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Journey to high tech

RPackman

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Oxford
I realised I haven’t posted a plant list for my new tank.

Floaters
Limnobium laevigatum
Phyllanthus fluitans (likely all dead from delay in planting in heat wave)

Back
Cryptocoryne crispatula tropica 1-2 (all melted - hopefully the roots are still good)
Cryptocoryne balansae
Cryptocoryne usteriana
Ceratopteris siliquosa
Hottonia palustris
Rotala orange juice
Rotala green
Rotala rotundifolia
Helanthium Vesuvius
Hydrocortisone leucocephala

Mid-back
Nymphaea lotus
Ranunculus inundatus (doubtful to survive delay planting in heat wave)
Juncus repens
Hydrocotyle tripartita
Cryptocoryne wendtii green and brown

Front
Hydrocotyle verticillata
Cryptocoryne parva
Sagittaria subulata
Glossostrigma elantinoides

Epiphytes
Bolbitus heudelotii
Bolbitus heteroclita difformis
Microsorum pteropus “trident”
Hygrophila pinnatifida
Bucephalandra pygmaea “wavy green”
Bucephalandra “theia green”
Bucephalandra “biblis”
Bucephalandra “Kedagang”
Bucephalandra “red”
Bucephalandra Sintang
Anubias barteri “petite”
Anubias nana bonsai
Anubias nana coin
Various other Anubias likely coin, petite or bonsai but names lost in time (from old tank)

Mosses
Java moss from old tank
Small sections of creeping moss and distichophyllum
Fissidens splanchnobryoides (on right side of tank)
Fissidens miroshaki
Fissidens fontanus

Floaters
Limnobium laevigatum
Phyllanthus fluitans (likely all dead from delay in planting in heat wave)

I had a few issues with equipment in the tank. My surface skimmer filter inlet glassware was not working. I was either permanently submersed and therefore could suck down anything that would fit in the tube, or if I could get it to float for a few minutes it would suck lots of air into the filter.
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Today my new inlet pipe arrived and so far so good. I took the opportunity to sort out the CO2 a bit. With a bubble rate of around 2/s I got no change in pH throughout the time it was on. If I increased the bubble rate then having the diffuser on the filter inlet meant my filter kept “burping”. I switched it over to the outlet today while I was fiddling around with the filter hoses anyway. First time I put it in the wrong way up 🙄, but eventually I got it working and I turned up my bubble rate - now 4-5/s. I got a pH drop of about 0.4in the first hour and a change in the drop checker to lime green, but no change in pH since then. I’ve got a nice fine mist of CO2 around the tank, but I may need to increase the rate a bit further, especially as there are no fish in the tank right now.

My low tech tank is looking good. No trace of algae and nice growth on the plants. Sadly one of my otos has become very skinny though. I’m assuming internal parasites.
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I generally like an overgrown looking tank but it probably does need a bit of a trim.
 

RPackman

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Oxford
I forgot to post more pictures of the big tank
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CO2 bubbles (and bits of root/plant etc 🙄)
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Melting crypts and a melting leaf of my lotus which had appeared happy floating around in my old tank until now!
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CO2 drop checker looks ok - what should I trust, a drop checker or a pH drop? So many conflicting opinions on this.
image.jpg

I guess I’ll have to see what is written in my new present to myself!
image.jpg
 

RPackman

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Oxford
Unfortunately the tank got a bit stinky in the last week. I think it is a combination of the wood mould and some melting plants. The delay in planting during a heat wave was not the best of starts for the tank. I still have quite a bit of protein froth on the surface but it is getting better with large water changes and removal of dying leaves. Most of the plants are showing new growth, it is a couple of buce that melted and especially the crypts. Thankfully the low tech tank is growing so well I have been able to steal some of the plants from there for gaps in the high tech one!

I’m only getting a CO2 pH drop of 0.8 and I have a huge number of bubbles per second - way more than can be counted. Can this be normal for hard water/big tanks? I can see a good mist of CO2 bubbles around the tank. I do have some surface agitation but I’m aware when my neon blue gobies go in there they are going to need good oxygenation and may not like the CO2 too much so I am trying to balance this out.

