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Transparent Tank - the end

greenink

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

Weekly update. Stauro coming on well. Nearly time for a trim.

2012-04-30%20at%2018-32-12.jpg


2012-04-30%20at%2018-31-17.jpg


Rotala still thinking about it, but lots of little shoots coming up. Think it might have been too ambitious to cut into such small portions with inert substrate. Leaves are blackened in a nutrient deficiency way (think is taking nutrients from the existing leaves and putting them into new growth, from my readings around the place.) Here's a photo from a couple of weeks ago.

IMG_2227.jpg


pariahrob said:
Is there even any water in that tank? It looks crystal clear.

Cheers. Actually had a builder round the other day who asked the same question. Now that's success.
 

sarahtermite

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

It is rather wonderful, to be able to see through your tank so clearly. :clap:

As for the cuttings - you're adding ferts, aren't you? Isn't that where cuttings would get their nutrients from initially? It's not as though they've any roots at this stage. Happy to be corrected on this!
 

greenink

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

Yup EI dosing and everything else is fine. Here's a couple of better photos of the problem as it is now. Really need a macro lens!

2012-05-01%20at%2007-09-50.jpg


Have upped EI dosing to 1.5 times and very new growth seems to be slightly better.

2012-05-01%20at%2007-11-01.jpg


Wondering if the inert substrate reduces EI dosing levels by absorbing the nutrients until it's 'full'
 

LondonDragon

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Re: The Transparent Tank Challenge - getting near the end

Antipofish said:
Did you ever find out what the creepy crawly is Mike ?
If you haven't found out yet its called planaria, nasty little things, reports are they seem to attack shrimp and eat anything dead, buy some panacur to treat worms in dogs to kill it, small dose kills all in 24 hours.

The new layout is pretty impressive, looking great :)
 

greenink

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Re: The Transparent Tank Challenge - getting near the end

LondonDragon said:
its called planaria, nasty little things.

Yup - don't have them in this tank any more but found a whole load in the other one. Apparently is a sign of overfeeding / not enough substrate vacuuming. Hoping my dwarf puffer will munch them (apparently they can).

LondonDragon said:
The new layout is pretty impressive, looking great :)

Thanks. Am finally able to plan how a tank will look when much more grown in - sort of topiary on the stauro to increase the depth and will start to look good I hope.
 

greenink

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Gestation for cherry shrimp?

Now have four pregnant shrimp. How long do they take? Definitely (reading back) had one pregnant on 17 April, about 2 weeks ago. Makes you realise how useful keeping a journal on here is - really lets you gauge progress even when it looks like nothing is actually changing on a day to day basis. Am hoping for a population explosion...

Am getting loads of surface scum on this tank (white film that breaks into shards when you break it), as have almost no surface agitation, so have reworked the outlets quickly - five minutes with a paintstripping gun and a bending spring to change the angle - so they point up a bit more.

2012-05-04%20at%2021-47-36.jpg


Am pretty pleased with how this is going. Another week until a stauro trim though I think.

2012-05-04%20at%2021-48-29.jpg


Have to say ukaps makes staying in with a silent baby monitor :clap: a lot more entertaining.
 

greenink

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

Have just realised this journal is almost exactly a year old. And in that time ukaps has taught me how to get a planted tank (mostly) working.

I'd gone from september 2009 - things just chucked in at random, no ferts, plain gravel - pretty much everything melted
september%202009%20-%2055.jpg


…to September 2010 - ambitious on the planting, and a submarine which went down badly with the girlfriend (think she was right!) - no ferts, plain gravel, pretty much everything melted
Last%20Viewed%20Events%20-%204471.jpg


…to February 2011 - had sort of evolved amateur aquascaping on my own. Submarine (!) gone, external filter in place, big stone from the garden chucked in, no ferts, plain gravel, light tubes now two years old. Pretty much everything melted, or was floating on the top of the tank when I came down in the morning
Last%20Viewed%20Events%20-%204778.jpg


…and was ready to throw in the towel… and that’s when I found ukaps… and did this

P1020360.jpg


to this

IMG_0934.jpg


to this

9%20feb%202.jpg


and then a rescape to this

2012-04-30%20at%2018-31-17.jpg


and this one in another journal

2012-04-29%20at%2021-46-32.jpg


with this kind of plant health:

2012-05-04%20at%2021-48-29.jpg


Thought worth trying to summarise what I’ve learned. So (deep breath) here goes…
 
A

Antipofish

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

Was there going to be a long narration at the end of your above post ? you said here goes..... and then nothing more. Or am I being dim ? (likely) Or are you in the middle of writing it ? LOL.

