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Low Tech advice

CalRed

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18 Jan 2021
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Lancashire
Hi all,
I'm sadly breaking down my high tech scape for an easier to maintain, low tech setup.
I have a 60 x 40 x 40 tank with a Superfish LED 90 rated 269 par (with dimmer).
The plan is a convex style island scape with mostly epiphytes and moss with just sand as a substrate. I have some salvinia in another tank that I'll probably have to use no doubt.

I know this sounds like a recipe for another algae nightmare so i'm keen to see what others' opinions are to make it work (if it will at all).

Cheers
Cal
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
i'm keen to see what others' opinions are to make it work
It should be OK. You'll need to play with the dimmer, and the amount of Salvinia, to give you a light level in the <"Goldilocks zone">. In terms of fertiliser addition you can either use the <"Duckweed Index"> or some proportion of EI dosing. I like the Duckweed Index, but you might try <"1/4 of EI">.

cheers Darrel
 

Tim Harrison

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It'd perhaps be a good idea to also include "easy" plants that grow leaves across the surface, like vallis, C. balansae, Crinum natans, or plants with floating leaves like A. natans. If you're planning an island scape plant them at the back of the hardscape. They'll provide a massive advantage against algae. They would probably appreciate a cm or so of soil but if you plan to water column dost fertz it should be okay without.

I'd start with about 50% light intensity for around 6 hours a day. Once the leaves start to grow across the surface or the savinina starts to cover it, you can experiment with increasing the photoperiod and intensity, to find that sweet spot. I'd also advise a dark start for a couple or 3 weeks. It seems to work really well in terms of giving plants the best start and discouraging algae.

Since you already have all the CO2 kit you might also want to give some thought to using just enough CO2 to turn the drop checker green rather than lime green, it'll still give you relatively slow growth and more wriggle room if you control light intensity as above, but it will be enormously beneficial to even "easy" plants; sort of hybrid energy tank.
 

Majsa

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I run CO2 on my low tech for the first 6-7 weeks from startup, it didn’t prevent crypt melt but I think it helped against algae. Maybe it could work for you too? And I’d say plant heavily from the start.
 

shangman

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I have all lowtechs, with one sounding a bit like your plan - <a nano tank lowtech with mosses, ephiphytes and crypts>. It's not an algae nightmare at all, it's probably my easiest tank. I think the key to lowtech and not much algae is to have quite low light, and if you want more then very slowly raise the light until you get optimum growth/viewing without problems. At one point early on I had a big filamentous hair algae problem (from an infected plant), so I did a blackout and lowered the light a little after and it fully went away.

I keep a variety of shrimps and snails (cherries, amanos, rabbits and common small snails) in it, so it remains really clean. I can't reach the substrate because of the hardscape, so I don't vac it ever and it's still fine, I also have some blackworms in there to break things down. I have more algae problems in my softwater tanks where I can't keep inverts.

For a beautiful hightech look, I really recommend doing a dry start with your mosses, it makes them come in really bushy and natural a month or two after flooding. This style of tank is great, the maintenance other than water changes is almost nothing, I maybe move/remove small bits of plants once a month or so to make it look more balanced. I also almost never have to cut out dead leaves, as the inverts eat them.

I haven't found the need for any long-stemmed plants, but I do have a variety of floating plants covering 50% of the surface. I actually find long-stemmed plants quite annoying in a lowtech, because they're the easiest ones to get algae, and it's impossible to get rid of the algae on their leaves without chopping them. If you have a nice plant like a crinum where you can't just chop, it makes it really hard to get rid of. They also grow really fast and need the most trimming/ripping out.

I've bought quite a lot of plants from people here which were from their hightech tanks, I don't have many problems with these plants suffering. Generally some of the leaves start to look a bit sad in the first 2 weeks, but then new growth comes in looking just as nice, but smaller than before. So you can take whatever you have and repurpose it easily.
 
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CalRed

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18 Jan 2021
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm glad some of you advocated the use of co2 at the beginning because I was hoping it still had a place in the new setup.

I'm going to introduce some crypt balans in the background as suggested and try to make the salvinia work. The surface skimmer will probably be a hurdle there but we'll see.

The plan is to have the scape done by tomorrow night with livestock back in. The filter is still running currently and i'll be using some of the existing aquasoil so the tank shouldn't need cycling at all. I'm not too familiar with the dark start method and i'm guessing I won't have enough time to do the dry start method?
 

shangman

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If you're using the same substrate then you don't need a dark start! That's to get rid of the ammonia in new soil.

You could technically do a dry start, if you really wanted to and have the space outside the tank. But then your scape would take a few weeks to be really "done" again (you'd have to wait for the hardscape to be really ready), so maybe that isn't really for right now. I'll explain it anyway just in case 😂

A dry start is where you only have a bit of water in the tank (usually just the soil is saturated), and put cling film on the top to keep the humidity in, so whichever plants you have can use air co2 to grow new roots and attach themselves to the hardscape, so they're more established when you flood the tank. <Here's a tutorial>, good to learn either way! This helps the moss attach to the wood as tiny pieces, so you don't have to glue or tie it on, and because it's lots of tiny bits it ends up looking really natural.

You could put your moss-painted hardscape in a big plastic box (ideally clear), with an inch of water in the bottom and cling film on top outside or by a sunny window for 3 weeks or so. Then, once the moss has attached to the wood, it could go straight in the tank. Maybe for next time though ;)
 

CalRed

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Cheers Shangman, i might give that a go when I rescape the 5 gallon! I normally chop the Ves. Dubyana into tiny pieces and glue it but that sounds much more natural.

So tonight I managed to get the tank cleaned, re-backed and the hardscape (sort of) positioned. After hearing that riverwood doesn't float i naively left it unweighted...schoolboy error!

So currently the tank is up and running. I used a small amount of tropica soil in the back section of the island for the Crypt Balansae and capped it off with white sand/gravel mix which is the substrate for the tank.
Tomorrow i'm going to attach the plants to the driftwood, get that weighted down and introduce it to the tank. I'm keeping the lights off overnight and co2 switched off till i put the plants in.

One thing that crossed my mind was would the nitrifying bacteria survive overnight with a clean tank? The filter itself hasn't been cleaned yet so there will still be some organics in the prefilter.
 

dw1305

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CalRed

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Cheers Darrel that was an interesting read ( i haven't just finished in case you were wondering 😂) especially re: filtration and the effectiveness of just 30ppi foam!

So ive had the tank up and running for a little while with no signs of algae, touchwood! Ive followed all the advice above but unfortunately ive had a bad batch of anubias petite that has turned to mush within 2 weeks. The rhizomes just disintegrate upon touching with tweezers. Very disappointed but not a lot I can do about it now. Replacements from AG are being ordered tonight.

One thing I'd like some clarification on is dosing. My lighting is on for 6 hours a day currently at 35% intensity (wary of going higher with all the natural light we've had at the moment). I have some premixed macro and micro solution from APF.co.uk's EI starter kit 1. I'm injecting CO2 as suggested above, just enough to turn the DC from blue to dark green and my tank holds around 90l of water.
What sort of dosing regime should I be considering? The tank is probably moderately planted with epiphytes and some crypt balansae in the back of the scape.

Thank you all for your advice
 

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