I’m still trying to decide on other fish for the tanks.
 

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ceg4048

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I’m only getting a CO2 pH drop of 0.8 and I have a huge number of bubbles per second - way more than can be counted. Can this be normal for hard water/big tanks?
Hi,
If your pH drop is poor then this means your diffusion technique, and possibly your distribution are faulty.
Using a lily pipe in a large tank can work, but it is not the optimal method. The outlet of that pipe is pointed upwards, so that is where the CO2 goes, right out the top of the tank. The tank is also uncovered, so there is no impediment to the gas escaping immediately out the top. These are immense handicaps so it requires some thought in order to rectify.

I can see from the photos that the plants are suffering CO2 failure, so you need to address this quickly or thy can disintegrate quite rapidly.

The first thing to do is to reduce the CO2 demand by reducing the light intensity if possible. That will give you breathing room while you are able to analyze the flow/distribution. In fact, if you reduce the lighting sufficiently, you may not need to do anything else as the level of CO2 you achieve with a 0.8 pH drop may be enough.

Cheers,
 

RPackman

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Thanks for your input Ceg. You are right about the flow direction from the lily pipes and I have been wondering this, but also trying to balance the high oxygen demands of some of my fish with the CO2 balance. I appreciate any advice as this is my first attempt at CO2 and I firmly believe in learning from experts!

Although this is planned to be a high tech tank I am sort of aiming for “mid tech” as I don’t have the regular time for major trimming sessions. I’m hoping my lower light plants will gradually take over and provide the main focal points, but be healthier than my previous low tech attempts have been, and with medium light and CO2 the growth rates of the stems won’t be too overwhelming. I was never planning on having the lights on full, and had them basically set to slow ramp up to 50%, with a 1hr “noon” of 60% then back to 50%. I’ve turned that down to 40% today (my low tech tank is about the same). Hopefully the plants will take advantage of the available nutrients/carbon better now.

I’ve been moving the drop checker around and I have been getting a consistent green colour in most places so far. I was a bit worried my hardscape would be blocking the flow too much.

While I take all your points, and agree my CO2 delivery isn’t quite right yet, I don’t think that has been the biggest factor in the sad health of the plants. I think that was me! The plants arrived looking healthy, then I couldn’t plant them straight away in some of the hottest days of the year and quite a lot had melted before they even got planted in the tank. My new and quite sorry looking floaters are equally unhappy and have struggled to recover from the trauma (despite their raft to stop them getting too waterlogged) and they shouldn’t be affected by the CO2 delivery.

Sadly quite a few of the plants I had in my old and slightly neglected low tech tank have really not appreciated the switch over to this tank, and some of my less happy anubias/buce/crypts have just melted completely and I could definitely believe their infrequent fertilisation and minor neglect left them inadequately prepared for the high growth rates possible with CO2 injection and they suffered energy failure.

I will learn a lot from this journey
 

ceg4048

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Thanks for your input Ceg. You are right about the flow direction from the lily pipes and I have been wondering this, but also trying to balance the high oxygen demands of some of my fish with the CO2 balance.
Hi,
I think there is a misconception about this gas and of gases in general. First of all, the presence of CO2 doe not displace or reduce the concentration of oxygen in the tank. When healthy plants make use of CO2 and discharge more oxygen into the water column and into the sediment. So sending the CO2 out to the atmosphere at the plants expense is akin to sending oxygen out to the atmosphere at the fishes expense. Unhealthy plants become net oxygen users instead of net oxygen suppliers, so it better to re-think this strategy. What can be done is to turn on an air pump at night to reduce the oxygen depletion at a time when the plants don't produce an oxygen, but during the day the plants must be catered to because they form the infrastructure of the tanks gas exchange.
Although this is planned to be a high tech tank I am sort of aiming for “mid tech”
Unfortunately there really is no such thing as mid-tech. The tank is either CO2 injected or it is not. Regardless of the amount of CO2 being used it must be used effectively. In fact slower growing plants are slow growing specifically because they are not very good CO2 gatherers and actually require as much CO2 as the other plants just to keep up - and they really do not appreciate a lot of light as I mentioned before, as it causes an increased CO2 demand, which they are not able to satisfy due to their poor genetics. So whatever the amount of CO2 you are using, low or high it must be used effectively and should not be thrown out the window. If your flow/distribution is excellent then you can actually use a lot less CO2 and that will prevent problems with the fish.
I don’t think that has been the biggest factor in the sad health of the plants. I think that was me! The plants arrived looking healthy, then I couldn’t plant them straight away in some of the hottest days of the year and quite a lot had melted before they even got planted in the tank.
Sad to say but CO2 is THE biggest factor, full stop. It never matters what condition the plants are in when the are submerged. If CO2 is excellent they will always revive.
Here is an example of why CO2 is critical. These carpet plants (P.helferi) were sent from Malaysia and spent weeks in the post. This is what they looked like when fists submerged.