Mike HOW COME your plants grow and are CLEAN !??? My stauro is growing great but the older leaves (by which I mean a few weeks older) get dirty ? I commented on a post I made on one of Mark's threads that it cannot be dirty water, it MUST be some form of low grade algae but I dont think its diatoms cos they cover everything don't they ?

Cheers :)

OH, and by the way.... you have come a LONG way from that first tank. And I loved the suspended wood on the side glass :) AND finally, WHAT Crypt (the reddish one) was it in the middle of pic 4 from bottom ?
 

hotweldfire

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Re: Gestation for cherry shrimp?

I am liking the latest incarnation

mikeappleby said:
Have to say ukaps makes staying in with a silent baby monitor :clap: a lot more entertaining.

Another tip for nights in with the baby monitor: Kindle on your smartphone in case the monitor goes off and you find yourself sat with a baby glued to your chest in the dark for hours. Read more novels in the first 3 months of my daughter's life than I did the previous 10 years :lol:
 

Ady34

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

Antipofish said:
Was there going to be a long narration at the end of your above post ? you said here goes..... and then nothing more. Or am I being dim ? (likely) Or are you in the middle of writing it ? LOL.
I reckon it was supposed to go above the photo transition diary :thumbup: .

Mike, love the story so far, particularly tickled with
mikeappleby said:
pretty much everything melted
mikeappleby said:
pretty much everything melted
mikeappleby said:
Pretty much everything melted, or was floating on the top of the tank when I came down in the morning
mikeappleby said:
and that’s when I found ukaps...
:lol: and especially
mikeappleby said:
a submarine which went down badly with the girlfriend (think she was right!)
We live and learn and what progress youve made to today...
mikeappleby said:
with this kind of plant health:
!
Great post Mike, enjoyed this one :thumbup: :lol:
Cheerio,
Ady.
 

greenink

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Transparent Tank - reborn

Antipofish said:
the older leaves (by which I mean a few weeks older) get dirty ? AND finally, WHAT Crypt (the reddish one) was it in the middle of pic 4 from bottom ?

Is algae. Either bung in loads of amano shrimp - really interesting to see how many he has in the tanks on his YouTube channel - must be hundreds in every tank, or use less light!

Think crypt is wenditi
 

greenink

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What I've learned

What I’ve learned. Most of this is totally obvious, and it’s high tech relevant only. But worth putting down here anyway!

[EDIT - have decided to keep this updated as I learn more. So is now the improved version. Now has photos from my tanks too.]

SET UP

Simple rules of thumb make a design nice
Small fish make a tank look bigger. Shoals are better than lots of different varieties. Just one or two ‘star’ fish can make a tank stand out; too many compete.

2012-02-18%20at%2019-40-21.jpg


All your hardscape should ‘match’, whether that’s rocks or wood. It needs to ‘flow’, too, as if someone’s blown really hard at it from one direction. So this

2012-04-30%20at%2018-32-12.jpg


is better than this

2012-03-27%20at%2019-46-03.jpg


Looking from front on shortens perspective in a tank, so the substrate angle from back to front should be as steep as you can get it. Use substrate supports (cut up plastic) and assume it will slip. That will make the tank look deeper. If you’re planning a transition into sand, get the transition as flat as possible, or put rock barriers in. Otherwise the soil will slip and this happens.

2012-05-06%20at%2007-41-26.jpg


If rocks are your hardscape, embed as much as you can within the substrate. It will make less surface area for algae.

There are various basic rules of composition that apply to anything rectangular – basically use 1/3s whenever possible and avoid neat 1/2s. The trick is to slightly break them all in interesting ways.

