I told both stores no thanks and walked - one thing I have learned in the hobby is to try and not settle for anything less than what you want. If you put the effort and have patience, eventually you will source what you really want.
Hey good to see you here my friend!

Yes I have see this trend of only selling pairs creeping up more and more. I know a LFS owner locally here and he said in the past many times he would end up with a tank full of females that nobody wants. So I have to say I don't like it but I do get it.

The other option is to work with a breeder. But even that is hit and miss. Some will ship only males but others won't even guarantee the M/F ratio at all. And then you have shipping costs to factor in.

In the US there is one online retailer who will let you pick males and females, but they are the only one I know of. So yeah it seems to have become more and more of an issue and likely will continue.
 

Quagulator

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Yes I have see this trend of only selling pairs creeping up more and more. I know a LFS owner locally here and he said in the past many times he would end up with a tank full of females that nobody wants. So I have to say I don't like it but I do get it.
The other option is to work with a breeder. But even that is hit and miss. Some will ship only males but others won't even guarantee the M/F ratio at all. And then you have shipping costs to factor in.
In the US there is one online retailer who will let you pick males and females, but they are the only one I know of. So yeah it seems to have become more and more of an issue and likely will continue.
The first store employee said he ordered males only, and of the 3 species that arrived, only 1 species was male only, the other 2 were 50/50. I think the stores know how the trends go so they try and be proactive and request only males from the suppliers, but like you said it's not a guarantee and thus, the pairs only policy is implemented. Just one of those things we'll have to deal with!
 

KirstyF

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Excerpt from your post

hooked CO2 back up last night, but am going to leave the lights just as they are for a few weeks or a month. I want to see if I can find where the sweet spot is. A place where plants grow a bit less quickly, but still show very good color.

Excerpt from my journal yesterday

I feel that I need to find the place where my light hungry plants are a bit happier but the tank isn’t running at super speed and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Hopefully the very small increments of increase will help me find my sweet spot.

You’re coming down, I’m coming up. Spooky huh! 😂😂

Different planting I know, but will certainly be watching this ‘experiment’ with interest. Curious to know at what PAR level you hit that sweet spot! 👍
 

GreggZ

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You’re coming down, I’m coming up. Spooky huh! 😂😂

Different planting I know, but will certainly be watching this ‘experiment’ with interest. Curious to know at what PAR level you hit that sweet spot! 👍
It will take time to understand the effect. Once things get really stable and I know what is what I can start slowly increasing PAR in small increments. Or might first try running a shorter burst of high light during the day. These things take patience.
How are you measuring PAR?
I use a Seneye Reef. I've had it for years and have loaned it to dozens of people in the US. I have found it to be very reliable and close enough for our purposes. Knowing your PAR can help sometimes help explain things you are seeing in the tank.
 

ElleDee

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Random question for you @GreggZ - do you have other tanks running? I get that this one is your pride and joy, and rightfully so, but I don't think I've heard mention of another.
 

Quagulator

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Random question for you @GreggZ - do you have other tanks running? I get that this one is your pride and joy, and rightfully so, but I don't think I've heard mention of another.

I'm almost positive he has a secret tank set up for the sole purpose of housing his piece of driftwood, with enough peer pressure he finally removed it from this tank but we all know he still loves that driftwood piece.
 

GreggZ

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I'm almost positive he has a secret tank set up for the sole purpose of housing his piece of driftwood, with enough peer pressure he finally removed it from this tank but we all know he still loves that driftwood piece.
LOL yeah I just saw that driftwood the other day on a basement shelf. Brings back lots of fond memories. It got to a point where it was almost entirely covered with plants. Here's the last pic of it in the tank.
2-9-2020.jpg
for a LONG time.
 

GreggZ

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Random question for you @GreggZ - do you have other tanks running? I get that this one is your pride and joy, and rightfully so, but I don't think I've heard mention of another.
Good question. I only keep the one tank.

I've thought many times about starting up other ones but honestly this one keeps me busy enough. It's located in my den so it gets a lot of viewing. If I started other ones it would have to be in the basement and I doubt I would give it the attention it deserves. Put it this way. It's a hobby and I don't want it to become a chore.
 
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