P.helferi.JPG


Here they are a couple of months later. No problem when fed with the proper amount of CO2. They grew up and the tops were cut and replanted. P.helferi is actually a stem plant masquerading as a carpet plant.
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So one really has to pay lots of attention to how the gas is diffused and how it's distributed. Also this tank was sitting in an conservatory, where during the summer day, the air temperature was about 40 degreesC and the water temperature was about 33 degreesC.
Over 90% of problems in a CO2 injected tank can be traced directly to poor application of CO2. Even George learned that the hard way.

Cheers,
 

RPackman

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Thanks for the input again. I know what you are saying but I think you were taking me a bit too literally about the “mid tech”. I know I’m aiming for a high tech tank here - it is in the title after all! However I am trying to create a lower light, lower maintenance version that is not CO2 limited but light limited and with the bulk of the plants slower growing ones - if that makes sense.

I also understand that the CO2 is a major factor in a planted tank, but that doesn’t explain why my floaters are also remaining unhappy after being quite melted when they went in. I see your plants recovery and that is great, but I’m sure you have brilliant CO2 delivery in your tanks!
I think that when I haven’t got things quite sorted with the balance of important factors (such as CO2 and light), then half melted plants to start with is not a good place to start. I’m still learning about CO2 and appreciate your advice.

Having been really depressed about the tank this last week, this weekend I tried to sort some of this out. I found the source of the smell -a lot of my anubias have rotted - new specimens and specimens that were years old from other tanks. I’ve lost a couple of buce but most of the anubias. I’ve removed almost all surviving anubias and am keeping them emersed for a while so I can see what will survive and can be salvaged. I’ve cut away any bits of damaged rhizomes.

I have also rearranged the hardscape and removed some of the wood so that it isn’t blocking the flow quite so much to my stem plants. Although they were generally growing there were definitely dead spots where I could see flow was an issue. The stems now gently move in the flow. I’ve added some more crypts and another lily in the more open mid ground, and some more hydrocotyle to the back/over the wood. I’d like to continue with my lily pipes if I can as I do prefer the aesthetics of them vs spray bars. I’ve also got a new surface skimmer glassware that doesn’t seem to spend its whole time under water or sucking lots of air in, so now there is less air in the filter and I’m trying the CO2 in-line on the filter intake again so I don’t get the bubbles everywhere and I was using less CO2 to get the pH drop with in on the inlet before.
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Meanwhile in the low tech, I have baby shrimp!
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Everything looks really healthy apart from the older leaves of the Java fern which are yellowing and getting black spots as seen in the picture below. I hadn’t been dosing full EI as it is low tech, but it looks like they need more.
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Apart from that though, it looks green and lush and the inhabitants potter around being interesting. It is my happy place while I sort out the bigger tank - which has just been my sad place this last week as I pull more and more anubias out of there. Hopefully things will start to improve now and I can stop feeling depressed about it!
 

foxfish

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Things come in fads and in the last couple of years an ‘aggravated surface‘ is very much in vogue but I have never been a fan myself preferring to supply the flow via spray bars or submerged outlets.
I feel you may be sacrificing a lot of gas which is OK if you are prepared for that, but you might be surprised just how much gas you need to compensate for that rippled effect.
I understand that spray bars are do not look so attractive as a lily glass, although that may be subjective in its self, but they can offer a very good distribution.
If you did not have any livestock I would suggest tuning up the gas until you get the results you are looking for, if nothing else that often simply proves how effective the C02 is and inspires confidence.
As that is not the case you are left with slowly tuning in the gas and adjusting the flow to match you lighting system.
I would try adjusting the lily pipe to reduce the surface movement as the next step.