Make sure your plant choices complement each other. Plant in groups, with contrasting textures between groups, and ‘transition’ through big changes – so small round leaves right next to long thin leaves will look unnatural.

Plan for how the finished ‘grown’ in scape will look – most of your hardscape will disappear, apart from one or two stand out bits.

Stable, high CO2 is totally crucial and the most common thing to get wrong
Get CO2 as high as you can without killing fish, and keep it there. The drop checker needs to be green but on the cusp of yellow. None of that dark green nonsense. If you’re not sure, it’s not yellow enough. This is slightly too yellow, but all the fish are still fine.

2012-04-09%20at%2019-18-51.jpg


This is what I usually aim for:

2012-05-07%20at%2019-49-25.jpg


The trick is to start it early, get lime green at lights on, and keep the rate the same throughout. So if the drop checker gets yellower while lights are on, drop the bubble rate and start the CO2 earlier. If it gets greener, increase the bubble rate and start the CO2 later.

Your fish will tell you if the CO2 is too high: they slow down to a standstill, then go the surface and start gasping. At the optimum CO2 level your fish will still be moving around lots (albeit a little slower).

90% of my problems have come down to too little and unstable CO2.

Distribution matters
Plants need nutrients and CO2 flowing over their leaves to photosynthesise. The easiest way to ensure this is have huge flow (10* volume per hour). If you’re skilled, you can get away with much less as long as all the plants are out of stagnant zones.

Less light is more
Two T5s running the length of any normal sized tank is enough to grow anything (HC, etc). Even if they're shorter, it's ok.

2012-05-05%20at%2023-36-00.jpg


Start with 5 hours a day and only ramp it up slowly. Get it all running nicely, then if you must, switch on more T5s. Otherwise algae will grow more quickly than your plants. It really is worth being patient.

Plant heavy from the start
If you can, plant heavily from the start. There are various reasons. One is that waste gets taken up by roots more quickly if you’ve got high plant stock, and algae has less bare substrate to get its teeth into. The best explanation I've seen is:

sWozzAres said:
Essentially there is one big difference between your plants and algae. Plants grow, algae reproduces. This means algae has to go through a phase of producing a spore and having it germinate. This is a simple or complicated process, depending on the algae but for the most part they all have one thing in common - in order for the spore to germinate, it has to settle somewhere by attaching and have light.

If your plants are healthy, no spore can settle on the leaf surface and attach in order to germinate. This massively reduces the surface area in a tank available to algae, leaving only decor and glass. Spores will end up being sucked out by regular water changes before they get a chance to attach anywhere - simple probability. If your plants aren't healthy, not only are they sites for spore settlement but they also leach nutrients that ends up as algae food.

By giving the plants what they need - nutrients, it denies the algae what it needs - real estate.

Now it becomes easier to "keep on top of things", which means taking out more algae spores than are being produced. EI with regular WC produces tanks with healthy plants and low spore count. :thumbup:

Clean up crew: buy way more ottos and amanos than you think plausible
The best tanks here (and Amanos) have about 30+ of each for every 300 litres. That level of algae control gives you a huge amount of headroom. There are six in this photo and you can hardly tell - they won't get rid of the stubborn BBA in this shot - that needs nuking and scrubbing, but they're on top of everything else.

2012-05-06%20at%2007-41-21.jpg


Or see this for how many Amano uses. I count 15 in this one shot...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... rAm8#t=55s

Or you can use Red Ramshorn snails which don't eat plants but do eat BBA

2012-05-01%20at%2007-10-22.jpg


HARDWARE
Worth saying my starting point is get stuff out of the tank whenever possible, and to have crystal clear water. And buy the right thing in the first place!

Filters
They're all basically souped up buckets with a lid and pump. That's it. You're looking for ones with enough pumping force (litres per hour) for your tank, where the pump doesn't break, it maintains its flow even when the media is a bid mucky, and it's easy to clean. Worth noting that the substrate probably does as much water cleaning as the filter, if you have decent flow, as far more (of the same) bacteria live in the substrate than in your filter media, and they'll be breaking down waste constantly.