I also saw an interesting post about using a red pen laser to shine in the tank while the gas is on and the lights are out as shows the mist in some detail and any possible dead spots!
 

RPackman

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Things are progressing slowly with the high tech. I’m not happy with it in general though. I got to my 1 point pH drop but the plants still don’t look particularly happy. I’m certainly not getting the level of growth I expected. The easy plants are growing, but the medium plants are not looking so happy.

I’m getting some odd mould/algae on the wood, but nothing on the plants.
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I’ve got some diatoms on the hardscape and glass which I’m cleaning off, and I’ve added some amanos now. I’m hoping to add the rest of my fish soon and then be able to reduce down to two main tanks and a quarantine tank as it is all getting a bit much right now with a busy work life. This weekend I’m adding a second filter from my old tank to hopefully help with any dead spots and even out the CO2 distribution to the back. Of course this means everything out of the cupboard, filter not starting up, water everywhere etc. There was quite a bit of swearing at one point!

Sorry for the reflections in the photo below - this was before adding the second filter.
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The low tech continues to look green and lush with amazing plant growth (although it definitely needs a bit of a trim!). The Java fern is now looking happier too. I have a shrimp explosion with lots of babies everywhere, all blue or clear in colour. The low tech is now referred to as my low stress tank, while the high tech is my high stress tank! I assume at some point I’ll learn enough and get the balance right so that it becomes a pleasure to look at too!

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And then the next stress was getting the gourami who will be going into the high stress tank. To go with the theme, they decided to give me heart failure by jumping out of the quarantine tank, meaning I had to almost empty the tank very fast in order to be able to move it, get behind it and get them back in water before they died. This resulted in quite a bit of water escaping the bucket and pouring all over the carpet, some knocked over houseplants, and a lot of wet, muddy mess to clear up once my heart rate came down! They have now calmed down and stopped head butting the glass every time I come near, and now pretend they need feeding whenever I am close to the glass!
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shangman

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I feel I could've written your post verbatim, I've had exactly the same struggles with my new high-tech. Lowtech is less bombastic growth-wise, but also less ARGH all the time. Seems like everything that can go wrong does sometimes. Fingers crossed we get there eventually!!!
 

erwin123

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I feel I could've written your post verbatim, I've had exactly the same struggles with my new high-tech. Lowtech is less bombastic growth-wise, but also less ARGH all the time. Seems like everything that can go wrong does sometimes. Fingers crossed we get there eventually!!!
The low tech continues to look green and lush with amazing plant growth (although it definitely needs a bit of a trim!). The Java fern is now looking happier too. I have a shrimp explosion with lots of babies everywhere, all blue or clear in colour. The low tech is now referred to as my low stress tank, while the high tech is my high stress tank! I assume at some point I’ll learn enough and get the balance right so that it becomes a pleasure to look at too!

I have to second this sentiment. My low tech tank is lit by a single desk lamp and the plants all look fine with hardly any algae, and lots of baby shrimp. The high tech, I'm prone to beginner mistakes like too much light, resulting in algae and then I had to reset with a 3-day blackout, etc.....
 

RPackman

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A long day today taking down the old 100L tank and putting the fish and shrimp into the new tank. I hope they like it! In moving them I found I still have 6 dwarf chain loach! I haven’t seen more than three at a time in years! I hope they feel more confident to come out and be sociable in the bigger tank, but somehow I doubt it. They don’t seem too stressed out by the CO2. Photos to follow once they’ve settled in.

My sole Endler and Cardinal have joined the low stress tank and are already looking happier hanging out with the Ember tetras. I don’t think I want more of either species, and I’m not sure they’ll love the bigger fish I’m going to keep if they are on their own.

Sadly I managed to snap my glass skimmer so I’m back to the “spare” - the EA one that keeps sucking loads of air into the filter. I’ve lived with it again for 2 days now and it is driving me up the wall!
 

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