Pumps
A cheaper way to get more flow is to use an additional pump. Koralias go inside the tank but look horrendous. An external variable lph pump gives you loads of flexibility and can be rigged up on a separate 'loop', which gives you more options for getting the flow right.

CO2 diffusers
Oh the endless arguments. My recommendation is definitely an UP atomiser straight into a filter. Clearest water by far, and cheap, and has never damaged a filter I've used. CO2 needs to on/off earlier for this method though (2-3 hours). Though I'm not doing that on this tank as I had a spare AM1000 and it means I can use the external pump do get more kph behind the CO2 loop (the light blue one below).

In general
A bit like cars, you sort of get what you pay for, but the expensive ones are just silly money, and the cheaper ones often work just as well. Here's what's under the hood of my tank.

2012-05-07%20at%2020-37-35.jpg


This means the external pump helps water changes go more quickly, and the tank will only ever drain to the bottom of the pump inlet (60% of the water), so I can leave it to drain itself (with the pump off!).

The tools you actually need are on the inside of the door, from right to left:

algae scraper
long tweezers for planting
curved scissors for trimming
net for fish and cuttings

plus a dishwashing sponge is great for wiping the glass inside. no need for anything fancy.

Distribution

Hopefully obvious from the diagram above, but good to draw water in from one side of the tank and cross it over to the other.

SAVING CASH
diy really isn’t that hard; and hardware shops are cheaper than aquatic ones. Clear 16/22 hosing is cheap, clear plastic acrylic pipe is cheap too , and combined with a pipe bending spring, a paint gun and a bit of trial and error, custom inlets and outlets that look like something 50 times the price are yours in a few minutes. There are tutorials in this and my other journal.

2012-04-29%20at%2018-59-33.jpg


2012-04-29%20at%2019-20-43.jpg


The same goes for hardscape rocks from a local quarry

rocks.png


2012-02-06%20at%2011-21-01.jpg


or substrate from a bonsai supplier

Substrate%20test%20006.jpg


with a bit of osmocote underneath it has pretty much all the same properties as £££ aqua soil or any other posh substrate

10_Osmocote_Plus_Tablets.jpg


and definitely for CO2, either from a fire extinguisher or beer gas delivered (the bottle here is 3kg for £24 delivered - 11 times cheaper than aquatic CO2.

2012-05-07%20at%2019-48-40.jpg


Easycarbo / Seachem Excel is just 1.8% solution of Glutaraldehyde
You can buy this much more cheaply direct. The CO2 effect is because the molecule breaks down to CO2 as an end result, and on the way it kills algae, which is nice. The science bit is here. Be careful with that stuff!

Shrimp are either cheap or not
Cherry shrimp are the cheap way to get hundreds from just a few bought, as they’ll breed like rabbits; Amanos won’t as they need brackish water (they'll develop eggs but the shrimplets die).

2012-04-23%20at%2006-43-06.jpg


Here's a pregnant cherry shrimp, fanning eggs under its abdomen

2012-05-06%20at%2021-39-39.jpg


Make your own ferts
Use the EI tutorial here to make your own (my recipe below is based on this - 15ml dose for 73 litres, 53 for 259 litres - i.e. 10ml dose for every 50l, so if it's a 150 litre tank it's a 30ml dose)...

EI%20recipe%20Jan%202012.pdf


...mix up a job lot, and then use a large syringe with a bit of CO2 tubing attached to get the dosing done in seconds to within 1ml accuracy.

2012-05-07%20at%2019-47-39.jpg


Propagating plants is easy
Stem plants (eg rotala) you can chop into as many pieces as you like (as long as each has three nodes) and plant each piece. The top node will sprout and you have two new plants.

Runner plants you just take the top off when they get too high (eg stauro) and plant that. It will spread on its own.

ROUTINE

Feed fish less than you think
I’ve always been too generous, and it means waste build up and more cleaning, and worse plant growth. I now feed fish once about every two days, using frozen food dropped in a floating worm dispenser, with the hole made bigger at the bottom. They’re all fine.

2012-05-06%20at%2007-38-01.jpg


Make it easy to clean
Cleaning the tank regularly makes a big difference. So make it easy for yourself – don’t put hardscape right up against the glass, for example. Make sure you can get a siphon hose into most bits. Really cluttered wood makes this difficult.

Use a razor, not a magnetic cleaner. The cleaners can get something small stuck in them and scratch the glass. Also, an e-cloth is the best thing for cleaning the glass.

Tinker constantly, but slowly
What’s the fun if you’re not allowed to tinker? But don’t make lots of big changes in one go. It’s a small ecosystem and big changes mess it up. You’ll over- and under- shoot the sweet spot like a yo-yo.

Test kits are pointless for the planted aquarium
We're interested in levels a different order of sensitivity to normal test kits. So there's literally no point buying or using the commercially available ones. Otherwise get a proper science lot. The exception to this is probably a PAR meter or a PH meter if you really want to know what's going on with your light and CO2. But you really don't need them.

In fact, my best test kit is a shoal of red headed tetras

2012-02-18%20at%2019-40-21.jpg


(Them again.) Their heads lose their colour if there's anything dodgy about the water - CO2, ammonia, anything really.

50% water changes, minimum, a week
This removes nasty gunk from the tank dissolved in the water. It’s nothing to do with ‘resetting’ the fertilisers. Best to give everything a bit of a shake first. If there’s algae on the hardscape, scrub it off with a toothbrush and do substrate vacuuming too (that means a hose/vacuum about 0.5cm above the substrate until all the crud comes up). I’ve found substrate vacuuming incredibly important for healthy growth – I suspect because my tanks aren’t planted that heavily at first (cash!) and so the plants aren’t able to use the nutrients quickly enough.

Make yourself a nifty thing you can pop over the side that empties 50% of the water, and can connect to a hose to outside, so you can just leave it to drain, after switching the filters and gubbins off

2012-08-22%20at%2021-09-38.jpg


ASSORTED SCIENCE(ISH) BITS

Plants can’t control photosynthesis rates
That means if the light is high, and there isn’t enough CO2 or ferts, they run on empty and start to eat themselves. So the light has to be lower than the CO2 capacity. Plants also take a while to adjust to new light levels, so raising light levels quickly means they get cross.

Plant health determines a lot of algae bloom

Here's wisdom from the master

ceg4048 said:
When plants start to fail due to malnutrition they slow their growth and their cells start to rupture and they start to leech their contents (i.e spilling their guts) into the water column. Algal spores are sitting right on top of the plant membrane within the biofilm and can therefore immediately sense the change. This triggers the spores to bloom and the slowed growth allows the algae to attach itself to the plant surface. Of course there are other factors such as reduce oxygen and other things we don't even fully understand yet, but this is the basic mechanism.

Plants are like fish when the lights are off
They breathe oxygen. So make sure the tank has lots in it, and you’ll get better plant growth. A simple way to do this is to raise an outlet so it breaks the surface tension at night. That will also keep the surface film away. I now have it running pretty much like this all the time.

2012-05-06%20at%2007-42-21.jpg


Tom Barr has huge surface flow and says that higher surface flow raises oxygen levels - which means that fish can deal with higher CO2 levels.

plantbrain said:
Think about it like this, the O2 and current rise the CO2 ceiling much higher and improved fish health and cycling of all waste MUCH faster and better.

Say you can only add 30 ppm without gassing the fish.........with good filtration, current etc, you add 1-2ppm more O2 and(or 15-30% more) and you can double the CO2 to 60ppm without issues.

It's a large jump. But it's not just 100% about adding more CO2. That is the root issue for algae and other plant issues, but there is much more to it than merely turnign a knob for Co2. :idea:

The trade off here is that higher surface flow also increases CO2 degassing, so you have to inject more.

Gases dissolve independently of each other
So you can have loads of oxygen with loads of CO2 - they don't take the same 'space' in water. That's part of why tanks often look particularly healthy after water changes: huge amounts of both CO2 and oxygen mean that plants photosynthesise like mad.

Ammonia is your enemy
Pretty much anything that produces it (dead plants, dead fish, excess fish food) needs to be out straight away. Ammonia kills everything, and sparks algal blooms. It is often produced by bacteria at the substrate munching on fish food (and poo) that has got lodged – so substrate vacuuming vitally important.

Pearling happens because…
…the water is saturated with oxygen. That happens either because it’s come from the tap after a water change (under higher mains pressure there’s more dissolved oxygen as well as higher CO2 levels) or because your plants are producing lots. It’s not necessary for a healthy tank but it’s nice.

2012-05-16%20at%2017-34-46.jpg


2012-05-16%20at%2019-37-48.jpg


Bacteria are your friends
They colonise the filter and the substrate, and convert nasty stuff into nice stuff. The science is beyond me. So don't clean your filter with chlorinated tap water, and use a decholorinator when you change the water in tank. Seachem Prime is the cheapest I've found.

Plants feed from the water and the substrate
So make sure both have nutrients. Some substrates (molar clay, etc) have no nutrients to start with but will pick them up from the water; others (gravel/sand) will stay inert; others have nutrients to start (aquasoil).

The less nutrients in the substrate, the more need to be in the water. Dosing EI into the water is the cheapest way to make sure the plants definitely have enough. Combined with a substrate that picks up nutrients, it’s the cheapest way to grow plants. (It’s a LOT cheaper than aquasoil and branded fertilisers).

The more nutrients in the water, the more algae can grow on exposed hardscape without a clean up crew.

Fish breathing from the surface en masse
Is obviously bad! Often from too much CO2 or over-feeding or high nitrates in general. Raise the outlet to get more oxygen into the water, switch off / lower the CO2 and if that doesn't work in ten minutes, do a large water change.

There are two nuclear options for algae
Blackout the tank for 4 days: algae have less food reserves than plants, so they die while the plants survive. Radical but effective. If you haven’t sorted the underlying problem, it will come back!

For some types, dose with flourish excel, which has an algaecide ingredient. Tempting as a permanent solution, but better to solve the underlying issue.

…sure there’s lots of other stuff. I guess my best bit of advice is if you don’t know the answer, someone here will! But hope that's helpful for anyone reading this journal in avoiding the mistakes I made over this year :wave:

AND FINALLY
Can't recommend keeping a journal enough. Really forces you think about what you're doing as you try and explain it! Plus you get to see whether things have actually changed. And the help you get is amazing. Thanks to everyone on here for teaching me all of the above - none of which I knew a year ago! :lol:
 

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Ady34

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

I reckon i can count 9 amanos in you shrimp pic ;)...they are very discreet as a cuc!
I also reckon its ramshorn snails that are eating some of my plants :wideyed: !
Great post, and nice addition of photos too!
Cheerio,
Ady.
 

sWozzAres

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

mike, when you reset this tank did you have a mature filter from the old setup or was that reset as well? have your diatoms returned?
 
A

Antipofish

Guest
Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

That was a very informative post mate. Seriously well done for doing it :) Can you elaborate on "Worth noting that the substrate does as much water cleaning as the filter, if you have decent flow." ? Its not something I understand much about :) Cheers.
 

greenink

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

hotweldfire said:
great post

Thanks - actually quite good to do - part of what makes this fun is the constant learning stuff

Ady34 said:
nice addition of photos too!

have added a few more!

sWozzAres said:
mike, when you reset this tank did you have a mature filter from the old setup or was that reset as well? have your diatoms returned?

the same filter (all pond solutions one), which I just swapped over. no diatoms, but have the light levels a bit lower. is running with ridiculously high CO2 (which seems fine for the cherry shrimp). substrate is new though.

justjason88 said:
brilliant post :)

thanks, have improved it as i've remembered some more stuff! though may be getting a bit long and photo heavy...

Antipofish said:
That was a very informative post mate. Seriously well done for doing it :) Can you elaborate on "Worth noting that the substrate does as much water cleaning as the filter, if you have decent flow." ? Its not something I understand much about :) Cheers.

Everything above comes with the caveat that I'm no scientist! I think it's because the substrate actually has huge surface area and is covered with bacteria, just like a filter, and has water moving over it. Have amended the bit above...
 

webworm

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Re: Transparent Tank - reborn

Mike, you mention an external variable speed pump, can you provide specifics ?
 

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